I wonder what you think of when the words ‘next generation’ appear?
For me, it is both the children of today, who will become tomorrow’s adults; but also, the emerging world of technological, cultural and social developments that these young people immersed in a newly-digital world have created.
In SIM UK’s strategic review, the question weaving its way through many threads of listening and research, has been: What does the next generation of SIM UK look like? – both for the workers we send, but also the ways we equip, serve, and work with the UK church and mission members.
Generation Z (aka Gen Z) succeeds Millennials and refers to those born between 1995-2014. According to social scientists, Gen Z-ers are ‘digital natives’ and activists for development and improvement (as characterised by teen icons such as Greta Thunberg).
Generation Alpha follows on from Gen Z and refers to the first generation born entirely in the 21st Century. Early trends show digital ease and world-changing attitudes in Generation Alpha are only set to continue as technology becomes increasingly part of everyday life – already a large proportion of seven-year-olds able to code or use robotics.
When we match these attitudes and skills to the work of sharing the gospel, there are many exciting and creative possibilities of how the good news can be shared.
But we need to think how SIM UK will adapt to the rapidly-changing future, whilst remaining committed to its core purpose of sending and receiving workers who make disciples.
- How can we use the gift of technology to mobilise and train digital natives?
- How can we use the passions for social justice or the environment, alongside the sharing of the good news?
We long to see children engaged with mission from an early age, praying for communities around the world, or imagining ways they would want to serve Christ when they grow up.
That’s why in September 2020, we launched our monthly prayer resource SIMpray Kids in order to help the next generation pray effectively for gospel needs around the world, which you can sign up for here.
Becoming a Christian at university after the gospel was shared with me by a fellow student, whose family served in south Asia, helped mission awareness to be there from my first days as a believer.
How grateful I am that God led me from there to have the privilege of thinking about how SIM can best envision the next cohort of workers and supporters!
But it’s not just youth we see as the ‘next generation’. There are also those who have retired early – bringing a desire to use skills and experience from diverse careers – as well as many other interpretations of ‘next generation’, based on diverse vocations or backgrounds.
SIM UK would love to see others enabled to be the next generation by the removal of any barriers that currently make them think missions isn’t possible for them.
It’s already an encouragement to see members of the next generations sent to SIM teams around the world even during a time of pandemic.
However long they stay, may their experiences not only benefit the communities they serve and make disciples in, but also equip and envision the next generation to mission support and service – just like the fellow student who shared the gospel with me.
- For the SIM UK review team as it considers how best to recruit, train and prepare future mission workers.
- For God to be causing the children and youth in the UK church to consider their part in the Great Commission.
- For our many next generation workers already in service, to be built up, developed, and used mightily for God’s purposes.