Monday, May 25, 2009

Vision Trip - the final edition

Vision Trip to Rome and Marseille

This past weekend I returned home here in Germany after Upstream's vision trip.
We had a great week. Learned a lot. It was really cool to be around a group of pastors and mission leaders who are serious about keeping "missions" in "missional". It is encouraging to listen to people who want to connect globally as well as in their own communities.

I need to say some thank you's for I am very grateful for the help on this trip.

A thank you to Ed Stetzer who came a long with us. He is a good friend and I always learn much when I get to hang out with him some.

I also have to say thanks to Caleb Crider who really did an outstanding job on this trip with his talks about missions and posting on our blog.

I want to thank Scott and his team in Marseille and Jason and his team in Rome for hosting us and making us feel welcome and giving us a great glimpse of these two cities.

We had a great group of people who came along for the journey.
Check out this blog and some cool videos here.

Next on the stop is Asia in September. It looks like we will be going to Taiwan.
We will be in London and Paris next May 2010.

If you have an interest in either trip fill out the application form at our website.
You can also sign up for our free e-newsletter to get a glimpse on future events or trips.

Go Conference

When I returned home I spoke via skype at the Go Conference hosted by Greater Europe Mission. Check out this blog. We are looking into co-sponsoring one of these in the Southeast this August as we search for people who want to live and work in Europe, on Purpose.

Next Up
I am continuing to formulate some thoughts on partnerships. Thanks for those of you who have sent me some information and material on the subjects of mission partnerships.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

In Rome

Our Upstream Collective vision trip began last night. We had our first gathering last night at a local café and got to know each other a bit. We come from diverse background but connected in that we all want to see the church involved in missions. Several conversations that I had revolved around how we feel the Great Commission was given to the church. What does this look like in a day where it is so east to pay organizations and networks to do it? How can the church fully express itself in the Great Commission.

This morning we are headed to St. Paul’s here in Rome. It is the second largest church. We will have more conversations and lots of café. Have I mentioned that the café here is great.

I am going to talk this morning about being “invited” in. I will look at the story of Phillip as he went up to the Chariot as the Spirit led him on the road out of the city. As he obeyed the Spirit the Ethopian official invited him in. We see this again with Paul as he was in Athens. I will actually be in that city next month but that is another post. Paul was in three spaces as Erwin McManus says. He first went to the religious place where there were God fearers present and he engaged in conversation with. As often the case he would work in the marketplace for he was a tent maker and the marketplace was his second place. I believe as Paul was in this second place it gave him opportunity to be invited into the “third space”. He was invited into the group to be able to explain these things that he believed in.

Ministry in Europe today is a lot like that I think. We have to live amongst the people here. We pray for opportunities to join them. We seek to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. We hope to be invited into their spaces. It is then when we have awesome opportunities to share Jesus and see people’s lives changed.

More later,


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Doing Business With Mission

This past week has been real exciting for me regarding an area that I am quite passionate about; "Doing Business with Mission".

First, I was extremely encouraged by some potential opportunities for people to either move to Bulgaria to work or even start a company or do an internship. Some of the business people there who are followers of Jesus are really desiring to see people come over and work in the marketplace. If you are interested email me at

Take a look at a video we shot in Bulgaria. Click Here!

Second, we have had several new members for our Skybridge Community. We typically have people who are either looking for a job in Europe, already working in Europe or with a church who is interesting in sending this type of worker to the field. Our community is growing!

Third, two of our people who have been seeking jobs in Europe found places of employment. I think I mentioned this before but hopefully my repetition will simply emphasize my enthusiasm for them.

New Article Out
I wrote an article for Paul Cox who works with OMS International this week. He will be posting it on his blog over the next several days. Take a look. The article is for people who are going on short term trips and is about "Items that you need to be sure to pack on your trip".

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Week

About Sofia, Bulgaria
What a city of opportunity. I hope some people will read this and begin to pray about getting involved here. I think something great is going to happen here spiritually. Here are three things that you can do:

1. If you would like to connect with a missionary in Sofia please let me know by sending me an email. We have several teams that we are working with both with the imb and Greater Europe Mission They need prayer support. They need some strong partnerships to help them plant churches and they need churches that will send business people to come there and work.

2. We talked with several people who think that finding business internships in Sofia would be a possible way to connect here. We talked with one business guy who thinks they can bring a new person on. If you want to live and work in Europe, on purpose then check out and drop me a note.

3. I have been working with John and the Business as Mission group at Greater Europe Mission. They have an event coming up called GO MARKET GATHERING on May 29 and 30th to help people discover more about this idea of business as mission. I will be doing a Skype interview from Germany as a part of the conference. If you can get to the Colorado Springs area I think it would be worth checking out. Click here for the link.

