If the Mormons can get their young people to give two years of their lives in missionary service, then why can’t we Evangelicals get our young people to give at least one year?
I have been asking that question from one end of the country to the other. The responses have been surprising. Young people have stood up and said we are willing and ready, but nobody ever asked us. Everywhere I go on college campuses I find young people who are telling me they are ready to set aside a year (some of them are willing to give two years) to a church-based ministry where they will have an opportunity to do evangelism and social ministry.
The program that I have proposed to them involves a weekly schedule that looks like this:
1. Twenty hours a week in door to door evangelism.
2. Ten hours a week in social ministry, probably tutoring in a local high school or working with the homeless.
3. Ten hours of ministry in a neighborhood church (leading a youth group, teaching Sunday School, singing in the choir, etc.)
After a year of this kind of work, I know that we would have young men and women who would know their Bibles and have a well-developed theology. It is my contention that learning the Bible and developing theology always takes place in the context of involvement in ministry. As they go door to door, they will be asked questions and driven back to the studying of their Bibles in order to make sense out of the faith they are trying to communicate.
When Jesus sent out the seventy they were not well equipped, but in the context of their missionary work they found that the Holy Spirit put words in their mouths and they learned the Word of God, and developed a theology in the process of witnessing for Jesus. The same will hold true for young people today.
When I have talked to pastors about the prospect of such an army of volunteer workers, their eyes light up. Pastors of struggling inner city congregations are thrilled at the prospect of having a team of young people working out of the church for Bible studies, conducting social ministries in the neighborhood, and generating new youth ministries in their churches.
It should be noted that the Mormons now have the fastest growing religion in America and they have done it almost solely on the basis of young people who are serving as missionaries. I contend we can do better than they can given the truth of the Gospel that our young people will be carrying in the world.
Finally, consider what these young people will bring back to their churches after a year of service. They will have vision, they will have experience, they will have a taste of the excitement of having won people to Christ. Undoubtedly, their local churches will be brought to a new level of spiritual excitement when these young people rejoin them.
This vision is not one of those “wouldn’t it be nice” sort of things. This is a vision that is already drawing people together in order to make it a reality. Hundreds of young people have already given me their names and addresses, expressing their desire to be a part of this movement. There are folks out there who are making financial contributions in order to get behind this effort.
Television evangelism is good. Contemporary church worship is enticing. But nothing beats obeying the Lord’s great commission! In the end we are not going to reach this generation for Christ unless people go door to door with the message of the Gospel. We have young people who are ready to do that. It is up to the rest of us to get behind them in prayer and support and make this happen. I can’t think of any better way to revitalize the church and bring revival in America than this 2000 year old plan.
We have been looking for short cuts, but there is no substitute to knocking on doors. If you want to get involved, give a call to the hotline for this ministry at (610) 341-1722.