| This article needs additional citations for verification.
Please help improve this article by adding reliable references. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (May 2008)
A short-term mission (STM) is the mobilization of a Christian missionary for a short period of time ranging from days to a year; many short-term missions are called mission trips. The short-term missionary is a fairly recent innovation in the global missions movement, but many short-term missions agencies are seeing an increased number of trips that consist of a week up to a year.
Generally, missionaries have been men and women who dedicated large portions of their lives to serving overseas in Christian service. In the past 50 years, churches have moved toward mobilizing young people for short-term trips.
One of the first short-term missions organizations began in the 1960s under the leadership of Loren Cunningham. It was called Youth With a Mission (YWAM) and introduced the idea that young people could be missionaries. Generally, missionaries were expected to have extensive theological training before going into the foreign mission field, but YWAM provided short-term opportunities for young people who had a passion for Jesus Christ to share their faith in a way that was powerful and effective. Eventually, YWAM began offering courses to train missionaries as a substitution or supplement to formal theological training.
In 1970, there were very few youth groups doing short-term missions in the United States. However, during the 1980s and '90s missiologically progressive churches began to take a project approach to missions, capitalizing on directing present energy into short-term missions trips, vacations with a purpose, designated projects and offerings, and ministry teams.
The project approach has matured in the modern Short-term Missions (STM) movement and become a standard annual feature for thousands of Christian youth groups, church groups, and individuals across the United States.
There are independent Short-term Missions Organizations (STMs) as well as denominations and individual churches that facilitate these trips all over the world. Many STMs "sending agencies" are adopting of Standards of Excellence in Short-term Missions.