Recently I've read several books and academic papers on the subject of "short term mission trips." I've been gaining new insights and historical perspectives that I look forward to sharing on this blog. That said, from here on out I will be avoiding use of the popular label "short-term" mission trip.
I'm glad you asked.
Let's stop and think grammatically about it. In this case, "short-term" is functioning as an adjective. But what does it describe? The trip? That would be redundant. The mission? hmmm.. While sometimes that makes sense (just as sometimes candy and alcohol have medicinal purposes), generally speaking, it is a contradiction in terms.
I argue that a significant percentage of unhealthy mission trip practices would disappear if those going on these trips understood themselves as committing to a life-long relationship with those involved in the ministries they are going to visit. When there isn't a long-term commitment, what we are doing is sending folks on educational voyages/pilgrimages (which can be a very good thing--I just think we need to use a separate name for it). I'll save that soapbox for another day, though. ;)
So, until I have a better term, I'll be dropping the 'short-term' when blogging about mission trips.