Thursday, July 30, 2009

Total Dependence

As a worker overseas I see us having several points of engagement with churches and believers throughout the world. I have talked about the Sending church lately. I want to move on to some other types of connecting.

Prayer Advocates – People who pray specifically for us and the work.

I think your prayer advocates can and should be from all over the world. I get email newsletters from several workers that have to print their prayer requests in three different languages. Pretty cool.

I think it is E.M. Bounds who says that “prayer is the work”.

We need people to pray for us personally and our work. I know that seems like an obvious statement but sometimes I need the reminder.

Looking back nearly 8 years ago I still vividly remember needing a reminder of this the third week on the field. Why it took three weeks I do not know but I still remember that I was on the bus going to language school in Madrid and I was overwhelmed by several thoughts. On one hand I could not believe we were finally here. Then it hit me that I did not know anyone here. I cannot speak the language. I could barely order a cup of coffee. The list could go on. But then it struck me that I had to have a total dependence on the Lord. I could not do this on my own.

I think it was then where I took seriously the need to have people pray for us on a regular basis. To pray for us personally, our language needs, our friends, ministry, etc..

I started seeing God open up doors for us in some unbelievable ways.

I am convinced it was not through my own abilities. It was from prayer.

For the Worker: How do you communicate your prayer needs to your friends, family, your church and others? Do you use social networking to create prayer advocacy? I am curious?

For the church: How are you praying for global missions? What does that look like for your church? Curious about that also.

As We Go,


Monday, July 27, 2009

The Sending Church: Ways missionaries can minister to thier Church

A couple of posts ago I talked about how the church can minister to the missionary. What about the other way. How can the missionary minister to the church?

Here’s my short list. I will say in advance I may have left something off so feel free to post comments to help this list be complete.

1. Offer to pray for them as you send out your monthly updates. My friend Paul Cox does every time he sends out a newsletter and he prays for them. He does a great job of this and taught me the importance of it. Check out his blog .

2. Make sure you try to connect with them on a regular basis. Just as I mentioned that it is good for the church to contact us on the field we need to do likewise. I should also add that we need to talk to them even when we do not need to ask them fro something. I can be guilty of talking / writing only when I need something. Oops.

3. Offer to speak at their church services when you are in the states BUT also I have found the small stuff is great. I love speaking to the small groups or gatherings. If you do get the opportunity to speak in the larger gathering then ask how long you have to communicate and stick to that time or even less. Do not be surprised in this day of multi media and a minute by minute program schedule that you may just get 2 – 3 minutes in the Sunday service gathering. How do you communicate your message in that amount of time ?

You can also do this while you are on the field from time to time. With the ability to do skype video / audio calls you can actually talk from you where you are at anytime.

4. When you are back home at the church serve along side them in their efforts of ministry. This goes back to the idea of instead of normally asking for stuff how about asking where you can serve them while on stateside? Maybe in an area totally unrelated to missions or maybe serving in a local mission effort. My wife and daughter taught Spanish classes for adults and this served as a great way to help Short Term teams be better prepared for their trips. I volunteered to be a substitute bible teacher for their small groups since my Spanish is not so good. smile.

5. Help them learn about your people group stateside. How can they minister to that people group stateside? I have found that inside my sending church there are simply some that have a passion for the people group I feel called to and others do not as much. I simply try to develop those who do have that desire to connect more and then I start developing that tribe of people. They are the ones that could have a desire to see how they can minister in their own community with a people group. They also may decide to host what we call reverse mission trips.

6. Make available some opportunities to have people from the church to come and see your area of ministry. Offer to have friends and / or groups in your church to come over and serve alongside of you. As you put together your strategy to reach people in your overseas setting and starting churches among them also consider ways that your sending church can be strategically involved with you. I find that the people from our sending church who have come over to serve for a week or so not only help us out in some tremendous ways but they also return to the states with an expanded worldview, heart for our people group and processing how this can look in their own community. win, win, win

7. Provide training and preparation for the groups the church may send to your area. If you do have a church that sends teams or groups over to work then make sure you do all you can to make the trip go smoothly in terms of logistics and meaningful in terms of ministry but this takes a lot of prayer, preparation and follow through.

