It has been far too long since I stepped away from my blog as transitioning back to life in the US is difficult. Learning new rhythms, values and priorities tugs on me. And I did not want to wrestle through everything openly here. However, I do want to dive back into musing about Life, mission and God. Let’s dive in deep here on the mission side of things.
I have been told that interest in global missions is diminishing.
I don’t have any Empirical data to state with certainty that young people care less for missions than they once used to. Why: Short-term missions trips are growing at unprecedented rates, care for social issues globally have reached great saturation thanks to social media and strong publicity, and yet, I wonder if people really care for mission as much as they once did in our great mission sending nation. Or are these trips and t-shirts for stopping human trafficking just something that helps people feel good along the way?
Even as some aspects of mission awareness and participation have grown exponentially over the past decade, universities are seeing less interest in the mission’s training arms they offer.
Recently, I had a conversation with a mentor of mine who heads the graduate department for Intercultural Studies at a school in the Midwest. He told me interest is down at this historically significant school in missions. Further, he said his daughter, who teaches at another well-known school in the Pacific Northwest, mused that young people do not have as much interest in missions as before.
Why: I am not sure.
I have just started my teaching experience at a school with a long tradition in sending missionaries to all parts of the globe. My class of incoming freshman seemed interested and attentive. I had a wonderful group of students engaging the topic, wrestling through what it means for evangelism, and digging into scripture. I know there are pockets of mission interest, but is there an overarching, deep abiding passion for mission throughout the American church? My experience is limited, and the surveys are scant on this topic. Nonetheless, I have nothing to compare my first class to. All I have are anecdotal observations from my experience as a missionary in raising funds, talking with churches and talking with other missionaries. Despite, short term trips and global awareness of injustice on a steep incline, we do not see the churches engaging missions as they once did.
Maybe it is poor definition of mission.
Stephen Niell, missiologist par Excellent, famously said this: “If everything is mission then nothing is mission.
Are we doing too many things under the umbrella of missions but really not doing an integrated missional approach to fulfilling the Great Commission? Are we giving compartmentalized efforts to mission and not organizing our lives and churches around the mission of God?
The real question I would ask is have we become more self-absorbed in America that we do not prioritize the Great Commission. Do we think the Great Commission only applies to our neighborhood, or does it still apply to the uttermost parts, the ends of the earth? If we are called to make disciples of all peoples, how does that reorient our priorities?
How do we shape our life, our focus, our budget, our free time, our relationships, decisions based off of reaching the peoples of the world for Jesus?
For diving back into my blog, I went straight for the heart. If this makes you uncomfortable, it makes me uncomfortable too. If I am wrong, and mission interest really is up, Thank God. On the other hand, if mission interest is down, how do we turn this around?
Let’s wrestle through this together?