Making Thanksgiving Count for the Kingdom

From the Archives

By Shane Bennett

Here in the US, our most American holiday is right around the corner. Thanksgiving presents a chance not only to re-calibrate our own gratitude meter but also to reach out to people we’ve considered connecting with but haven’t been able to trip the trigger.

Thanksgiving is innocuous, non-partisan, and safe. Even the most mild-mannered can break the social ice with, “What are we thankful for?” The more intrepid can follow up, “Who are we thankful to?” It’s a ready-made opportunity to get more comfortable talking about God. And should a sermon threaten to break out, there’s football, board games, and more pie.

If this idea is intriguing but intimidating, check out my super-short Five-Step Plan for a Killer International Thanksgiving Dinner. This will get you going in the right direction. Fill in the details by ransacking this beautiful and ridiculously helpful site with ideas for cross-cultural hospitality, The Serviette. These guys give the body of Christ a wonderful gift. Enjoy it.

Also from our archives, see Five Reasons to Go Big on Gratefulness.

How to Inspire God’s People for Their Global Destiny

Part 3: Inspire the Heart

Bevin Ginder, GlobalCAST Resources

This article is the second in a three-part series looking at core principles of mission mobilization: ways to inspire God’s people for their global destiny.

Part 1 reminded us that people around us pick up on our passions and watch our lives rather than just listening to what we say.

Part 2 pointed out the importance of explaining the biblical basis for missions and the remaining task and engaging people through stories.

Now let’s look at inspiring the heart.

Inspiring the Heart: What Does It Take?

When it comes to inspiring ourselves and inspiring minds, we see there are things we can do. But what about inspiring people’s hearts? Brothers and sisters, we need to recognize that this is God’s territory. He is the one who created the heart and who understands the heart even when we don’t understand our own. And he is also the one who can change the heart.

And when it comes to missions, people often need a change of heart.

Christians Need a Conversion to Missions

A man named A.T. Pearson said, “Christians need conversion to missions as much as a sinner needs conversion to Christ.” A bit shocking. What do you think? What is he trying to say here? One thing we already know about conversion to Christ is that the Holy Spirit does it. We don’t save people! We can sow the seeds, but Holy Spirit converts. Could it be that the same principle is true in mission mobilization? Is it the Holy Spirit who brings that moment of revelation?

Secular Humanism Says…

For a long time, I did mission mobilization with what you might call a secular humanist presupposition. Secular humanists have this idea that people are basically good. If a good person is doing something wrong, it’s because they didn’t get the right education. This is the thinking: if you give people the right information or training, they will do the right thing. Good information will lead to good choices and decisions.

But I discovered it didn’t work. I would do a great job sharing information and nothing would change. Maybe more information is not the issue. When you look at the world today, there has never been more access to information, ever. We have so much at our fingertips. But has that allowed us to be better human beings? Do we see less war, injustice, corruption, and immorality? Even just looking at my own life: How many amazing books have I read? How much have they actually transformed my life? Information does not necessarily lead to transformation.

We Have to Rely on the Holy Spirit

We can make a lot of disciples who can give the right answers, but what they understand hasn’t changed their hearts. We may find this in ourselves, too: We know what’s important but don’t live it out. I’ve become convicted and convinced that I want to be a disciple who not only hears but also obeys the Word and applies it. It’s so much more valuable to get a little bit of information and apply it and obey it than to get a lot and not apply it. The world needs disciples who act on what they know.

And this is where we need the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the one who adds revelation to the information we receive and brings it to our hearts so we can say, “Whoa, that’s for me.” He helps us apply it in our life and gives us the ability to be transformed from the inside out, not just by stuffing our heads full of more information.

There’s No “Heart Switch”

It would be nice if we could just turn on a switch in our hearts (or someone else’s) to have a burden for the lost, to really want to reach out to a group like the Fulani people of West Africa. But it turns out there is no switch like that. I can’t flip the switch. What I can do is say, “God, can you give me some of your heart for the Fulani?” When we do mobilization, we need to remember we can’t give people a love for the lost, and they can’t drum it up for themselves either. What we can do is tell people about the lost and our love for the lost.

Often, in the past, if I did that and it didn’t bring change, I would get frustrated and judge people. “I’ve told you this so many times! Why don’t you care? Why don’t you get it?” Have you ever felt that way? That’s another reason we need the Spirit’s help.

