An examination of short-term missions as a strategic component in youth ministry programming
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SubjectChurch work with youth.
Youth in missionary work.
Christian youth--Religious life.
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This study examines the use of short-term missions in youth ministry programming. The intent of the research was to determine if short-term mission experiences serve well as a strategic component in youth ministry programming as a method of aiding the Christian formation and maturation of participants. The researcher surveyed 517 students and 187 adults (including youth ministry leaders) who participated in a short-term mission experience called World Changers, a ministry of the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. A combination of a closed form survey and qualitative essay questions was utilized to gather data from student participants, adult participants, and from youth ministry leader participants. An additional sample was drawn from the initial youth ministry leader sample and these individuals were interviewed in order to gain a deeper understanding of the perceived effectiveness of short-term missions in youth ministry programming. Analysis of the data revealed that youth ministry leaders and adult volunteers perceived that short-term mission involvement is a useful aid in the Christian formation and maturation process in the lives of their students. The data clearly indicated that the leaders perceive that their students would emerge with greater commitments to evangelism, service, and spiritual growth. The student participants rated these same three areas as the primary lasting effects of their short-term mission experience. The youth ministry leaders and adult volunteers indicated that during the short-term mission experience, they observed the development of leadership skills among their students. The student participants echoed the same perception as they listed an increased confidence to lead, evangelistic skills, and relational skills among their top responses. The data also revealed that students and adults are more open to serve in semester missions or receive a call to vocational ministry because of their short-term mission experience. According to the findings, youth ministry leaders perceived short-term mission experiences as a vital method to increase mission awareness and mission participation in the local church. There was a small correlation discovered between one's theological beliefs and the perceived effects of short-term mission involvement.