(Pexels/Porapak Apichodilok)

The Lord has been incredibly gracious allowing me to travel and serve him in some unique places around the world. These short-term mission trips have not only impacted my faith but have shaped me as a pastor. On occasion I have been asked, "Why, when it is so expensive to travel and there are so many needs here should anyone take a short-term mission trip?" I would like briefly offer some reasons as to why you should consider taking a short-term mission trip in 2018.

First, the command to take the gospel to the nations was given to the church, not an organization. Mission societies and institutions do tremendous work; however, Jesus did not give the command to "make disciples of all nations" to institutions. He delivered that command to the church. Part of shepherding the flock entrusted to you is to lead them to be personally involved in global mission work. Today, there are tremendous ways to be involved in the global mission of the church. Participating short-term mission trips is one of those ways.

Second, a short-term mission experience broadens your horizons. The experience gained during a short-term mission trip helps you to see first-hand ways in which God is at work around the world. Short-term mission experiences enlarge your spiritual field-of-vision to see where and how God is at work around the world.

Third, a short-term mission experience clarifies your convictions. When people of every tribe, tongue and nation come together in worship, there is a sense of familiarity in the unfamiliar context. Perhaps the Scriptures will be read aloud in a language different than your own. Songs will be sung, and although you do not understand the language, you may recognize the tune. The ability to see what is both biblically prescribed and globally shared helps to clarify your convictions by peeling back your own cultural preferences that you may not even know you have.

Fourth, a short-term mission experience widens your heart. Serving the Lord in a different location opens one's heart to the people of that place. Love for the people on the other side of the world exponentially grows when they are more than a photo. Not only does your heart grow larger for the people you have traveled to serve, but your heart is enlarged for the people in your own neighborhood.

Lastly, a short-term mission experience grows your appreciation for home. There is nothing quite like the feeling of sitting down to a meal you recognize after eating strange foods for a week or more. Coming home seems much sweeter after being away. Absence from your home, even for a short time, grows an appreciation for your home and for your home church.

These are five reasons why you should consider being a part of a short-term mission trip in 2018. Each experience, even the ones I did not like, have been tremendously instrumental in shaping my faith and my pastoral skills. As you are reflecting on what the Lord allowed you to accomplish in 2017, consider making plans to take part in a short-term mission trip in 2018.

This article originally appeared at lifeway.com.

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