Evangelism and Mobilization Have Something in Common

When it comes to evangelism, we’ve been taught that our job is to sow the seed. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:6, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” It’s also true in mobilization. We can tell stories, share information, and offer opportunities, but it’s the Holy Spirit who can bring the mobilization equivalent of conversion, that “aha!” moment when people say, “Oh! I have a part to play in the Great Commission.”

This is the way we’ve been saying it at GlobalCAST Resources: Mobilization is to the Body of Christ what evangelization is to the unreached. The same principles that we apply in evangelism can inform how we do mobilization.

Don’t Try to Be the Holy Spirit

This has been so helpful to me. I don’t know about you, but in the effort to try to get people to care, I’ve tried to do the Holy Spirit’s job. And that’s not a good idea. I may even try to use things like fear and guilt and shame to get people to do things. When we try to play Holy Spirit, it’s just manipulating. It’s ugly and it doesn’t bring life. So we must let the Holy Spirit do His job. He will convict someone of a certain thing and then actually give the grace to respond to that conviction. So He’s so much better at this than any of us.

Prioritize Prayer

When it comes to evangelism, we know we need to pray because prayer can change hard soil to good soil that can receive the seed. Let’s approach mobilization the same way. If there is hard soil where you’ve been sharing this message and inviting people to do things in missions, and it’s just not working, step back and give yourself to prayer. Ask God to make them ready to receive the message of missions. You are joining in with Jesus’s mobilization prayer, “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:38).

Consider the Mobilization of Paul

I’ve been emphasizing that mobilization is the work of the Holy Spirit. But I want to acknowledge that it’s still a partnership. You can see this in the life of Paul. He’s walking on the road to Damascus going to persecute some Christians when Jesus confronts him and mobilizes him to be the most amazing missionary to the Gentile world. Amazing!

But, let’s not forget the role of Barnabas. Barnabas took a risk on this known terrorist and walked with him as a mentor and a coach. Barnabas was key to Paul becoming a missionary to the nations.

We need many more men and women with the heart of Barnabas who are willing to come alongside and encourage rough, unpolished, future missionaries who still have flaws, to coach them and be patient with them and walk with them.

Some statistics show that out of every 100 young people who say, “Here am I, send me to the nations,” only three actually go. Hundreds say yes. Three will go. I’m convinced that part of the problem is a lack of mission mobilizers with the spirit of Barnabas who will keep them going. We need you, mobilizers!

Offering People Opportunities to Invest

Another principle for inspiring the heart comes across clearly in Matthew 6:21, which says, “where your treasure is there, your heart will be also.” We need to give opportunities for people to pray and give and volunteer. Because as they invest in something, their heart connects with that very same thing. Do not underestimate the value of giving people opportunities to pray and give. That may be what inspires their hearts.

The Story of Steve

Steve is a friend of mine, a young man invited by the Holy Spirit to say yes to going to another nation. And he did say yes. I happened to have the privilege of coaching and mentoring him, of helping him take the next step, and encouraging him along the way. But it was very clear that I did not talk him into missions.

Later on, he was working in an unreached area and had learned the language and everything. Then while they were praying and worshiping God highlighted another province that was very needy. And Steve said yes again and went. The Holy Spirit mobilized him to a new place. But even then, other leaders, friends, and coaches helped him form a team and face the challenges of pioneering. It’s always a partnership.

Conclusion: Mobilizers With the Heart of Barnabas

We need many more men and women who are willing to encourage others to go further and have more influence than they do, themselves. People like Barnabas. I think he is my favorite picture of a mission mobilizer in the New Testament. Be a Barnabas!

Going Further

Could you use some training (or inspiration) as a mission advocate or mobilizer? GlobalCAST Resources offers an eight-week, online missions advocacy course through YWAM’s University of the Nations.

Contact them to learn when the next course begins.

This article was adapted from a video presentation you can find on the GlobalCAST Resources website. See Inspire The Heart!

About Bevin Ginder

Bevin is part of Youth With A Mission (YWAM) and co-founder of GlobalCAST Resources. He loves to connect, equip, and coach missions leaders, mobilizers, and advocates.

Follow GlobalCAST on social media for regular doses of inspiration.

How to Inspire God’s People for Their Global Destiny

Read or share the email edition.

Part 2: Inspire the Mind

Bevin Ginder, GlobalCAST Resources

This article is the second in a three-part series looking at core principles of mission mobilization: ways to inspire God’s people for their global destiny.

In the first part, Bevin reminded us that people around us pick up on our passions and watch our lives rather than just listening to what we say. So, if we’re going to be effective mission mobilizers, we have to start with ourselves by keeping our passion for God’s kingdom purposes strong and fresh. Bevin shared some practical ways we can do that.

Now let’s look at key ways to inspire the hearts and minds of others.

Recognize Two Mobilization Challenges

In the West, we have a lot of work to do in the area of missions education, helping believers in the West to re-learn, to understand, what missions is and what their part in mission is. Not long ago the Barna organization did a big survey that showed that 51% of the people who go to church in the US did not know even know what the Great Commission is.

In the Global South, Asia, Africa, and Latin America, there is a different kind of challenge. I have had the privilege of a front-row seat in my organization to meet many Latin American, Asian, and African men and women, face to face. And these guys are incredible. They have strong character. They have a clear call to the nations. They even have the training and equipping to some degree. What they don’t have is support.

That points to another mobilization challenge: We need many more leaders who are not only going to train those who will go, but also those who will stay and send. We need to help those who stay understand their privilege and responsibility to pray and give to support those who will go. We need people to mobilize and inspire the minds of the senders.

Answer the “Why” Questions

In both cases, a key to inspiring people for their global destiny is to make sure we answer the question, “Why?” That has to be a priority. Too often, especially regarding missions, we jump into where to go, how to do things, and who to serve…. all important things. But we should start with why.

  • Why should we care about the nations?
  • What does the Bible say about the nations?
  • What is God’s heart for the nations?

If we answer the question “why should we care?” then people with a good reason to care will be motivated to learn other things. But they won’t go as far without strong motivation.

Teach The Biblical Basis for Missions

A key to answering the “why?” question is to be ready to give a good case for what the Bible says about missions. Many people are actually thinking, hey, I know maybe a few missions verses. (But I guess 51% of those in my country don’t even know one missions verse!) For those who do know some missions verses, they can come up with a couple, 15 maybe if they’re really good! But they could be thinking, “There are 31,000 verses in the Bible. If there are 15 verses about missions, is it really that important?” That’s a “why?” question!

So, we as mission advocates, as missions mobilizers, need to be ready to show people that missions is a theme that goes from Genesis all the way through to the book of Revelation and ties the whole story of the Bible together. We have to be able to do that in a creative, new way for each generation.

Share Information About the Task Remaining

When you’re talking about inspiring the mind, compelling information is important. We have amazing sources for information about missions and about the world, like the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, Operation World, and Joshua Project. Others have done the work to show where the people groups are and what the need is, and we can get that and make sure it gets to the people who are praying and the people who are giving, and the people who are going.

Part of our job as mission advocates is to connect our communities to the information that’s out there. I like to share bits and pieces people can remember, like the fact that 86% of the Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims in the 10/40 Window do not have a Christian friend. That’s the kind of information people can remember.

But we have to be careful with information because sometimes we can use information like a club and pound people with it. And if we push too hard with information or in the wrong way, people push back, right? They close their hearts. They close their minds. So the information is good. But I found that actually, stories inspire even better than information!

Remember We’re Wired for Stories

Think of a time you were listening to somebody talking and giving lots of information. But then they say, “I want to tell you a story.” I don’t know about you, but when somebody says “Once upon a time” or starts to tell a story, I start to listen in a whole new way. I listen better. And that story is often the only thing I remember.

It seems that just about every culture in the world loves stories, and often actually prefers to get important ideas through stories. So we should learn to grow as storytellers, to develop and practice the art of storytelling.

The Story God Is Telling

I find it very fruitful to reframe missions as a story God is telling. We can talk about the task and we can talk about the need. Those things are real. We can give lots of charts and statistics about unreached people groups. But what about the reality that this is actually a big story God is telling? All the things we love about a story, whether it’s a movie or a book, are actually in the story that God is telling.

If we like romantic stories, well, guess what? God is our bridegroom God, and he’s in love with his bride. And missions is not just a task, it’s inviting and preparing the bride for the party at the end of the story. And that bride is made up of every nation, tongue, and tribe, right? You see, it’s a romance story!

If you like action stories, hey, this story has that! There’s a bad guy who led a revolt and is still creating problems. And we take real risks and are invited to pray dangerous prayers like, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.” We go do crazy things for the kingdom of God! That is the reality. That’s part of this story.

This Story Includes an Invitation

If we reframe missions in light of the story God is telling, it’s much more inspirational. And missions is not just a task; it comes with an invitation to ordinary people just like us. He loves to use people just like us to play key roles in the story: fishermen, tax collectors, and people who may have no skills or finances.

Let me just close with a story for you. This is a story about an amazing Asian couple, friends of mine. The husband had been involved in missions for some time, and then he met an amazing lady and they got married. But his new wife was not at all sure she wanted to be a missionary.

They did a Discipleship Training School. I had the privilege of teaching on missions for one week in their school. I approached missions not as task and need and duty, but as the privilege to be a part of an amazing story God is telling, a story filled with romance and adventure. And she caught that. It brought her to the place where she was able to say “yes” to God’s invitation to be a missionary.

Now, together as a couple, they have been doing an amazing job mobilizing many workers into their country and from their country to other places.

Going Further

Could you use some training (or inspiration) as a mission advocate or mobilizer? GlobalCAST Resources will be offering an eight-week, online missions advocacy course from September 5 to October 28.

Learn more or register through YWAM’s University of the Nations.

This article was adapted from a video presentation you can find on the GlobalCAST Resources website. See Inspire The Mind!

Next month: Part 3, Inspire the Heart

About Bevin Ginder

Bevin is part of Youth With A Mission (YWAM) and co-founder of GlobalCAST Resources. He loves to connect, equip, and coach missions leaders, mobilizers, and advocates. Follow GlobalCAST on social media for regular doses of inspiration.

Opening photo by Beth Macdonald on Unsplash.

How to Inspire God’s People for Their Global Destiny

Part 1, First Inspire Yourself

Bevin Ginder, GlobalCAST Resources

If you see yourself as a mission advocate or mobilizer, you may sometimes feel as if people just don’t care about missions. And that all we can do is to really push and try to get them to care.

What about a more positive approach? I like to think of it as trying to inspire people: to help them feel they want to do something and can do it. Of inviting them into the process of finding God’s heart and engaging with it. Inspiring people is something we can do together with God. That idea guides my team in how we think and talk about mission and how we approach mission mobilization.

And perhaps that’s what’s happening in Habakkuk 1:5.

“Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe, even if you were told.”

I love that! Watch. Be inspired. God is preparing an amazing harvest. And that includes our days as well. There is so much we can learn right now to be poised and ready for the incredible fruitfulness that’s coming and is even happening right now!

The Ministry of Mobilization

Consider this definition from Wes Tullis:

“Mobilization is the process of envisioning and educating God’s people about his strategic plans for the world, and it is the means to keep people involved and moving forward until they find their specific place and role in world evangelization.”

I like this definition because it talks about mobilization as a process. Events are important, but people usually need to hear about something many times and have somebody coach them and mentor them to take the next step, and the next step, and the next step. They keep growing and understanding more and more as they keep taking steps. It’s a process.

And I also love this definition because it says, “find their specific place.” It’s not saying that everybody will be a cross-cultural missionary. God bless those who are called to that. We need them, and so many more. But every believer has a part to play in the Great Commission. We need the whole Church to bring the whole gospel to the whole world!

What Is a Mobilizer?

Mobilizers are those who channel key resources, training, or vision for world evangelization to the Body of Christ. Many people are called to give, go, pray, and welcome the nations that are coming to their cities. But the mobilizer is the leader who’s saying, “Hey, everybody has a part to play. What is your part? I will help you get there, get you training and resources.”

Mobilizers serve people in every other role in the Great Commission, so we want to see a lot more mobilizers. That includes mobilizers in the Global South, the non-Western world, including Asia, Africa, and Latin America. God is transforming places that only received missionaries into places that send missionaries!

First Inspire Yourself

If to mobilize is to inspire, we need to start with ourselves, because people don’t just listen to what we say, they watch our lives. What they catch from you is not just your teaching, it’s your passion. So you need that passion and enthusiasm strong and fresh because that’s what people catch even more than the words you say.

As mobilizers, we need to find ways to stoke the fires in our souls when we run out of passion. Here are a couple of practical ways to do that.

1. Connect With God

God is the source of everything we need. You could be thinking, oh yes, of course, I know this, it’s so basic! But brothers and sisters, we cannot grow beyond this. We cannot leave behind the essential foundational. We need to connect with God as our source of life. God will…

  • Re-stoke our fires: If we connect with God, He will be faithful to “re-stoke” our fires. The Bible says very clearly, “they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). This comes from spending time with God and waiting on him.
  • Give us his perspective: As we connect with God, he will give us his perspective on the Bride of Christ, on the Church. When we are frustrated or disappointed, we can come to Jesus and say, “I know you love your Bride. Can you please give me your perspective on her? Help me love her again.”
  • Give us his heart: God loves the lost more than we ever will. As we spend time with God, He will give us some of His heart, like a burden for an unreached people group that is natural and from Him and not just something we work up. There are also so many things we could and should be doing in missions. He can give us wisdom as to the next step we should take.
  • Remind us who we are: God will remind us of our identity in Jesus, which is so much deeper and more essential to who we are than being a missionary, a mobilizer, or any of the other roles we accept. When our identity in Christ is solid, we can run the long race.

