Millennials and Generation Z have the reputation of being job-hoppers, frequently moving from company to company in search of the “right fit” or the best “growth opportunities.” To be fair, however, this phenomenon isn’t limited to either of these younger generations; in the last few decades, North Americans on the whole tend to leave jobs after just a few years, rarely remaining in one job for the duration of their career. The average job tenure in Canada, across industries, is around 8 ½ years. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does indicate that pursuing a lifelong career and sticking with it despite hardships, frustrations and minimal pay is increasingly counter-cultural.
Are you ready for the long haul? The task of planting a solid and maturing church in an unreached people group is a decades-long endeavor, if done right.
Language and culture barriers are a significant part of the equation. You won’t have the benefits of sharing a common tongue with your hosts, like Paul and his company did (Koine Greek) as they traveled around the first century Roman Empire. Most likely, after developing church partnerships (2 years), you will need to learn the trade language in the host country (2 years) and learn the tribal language in the host community (3 or more years). The learning process is never “over”; your target isn’t basic language fluency, but rather understanding the culture on their terms, becoming a member of the community, and being able to communicate truth at a worldview level.
These aren’t wasted years! You’ll build deep and lasting relationships, letting the light of Christ shine through you as you respond to hardships with grace, thankfulness and humility. The evidence of the Fruit of the Spirit in your life will be a testimony to the gospel and an example for those you serve.
Nevertheless, at around year 8 ½, ministry is really just getting rolling! Many years are needed to translate the Bible into their heart language and see a maturing church led by its own biblically-qualified leaders.
There is great urgency to our message, but we mustn’t cut corners. The North American values of ease, efficiency, and expediency are not necessarily the way the Holy Spirit works. We should expect to encounter great obstacles in our path – including illness, opposition, discouragement, frustration, misunderstandings, homesickness, financial hardship, team conflict and burnout.
Here at Emanate, we want to prepare future missionaries to be “in it for the long haul.” It will take time; it will take money; it will take sacrifice; but it’s worth it!
The gospel is worth it. These dear people who God created are worth it. Following Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth is worth it. Jesus is in it for the long haul!
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”
-2 Corinthians 4:7