How to Help Your Church Mobilize Missions-Minded Leaders

By Ashley Denton,

It is a common tendency to look back at the good old days with nostalgia, thinking “those people really had it right.” I actually think this is better than looking back with condescending criticalness of people or eras that we don’t fully understand. But there is also value, if handled gracefully, to look back at the good old days and see where people may have gone off course. We don’t do this to blame or put ourselves above them, on the contrary, we need to be honest with the past mainly because we are more like them today than we are different from them. We look back with a wondering eye not out of pride, saying “look how much smarter we are,” but instead we look back saying, “I know that I/we are more like people of antiquity than we are different from them, so maybe I can learn something from where they missed the mark or veered off course.”

"Human nature will not change. In any future great national trial, compared with the men of this, we shall have as weak and as strong, as silly and as wise, as bad and as good. Let us therefore study the incidents in this as philosophy to learn wisdom from and none of them as wrongs to be avenged." – Abraham Lincoln

Student ministry in Asia

Student ministry in Asia

A mission historian who I have greatly appreciated is David Bosch. His book, Transforming Mission (1991) does not waste words and speaks frankly about what we can learn about missions from the early church and how we can apply those lessons to ministry today. In this post I’ll submit two principles that Bosch asserts we can learn from the early church. Each of these failures continue to be potential rabbit trails in missions today. Not that we look back and say, “how silly of them,” but instead we need to regularly look back with an honest humility and say, “how might we avoid those pitfalls today?” I also offer a few reflection questions to help us listen to how God might shape us like clay into a noble vessel that engages the world with the love of Christ.

The Church Exists for the Benefit of It's Non-Members

Bosch writes:

I have suggested that Jesus had no intention of founding a new religion. Those who followed him were given no name to distinguish them from other groups, no creed of their own, no rite which revealed their distinctive group character, no geographical center from which they would operate (Schweizer 1971:42; Goppelt 1981: 208). The twelve were to be the vanguard of all Israel and, beyond Israel, by implication, of the [known world]. The community around Jesus was to function as a kind of… community for the sake of all others, a model for others to emulate and be challenged by. Never, however, was this community to sever itself from the others. -p. 50

Centuries ago, William Temple also reflected on the same principle: “Church is the only society on earth that exists for the benefit of non-members.” A helpful exercise in missions or evangelism is to remember how much we are like non-believers than how different we are from them. When we remember our testimony and see how much grace God has shown us, we drop facades and walls that separate us from people and begin to function as a “community for the sake of all others” rather than severing ourselves from community:

  • What things really bother you or make you mad about the culture you are surrounded by?
  • How might those emotions reveal subtle ways that you have distinguished yourself from other groups rather than relate with them?
  • In what ways are you more like those you don’t like than you are different from them? How might God help you love and engage in relationships with people you struggle with rather than push away from them?

Churches That Value Movement Mobilize Missions. Churches That Settle for Sustainability Often Don't

Bocsh writes:

Intimately linked to this first failure of the early church is a second: it ceased to be a movement and turned into an institution. There are essential differences between an institution and a movement, says H.R. Niebuhr: the one is conservative, the other progressive; the one is more or less passive, yielding to influences from outside, the other is active, influencing rather than being influenced; the one looks to the past, the other one looks to the future. In addition, we might add, that one is anxious, the other is prepared to take risks; the one guards boundaries, the other crosses them. p. 50-51

We cannot have it both ways, then: purely and exclusively a religious movement, yet at the same time something that will survive the centuries and continue to exercise a dynamic influence. Our main point of censure should therefore not be that the movement became an institution but that, when this happened, it also lost much of its verve. It’s white-hot convictions, poured into the hearts of the first adherents, cooled down and became crystallized codes, solidified institutions, and petrified documents. The prophet became a priest of the establishment, charisma became office, and love became routine. The horizon was no longer the world but the boundaries of the local parish. The impetuous missionary torrent of earlier years was tamed into a still flowing rivulet and eventually into a stationary pond. It is this development that we have to deplore. Institution and movement may never be mutually exclusive categories; neither may church and mission. p. 53

For more information including discussion questions, click here to go to the original post.

-Ashley

Source: http://ashleydenton.com/2015/10/07/how-to-...

Hopes for the New Year

By Kevin Wolfe,

I’ve never been one for resolutions; they’ve often only been a way for me to feel guilty as March or April roll along and I’ve fallen off the resolution wagon.  However, the New Year is indeed an opportunity to reflect on the goodness of God over the past year and our hopes for the next.  It’s an arbitrary calendar date, of course, but it’s nonetheless a fantastic point for us to remember and give thanks (1 Thess. 5:18) and look forward hopefully to God’s sanctifying work in our lives (Rom. 8:24).  With that in mind, I want to share with you some hopes that I have for our church family over the next year.

