Did you know the median age of all people worldwide is 30 years old?
That’s why so many mission groups are trying to mobilize young leaders into their field teams and mission networks. We have seen many mission groups wrestle with engaging millennials in their work and teams. Millennials (also known as Generation Y) are a group loosely defined as adults born after 1980. Every generation has unique traits and millennials are often characterized as passionate, educated, tech savvy and ready to take risks. Yet misunderstandings and/or miscommunication leads to millennials being under-utilized after arriving or leaving quickly or not coming to the mission field at all.
A few weeks ago, one of the networks took a significant step towards intentionally mobilizing younger leaders. Phill Butler, visionSynergy’s founder, helped launch the Arabian Peninsula Network (APN) over 20 years ago and since then, the network has achieved many notable results. During 2016, the APN leadership increased the involvement of a new generation with the intent to both strengthen the network as well as more effectively reach a region growing demographically younger.
With the assistance of our senior advisor Dave Hackett, APN leadership intentionally focused on millennial workers at their recent biennial gathering, but not as just a workshop at the conference. The leadership team chose millennials to be the daily host, to lead worship, to feature millennial-filled panels and more. They also arranged for childcare, making it possible for more millennials to attend.
What a difference these carefully selected, practical choices made! One-fifth of the 220 attendees were millennials. As a result, the average attendee age was well below 50 for the first time. Most importantly, the APN community gained deep insights into the way Millennial workers do mission work among Muslims seeking Jesus.
Besides bringing valuable ministry perspectives, millennials can effectively reach their peers. Increasingly, this is a crucial issue because millennials are the biggest demographic in most countries yet unreached by the Gospel. The mission force should map to the mission field.
For example, about 60% of the Middle East is under 30 years old. In comparison, about 40% of the United States and only 16% of Japan are under this age. In fact, the median age of the Middle East is 24.8 while, in contrast, the U.S. is 37.9 and Japan is 46.9 years old. Around the world, businesses and nonprofits alike wrestle with how to engage millennials. A recommended book is Millennials and Mission which illuminates the challenges and opportunities for Christian ministry. The implications for networks, however, are rarely addressed.
We are eager to see the story of ““Millennials in Mission” unfold. Our daily work is increasing the effectiveness of networks and partnerships while remaining focused on accelerating the Great Commission. We see a special role for millennials when they’re effectively engaged in mission to reach growing numbers of unreached millennials.
We are thankful for your prayers and support which allow us to play a key role in advising and equipping the leaders of ever-evolving mission networks. May the Body of Christ around the world be encouraged to even greater collaboration!
Together for the Gospel,
Dave Hackett, visionSynergy Associate Director and Senior Advisor