GC3  - September 2012 Page 1 Image 0038
Sometimes it's hard to know why you should encourage youth into missions when they don't have the life experiences, perhaps not the wisdom, no income and no higher level of training ... how on earth would they be useful? Good question. As I write I'm in Ngao, a village in the north of Thailand, with the Headspace team. The team have spent the day teaching English in a local high school and primary school, connecting with students and teachers in a heavily Buddhist area. At the moment it's their down time but not many are around. A group have gone back to the school to play volleyball and football with the students, the ones left behind are helping our cook prepare dinner and are playing 'Go Fish' with her son, all while asking lots of questions, practicing Thai and narrowing the divide between Thai and Falang (foreigner). Youth connect with youth in a way that adults often find more difficult.

So, how do we get them there? How can we encourage our youth to get interested and involved in mission? Let me offer a few practical suggestions:

Technology – How are you communicating your message? Use technology that is relevant to youth that they are used to seeing and using. Powerpoint, multi media, movie clips, Facebook.

Community – Youth receive and process information differently to the previous generation. The one-to-many model, lecture-style preaching etc, is not always going to be the most effective way to get your message across. Youth relate and move within communities. Before they accept information, they want to see what their peers think about it, they want to discuss itand debate it before they take it on board. Youth learn more through
conversations than they do from listening to preaching or teaching.

Relationships – If you want to speak into a young person's life you need to first earn the right to do so, and that comes not only from community but from relationships. Let them see your life ... this is a biggie. If you arepassionate about God and mission that should be apparent in your life before you need to explain it. We all know how powerful a living example is.

Ask them – Sounds so simple right? If you want youth to be involved in mission ask them what they are passionate about. BUT you have to then be prepared to incorporate that issue/area/cause into your mission programme. If you want youth on board, find where their passion lies ... someone very wise once said where your treasure is there your heart will be also ... find that treasure!

Send them – If your church is planning a trip, make sure some youth are going and make sure they know they are invited. And if they can't afford to go, pay for them. Are you or your family planning on going on a trip to visit some mission partners? Invite one or two youth to go with you. I really believe the best way you can get youth interested in mission is to send them to the field. Let them catch the vision and be there to share it with them.

Charlie Shadbolt
GC3 Youth Director
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