I’ve been to college mission events, church mission days, and mission festivals. I’ve stood at our booth, spoken in classrooms and Sunday schools, talked with kids at homeschool events and youth groups. The stark reality every mobilizer must face: few are actually interested in long-term service as a missionary.Being in an event attended by dozens, even hundreds, and seeing no one come up to your table – or, worse, no one come up to any of the tables – can be depressing. Mission agencies are often searching for needles in haystacks. How will I, as a mobilizer, deal with this?
I keep in mind this is a spiritual battle. We aren’t wrestling against apathetic, lazy, indifferent people, but rather against spiritual powers that would prefer church members consider missions to be Someone Else’s Problem.
I guard my heart against emotions that would keep me from persevering. Really, the search for good candidates for mission is no different than the search for good candidates for work. I have read many articles on how hard it is for entrepreneurs with a great idea for a startup to find a co-founder, or to find someone to work with them on programming, and so on. Finding people to work for you is perhaps even harder than finding clients. So the struggle to find missionaries shouldn’t surprise us.
I don’t argue or guilt, I serve. I aim myself at the person–out there, but invisible to me–whose heart is being tugged toward a missionary career. I’m never going to successfully argue someone into becoming a missionary (and I wouldn’t want to! How long would they last?), but if I find someone whose heart God is touching, I can serve them, enabling them to be what God is calling them to be. Some times people feel a tug toward the missionary life, but their perception of barriers keeps them from pursuing it: “I can’t be a missionary, because…” These barriers can be wrong ideas of field life, about missionaries, fears, etc. If we can help them see the reality of what being a missionary means, we can help them past these barriers and on toward their calling.
I am constantly testing my approach to recruiting. I hold firmly to the belief that candidates are out there–God is already calling hearts, and people are responding. We just need to find them. If a discovery method results in no candidates, either the particular pool we are fishing in has no fish, or our method is bad. We need to be constantly testing, revising, iterating, and re-testing our methods.