• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

Trends Update

Ed, one of our most experienced and insightful workers, writes:

According to James Glassman, a senior economist with JPMorgan Chase in the October 31 –November 6, 2011, issue of the Bloomberg/Businessweek we are globally in the middle of a dramatic change.  We have never witnessed structural employment like what we have now.  Industry has always preferred to hire people that have the ability needed to pull their weight on the job from day one, but we have never seen this amplified as it is today.  Businesses are benefiting from extensive new markets opening globally; yet, fewer young people are getting jobs since businesses are putting and emphasis to a degree never seen before on experience, education and skills.  Globally young people without these qualities can not find jobs.  This phenomenon is not due only to the recession but also due to the forces of globalization and the global shifts in economic power.  This is one of the majors causes of youth discontent, unrest, and even riots from Greece to the Occupy Wall Street movements, which will likely continue long-term since a major contributing cause is globalization.”

What does this trend mean to WT with it God-given mandate?

How will this trend impact us in areas such as –mobilization, criteria for acceptance as a cross cultural worker, and ministry?

What biblical truth will seem relevant to these disillusioned young people?

How will the churches planted be perceived by these unemployed and unemployable youth as having any answers to their top felt needs?

What decisions should WT make now in the light of this trend?

Also what strategic actions should WT implement viewing this trend short-term and long-term?

One Response

  1. In speaking with Doug Kracht on a recent visit to CIU, I was impressed with World Team’s history/heritage of developing the people it mobilizes worldwide. I know when I talk to people about RACE, I exude confidence in the experience, having spoken to many candidates that have run the ranks. I myself have relished time with Bob Mackey, even in my role as a mobilizer. Going through the Gospel Leadership Profile material with him has been awesome. Conversations with Chuck – awesome. Makes me hungry for more; shows me the investment that people I’m mobilizing can expect from World Team. Internships, same thing. Indonesia, Cambodia, etc. Tremendous job investing in the interns for 2011. I’m still in awe of the experiences they had. They mobilized me.

    True: Young people today are overwhelmed with a global news cycle of 24 hour catestrophic needs. I like to think I’m one of them. They have been told they can go anywhere and do anything with their life. But the reality is that they can’t. This run into this reality like a wall. They should/could get wise counsel/perspective from their local church, from their elders/olders and from organizations like World Team that are prepared to invest in them as they learn their giftedness and how they can meet specific needs. Churches, elders/olders and organizations like World Team are the trustees, the beneficiaries, of church history, progressive revelation and life experience. Instead, young people end up wading through a constant tide of marketing and feel overwhelmed with opportunities to give and go while experiencing an inadequate platform to do anything fully and/or effectively. They will “run around” with their time and money, putting out fires here and there (I call them “Aid-Bands”), when the strategic, intentional cooperation required to plant wellsprings of Life in unreached communities worldwide is what’s needed, and that takes direction and planning.

    Young people have lost perspective of what God requires of the individual. The weight of competing concerns is too heavy to lift off our chest. Opportunity becomes almost oppressive. How is that possible?

    True, employers are upping the ante. But World Team’s commitment to the development and training of leaders begins with the first conversation. Big Corporation is not going to counsel me from the start, providing me with the training and proper steps necessary to navigate myself into a secure position in their company. They are going to weed through a haystack of resumes and intern files digitally and might provide me with a battery of interviews to see if I’ve already come with “what it takes” to wear the logo. Again, World Team is different. From square one, World Team aspires to invest, provide counsel and make the application and interview process one that enriches, encourages and equips. That said, many come to us unprepared, saddled with debt and burdened with busyness. Despite biblical intentions, the relationship is cut short.

    Speaking to question of what we can do in the short term for the long run. I often think about writing a book to help teens/churches interested in missions and cross-cultural concerns (and most of them are – call it idealistic and naive, but it’s there) to plan their lives/investments/training of young people, accordingly. Often, they end up seeking what they should be getting from their local churches in university/seminary studies (BA in Bible; M.Div. in Ministry) and are not equipped with the practical when they begin ministry: languages, trade skills, things that will help them acquire/retain visas and move around the cabin of another culture freely, etc. They try to get theological/Bible knowledge from the academic institution, they graduate saddled with debt, and any cross-cultural pursuits they might have are quickly sidelined. This can be avoided.

    1. Give teens and children a vision for how to equip themselves spiritually and practically while they are still young and making decisions that will impact their reach. Encourage the next generation to break the mold. They may need to scratch the traditional university-trained missionary/pastor model. They might be saying, “If I want to go into missions I need to go to school to study ‘missions’ or ‘Bible’ or whatever.” Reorient that. Ensure they don’t dig the debt-hole training to become missionaries/church planters. Encourage them to fall in love with a people group, develop language and translatable skills that will serve the community and grant them entrance and staying power. (They will also be able to provide for their families stateside if they know for whatever reason they are no longer fit or need to take a break from the field. Translatable skills combat seeing ministry as a career, a job that pays the bills, enabling one to step down and seek help when needed, etc.)

    2. Empower churches to provide robust theological education and practical experience/apprenticeships for those interested in service, missions or otherwise. Long discussion, but online resources are staggering; opportunities to serve locally even more so. It just takes concerted effort. (Easier said than done, I know.)

    All that to say, many teens/young people don’t even know where to start. But they will plug in.

    What biblical truth will seem relevant to these disillusioned young people? I think this: God’s will is known. His direction is not obscure; wisdom can be sought and found, personality and ability can be understood, equipped and channeled. There is a righteous way to live in this world and it is definitively counter-cultural, if not cross-cultural. The default questions are currently these: “What can I afford to do to make myself as comfortable as possible doing the things that I really enjoy?” “What degree do I need to get to be a missionary?” “What’s the ‘smart’ thing to do that will provide for my wants/needs/desires so that I can throw money and time at missions without sacrificing the status quo?” Young people need to be inspired to begin with the mission of God, the giftedness of their individuality, the diverse needs of the world, a comprehension of the resources of which they are stewards, and the necessary steps to accomplish the will of God for His life. Not “their lives” but His life – the life He has given to them.

    The roadmap starts with our young people.

    In my experience, young people are disillusioned because they know they are being asked to live an illusion. Rather than cast it as “disillusionment”, we could comprehend it as a desire for something real, something doable, something that will give life weight in the flotsam and jetsam of wishy-washy church all floating in an ocean of consumer choice and ministry options. Something that engages “who they are” with “what is needed” – that provides traction.

    From the standpoint of mobilization, we need to find some way to demonstrate our ability to train and release leaders before they are leaders, even as they stew in the muddle. We need to call them out, help prepare them for RACE. We can’t lower our standards for service; we can and should increase them. But it will take initial investment in training and development, partnership with churches, and a vision for the future. Investment like this will pay huge dividends for mobilization because it is a mobilizing effort in and of itself.

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