[Our friend Greg McConnell, a reporter based in the Midwest, kindly sent us the following message. You may visit the web link below to see photos from the trip Greg mentions.]
While the popularity of short-term mission trips has been skyrocketing, many Christians aren't convinced that this is a positive development. Recently, Christianity Today examined whether or not short-term mission trips are even good stewardship (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/127/22.0.html). At the heart of the debate is a study by Kurt Ver Beek, professor of sociology and third-world development at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which essentially concludes that most short-term mission trips don't accomplish much.
I think that this is a healthy discussion, and accountability on such matters is very important.
Besides, Ver Beek doesn't seem to have a vendetta against short-term missions; he wants to understand them and, if possible, improve the system.
On a personal note, I went on a short-term mission trip to Costa Rica this past June
(http://gjmc.blogspot.com/). I suspect that most anyone who goes on a short-term mission trip will tell you it was good stewardship, and I am no exception. However, I honestly do think that special relationships were formed with the Costa Ricans who hosted us. Only time will tell if this partnership lasts to bear long-term fruit.—Greg McConnell