There has to be more of these!
Please Share!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

More on The Sending Church - Life on the field

A few posts ago I wrote about the “Sending Church”. I have some more thoughts that I want to put out there.

I believe the sending church can and should play a vital role in the spiritual and emotional life of the missionary by giving pastoral care and support even while on the field. The sending church should not assume that these needs are met while they are on the field. While many missionaries are from sending organizations and these organizations often have quality member care services I think the missionary’s sending church can also minister in some amazing ways even when they are 1000’s of miles a part. However, it takes effort to keep the relationship at that level. I believe consistent and meaningful contact with the missionary is vitally important.

Consistent and Meaningful Contact – I know many of us on the field try to write newsletters, blogs, emails, etc.. to let our prayer advocates know how to better pray for us and what are needs are. However, the church does not need to wait on the missionary to write their monthly newsletter in order to have conversation with them. It means so much to the missionary to just get a contact from the sending church even if it is just say “hello and that we are praying for you” or “how can we help you or your family?” “How are your children doing?” “What is the Lord teaching you right now? Etc…

How is this best done?

Is it better for a church to have a designated point person for contact and needs?

What if the sending church has no strategic involvement in the missionary? What should the church’s role be if this is the case?

Longevity - One problem that I hear from missionaries is that often that the longer one is on the field the less the contact from the local church. I would agree. We have been on the field since 2001. I can tell a difference over the years. Does it mean that they do not care? No! There are many variables including some on our end. I think the longer you are on the field the more intentional the worker has to become in cultivating those relationships.

When you are first sent out it is a new thing for the church and much excitement exists but what happens after 3, 5, 7, 10 years or more?

Obviously many missionaries choose to go with a mission sending organization. These organizations can help assist the local church but the local church should not simply hand over the missionary and feel like their job is done. The Great Commission was given to the church and not an organization. The sending church has great responsibility when they send someone out.

How are you doing with the ones “sent” from your church?

Next – my list on how we as missionaries can give back to our church!

Also - Check out and the conversation today about our vision trip to Asia.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Giving Care to Missionaries - Partnership Series

Several years ago when I was putting together a paper at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School I heard one of the mission professors read this verse.

3 John 5 and 6
Dear friend, you are being faithful to God when you care for the traveling teachers who pass through, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church here of your loving friendship. Please continue providing for such teachers in a manner that pleases God.

I was a church planter in the states at the time and this verse really spoke to me. I think I immediately took it and made sure our sponsoring church saw the verses. grin. Seriously, it actually inspired me for my major project called: More Than Money! It was about how sponsoring churches can support their church planters in more ways than just giving them money.

Now after nearly 8 years overseas the verse still has great meaning for me. I am very grateful to the people and churches who enable our family to live and minister in another country. We could not do it without their financial support.

Someone sent me this link last month. I think it is pretty cool.
Take a look. It is from Desiring God Ministries.

As I continue this series on “mission partnerships” I hope you will perhaps show this to your church, small group, etc… and find some creative ways to bless missionaries.

As We Go,


Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday is for....

I will be coming to the states during August and we are excited about these opportunities with The Upstream Collective. If you are in these cities I hope you can check them out if intereste

So, I guess Friday is for talking about a few upcoming events that I am involved in.

August 17, Springfield, Missouri- About Europe Meeting

August 27th, Nashville, Tennessee - About Europe Meeting

The goal of our About Europe Meeting is to see missional churches engaging people in Europe in redemptive relationships.

We think that the Great Commission belongs to the church. Your leadership, service, gifting, and creativity make you perfectly qualified for innovative approaches to sharing life with people from around the world. You strive toward incarnation of the gospel in your local community. You need to be doing that same sort of missional engagement globally.

Europe is the perfect place to connect with people from all over the world, from postmodern Europeans to Muslim immigrants to African refugees. Post-Christian Europe isn’t just a vital mission field; your interaction will give you insight into the coming American reality

If you are in these areas and interested in this conference send me an email at

August 28th and 29th - Atlanta, Georgia

GO Conference (click here to learn more about the conference and contact details if interested in attending) sponsored with Marketplace Intiatives and SkyBridge Community.