2. Connect With Others

Another thing that keeps us inspired is to connect with people who have similar passions. Then we realize we are not alone. We can also share what’s working and what we’re struggling with. We can pray for each other and encourage each other. That coming together is so crucial, life-giving, and inspiring.

3. Get Coaching

Along the same lines, it helps to find a mentor or a coach. Often we don’t need to be told what to do. We don’t need more information. We just need somebody who can draw out the wisdom that is already in us and help us to figure out the next step, and then check in and say, “how did it go?” and keep us moving.

4. Do First, Then Teach

The reason I keep fighting for mobilizers to inspire themselves, first, is because of this principle: do first, then teach. Whatever we are doing and living, that’s what people are going to pick up on, in the same way that a child watches their parents.

What Do You Want to See Happen?

Now think about your community, your family, team, church, or organization. What might it look like if they were more fully engaged in God’s mission? What would you like to see in them? Here are a few ideas.

  • Praying fervently: I don’t know about you, but I would like to see people pray fervently and specifically for the unreached. How about me? How am I doing with that? Am I praying, fervently and specifically? If I’m not living it, modeling it, I have little to no authority to challenge and inspire others to do that. We have to live it first.
  • Giving generously: I want to see people give generously and even sacrificially to frontier mission efforts. So how are you doing with that? How am I doing with that? If we are not tithing, if we are not giving sacrificially, we have little or no authority to challenge others to give in those ways.
  • Living as learners: We want to see people who are open to new ideas—life-long learners. How are we doing? Can we inspire others in this area? Be a learner. If we want to see people recognize what God is doing in the world, understanding his mission and the task remaining, we, too, should be growing in our understanding of the world and passing on what we learn.
  • Willing to go: We would love to see in our communities a willingness to go and serve locally and globally. That may mean that we need to regularly ask ourselves, am I willing to go? Am I serving those God is calling me to serve?
  • Spending time with the lost: And of course, we want to see people who have a love for the lost and are willing to spend time with people who don’t know Jesus. So, let’s check our own lives and say, how am I doing with that? To whatever degree I am living that out, I have more authority to invite and inspire others to do the same.

The Story of Jen and Joe

Jen and Joe are a Latin American couple who came to a mobilization workshop and really got it. They went home and got their whole church starting to pray for and give to an unreached people group in Africa. Things were going so well! It was super encouraging!

Then there was a misunderstanding that really set them back and disappointed them.

I was so encouraged to see them go back to God and say, “God, help us love our community and forgive and release them.” They also had access to other mission mobilizers who were able to encourage and mentor them. And that allowed them to keep going.

Recently, Joe was able to go to that unreached people group in Africa with resources and bring back fresh stories about what God is doing there. After that, more communities in their country started to pray and give and go.

Going Further

Could you use some training (or inspiration) as a mission advocate or mobilizer? GlobalCAST Resources will be offering an eight-week, online missions advocacy course from September 5 to October 28.

Learn more or register through YWAM’s University of the Nations.

This article was adapted from a video presentation you can find on the GlobalCAST Resources website. See Inspire Yourself First!

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash.

What Mission Mobilizers Want to Know

Spreading Vision, Keeping Pace, Staying the Course, and Praying Well

Read or share the email edition.

Last month we asked what topics you’d most like to see us cover in Practical Mobilization. What would you find most interesting and helpful in these monthly pieces and maybe in the Missions Catalyst newsletter as a whole?

Thanks to everyone who chimed in. Admittedly, the number was a little small. More of a focus group. But it gave us enough to go on. Often, the earliest data is a pretty good indicator of what will or could come later, right?

If you want to prove me wrong about that, you can still complete the survey. It should only take a couple of minutes.

Here’s what we asked:

  • What topics would you most like to see us cover (from a list of about a dozen themes)
  • What are one or two areas in which could you use some insight or encouragement?
  • What big questions or challenges are you grappling with?
  • Are there specific people or types of people you’d like to hear from?
  • Do you have any other suggestions for Missions Catalyst?

Here’s what we heard from you.

