ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) — When 24-year-old Laura Coulter signed up to spend her summer serving at a new church plant in Atlanta, she was looking for opportunities to expand her understanding of missions and life in ministry. It was a tweet from the North American Mission Board (@NAMB_SBC) that led her to Atlanta and a NAMB Generation Send internship.
“I was on the lookout for opportunities to be involved in missions and ministry,” said Coulter, a recent graduate of Taylor University in Upland, Ind. “When I saw a tweet come from NAMB about Generation Send, I decided to check it out.”
And she found exactly what she was looking for.
“Through Generation Send, I would get to serve in a new city, live and work alongside like-minded believers my age, learn more about church planting and be on mission for the Gospel. How could I pass it up?”
Coulter is among 31 young adults who dedicated their summer to serving in Atlanta, Portland and New York City as a part of NAMB’s Generation Send experience.
Generation Send is a 10-week internship to immerse young adults in ministry, missions and church planting in an urban context. The program offers opportunities to develop as ministry leaders and missionaries through hands-on, practical knowledge of the reality of missions and church planting.
“The goal is to see young adults become equipped to be future church planters, team members or church and ministry leaders,” said Steve Canter, NAMB’s urban mission initiatives coordinator.
“To see the Gospel spread in North America, we need healthy churches. And to have healthy churches in the future, we need to develop the young people who will one day be leading and investing in them,” Canter said.
This year’s interns spent their summer in ministry in their respective cities while missionary practitioners, established church planters and ministry leaders invested in them and provided guidance.
“Our cities are a mission field that desperately need people who know how to engage them with the Gospel in their everyday lives,” Canter said. “Generation Send is a great program that prepares young adults to do just that — be missionaries and church planting leaders in the most diverse and dense contexts in North America.”
For 21-year-old college student Robert Fisher, that context was Portland, Ore. A far cry from his home in Ash Grove, Miss., the city provided the backdrop for Fisher and his Generation Send teammates to put down Gospel roots in the city in preparation for future church plants.
“I wanted to be in the program because I have always had an interest in exploring church planting,” Fisher said. “Serving in Portland, our team literally became the church, doing whatever we could to identify the needs around us, invest in the people and invite them to join in what God is doing in their city.”
This type of hands-on ministry pushed Fisher to a deeper understanding of the Gospel and how it can move the hearts of those who hear it.
“We had the opportunity to share the Gospel with one man we encountered who was very much a spiritual seeker,” Fisher recounted “At one point he told us that he’d never seen young people so excited about the church. Experiences like this helped me walk away from the summer with a greater grasp of the Gospel and how it moves a missionary or church planter out into service.”
It’s experiences like these that Generation Send leaders hope participants will carry with them as they return home and go forward in their own callings.
“These interns are exposed to the great needs of the cities and they receive the training and space to experience God’s calling on their lives as they serve,” Canter said. “We want them to take what they learn in that context of the city and apply it when they return home or step out into the next phase of ministry.”
Many of this summer’s participants were so inspired by their experiences that they opted to stay in the cities where they served and continue working alongside their church plants. Coulter is one of those.
“I’ve moved back to Atlanta and have committed to living there for at least the next year while I continue to serve with Blueprint Church,” she said. “I realized through my experience with Generation Send that God has given me specific gifts and abilities, and I can use them to help a church like Blueprint as they serve others and share the Gospel.”
For her, the move to a new city wouldn’t have happened without the opportunities through Generation Send.
“The program really changed the way I see communities and individual,” Coulter said. “It taught me to be effective, flexible and focused on living a life on mission for Christ.”
This is a response Canter hopes to see duplicated in future Generation Send interns — a call to live a life on mission.
“This experience is so unique,” Canter said. “I would encourage any pastor or ministry leader to recommend a young adult in their church to take part in the program. They will be built into, intentionally developed as missionaries as they have the chance to learn firsthand what it looks like to serve God in our cities and hear His call on their lives.”
To learn more about Generation Send and to apply, visit namb.net/generation-send or email GenerationSend@namb.net. Follow on Twitter @NAMBgensend.
Sara Shelton is a writer for the North American Mission Board. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).