George Barna has published a report called The Future of Missions. It is very helpful to understand what is going on in the world of missions today. Dr. Paul Chitwood, President of IMB, wrote the preface. He begins by clearly stating some grim facts.
- Church attendance and the number of people who identify themselves as Christians are in sharp decline.
- Younger Christians are not as involved in church as their parents were.
- The command to go and make disciples is ignored by nearly half of young adults, and young people are feeling increasingly uneasy about witnessing.
- Christianity is being marginalized, while consumerism and self-fulfillment are today’s top goals.
The good news is Dr. Chitwood does not throw in the towel and give up. Instead, he states that the grim facts forced him and the Barna Group to find solutions to turn around the declining number of missionaries. He goes on to say we cannot expect today’s teens and young adults to inherently engage in missions. We must be proactive by asking hard questions that will lead to solutions. I like that approach. It is easy to bemoan the grim facts about missions but do nothing to change them.
Years ago, I attended a Disney University class called “Creating the Magic.” I was encouraged to take the class because I was the executive director of a year-round camp, and “Creating the Magic” was designed to teach businesses how to motivate 18- 23 year-olds. Camps hire lots of young adults, and I needed to know what motivated them. We were told in that class that Disney had spent $50,000 on a study to identify the work ethic of 18-23 year-olds. The study revealed that this age group wanted to do the least amount of work for the most amount of pay. My first thought was I could have told them that and saved them $50,000. The instructor’s next statement grabbed my attention. He said the results of that study caused them to say, “What can we do to pull out a stronger work ethic of 18-23 year-olds.” The grim facts caused them to search for the solutions to a weak work ethic. That statement has stuck with me and has been a challenge to me every time statistics showed things were getting worse. From that time forward, whenever I was faced with grim facts, my response has been, “What are we going to do about it?”
The Future of Missions asks and answers 10 hard questions about the global ministry of the church. There are solutions that can help us engage more people in reaching the world with the gospel. In blogs to follow, a couple of these questions will be explored.
You can get The Future of Missions at