I’m not sure how we’re defining short-term, but here goes. I’ve participated in campaigns in Greenville, KY, Mauldin, SC, Lake Worth, FL, Birmingham, England, Opelika, AL, Krefeld, Germany and several (five I think) trips to help the Highgate church of Christ in Highgate, Jamaica. I also co-preached in Ledbetter, KY between semesters one summer.
Short-term work is often criticized and rightly so. Sometimes you wonder if the leaders of the trip were trying to decide between 6 Flags and short-term work and the coin toss sent them packing for a mission trip. Taking everyone who has a suitcase is a recipe for disaster. It makes the rest of the adults glorified babysitters. It should be a select group–one that has made preparation to do the work. Of course, they should be made aware of what is culturally appropriate prior to and during the trip. Campaigners should do the things that provide long term benefit to the locals.
I believe the key to improving campaigns is to focus on evangelism. Too much effort is presently placed on building which typically could be done far cheaper (sometimes even a tenth of the cost) and often better by local labor. We’ve lost the concept of mission if the gospel is no longer presented.
That being said, participating is well-run campaigns has been a great blessing to me. Campaigning has reshaped my life and thinking. It has enabled me to grow as a Christian. It has opened my eyes to the long-term needs of God’s family across the globe. I believe I have done some good while there. I know by going Jamaica, I’ve been able to better determine who has the greatest need. Once back stateside, I’ve been able to give good advise on where to target our funds.
I am so grateful to those who have lead these campaigns. So much goes on behind the scenes to bring it all together. In the past couple of years I’ve lead small campaign groups to Jamaica. I can now understand how difficult it can be to organize and implement such an undertaking. My goal–to run a campaign that spiritually benefited both the campaigners and locals. It’s a tall order.