If Jesus’ command to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations” were viewed as launching a business, the industry would be booming — at least when it comes to short-term mission trips.
But is the spiritual profit worth the investment of time and money?
Consider: The number of U.S. Christians taking part in trips of a year or less leaped from 540 in 1965 to an estimated more than 1.5 million annually, with an estimated $2 billion spent yearly, according to Dr. Robert Priest, a missiology professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, in a 2008 article in Missiology journal.
Some who have studied the issue say the money might be better spent giving directly to a country’s Christian partners to spread the Gospel, or to offer medical aid or construction assistance. Some long-term missionaries even have complained that culturally insensitive short-term mission participants do more harm than good by damaging relationships that took years to build.