Nick Mauer, Coordinator of Outreach & Evangelism
I’m a millennial. I was born in the 80’s, grew up in the 90’s, and saw the original Toy Story in the theaters (like 516 times—everybody had a Toy Story birthday that year). I watched 9/11 news footage live, and felt the great recession hit during my junior year of college. I’m on the older end of the millennial generation at age 28, but I try to stay in touch. I want to see fellow millennials fully-engaged in Christ’s mission for His church.
As you can imagine, Satan is not big on the idea of our generation of believers taking missions seriously. In fact, I’m sure he is dead-set on sapping us of drive, strength, and vision for the work that God has called us to. Here are some missions-zeal-killers that we need to viciously uproot and destroy in our lives if we are going to live for Christ's mission:
1.Thinking We Are Something New.
“There is nothing new under the sun.” What does that mean for a discussion of millennials in missions? First, it means we millennials are not substantially different from other generations. We may differ from them in many social, intellectual, and interpersonal ways, but at the end of the day, we are essentially similar. Differences are primarily cosmetic. Solomon said it first, and others have echoed the point more recently. The more we see ourselves as exceptions to the rule, the more we isolate ourselves. Paul spoke into this when he said, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man” (1 Cor. 10:13). Application: there are no unique “millennial temptations.” We struggle with the same flesh that every generation before has battled.
Having said that, we do face common temptations in new ways. For example, we especially struggle with…
2.Loving Our Lives
We are the “Life is Good®” generation. Literally. You’ve seen the shirts: “Happiness consists in sunshine, bare feet, and bacon” and all that. I love all three, and we all know we’re just kidding, right? Right? The danger is that, in saying such things, we might actually come to believe them—even just a little bit. The problem for missions is that such thinking destroys self-denying zeal for Jesus’ mission.
Nothing will kill the missions-usefulness of the millennial generation faster than clutching our lives. Life is something you can’t hold onto. It flies away. Poof. Done. Over. And if you live with it clutched in your hand, you actually lose it in the end. Jesus said, “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal” (John 12:25). Jim Elliot understood this when he penned his most famous words, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
There is plenty of stuff out there to scare us away from giving our lives for the mission Jesus gave us. You want to go to Europe? Terrorist bombings. Asia? Political instability. The Middle East? ISIS. South America? Zika. The neighborhood down the street? Gangs. I could go on.
Here’s the bottom line: living your life for Jesus’ mission will cost you. And as long as we love our lives, we are going to struggle to hand them over—piece by piece—to the Lord.
3.Spurning the Wisdom of the Past
One of my professors from seminary likes to talk about the “Whig fallacy”—the misguided tendency we all have to assume that we are the pinnacles of enlightenment. We all tend to think we’re right about most things. Interestingly, when we grow up around a view, we become expert critics of it, and often begin to look down our noses at those who hold it.
But here’s the problem: We can’t do missions on our own. God didn’t make the church to be one generation deep; He made it to be a like an ancient tree, with deep, old roots and an aged trunk holding new shoots up to the sky. We truly stand on the shoulders of giants. Some of those giants are figures from Church history, while others are our own pastors and parents. We owe them more than we know.
Usually, this generational arrogance cures itself somewhat as we age. Mark Twain is quoted as saying, “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.” Let’s avoid this error.
What is entangling you? Here are a few things I have seen entangle my own soul or the souls of others I know and love:
5.Giving Up Too Soon
“In due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Gal 6:9). I think this will be a key verse for millennial missionaries in the coming years. We’re young and idealistic, just like every other generation before us. Each of us will have “Elijah moments” where we realize, “I am no better than my fathers” (1 Kings 19:4). When that happens, we will need to pause, remember 2,000 years of missionaries who have gone before, believe His promises, set our hand back to the plow, and soldier on. The most Ritalin-dependent generation will need to become the most grace-dependent generation if we are to endure until the harvest.
Reaching the unreached peoples of the world, translating the Scriptures into every tongue, and training the global church are attainable goals for the millennial generation with God’s help. But we will need to take care that we guard ourselves and keep our hearts hot for the Lord and for His work.
May He receive the glory due Him—through our generation.
 The origin of this quote is debated, but it makes the point. See http://quoteinvestigator.com/2010/10/10/twain-father/
 The song “O Zion, Haste,” by Mary A. Thomson, has encouraged many mothers with this stanza:
Give of thy sons to bear the message glorious;
Give of thy wealth to speed them on their way;
Pour out thy soul for them in prayer victorious;
And all thou spendest, Jesus will repay!
7/28/2017 12:14:16 pm
This was excellent and thought provoking. Thank you for writing this. I'm glad you were hesitant to write exactly what my generation needs to read. Keep up the good work!
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The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.