Top Topics from Missions Catalyst Readers

1. Spreading mission vision in the local church (76.9%)

Of the 13 categories we suggested, this one got the most votes. It’s something we’ve addressed in many ways over the years but we’ll plan to lean into it more and more.

In the meantime, be sure you’re getting the monthly publication Postings from Catalyst Services. You can also find gems in their carefully organized archives.

Readers mentioned a few specific issues. They are currently struggling with how to get and keep their pastors and church staff involved in missions, how to help their churches become more mission-focused, and how to create meaningful connections between the congregation and their mission partners (some of whom work in sensitive regions).

2. Current events and ministry trends (73.1%)

Following close behind that, most readers would like to see us continue covering current events and ministry trends. Will do. Your interest gives me a great excuse to keep up with reading, listening to webinars, and going to conferences. Thanks!

We also recommend Justin Long’s weekly roundup and a new eight-episode podcast exploring the changing face of global missions called MissionShift, from Cru City Global.

Just knowing what’s going on is not enough. How do we apply what we hear about mission shifts and changing cultural trends to our mission and mobilization efforts? In particular, what do we need to know and do to work well with international partners and see more funding for mission efforts from the global south? Those are the kind of questions readers are asking.

3. Staying motivated as a mission mobilizer (57.6%)

My hope is that just by hearing from us, you’re a bit encouraged and inspired to keep going and not give up. But motivation is something we could address more. Check out Shane Bennett’s 7 Joys of Mobilizers.

I’ve started a conversation with Bevin Ginder at GlobalCast Resources about creating some articles related to this and other topics on our list. Watch for that.

Of course, in-person and/or interactive is best for many of us. Scope out the Missions Catalyst events calendar for options that may work for you. And if you’re a mission mobilizer in the US, get yourself connected to a Mobilization Ideation group or event in your region.

One reader wrote to confess, “The biggest challenge I’ve been wrestling with as a mobilizer is that I spend a majority of my time encouraging and mobilizing others in the area of disciple-making, while not fully living that out in my own life. I think as mobilizers, we often have resources that help us know how to mobilize others better, but I think many (if not most) of us are really struggling to implement the very things we’re trying to help other people do. At least that’s been my struggle.” Can you relate?

4. Ways to pray and raise up prayer for the nations & missions (57.5%)

The saying’s been around for a while. “When we work, we work. When we pray, God works.” He can accomplish in a day what we might labor over for years. We’ll continue to share ways to pray and tools to help others pray. Nothing we can do or say will convince someone the gospel is true or mobilize them for global missions like hearing from God for themselves.

We also hope Missions Catalyst encourages you to pray on your own and with others. One reader said, “My life as a mom of a young child is full. [I need] to be fueled with prayer ideas to do alongside my daughter.” Another wrote, “I love the mission stories, even the hard ones because they cause me to pray more for the situation.”

I’d love to hear what you think, though, about all the days or weeks of prayer for different places, people groups, etc. that we promote. There are so many of them, and none of us can care about everything. It’s easy enough to put them on the calendar, though. Do you want more of this sort of thing? Or maybe less?

5. Obstacles to global and local mission involvement (53.8%)

This topic is a discouraging one, but being out of touch with the obstacles and challenges we and others face does us no good either. Many of the books I think of as “missions apologetics” address obstacles and misconceptions. Some hurdles have been around for generations, while others seem new or growing in strength. See articles from The Traveling Team on obstacles to mission. You might have something to add to the list.

Several readers wrote about the struggle to motivate the younger generation and pass the mission mobilization vision on to them. How do we recruit and motivate more young adults, including young professionals? How do we integrate professionals into teams of traditional Bible-school types and see both become fruitful disciple-makers? Those are good questions.

6. Making mission trips better (50%)

Before the pandemic came along, this was a regular topic for us. Not so much lately. See some from our archives:

I’m going to try to get some fresh content on this topic from friends at Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission. Making mission trips better is what they’re all about.

7. Mission training and education (50%)

This topic could go in many different directions. Aside from frequent shout-outs to things like Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, we’ve funneled most of our content about training opportunities and resources to our Resource Review editions. But maybe some of it would fit well in Practical Mobilization. How about revisiting immersive training opportunities like those mentioned in our 2013 article about mission internships? The options have changed.

Meanwhile, get yourself over to Global Frontier Missions for mission education opportunities in varying levels of immersion and complexity. They do good stuff.

What didn’t make the cut?

