Thursday, April 30, 2009

The role of the Church in Missions

I am still thinking of some questions regarding Acts 13 and being “sent”. So this is a question blog. I am fortunate and grateful in that I come from a strong mission sending church.

When I think about my own “sent ness” I sometimes wonder what role the church played in it?
It seems the Church and the Holy Spirit both played vital roles in the "sending".

Before I was SENT

Did they confirm my calling or did an organization? or both?

How did this confirmation take place?

Was it filling out forms, references, affirming my calling through my actions in the context of the local church?

Did they confirm my giftedness? If so, how?

Did they lay hands on me, pray for me and send me out as their missionaries?

Once on the FIELD

How do we continue to communicate? Is it one way communication or do both the missionary and the sending church initiate conversation?

Do I send them regular prayer updates?

Am I able to speak into their mission efforts back “home”?

How can I serve my sending church?

Do they hold me and my family accountable spiritually?

Do they give us pastoral care even while on the field? If so what does this look like?

How do they relate to us strategically?

Who takes the lead in the mission strategy?

The church?
A mission organization?
A missionary team that is sent out?
All three?

What happens when the missionary’s calling and the church’s strategy no longer match? What gives?

Obviously I believe that the Great Commission belongs to the local church. I believe as Acts 13 speaks of that the local church is central to our missionary efforts. How can the local church fully participate overseas?

I would love to read your comments or perhaps you have even better questions.
As I put together my next series on "missional partnerships" I will attempt to answer some of these questions.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Mondays are for ...

Mondays are for a Bunch of STUFF.

Everyone seems to have a once a week type deal on their blog so why not me?
Here are some things that I am working on and I would love your input.

New Blog Series
I will soon be finishing the series entitled "LED".

I am working on a new blog series about "partnerships" for churches in North America with Church Planters and/or missionaries internationally? As you may know I spend a lot of time working with churches of various denominations in North America and helping them to connect internationally. I have a compiled a list of trends that I am seeing with churches in North America regarding international missions. I think they are quite positive. I am going to be teaching on this tomorrow in Germany at a training event for some strategists. I will let you know how it goes. I need to make some tweaks on it and then I will post on it.

BUT, I am also wanting to know from churches what you consider to be good partnership principles ? What do you need from your partnerships? How can missionaries help you and your church? This can really help teams on the field know how to better relate with you, our partners. The Great Commission belongs to the church. How can I help you on that journey? If you have some thoughts on this please email me at or simply make a comment on this blog.

Upstream Vision Trips
We have opened up registration for two upcoming Vision trips. You can pre-register online.
Space is limited on these trips.

Asia - September 19th - 27th, 2009 with Ed Stetzer.

London and Paris - May 21- 30th, 2010 with Ed Stetzer and Daniel Montgomery who is the pastor of Sojourn Church in Louisville, Kentucky.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Led .. Acts 13

Among the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria were Barnabas, Simeon (called “the black man”[a]), Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (the childhood companion of King Herod Antipas[b]), and Saul. 2 One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Dedicate Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.” 3 So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way.

I continue to be fixated on Acts 13. I am also thinking of other places in the New Testament where it talks about giftedness. Romans 12, 1 Cor.12, Ephesians 4 just to name a few.

What is the purpose of spiritual gifts?

We see in scripture it is to build up the body of Christ. It is not to showcase our own talents and abilities.

A body is organic.
It is growing.
It is alive.
It is reproducing.
It is maturing.

All of these descriptions of the body can play a part in the church’s mission(al) activity. In Acts 13 we see some believers with identifiable gifts. There were prophets and teachers. So having gifts and those gifts being affirmed was an important part of the church and still is today.

I believe as the church matures and reproduces it should be able to identify, affirm, equip and send out those in the body for ministry in their community and in to the world.

I like this pattern in Acts 13. I think it shows how spiritual gifts come into play in missions and how the Holy Spirit calls people. It also shows how the church affirms that calling and sends people out. It all works together.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Just what is missional?

I am sitting here at Exponential New Church conference. The buzz this year seems to be "missional". There are some good conversations going on around this.

One thing I believe is that we need to make sure "mission" is a part of missional. I think a lot of us are talking missional. We are working at how to engage our communities in an incarnational way but how often are we crossing the cultures within our communities and furthermore how are we ministering in other cultures in distant lands. A key part of being a follower of Jesus is being an active part of the Great Commission.

You can find some short video clips of this conversation from Ed Stetzer and Alan Hirsch from Upstream's dinner the other night here in Orlando. Check it out at our blog

More later.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Exponential Conference - Orlando

I am in Orlando this week for the Exponential Church Planting Conference.
It is good to be here with all of these church planters. We (The Upstream Collective) hosted a dinner last night featuring Ed Stetzer and Alan Hirsch. We had a great time and just barely enough food. I kept having people wanting to come to the event. I just could not say no.

