At Second Baptist Church, Springfield, Missouri, short-term mission trips
have become our people's most common starting point for deeper missions
Members of our church who are involved in long-term missions often mention
that their desire to serve
began on a short-term mission trip. Some even go into career mission service.
Others say that a short-term trip whets their appetite for more, fueling a
passion to fulfill the Great Commission as a volunteer-an on mission
This was the case for me. My life was forever changed during a short-term
mission trip. On a mountaintop in China, God ignited a missions fire in my
heart. I've never been the same since.
At Second Baptist we believe missions entails praying, giving and going.
(You notice we don't consider the going part to be optional.) So, having agreed
we all must pray, all must give and all must go, we turned our attention to
Acts 1:8, which provides a geographical mandate. This verse tells the local
church where to fulfill the Great Commission-parameters set by Jesus Himself.
Our missions assignment is to the ends of the earth, beginning next door.
First, we divided our missions enterprise into our Jerusalem (Springfield),
Judea (Missouri), Samaria (North America) and the ends of the earth (other
continents). Seeing it that way helps us focus our efforts-staying on target
and on task in all four areas-so we can keep our missions efforts balanced.
But this equilibrium is not easy to maintain. The scales tend to tip
dramatically from one end of the missions spectrum to the other.
We know that some churches emphasize local work almost exclusively, others
limit missions involvement to international trips. Our solution was to give a
staff member responsibility for each point of the Great Commission compass, so
we always have advocates helping us maintain balance.
In Springfield, our Jerusalem, we partner with a few other churches and many
benevolence agencies to minister to human needs. We provide more than 200
tutors in the Springfield public schools. Second Baptist seeks to do good
deeds, hoping to gain good will that will open doors for us to share
In Missouri, our Judea, we focus on our metroplexes-Kansas City and St.
Louis. The level of human suffering and need in large cities is overwhelming.
If believers are not laboring in Jesus' name where people live in mass, we are
absent at the very place our Lord wants to be present.
In North America, our Samaria, we have partnerships in almost every
direction, including Nebraska, Chicago, the Rio Grande Valley, Atlanta,
Washington and Colorado. We work with Native Americans, Hispanics, Russian
immigrants, cowboys, the rich, the poor, up-and-outers, down-and-outers, etc.
The variety of cross-cultural experiences expands our minds and helps give us a
true feeling of being on mission, of breaking free from focusing only on people
just like us.
To reach the ends of the earth, we have long-term missionaries from our church
and ongoing partnerships with missionaries serving in seven of the
International Mission Board's 11 regions. Our goal is to have significant ties
with all 11 IMB regions. This will enable every Second Baptist member wanting
to do international work to have a conduit directly from our church to any
region of the world.
One vital lesson we've learned about short-term missions is the need to
return again and again to the same location to minister. A hit-and-run strategy
will not result in the long-term results we want to accomplish in our missions
Only by returning can we establish strong relationships with people we seek
to help. As we come to know them better, we find them more open to what we have
to say. They first learn to love us, then they transfer their love from us to
On our first mission trip to a site, we often sense skepticism. We can tell
they wonder why we've come and if we truly care. And often, when we're packing
up to leave, the locals will ask: "Are you coming back?" Our answer carries
more weight than whatever work we've done among them. They want our
Missions is hard work. It requires repeated plowing of dry, packed soil. The
stubborn ground is best softened by taking many trips down the same furrow.
This repeated touch puts names and faces on missions. Over time you become
dear friends with the people you serve.
As years go by, this human touch makes it easier to plan and raise enthusiasm
for subsequent mission trips, because your members have committed themselves
not just to people-but to friends.
We urge your church to encourage every member to accept the responsibility
to pray, give and go. We challenge you to find at least four places to do
short-term missions: in your town, state, North America and other continents.
In all locations, plant yourself. Put down roots. Stay connected. Go back again
Dr. John Marshall is pastor of Second Baptist Church, Springfield,
Missouri and author of Through the Eyes of God (Randall House,
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC