Friday, October 30, 2009


I know I am in the middle of my "Church Learning a Foreign Language" series. I have my next post ready for Monday and it is full of some great links and ideas from a person who is a language coach for overseas workers here in Europe.

Learning language is important. However, another aspect of living overseas is being able to adapt to the culture. I have seen people who have done well in learning a second language really struggle in adapting to another culture.

Last night we went to Herbstmesse in Basel.
It is quite a BIG event. I read where it has been going on for almost 500 years. It is like going to a county fair but in an urban setting and it is totally spread out all over the city. I love the giant Ferris Wheel in front of the church. It is quite fun. I did not see the livestock or petting zoo. I did not see the "Fairest of the Fair" contest. I doubt they have one. However, there are a lot of food options. Check out this link.

But it is an important part of the city life in Basel during this time of the year. It is an important cultural event. We have been every year that we have lived here and love it. I must admit it costs quite a bit per ride (the exchange rate is not friendly to us right now) so we do not do many rides but the kids love it and it is chance to hang with their friends and a chance for us to try some yummy food.

What are the events you should go to in your city? How important is your presence there?
What do you learn about the people when you go to these festivals.?

Can learning be fun? I think so.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Start Up Ideas for Language Learning, part one

Here are some ideas about a few ways your church can get started learning a foreign language. Grammar and vocabulary are important. I love being able to say this. I hear this all of the time from my German teacher.

First up...

If you have an extra room in your church why not set up a computer lab or learning center? You can make use of such products as Rosetta Stone in the language of your choice. There are plenty of software packages around. I have enjoyed Rosetta Stone in Spanish and German.

Buy multiple copies of Rosetta Stone and make them available at your church for people to check out. Be sure to let people know about this option and but plenty of copies to go around. I would suggest putting a time limit for how long they can have the software checked out.

Do a google search and find a few online language learning tools that you can promote to the people trying to learn a language. Ask someone to be the resource person for your church in this endeavor.

Go online and find out if there are language learning schools in your city. One church found a site where they could learn Italian located in their own city.

If there is an University or Junior College in the city find out if you could hire a professor to teach a class for a semester at your church or better yet encourage your people to enroll in a class at the university or Junior College. Offer some scholarship funds for people completing the course work.

Find out if you have a few language experts in your church and see if they will become tutors for your students.

Encourage your college students to take classes in the desired language.

Promote the idea amongst your college students to go to a country and do a study abroad program for a semester or two. They will not only learn the language but they will also have ministry opportunities while there.

Same suggestion but for people who have retired and can take several months to study abroad.

What are some other ideas?

Next Up .. Putting your language learning to practice in your own community.

Monday, October 26, 2009

TCFL - Teaching Churches Foreign Languages

The Idea

I mentioned before about a conversation that I had with a church leader about his desire to see his church learn another language.

This thought has grabbed my attention so I thought what would I do if I pastored in the states again. Perhaps if any church needing a pastor reads my blog it would take care of that possibility but here goes the thought.

TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) is a program that many universities and language schools have throughout the world. I guess our new institute can be called TCFL (Teaching Churches Foreign Languages) Okay, so that was bad. I really do not have a institute but this is the idea. How can a church learn a foreign language?

I guess before we get to the “how” we need to look at why would we even consider such a thing.

Many churches today that I work with have an interest in reaching a particular people group with the gospel. They have been going on short term trips all over the place and I hear quite often they are tired of being spread out and they are ready to focus their efforts.

As they think about the “going” implications they also realize that in many cases those same peoples live in North America and often in their own cities. They begin to think about how can they connect with them in their own community. Therefore when they are putting together their mission strategy they are thinking both where they are and in other parts of the world.

They are also saying that they feel the Great Commission belongs to the church and that they need to be doing more and outsourcing missions less. They want to be involved strategically.

With this being the context one key aspect of cross cultural missions is how do you have an incarnational presence amongst the people? Language obviously is one element of that. These churches are thinking "how can we be better prepared?" If it is one person or a family then they normally arrive on the field and start language school for an amount of time until they can become proficient in the target language. What needs to happen if you do this for an entire church?

Here are a few foundational points that I think are very important if you are really serious about TCFL.

