Where Are The Young Men?

18 11 2019

As a mission pastor, I get the incredible opportunity to speak to and spend time with many of our missionaries who serve with the International Mission Board. I just had coffee with an incredible man of God serving the Lord in a very difficult place in Southeast Asia.

Usually during any meeting that I have with a missionary, I try to ask them what their greatest needs are. I used to be surprised by the answer I received, but I have now gotten the same answer so many times that it now just saddens me.

When I asked this particular missionary from Southeast Asia what his greatest need is he answered that they need two young men to come and serve with them.

This is the same answer I get all the time now.

I know missionaries who have had open jobs for young men to fill for years now with absolutely no interest.

What is happening? Where are the young men? Why are we having such a difficult time finding young men who would be willing to go serve the Lord by being an international missionary?

This is not just happening internationally, but there is also a shortage of young men willing to plant churches here nationally or even being apart of a church planting team.

I certainly don’t know all of the reasons why young men are not answering the call to missions, but I am going to try list the ones I highly suspect.


  1. Disobedience – This might seem ridiculously obvious, but I think it needs to be said. Young ladies seem to be answering the call to go, and so I would suspect that God is calling the same amount of young men. If He is, these men are just simply disobeying that call. I certainly don’t believe that every young man is called to go as a missionary or a church planter, but many are!
  2. Lack of Awareness – This is our fault! If we are not teaching the Biblical commands to go, we will not see that fruit. If we are not intentionally making disciples, we will not see obedient disciples made. Our churches need to get serious about intentional disciple making, maybe especially among our boys and young men.
  3. Hindrances – Hebrews 12:1 tells us to cast off any hindrances. These are not necessarily sins in and of themselves. For instance, watching Netflix is not necessarily a sin. Binge watching that gets in the way of impacting the Kingdom of God is sin! Playing video games is not necessarily a sin, but playing them all the time could be. This could apply to almost anything good. We, as humans, have an uncanny ability to take what is good and turn it into something bad.
  4. Sin – Hebrews 12:1 tells us to also cast off sin. I think this verse also implies that we should cast off the feeling of being unworthy as a result of sin as well. The sins that I see as being most prevalent among our young men today are lack of integrity, lack of commitment, and poor time management. There is a reason for the relatively new stereotype of the 30 year old single male living in his parent’s basement.
  5. Pornography – Yes, this is a sin, but I believe it deserves a separate category. The Bible seems to also separate sexual sin into a different category (1 Corinthians 6:18). I first heard this proposed as a reason young men are not going as missionaries at a Passion Conference about 13 years ago in a sermon given by John Piper. It made perfect sense. The actual sin of watching and the corresponding guilt keeps many men unable to walk in the footsteps of Jesus in a day-to-day way, much less going overseas as a missionary. The accessibility of pornography through our phones has given our enemy a great tool to keep many young men from doing anything significant for God.
  6. The American Dream – Our culture and even many, well-meaning Christian parents propagate the myth of the American Dream that is to settle down into a good job with a good home and a nice family. The problem with this is that it is not Biblical. In conservative Christian circles we vehemently oppose the “health & wealth gospel,” yet at the same time we seem to live it and teach it to our children. When the only thing our children are asked is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” why are we surprised when they grow up selfish and entitled? We should be asking them what they think God wants them to do and supporting them in the way God leads them, even if it means that we must say goodbye to them as they board a plane for long-term missionary service in another country.


I believe the only solution is disciple making. Our parents need to do it first in the home. Our churches need to have intentional discipleship programs starting at an early age.

We need to get our young men into disciple making groups that hold each other accountable, teach them Biblical principles, and inspire them to charge the gates of Hell for the glory of God.



3 responses

19 12 2019
Alfred Siame

Wow,this is the very important lesson. The problem in our churches today is “we are talking too much about mission but we do nothing about it” I agree with your solution, and once we have disciple making programs we’ll enjoy it’s fruits as well.

Thanks, By Alfred Siame

6 03 2023
Veronica Harp

I know this article is older, but I’m assuming probably still accurate. I have a son who is very interested in doing missionary work, just unsure of how to start. Any suggestions?

6 03 2023
Scott Ward

Thanks for your comment. I think short-term trips are a great start. I think mission education is vital and will expose your son to great resources. I would recommend the Perspectives class, if you can find it in your area. I hope this helps!

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