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Someone said, “When you come to the fork in the road, take it.”
Yesterday, Mary (my wife) and I drove from the sleepy village of Burtigny to the bustling Swiss city of Lausanne to do some errands and visit YWAM Lausanne for a meeting with one of our IT teams. We downloaded the turn by turn instructions to get to our destination. Mary played co-pilot, reading the French street names to me as I drove through the city to Office World where we would buy special envelopes for Tom Bloomer, the Provost of the University of the Nations.
Neither of us speak French. Between Mary’s interpretation of the street names and my reading of the street signs, we made several u-turns. In fact, we passed in front of Office World three times, before we noticed the big red English letters on the building.
I like the adventure of going to new places and meeting new people. However, the process of getting there can be stressful, and hilarious, especially if you heard our feeble attempts to pronounce French!
How do you find your way to a new destination? How do you respond when you suddenly realize, “I have not been this way before.”
There are key moments in our lives when a decision must be made, a direction must be chosen. And there are moments when a generation faces a similar choice of major significance to the future. Our choices, especially the choices made by leaders, will effect the destiny of a generation, and perhaps hundreds of millions of people.
I see the two choices this generation of emerging leaders are given today. I see the fork in the road, and the signpost with clearly inscribed names for the two pathways.
One road is named “The Way of Increase” and the other is named “The Way of Decrease”.
Both pathways are the way of influence and change. Both ways will impact the generation. Both ways are the way of personal sacrifice. Both ways shape the future and the way power is distributed.
The Way of Increase is exciting. It is the way most will choose. It’s the way of increased power, increased popularity, and increased numbers. The way of increase is called “blessed”; it’s the way of apparent abundance.
God promises blessing and abundant life, so choosing the path will not seem foreign. It’s easy to read the sign; it’s easy to choose the path way.
The other pathway is the Way of Decrease. This sign is very difficult to read; it’s foreign, unfamiliar, and unwelcome.
Why one would to take that sharp turn toward decrease is difficult to imagine. It appears to be a complete reversal of direction. Whatever progress was made seems to be lost the moment you take this turn. The way is narrow and difficult. Suddenly the smooth road becomes a steep incline and a very rough terrain. Few take this road, and most would mistake it for a path for sheep, anyone but me.
And that’s the choice. Will you take the easy road, or the narrow road?
The Way to Increase is filled with spiritual excitement and expectations of triumphing over any that might get in your way. It is the way to power. It’s a highway with speed and comfort, and many are on that road. You can congratulate yourself when you look in your rear view mirror to see multitudes following.,.you.
The Way to Decrease is the way of surrender. It is quiet there. Few are seen of this road. Tears fall on this difficult path, but few notice. Why would anyone take this path? Why did John the Baptizer say, “I must decrease?” It can’t be God’s way. It’s not producing the numbers and the excitement we have come to expect with our great and powerful God.
But those who choose the Way to Decrease have seen the top of that steep incline on that difficult path. They have seen the One who went that way to the top of that hill of the skull, calvary’s hill. They have seen Jesus hanging on that cruel cross on the Way of Decrease.
Why did Jesus choose the Way of Decrease?
It is THAT way, the Way of Decrease, that brings true Increase to others. The way of abundance is life-giving, life-surrendering, and power giving.
So the choice is clear. Take the path to gain power, or the path to give power. For every true revival in history has been a moment when a generation of emerging leaders have chosen the Way of Decrease, giving away and distributing power to the powerless.
One of the most significant shifts in world missions during the past several decades is the demographic shift in the center of gravity of World Christianity from the western world to the global south and the east. Certainly such an adjustment will require a new paradigm for world missions. Could it be a paradigm of partnership with short and long-term cooperation between established and emerging leaders in communities around the world?
If university students have historically been on the leading edge of new missionary advances, how will they be involved in the twenty-first century? Will creating partnerships with the new majority church of the global south require that some of the western models of evangelistic outreach be revised? Perhaps. We have confidence that God does want all to be saved, however the gospel from the western world has been presented as a private decision. To be sure, this is an uncertain foundation for the future. In much of the western world, this method of evangelism has too often produced a faithless, self-absorbed church, actively involved in evangelism out of fear or passivity, waiting for the rapture. Many young people have abandoned traditional church for a more secular activism.
This generation of students are uniquely positioned to travel globally with an increased awareness and engagement in social concerns, including globalization, environmental concerns, human trafficking, HIV/AIDS, and poverty. However, they lack biblical understanding of the meaning of justice. While they cry out for social justice, they fail to recognize that the scriptures, when they speak of justice, refer to the justice due to God.
