Bryce Stout Lance Wescher


This study seeks to develop an understanding of the role that training can play in the effectiveness of short-term mission trips for participants. The study is based upon a randomized control trial implemented among short-term teams coming to Chattanooga for training during the summer of 2014. It measures the particular effects of training on participants’ theoretical cognition by examining their responses to surveys administered immediately preceding and following the week-long short-term trip. The need for this study is evidenced by the lack of research on this topic, despite the continued popularity of short-term mission trips for churches.  The data set draws primarily from responses to pre-trip and post-trip surveys, and qualitative data were quantified by the researchers to implement regression analysis of the data. The primary regression method is OLS. Multiple dependent variables are evaluated, identifying the prevalence of responses associated with relational and structural elements of poverty, identification of community assets, self-identification with poverty, identification of poverty in one’s home community, and a desire to increase involvement in one’s home community.  The results of the analysis find positive and statistically significant effects of training for short-term participants on all variables except that of expressing desire to increase involvement in one’s home community. While further research in this area is necessary, we believe that this research provides a foundation for ongoing work.



service learning, cross-cultural engagement, volunteering, short-term missions, community engagement

Beyerlein, Kraig, Jenny Trinitapoli, and Gary Adler. 2011. “The Effect of Religious Short-Term Mission Trips on Youth Civic Engagement.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 50(4):780–95.

Corbett, Steve S. and Brian B. Fikkert. 2012. When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor-- and Yourself. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

Fogarty, T. 2009. “Searching for Solidarity in Nicaragua: Faith-Based NGOs as Agents of Transcultural Voluntourism.” Pp. 83–102 in Bridging the Gaps: Faith-based

Organizations, Neo-liberalism, and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, edited by T. Hefferan, J. Adkins, and L. Occhipinti. New York, NY: Lexington Books.

Friesen, R. 2004. “Improving the Long-Term Impact of Short-Term Missions.” Unpublished paper. MBMS International.

Hopkins, Sarah Mott. 2000. “Effects of Short-Term Service Ministry Trips on the Development of Social Responsibility in College Students.” Dissertation.

Johnson, Lindsey. 2013. “Demographics of Short-Term Mission Trip Participants.” Unpublished working paper.

Priest, Robert and K. Ver Beek. 2005. “Are Short-Term Missions Good Stewardship?” Christianity Today. Retrieved (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/julywebonly/22.0.html).

Priest, Robert and K. Ver Beek. 2005. “Mission Trips or Exotic Youth Outings?” Christianity Today. Retrieved (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/julyweb-only/43.0.html).

Priest, Robert, Terry Dischinger, S. Rasmussen, and C. M. Brown. 2006. “Researching the ShortTerm Mission Movement.” Missiology: An International Review, 34(4):431–50.

Priest, Robert J. 2008. Effective Engagement in Short-Term Missions: Doing it Right. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library.

Priest, Robert J. and Joseph Paul Priest. 2008. “They See Everything, and Understand Nothing.” Missiology: An International Review, 36(1):53–73.

Sherraden, Margaret S., Benjamin Lough, and Amanda Moore Mcbride. 2008. “Effects of International Volunteering and Service: Individual and Institutional Predictors.” Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 19(4):395– 421.

Slimbach, R. n.d. “First, Do no Harm.” Evangelical Missions Quarterly, 36(10):428–41.

Smith, Christian and Melinda Lundquist. Denton. 2005. Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Trinitapoli, J. and S. Vaisey. 2009. “The Transformative Role of Religious Experience: The Case of Short-Term Missions.” Social Forces, 88(1):121–46.

Ver Beek, K. 2006. “The Impact of Short Term Missions: A Case Study of House Construction in Honduras after Hurricane Mitch.” Missiology: An International Review, 42(4):259–67.

Wuthnow, R. and S. Offutt. 2008. “Transnational Religious Connections.” Sociology of Religion, 69(2):209–32.
Research Articles