Those considering a second career in missions may need to take a number. An overflow crowd packed the first missions conference of the Finishers Project, a movement aimed at sending baby boomers, now entering their fifties, out as missionaries (CT, Oct. 5, 1998, p. 72).

At some sessions of the October 1-3 Chicago gathering, nearly as many attendees sat on the floor, in the doorways, and out into the halls as were seated in the chairs. After conference planners realized they could not accommodate more than the 660 already registered for the Chicago conference, including 100 exhibitors, they turned away 300 people and 20 missions agencies.

The conference was so successful that the Navigators, an international discipleship ministry based in Colorado Springs, is considering hosting similar conferences every 18 months. The next one, tentatively planned for the spring of 2000, will be five to seven times the size of the Chicago conference.

LITTLE IMMEDIATE PAYOFF: However, representatives from some of the 30 mission agencies in attendance confirmed that few potential recruits seemed ready to go immediately. In addition, many participants were not retirees, but middle-aged workers weary of the rat race.

"Almost everyone here is looking toward the future," said Dave Hendry, director of Career Missionary Services for Operation Mobilization. "Most are two to five years away from retirement."

Another mission representative, Thomas Gibson, human resource director of Group Ministries for Campus Crusade for Christ, estimates that only a quarter of the participants will be ready to go soon.

Bill Mackie, 43, and his 46-year-old wife, Karen, of Valparaiso, Indiana, are not close to retiring. But they are dissatisfied with their existing careers—his ...

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