The mobilization pipeline in mission work refers to the process and strategies employed to recruit, train, send, and support missionaries. Traditionally, this pipeline has been a well-established route for prospective missionaries, guiding them from the initial call to missions through to their deployment and service in the field. However, in the contemporary context, there is a growing sense that this pipeline is undergoing significant changes, raising important questions for both the upcoming generation of potential missionaries and the organizations that facilitate missions.
Before we start, we acknowledge that God is not limited in any way and can do amazing things within a group of people dedicated to following His call in their lives. His Kingdom is not bound by culture, time, generational trends, or limited resources. At the same time, many of our peers in this global endeavor are experiencing some shifts that are challenging us to ask better questions in hopes of aligning ourselves with where God is moving.
With that in mind, let's delve deeper into the evolving landscape of the mobilization pipeline:
There is a widespread sense that the traditional avenues for mobilizing new missionaries are becoming less effective than in the past. This might not be a “good” or “bad” thing, but might indicate a shift in how we recruit and prepare. Here are just a couple of theories as to why this might be happening:
The upcoming generation often holds different values and expectations regarding career, calling, and lifestyle, which might not align with the traditional concept of lifelong missionary service. Church philosophies are also shifting and in some cases are placing less emphasis on equipping people to go on long-term missions.
Financial burdens, including student debt and rising living costs, can make the prospect of long-term missions daunting for younger individuals.
Diverse Opportunities for Impact:
Today’s generation is often acutely aware of the diverse ways they can make a significant impact without leaving their home country, leading to a broader view of what ‘mission’ can mean.
While there are challenges, the upcoming generations (GenZ and beyond) are uniquely positioned to contribute positively to mission work. Some of the key elements of this include (but are not limited to):
The traditional values of “packing your coffin” and committing to lifelong service in a far-off land don’t resonate with many of today’s prospective missionaries. But this doesn't equate to a lack of commitment or willingness to sacrifice. Instead, it may signal a desire for a different kind of engagement:
Given these evolving realities, mission agencies and churches are faced with the crucial task of reimagining the mobilization pipeline:
The changes in the mobilization pipeline represent both challenges and opportunities. While the traditional model may be under strain, the shifting landscape opens the door to new, potentially more effective and contextually relevant forms of mission engagement.
This is an exciting opportunity to re-imagine sending within your own context. Therefore, in this time of change, our prayer is that mission organizations and churches approach the task of mobilization with creativity, grace, and a deep-seated commitment to equipping the next generation of missionaries to participate in God’s work in the world in fresh and faithful ways.
As Henry Blackaby once wrote, “For you to do the will of God, you must adjust your life to Him, His purposes, and His ways.” May we be people who are constantly seeking God first and willing to ask hard questions or evaluate ourselves to align with where He is working.