Mobilizing Young Adults to the Mission Field - Radical

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Mobilizing Young Adults to the Mission Field

When I began to grasp the urgency of reaching the unreached, I considered going to the nations myself and asked the Lord to send me. Then, the Lord showed me that the most strategic role that I could play was mobilization. A mobilizer is someone who has been awakened to God’s heart for the nations and, as they are sprinting toward the goal of obeying the Great Commission, they help others see the urgent need for missions. 

Mobilization is helping other believers see a more complete picture of what it means to be a follower of Christ and their role in God’s grand story of redemption.

Standing before a crowd of college students, Dr. Ralph Winter, a prominent missiologist, challenged them, saying, 

Suppose I had a thousand college seniors in front of me who asked me where they ought to go to make a maximum contribution to Christ’s global cause. What would I tell them? I would tell them to mobilize. All of them.

Why would a former missionary and now missions leader seek to talk people out of becoming missionaries? Because the need to sound the alarm is so great!

The Focus of Short-Term Mission Trips

God can and does use all sorts of short-term mission experiences. However, in my experience, some short-term trips are more strategic than others. Personally, the trips that I have seen bear the most fruit in mobilizing young adults are 6-8 week trips where young adults do a cultural exchange or study abroad program alongside a small team of 5-8 others to a university campus overseas. The primary focus of these trips is partnering with local missionaries to build relationships and share the gospel with other young adults. If you’re a pastor, I recommend leading the first of these trips yourself, if possible. Inviting a student to come with you is much more powerful than saying they should go.

Our ministry in Chico sends small teams to the same missionaries in the same international locations year after year. This consistent partnership model helps build momentum. When our team gets back from the field, we invite them to share with the whole ministry what they experienced. 

Take time to leverage your mission trips as discipleship training opportunities. Take the team through an intentional training process several months leading up to the trip and make sure to have a robust debrief time after the trip.

An Invitation for a Longer Stay

You might be surprised by how many young adults will step into a mid-term mission opportunity if someone would simply ask them to consider it. J.D. Greear challenges graduating college seniors to let the mission of God be the determining factor in where they pursue their careers: “You have to get a job somewhere. Why not get one in a place where you can be part of a strategic work of God? Give us two years, and we’ll change the world.” 

You might be surprised by how many young adults will step into a mid-term mission opportunity if someone simply asks them.

Summit Church’s college ministry staff have personal “senior conversations” with every student about how they will live on mission after graduation. Hundreds have chosen to move to live and work alongside a missional team, and many others have chosen to join in with the International Mission Board for a two-year full-time missions program called Journeyman.

Going for 1-2 years is a great way to make a significant eternal difference and explore long-term missions. Believe it or not, two years is still considered a short-term mission trip. I have never talked with a student who gave two years to missions and regretted it. I think we should have a bias towards going. Why not challenge students to plan to go but be willing to stay?

Many young adults have the freedom and potential to go for 1-2 years on mission—they are just waiting for us to encourage them and present some options. Let’s boldy challenge them to consider going to the nations.


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 How to Talk about the Great Commission in Your Young Adult Ministry.

Paul Worcester

Paul Worcester is the National Collegiate Director at the North American Mission Board where he focuses on encouraging, inspiring, and equipping collegiate leaders and students across North America. Paul is the founding director of Campus Multiplication Network which is an international and interdenominational coaching network for collegiate leaders with over 300 leaders from 15 different countries. Paul and Christy have two young children, Owen and Evelyn. Paul is the author of Tips for Starting a College Ministry and the co-author, with Steve Shadrach, of The Fuel and The Flame: Igniting Your Life and Your Campus For Jesus Christ.

LESS THAN 1% OF ALL MONEY GIVEN TO MISSIONS GOES TO UNREACHED PEOPLE AND PLACES.

That means that the people with the most urgent spiritual and physical needs on the planet are receiving the least amount of support. Together we can change that!