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Bestselling Authors Urge Churches to Scale Back Short-Term Missions 'For the Sake of the Gospel'
Contact: Janis Backing, 312-329-2108

CHICAGO, Oct. 1, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ -- Literally millions of people participate in short-term mission trips (STMs) each year ... to the tune of $1.6 billion.

And while STMs provide an incredible opportunity to influence how Christians think about poverty, missions and the materially poor, the methods behind most STMs may result in unintentional harm to materially poor communities and the ministries that work in them.

So say Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, co-authors of the groundbreaking bestseller When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor … and Yourself. Now, the authors have created a practical resource that casts a new vision for STMs called Helping Without Hurting in Short-Term Missions (Moody Publishers).

They urge churches to count the cost of short-term trips, noting that sacrificing for the sake of the Great Commission may actually mean not going on an STM: "We should consider trimming our spending and scale of trips, and instead giving that money to proven, trusted organizations that are engaged in effective, asset-based development work via local churches and workers."

If we're not careful, the authors caution, these mission trips can devolve into power trips. "We see all the things they 'lack,' and we see ourselves as the ones who can meet those needs. We forget that God created them with gifts and abilities that they can use to improve their own lives."

Does this mean that churches should do away with STMs altogether?

"Trips need to be reformed, not destroyed," Corbett and Fikkert emphasize. To that end, Helping Without Hurting in Short-Term Missions (available as leader's and participant's guides) provides a framework that will bless both participants and receiving communities.

They conclude, "The key to making trips worth the investment is situating the trip as merely one piece in a longer learning experience, moving participants forward in long-term engagement with missions and effective poverty alleviation."