What students require is biblical instruction. More importantly, students need personal input from a mentor. At a recent gathering of young leaders of the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization, they concluded something incredible:
“We believe that the most pressing need in developing (and sustaining) young leaders is personal, relational investment from the older generation, as well as some like-hearted, peer-level friends.”
Many said they feel isolated and alone in their leadership. Many agreed that they do not need more skills training or instruction.They said, “We need intimate relationships, above us and beside us, so that we can provide the same for others.”
What is required for a new thrust in short-term student missions?
If thousands of initiatives already exist around the world, such as projects that relate to the fields of politics, economic development, cultural studies, the arts and religion, then these ongoing projects offer ample opportunities for short-term participants to come alongside and help. What is required is leadership for a new generation. That leadership will produce the structure for a new paradigm. What is needed is a new way to collaborate with the multitude of amazing initiatives.
While student volunteers for missionary endeavors were typically western during the 19th and 20th centuries, today’s student volunteers are from every nation. A new structure for missions mobilization should therefore be a way to offer a world-wide emerging generation of students the means to serve and learn alongside on-going projects around the world. This new structure must be a user-friendly and self-initiated program, with personal guidance.
This new structure will require a wide collaborative network of missions-minded hosts, mentors, and donors, working together to facilitate a new generation of student missions mobilization.
What is the lasting impact of a short-term cross-cultural student service project?
Internships benefit both the field project and the student. Many project leaders have expressed concern about the efficacy of short-term participation in missions. Therefore, rather than request the opportunity to send students to their field project, field hosts will initiate the invitation and determine the timing, the number of students, and the education level of those they invite. Qualified field projects that express the need for short-term assistance become hosts for student volunteers. The problems of short-term missions are many, however they can be resolved as mature and experienced leaders, such as our Hosts and Mentors, assist the Student with issues of language, culture, theology, and service.
Not only will they provide specific assistance at the invitation of field projects, students with international experience have proven to be “landing careers with international or multinational organizations.”
Practical service and careers are important, however the ultimate aim is lasting relationships, which are the fruit of a person following God’s call. From short-term participation comes long-term relationships, including the possibility that former student volunteers become donors or staff of the project they serve.
How are lasting relationships sustained?
Communities of christians are no longer merely local. Just like the apostle Paul extended his circle of missional partners through letters, today’s communities are more and more virtual. This new missions mobilization movement will require that we utilize all the collaborative tools of the internet. Individuals and groups are connecting and organizing themselves, often with missional purpose everywhere. Relationships begin in the short-term with close communication and prayer, and are sustained for the long-term through re-engagement and as new projects and participants are added to the community.
This new structure will partner with projects in poor communities.
Projects that extend the mercy and grace of God to communities in need, especially among the poor, will provide the deepest and widest possible impact. Projects will vary. The whole system of poverty, including the restoration of relationships, are addressed through service to the cultural, social, spiritual, personal, or physical needs of a community. Jayakumar Christian writes “what is often missed when speaking of poverty from a western perspective is the tendency to view poverty from a purely materialistic worldview.”
In order to address poverty, students should be mentored in a biblical christian view of poverty, understanding that poverty is a loss of identity and vocation.
Why is the mobilization of university students strategic?
University students will remain on the leading edge of new missional thrusts and structures because the university is God’s idea. The university is a cathedral of worship to the ways of God in every arena of society. God is the original creator, gardener, artist, law giver, communicator, builder and architect. etc. Missional engagement in a community, when emphasizing restoration of relationships, will include a myriad of approaches, including the restoration of relationship with God (religion, philosophy, theology), restoration of relationship with community (political science and economics), restoration of relationship with the environment (biology, ecology, engineering), restoration of relationship with neighbors (sociology, international relations, justice), and, finally restoration of relationship with the self (psychology, health care).
The need to create new structures for the mobilization of students into world missions cannot be under-emphasized. What is urgently required are leaders for a new generation of student volunteers.
I want to recommend a documentary my new friend, David Moore, produced. The title and the message of the video, Treading Softly, communicates the value, principle, and heart of “Going Barefoot”, which has been expressed often in and through our YWAM Ministries.
Going Barefoot is a metaphor that expresses a way in which we are called to serve the Lord Jesus as his witnesses and his change agents. Metaphors can be both positive and negative, so it’s important to evaluate them from time to time.
Just like the bronze serpent, a symbol’s value can change from healing to idolatry. Symbols can be very powerful with positive and negative affects. DL Moody and other Christian leaders of the 20th century declared, “The one thing needful is salvation or conversion.” Agreed. Moody, when criticized for his evangelistic methods, is quoted saying “Better the way I am doing it, than the way you are not doing it.” However, his positive evangelistic fervor, and gift, led him to say, “I have given up on this world; I am focused on rescuing lost souls.” His metaphor could be described as a “life raft,” powerfully influencing the 20th century Evangelical Church and conveying a message of Individualism and disengagement from social concern.
