6 ways to engage young people in mission

Wondering how to engage your youth group in world mission? Here are 6 great tips to get you started:

As our young people learn more about the Bible, they come to know God, who made the nations and begin pondering about the bigger picture of salvation for everyone. Once they see the huge task, they may become overwhelmed but as a leader or parent, you can help them to see that they can engage in world missions. They don’t have to try saving the world but can bring about changes to the world, one act at a time, right where they are and beginning from today:

1.    Pray

This one seems obvious! Yet, praying regularly and intentionally for the world will not only make a difference overseas, but will change us too, as we pray. See if your young people can commit to pray alone or with others for a country, ministry or people group for 24hrs or seven days to begin with. Alternatively, you could set up a special prayer event where your group can focus on creatively praying for the nations and they can invite their friends along. Your young people may recognize that prayer is not a short-term thing. They can learn the value of persevering in prayer. Why not commit to pray regularly for a church, unreached people group or mission partner your group knows? Watch their heart grow for mission as they see answered prayer from mission partner updates over time or become encouraged as they let the people know that they are praying for them. Not sure what to start pray for? The OMF website has many great prayer resources for you to download or watch so that you can start praying for East and Southeast Asia today.

2.    Learn 

With non-stop news and social media feeds, it’s so easy for our young people to miss the things that really matter to us as Christians. God has given his people the task to share the gospel, especially to those who haven’t heard it before so as leaders we should try to connect our young people with those who are serving in these places. Organize a mission evening for your youth group by inviting a missionary (in person or on a video call) to share about their work and offer plenty of opportunities for learning about the people, place, culture and spiritual needs. Some fun ideas to try include:

  • cooking national dishes
  • playing traditional game
  • saying basic greetings or words, practicing writing or art forms specific to that country. 

Not sure who you can invite to visit your youth group? Contact your local OMF office and they’ll be happy to help.

A great resource that has recently been developed by OMF (UK) is Sharing Jesus with the World. In five fun sessions, your youth group will learn about God’s plans for the nations and explore how they can be involved with global mission right where they are.

You can also help your young people to understand the different worldviews in the world so that they can have a better idea of their faith among other world religions through Pioneer’s Worldviews resource.

3.    Send

Many of your young people may still be too young to go on a short-term mission trip themselves or the pandemic might not permit travelling for now, but that shouldn’t stop them from connecting with folks currently living and working in Asia. One of the best ways to get your youth to practically support the mission effort is for them to help encourage the children of their mission partners, often known as Third Culture Kids (TCKs). A TCK may meet many people and make countless friends but it’s great to have ones that are constant, even if you only get to physically see them once every four years when their families return for home assignment. Why not try befriending the children of missionary families that are the same age as members of your youth group? Set aside time to video call them, pray for them, share about life on both sides of the globe, do a bible study together, challenge each other with outreach ideas or even send a care package for their birthday! Being a friend and showing that you care will help your young people to learn more about the life and work of missionaries, it may even plant the seed for a visit which could lead to serving opportunities in future.  

4.    Go

An important way to help your young people grow a heart for mission is for them to be involved with a ministry that is serving internationals. As a leader, you can ask your local church members who are involved in global mission ministries or research local outreach opportunities for your youth group to safely engage in. This could be for a season or a special on-off project where they can ‘be Jesus’ to those who don’t know him. OMF’s Diaspora Returnee Ministry has many workers reaching out to East Asians around the world. You can contact them for ideas.

Alternatively, you can take your youth group to summer camps which focus on teaching about global mission and making it a truly interactive experience. In the UK, there are weekend events such as WEC Camps. If your youth group members are 18 or over, you can always consider taking them as a team on a short-term trip to East Asia. It does take a lot of planning and effort but the change in their spiritual growth will be phenomenal. Check out Serve Asia – our short-term mission discipleship programme for more information.

5.    Welcome

During this pandemic season it has been a challenge to meet with others but thankfully technology has still made it possible to have community when we aren’t able to meet physically. This next idea is a sure-fire way to make meeting together more meaningful (and global!)-host a multicultural evening. Ask your young people to invite their friends from different cultures and backgrounds together and bring a dish from that country to share. If your community doesn’t have many internationals then encourage your young people to choose a country of their choice and cook a dish from there. It doesn’t have to be an event to share the gospel yet, but one for meeting new people and making international friends. This could be the start of a relationship that can lead to sharing about Jesus in the longer term.

6.    Inspire

From leading your own youth group, you’ll know that your young people are very unique individuals and wonderfully blessed in so many ways. Let’s celebrate this by allowing them to share their mission interests with your youth group or church by giving them a task to make a short presentation about a country, ministry or people group. This personal research project will give them the chance to share with others what God has placed on their hearts and will no doubt inspire others. Set aside one youth group session where the young people can gather information such as fun facts, geography, food, sport, culture, language, religion etc. (OMF’s selection of infographics would be good place to start for some of this information). As everyone is different, there is no right or wrong way to ‘inspire’ so encourage them as they share and become enriched with their increased knowledge of the amazing world God has created for them.

Explore further
If you do get a chance to try these out or would like support on how to try these six ways at your church, drop me an email on UK.U30Rep@omfmail.com

OMF (UK) Under 30s Mission Mobiliser, inspiring the next generation to get involved in what God is doing around the world. She is also an Authorised Lay Youth Minister with the Church of England and leads the youth and children’s work at her home church in Suffolk.

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