What Can Christians Learn From the Surge in Mormon Youth Missionaries?
The surge of Mormon missionaries shows that young people are willing to make great sacrifices in order to answer these two questions. Yet the question that will follow the others into the spotlight and eventually upstage them is "Why do I serve?"
Unfortunately, young people are often motivated to serve by a convoluted mixture of divine calling and the desire to feel better about themselves and their position in the world—often a privileged one. That sort of guilt-based motivation brings short-term results, failing to plant the deep roots that produce fruit that lasts.
Christians have a unique core that motivates our service, a core that separates our religion from others, including Mormonism. That core is grace—amazing grace. Among all potential motivations for serving, grace takes top billing.
As the Fuller Youth Institute has learned in our Sticky Faith research, teenagers aren't best motivated to serve by the desire to feel better. The ideal motivation for service is responding to God's transforming grace. Service motivated by grace develops deeper faith and a lasting commitment to God's kingdom work. As we love telling children and teenagers, we serve and obey so that our lives become great big "thank you notes" back to God for all he has done for us.
The Mormon Church has found a powerful outlet for a young person's desire to experience purpose and connection. If we as Christians can combine that desire with a sense of God's extravagant grace, we may experience a similar surge of missions involvement among Christ followers of all ages.