As I was reflecting on this, I couldn’t come up with a better hope than that we, as a church, would MORE fully live our our mission statement:
“We exist to make Christ known as we passionately love Him together!"

This statement is nothing more than a re-articulation of the Great Commission that Jesus gave His people in Matthew 28, and I hope that we can be more faithfully devoted to this and excel still more in laboring for the Kingdom.  This mission statement easily breaks down into 3 main ideas below.  Please read each section and give some thought to the reflection and application questions in each.

Worship
My prayer is that we would be a church that has an obvious, burning, passionate love for the glory of the Father, the redemptive and reconciling work of Jesus, and the sanctifying and life-changing work of the Holy Spirit.  Worship of God is the motivation of the Christian life, and therefore, my hope is that we prioritize time daily cultivating a relationship with The Lord.  Jesus said, “Abide in me, and I in you.  As the brand cannot beaf fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5 ESV)

  • How can you daily abide in Jesus?  What disciplines do you want to grow in over the next year?
  • How can you worship God even in the midst of the busyness of every day life?
  • Spend some time reflecting on the attributes of God and the precious gift of the gospel

Discipleship
This is our mission; to be disciples of Christ who make disciples of Christ.  Discipleship is to proactively come alongside others in the faith and helping them grow.  But, discipleship is more than just helping Christians become better or more knowledgeable or more passionate Christians.  The path of discipleship begins with the lost.  Truly embracing a lifestyle of great commission discipleship means embracing our call to intentionally love, serve, and proclaim the gospel to those who are without the hope of Christ.  As people come to faith in Jesus as Lord, the path of discipleship helps them grow and multiply.  A simple suggestion to prioritizing this mission is to set aside one night a week devoted to discipleship.  Perhaps this is time with a lost neighbor or co-worker that you want to build a relationship with, or perhaps it’s another person in the body or your LifeGroup that you can help grow in their relationship with Christ.  We have an excellent material to facilitate a discipling relationship in the Biblical Foundations material.  This time won’t happen unless you purposefully plan for it!

  • How can you intentionally live out discipleship?
  • Who are three people in your sphere of influence that you’d love to share the good news with?  What steps will you take to do it?
  • When will you make time for discipleship in your weekly routine?

Community
Together.  The community that we find in the body is the context in which we should live out our mission.  There’s no such thing as a Lone Ranger in the Christian life; and this is one of the greatest gifts that God has given to us as His children.  My hope is that we would prioritize relationships with others in the body; that we not be too busy with our own cares and concerns, or be too uncomfortable to be vulnerable with others.  Community is the greenhouse for growth in the Christian Life.  If you are unwilling to step out in faith and be part of Biblical Community, you will miss out and others will miss out.  The community of the body at Mountain View is best experienced in two main ways: Corporate Gathering and Intimate Community.  Both of these areas are vital.  If you’re not regularly attending and serving on Sunday morning, you’re missing out on a phenomenal blessing of God.  If you’re not gathering regularly in a LifeGroup for encouragement, shepherding, community, prayer and mission, you’re missing out on a phenomenal blessing of God.

  • How can you better prioritize, love and serve the body at Mountain View?
  • What step of faith might God be calling you to?  Joining or committing to a LifeGroup?  Prioritizing weekly worship services?  What would it look like to be committed to those that God has put in your life through your LifeGroup?

These are my hopes for our church in 2015.  Don’t miss the opportunity to reflect, reset and head into the New Year with greater purpose and intentionality.  Let’s make Christ known as we passionately love Him together!

Nepal Update - An Answer to Prayer

By Kevin Wolfe,

Here is an update from our team in Nepal.  Praise the Lord for the answer to prayer and the ways He is using the team in Nepal!  Please continue to pray this week for the team as they finish their trip and travel home!  For more about Nepal and our partnership there, watch this video - http://vimeo.com/25459124

"First of all, thanks for devoting time to prayer in the services.  We had a great time with the training that same day and attribute that to the prayers of God's people.  The prayers were effective. The feedback from the pastors conference was some of the most fruitful I've ever seen. 

Ashley was down most of the day b/c he ate something with nuts at breakfast.  We spent the day demonstrating fly fishing (that was a hoot) and teaching two patterns for tying flies.  There is a lot of promise in this, but still many questions to answer.  We will have more detailed conversation with the leaders tomorrow about this.

We had a great dinner with the Binay pastors tonight.  I have some amazing stories to tell of what God is doing here.  Always encouraging to be with them."