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Stories & Blog

Men on Mission: Where Are They?

Men on Mission: Where Are They?

Consider this staggering reality in missions: Single missionary women outnumber single missionary men four to one, meaning more than 80% of all single missionaries are women.

Before we talk about the men, let’s celebrate the bravery and passion of these godly women. They are counting the cost, walking in obedience, going to hard places, and serving with faithfulness. I admire their tenacity.

But with these statistics of singles in the mission field, something is out of balance. We don’t need fewer women; we need more men!

Statistics of singles in missions

Why we need more men on the mission field

With nearly two-thirds of missionaries being women, what picture does this paint for the local people who are considering what it means to follow Jesus? Does it look like Christianity is for women but not for men?

For the local men who do trust in Christ, who will disciple them? Female believers have a greater opportunity to be discipled because there are more female missionaries. This is especially true considering that almost all the single missionaries, who have greater time to invest in ministry outside the home, are women.

The nations need men on the mission field.

But not only does the mission field need men, men also need the mission field.

God created men to be warriors, and the mission field is a battleground where rages the spiritual war for souls.

God created men to be warriors, and the mission field is a battleground where rages the spiritual war for souls. We as men long to be part of an adventure greater than ourselves — one that tests our courage and demands our fortitude. That adventure is waiting on the mission field. We could be living the epic good vs. evil stories we love to read and watch.

What’s keeping men from missions?

I want to do more than simply say, “Men, step up! Be men and lead!” I want to get to the underlying issues single Christian men grapple with. Here are the most common hindrances, hang-ups, and fears I’ve encountered as I talk with men about going into missions.

To shift these statistics about singles in missions, we must address the heart issues and disciple young men toward God’s truth in these areas.

  1. Missions is a short-term trip, not a viable career
    Many young men take a short-term mission trip in high school or college, but they’re not challenged to consider serving overseas long term. They may have already chosen a career path and giving that up feels like too much of a sacrifice, or they may think they won’t be able to provide financially for a future family.

  2. Parents aren’t talking to their sons about missions
    Unless they’re missionaries themselves, most parents (even believers) don’t encourage their kids to consider becoming a missionary. It’s scary to send their kids to the other side of the world — or it may not even be on their radar!
We must address the heart issues and disciple young men toward God’s truth in these areas.

  1. The desire to be married
    Many young men aren’t open to long-term singleness and think they must be married before they go. Sometimes they’re even willing to forgo God’s leading to the nations to pursue a relationship with a woman who’s not interested in going. But is it possible that with the disproportionate number of single women on the field, a future spouse could be there?

  2. Compassion isn’t seen as manly
    By our God-given nature, men tend to think and act based on reason and logic. Our culture perpetuates this stereotype by exalting men’s “macho” side and mocking their emotional side. Men aren’t expected or encouraged to lead with compassion.

  3. “I don’t want to raise support”
    Even though raising support is biblical and comes with many perks, it’s a deal-breaker for many would-be missionaries (both men and women). Do we have enough faith to believe God can provide for us and for his work?

  4. The drive for success
    How can we measure ministry effectiveness? What does it mean to be successful when we are not in control of the results? Is it worth it if we never see someone come to faith in Christ? These are questions we (especially men) must wrestle with. 

  5. Sexual addiction
    Studies show 77% of Christian men ages 18-30 look at pornography at least monthly and 36% view pornography daily. Some young men ignore their addiction, while others know they have a problem and exclude themselves from the potential to be healed and to be used by God.
Some young men ignore their addiction, while others ... exclude themselves from the potential to be healed and to be used by God.

  1. Christian doubt
    If we believe fighting sin disqualifies us from the mission field, we believe struggling with faith does, too. How can we share our faith when we’re not 100% sure ourselves? We don’t know how to talk about doubt in our faith, and we’re afraid to try.

  2. Fear of missing out
    Our American culture idolizes fun and happiness. If it’s not easy and instantly gratifying (and missions is neither), we don’t want to put in the effort. Besides that, it’s easy to feel left behind when our friends’ lives continue without us while we’re on the other side of the world.

  3. Fear of rejection
    The fear of rejection keeps many men from pursuing relationships. Could the fear of rejection by a mission agency, peers, or a host culture overseas be keeping men from pursuing missions?

How to move forward

These are real struggles deterring single men from following God to the least-reached. But it’s an even bigger problem than that: They also hinder our daily lives as disciples of Jesus.

If you’re struggling with one of these issues, you’re not alone. But don’t be content to stay there. Pastor and author J.D. Greear says, “The great temptation for men is not to do evil. It is to sit back and do nothing.”

Take a step of faith today, and pick one hang-up to start working on with a mentor and Jesus. (Don’t have a mentor? Talk to a Crossworld coach.) Jesus wants to walk with you to find victory so you can move forward with confidence.

Questions for mentorship toward missions

Here are three questions to discuss with your mentor:

  1. How does this hang-up play out in your life?
  2. What is it keeping you from?
  3. What does God’s Word say, and how does his character influence this issue?

Men, you are important in the mission of God around the world! What step do you need to take to begin trusting God in one of these areas? “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all you do be done in love” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14).

Joel Jenney, Crossworld missions coachJoel Jenney served with Crossworld in the Canary Islands before becoming a missions coach in the U.S. He loves to help people find their place on the mission field. Connect with Joel.
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