I think the key is a flexible approach from mission agencies, with a new focus in working with churches to ensure that cross-cultural mission does not get ignored completely in favour of local mission. Mission agencies need to be able to adapt, not only to the context of millennial missionaries, but also to new trends in the church.
How can Christians reach jaded young people with the gospel?
Jesus Christ’s calling to follow is not a comfortable Sunday morning gathering. It’s a radically different lifestyle that should permeate our actions and conversations. If each Christian rather than just supporting missions, lives their life as a mission, people are going to start taking notice.
This is where I see a vital role for the mission agency to play: it’s not about mobilising resources; perhaps not even so much about care and support; it’s really to do with training, reorienting ourselves, and the necessary context for learning and reflection.
I wonder whether there may be some hints in this story of what global mission needs to feel like from a UK perspective as millennials increasingly emerge as leaders in our context: Friendship, mutuality, equality, meaning, participation…and how can these ideas be adapted to, for example, a church-to-church partnership? Let’s keep thinking and praying, and indeed listening to millennials…
So why join an agency? For me, the biggest reason was to be accountable. I felt that the local church wasn’t equipped to keep me accountable on a continual rather than an occasional basis.
I want mission that we can experience, that we can partner with, that’s accountable and real. I don’t want another alphabet soup prayer day. I want to enjoy partnership in the gospel so that we can all benefit, as we strive to make disciples of all nations.
One of the problems of being a bloke in his sixties who has been involved in mission work and leadership in various parts of the world is that I’ve seen it all before…
If there is a future for mission from the West, it will be shaped by those who are in their twenties and thirties today. We cannot assume that they will neatly follow in the organisational footsteps of earlier generations. Maybe they will, but I wouldn’t take it for granted.