Evangelism, crossing cultures, missionary care, fundraising, and other nuts-and-bolts issues came in lower on our list. I was surprised by some of these. Perhaps our readers don’t need practical help in these areas. Or maybe you know you can find it elsewhere. Fair enough. We won’t ignore these topics altogether but may limit our comments to pointing you to other ministries, tools, and training opportunities you can pursue or recommend to others.

We appreciate you!

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this survey and to everyone who reads Missions Catalyst. Some of you have been with us for decades. Others come with fresh eyes. We need both. May the Lord continue to bless you and make you a blessing.

Four Opportunities Young People Deserve

By Seth Barnes

We Christians wonder why so many young people are leaving the faith and struggling. We point our finger at media and other villains. But perhaps we should look at ourselves first. What does the Bible say that believers need? After spending much of my life seeking to impart faith to young people, here are four things that I’ve found work.

1. Experience

All young people should have the opportunity to walk as Jesus and his disciples walked.

“Whoever claims to abide in Him must walk as Jesus walked.” (1 John 2:6)

Where does faith come from? It may be grounded in good theology, but it comes from the heart. It comes from experiences that impact the heart. The faith Jesus and his disciples walked out was radical. Young people deserve the opportunity to see if that model Jesus gave us still works.

2. Initiation

Young people deserve a particular kind of experience—an initiation. We see Jesus initiating his disciples in Matthew 10. The church should send out its young people on mission as a part of their training, free of charge, to see if he shows up as promised.

“Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.” (Matthew 10)

All over the world we see in other cultures that as young people move to adulthood, an initiation is normal. The transition is hard and thoughtful parents will help their kids prepare for it. But not in America. No wonder 54% of young people are deeply anxious and even wonder if they are mentally ill. Where are the adults helping them make the transition to adulthood? Young people deserve better from their elders.

3. True Religion

All young people should be given the opportunity to practice true religion caring for widows and orphans—serving God’s vulnerable children.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…” (James 1:27 and Luke 4:18-19)

We need to align ourselves with God’s priorities. When I connect with those who are in distress, I stop thinking about myself. Their pain elicits my compassion. And when I help them, something in me feels better. Why is that? I believe it’s the Spirit of God that blesses those who care for his kids who have no one else—widows and orphans.

4. Healthy Church

All young people should be given the opportunity to experience the body of Christ functioning as intended.

“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.” (1 Corinthians 12:12)

God made us with a need to deeply connect with one another and with him. Churches where that doesn’t happen feel stale and unhealthy. But there are plenty of churches where it does happen. And if our leaders will lead with more authenticity and vulnerability, their congregations will follow. I’ve seen this process works even in our cynical culture.

We need to give young people the opportunities to see that, as bad as the world may seem, God is still present and active. Getting outside the walls of our church buildings and into places where he has promised to meet us makes all the difference.

Reprinted with permission from Seth’s blog, Radical Living. Thanks, Seth!

About Seth Barnes

Seth Barnes is the founder and president of Adventures in Missions, a discipleship and missions ministry that has taken more than 125,000 people on mission projects. One of their initiatives, The World Race, provides trained teams of young adults the opportunity to engage in 11 international mission contexts in 11 months using an experiential, missional discipleship model. Adventures emphasizes listening prayer, relationships, and servanthood in their work among the poor. In addition to overseeing Adventures in Missions, Seth is a speaker, author, and prolific blogger. His blog, Radical Living, can be found at

Joining with Jesus in the Way He’s Made You to Bring Heaven Here

By Shane Bennett

So many fish! image of a catch of fish

I’m an amazing kayaker. In my mind, that is. In the physical realm, not so much! I once picked up a beautiful, hand-made wooden kayak at a garage sale. The first time I tried it out, I managed to balance and very gently paddle it… on a pond. For my second effort, I took it to a way-back cove in our local reservoir. I had managed to gain a semblance of control amid the slight lake ripples when a nearby DWAB (dad with a boat), decided to pack up the family beach picnic and roar out of the cove full throttle.
As I hopelessly watched the tsunami roll my way, I remembered with distress a snake I’d seen swim by—and realized I hadn’t seen it get to the edge. After dumping into the water, I slowly headed to the shore, one arm swimming, the other holding onto the upturned boat. Only then did I muse, “Maybe kayaking is not for me.” 

What about you? What do you wish you were better at? On the other hand, what is one thing you do better than the average person? These are fun and universal questions to kick around. I ask them today because I want to share how Jesus met Peter in the midst of what he could do and what he was going to get really good at doing. 

Who’s The Better Fisherman?

