Luke 10:1-24 forms the scriptural basis for short-term missions.

In the previous chapter of Luke’s gospel, Jesus sets apart the 12 disciples and commissions them for their ministry--and for these 12 it appears their commissioning is for a life-time of service. And it appears they have surrendered themselves to go anywhere their Lord directs.

However, in chapter 10, in contrast to the 12, the seventy “others” seem to have been appointed:

  • For a specific duration of time
  • To a specific place

We might also say that the description of the ministry of the “short-term disciples” was more limited than the 12 disciples. Jesus charges the seventy to seek a “son of peace” and announce that the “kingdom of God has come near”.

We should also note that this is collaboration between Jesus and his 12 disciples (the more experienced group) and the seventy “others” (the less-experienced group). This is how modern-day short-term missions should work as well. The short-termers should work in collaboration with the experienced field workers (who know the language and know the culture…and have developed a strategy to reach their people group). And the long-term field workers must recognize the value of the short- term volunteers—especially in “broad-seed sowing” (announcing the kingdom of God is near) and in identifying the man or woman of peace.

When this kind of collaboration takes place…the results can be very positive.

In Luke 10:21 (after the short-termers had returned with their report and had been debriefed by Jesus), the passage says Jesus “rejoiced in the Holy Spirit” (ESV). Another version uses the word “exulted” to describe Jesus reaction to the report.

Shouldn’t that be the goal of our short-term mission teams…to bring joy to our Lord as we follow his directives?

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