In part one of Missions Trends for 2021, the first trend was discussed. Here in part two are 4 other trends:
- The number one trend that will affect all of us is that of attrition. (In part one)
- Missionaries are and will continue to do more humanitarian work than church planting. For the sake of this article I am referring to those agencies and churches who would have historically sent missionaries that were church planters. If you are a pastor or mission’s pastor and have a philosophy of supporting primarily church planting missionaries, you’ve experienced this trend. Not only are more new missionaries going to the field as something other than church planters, but existing missionaries are transitioning from church planting to other things. Please don’t misunderstand – in some cases veteran missionaries must make changes. Sometimes missionaries must use other means to enter a country. At the same time it is imperative that local churches be established by church planting missionaries so that the Gospel continues. This trend as well deserves its own article.
- For many, it is a job and not a calling. This one speaks for itself. Ministry for many has become a vocation. Sadly, we may have helped foster this by over glamorizing missions and missionaries. Missionaries themselves post pictures on Facebook or Instagram of beautiful places, great adventures and comfortable lifestyles. I had the privilege of ministering in one of the most beautiful places on earth, I visited and enjoyed as much of the country as possible, I called my home pastor when I lost our house and had to move to another house that was beautiful, but those weren’t and shouldn’t be the emphasis of missionary life. There is a reason that so many missionaries quit before even making it to the field or quit before finishing one term. I hesitate to put a number on this because the numbers vary so drastically from agency to agency. Suffice it to say that there have been a lot of “missionaries” that started and never finished because they didn’t understand the difference between a job and a calling.
- Missionaries will find it harder to raise support. There are always exceptions to the rule! There are two main reasons why this trend will increase. Those members of churches who have supported missions for years are declining and the culture of the upcoming age groups is geared to giving more towards humanitarian work than long-term church planting.
A recent trend among some Independent Baptist missionaries has been to raise support from individuals. Although this has been done in the past by primarily mainline denominations and promoted by many organizations and books (People Raising for example), the current economic climate will show that people will not be able to support individually as they once did. This trend is a result of both loss of income and increased personal debt.
- Countries are using the rise in awareness (perceived or otherwise) of Euro-American colonialism, slavery and a nationalistic mentality to deny visas to missionaries. There have always been times in history where countries were “closed” to missionaries. However, with the humanistic, agnostic and anti-Christian sentiment spreading across the world, many countries that have previously been open are now closed or are much more difficult to get in.
As I mentioned previously, sometimes missionaries must use other means in order to enter a country, but the main focus of every missionary should be to see souls saved and a local body of believers meeting together.
Although we are facing difficult times, this is an opportunity to develop old and new ways of getting missionaries to the field. It was through adversity in 1785 that the words of John Ryland to a young William Carey sparked the modern day mission movement. As we look to the future, I believe that out of adversity missions still has the potential of being brighter than ever.