Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Doing Business WITH Mission

Ever heard the phrase in missions, “doing business as mission?” I’ve heard it used to describe professional missionaries who go to their respective fields with a platform (such as a business) to gain access into a closed country legally or to gain credibility among the people of a culture. We see some solid biblical examples in the life of Paul.

But in today’s culture, while we might hear the phrase “business as mission” used, I believe we should consider changing our wording to doing “business with mission.” Though replacing “as” with “with” may look like a minute change, it actually alters the meaning significantly in my opinion.

Doing business with mission can be an accurate description of living and working in a place (either at home or in another culture) missionally. It’s not simply creating a “platform” only to gain access into a culture and then not actually carrying out that task. If we create

Living missionally is an effective and authentic way to be a missionary (with or without the title) in a culture. It simply means integrating missionary efforts naturally into daily work and play.

If we all lived missionally, it wouldn’t matter where we lived or what we did. If every part of our lives is meant to be worship, and if everything we do counts as worship, then we should do it all for the glory of God.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. - 1 Cor. 10:31

Not only can we give glory to God through our work in business, social activism, art, or any other field, but it’s through our work that we can also win the respect of outsiders.

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. - 1 Thess. 4:10-12

So how could this affect global mission efforts? I see a day where thousands of believers intentionally take jobs overseas to live out their faith incarnationally in the marketplace and communities of the world. I see this as a new wave of missionary efforts in the future. And I think the local church can support them not so much with finances but with prayers, accountability, encouragement and emotional support. PLUS view them as real missionaries sent out by their church by commissioning them when possible.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Larry in Prison (actually from Paul's prison cell in Rome)

Last Saturday morning I had the opportunity to go to see the Coliseum, and the Roman forum. Just outside the Forum we were able to visit inside the Mamertine prison, the dungeon in the heart of Rome believed to be the spot where the apostle Paul was imprisoned before he was executed almost two thousand years ago. I was quite amazed with this place. To actually be where a part of the Bible was written was quite awesome. Not to mention that Paul is my favorite writer of the New Testament.

Several things hit me while down in the cell. (see picture from inside the prison cell) It was a small room, low ceiling and there was not much light. If my bible history is correct it was not where Galatians was written but I instantly recalled where Paul says in that book: “See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!.” I would have to write in large print in order to see in there for sure.

I guess what I am most amazed from this view was Paul’s ability to keep focused.
I would have complained and told the Lord there is no way I can do anything from in there. I would not have had the joy as Paul did as he wrote those letters. I doubt I would be able to think so clearly as to remember to write the churches and the people that I was discipling to let them know to be prepared and continued to grow in maturity.

yet I appeal to you on the basis of love. I then, as Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus— Philemon 1:9

Or to continually challenge us to live our lives in such a way that would honor God.
“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” Ephesians 4:1

I came away thinking about how do I stay focused when circumstances do not always go the way I hope or had planned? How can I have joy when I am in prison or when I simply feel entangled by the situation that I am in.

Here is another prison verse that jumped out at me while there. This one from the book of Phillipians. This is what I must remember while in difficult circumstances.

11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Phillipians 4:13 is the first verse that I remember memorizing. I guess the first one was actually “Jesus Wept”. On that Sunday morning as a middle schooler I needed an easy win in Sunday School. I brought my bible and offering but I needed a quick verse to remember so I could get that checked off my list. Smile. But later on, I memorized 4:13 because it came at a difficult time in my life. A time where I moved from one way of living to another. A time where I moved away from living for myself to living for Jesus. A time where I moved from actually thinking I can do all things because I am capable of it to this verse recognizing that I can only do things because of the power of Christ who lives in me.

I believe this is how Paul wrote from inside the prison. His inner joy was in the Lord. His inner strength was because he had a real relationship with Jesus and he knew and believed and further more lived this truth.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 5:20

Monday, October 20, 2008


I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you. Colossians 4:18

Yesterday on our last day in Rome we visited St. Paul’s Cathedral. We are so glad we made this part of our journey. It was here where we saw what is said to be the “undisputed” chains that Paul wore in Rome. As I looked at those chains I remembered these verses that I have read many times.

As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Philippians 1:13
Even though he was in prison and in chains he was bold.
for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Ephesians 6:20

But later I remembered what Paul taught us about grace.
We approached the front of the cathedral towards the area where they currently have mass. The church is the second largest church in that city behind St. Peter’s. There is a huge open area for people to come into. It was empty for the exception of a few tourists. When I say the word huge I really should write it like this: HUGE. By the way, one of our hosts for the week told us that only about 11 percent of Italians regularly attend Mass and 75 percent of them are over the age of 60. There are less than one percent of the people in the country that would say that they have a personal relationship with Jesus. Italy is definitely a country that we would describe as post Christian. Near the front of the church you will find the crypt where it is said that Paul is buried. This is where you will find his chains and see his tomb. It is covered with glass and you can look down towards it.

There is a kneeling bench just in front of his tomb. I noticed a teenage girl down on her knees rubbing a book that her mother gave her on top of the glass. She rubbed the covers and the inside pages. Then she rubbed the book that she brought. Then everyone started handing her things to rub on the glass. They gave her hats, jewelry, books, pamphlets or anything that a person could hand her. They believed that by her rubbing the object on the glass over Paul’s tomb that it would give some sort of power or luck upon that object and of course if you possessed that object then the power or luck would be transferred to you. I sat there and watched that for probably 5 minutes. My heart broke for these people from all over the world who came to do this. For it was Paul who wrote…
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Paul, Ephesians 2:8

My heart broke for these people for there is nothing that we can do or even rub that can get us closer to God or give us power or luck. It is only by grace that we have been saved. I remembered and I am totally grateful for the chains that he wore as he boldly proclaimed the gospel in a hostile world but I am so thankful for the grace from our Lord that gives us life and freedom. Thank you Paul for teaching us that as well.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Rome, italy

I am sitting in the airport in Malaga Spain waiting to board a flight to Rome. I have been in Spain for two weeks. I really love the spanish people and culture. I have had a great time of meetings and some really cool ministry opportunities with our JetSet Tour with the Upstream Collective. I am on the home stretch. I should be back to Germany on Sunday night.

I am going to Rome to meet with Ed Stetzer from LifeWay Resources. He and Darrin Patrick are gathering a group of pastors to come to Rome and Marsielle France next May 2009 for another Jet Set Tour that we are doing. I really believe that emerging churches in the states have a lot to offer in terms of mission in Europe. I think that as churches engage in reaching the peoples of Europe it will also help them to have even a better understanding of how to engage the peoples of their own community in the states. Feel free to explore .

More later from Rome.