Travel & short term mission key influencers for becoming a full time missionary
Three Australian scholars have published an article in international journal Missiology on the reasons why Aussie Christians are deciding to become missionaries. Three main factors were found to be most influential: interaction with missionaries, participating in short-term mission trips, and being exposed to the world and its needs.
Richard and Evelyn Hibbert and Tim Silberman interviewed 42 missionaries, exploring the broad range of factors that have been influential in their decisions to serve God long-term.
“God is still calling people, [but] I think the language has changed,” says Richard. “People are more and more talking in terms of conviction that this is the right thing to do. People in the past have had something very dramatic happen to them, they felt that God spoke to them in a certain way, and this still happens today. But today it’s more about that sense of conviction, however that comes.”
The study shows that amongst Australian missionaries, conviction to pursue long-term mission is generally a product of three main influences.
First, all participants in the study revealed that other mission-minded people (whether missionaries, pastors, family or friends) had an influence on their decision to become a missionary.
“Nearly half the interviewees first became interested in missions through a missionary who was visiting their church. Seeing, hearing and talking with a missionary seemed to make the possibility of being a missionary themselves real to them. Hearing missionaries talk inspired them to get involved in mission themselves,” the study reads.
Second, a little less than half the participants indicated that a short-term mission trip was important on their journey towards long-term missionary service. Some of these trips were taken to raise the individual’s awareness of the need, while others were more directed, attempting to answer the question of “how they would fit as a missionary in a particular part of the world, a particular kind of ministry, or a specific team”.
Third, around a quarter of respondents said that exposure to the world and its needs influenced their decision to become missionaries.
“Exposure to new people and cultures enabled interviewees to begin to empathise with people from another part of the world and perceive their need for the gospel.”
“Potential missionaries need as many opportunities as possible to connect with experienced career missionaries. Providing contexts that are positive towards missions and that foster these relational connections seems particularly conducive to the mobilisation of future career missionaries.”
In order to raise up the next generation of missionaries, Richard says we need to expose Christians to the things that God is doing around the world, and the ways in which he is showing his glory.