Sending Out Recent High School Graduates to the Nations

Missions is evangelism and compassionate ministry in the name of Christ. Both here and there and to the uttermost parts of the earth. It flows from passion for Christ’s renown and an insatiable thirst to see the multiplication of worshippers before His throne for all of eternity. On earth the goal is not making converts but making disciples. Or better yet, making disciple makers.

The population in the U.S. represents only 5 percent of the population of the world. Ninety-five percent of U.S. believers stay in the U.S. to minister with that 5 percent. Five percent of U.S. believers go to minister with 95 percent of the world’s population, a population that mostly does not know Christ.

On earth the goal is not making converts but making disciples. Or better yet, making disciple makers.

Mission leaders today talk about a church for every people and the Gospel for every person. For Christ’s sake believers must be about the business of setting up bases of operation around the globe so His hope-filled message can impact every culture.

Those who research missionary advances estimate 6 million new churches are currently needed among over 2 billion non-Christians for the nations to be effectively reached for Christ. That might mean 600,000 young missions volunteers sent forth by the Holy Spirit from existing churches on every continent.

How could this be possible? Christians must re-embrace the consummate vision of the Lord’s glory. Anything less will prove incapable of sustaining world outreach at the level required to finish the task.

Short-term mission trips are essential in student ministry. They provide a concrete way for teenagers to live out the faith they have been taught. They develop compassionate teenage servants who respect the worth and value of every individual. They reorder values and priorities. And most importantly, they accelerate the coming of Christ’s kingdom on earth.

Every Christian student should go on short-term mission projects throughout adolescence and beyond. But at least once every student should consider the life-altering challenge of going to the front lines for a longer period. Envision it becoming normative in your church that almost every student serve full-time in domestic or international missions for a summer, semester, or year, around age 18 or 19.

Working in concert with established missions and missionaries, students on such missions adventures could take the good news of Christ in their lifetime to the last groups of people on earth—both in the U.S. and around the globe. They could have a part in planting indigenous churches that disciple believers who continue to carry the good news in their cultural context.

Developmentally, 18- and 19-year-olds crave a grand adventure. They are ready to do hard things and go to the hard places. This is the perfect time for an assignment, so challenging it requires all they are and all the Spirit supplies.

Society increasingly is using the term gap year to refer to a student who takes time from university studies for an extended trip or some immersive experience. Increasingly, universities are granting admission to high school graduates but not requiring them to register for classes for one year. That period might easily become an extended missions adventure.

Envision parents opening savings accounts at the birth of babies that eventually will fund gap mission trips. Parents who open a missions savings account at the birth of a child will have no problem saving what is needed over a period of 18 years.

Envision a day when most of the adults in the church have as part of their heritage a season when they joined King Jesus on the front lines of kingdom advancement.

  • Would it change the spiritual climate of your church if almost all adults who teach the Bible—and who make church decisions—had as part of their life story a time they went to the front lines of missions?
  • Would the spiritual impact of parents on children be any different if those parents had spent a gap year completely immersed in Christ’s ministry?

Students who deeply fall in love with Jesus quickly turn their attention to those who do not know Him. Most begin to share with friends and family close by. Some are mobilized to carry the Gospel far away. Some receive a call to make missions their life work. Others receive a call to earn their living by secular means but to be on mission all of their lives.

At times God has ordained that awakening launch major movements to carry the Gospel to the nations. Consider the Second Great Awakening. The first great wave of students propelled out by awakening carried the Gospel to the edges of the continents in the early 1800s. During the Global Awakening, the second great wave of students carried the Gospel to the interiors of the continents in the early 1900s.

But could there be a third great wave? If God should choose to send awakening in our day, He may call out and launch a third great wave to exalt His Son before the nations. Perhaps, on our watch, He will raise them up to carry the good news to the last people groups on earth.