Updated: Nov 21, 2019
With some frequency, we are asked about the value of one of those agencies best known for missions exposure experiences for young adults.
Is an agency like that a good option? What if your young adult guy or gal wants to stay on longer? What benefit should we expect from a 3-month to 2-year commitment? What liabilities?
Without elaboration, here are a few bullet points of perspective:
organizations known for specializing in missions training and exposure experiences for young adults were typically founded upon the vision (even extra-biblical revelation type of “vision”) of a theologically undiscerning, idealistic, enthusiastic young adult
these organizations are also typically wide open to people from every stripe of doctrinal persuasion, including a non-critical openness to views and expression of present-day revelation (“hearing God’s voice”), ecstatic utterances, and tongues-speaking
these agencies’ organizational authority structure places members under strict allegiance to their leadership over local church leadership involvement
they have a predominantly Arminian view of salvation: God initiates, but man decides. Their view is that “all men” can come to salvation.
While strong in teaching personal spiritual disciplines (with a charismatic overlay), they are weak in teaching biblical theology
Going along with charismatic tendencies, they overemphasize spiritual warfare, power encounters, and a dependency on miraculous events as proof of God’s work
They are strongly interdenominational in mindset, meaning they do not allow “individual” doctrinal preferences to create discerning differences between members
Their reputation on the field is gregarious, welcoming, avidly and persuasively evangelistic (pressing for decisions), eager to serve, but shallow, not planting churches, not long-term, not establishing ministry that continues after they leaves, more interested in recruiting others to their organization than in establishing long-term indigenous, local-church-oriented ministry
Is this kind of mission a good place for an eager, young, missionary-minded person to get exposure to the world and get opportunity to do first-hand evangelism? Yes, though it still wouldn’t be our first choice in guiding someone like that into missions.
Is a youth mission a good option for a long-term missionary to do solid biblical ministry that lasts? No.
Is the fruit of a youth-type mission long-term, indigenous, local-church-oriented ministry on the field? No.
What then is their fruit? Discipling young adults to strong faith and spiritual disciplines (though with a charismatic tone) to a life of witness and service to God, exposure to world cultures, a lifelong heart for missions.
Bottom line: “youth missions” may be a good place to start, if the young adult is well-grounded and not confused by the weak doctrine and charismatic pressure; but it is not a good place, in our opinion, for a career ministry which is like-minded in doctrine to a solid biblical church, practice, and local-church-centeredness.
Can this good heart be redirected to another ministry agency or opportunity where he can develop, thrive, and have deeper lasting fruit in ministry? Our recommendation, creatively seek other options connected to ministry which the church already supports, either directly through missionaries you support on the field, or through those missionaries’ agencies.