‘One-third of [Muslims] are under the age of 15, and two-thirds under 30.’ They are Millennials, born within the last 30 years. They are ‘young, affluent and growing.’ However, ‘unlike their Christian counterparts in the US and western Europe, most of whom are turning their backs on organised religion, this generation has “one over-riding characteristic, which is that they believe that being faithful and living a modern life go hand in hand, and there is absolutely no contradiction between the two,”.
‘Of the 11 countries expected to join the world’s largest economies this century, six have overwhelmingly Muslim populations and two have big Muslim minorities.’ Moreover, ‘the Muslim middle class is expected to triple to 900 million by 2030, driving consumption as well as social and political change.’ Their spending power is enormous.
‘This Muslim millennial generation has been shaped by two monumental factors. One is 9/11, and the global response to Islamic extremism and terrorism; the other is the internet.’ The internet has brought together a wide and diverse group to give them unity of voice, backed by the vast numbers of their demographic. As well as allowing ‘[traditionally] marginalised voices within the community – younger Muslims and women – to express their views.’
‘Among those views are frustration and resentment at being defined by their hijabs or being told they are oppressed by their faith,’. Compared to the generations before, lots of Muslim Women are feeling more empowered in the home and workplace.
This standard of life and influence is the new norm for many Muslim millennials and those younger, especially in the fastest developing nations. However, ‘their counterparts might be called the Traditionalists … socially conservative, believing in maintaining harmony, more deference to authority and, as their name suggests, trying to hold firmly on to what they see as the good elements of family, community and tradition,”’.
The Muslim population of the world is younger than our community. While these nations are experiencing a youth bulge, we as a community are increasing in age. Currently, less than 10 percent of our workers – and only 2.8 percent of our team leaders – are 30 or younger. What this means is that we are not sending enough young people to reach a younger Muslim population. As early as possible, we need to recruit young people, provide them with training and disciple-making experience, and avoid their getting stuck in their home countries.
These trends were identified several years ago, and we have been looking for ways to shift this age disparity. As a result, seven projects are now underway to bring younger people into our community.
A few years ago, several of our sending bases worked together to send teams to a world cup held in the Middle East. They sent a small group of people to reach out to fans from across the Muslim World attending. Each group organised their own travel, but they shared materials, outreach training, and logistical information. This is being repeated early this year with another international football competition. The broader hope is to find young people who will combine a love of sports with a passion to invite Muslims to follow Jesus.
One Sending Base developed an online platform to mobilise, equip, motivate, and multiply a community of younger believers engaged in the task of taking the gospel to all Muslim peoples. With an app that helps them engage in opportunities, forums and prayer. This has been hugely successful, they encountered hundreds more people engaging via this method.
These four-week trips were led by our adult Third Culture Kids. During the trips, team members practiced Luke 10: Find people of peace, proclaim the kingdom, heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons. The teams had two weeks of training, including exposure in an urban setting and a rural one. The goal was to mobilise apostolic, out-of-the-box-minded youth for long term ministry, as well as to find people of peace and give the contact to those with a long-term presence.
The aim of this project is to mobilise young people to go to the field as students and connect them with mentoring teams. As students, these young people would be granted visas to live in the heart of dynamic communities of locals across the Muslim world. They would be able to engage deeply with local culture and language and gain invaluable future contacts while earning a degree.