Vision of leadership - I believe key leaders in the church have to have the vision to see this as important. I think if they are trying to learn the language and using the language themselves it will go a long way in creating ownership of the vision to the people. Some how the church has to constantly put this vision before the people on a regular basis. More ideas on this in another post.

Time and Resources- The church has to find some ways to put this into the two important value checkers: their calendar and their resources.

Think Small Groups - One of the best places to start is with the small group structure of the church. Perhaps it is with the first groups going out locally or internationally.

Committed locally and internationally- It is important to be trying to find ways to minister to the people in that language group locally. So this means the church needs to focus on the group(s) they are wanting to work with.

Identify your language talent in your church. Chances are you have some people in your church that are fluent other languages. Discover those people and the languages that they speak and start working with them.

I will post some ideas on how to see this happen soon.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

language learning

I heard today in a seminar that 56 percent of all Europeans can converse in two languages.
11 % can converse in three languages.

This is really amazing to me. It was a struggle to learn Spanish for me 8 years ago. Now I am trying to learn German but finding it very difficult. I do not know when I can make it to three.

We really want to see the church as missionary. We work with a lot of North American churches who are interested in finding ways to have an incarnational presence on the mission field. They want to be prepared when they come over on short term trips.

I have been thinking some about a conversation that I had last week with a church. They are wanting to have a presence in an European country. They are struggling with how can they do this and not know the language. They know they can use their English on occasion. Many Europeans speak English but they also know that in many cases in order to get to a deeper conversations they need to learn the heart language of the people.

They are exploring ways in which they can learn a second language as a church. Not just one or two people in the church or even the mission team that may be coming on a short term trip but they are wanting to emphasize learning a second language as a church so the Lord can use them both in the states and abroad.

I like this idea.

What do you think this could look like?
Any ideas that you can share about ways to go about this?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Working in Europe

As you may know I am involved in a couple of missional networks. This week I have been working quite a bit on the Skybridge Community.

In reading a post by Grady Bauer on MissionalSpace it reminded me again why we need networks of marketplace people and study abroad students, artists, etc.. living out their lives incarnationally abroad.

The Skybridge Community is one such network that exists that seeks to identify and equip marketplace workers in Europe for effective missional living.

Here is a little more about what we want to see happen.

Discovery: Identifying and engaging marketplace workers and students in North America and Europe for these purposes.

Sending: Strengthen ties to a church in North America who will “adopt” the individual / family who is working and living missionally overseas.

Equipping: Equipping these people for evangelism, discipleship and church planting within their natural circles of influence in their workplace and daily lives.

Community: Creating healthy support systems throughout Europe where “Skybridgers” can have community and support.

What do we hope to see as a result?
We want to see people coming to faith in Jesus Christ and discipled. We hope to see new churches being planted throughout Europe as a result.

Our network is growing.

We typically have four different types of people who join Skybridge Community.

  1. Churches in North America who are looking to adopt a worker in Europe.
  2. Church Planting teams or missionary teams in Europe looking for people to partner with as they engage their people in Europe.
  3. People who are already working in Europe.
  4. People who are looking for jobs in Europe.

The last category is our most popular and it can also hold the biggest challenge. It can be tough finding a job in Europe.

I ran across a site today that you may want to check out.

Please feel free to tell others about this network. We really want to make a difference in Europe. We hope that the Skybridge Community will be used by the Lord to see the peoples of Europe come to know Him.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Do you ever have a verse that just keeps coming to your mind?

I was in a place not too long ago where I read the below verses and I cannot get them out of my mind. In fact I wrote about it last week.

8First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. Romans 1:8

I have heard some amazing stories from people who are planting churches in some hard to reach places. I am compelled to pray for these people and to find ways to support and encourage them. I hope you will as well. God is truly moving in some powerful ways.

Quite frankly I hope I do not forget these stories anytime soon.

I picked up a book last week that if you get the chance to read you should. It is a different story about a country we read and hear about a lot in the news. Iran: Open Hearts in a Closed Land by Mark Bradley. It is a quick read but powerful. Grab a copy.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Europe Link

I get the privilege to travel to a lot of places.

I do enjoy seeing new places.

I enjoy having cups of coffee in various parts of the world.

I like studying the new cultures.

I like meeting and talking to people from these places.

It is really more than just my enjoyment.
I go to these places to get a glimpse at what God is doing.
I hope my talks can help encourage workers who are there. More times than not I end up being way more encouraged and blessed than what I have to give. God is truly doing some amazing things in the world.

