Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bon Appetit

Ever been to a restaurant before it opens? You are on the outside looking in and you see the workers sitting around the table eating. Being American and living the last few years in Spain we would sometime find ourselves not able to eat quite so late when we went out. So we would go to dinner around 8:30 or 9 pm and some of the restaurants were still closed preparing to open for the traditional late start dinner in Spain.

I would see the workers sitting around eating. I must confess that I sort of felt like they should be opening the restaurant to feed me.

Then I became interested in cooking. I am not ready to claim it as a hobby. I have actaully cooked four times this year for our family. They are not crying out for me to take it up as a hobby either. However I can make great lattes and cappuccinos. This holiday season I actually even picked up a magazine in our apartment here in Germany. I found this really cool paragraph talking about why the workers eat before the restaurant opens.

Bon Appetit - September 2008, p.146
Before a single customer walks into a restaurant, there is a lot to be done. Stock the bar. Set the tables. Eat.. At most restaurants, that pre-service meal is called family meal. Why? Because of the intense pressure of the restaurant world turns coworkers into family. Much like an actual family does, the employees sit down, eat, and catch up over dinner. And the food on the table is often as casual as the conversation. It's good, hearty fare (think meatloaf, pot pie, mac and cheese) that will keep going until that last diner heads off into the night. "At family meal, there's no heirarchy," says Seattle chef Tom Douglas of Dahlia Lounge. "You're breaking bread with your friends, For those 30 minutes, everyone is equal- and hungry."

When I read that I started thinking about teams and how important community is. If the community is strong within a team I believe in most cases it allows the team to function more effectively. Communication flows freely up and down the chain of supervision because instead of being tied to giving and receiving orders you are sitting around the table together sharing life. Granted that given the source of this paragraph the restaurants they are talking about will be certain to have a good chef. It would be hard to sit around the table eating food you did not like. I dont know if this story would hold up in some restaurants. But I think you get the picture. But it made me think about some team stuff.

How often do you eat with your team?
What do you talk about?
Are you sharing life together?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

missions - still in reverse mode

With economic times being as they are in the states I wonder how that will affect short term mission trips or humanitarian trips this next year? I know in Europe their dollar is still quite strong. But here is another idea.

Want to try something different?

Each year we always have friends here in Europe who wants to send their students to the states to be immersed in English and the US culture. It is really a ready made opportunity to be the salt and light to young people. I have also had business people who have asked me if they knew of a family that they could live with for a month in order to learn English. If you cannot go on a trip why not try this way?

There are some really good inter-cultural exchange programs and organizations out there. We do not always need to recreate something. Pray about if the Lord may be leading you to a certain people or place. If you know of a worker in a particular place that you support or your church does why not start there? Do a google search on the topic and see what you find out. Then find a good match for your family. What a great opportunity to share your life with someone from another culture. You will learn alot about their culture as well. Plus in most cases you will have made a life long friend that will go well beyond your time together.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

reverse mission opportunities 2

To keep going on my reverse mission trip theme.

I wonder if this would work. I have never tried it and I am sure someone has so I would be interested in how did it work?

Instead of you bringing your church to "do" a basketball camp or soccer camp that you could bring a group of people to "attend" a soccer camp in Europe? What if you were able to equip your participants to come and live life side by side with a European and be able to share your faith with them in some natural ways? Not to mention learn some pretty good soccer skills.

You see most of the time we want to go on a mission trip and and “Do” something so that someone can attend it and thus hear the gospel. What if we simply get involved in something that is already going on and find ways to tell our story in that way? To me this is the more natural way to share our faith. It is being the salt and light to a group of people.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

reverse mission opportunities

On my last post I wrote about what we could / should we consider doing differently regarding missionaries from North America. I work in Europe. Many people describe Europe as being post Christian. This is not to say that there are no believers here. This is not to say there are not churches here. Both exist but in smaller numbers. It is saying that many people believe that Christianity was tried here and does not work. Others may simply reject it or dismiss it or say it can be one of many choices.

Ministering in this context is quite a challenge. I must admit that my previous experience in the states focused more on attracting people to church. Now when I hear of people coming to Europe to “teach” us the latest attractional model I know I can sometimes be skeptical of such. For the attractional model assumes that people actually are looking for a church. This is not the case here.

BUT... what if…

I had a conversation with a worker yesterday and he gave me a neat idea. Part of my role is helping churches in North America connect with Europe. What do you think of when I say that? I know for me I use to always think that this means that we need a church in the states to come and HELP a church in Europe.

What if we reversed that? What if we had a church in America partner with a church in Europe not to be the great hope but to actually be a “learner”?

What if the church here in Europe could help you? Here is the idea on this. If North America is following the path of post Christian Europe could we not learn from some expressions of faith and community in Europe? How are they thriving or not amidst the world they are living in? What are they learning about the attractional model in a post Christian context? What can we learn from them that would better prepare our churches here in North America to reach our communities?

Anyone looking for such a partnership?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sitting on the bench

The last two weeks I have been playing basketball at the Black Forest Academy. This past week we had two games. I played in the first one against the JV team and I must say I was a scoring machine. I had my touch back. Remember, I am a legend in my own mind when it comes to basketball. But I will still try to take most people on. The second game was against the varsity. Our team expanded to about 16 players. If you know much about basketball it is a game where only 5 can play at a time for a team. I was not in the top five for the varsity game. In fact I was not in the top ten. As I sat there and watched I realized how much I detest sitting on the bench. I did not like it when I actually played competitively and I do not like it now. There is something about if you have your uniform on you need to be playing. Not many people come to see someone sitting on the bench unless it is your mom or girlfriend. Not many headlines are about people who sit on the bench. Stars play in the game.

Using the same metaphor but switching the context I go to a conversation that I had with a well known writer and church planter in Europe who is an European. He posed a question to a few of us at a meeting a few weeks ago. He asked the question: Is it time for North American missionaries to sit on the sidelines for a while? and if it is what can you learn that will help you in the future?

He asked if we were comfortable with that? Umm… (this is me thinking)

This was hard to grasp for I have a hard time making that mesh with the Great Commission since it tells us to GO. Do we just tell God that we need to take a break and sit on the bench a while? “We will get back to the Great Commission in a few years”. While I know we cannot take a break from being a part of the Great Commission should we as North Americans re-evaluate our role as missionaries overseas? I am not ready to buy my ticket, pack up the house and come back to the states but there may be some lessons that we can learn.

Are there some things we should stop doing?

Are there some things we should start doing?

What about some things that we should do differently?

So while I am not prescribing solutions to this I do want to pose the question – what would you learn if you sat on the bench for a while?