When Jesus gave the Great Commission, he only gave one stipulation for who it applied to: disciples of Christ. Regardless of age, education, or location, all followers of Christ are called to go forth and multiply disciples. As you consider how you can encourage and equip your congregation to fulfill the Great Commission, don’t forget your young adult ministry.
Regularly Talk about God’s Heart for the Nations
The best way to ensure that everyone in your ministry is exposed to the urgency of reaching the nations is to talk about it in your personal discipleship relationships or small groups. In addition to spending time personally discipling young adults towards missions, it is essential to teach about God’s heart for the nations during large group teaching times.
I recommend taking at least one meeting a year to address the topic explicitly and robustly. This could be done by bringing in a missionary to speak to your young adults. Retreats and conferences can also be a perfect setting for sharing missions with your young adults. It can also be powerful to weave in a “missions moment” during your services.
I love to read missionary biographies, so I will often use stories from the lives of missionaries to illustrate what I am teaching from Scripture. The thread of God’s heart for the nations is woven throughout Scripture, so make sure to highlight that naturally as you faithfully teach God’s word.
Practice Missional Habits Together
The Lord yearns for us not to be worldly Christians, but to be missional Christians—those who view the world and life from God’s perspective and share his heart for all people. We should be engaged with the missional habits of going, praying, sending, welcoming internationals, and mobilizing others. Everyone has a part to play in reaching the unreached, even if they are not personally going. John Piper put it this way, “Go, send, or disobey.”
These habits must be modeled by us, as ministry leaders and pastors, and then can be incorporated into the lifeblood of our churches and ministries. There are endless, creative ways to incorporate these habits into your ministries.
For example, our church takes time each week to highlight an unreached people group to pray over together. Another church I know has a “missions minute” every Sunday where they share a highlight from one of their missionary partners. Let’s face it: young adults are not typically wealthy, but they should still learn the joy of sacrificially giving to missions.
Young adults are not typically wealthy, but they should still learn the joy of sacrificially giving to missions.
Show Hospitality to International Students
Welcoming international students may be one of the best ways to reach the nations and instill a heart for missions in young adults. Many of these people come from “closed” countries where it is very difficult for missionaries to go. It’s almost like the Lord told us to go to the world and gave us all these resources to do so, but we, instead, chose to stay and enjoy the comforts of home.
“Well,” God says, “if you won’t go to them, I’ll just bring them to you—right to your campus and doorstep. Is this close enough now?” Loving them, pointing them to Christ, and sending them back to their home countries to share the message of Jesus might be one of the most strategic ministries of all.
Pray Individually and Corporately for Missions
Ultimately, missions mobilization is a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, and we would be foolish to attempt it without desperate and diligent prayer. In Luke 10:2, Jesus urges His followers to engage in earnest prayer for laborers in light of the abundant harvest.
And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
One network of church plants on major campuses asks their student leaders and staff to set an alarm on their phones for 10:02 every day. This alarm reminds them to say a quick prayer for more laborers in the harvest. With this kind of commitment to prayer, it is no wonder that their network is growing and sending young adults to the nations.
Leader, before you can lead others in passionate prayer for the nations, you must be leading the way with your own prayer life. A common barrier to interceding for the world is not knowing where to start. God will rarely give us a burden to pray for something that we don’t know much about. We must feed our minds with “prayer fuel” so that we can pray intelligently and strategically.
Before you can lead others in passionate prayer for the nations, you must be leading the way with your own prayer life.
One tool that has been a game changer for me is Operation World. It is a book as well as an app with statistics and prayer requests for every country. If you follow their daily prayer guide, you can pray for every country on earth over a year.
Each day, the Pray the Word podcast partners with the Joshua Project to feature an unreached people group to pray for. There is something powerful about believers all over the world coming together to pray for the salvation of the same people on the same day. Adding one of these tools to your daily devotional life will be a great start to developing a habit of praying for the nations.
As you begin this journey, pray with others. If there is not a group of people praying for the nations in your ministry, consider starting one or at least adding in a missions element into existing prayer meetings.
This article is part of a mini-series by Paul Worcester. To learn more, read Paul’s article on The Urgency of Sending Missionaries to the Unreached and Mobilizing Young Adults to the Mission Field.