Shifting ideas from unbelievers
The Future of Missions starts out by stating that younger Americans do not view Christians the same as past generations have. In the past, pastors were respected, and people viewed Christians as good moral people. Not so today. The report states that younger American’s “are growing increasingly skeptical about religious people.” The report goes on to say, “Many public expressions of faith are looked upon with mistrust or even hostility.” An example of this is that eight of ten unbelieving U.S. adults basically believe that it is wrong to share your faith with a person with the hope they will trust Christ as their Savior.
Shifting ideas about engagement
Overall percentage of engaged Christians:
22% – Boomers
18% – Gen X
12% – Millennials
One reality of these statistics is that the pool of engaged Christians is shrinking while the population is increasing. These statistics point out we will not be able to sustain the works currently being done by the Boomers and Gen X, let alone start new works needed by a growing population.
Shifting ideas about who is a missionary
Barna’s report has a very broad definition of who a missionary is. The types of people classified as missionaries include “an artist, a dentist, a pastor, a writer, a graphic designer, a midwife, a farmer and several educators. These missionaries do everything from producing shareable videos for nonprofit organizations in Asia to helping sex workers escape forced prostitution in Europe, from teaching sustainable land management to subsistence farmers in east Africa to managing a neighborhood art gallery and studio in Berlin.” They witness as they have the opportunity.
Pastors are mentioned in the list, but church planting does not seem to be a high priority. We see evidence of this from results of a survey of adults 18 – 34 years-olds. They were given a list of possible things a missionary should do. They could check all the items mentioned in the survey they thought answered that question. The following is the results of that survey.
Show Gods love – 92%
Share the gospel with non-Christians – 85%
Help the poor – 76%
Start Churches – 47%
Teach in schools – 40%
If we combine the fact that the number of missionaries is in decline and that fewer missionaries are church-planting missionaries, we can see that the Biblical mandate to reach the world needs to be passionately proclaimed to the millennials.
Part 3 will provide some helpful ideas about motivating millennials to surrender to missions.
You can get The Future of Missions at https://shop.barna.com/collections/frontpage/products/the-future-of-missions