We invite you to join Marketplace Initiatives at a gathering beginning at 5:00 PM on Friday, August 28 and lasting until 4:00 PM on Saturday, August 29. This gathering will seek to explore how God might use individuals’ and corporations’ marketplace activities to expand His Kingdom. A select group of friends will come together to learn and discuss the potential for ministries through the marketplace in Europe, North Africa, and Turkey. Since the group will be small, there will be plenty of opportunities to interact, contribute, ask questions, explore possibilities, and learn from each other.

Several leaders with successful experience in cross-cultural work and ministry through the marketplace will facilitate this gathering and share lessons they have learned about:

• Business as Mission and/or tentmaking in real life
• The balance work and ministry and how to do what it takes to succeed at both
• How God can use you to make the greatest impact
• How to take the next steps

August 31st - Birmingham, Alabama - The Church As Missionary Roundtable with the Developing Church Network. Register here . Join us with our friends from DCN for a day of conversations about how the church can connect globally and some practical steps in making that happen.

We would love to see you at one of these events.

As We Go,


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Who and Where?

I have been in a meeting talking with a lot of people who work throughout Europe. But as I talked with these men and women who have left their homeland to come overseas to tell others about Christ I am reminded of how many of these same peoples we are trying to reach in Europe also live in the United States.

Icelanders in Minnesota
Norwegians in Wisconsin
The Basque in Idaho
Russians in Tennessee
The Polish in Chicago
Italians in New York City
Bulgarians in Orlando
Germans in Texas

Obviously this is an non-exhaustive list for European who live in the states.

I could move beyond Europe to other parts of the world:
South America

You can find most of the people groups in the world some where in the USA.

Who lives in your community?

Who attends your church?

How can this shape your church's future mission partnerships?

How can these questions shape your missional initiatives in your community and in your world?

The Great Commission is not a “either / or” proposition. It is a “both / and” Command. It is both in your own community and throughout the world.

Acts 1:8

Let’s Go!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

mulit-site house church - video venue

I was looking the other day for a new theme for my blog and ran across this ad for home entertainment centers.

It reminded me of how I saw a really interesting house (someone lives in this) in Northern Italy.

Then I thought about the inside design.
Would this be what a multi - site house church with a video venue might look like ?

Just having fun!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Partnerships - The Sending Church

What is the difference between a "sending church" and a church that is in "partnership" with a missionary or cross cultural church planting team? Do you believe there is a difference?

I truly believe that every cross cultural worker needs to be “sent” from a church. I believe one’s calling into cross cultural missions needs to be in community and not simply an individual's calling. I believe often the calling starts in a person’s heart but it needs to be shared, prayed through and confirmed within a community of believers.

I really believe this is the model we see in Acts 13.
I found this from Urbana 81 by Gordan MacDonald.

There are many churches; there are relatively few sending churches. Let me define a sending church. We can do it by way of a historical model, the church in Acts 13 in which the Holy Spirit was free to speak because he would be heard. That church called Saul and Barnabas and sent them out to the uttermost parts of the earth. That was a sending church. It was a church marked by intercession for world evangelization, marked with caring for the needs of hurting people, marked with a hunger for the teaching of the Word of God. It was a church marked with leaders who really believed the mandate of Acts 1:8. Into that sort of atmosphere the Holy Spirit can quickly move. So when he said, "Set apart these men," the church laid hands on them and "sent them off' (v. 3). It was a sending church.

Here are a few thoughts I have had over the years of church planting, pastoring and being a cross cultural worker in regards to "sending" churches.

• They confirm the giftings and calling of the missionary and family if married.

• They find ways to prepare and equip the missionary to go out.

• They pray over the missionary and send them out. In Acts 13 you see the “laying on of hands”. I think this came once they knew the Holy Spirit was sending them and they confirmed this calling and blessed them.

• The sending church maintains contact with the missionary while on the field even once the new wears off. (I found a great link for this and will try to post tomorrow)

• The sending church should hold the missionary accountable while on the field. I believe this accountability deals with the spiritual, character and strategic aspects of the missionary.

• The sending church financially supports the worker as needed. I say this for I believe there are some missionaries who do not need the financial support or as much financial support from the church for they work in jobs in these countries. They do still need these other aspects of support.
Check out Skybridge Community or Marketplace Intiatives if you want more context about "tentmaking" or "Doing Business As Missions".

