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!
I've been thinking a lot about the different phases of the growth of the church. In a place like Turkey where the church is small - well less than 1% of the population are followers of Jesus - the church looks different than it looks in a place like Europe or the United States - places where the church has been established for hundreds, even thousands of years.
When I came across the video below, I found it helpful as I struggle with some of the realities of my context in the U.S. where the church has largely been institutionalized and professionalized and is quickly moving into a post Christian reality. It was helpful as well as I thought about the many works we are helping to support in unreached areas of our world - places like Turkey.
There are some good lessons to be drawn from Ray Vaughn's explanation. Church historians will undoubtedly find flaws in the explanation, but I found it helpful to think about. As we consider the different contexts where we seek to be faithful to proclaim the good news and make disciples, there are lessons that we need to learn and apply.
This teaching is 30 minutes long. It is a basic overview of what missiologists have observed in each of the phases of the growth, expansion and decline of the church throughout history and throughout the world. It is descriptive not prescriptive, a backwards glance at what has happened, not theoretical thinking about what we should do. I'd encourage you to find some time to watch it with a few questions in mind.
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!
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