Committee Chair

Crawford, Elizabeth K.

Committee Member

Hinsdale, Bernard; Tucker, James A.; Rausch, David W.


Dept. of Education


College of Health, Education, and Professional Studies


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


This study examined the relationship between the short-term mission trip experience and participation in spiritual-formation disciplines for individuals identifying with mainline protestant Christian traditions. The study was causal comparative and primarily concerned with comparing the independent variable of a short-term mission trip experience with several dependent variables. These variables included participation in prayer, service, worship, study, giving, and witness related disciplines as well as the integration of faith into everyday life. The primary research question asked whether there was a significant relationship between a short-term mission trip experience and self-reported participation in Christian spiritual-formation disciplines. Participants included individuals ranging in ages from 13 through 24, who identified as being engaged with either the Baptist, Methodist, or Presbyterian traditions. Participants were part of the National Study of Youth and Religion (NSYR) and were surveyed three distinct times over a six-year period. Due to the longitudinal nature of the NSYR, it was possible to identify a short-term mission trip as a treatment. This treatment allowed for the comparison of survey responses, both before and after a responder reported participating in a short-term mission trip experience. It was also possible to compare responses between peer groups: those who reported mission experience and those who did not. After analyzing survey responses for seven distinct comparison groups across three survey waves, the study showed little to no evidence of a significant difference in the levels of participation in spiritual-formation disciplines following engagement in a short-term mission trip experience. Results did demonstrate a theme of declined participation in spiritual disciplines for individuals who did not participate in a short-term mission trip experience. Results also suggested differences in participation levels for those experiencing a short-term mission versus those who did not, during the timeframes before and after the experience. However, on the whole, for individuals reporting a short-term mission trip experience, participation levels neither increased nor decreased following the experience. The results of this study suggest a continued need for the research based conversation concerning the short-term mission trip, including its value as an instructional intervention for spiritual-formation.


It is with great appreciation that I would like to acknowledge the help and guidance of committee members Dr. Hinsdale Bernard, Dr. James A. Tucker, Dr. David W. Rausch, and most especially Dr. Elizabeth K. Crawford. I would also like to express appreciation to Dr. Marvin Cameron, Dr. David Cagle, and Bishop David Graves, who served as subject matter experts for this study. Finally, it is important to note that the National Study of Youth and Religion whose data were used with permission here, was generously funded by Lilly Endowment Inc., under the direction of Christian Smith, of the Department of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame and Lisa Pearce, of the Department of Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Ed. D.; A dissertation submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Education.




Short-term missions; Spiritual formation


Faith-based; Instruction; Instructional intervention; Short-term mission; Spiritual disciplines; Spiritual formation

Document Type

Doctoral dissertations




xii, 170 leaves