The Upstream Collective Vision Trip
I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of Ed Stetzer. Okay maybe that was an overstatement (smile) but we are excited about him being a part of this trip next week. I really appreciate his passion to see the nations come to Christ. We read much about his conversations of missions and church planting in North America but he also has quite a heart for the world. Thanks Ed!

Our trip will begin in Rome and end up in Marseille. Our guides who will be leading us through these cities are quite awesome and have some great venues in store for us. We will be doing Jet Set blog updates so be sure to follow.

If you are interested in coming on one in the future check out our site at .

Friday, May 15, 2009

Confused - Let your "Yes" be "No" and Your "No" be "Yes"

I told you yesterday that I am in Sofia, Bulgaria. It is my first visit here. I really like being here. Very interesting culture. I like the people here. The coffee is also good!. On the plane from Germany to Bulgaria I sat next to a guy who lives in Minnesota. He is from Bulgaria. He has lived in the States for almost 8 years. He has lived in Atlanta, New Jersey, New York City and Orlando. He now lives in Minnesota. He likes the opportunity to work in the states though he misses home and family. He did not know one word of English before he arrived 8 years ago (I know how he feels). He was coming back to his home for the first time in 2 years.

We were able to talk about many things. I was reading the book "Re-Jesus" by Alan Hirsch so we had a really good spiritual conversation. He comes from a Bulgarian Orthodox background but is not connected to a church now. He wrote down a few words for me in Bulgarian and I still cannot pronounce them. I am not really a linguistic expert. smile. He also gave me an interesting tid-bit. He said that to shake you head like we Americans shake when we say "no" means "yes" and if you shake your head like you are shaking "yes" it can be "no." I needed to try this out. You have many opportunities to shake your head when travelling. So I did not have to be real intentional about it. When you are asked something you usually go with a natural response.

Yes, I want a coffee.
No, I do not want to buy that. etc..
I also found that you rather naturally shake your head or use non-verbal gestures.

We had some Gypsies who were asking for money near our hotel. We see them each time we go out the door. They were following us all the way down the street. Then it occurred to me as I was shaking my head "no" that they may be thinking I was saying "yes". So I found out that I needed to watch that and reverse my thinking and my gestures. It works much better this way. Understanding your culture is important. I have much to learn here.

Changing topics

- You know one of the initiative that I am involved in with The Upstream Collective is something called The Skybridge Community. It is where we want to see people come to Europe and work in the marketplace and live out their lives missionally here in these cities. We have people who are part of this community who are already working here. We also have some who are trying to get jobs or opportunities to be here in business, internships or Study Abroad programs. What has been really cool this week is that two of the people who have been looking for work here in Europe found jobs this week. Yea God!!

In my next post I will talk about some opportunities here in Sofia. They could really use some churches to sense a calling to work here. I also sense that this could be a good city to work in as a business professional and also make a huge impact as a follower of Jesus. Let me know at if you want more information.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sofia, Bulgaria

I am in Sofia today. It is quite an interesting city.
We are staying downtown. As we were walking around some last night I was able to see this statue of Sofia. There is one place in the city where you can literally see a Jewish Synagogue, a Mosque, an Orthodox church and a Roman Catholic church.

Today we have several meetings with people as we talk about doing business as mission. I am working with some International Mission Board workers here, some Greater Europe Mission workers and some local church leaders. I love collaboration. I think it is good when we can work together for the same purpose.

I learned an interesting culture tid-bit yesterday. I need to try it out today before I blog about it. Maybe tomorrow. ALSO - You know if you read my blogs that I love coffee. I have been quite impressed so far. The hotel where we are staying has possibly the best coffee for a hotel that I have tasted in a while. Of course for me that translates to be a strong cup of coffee.

More soon.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Chat Project in Spain

You have got to check out this really cool work that is going on in Spain. These are some really good friends that we have known for several years. Please remember them as they work there but also it is a great opportunity to connect with and work along side of them.

The Chat Project ...
is a program that connects people around the world through intercultural exchanges. We are based out of beautiful San Sebastián, Spain, and working through a non-profit foundation that serves our area by providing quality English conversation with NATIVE English speakers.

The idea...
was developed over several years, beginning with the desire to be a contributing, valued part of the international community in order to have a voice in the global conversation. We are Christians intentionally engaging people in conversation, cultural events, concerts, exchange programs, and sharing the transformational truth we have experienced in Jesus. We love God, we love people, and we love to TALK!!!

The details...
We believe in the principle of “doing unto others” and have developed a program that treats people and language learners like we would LOVE to be treated. In our years of living overseas, we know what it is like to learn a second and third foreign language. Having time to practice with patient, native speakers is the ONLY way to improve your verbal proficiency. So, knowing that ENGLISH is the global language, we wanted to give Europeans, and especially those in the beautiful BASQUE region of SPAIN, the opportunity to do just that - practice with patient, native English Speakers whenever they want at our English Lounge.