As I have been thinking about our event last night and various conversations that I have had since being here I am really excited to see new church plants thinking towards being involved globally from day one. As you know this is a lot of our passion that fuels the Upstream Collective. We see the church as missionary. It is a both / and proposition. It is both being involved locally and being involved globally. I think church plants have much to offer overseas. We want to help in that journey.

We have another dinner that we are hosting on Wednesday evening. It is a free dinner so if you are here and you want to come and join us stop by our booth and get a ticket. We will be talking about ways churches can be involved in church planting partnerships in Scandinavia. Or you can send me an email at

Friday, April 17, 2009

Led.. The Antioch Church

2 One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Dedicate Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.” 3 So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way. 4 So Barnabas and Saul were sent out by the Holy Spirit. Acts 13: 2-4

I have often thought of God’s call on a person’s life. I think I have been guilty of thinking of “calling” or “being sent” as an individual’s response to God’s call on their life. When I read Acts 13 I see the church doing what was normal to them: worshiping the Lord and fasting. The Holy Spirit spoke to them and gave them an assignment.

You (the church) should dedicate Barnabas and Saul for the work in which I have called them do. This “leading” was to the church. It was in community. It seems that the church doing what was normal to them received instructions on how to be responsible to the Great Commission. They were to send out two of their very gifted men.

The church continued to pray and to fast on this matter and then they laid hands on them and sent them out.

I wonder what conversations did they have as a church during that time?

What conversations did they have with Barnabas and Saul while they were going through this process?

Did they have a church planter assessment done? (I had to write that since that was my job some years back.)

We do know is this was the first missionary journey of Paul. They were sent out by the Holy Spirit. They were confirmed by the body of believers known as the church. The two (Holy Spirit and Church ) should not be separated in our missionary ventures.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Led ... The Story of Phillip

Perhaps one of the most concrete examples of being "led" comes from the Story of Phillip and the Ethiopian official.

26 As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, “Go south[b] down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and he met the treasurer of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under the Kandake, the queen of Ethiopia. The eunuch had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and he was now returning. Seated in his carriage, he was reading aloud from the book of the prophet Isaiah.

29 The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and walk along beside the carriage.”

30 Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”

31 The man replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him. Acts 8:26-31

I love this story. I pray that my life will be as finely tuned as that.
Here we have a preacher who instead of being led to the city was led to go on a road away from town. I get this picture of a man walking (Phillip) and a man riding (The Ethiopian Official). So the Spirit tells Phillip “go walk beside the chariot”. Phillip must have been in shape enough to do it. I think my tendency would have been to go over and ask for a ride but the bible tells us that Phillip ran over there.

The story concludes with the Ethiopian coming to faith in Christ. I think the obedience that Phillip had in following the leadership of the Holy Spirit was crucial. The Spirit provided the opportunity for the gospel to be explained to this man in a way in which he could understand and ultimately accept.

There are two important points to this passage (I am sure there are more).

1. Being sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading
2. Being obedient to the Holy Spirit once he leads

Phillip did both and we can learn from this.

  • How does this affect us as we live our lives missionally everyday?
  • How does this apply to a church in how it lives out the Great Commission?
  • How can this apply to mission organizations or church planting teams who sometimes have long-term strategy plans?

More soon.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Led... Continued

I hope you had an super Resurrection Sunday yesterday.
It is now Easter Monday here in Europe so much of Europe is on holiday today. I hope your Monday is great wherever you happen to be reading this.

I want to pick back up on my LED series which is about the role of the Holy Spirit in missions.

I would miss a key aspect of the Holy Spirit and missions if I did not include this in my series.

5 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 6 And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!” Acts 7:55-56

Amidst intense pressure and imminent death Stephen did not run and take cover. He stood with boldness and power and he gave the Message. I do not think he did this on his own. I believe this was beyond his human competency. This was the power of the Holy Spirit as was promised in Acts 1:8. This was a demonstration that the Holy Spirit can give us boldness in our witness no matter what our circumstances.

Sometimes we need that boldness in a hostile crowd. Other times we need that same boldness as we talk to a friend or neighbor or family member that does not yet know Jesus. The Holy Spirit gives us boldness.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sunday Morning

Sunday is about the empty tomb.
What Jesus did on the cross was accomplished!
He conquered sin and the grave.
He is risen!

The Bible says it best:

1After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

2There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

5The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you."

8So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Wait

Two nights ago I took my son camping. Actually the truth be told our friends took us camping. I am so clueless about such matters. I did remember to bring food but forgot to bring anything to eat on or with. This is one such example.

Camping out to me is like flying across the Atlantic in coach class. I am not talking about the fireside time or eating. That is the fun part. The not so fun part is trying to sleep on the hard ground and in this case with five 13 year old boys. The ground is hard, you hear a lot of noises in the woods plus you hear boys trying to see who could make the loudest and grossest noises from their bodies.

I always enjoy the morning after a camp out.

