The younger, the better. Many pastors never really consider challenging young people to include “missionary” in their list of possible occupations. Then, almost as a surprise, they receive a pastoral reference form from a mission agency stating that they need your endorsement for young Joe Churchmember to become a missionary. Too little relationship, too late.
Some grew up in churches where it was the highest and best goal for young men to aspire to become pastor/preachers. Missionary aspirations were OK for those who couldn’t reach that pastor/preacher rung in the spiritual vocational ladder. Alas, such thinking is shortsighted and prideful.
Holding up examples of good missionaries and biographies of good missionaries is a great start. Young people aspire to be like their heroes. If you point them to missionary heroes, they will want to be like them.
Having your Sunday School and Youth staff regularly encourage thinking about missions will help. Youth are able to participate in service projects and mission outreach. Short Term Missions can be an avenue for discipling and training in missions values and skills. Your annual Missions Conference is an excellent opportunity to encourage young people to consider a missionary vocation.
You may encourage your Missions Team to put together a workshop or seminar or special visiting teacher (like Propempo staff!) to explain the pathway toward becoming a missionary. Youth and their parents need to see and hear concrete steps toward training and qualifying for missionary service.
Your personal “pat on the back” will carry an extraordinary influence in the mind of possible missionary candidates.
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