Mobilization in a sending culture
Four years ago I was in Northeast Thailand spending time with a missionary family from the Netherlands. The family was focused on church planting among the Isan people, who according to the Joshua Project, are one of the largest and most unreached people groups in the world. Nearly 18 million people… 0.4% Christian.
Outside of this family’s house, there were rice fields as far as the eye could see. In the distance I could see one person picking rice. One person. This one person was the only laborer in the vastness of the rice fields, just as those missionaries were among the few laborers in a largely unreached part of the world.
Not only is there a plentiful harvest in northeast Thailand but the harvest is plentiful on college campuses across the country, in the inner city of Memphis, in corporate America and many other contexts across the world. What is the need? More money? More programs? More technology?
No. According to Jesus in Matthew 9:37-38, the solution to the plentiful harvest is laborers!
The college campus provides an incredible context for building laborers through evangelism and discipleship. But have you ever considered the potential of the college campus as a launching pad for mobilizing laborers into the plentiful harvest?
The Goal of Mobilization
In our organization, mobilization is the the process of launching seniors into strategic places beyond the campus to build God’s kingdom and multiply their lives. The goal of mobilization is reaching the world for Christ! We want to send out every graduate compelled by the love of Christ with a mission to make disciples of all nations, regardless of their context. Some will go internationally, some will stay, some will be in education, some in business, but all will live strategically in light of God’s mission.
The Importance of a Sending Culture
Effective mobilization doesn’t start with a student’s senior year. Effective mobilization starts from the time a student gets involved in your ministry. Therefore, the culture of your ministry will greatly influence the mobilization of graduates. Want to mobilize a lot of graduates? Seek to build a Sending Culture within your ministry. In a Sending Culture, staff and students live under the conviction they have been sent by God to live out His mission in the world regardless of their context-— living as sent ones is the norm. (For more information on what a sending culture looks like… see the book of Acts)
A Sending Culture is critical in reaching the world from the campus and influences your entire ministry. Don’t see it? Consider:
- A Sending Culture produces lifelong laborers. If students have a conviction they are sent by God as missionaries regardless of context, they will live on mission regardless of circumstances. What begins on the campus can impact a lifetime.
- A Sending Culture reaches more students on the campus. Living as sent ones produces a multiplying culture with students committed to evangelism and discipleship.
- A Sending Culture catalyzes senior mobilization. Every senior sees themselves with a strategic role in God’s mission and makes decisions after college in light of this. Their convictions and values don’t change just their mission field.
What could your campus and your mobilization of graduates look like in a Sending Culture? Pray big!
Building a Sending Culture
So you can see the vision and importance of a Sending Culture in your ministry but how can you start cultivating it? Here are a few suggestions:
- Trust the Lord of the harvest. In Matthew 9:38, Jesus called his disciples to pray for laborers. God is the one who raises up and sends laborers into the harvest! Try this… pray everyday for laborers. Put it on your prayer list, your calendar, your phone. God is the one who mobilizes and we respond to what He is doing.
- Develop a theology of sending—scripture is the foundational influencer of a sending culture. From Genesis to Revelation, God is a lover of the nations and a sender to the nations.
- Embody a Sending Culture. Live as a Sent One and your students will follow you.
- Commit to your role. Be prepared to spend a few years building or changing the culture of the ministry. I would suggest committing to your role for at least 3-4 years.
- Empower students make disciples in the lost world while they are in college. Students experiences in college can be the foundation upon which they will build their Christian lives.
- Cast a clear, world changing vision for your campus. Help students see clearly how God could use your campus in the world harvest.
- Write Out Your Vision- What could God do? What do you see? Be clear and specific. What would a student and a campus look like in a sending culture?
- Use Student Missions history- the Traveling Team does a great job with this. They can speak at your campus and they have great resources on their website. Chapter 1 of The Fuel and the Flame, by Steve Shadrach, is a great tool for this as well.
- Use Alumni testimonies- Show videos or Skype alumni who are serving in various parts of the world or in different contexts. Students are impacted by seeing alumni on live video from their apartment in East Asia or hearing from someone who led their co-worker to Christ.
- Challenge students to make big decisions about post college plans. Help them order their future around building God’s Kingdom and not their own.
- Connect students to strategic post college mobilization opportunities. Students need a place to land when they graduate where they can continue to follow hard after Christ and make disciples. More on this in a future post.
A Sending Culture is a foundational part of the mobilization process.
There are other critical components as well. Be on the lookout for part 2 of this series. We will look at how to help students think biblically and strategically about plans after college.
In the meantime, pray that God would raise up laborers and send them out into His harvest both on the campus and beyond!