Luke records for us in chapter five that Jesus was teaching the crowd God’s Word. Oh, how I wish that phrase was in blue, underlined, and linked to a full transcript of the talk! 

Whatever he was saying must have been pretty good, because the crowd kept closing in until Jesus asked Peter if he could hop up on his boat. Peter agreed, but it turned out Jesus was starting an epic version of “if you give a mouse a cookie!” 

Jesus finished his teaching and asked Peter to row out a bit and let down the nets. Torn between knowing how (and when) to fish and thinking Jesus was pretty cool and maybe not wanting to wash the nets again, Peter obliges. 

The resulting catch began to break the nets, even threatened to sink the boats. Ponder this for a minute: Did Jesus cause the fish to gather in Peter’s nets? Or did he create fish that hadn’t been there just moments before? And if so, when they landed on dining tables the next evening, were they not the best-tasting fish anyone in Capernaum had ever had?

Peter, for his part, read the room, dropped to Jesus’s knees, and begged him to depart, explaining, “I am a sinful man.” Peter realized this wasn’t a matter of trying a little harder, maybe losing a few pounds and he’d measure up. No, Jesus had just double-trumped him at the very thing he was good at! Jesus was on a whole other level. Best to face the music honestly. 

Seeing Jesus in action should naturally make us wonder how far we fall. It’s scary to feel afresh how amazing Jesus is and then realize what a train wreck we may be. I believe we need this occasionally, but the weight can be devastating. May we move quickly from “amazing Jesus” to “I’m a train wreck” to the realization that Jesus lifts our face, our eyes, to his and says, “You are forgiven. I choose you.” 
And he does choose us, like he chose Peter, “Don’t be afraid. You’re going to be a fisher of men.” 

(Parenthetically, good thing Peter’s job was fishing and not selling cars or working as a short-order cook!)

Five Styles of Contagious Faith

As a reader of Missions Catalyst, I would guess you’re a fan of the idea that disciples of Jesus are still called by him to gather people into the kingdom of God. Although I’ve not been the best example, I couldn’t agree with you more. I love it when Paul says we’re ambassadors of Christ. I believe when Jesus tells us to pray “Father… let your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven,” we’re agreeing to do our part in that. 

But sharing our faith can be hard, confusing, frustrating, and fraught with guilt and shame. Here’s something that has encouraged and energized me lately:

Mark Mittelberg, author, academic, and partner-in-crime with Lee Stroebel, writes about five styles of contagious faith. He says when we think about sharing our faith, we feel most natural in one of these five approaches

  • Truth Telling: Someone with this style is more direct and hard-hitting. They might like knocking on doors of strangers or walking up to people and doing surveys in the shopping mall or meeting new people that just moved in. This type of person is bold about getting to the point, talking about spiritual matters, and so forth.
  • Reason Giving: Someone with this style tends to share evidence and answer questions. They may help with more of the cognitive side, the intellectual side, of Christianity and help people realize Christianity is true and it makes sense. Some people can open the doors and build friendships; others answer questions.
  • Story Sharing: This person likes to tell their testimony and share their story. They talk about their experience with Christ in a way that can influence and affect the experience of the other person.
  • Selfless Serving: This person helps others and makes a difference in people’s lives in tangible ways. That helps open doors to also share about the love and truth of Christ.
  • Friendship Building: This approach is seen in someone who’s more relational and connects with people in natural ways, but through those relationships then begins to share their faith. 

Which of these styles most resonates with you? Definitely friendship-building and story-sharing for me. Hearing that Jesus wants me to share him in ways that emanate from who I am is freeing for me and makes me want to give it a fresh go. I don’t anticipate bringing in nets full of people like Peter did (3,000 in one day!), but I want to do my part. There’s a lot of pain and fear swirling around these days. Jesus would like to replace that with abundant life.

A Quick Heads Up: Taking a Break

After almost 20 years of writing Practical Mobilization columns, I’m going to take a six-month hiatus. Our intrepid publisher, Marti Wade, will make sure you get a monthly dose of great content. She’s the best.

To help us to stay in touch, please click this link to get my super short weekly email about loving Muslims. I’d be honored if you do so and I think you might find it practically helpful and maybe a little funny. 

Anniversary Special: 30 Years of Encountering the World of Islam

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to take the 12-lesson Encountering the World of Islam course, this is it. To celebrate their 30th anniversary, our friends at EWI are offering their online course for just $99 (regularly $249). This only applies to the summer online class, but that’s just around the corner: May 2 to July 31. Join us in celebrating EWI and inviting others to participate!

Learn more and sign up.