A large part of OC ministry is about coming alongside leaders of the church and supporting them to succeed in reaching their nations for Christ. But what of future leaders? Some OC mission workers choose to invest in the “youths” of their nations. Mentoring the future leaders of the church before they have the “official” platform to preach the gospel. Youth who will become leaders in their communities.
In Europe “youth ministry” takes on an entirely different meaning than it does in the U.S. A youth in Europe is anyone from the age of 18 to 30. As a result, often youths are not given a platform for leadership until much later in life.
“50% of the world today is 30 years old or less, so I don’t think it’s an option or a possibility for us to serve young people or young adults,” says Hélder Favarin, director of 180 Degrees Global and OC-UK worker to Spain. “I think it’s a loving obligation as Christians to see these generations coming to the Lord. And we want to play a part in that.”
Seventeen countries in Europe have less than 1% evangelical Christians. Many young people are not even interested in becoming nominal Orthodox or Catholic Christians. Mihai Lundell, OC worker in Romania, says Christians in Europe need new ways to get people into the church and he think the youth have the creativity and relationships to do it.
“I think if we want to see the future really impacted in Europe, and especially in Romania, we need to be investing in the young people,” Mihai says. “I think, especially in Europe today, as we look at what is going to draw a person into a church it’s probably not going to be a platform ministry or a book. It’s going to be they had a relationship with somebody. Somebody came alongside me. Somebody shared life with me. Somebody knows how to relate to me.”
The Future of Missions
Today, 180 Romanians are serving cross-culturally, reaching nations in Central Asia and former soviet countries. “A big chunk of them are younger people. They are the ones that really feel called, are passionate about missions. So we want to be tapping in and engaging these people, enabling them, empowering them to go and spread the gospel in their contexts,” Mihai says.
Tammy Lundell agrees with her husband saying the future of missions will be relational and happen in many contexts. “I’ve invested in (young adults) to encourage them and give them language to speak about their faith and how their faith impacts them in their daily life – in their relationships, and as they go to their jobs and they join the professional world, they can speak about their faith to their co-workers,” she says. “They become mission workers in the context where God places them. That’s a way the mission is moving into the future; where suddenly, everywhere you are, you are a mission worker and you are part of the Great Commission happening on earth.”
For OC workers Steve and Renée Grubb, they have seen their ministry to youth in a very relational context. They served for twelve years at Black Forest Academy in Germany and are now serving in England.
“The Lord has just given us an open door to host young adults in our home. They asked if we would facilitate a bible study and a home group, which has just kept on growing,” Renée says. “It includes young adults from various churches, a bunch of youth pastors, and youth ministry focused people. So we really feel like we’re working with some strategic leaders and young adults, those that are developing from the age of, say, 18 all the way up to 31.”
Steve says their relationship with these young adults can range from counseling through romantic relationships and difficult situations to offering a ride to someone stranded in the rain.
“We started finding ourselves filling some gaps that maybe they were missing because some of them didn’t have both parents in their lives or some of their parents were real busy or just all kinds of reasons why they felt like they needed someone to mentor them,” Steve says.
Whether investing in youth in a formal church setting or in a more relational context, these OC workers feel it’s their mission to reach the next generations for Christ and equip them to lead.
“I believe as a part of OC we can first stand alongside national leadership, pastors and leaders of ministries, and cooperate but at the same time challenge and try to equip them to reach the next generations,” Hélder says. “We want to equip, we want to inspire, we want to really make this need something very clear for leaders. And at the same time, I think we, as OC, play a very important role in not only mentoring but trying to equip or, again, inspire the new generations of leaders.”
Would you like to give to support more outreach, leadership training, and mentoring of young people in communities throughout Europe?