by A Puzzled Missionary
Because we’re not invited. It may have something to do with the custom in our society of separating age groups. The age groups designated to listen to missionaries are the middle-aged and the old.
Because we’re not invited. It may have something to do with the custom in our society of separating age groups. The age groups designated to listen to missionaries are the middle-aged and the old. Most of us enjoy speaking to these groups— usually we are one or the other – but we wonder why we don’t have youth in the meetings. I don’t mean instead of; I mean as well as.
Of course, I’m assuming that we all think missionary reports are a good thing. We’re all in the Lord’s work together; presumably it’s wise for the grape-pickers in one part of the vineyard to check with the ones in the other corner. Missionaries need the advice, help, and prayers of God’s people at home— and the home people need the information about the work in Kollegal and Cayenne. We need each other all ages.
Why, then, are missionary speakers restricted to one side of the generation gap? Why don’t you under-30’s invite us to your youth group? And why don’t you come to missionary meetings? I’ve been given some reasons:
1. Missionaries are bores. All the more reason to spread us around, and give the middle-aged some relief. They haven’t got exclusive rights to boredom.
2. They’re not with it. We never will be, if we can’t come near an under-30. If you throw your missionary into a den of youth, he may emerge with a groovy tie and the currently approved opinions on ecology, Marshall McLuhan, and poverty. And the youth might rethink this matter of with-it-ness. See Romans 12:2 for an elaboration of this point.
3. Young people don’t want to be talked at. Maybe their parents don’t either. Instead of the usual missionary address, have a panel discussion, or a buzz session, or a question-and-answer thing. Some of us are not eloquent; somehow; when we make a speech, we don’t give you a good idea of our work. We learn more from each other in an informal situation. What about slides? Some missionaries have effective ones; others of us think you really want to see all those Fangalese lined up on chapel steps. If you know your missionary has boring slides but loves to show them, ask him to cut them down to a 20-minute presentation. And get that photographer in your assembly to teach him how to take informative slides. We’ll never know any better if you don’t tell us— gently.
4.It’s the older ones who do the praying. How can you say that so calmly? Prayer is not the sole prerogative of pensioners. When God’s people of all ages pray together, people will be saved in Kollegal and Cayenne, missionaries will grow spiritually, and young and old will be more concerned about serving the Master than such irrelevancies as the ages of their fellow servants.
Reprinted by permission from Interest (Box 294, Wheaton, Ill.), February, 1971, Volume 36, No. 2.
Copyright © 1971 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS). All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS.