This Christmas break our family visited the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kansas and learned all about the race to the moon. The men and women who worked on that program were asked to do what seemed impossible. They had to work toward answers to questions that they did not yet know existed. They needed to develop systems that were not yet developed. The vision to put a man on the moon was far bigger than their own capacities and yet they did it. They worked with a determination that would get their men to the moon.
“. . . but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus.”
- Luke 5:19
If you are not familiar with the story of the paralytic whose friends would let nothing stop them from getting him into the healing presence of Jesus, I’d encourage you to stop and read the short story in Luke 5:17-26.
These were men whose determination would let nothing stop them from bringing their friend to the feet of Jesus. They were men of stubborn perseverance who knew their ultimate objective and were determined to achieve that objective no matter the obstacles and no matter the cost.
This is a theme Jesus brings us back to again and again in the book of Luke. A man loses a single lamb and he leaves the ninety-nine others to search far and wide for it. A woman loses a single silver coin and sweeps the house in search of it despite the nine others she has in her pocket.
Relentless searching seems to be the appropriate response in the kingdom of God to the reality of the lost. And celebration is the appropriate response to finding what was lost.
What’s It Going To Take
I first heard the term “Wig-Take” in 2007 in Chang Mai Thailand. Our trainer was telling of his work in SE Asia among an unreached people group numbering in the millions. He was sharing the plan that he and his team had developed to reach the entire people group. They had started in prayer with a simple question that he called a Wig-Take question: What is it going to take to reach this people group?
I’d grown up with questions like, “How can we get more people to come to our church?” a vision which suddenly seemed stunningly inadequate in light of his vision to reach an entire people group; a remote ethnic group of nearly 2 million people with no gospel access and no known believers and who were largely illiterate.
It began to seem even more inadequate as he shared stories of their work among these people and what God was doing.
This question presupposes a vision that is bigger than me. It’s presupposes a God sized vision, a vision I could never accomplish alone.
Pastor Chris Galanos writes about how he discovered the Wig-Take principles and explains it this way, “What’s It Going to Take to Reach Everyone in the People Group?” Not what can I do or what can you do. Not what have others done before us. Not what’s possible. No. What’s it going to take? That’s the question we must ask! We have to be willing to do whatever it’s going to take! [read the whole article]
Our trainer in Thailand challenged us with the statement, “If your vision is something you can accomplish by yourself, your vision is probably too small.”
I want to encourage you to begin to dream and pray for a God sized vision for your context.
Perhaps you live in a city: What is it going to take to reach everyone in your city?
Perhaps you live in a small rural town: What is it going to take to reach everyone in your county?
Perhaps you are working among a remote group of people in Africa: What is it going to take to reach ALL of them?
Pray to the Lord of the harvest for a God sized vision and then begin to ask yourself, what is it going to take?
Are we willing to do whatever it is going to take?
How did you do?
In last week's article, I put you in charge. (Read Last Week's Article)
I wonder what your thought process was like? I wonder if you wrestled over where to send your people and how many to send?
Maybe it was a simple decision.
With today's post I want to share the two videos that inspired last week's post. They also answer a question for us.
Not, what would you do? That was for you to wrestle with.
They answer another question:
What are we actually doing?
I want to encourage you to watch the following videos and then to take some time for reflection.
With today's article I want to ask for you to step into the role of the decision maker. I'd like to give you a scenario and then ask you to think about how to approach the problem. And if you'd like, you can share your ideas in the comments section.
You're in charge, so let's set the scene.
You are standing in a field on an open plain. Around you stand ten stadiums, each with a capacity of 100,000. Each stadium is filled with people and each person is wearing a colored t-shirt.
These stadiums represent the world's 7.5 billion people. The color of the t-shirts represents where the people in those stadiums are at concerning the good news of Jesus.
Off to your right, three of the stadiums are brightly lit by the stadium lights. Roughly 10,000 of the people in each of those stadiums are wearing bright gold t-shirts. As you scan the crowds, these gold t-shirts are scattered among a sea of other people wearing yellow or green t-shirts. The yellow t-shirts make up about 30,000 people and the green make up another 59,000 people in each stadium. A final 1,000 people wearing dark blue t-shirts are huddled in small clumps, mostly near the exits.
Let's call this clump of three stadiums Group C.
Next to these three stadiums are four more stadiums which are also filled to capacity. The security lights are on but not the stadium lights. The majority of those sitting in the dim light of each stadium are wearing green t-shirts. Let's say roughly 60,0000. There are about 30,000 yellow t-shirts, another 9,000 dark blue t-shirts and only 1,000 gold t-shirts scattered throughout the crowd. The stadium is dominated by green with some yellow, a hint of dark blue and a barely perceptible touch of gold.
We'll call these four stadiums Group B.
Finally the three remaining stadiums sit shrouded in darkness. Neither the main lights nor the security lights are on. These stadiums are filled to capacity as well. Each stadium is filled from corner to corner with an expanse of dark blue t-shirts. The vast majority, 99,950 people are wearing them. A mere 50 people in gold shirts which you can hardly see are spread all around each of these stadiums, mostly near the exits.
These three stadiums we'll call Group A.
Where will you send them? You are in charge.
What's your move?
We want to wish you a Merry Christmas!
May you experience the full joy of the savior in these next few days and may 2019 be full of new adventures in risk taking obedience to Jesus!
Until all have heard!
Do you know someone who wants to reach the nations?
Do you know someone hungry to be on mission in their own back yard?
Do you know someone who you'd like to see stretched in their faith?
If the answer was yes to any of those questions, consider giving the gift of a three day training weekend this Christmas - or New Year - or any time really.
Everywhere to Everywhere (E2E) is coming to the Midwest this spring.
E2E is a three-day missional training experience for local church groups and individuals. The vision of E2E is to provide an entry-level short-term mission experience for young adults, families and church groups with the goal of multiplying healthy disciples and raising up missional leaders. E2E's unique vision is to challenge, inspire and invite participants into an experiential learning weekend that will cultivate a heart for the least reached of our world, locally, nationally and globally and provide them with the tools that will help them make a difference.
I've been a Christian all of my life and this is the most practical training about sharing my faith that I have ever received!
We have three events on the spring calendar already and spaces to fill.
Wichita KS - March 9 - 11
Sioux Falls SD - April 26-28
Sioux Falls SD - May 31 - June 2
Pray about who you'd like to see go to an E2E training event and then let them know that you want to pay their way!
Send them an email or write them a note to find out what date and location works best for them.
Then stop by the registration page and sign them up.
When a student says to me, "You're so talented, I could never do what you do." I shouldn't be flattered.
Transferability in the ministry context is the idea the that the tools, strategies and methods that we use in ministry could be easily copied and used by anyone we are working with. Another way of talking about this is to ask the question:
Is it reproducible?
Could my 14 year old son use a particular method or ministry tool? Could he do what I'm doing? And could he help someone else do it?
These are important considerations when we think about making disciples who can make disciples. When Jesus gave us the great commission, his command was to make disciples and teach them to obey all that he commanded.
In that regard, everyone who is a disciple of Jesus should be making disciples of Jesus. If the process has somehow become overly complicated, if our methods require so much knowledge or training or expertise that the average follower of Jesus can't obey Jesus, then we've got something wrong.
If we desire to see our disciples make disciples then we have to begin to examine what we are doing to disciple them and ask a few questions:
If the answer to any of those questions is NO then we may need to ruthlessly evaluate what we are doing and how we are teaching.
Movements are not built on the expertise and charisma of a few but on the on the priesthood of all believers equipped and released to make disciples who make disciples.
Disciples need faith, they need vision, they need to be released with authority to do the work. But they also need to be equipped with tools that they can use and teach others to use.
And to do that, we must evaluate the tools and methodologies we are using and determine if they are reproducible.
[check out Giving Up Control, a great ebook by A. J. DeJonge for $0.99 on Kindle]
So you are going on a short term missions trip and you're beginning to ask the question, "Should I work at learning the language before I go?"
It is a question everyone seems to ask for which there is but one answer . . . .
YES! Yes you should!
But . . .
The missionary anthropologist Charles H. Kraft was recently asked, "How much time should one who goes to serve as a two month short-term missionary spend in language learning?"
Charles Kraft holds a high value on learning the local language. Learning the local language is often seen as little more than a means to an end. The end for most followers of Jesus is the proclamation of the gospel.
And yes, this is essential! This is why we go.
But it too often reduces to the local language to nothing more than a tool. This is unfortunate because language is always so much more than just a tool. Language is the carrier of culture and worldviews, of relationships, of love and joy and pain and fear and hope.
When we reduce language to merely a tool, we often come to the conclusion that we need not bother learning any of that language when we travel as part of a short term mission trip.
This is unfortunate for a number of reasons.
Practically speaking, language is important to survive. At the very least we can all understand just how important it might be to be able to say, "Do you know where the bathroom is?" Learning 10 - 20 survival phrases will go along way to saving you from the embarrassment of being lost or unable to find the nearest bathroom.
Relationally speaking, our efforts to posture ourselves as learners of the language and culture communicate fundamentally important respect and honor for the people to whom we have gone to serve. Nothing says that you actually care about the person in front of you quite as powerfully as stepping into the humble place of a language learner. In doing so, by taking on the role of the learner, of the one without the power, you invite your host to in effect, take you by the hand lead you.
This is an act of kindness. This is laying down our rights. This is love.
I want to encourage you to take a few minutes to read a four page essay written by Thomas and Elizabeth Brewster. They were at the forefront of helping generations of missionaries learn the languages of the people they were going to serve. The Charles Kraft quote above comes from this powerful essay.
You can read it here: Language Learning is Communication -- Is Ministry
So you have a trip on the horizon. You are a few weeks away from departure or perhaps you have many months to prepare. Regardless of how much time you have, here are a few things you can do to begin learning the language. These are the things I'm doing to learn French for an upcoming trip to West Africa.
Sign up for Duolingo: Ten minutes a day will give you a beginning in the language and get you started with a foundation of vocabulary and basic grammar structures. You can find it on the app store for your smart phone or you can access it on your computer. (learn more here)
Begin Listening to Worship Music: For the past month or so I've had a French worship mix from Hilllsong playing in the background while I work during the day. In a way, what I am doing is training my ear to hear and distinguish sounds, intonation and rhythms of the French language. You can find worship music by searching for it on Youtube. For example, by searching on Youtube for "French Worship", I found this mix of French worship songs.
Listen to a Gospel: Chose one of the gospels and begin listening to a chapter or two every day. When you finish, start over from the beginning. You'll be surprised how much you begin to understand. You can find many languages available on the Youversion app or the Bible.is app.
Memorize Phrases: Find and memorize 10 - 20 important phrases in the language. Make sure that one of those phrases is, "Can you help me learn your language?"
Here are 25 phrases I'll be starting to learn in French.
Keep Learning: While in the country take every opportunity to practice with your local hosts. Keep learning. Ask questions. Boldly step into the role of being the town clown! Yes, people will be entertained by your language foibles, but it is worth it!
A language mentor of mine used to say that "it takes a million mistakes to learn another language --- So get started!"
Don't Miss Out
Investing as much time and energy as you can in learning the language will do much to make your trip more meaningful and transformational. We all have different capacities and time constraints but we can all do something. It is what you'd want someone to do for you if they were coming to visit you. Jesus tells us to "do to others as you'd have them do to you."
Learning the language then is an act of obedience to Jesus.
Don't miss out.
My Language Learning Story
In a past iteration of life, I was a language coach, helping everyday, ordinary people be more effective, more efficient and have more fun with the language learning journey. I created a number of resources that I'd love to be able to pass on to you if you would find them helpful. I have a number of ebooks as well as a series of videos. You can watch the language learning tips videos HERE. If you would like to have any of the ebooks, leave a comment below.
Below is one of those language learning tip videos. Enjoy!
Power does funny things to relationships. It changes the dynamics of how relationships form and grow and become.
When I met my first friend in kindergarten, we met and built our relationships on even ground. We both couldn't read or write, we both struggled with things like tying our shoes and sitting still in class, we both came from similar backgrounds and approached life with the similar challenges and opportunities. And we both spoke English, the language of our neighborhood, region and country.
As I grew older I began to realize that the forming of relationships takes work. It takes time and it often takes patience. Sometimes relationships come easily. Other times it takes more time and more energy and sometimes I realized, our differences in life experiences create relational dynamics that make it more difficult to build authentic relationships.
Cultural differences create relational challenges that are often difficult to overcome. There are many types of differences; some obvious, some less obvious but all are impactful on the relationships we form. And while we can all work to overcome these differences, there are some differences that create power dynamics which inhibit the normal formation of relationships.
Let me give you an example.
I was at a conference in a North American city. The conference was a gathering of African pastors and elders from around the upper Midwest. All of them had come to the U.S. as refugees following a season of intense persecution against their particular tribe in their home region. All of them were men of reputation in their communities back in Africa and that had in many ways transferred with them to the U.S. They were leaders of men.
But they had invited some of the American leaders of their denomination to come and teach on a particular subject during the conference. I wasn't from that denomination but had been invited to do some training as well around relating to and sharing the gospel with Muslims. I decided to come for the whole day of meetings even though I wasn't presenting until after lunch.
The morning teaching went well for the most part until one of the African leaders voiced a concern.
The question was, "How can we do more to serve the North American church?"
The American leaders assured them, they there was no need to feel like they needed to do anything.
What was missed in the exchange was the underlying feeling of the African pastor that they were being seen merely as charity cases. The Anglo churches who were allowing them to use their buildings were doing so in good faith, believing they were serving their brothers and sisters in Christ. But a number of things were at play that prevented authentic relationships to develop between the African churches and their American host churches. And these things lead to a relationship that left these African pastors feeling like they were not being understood or appreciated.
First was a general assumption that the African churches were basically poor and needy. In that sense the African pastors were struggling with a sense that they were being viewed as charity cases.
That was unfortunate.
But this dynamic was in many ways the result of a number of relational dynamics. As the two groups met and interacted, the Anglo churches and their leaders entered the relationship from positions of power. This power dynamic shows up in various ways:
There are of course other challenges, but when relationships are built in these dynamics of power imbalance, relationships won't develop into the kinds of healthy relationships where both parties come to the table with gifts to share, with talents to contribute and with experiences from which we can all learn.
To be clear: this is just a reality. The North American church isn't sinning any more than my Turkish friends were in not knowing me better. They are not actively creating this imbalance of power - it just is. It is the crucible in which we find ourselves however and it is the challenge we must actively seek to understand and seek - in any ways we can - to disrupt and overcome.
We must not merely throw up our hands in despair. There is much we can do to right the balance of power. And we have a good example!
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death--
even death on a cross!
A Few Ideas
Here are a few ways you can disrupt this relational power dynamic.
The task before us is not an easy one. Building healthy relationships is difficult enough as it is. Add in the imbalance of power that naturally occurs in cross cultural relationships and the task can seem insurmountable.
But it's not.
With prayer and humility we can find a better way.
Here are some of the articles, podcasts and videos we've been encourged and challenged by this last month.
Why Some See Movements and Others Don't by C. Anderson - "People who want to see movements default to prayer as their most critical activity."
Teens Today are Dying to Find Hope by Angie Glasser
Where's the Time Going? by Chuck Wood (thoughts on discipleship)
Bullseye Discipleship - Time by Chuck Wood (more thoughts on discipleship
Fewer Foreign Students Coming to US for Second Year in a Row: Survey
Lifestyle Evangelism with Dr. Jerry Root by Crescent Project Radio (part 1; part 2)
And below we have a great talk by Steve Smith author of Spirit walk and co-author of T4T: Discipleship Re-Revolution.
The second video is a song by Jess Ray that gets to the tendency we have to box God in and require Him to be smaller than He is to fit into our carefully planned lives. It's been challenging me all week.
Here in South Dakota it's harvest season . . . it’s still harvest season.
It's been a difficult harvest for the farmers. There has been too much rain leading to too much mud. There's been early snow. There's been record breaking cold weather. And all of that has lead to a harvest that is still out in the fields. When they should just be wrapping up, there is still a long way to go.
The harvest is plentiful. It's abundant - not record breaking by any means - but there are good yields coming in on the corn and soybeans.
The harvest is plentiful but this year the harvesting is also really difficult.
It's downright hard and probably frustrating and I'm quite certain many a local farmer has been at it until three and four in the morning more nights than they'd care to remember.
But do you know what no farmer ever said?
It's too hard, let's just forget about the harvest.
It's too late. Let's just go in and go to bed.
It's too frustrating. Let's just give up.
You'll never hear those words from a farmer because their job - their calling - is to bring in the harvest.
Jesus said to his disciples, the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.
I've been convicted of my own sense of laziness and softness as I've watched - and helped a little - as my family works to bring in the harvest. They carry with them a stubborn perseverance, a tenacity and focus that I would do well to learn from.
As I pray for 2,000 Muslims to have an opportunity to hear the gospel here in our region and as I work to do my part to see the 3 billion who have never heard the gospel have a chance to hear it, will I grab hold of the vision and stick with it with everything I've got until it becomes a reality or until I die?
Jesus makes two statements in this verse:
He tells us to open our eyes and look to the fields. They are ripe for harvest! (John 4:35)
The work of salvation is the exclusive work of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells his disciples in John 6:44, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day," and later in John 12:32 says, "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
And so while the work is God's to do, he invites us into that work as He sends us into the world as his witnesses and ambassadors (John 17:18; Acts 1:8; 2 Corinthians 5:20).
The question is, will I pour my life into bringing in the harvest?
Will I dedicate my time and shun distraction and learn what I need to learn and rest when I need to rest and pray like everything depends on it because there is an abundant harvest in the field and the Father wants me to be about the work of bringing it in.
It's my prayer that I will continue to grow in my dedication to the harvest.
It's the Father's heart!
What about You?
Will you pray that your hearts would be shaped more and more like the Father's heart?
Will you pray that your hearts would be broken more and more for lostness?
And will you pray that we all begin to live with the same kind of urgency and focus and stubborn perseverance for the lost locally, nationally and globally that our local farmers have for the harvest sitting out in the field.
Here are a few things you can do to begin to grow your heart for the harvest.
Pray Luke 10:2 - Set an alarm on your watch or phone that goes off every day at 10:02 and commit to obeying Jesus and praying for the harvest.
Pray for your network - On a note card write down the names of everyone you know who is far from God and commit to praying for them every day.
Discover - Read and Meditate on the following passages in scripture: Luke 15; John 17; Matthew 28:16-20; Genesis 12:1-4)
Discover - Read the book of Acts once a week for the next four weeks (4 chapters a day).
We are a collection of practitioners and trainers seeking to multiply disciples and churches locally, nationally and globaly among every segment of society until there's no place left.