Thursday, August 28, 2008


Here is my first attempt at writing about one thing on the list of missional characteristics.

One of my best friends in the world is Mr. Outlook. Yes he is part of the Microsoft family but he is quite helpful for me. Some people who are not so fond of Microsoft call it him other names but I like the guy.

I like Outlook for several reasons. I put all of my appointments on Outlook so I know where I need to be and when and what I am doing. I am able to write post it notes to myself without using paper. (I feel pretty good environmentally about that). I am also able to track all of my TO DO’s on Outlook. If I complete a task that was not on my Outlook task organizer then I will go back and enter it in so I can delete it. It feels great to check something off the list.

Having my life organized helps for I am so scattered brained that there is no way I can keep up with everything unless I had tools like this but there is a dark side to all of this.
The dark side is that my life can become too organized and too scheduled for my own good. I like to be efficient and I like to get a lot done in a day so I try to pack in a lot of tasks and appointments (live or phone appointments). So having my time lined out for me is the best way to do it. BUT… this is the problem for me.

As I have been watching people whom I think live out their lives as salt and light in this world I have observed people who are able to not be so rushed in the moment for a conversation that could have been set up by God. I call this living with some “margin”. If I have no margin in my day and I am running to each appointment then I do not have time for an interruption, crisis or much less a divine appointment that often is not on my Outlook calendar.

The people I see who seem to share Jesus in their everyday life quite effectively seem to have time to do so when the opportunity arises. They have enough space in their day to have a divine appointment. They are not as much in a hurry as they interact with people as they go about their day.

They live in the present tense not always pressing to the next TO DO.

At the bank they have time for a conversation. The same is true in the coffee bar or at the newspaper stand. They are not so much in a hurry to get about their TO DO list. I think “busyness” is one of the greatest challenges to us in the West as we try to live out our lives missionally.

I am not ready to give up on my friend Mr. Outlook but I am trying to have a few more minutes to spare for those divine appointments. Living in Europe has helped me immensely. I think I need to live here the rest of my life. Not to mention the café is great.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

conversations about missional living

I made it back home to Europe. I have have been travelling all over the states for the last two months with the Upstream Collective. We have had the opportunity to talk to a lot of great people that are out there living out their lives with intentionality.

I was inspired to write some observations about living missionally last week at David Putman’s house (he is the author of the book Breaking the Missional Code). We were sitting at David’s house on his back patio enjoying a very HOT Atlanta afternoon. We were doing a Skype call with Alan Hirsch. Despite the humidity and heat it was a pretty cool day to be in conversation with those two.

As I have these conversations I get rather convicted of the idea that I do not want to be guilty of just talking about being missional but actually living missionally and being the salt and light as Jesus teaches. I want it to be a natural part of my day and not just aspiration. I think way too often I just talk about it.

In my former life I worked at the North American Mission Board in church planter assessment. There are quite a few people out there who sense a calling to plant a church in North America. I would set up training seminars at seminaries around the country teaching people how to assess potential church planters. The model that we used was from a behavioral psychologist by the name of Charles Ridley. One essential in behavioral psychology is that a person’s past behavior is the best predictor of their future performance. Often, with a high degree of accuracy one can assess if a person has what it takes to be an effective church planter.

You must first determine what are the behavioral competencies that are needed to be successful and this was the basis of his research. The second ingredient is that you must be able to draw out from the candidate the right information in order to properly assess and the right information is based on the depth of their past behavioral performance.

One such quality for a church planter is “the ability to start something from nothing”. For example if a person cannot give you a concrete example of ever starting something from nothing then they would not have that behavioral competency. After more discussion with them you see that their past experience really shows that they do much better at developing something that has already been started then. This would be a good indicator that being a lead church planter might not be the career path for them. They may be better suited for church development or revitalization than church planting.

With all of the missional talk going on in the evangelical world today I have been thinking about if there are certain behavioral competencies that can be identified in people who live this way.

I am going to start again (I think I have tried this before) to write about some characteristics that I hear talked about but most importantly characteristics that I observe in people whom I think do a great job living their lives in a missional sort of way.

Here is what I have so far.

On my list:

Intentionally engaging in the culture in which you are placed.
Having Margin in your life
Good at asking questions
An interesting person
Being natural
Willing to engage in conversation

What is on your list?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

You can do it, We can help

Home Depot has a pretty cool slogan

“You can do it, We can help”.

I have working overseas in missions for almost 7 years now. I have been thinking lately that in the past I have taken the opposite of that slogan when it comes to applying it to volunteers going overseas on mission.

"I can you it. You can help me".

Over the last several years I have noticed that often groups come over from the states and they actually do things that I cannot always do. They bring a boundless energy to their time and effort. They are willing to try things that I may not try. They are willing to talk to strangers and try to strike up a conversation with most anyone. They pray for our city and people and do it for hours. They minister to me and my family.

I have come to realize that you indeed can do it and I need to help and even sometimes I need to just get out of the way. Sometimes people expect the missionary to have some special and mystic abilities to do things others cannot do but at the end of the day the Great Commission was given to all followers of Jesus and the part that sometimes we forget to emphasize is that the Holy Spirit goes with us. We are not alone as we go on the journey.
The Holy Spirit will guide, give strategic direction, give you Divine appointments, the words to say, boldness, and you can keep adding to this list.

I am so grateful for the people who have a calling to come here to minister alongside of us for short periods of time. We could not do it without you. Thanks for being obedient to the Great Commission.