This day was no different. It reminded me about a time when I was college student. I was participating in an outdoor wilderness adventure. We were on the Appalachian Trail for 10 days. We had to do a 24 hour solo experience. No food, No one around you and overnight in the mountains. I noticed at the spot they dropped me off at had a sign that read - Warning: bear sanctuary. That was a sign of comfort. NOT!

I figured the best way to get through the overnight part of this was to sleep through the night.
I found the safest and highest place. I settled in. It was dusk so I figured I would go to sleep and wake up at daybreak. No problems. Life is rarely that smooth for me. I was able to go to sleep without problems and I woke up and felt refreshed. Plus, it was bearly (no pun intended, smile) light. The problem was that instead of it getting lighter outside it was getting darker. I had taken a 20 minute nap. I could not go back to sleep. So the rest of the night was quite difficult. I longed for the daylight. I anticipated the morning where I could see what was around me. I kept reading the sign about the bears in my mind and I know I heard footsteps (it was probably a large squirrel)

This to me is Saturday after Good Friday. Waiting for Daylight and what comes in the morning.

Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."

Lamentations 3:22 - 24

Friday, April 10, 2009

Amazing Love How Can It Be

Good Friday.

Not a lot of extra words are needed today on my blog.
The bible speaks profoundly to us about today.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8

Today we remember what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross.
It is indeed a Good Friday.

Thank You Lord for your sacrifice.
Thank you Lord for your amazing love.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


I decided to make a series out of "Led". I hope you enjoy it. It is really about some things I have observed in the scriptures regarding the role of the Holy Spirit in missions. So here we go.

I have always been intrigued by how early the early church had an “issue”.

But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food. Acts 6:1

A solution was found

So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program. Acts 6:2

The early church leaders needed to find other capable men to help in the ministry.
Look at the criteria they chose.

And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility. Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.” Acts 6:3,4

  • Well Respected
  • Full of the Holy Spirit
  • Wise

I heard long ago about the Four C’s on bringing on a team member. I have long sense forgotten who came up with this. Please accept my apologies. I know it was not I.
I am not that “C”reative.

I have used this before with Psalm 78:70-72

Their Character
Their Calling – A sense of “oughtnes”
Their Competency – Their abilities to get the job done

And if these “C”s check out then

The Chemistry they have with our team. Are they a good fit?

Here is a mistake that we often make. We want to know all about their competency and calling. Some organizations/churches place a huge emphasis on callings while others place a huge emphasis on their competency. BUT, it is in their Character where we see again the role the Holy Spirit plays in their life. Does the Spirit lead them? Do they exhibit the qualities of life in the Spirit resulting in the fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:16-24?

I need to add an outcome after this situation was resolved.

So God’s message continued to spread. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too. Acts 6:7

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Recently I met with Dominique Faessler who is the President of Europartners which is headquarterd in Wetzikon, Switzerland. I had met him several years ago in Madrid where I was involved in one of thier groups. I was able to go to his offices since I live only one hour away and we had a cup of coffee and talked for a while.

Europartners is a movement of local independent organizations in Europe. It forms the European branch of Christian Business Men's Committees (CBMC) International. You can find out more at thier site. Their vision is to see a movement of God among business and professional leaders in every nation, resulting in lasting life change that continues to multiply. They have groups in quite a few countries in Europe. One thing that I like about the organization is that they work hard to develop leaders from the host countries.

Their mission is to present Jesus Christ to business and professional people in Europe; enabling them to manage their business according to biblical principles.

Thier strategy is:

Prayer - praying and expecting the Lord to work in lives
Relationships - Building trust and friendship
Outreach- Presenting Jesus Christ and taking opportunities to witness
Visiting - Following up on people and helping them in their workplace
Investing - Spending time with people to help them discover God in their lfe
Discipleship - Helping believers to grow in Christ and join a church
Equipping - Teaching believers to apply biblical principles in their daily business

If you are working in Europe in the marketplace you may want to see if they have a group in your area.

Friday, April 3, 2009

I feel led ..

Okay. That is a bad attention grabber. I have heard that a lot over the years and I bet I have said it a few times as well.

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (New Living Translation)

I have been thinking a lot lately on the role of the Holy Spirit in our mission endeavors.
Several things have probably stirred this up a bit for me. Maybe I will get to that later on in another post. But I need to start here.

We talk a lot about being a church that is in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the utter most parts. Some churches use that as their strategy plan for missions. But that is not my point either in this. The part that I some times leave out is the role of the Holy Spirit in mission.

As believers we have the Holy Spirit living in us.
What does the Holy Spirit do in the life of a follower of Jesus Christ?
convicts us of sin
comforts us
gives us hope
gives us boldness
and gives us direction.

These are all significant but it is the direction part that is extremely vital in mission.
“As we Go” (sidenote: This is the title of my book that I have been writing for a year but cannot seem to complete) about fulfilling the Great Commission we have the promise of the Holy Spirit to lead, guide and direct us in the church. This is pretty cool.

More soon….