A Recipe for Pursuing the Purpose of God
In our last post, we reexamined the need for churches and ministries to keep missions as a priority in the discipleship process with the young people they serve. Even if we can’t do missions right now like we once did, we can at least continue to pursue missions wholeheartedly. Why? Because God’s purpose for us to make disciples of ALL nations (Matthew 28:18-20) has not changed. And, it will not change. Not until there is at least one believer in every nation, tribe, people, and tongue who will worship Him forever (Revelation 7:9).
But how can we pursue missions right now? How can we prepare ourselves to do missions again with excellence once it is possible to go into all the world with the Gospel?
There are three basic practices on the recipe of a missions-minded youth ministry. If we learn to bake these into our normal ministry and discipleship routines with our young people, they will help us become faithful ambassadors of the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:20).
- Remember the love of God. Sounds obvious, right? But, at times like this, we must rehearse the basics. God loves you, and He demonstrated that most clearly through His Son dying on the cross in your place (Romans 5:8). Despite the many challenges in the world around us, His love will not and cannot stop.
Not only this, but God often demonstrates His love for others by means of other people. In other words, God uses people to tell us and show us that He loves us. After all, someone shared the Gospel with you at one point in your life, maybe even multiple times!
We must help our teens remember that God not only wants to show His love to the world through the message of their lives, but also through their lips. As Paul says in Romans 10:14-17, “How will they hear without a preacher?” The Gospel must be proclaimed for people to be saved. Telling someone who God is and how they can know Him despite their sin is the ultimate expression of love.
Continue to cultivate this mentality in your church or ministry. Make sure your young people understand that God’s love has not changed, that He can and will save sinners, and that He will do that when the Gospel is faithfully and accurately proclaimed. As Jesus said in John 4:31-38, “[The fields] are ripe for harvest.”
- Pray for opportunities to go and for people to respond in faith. In the past, it was easy to assume we would always be able to go into all the world. But one of the things that the last year has reminded us of is that missions is God’s work; therefore, it must be bathed in prayer from start to finish. With many countries around the world right now, it seems crystal clear that God will have to intervene for them to open up again. Within those countries, people are waiting to hear the message of Christ’s love. Let’s not act like they don’t exist by not praying for them, maybe now more than ever.
The more we remember the love of God for us and how God wants us to show His love to the world through our service and sharing the Gospel, the more it should lead us to pray regularly and passionately, believing that God will continue to build His church. Let’s help our young people learn to pray verses like 2 Thessalonians 3:1 (for the Word to spread rapidly) and Colossians 4:1-4 (for an open door to preach and to do so boldly).
- Learn about the state of missions around the world. We have a mountain of resources at our fingertips these days to aid in our understanding of the Word and the world. If we want to cultivate missions-minded young people, they are going to need to know not only what God’s intentions are for the world through His Word, but they’re also going to need to know what God has already done in His world. In other words, they will need to know where the Gospel has already gone, where has it not gone, and why.
Thankfully, this increase in resources leads to the ability to pray specifically for more people in more places than any other generation in history has ever been able to know about. And, more and more resources are available for free.
Some of the best sources for information about the state of missions around the world are free apps, such as the Joshua Project app, the Operation World app, the Voice of the Martyrs app, and the Open Doors app.
The first two of these apps offer information on every known people group in the world, the spread of Christianity within that people group, and the status of a Bible translation project in their language. You can pray for people groups by name who have never even heard of Jesus before!
The final two of these apps offer information on all countries in the world where Christians are persecuted regularly for their faith. They have information about the source and severity of the persecution and how to pray for these people. Hebrews 13:3 exhorts us to “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated.” Young people have an easy way to learn about and pray for people who are experiencing their walks with God in much harder ways. What incredible discipleship tools these can be!
Let’s be the kind of churches and youth ministries who are filled with the knowledge of His love, the desire to share it with others, and the willingness to learn and pray for God to use people, including ourselves, to spread the Gospel around the world.
Let this become our prayer and our desire for our young people: “Then he said to his disciples, ‘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’” (Matthew 9:37-38).
Randy Curtis is a graduate of the Word of Life Bible Institute and Liberty University. He has been in college ministry with Word of Life for over 10 years and loves teaching, discipling, and organizing missions trips for young people. Randy and his wife Kylie live in upstate NY and have two toddlers with one more child on the way. He enjoys pickup basketball, a long list of podcasts, and a good book.