Reaching & Empowering the Next Generation of missionaries

By Serene

From the editor: This written article is based on the writer’s perspective and view point on the next generation.

I wrote this article in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic that has turned the world topsy-turvy. I noticed that out of this chaos, many ingenious ideas and innovative ways to manage this situation came from our NexGeners – those commonly referred to as Gen Y (aka Millennials) and Gen Z or they would be age 40 and below today.

NexGeners were there fighting the disease in different ways. It was the NexGeners who got down to do something instead of allowing this contagious disease to impair or even defeat us. NexGeners are writing and broadcasting songs using media technology to bring a message of hope to rally the public to ride out this pandemic.

I was impressed with the speed at which top-notch creative work was put together and how this garnered support from volunteers. Word just got around for people to give financially to those whose livelihoods have been affected or to find ways to stay connected and get on in life as best as they can.

“While the next generation is passionate about missions, it’s taking a lot more different forms because of new technologies and platforms available today.”

This got me thinking how missions will look like for the NexGeners. The 2019 National Missions Survey reported that while the next generation is not going out as full-time missionaries; many, especially those under 30 years old, have engaged in missions in other ways. Caleb Leong, a 25-year-old from Petra Church, added that the younger generation finds relevance in missions within the context of technological change and evolving business models. He shared: “While the next generation is passionate about missions, it’s taking a lot more different forms because of new technologies and platforms available today.”

So on one hand, it is heartening to know that missions will not be relegated because there are still so many among the NexGen who are taking on the task to run and finish the race until ‘this Gospel of the Kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.‘ (Matthew 24:14, ESV). But on the other hand, missions agencies and churches need to relook and re-imagine ways to engage and collaborate with the NexGeners.

Eight Points to reach the NextGeners

Sometimes, I find it hard to speak their lingo or ‘feel’ their passions. However, I was glad I found this book helpful ( Millennials and Mission by Jim and Judy Raymo, William Carey Library, pp 99- 103) and wanted to share the 8 main pointers to help integrate NexGeners:

1. Initiate conversations with young workers to learn how to integrate them into ministry teams.

Use conversational questions to get to know and understand them such as, ‘How can we help you be more successful on this team?’ or ‘What, besides your family, is something you’re really proud of?’ Remember they have already look us up on the net and they may know more about us than what we know. Invite them, listen to their heartbeat and their passions in life. In this way we engage them not top-down or one up but respecting them in their own right as individuals.

2. Coach and counsel, not criticize and rebuke.

Being heard means a great deal to a new worker. Wise leadership will attempt to draw a worker’s thinking and heart leanings which should be done frequently and where possible through informal discussion over meals or coffee. It is a put-off to our NexGeners when leaders are unwilling to consider the young worker’s ministry aspirations. The key is to guide them and mentor them without being too controlling or directive. They appreciate the older generations’ wisdom.

3. Communicate the goal of church planting in line with NexGen ministry aspirations.

Many of them tend to view churches as religious clubs with rules that marginalize outsiders and restrict insiders. But, if the true nature of the church can be communicated to them along the lines of building a community of people who love and follow Jesus and care for each other as His body, perhaps NexGeners may be quicker to embrace church planting.

4. Talk with younger mobilisers to gain insight into what works when talking with this generation.

They are able to speak their lingo and help traditional agencies with style and approaches that are appealing to NexGeners.

5. Be open to the possibility of preformed teams.

6. Work towards building multicultural / multi-ethnic teams.

NexGeners love diversity of thought and culture. They are also very team-oriented and work well under clearly defined job descriptions.

7. Include parents in the process.

For many NexGeners, parents are not only their closest friends, but also their most trusted confidants.

8. Help new workers to find a productive niche in the ministry.

There’s so much more we can do together in missions with our NexGeners and I personally want to invite, engage and learn with NexGen folks. If you are reading this and would like to talk to us about missions, please check us out.

Let’s get missional in every aspect of our lives. Missional living is the adoption of the posture, thinking, behaviours, and practices of a missionary in order to engage others with the gospel message- whether you are a doctor at a hospital or a student at school or a pastor in a church, don’t miss out being on mission with God.

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