Is the Next Generation "For the Nations"?
Studies show that 33% of the world is completely unreached and unengaged by Christianity, the Gospel, and God’s Word. Yet only 3% of the Christians sent on missions are sent to these areas. Other studies show that of the one-third of the world who call themselves believers only give 2% toward all Christian causes. What are these statistics teaching us? That we do not do a good job of giving and sending toward the Great Commission.
“But Larry, those are adult statistics.” Why, yes. Yes, they are. Do we believe there is a disconnect? If the current generation is not engaging the nations, do we assume the next generation will? If we think for a second that the next generation is not watching how those who are older and supposedly more mature engage the world through Gospel sharing, we are sadly mistaken. If we stand idly by, just hoping that the numbers of missionaries from Gen Z increase with no action from the older generations, we will not see improvement. We can’t merely push the next generation to the nations; we must take their hand and lead them.
Invite Them To the Nations
Do they believe?
The biggest mistake we could ever make as we equip the next generation on missions is teaching them that it’s something we do as opposed to who we are. In Christ, we are ambassadors for the Kingdom of God. We are His faithful witnesses who have been reconciled into a saving relationship with Christ and we are to go and tell about it. Christ has reconciled us to Himself, given us the ministry of reconciliation, entrusted us with the message of reconciliation, and is making His appeal through us. We must implore the world to be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). We were called out of the world into a relationship with Christ and sent back into the world as new creations to plead for others to repent and look to Christ.
Are they aware?
What is the bridge from apathetic Christians to faithful Christians? Awareness. In order for missions to be more than simply a mere churchy thing we do, the next generation must see that engaging the nations is a both a good command from God, as well as a non-negotiable one. We don’t need passages of Scripture highlighting teenagers being on mission. We just need the passages of Scriptures that teach Christians to be on missions. Christians are Christians and the call remains the same.
Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV) -- “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
This command is for disciples. ALL disciples must go, under the power and authority of Christ, to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Triune God, and discipling them to allow the Gospel to shape every sphere of their lives. And where do we go to make disciples? To “all nations”. Just as Abraham was blessed, we also have been blessed to be a blessing to the nations. How will the world know? By those who faithfully go and preach the name of Jesus Christ (Rom.10).
Are they given opportunities?
Statistics show that the next generation will move when they are given opportunities. They desire to be a part of something that has significance and there is nothing more significant than building the Kingdom of God. Here are 5 helpful steps to get started:
- Prioritize existing opportunities. Involve your students in the mission opportunities already available in your church. It’s helpful for them to see that they are included in the mission and vision of the church they are attending. This keeps the next generation ministries from operating in silos. If there are none available, grab your leadership team and draw up opportunities that are advantageous to the vision of your church.
- Set measurables. Set realistic and attainable goals of how many youth you desire to see on a mission in the calendar year.
- Set An Interest Meeting. Get a meeting on the calendar for parents and their youth to attend to receive information and inspiration.
- Cast vision to your ministry. They need to hear the urgency of being on mission from you as their primary shepherd and influencer. What you make important, they will see as important. From there, equip your leaders to be vision carriers and a mouthpiece for missions as well.
- Make personal asks. Come down from the stage, pull the youth aside that you believe are ready to make an impact now, and tell them how much you believe in them to go.
Are They celebrated?
We do a good job in this culture celebrating things that we want to see happen over and over again. We acknowledge and exalt things that we desire to be the norm across the board. Faithful Christians understand both the joy and the challenge of sharing the Gospel. The persecution and mockery that we have to endure on a daily basis, though it is affirmation of our faithfulness to the Kingdom, can also make us tired and weary. When we see younger Christians take next steps in becoming world Christians, we should celebrate them.
The next generation that are being taught to love the nations today will be the next generation that are being sent to the field in ten years. The seeds planted today will close the gap on having "few laborers" for tomorrow. Let’s join together, not in kicking the next generation out to the ends of the earth to share the Gospel but linking arms with them and leading them to do so. It starts with us!
Larry is the Next Gen Pastor at The Journey Church in Lebanon, TN. He is a frequent speaker for student conferences and camps. Larry is married to Madison and has two children, Eloise and Arlo.
- Abiding: Moving From Simple Belief To Walking In Communion With Christ, Persevering: Moving From Cultural Conformity To Being Rooted In The Timeless Truth Of Scripture