Short-Term Missions Long-Term Impact

Why Short-Term Missions?

At Teen Missions, our short-term mission trips are primarily focused on the discipleship of the team members. We understand that lasting sustainable change in team members and communities takes a long time to cultivate. Missionary work is a long-term investment. Therefore, our approach to short-term trips is to contribute to the ongoing impact of both the individuals serving and the communities being served.

Dangers of Short-Term Missions

A person does not have to go far to recognize the dangers of short-term missions. See books: When Helping Hurts, Cross-Cultural Servanthood, Toxic Charity, and Pursuing Justice. These books highlight the potential dangers of short-term missions, most involving too much focus on self and a lack of cultural awareness and training that results in doing more harm than good.

“Development is a lifelong process, not a two-week product”

As an organisation, we recognise the common pitfalls and seek to bring awareness and training to these areas. 

In general, mission trips involve Christians going on 2-3 week trips to help communities in practical ways, like building houses, teaching English, sharing the gospel and providing hope to people in need. While these trips are usually done with good intentions, the outcome is rooted in a wrong mindset. As Westerners eager to help the needy, we tend to go into communities and force our worldviews of speed, money, consumerism, achievement and success onto a neighbourhood that has a different set of values. We ruthlessly enter into these communities as if we are the heroes and more often than not the outcome is usually doing more harm than good. We have a tendency to prioritise the “project” over the people. The reality is that lasting, sustainable progress takes a long time to cultivate and change. 

Training and Development

Here at Teen Missions, our hope is to provide careful training, deep cultural understanding, and an ongoing posture of humility and teachability on the field—an experience that helps teenagers and leaders see the world, themselves and God differently. Our model is to ensure that these trips have a positive, long-term impact on the team members. Our training process includes equipping team members in a range of skills over our 10-day Boot Camp, nurturing and disciplining them as they go out onto the field for 3-4 weeks with their respective teams, and then equipping them to return home through our 3-4 day debrief.

Long-Term Partnerships with Churches and Parachurch Organisations

It is our passion to provide teenagers with new, eye-opening experiences, to train them in God-centered, sacrificial living, and equip them with fundamental knowledge and skills in cross-cultural ministry. There are few moments in life that will awaken our hearts to the needs of the world like active, cross-cultural involvement. After these trips, it is vital that students and leaders are nurtured beyond the experience.

While TMIA is an interdenominational ministry and unaffiliated with any particular denomination, it is our desire to work as closely as possible with the church. We are aware that the goal of training tomorrow’s missionary today cannot be accomplished in isolation from the church and we seek to be involved wherever we can to do our part in building up the body.

We also see the necessity of partnerships with parachurch organisations in helping to provide resources and framework for team members to fulfil the Great Commission at home. We partner with organisations like Mustard Schools, who empower student leaders to take the gospel into their schools. In other words, these partnerships are so valuable because Teen Missions gives teenagers the inspiration to live missionally and Mustard Schools give them a healthy direction and accountability for their passion once they return.

We hope that through these partnerships we will be able to provide leaders and teenagers the framework to nurture their new awakening to the needs of the world and act justly, love mercy and to walk humbly with God.

Empowering, On-Field Partnerships

When we are not working with one of the 30+ Teen Missions bases around the world, we hope to be intentional about who we partner with on the field. At TMIA, our approach is to participate in ministry with local organisations that have long-term, social and spiritual development goals. Our focus will be to fit into these partner organisations overall strategy and not undermine their local ministry. Additionally, if our values for ministry align, we hope to partner with them long-term by assisting with ongoing projects, finances, and offering resources beyond the short-term mission trip. 

One of the best ways we can serve is by being an encouragement to full-time missionaries and locals serving in the community. We recognise that these ministries are a part of the ongoing change that is happening on the ground and we are only playing a small part in supporting them.


In summary, Teen Missions recognizes the potential dangers of short-term missions but strives to mitigate them through careful training, cultural understanding, and long-term partnerships. We aim to have a positive and sustainable impact on team members and the communities they serve. By emphasizing discipleship, fostering collaboration with churches and parachurch organizations, and empowering local partners, we seek to contribute to lasting change and the fulfillment of the Great Commission.