The Meaning of Things

Did you know that there is a theory of meaning? In fact, there are sub-categories of theory of meaning. Philosophers like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, Church Fathers like Augustine and Aquinas, and many others have presented theories on meaning. Why is that important in missions, you ask? It is because this word, “mission(s)” has increasingly come to mean a lot of different things. Some would say, “missions is everywhere.” Others say, “by ‘mission’ we mean only the preaching of the Gospel in a foreign land.” Some would even say that, “every Christian should live a ‘missional’ life.” Who is right? Perhaps all are. However, we at Pioneers would like for you to know our “mission.”

The Apostle Paul, in Romans 15:20 states, “And thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation.” This is our ambition and how we define our “mission.” It is the part that we play in God’s Mission to redeem a people for Himself from every tongue, tribe, and nation (see Rev. 7-9). That is why we make the word lower case ‘m’ – to show that it is our assignment in God’s Mission (capital, and single).

The meaning and the purpose of short term missions (stm) is also varied and changing. STM is a fairly recent phenomenon. Two pioneering Christian leaders, Loren Cunningham of Youth With A Mission (YWAM – founded 1963), and George Verwer of Operation Mobilization (OM – Founded 1957) changed the paradigm of missions by introducing term specific engagement to what was considered life long commitment to take the Gospel to those who have yet to hear.

Part of the reason why this was possible was due to advances in transportation. The rapid growth of commercial aviation after the Second World War allowed for more people to travel faster across the oceans.

Much good has come from the rise of STM. STM allowed more young people to engage in missions and injected much needed long-term missionaries in an era where missions engagement was declining. STM also allowed for more people to experience the joy of seeing God at work outside of their normal sphere of life. For Pioneers, over 90 percent of the long-term (or career) missionaries have reported that they have participated in a STM and that often, it was the reason for them to return long-term.

However, much confusion and even negative outcomes have resulted through STM. Many experts have pointed out that STM may have done more harm than good (some of Pioneers own missionaries have joined them in this assessment). Part of the problem is that today, much of missions have come to be associated with poverty alleviation. Books like When Helping Hurts… (Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert), and many others, have pointed to problems that well meaning STMers have caused. Yet another problem is that more and more, local churches are sending out STMers to under developed nations that may already have a strong presence of the Gospel with the desire to have their youth “grow” spiritually, rather than to see church planting efforts take place among those who have very little opportunity to hear the Gospel.

Therefore, at Pioneers, we want to be clear about why we engage in STM. Our desire is to see those who have yet to hear about Jesus to come to know Him and to gather in a community to worship together, and to reproduce. Even in today’s fast changing, and Google assisted world, this is a long-term endeavor. This means that our STM program are set up to give an experience of what it would be like to become a long-term missionary, or to assist the work of our long-term workers.

If God is laying on your heart to be engaged in the work of introducing Jesus to those who have yet to hear, and bringing them into the family of God, please contact us. If God is calling you to support someone who is beginning this journey, please contact us at And please, pray to the Lord of Harvest for workers!


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