Passion for Mission Waning

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.

the-great-commission

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?

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2 thoughts on “Passion for Mission Waning

  1. Andy, as always your writting is poingnient. My family and I are just about to cross three months as Foursquare missionaries in Central America. It took a great deal of effort to get here, but now I am asking, “Why didn’t we do this sooner.”

    Last month I was in a meeting with a group of leaders in Panama who were encouraged to send even more missionaries into the middle east and other difficult regions. Last night I sat with a Pastor in Guatemala City who spoke of their national efforts to begin sending missionaries. The world has changed, “missions” still revolves around meeting needs around the world that only the Gospel of Jesus Christ can meet. But, the context has changed, and many nations that once received missionaries are now sending them. In speaking of the U.S. Church and colleges, our role needs to be not only to send, but to send, resource, partner with other nations and to recieve missionaries as well.

    Our family has been extremely blessed to have an incredible sending church and team of supporters. We have the great joy of living in and laboring in a foreign land. Many more need to take the dive and experience what God is doing around the world. The need has not changed, if anything, it has grown, the context and methods have changed but the message is timeless, we are all called to go and make disciples.

    • Jared,

      So true. I already see your passion growing.

      It becomes infectious as you serve and see what the world looks like at a deeper level. We pray for you often. So glad you are out there doing what God called you to.

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