But it gets even BETTER!!!
The other side of the program lets us “do unto others” for our US volunteers and partners. So many people want to be a part of the global community and share the love God has put in their hearts for the world. The CHAT Project provides the opportunity for all our volunteer partners to connect with internationals in meaningful ways even on short-term trips. In addition to 1 or 2 week volunteer trips with groups (English speaking travelers) who help us with special events and English immersion weekends, we rely on semester and year long volunteers to supplement our career staff. Our longer term volunteers have the opportunity to learn Spanish or Basque in the mornings and serve our community with The Chat Project in the afternoon.

If you want to learn more about this check out their site and get in touch with them here.

Monday, May 11, 2009


One can see in the book of Acts how the Holy Spirit leads

Sometimes the Spirit says GO

• Phillip’s trek down the southern road that led him to the Ethiopian official.
Sometimes the Spirit says NO

• Paul as he is trying to go into Asia. Two times he was stopped by the Spirit but then redirected to Macedonia.

Sometimes the Spirit says STAY

• Paul as he has the vision and stays in Corinth teaching and growing the church there.

I am convinced as I study the book of Acts that it is so vitally important for me to be connected to God and able to move at the Spirit’s direction and leading. I think this is true for individuals but I also think it is true for the church. I think that as we take part in the Great Commission that it is not to be done outside the context of a spiritual community. As we search scriptures and listen to God in prayer I believe this will be confirmed in the counsel of our believers in our church.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Speak Out!

One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision and told him, “Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent! For I am with you, and no one will attack and harm you, for many people in this city belong to me.” So Paul stayed there for the next year and a half, teaching the word of God.
Acts 18:9-11

Impressions, Visions, Stirrings, Leadings
All of these words are used as we describe how the Holy Spirit speaks to us.
I am often reminded of Henry Blackaby’s Experiencing God and I am forever grateful for his teaching.

He talks about how we can determine God’s will. Do you remember those?
Through scripture
Through prayer
Through experiences/circumstances
and through the counsel of friends.

I know myself that I sometimes go for the quick fix and seek counsel of others or my circumstances to determine the direction of the Lord. But I believe that as we consistently seek the Lord though prayer and the scriptures that we will understand his will for us. I believe this applies to all areas of our life.

In this case its seems that Paul needed a word from the Lord about his preaching and teaching there in Corinth. He needed reassurance. He needed a shot of boldness. This vision that Paul had here evidently led him to stay for some time to teach in this new church.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The role of the Holy Spirit in mission strategy

Still thinking about the role of the Holy Spirit in our mission endeavors.

I was going over some notes from our Church as Missionary workbook that Caleb Crider and I use. It is a compilation of mission writings and notes that we continually put together. We teach it when someone asks for it. Some times we may teach it even if not asked. Smile. One thing that I came across that got my attention this morning is this question.

How do we determine missions strategy?

Traditionally, missions strategy has gone something like this:

• Where are the greatest concentrations of “unreached people groups?”
• The next largest town with no evangelical witness.
• Areas of concentrated lostness.
• Areas with highest level of need.
• Influential people and/or places.

Personally, I know these are well meaning conclusions. I think the issue that I struggle with is how much can we really know about these things? How much do we rely on our statistics to guide our strategy? I think we can work real hard on getting this information as accurate as possible, however in the end these are questions that only our Lord knows the answers.

What is the role of the Holy Spirit in our mission strategy?

What if the Lord directs us to go somewhere that on paper does not look as strategic as where we have researched and determined as the new hotspot or the place of greatest need.

It has been my experience that my pragmatism gets in the way of listening to God and responding to Him. I want to go where I can be most effective. I want to go where there is GREAT need. I get motivated by “needs” but the problem I have found is that there is always a place that has a greater need. What happens when God’s plan is different?

I like what Caleb says here: “If we allow Him to guide our missions efforts, weʼll find that He is actively orchestrating His work around the world”.

Read again what happened to Paul in Acts 16:6 - 10

And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

Monday, May 4, 2009

When God says "No"

What do you do when the Holy Spirit says “no”?

Does a “no” put you in a tailspin?

What happens when the plans you made do not turn out that way due to the fact the Lord closes a door?

What happens when the Lord puts the brakes on our strategy plan?

Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. Acts 16:6-10

I do not like “no” for an answer.
Do you think Paul liked the “no” ?
It seems that he got his first “No” and the Holy Spirit stopped him.
Then he tried another area and the same response – No!
Once again, stopped!

What do you do?

In Paul’s case they went yet another direction and then he had the vision of the man from Macedonia. It evidently made an impact. He knew it was the Lord directing him. Then he did as so many of the men of faith did in the Bible – He obeyed… immediately.
They left for Macedonia.

How do you handle the redirections?