Why the young generation is best equipped
Many new missionaries are urgently needed to bring the gospel to the world. Billions of people still have never heard about Jesus. Despite some complaints about young people's unreliability and their lack of stamina - each generation has its strengths. We believe that this young generation is especially suitable for world mission in the third millenium for the following reasons ...
World openess and tolerance
International school exchanges, foreign neighbours and informative TV-programmes about other peoples and cultures are common place today. The world is thinking more international all the time - so also young people. They have learnt about atrocities caused by intolerance towards other peoples. Most of them deeply detest racism and are characterised by a growing openess towards other peoples, cultures and ways of living - a good prerequisite for cross-cultural work.
Many young people not only have observed this internationalisation but experienced it themselves - at school, in the local football team, at church or on travels to distant countries such as Indonesia and Venezuela. They make a conscious effort to make contact with people of other languages and cultures - a further advantage for future missionary work.
The thinking of the young generation is often shaped by city culture, a great advantage in this time of continued urbanisation. The greatest challenges to mission work in the third millenium will be the mega-cities, not the jungle. Who will bring the good news to the cities of Bangkok, Mexico City and Cairo? The majority of future missionaries will be working in urban areas.
In the past many people stayed in their hometowns for their whole life but the new generation is very mobile. Only a few do their professional training in their home town. As teenagers many have already moved with their parents once or twice. For their training they choose the best place even if its hundreds of miles away from home. Many A-level students/high school students already have their own car. Because of this, young people find it easier to keep moving on, a necessity for missionaries. The Facebook generation is connected everywhere.
Young people are familiar with modern IT technology. They have grown up with computers, e-mail, internet and mobile phones... With the help of computers, accounting is done more effieciently, evangelistic films produced effectively, language learning and translation work is facilitated, communication made very fast. Missionary work without computers is unthinkable today and we really need the young generation with their expertise.
In the past schools provided general education but today they offer many opportunities for specialisation. In missionary work the tasks are getting more complex all the time - whether in technology, administration or in the social sector. Young people should consciously take advantage of their specialisation to utilise this gifting in missions.
Young people's inner values are one of their strengths. For a long time our western world was very performance-driven. This allowed former generations to aspire to great economic achievements, unfortunately often with a lack of attention to relationship. Young people know from experience that material things are not all that counts. They put special emphasis on personal relationships and are better prepared to get close to cultures which are relationship-orientated. They will have less problems to settle down in another culture and to understand the people. The young generation prefers to work in teams - and indeed times are over for individualistic allrounders (Jacks of all trades) - particularly in mission where cooperation and partnership are vital.
Consciousness of life
Many families and marriages are breaking up today and young people grow up without a father or mother, they have gone through the trauma of their parents' divorce, have been abused as children or have had other painful experiences. This makes them more sensitive to a world characterised by civil war, refugees and exploitation. The person who has found hope and restoration in Jesus can sympathise with suffering people. Young adults know about the fragility of life and that material things do not give meaning in life. Their experience of Jesus' healing prepares them to lead victimised people into Christ's presence.
Desire for authenticity
In the past your good reputation and outer appearance were extremely important, however, the mass media taught us that the outer appearance can be very misleading and young adults long for authenticity. words and testimonies need to match in daily life - and this is a biblical principle. In their deep desire for a sincere, holy life lies great potential for world mission. Young Christians acknowledge that there are no easy answers to complex questions. They want to live in close relationship with Jesus and are aware of their dependency on the Lord in every aspect of life. We are not looking for superheroes who do not seem to have any problems but for real people who show through their example how to deal with the challenges of life. We need young people who show through their life how to deal with guilt and weaknesses and therefore many young Christians are well suited for mission work.
Acceptance of own limitations
Young people are extremely rational and realistic. They are aware of their own limitations. The old slogan "more, faster and better" is dangerous and is not appropriate in many of the poorer countries. Those who have already accepted their human limitations and do not look to outward perfection will have less problems as missionaries in a foreign country.
Despite their realism young people are willing to invest everything for something they consider worthwhile. They want to be involved in a really great task - i.e. relieving the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of people - and this is mission. Following Jesus opens your eyes for those who do not have salvation or are weak in their faith. In the third millenium there is a great need for ambassadors of the kingdom of God. Young Christians can really get excited about mission today.
Our modern world has shrunk to a global village. Inventions and fashion change in rapid succession and our world needs Christians who share the gospel in creative and innovative ways and constantly adjust to circumstances. The new generation is extremely creative: some travel via Internet around the world to share their faith with Muslims. A Christian youth choir tours eastern Europe to proclaim Jesus. Creativity and spontaneity - a great advantage for future missionaries.
All these reasons portray a young generation with great advantages for world mission. God knows about the changes in society over the past decades. He knows the circumstances the young people have grown up. God wants to use this new generation in world mission - with all its strengths and weaknesses.