This is an article from the November-December 2009 issue: Committed!

Raising Up Hope and Laborers for the Kingdom

The Traveling Team Marks Ten Years of Mobilizing Students

Raising Up Hope and Laborers for the Kingdom

The expectations our society has on this generation are through the floor. Not the roof, but the floor! Young people are criticized as incapable, uncommitted or apathetic. And although some real apathy does exist, we continue to see a flame flickering in the hearts of students who want a purpose bigger than themselves. Perhaps more would hope and would call students to greater things if they remembered how powerfully God has used students in catalyzing the great mission movements of the previous 200 years. In the spirit of William Carey, it’s time to again “expect great things from students, and give them great things to attempt for God’s glory.” When the ministry of The Traveling Team began in 1999, we were standing on the shoulders of past mobilization movements such as the Student Volunteer Movement and the Caleb Project. In 1904 the SVM’s John R. Mott conceded, “Thousands of well-qualified young men and young women are not even thinking of the missionary enterprise, simply because it has never been brought before them in such a way as to suggest that they could engage in it if they so desired.” Mott’s words still ring true. Students are like the un-hired workers in Matthew 20 whose only reply was, “No one has asked us.” Many need simply to be invited.

Each semester we launch teams of staff who travel from campus to campus educating and equipping college students in their role in world evangelization. A powerful challenge is given, using the biblical basis of mission, and students are invited to meet one-on-one the following day. During this time we connect them to resources to help ignite their “World Christian” perspective and lifestyle. We follow-up and try to help each student grow in his or her vision for the nations.

Pre-Life Crisis

Many students reinforce the low expectations imposed on them by hesitating…in fear of giving their life to the wrong thing. They would rather delay decisions than make the wrong ones. This is the emergence of what we call the “pre-life crisis.” Thus, mobilization of students needs less scolding of young people for what they shouldn’t be living for and more magnifying a greater purpose what they could be living for. It’s an invitation, not a shove. When students find a God-glorifying, globally and eternally significant passion to which to harness their life, it’s no longer necessary to micromanage their priorities. We give them a North Star. To adapt a quote from La Rochefoucauld: “[Missions] diminishes mediocre passions and inflames great ones, just as the wind blows out candles and fans fires.” Here are four mobilization principles that guide how and what we do in activating students into a “World Christian” lifestyle.

  1. The Pen is Not Mightier than the Sword (Hebrews 4:12)
    Thank God for all the incredible missionaries who return to share rich stories of God’s work, but those stories alone will not sustain a lasting change in others. The entire biblical story—from God’s promise to Abraham to bless all peoples, to the triumphant final revelation of all nations worshipping—is the most powerful story to share in capturing students’ hearts. Our stories (our pen), no matter how great, are not living and active, but the Sword of God’s Word is!
  2. Throw a Big Rock (Romans 15:20)
    Students should be challenged to things that stretch their faith in God and that make a difference. If you want a bigger ripple, you have to throw a bigger rock. Like Samuel Zwemer said, there is “glory in the impossible.” Yes, we want to meet students where they are in their mission vision and understanding, but keep frontier mission and unreached peoples as their focus. In light of the Great Commission, we must invite them into a task commitment, not just a time commitment.
  3. Bring Us the Sick, Not the Healthy (Mark 2:17)
    True mobilization must focus on activating the uninvolved. If you pull out all the mission-minded students into an exclusive club, who is going to be a change agent for their peers? One agency representative described us as “less concerned with picking fruit than we are planting trees!” Students need to be challenged to take responsibility for spiritual multiplication and mission mobilization of their peers.
  4. Always be Sowing and Growing (2 Cor. 9:6)
    Mission must be incorporated into every area of ministry. Instead of just planning an annual mission focus, missional thinking should be taught as relevant to whom students date, how they pray through world events, how they engage with internationals, how they use book refund money, and much more. There are countless ways to model that the World Christian lifestyle is a daily habit—a journey more than an event.

Our expectations are through the roof for this generation and, more importantly, God’s are, too! Join us in igniting this generation of college students everywhere with a biblical hope, a God-sized task, an inspiring history, and a bold purpose for the future.

For stories of students who are mobilizing others at their campus, visit our new mobilizer map:


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