I have said before in conversation with friends that I think that the world today is smaller than it ever has been. No, I am not crazy and do not believe that our planet is shrinking... but I do think we are more connected globally than ever before. An increase in affluence and a decrease in the inflation adjusted cost of travel means more and more are travelling and visiting different cultures and countries. Also, the global reach of the internet and social networks like Twitter have given us access to real-time unfiltered information about global events. No longer are we reading or watching the news the next day, instead we are following real time updates from the people who are actually involved.
The bottom line is this – Our students are citizens in a global community. They are more connected globally than ever before. And I believe that this reality demands a faith that is lived out on a global scale. It requires a global discipleship. I believe that the mission of the church begins in and is centred in its neighbourhood, but must also have a global reach and impact.
This really isn’t anything new. God’s plan has always been global. God told Abraham that “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:3). He sent Jonah to call the foreign people of Nineveh to repent. Jesus told his disciples that they would be witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8) and called them to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28). God’s plan has always been global.
In light of all this, I believe that effective student ministry will be centred in the community while at the same time reaching to the ends of the earth. We need to cultivate in our students a missional mindset for the world.
So practically, how do we do that? Here are a few suggestions. I’d love to hear how you are doing it in the comments section.
- Talk about it. This seems simple but I think it is so important. Take time in your youth ministries to actually talk about things that are going on in the world. They have already heard about it so take the opportunity to frame it in light of God’s story. Ask them what they’ve heard about the earthquakes in Nepal… Highlight the Syrian refugee crisis…
- Pray. Again, this seems like a no-brainer but I think it is a good reminder for us as leaders. Make it clear that God cares about these situations and that have the awesome opportunity to pray about them.
- Be an Advocate. Get students involved and challenge them to be a voice for people who do not have a voice. A great example of this is Canadian Baptist Ministries “She Matters” campaign. Some of the youth ministries in our region have become involved with this. Others have tackled issues like human trafficking or been part of letter writing campaigns.
- Raise Money. I believe that one of the ways God calls us to be good news on a global scale involves our wallets. There are great organizations doing great work (our Springforth partnership with CBM is at the top of my list) and this work requires financial resources. Challenge students to give sacrificially and think creatively about how they could raise more as a group. You will be amazed at the great ideas they come up with!
- Involve them in a short-term mission. There is no learning like actually going and sharing life with brothers and sisters in Christ from a different culture. Far from mission tourism, when done right I think this can be foundational for a life of global discipleship. This has certainly been my experience. Again, our Springforth partnership with Camp Tumaini is a great place to start. Just make sure you don’t make these mistakes I wrote about before.
Our students are more globally aware and connected than ever before and are longing for a faith with a global reach and impact. I’ve given some suggestions on how to do this… what would you add?
- Adrian (@AdrianDGardner)