Tom Short was ordained in the late 1970s by elders of The "Blitz" Movement at Solid Rock Church (now Linworth Road Church) in Columbus, Ohio. Missionaries of the movement at the time operated by filling buses with people, musical instruments and tracts in order to execute a 2- or 3-day campus blitz. They used singing, intensive tract distribution and organized sidewalk canvassing to draw impromptu crowds and to achieve saturation of the intellectual marketplace. By 1980, Short himself began preaching on campuses while stationed at a church in College Park, Maryland, becoming a fixture outside the Hornbake Library on the University of Maryland campus. The movement which was The Blitz finally established itself as "Great Commission International".
Throughout the 1980s, Tom Short preached on college campuses, while also helping to establish New Life Christian Students, a campus ministry run by members of Great Commission International.
Short briefly served as pastor of Woodstock Community Church in Roswell, Georgia in 1990 while conducting services in the Roswell Holiday Inn, and then moved to San Diego to pastor MountainView Community Church.
In 1996, he resigned as a full-time pastor and dedicated himself to the traveling ministry. Short's approach to preaching has continued to be a source of controversy for some, yet a source of hope for others. Rick Whitney, an ardent supporter of Short, and Regional Director within Great Commission said, "It's a public forum; it's a free speech issue, some people don't like the way Short presents his ideas."
Observers note that Short makes no purposeful effort to cause offense, though that is often the result of his controversial views. Short himself says, "I realize when I come on campuses that I am presenting truths that are unpopular and do challenge commonly held beliefs in the university, so I realize some people will react to that, it is not my goal to upset people, but if a person hears God's truth and won't turn to it, it will be upsetting. We see that throughout the entire Bible where people are being persecuted for standing up for God and for truth."
Speaking loudly to gather the crowd, he points out that morality and issues of sexuality generally get the most attention. "You've eaten of the same tree Eve ate of, the same tree Hitler ate of," Short said at the University of North Texas. "And that's got us on the highway to hell."
One hot topic of debate that recurs in most of Short's messages: homosexuality. "I love homosexuals," Short declared in 2005, claiming that he and his wife Rosalyn have counseled 15 homosexuals to successful heterosexual lifestyles with their love and prayer. He stated to the UCM Maneater in 1997, "Over the years I have led many homosexuals to Christ. Often, I am the first one who's told them there is a way out of homosexuality and that is through Christ." At that time he had claimed to have led at least 20 people away from homosexuality. "I think God loves everybody, but he doesn't condone what they do," he said.
Short's website, "The Short Report," has been on the web since at least late 1999 with news relevant to Christian issues and a FAQ demonstrating his biblical views; it details upcoming dates and other ministry information.
In 2004, Tom Short spoke in a non-debate forum aside Jamal Badawi, a renowned Islamic scholar at Iowa State University. The two featured speakers presented their religions' view of Jesus and answered questions in the forum, co-sponsored by Islam on Campus and the local Great Commission Churches student group.
Today, Short continues his campus evangelism efforts. He also runs a summertime retreat in Columbus, Ohio for college students and graduating high school seniors "designed to ... prepare you for your next step in life as a college student and a Great Commission Christian" through intensive training in "Christian theology and thought, disciplines for spiritual growth, how to share the love of God with others, how to discover God's calling in your life, and apologetics." Schedules include full days and weekends, lasting for a month and a half for seniors and over two months for college students. In addition, students are invited to attend the Great Commission Churches National Pastor's Conference in central Missouri.