Though this past month I have been able to go to new places most of the time I am in Europe.
I want to pass a long a glimpse of life and ministry in Europe. I hope you will check out this site but also go there often.

The idea is that new content will come on the site daily. If the Lord has put upon your heart a certain country, city or people group in Europe simply find that tag on the blog and click on it. You will find prayer requests, opportunities for ministry and quick facts about that country.

Here is the link !


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Surprised by Encouragement

Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority as apostles to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name. Romans 1:5
A few months ago I was invited by my good friend David Putman who is one of the pastors at MountainLake Church near Atlanta and also the co-founder of to join a small team on a mission endeavor. Our team was to train and encourage some house church planters.
I like to be prepared for trips such as these so I had put some time in praying, studying and writing out some training sessions. I really did not know what to expect. It was my first trip to this part of the world. I knew just a little about the people attending this school. I knew they were going to some very interesting places to plant churches. I have heard about their work and some of the powerful ways the Lord has been using them.

After the first day of our teaching during our quiet time and prayer time as a group the Lord really spoke to me on these verses.

Let me say first that I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith in him is being talked about all over the world. God knows how often I pray for you. Day and night I bring you and your needs in prayer to God, whom I serve with all my heart by spreading the Good News about his Son. Romans 1:8,9

I felt an extreme privilege to be able to teach some of the things that the Lord has taught me over the years to this group of people. I hope that I was able to bring some encouragement and help to them in their ministry.

What I know however was that they encouraged me greatly. I received so much more than I gave. They were a blessing to me. Their lives serve as a testimony to the way the Holy Spirit gives boldness in our witness.

One of the things I always pray for is the opportunity, God willing, to come at last to see you. For I long to visit you so I can bring you some spiritual gift that will help you grow strong in the Lord. When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours. Romans 1:10 - 12

Thursday, October 1, 2009

It's football time in Portugal Part two

Here is the next part of "Football in Portugal" from Brady in Lisbon.

Fast forward a year and I have a few other workers helping coach. We decided it
was time to start a Bible study with these guys. So each Thursday night I
would invite everyone on our team to my house for a Bible study. We had 5-10
guys almost every Thursday for about 9 months. Then we moved so we moved our
Bible study to Chili's. During this time, we would watch American football
games on DVD and conversations with the guys on the team. We had two great
conversations with Bruno M. and Bruno D. Both shared their anger towards God
and the "church." Bruno M. shared that he would rather be dead then ever
live a life like ours. But both of these men continued to come to Bible

In June, we had a football camp and had a church from Aledo, Texas come to
Portugal with former UT and NFL player, Dusty Renfro. During these 3 days
these volunteers poured their hearts into the guys on the field and shared
their faith non-stop. The Portuguese players loved Dusty and the team and
thought the world of these guys. The last day Dusty suited up and hit these
guys and then stood up in front of them - with blood running down his arms
and legs and shared his faith. This was the first time these guys had ever
seen a "though guy" talk about Jesus this way. He had them all pray and you
could not hear a sound. It was one of the most amazing things I have ever
witnessed in my life. I had not seen God work like this before.

One month later one of our players gives his life to Christ and is baptized
in the ocean. A week later another player (Bruno D.) saw the video and asked
if he can be baptized too. This Sunday, Bruno D. was baptized and attended
church for the first time since he was 9 years old. Another player, Tiago,
has asked to be baptized this week as well. Bruno M. has prayed the prayer,
but is not ready to give his whole life to Christ yet - but he is close!

If you would have told me a year ago that these 4 guys would accept Christ
as their Savior, I would have laughed at you. Bruno M. has been married for
4 years and leads one of the roughest lives I have ever seen. Tiago broke
his cousin's arm with a hammer because he broke into Tiago's house. Bruno D.
well, he is the craziest of them all. As He does with all people, God had a
plan for these guys from the beginning. As for the park where I first
encountered these guys, they had never practiced their before nor have they
ever practice there again. God had a plan for these guys. I have been so
blessed to be a part of their lives. To see what God has done in the last
few weeks is unbelievable!

See a cool video about their ministry here.

Interested in football in Europe?
Check out this website.

Interested in living and working in Europe check out Skybridge Community.