I Don’t Dig Wells!

God desires to use Millennials to change the world, but as with every generation, they face unique roadblocks to living in radical obedience, and they seem to experience a particular difficulty in entering the mission field. In my previous blog posts in this series, I addressed two significant reasons why: fear of commitment and the need to instantly specialize.

In this post, I would like to look at a more fundamental barrier - the fear of the very title itself.

Ben Pierce

Ben Pierce is the Director of Come&Live! and is the younger son of David and Jodi Pierce. Come&Live!’s vision is to create a worldwide mission community that will provoke and inspire Christian artists to use their God-given creativity to revolutionize the world for Jesus.

Website: www.steiger.org/benpierce


“Missionary” is not a popular word for young people today. At best, it conjures up images of khaki shorts and digging wells; at worst, it is seen as an antiquated tool of oppression.

I have found that even Christian millennials are uncomfortable with the word.

Like their secular peers, they associate the term missionary with construction projects, boring presentations during church services, and never-ending requests for funds. Given these stereotypes, is it any wonder they aren’t rushing to sign up?

The problem is multifaceted, and the solution far from simple.

Most outreach efforts today are to the third world, focusing on teaching and training local Christians, relieving poverty, or going to hard to reach places (within the 10-40 window).

Meanwhile, there is an emerging global youth culture that exists in every major urban center all over the world, representing more than one billion people. This demographic sees truth as relative and religion as a dead tradition of the past. Young followers of Jesus are natives of this culture, and struggle to see how the traditional missionary fits in. Many of them are inspired to reach their peers for Jesus, but are equally aware that the models of missions they’ve seen would never be effective in doing so.

As a church, we need to expand our idea of what it means to be a missionary. Missionaries don’t only train pastors or dig wells (though both are critical and extremely important). They also use music and art to show people who Jesus is, create films that point to the Gospel, or build online communities to discuss apologetics with non-believers.

We need to show young people that being a missionary is not about going to a specific country, or looking a certain way, but it is rather a full-time commitment to make disciples of all nations.

Millennials do, however, deserve at least some of the blame. Pride and fear are significant barriers to them entering the mission field today.

Many missions organizations have been slow to cater to a tech-savvy, image-conscious generation that, at its worst, cares more about appearance than substance. This may seem like a cynical perspective, but many young people reject the missionary paradigm because it just doesn’t look very cool to them. This form of pride is toxic, producing neither godly obedience nor eternal fruit.

Fear of fundraising is another huge obstacle. In my experience, an unwillingness to raise support has robbed many gifted millennials of being released into their calling. I am in full-time ministry and rely on the generosity of others to live, and I’ll readily admit that I too have struggled with it. Asking someone to support you is extremely difficult because in doing so, you have to humble yourself, recognize your dependence on others, and invite them to partner with you. But are any of those things really bad?

God has used the fundraising process as a sanctifying pick ax to hack away at my pride, and I am better for it.

The truth is, God doesn’t need your money, nor anyone else’s, to accomplish His purposes, yet I am convinced that it is His will for missionaries to raise funds as a means to live. Nothing else cultivates humility and invites accountability like sitting down with somebody and asking them to support you financially.

If you are willing to go through the process of building a support team, the results will be incredible. I now have a large family of devoted advocates, who I get to invite into the work God has asked me to do. My fruit is their fruit. I couldn’t do it without them, they couldn’t do it without me, and neither of us could do any of it without God—and this is His design.

Sadly, few millennials attempt to raise funds, let alone succeed at it, and this is perhaps the most significant threat to their entrance into the mission field.

Jesus desires to use young people to reach the world, but like every generation, they will need to face the barriers head-on. If the word “missionary” is unhelpful, then ditch it. Jesus doesn’t call us to a title, but to single-minded, radical devotion to reaching the lost. Call it whatever you want, just don’t let the title stop you.

I am a millennial, and have been in full-time ministry almost ten years, but I have had to allow God to kill my pride first, and then learn to depend on Him and others to live. The good news is that He is faithful, and by His grace, He can help you overcome any barrier and use your life powerfully to reach the world!

Related items

  • Episode 105: Hold Fast! Fight Hard! Stick Together! Part One - Being Alone Is Lame. Stick Together!

    This is part one of a four-part series the guys recorded in person back in April 2018. The series is based on Hebrews 10:23-25 and focuses on how as followers of Jesus we can make a difference in secular culture. Part one is all about unity! The guys talk about the importance of sticking together and what genuine community really looks like...and David talks about being mistaken for a hobo and how this is inspiring people to step out in their faith.

  • Episode 104: David is hit with the ladies, non-toxic patriotism, and discipleship that doesn't suck!

    In this "instant reaction" edition of the Provoke & Inspire podcast, all four regulars cover a variety of topics. They discuss David's new found popularity with the ladies, especially those in the "Tom Jones" demographic. They unpack the importance of discipleship and discuss how to disciple new believers. Finally, in light of the 4th of July and the World Cup, they talk about patriotism. How should a follower of Jesus celebrate their country in a biblical way? What is the dark sides of patriotism as well as it's value in society.

  • Florence + the Machine’s “Hunger” for a “Big God”
    “We all have a hunger” - that empty feeling inside us, that loneliness, that weight with which our heads hit the pillow at night, when no one else knows. It’s part of being human, as if we’re born with something missing, something beyond us and beyond this world. Sometimes this heartfelt need is expressed in honest art, when an artist is bold enough to speak out.
  • Called by God but Lacking Direction
    I was prepared to write a blog entry on Proverbs 24:10 because the verse leapt out at me this week. Then I received a text message from my friend George, and instantly, I felt that my answer to him might also apply to you.
  • Episode 103: Scott McNamara: From boy band fame to preaching the Gospel to gangsters in a bar!

    From boyband success and near-stardom, through cocaine and alcohol addictions, to near-death experiences and Bible smuggling in the east, Scott McNamara, now a full-time street evangelist, joins the regulars on the podcast. He shares a bit of his story, what he’s learned through his experiences and what God has been doing through his life and ministry.

Come&Live!
Sign up for our newsletter and receive a FREE digital copy of "Revolutionary, Ten Principles That Will Empower Christian Artists to Change the World" by David Pierce.

Country
Please wait