• They find ways that they can be involved in the work and strategic ministry of the missionary. I think as a church sends out a missionary that they are also committing to supporting the ministry in which they are going to serve. One way that I think this can work is when churches build their mission's strategy around the people whom God has called to missionary service. This may not always be a possibility but I think it can work. This facilitates long term involvement with the missionary team that is sent out and meaningful mission's involvement for the church.

For example if a church has a couple / individual coming overseas to serve as church planters what are some other ways their church can engage in the city? Obviosuly prayer should be a given.

  • Could international business people from the church look to come to that city to take a job with thier company?
  • Could a football or basketball player from the church try out for a professional team in Europe and play a sport?
  • Could the church rent an apartment in the city and send short term workers for three months at a time?
  • What about the international business people from the church who may make trips to that city? How can they be strategically used to think missionally while doing business abroad?
  • What about college students from their church looking to study abroad? Could they study in that city?

The list can go on and on. You are more creative than I.
Just sending one person or family could be the beginning.
A couple of opportunities for conversation:

If the missionaries are being sent through a mission agency strategy conversations need to take place regarding who makes strategic decisions once on the field.

As time goes on for the people that were sent on the field conversations need to continually be revisited in case there is a change of ministry in the life of the missionary or if the church chooses to go another strategic direction in their missions. What happens if the church and the missionary have differing strategies? What gives?

LifePointe Church in Smyrna (near Nashville, Tennessee) and The Upstream Collective will be putting together a "Sending Church" conference early in 2010. I will keep you updated on the dates and info on that as we plan.

More soon.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Art Gallery Advocacy

One challenge we have on the mission field is how do we personalize our ministry to our supporters back home?

I must admit that I do not like to stand at a booth in a mission fair. This may be disappointing to you I know. I know some people love that sort of thing and that is great. Many churches these days do not have mission fairs or expos or whatever the latest title may be but yet they are involved in mission partnerships. What are some ways we can personalize missions with churches that do not have mission expos?

I heard of this idea the other day while in Athens. This group used the idea to personalize their missions as well as promote prayer advocacy and partnerships with North American churches. By the way the name of that ministry is PORTA and they have an outstanding work with an immigrant population in that city. Let me know if you want to contact them.

I think this can also be a great idea for churches who have partnerships with a city or people group. Here is the idea. Send a photographer to that city and have them take a bunch of shots of people and places in the selected city. (I am partial to Europe but it can be anywhere, smile)

Enlist a group of people in your church and community who know photography to choose the best 40 - 50 pictures and have them printed. Make large prints of the photos and prepare them for display like an art gallery. I am sure Fed Ex Kinkos or other places can take care of this for a price.

Find a space in your community and invite people to come to look at the photos. Have a local coffee shop cater the event. Have people who have been to that city on mission trips invite their family and friends.

I think this would be a great way to share about your experiences, create advocacy for that people group and pray for the people in that city. It is a great way to personalize your mission partnership.
This idea can be adapted in about 500 different ways I would imagine.

Any takers?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

in Madrid - Partnership

This week I am helping out with an Upwards Basketball camp in Madrid. FBC Concord in Knoxville, Tennessee started these camps about four years ago. Since we used to live here we are having a blast seeing our friends from our old neighborhood. Our kids are helping in the camp this year along with Susan and I. I "try" to help the 13 - 16 year old boys group and my wife helps in the ESL part of the camp. I have forgotten just how hot Madrid is in the summer time. Whew!

Some cool things about the "hot" camp and the partnership with this church.

  • They now have over 100 kids and they do not publicize the camp. Friends invite friends.
  • The church that started the camp in 2005 is still coming back each year? Yea, FBC Concord.
  • Repeat trips makes a difference. Several of the camp staff have been here serving 5 times or more since our partnership began in 2002. The children at the camp know many of the camp staff by name.
  • The partnership has been to Madrid and not to a worker. Once we moved to Germany the church still comes here to work.
  • The church often brings entire families to come and work the camps. It is a great experience for the children that come with their families to serve.
More soon on partnerships. I got to go to Camp!