The Missions Moonshot
In September 1962, President Kennedy stood in a crowded Rice University stadium and boldly challenged the United States to reach the moon by the end of the decade. This was the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union had a huge lead in the space race and the U.S. lacked the technology or infrastructure to even contemplate such a feat. Yet with vision, focus and inspired determination, just seven years later, Neil Armstrong fulfilled this dream, memorializing the moment as “one giant leap for mankind.”
Reflecting on the 60+ years during which Operation Mobilization (OM) has impacted hundreds of millions of lives, we stand in awe of what God has done through thousands of faithful workers who joined our ranks and served the Kingdom through a multitude of other organizations. We celebrate their work loudly and honor our past with humility and gratitude.
Through these same decades, shaping influencers like population growth, geopolitical interests and the focus of the Church continued to shift, leaving us a world that looks dramatically different from six decades ago. Despite past victories, today three billion people live with little to no access to the gospel. This is not by choice, but simply because no one has gone to where they are. This number increases by sixty thousand people every day, and will continue to do so until something changes.
A problem of this magnitude calls for a monumental leap and massive disruption. Incremental adjustments will not suffice.
Our Generation’s Moonshot Moment
Could this be our generation’s moonshot moment?
As the models which served us well for decades can no longer keep pace, OM and a growing movement of like-minded partners are actively innovating new methods that seek to change this reality forever. Our desire is to shape a future for missions guided by our past but not held captive by it–one shaped by our experience but not bound by it.
We are not setting out to create a plan that we intend to ask God to bless, but we are seeking to see what God is already doing in the world and then align our efforts to that—joining God, rather than asking him to join us.
At the very core of what we are talking about is a deep belief that everyone is made for the purpose of God and uniquely shaped to live it out. This then means we must find or build pathways for every follower of Jesus to go be who he has made them to be, whether engineer, electrician, nurse, or teacher. It also comes from a deep belief that the gospel is both lived out and spoken out. That if we are to see the trajectory of the least reached changed we will need to see Jesus followers living out their lives authentically and credibly in every sector of these societies and every corner of their communities. We have worked to align our organization and inspire others to be the catalyst for releasing a new mass movement of Jesus followers in this generation.
As we always have, OM continues to send and equip believers to go places where Jesus is not yet known. However, in this new era, we see a person’s role in society (doctor, plumber, accountant) as part of how they live out their purpose within the mission of God. In the past, we saw them as separate. But no longer must you choose between your profession and ‘missions’. In fact, working and living in the way you are gifted creates an authentic presence that fuels and sustains long-term engagement within a community.
Practically speaking, this means socializing the challenge and proposed solution among believers, equipping and supporting people in their journey, and pioneering onramps and tools to mobilize those eager to join the movement.
In a real way, the point of impact is simply awakening in every Jesus follower their God-given identity as a Child of God and the glorious purpose that comes with that new identity, to glorify our Father through reflecting him in everything we do. Our unique shape enables us to do this authentically in unique ways as we live out different roles in the community where we are. This is what we were created for. And as our creator laid out to his new creation we were now to go, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and govern it.” In other words, “go make more of who I have made you to be, (my children in my image, made to reflect my glory in the unique way I have made you) and be so fruitful that you multiply and fill the whole earth with people like you.” A few millennia later God the Son stood in front of a group of his followers and stated it this way: ‘go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.’
In other words, go make more of who I have made you to be and be so fruitful that every nation has people who are like you. Followers of Jesus who will, in turn, make followers of Jesus until all nations have disciples following Jesus, and living for his glory. This is not OM’s mission. This is the mission of God and we are choosing to join him. There is an urgency that we feel that causes us to be willing to change whatever it takes to see our generation wrap their life around the purpose of God. Even if that ‘whatever’ is everything.
President Kennedy closed his historic moonshot speech with a rallying cry, “We choose to go to the Moon…because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win.”
What might be accomplished in this generation if we applied the same determination to the spread of the gospel?