“The top reason people participate in short-term missions is for the life-changing experience it promises them.” David A. Livermore, Serving with Eyes Wide Open: Doing Short-Term Missions with Cultural Intelligence (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006), 53.

In another place Livermore writes –

As we begin to be more honest about the fact that short-term mission trips are simply another piece of thousands of experiences in our lives that change us, we’ll be motivated in appropriate ways, which in turn will help us engage more effectively. Let’s stop thinking about short-term missions as a service to perform and see them as another expression of a seamless life of missional living that includes giving and receiving. 128

The first time I heard the sentiments that an STM was really about the goer more than the receiver  was at a mission meeting of our church body and of course I immediately disagreed.  However as the years have gone by I have come to agree with that statement.  I would love to get a survey going from those congregations that engage in short term mission trips outside of the structure of the Missouri Synod or the District.  What was the cost and benefit to the people you traveled to see?  Cost and benefit to you?  Why did you go – building structures, physical relief of some sort (eye classes, clothing etc), medical missions, etc?  Remember one of Mckinzie’s questions was –

Intangible receivers benefit vs. money invested: for example, if nothing more than the encouragement of receiver Christians occurs, does that justify the expense of the trip?