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Lasting Impact of Lighthouse trips

New research shows long-term benefits


By Kelly Sisson | Contributor

Have you ever gone on a Lighthouse trip? Taylor has a robust and impactful Lighthouse program, and research shows that this impact has lasting effects far beyond the time of the trip.

Two Taylor alumni (2015), Dominique Burrows and Andrew Ferro, with Steve Snyder, professor of Psychology, recently authored and published a study in the Journal of Psychology and Theology addressing the long-term holistic development of intercultural competence in undergraduate students who participated in Lighthouse trips.

For this study, a survey was completed of alumni who had participated in Lighthouse trips in the last thirteen years. These alumni were surveyed before and after their Lighthouse trip and then once more two years or more after graduating Taylor.

This study found that students who participated in Lighthouse trips had a lasting holistic impact that was sustained for over a decade beyond their graduation from Taylor. The alumni studied showed statistically significant intercultural competency in the areas of knowledge, awareness, behavior, intrapersonal and interpersonal growth, intellect and spirituality. This study also emphasized how critical the intentional use of preparation, reflection and debriefing is for these short-term missions’ experiences.

Taylor’s missions program has been intentional from the beginning, which has contributed to the long-term growth of students who participate in it. Jenny Collins, associate professor of missions and biblical studies, was the original director of the Lighthouse programs and she helped to develop the organization SOE (Standards of Excellence) in Short-Term Mission, which seeks to be a catalyst for excellence in all short-term mission endeavors.

“The program has had a long-term view for years as a process of developing young people and providing meaningful learning that will last,” Collins said.

She explains that the Lighthouse program is an intentional process of developing people for working alongside people who are different from them, not just on that trip, but long term. Because of this intentionality, she says that Lighthouse is a discipleship program and not just an experience.

Collins believes that Lighthouse is so strong in part because it is an academic program where students are prepared well in advance for their experience. It was unique for Lighthouse to provide academic credit when it began, and this has contributed to the effective preparation, reflection and debriefing of students who participate. Taylor’s Spring Break Missions program has also moved towards an academic model in order to produce similar lasting impact.

While at Taylor you have many opportunities to participate in cross cultural experiences that you would be wise to take advantage of. The intentionality of these Lighthouse trips set them apart from many other cross-cultural experiences and will leave a lasting impact on you.

Research has shown that students can have significant growth through Taylor’s many other intercultural experiences as well – J-term trips, study abroad and Spring Break Missions included. Now’s a great time to go find a student who has participated in a cross-cultural trip and ask them how it impacted them.


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