Who will carry the torch?
“The younger generation no longer fits the ‘missionary model’ that older generations put in place,” says Sarita Hart, a commentator on missionaries and member care.
(For example: going overseas for life; being prepared to do what a field director has decided for you; not seeing your children, as young as five years old, for months – or years.) Yes, missions have been steadily changing since those early days, but the new generation of young people the Lord is calling will push the envelope further.
Sarita Hart urges that we grapple with how to empower Millennials.
This generation which was born approximately between the mid-80s and the mid-2000s – children of the Baby Boomers – has a reputation for being unwilling to settle down – wants to have its ‘feelings’ engaged – changes jobs often. Yet a survey of Millenials by the Barna Group found that for those who are believers, they are more likely than any other generation to share their Christian faith with others. Millenials are idealistic and prepared to get their hands dirty. They crave a relational connection with their leaders, looking not for a boss but a mentor. They have a wholistic approach to sharing the gospel which includes social justice. Their high commitment to making the world better sits alongside an insistence on work/life balance for themselves. These are the people who are the future of missions.
Our member care personnel are highly motivated to walk with all ages who apply to go overseas with us. Not only to tick off the paper work, but to listen and to value them above their job description. To make sure people are not only supported well, but understood. This is also the future of missions.
Mobilising for mission is the ministry of helping people process what God is already saying to them about their involvement in his mission. A mobiliser knows about needs for workers in the mission world which may have stood open and empty for years; knows what exciting new mission opportunities are opening up; and knows how different people require different kinds of help to see themselves serving overseas. Millenials often want a seasoned missionary buddy for pastoral counseling/mentoring. An accountant or banker may need to tick off a list of systems in place as back up. People with non-traditional missionary occupations (think dancers, football coaches, craftspeople, counsellors, university students) may just need to know that they too can serve in mission and here is a likely location to do it. In this issue we look at how the world map of mission is changing, as SIM steps into 21st Century opportunities.
SIM New Zealand is always researching how best we can help individuals and their churches respond to God’s call. We pray that you will find something in mission that touches a chord, to pray, give, or to go around some new, exciting corner.