Mobilizing the Next Generation is Key to Reaching the Nations

Send the Next Generation
Project # P-0240

Gone are the Days ...

... when young Christians feeling called to ministry immediately commit to a lifetime of missionary service, packing their coffin as they set out for a distant locale where they intend to spend the rest of their days. Fewer and fewer younger believers are becoming career missionaries, and many of those who do go to the mission field get there through an incremental journey of discernment. Often, they begin their global missions journeys as interns.

Take Kirk Norris, for example: Today, Kirk is an MTW missionary and RUF campus minister in L’viv, Ukraine. He’s dedicated his life to sharing the gospel in a cross-cultural context, making disciples, and doing his bit to fulfill the Great Commission. But here’s the thing. Kirk didn’t just dedicate his life and career to missions all at once—he considered his kingdom calling and made commitments step by step.

Kirk first became interested in global missions while in high school, serving on a short trip to Alaska with his Baptist youth group. Years later, during his first summer in seminary, he approached MTW about serving internationally through an internship.

Kirk Norris

Kirk Norris

That internship turned out to be exactly what Kirk needed. For two months, he was mentored by MTW missionaries in Ukraine who helped him think and pray through his identity in Christ and calling to missions; work out his theology in a cross-cultural context; and get first-hand experience with missionary life. By the end of the summer, Kirk was sold.

“I just loved it,” he said. “I connected with the Ukrainian people and got to see what being a missionary really felt like.”

A few years later, in 2013, Kirk and his wife returned to Ukraine as MTW missionaries, committed to a three-year term. By the end of that three years, the couple had further solidified their call and decided to become career missionaries. In the years since, Kirk has taken on the role of RUF campus minister, leading Ukrainian students to Christ, and discipling and training them to become Christian leaders themselves.

Kirk’s journey to becoming a career missionary took a stair-stepping shape that is becoming increasingly typical.

“We’re millennials,” Kirk laughed. “We can’t commit to that long right away. [My internship and our three-year service] were chances to test out the waters and make sure this was where we wanted to be.”

These trends don’t mean that millennials and Gen-Zers are flakey or weak; far from it. They’re tough, driven, and creative—the sorts of people who excel at relational ministry and coming up with ideas for reaching the unreached. The world has changed, and younger generations are doing their best to follow their gospel calls in a new, global context.

Mobilizing the next generation is key to reaching the nations. It’s on us to find ways to adapt to this new context too, creating more opportunities for aspiring missionaries to serve, learn, and discern their calls.

By the Year 2030 ...

... MTW is aiming to see 486 new churches planted; 212 new support or mercy ministries started; 29 new ministries started on college campuses; and 63 new countries, 192 cities, and 38 unreached people groups engaged by MTW missionaries. To reach these kingdom goals, we will need to add more than 985 new missionaries between 2020–2030. That’s a big, ambitious target. But we serve a powerful God, and we believe that He can do it.

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For us to reach those numbers, mobilizing the next generation is key. Internships serve as a funnel, channeling young people through experiences, training, and mentorship that grow them as believers and push them one step closer to a lifetime of global missionary service. And even for those who do not ultimately choose to become career missionaries, internships can be life-changing experiences that forge better, stronger Christians.

“Investing in MTW internships means investing in people at a huge turning point in their lives,” Kirk said. “Maybe only a quarter of them end up coming to the mission field long term, but nearly 100% of them will be more equipped to understand God’s global mission wherever they are. Those people are going to be future church elders and deacons; people in Bible studies in local churches promoting, understanding, and supporting God’s global mission in a way they weren’t before.”

MTW already has some incredible mentored internship programs, and we send dozens of young people around the world as interns every year. But we can, we must, do more. Your gifts to our Next Gen fund will enable us, among other things, to build and improve our mentored internship programs and send more young people from the American church across the globe to join God’s story.



Support MTW's efforts to mobilize the next generation for global missions.
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