Unlike a ‘life raft’, Jesus’ parables were a message of transformation and growth, not merely of rescue and certainly not disengagement. Jesus metaphors were of seeds, fields, vineyards, yeast, and houses. Jesus’ call to us in the 21st century is to again take up his cross and his message of transformation and establishment. He is calling his Church to be a witness of His kingdom, building and growing, in the earth, not the witness of a ‘life raft’ escaping the earth.
Dr. Sherwood Lingenfelter describes “pilgrimage” as a people who are “at the same time ‘otherworldly’ and ‘this worldly’, both on pilgrimage and indigenous”. Youth With A Mission is an apostolic community, “called out” and “sent” to represent the Body of Christ as agents of transformation in every culture. We are not called to escape the world, as in Lingenfelter’s “Hermit game”, or merely supply a “life raft” for a hermitage. Neither are we called to shift from one cultural “prison” to another.
Servant-leadership, modeled and taught by YWAM International’s founder, Loren Cunningham, has been supported by the metaphor “going barefoot.” Leadership, for those on pilgrimage, is relational and not positional. To be “barefoot” as a faithful Christian is more than a leadership model, however. The metaphor, ‘”barefoot,” imparts a call to tread lightly, relinquish rights, embrace responsibilities, and take the risk necessary in all relationships. Going “barefoot” and having an “open hand,” another metaphor, is representative of a life that is surrendered and, like a “hand”, is open to give and to receive. Disarming humility, represented in one who is on pilgrimage is best for producing transformation. Each of the social games put forward an opportunity and an obstacle for producing transformation, however the barefoot pilgrim walks in and out of all of the social games.
The metaphor for the apostolic and evangelistic vision of YWAM, International, has been represented in the founder’s vision. Cunningham writes of “waves of young people crashing on every continent of the earth.” YWAM champions young people to “Go into all the world”; this is literally understood, “Go means a change of location.” Another metaphor, the “grace ticket,” often taught by Darlene Cunningham, is an effective metaphor for pilgrimage, representing the grace of God that is available at the time of need, whatever the social context. The “grace ticket” challenges us to live by faith with a willingness to be flexible to any situation trusting in God’s grace. These powerful metaphors contribute to YWAM’s forward movement and the call to every person, including the youth. To be on pilgrimage is not to be a passive non-participant; the pilgrim will likely make “waves”. As the “yeast” in Jesus’ parable is active, to be on pilgrimage is to be an active agent of transformation “working through all” of society.
Being an innovator and change agent can be challenging, especially when it takes time to define, develop, and produce the results of an idea.
Discipleship training is not a program; it’s a command to every believer. The way we have traditionally fulfilled this responsibility has been through formal instruction in a classroom or auditorium setting. We have called those formal gatherings “church.” In time this tradition of gathering and sitting in formal settings became more important than fulfilling the command to “go, make disciples.”
Let’s get back to the command; let’s get back to where we once belonged, making disciples. Let’s let Jesus be our example. Yes, Jesus did have people sit down and listen to him, sometimes in the Temple, sometimes in a field, on a mount, or in the intimate setting of a home. However, we should notice that the setting for his instruction was rarely formal. Instead, he practiced a non-formal and often informal method of making disciples. He said, “Come and follow me.” This was Jesus’ invitation to a life of a disciple.
Let’s “flip” discipleship.
What I am suggesting is that we change things up a bit. Let’s “flip” discipleship. If we were intentional about a reversed teaching model we could deliver instruction on the go, in the regular rhythms of life. If we were to “flip” discipleship, we could follow Jesus’ model and use the education tools of the 21st century.
Everywhere, in nearly every corner of the world of education, learning is going online. Some like it and some don’t. Let’s step back a moment and consider how today’s online learning tools might help us “flip” discipleship training.
Consider a moment how an interactive online learning environment might enhance discipleship of today’s Christ followers. What if we created hundreds of short Youtube videos to deliver content and we made discipleship more personal? What if we moved lectures outside of the classroom and allowed teachers, mentors, and disciplers to spend more 1:1 time with each disciple? What if Christ-followers had the opportunity to ask questions and work through problems with the guidance of a personal mentor/teacher and find the support of others on the same journey? What if we “flipped” church and made it a community learning on the go? What if church became a community on mission, making disciples?
We have developed just such a method with online tools and videos for discipleship training. It’s called the IPO Connection (Internship Placement & Outreach Connection). Through the ipoconnection.org and corresponding online course site, we are matching students (disciples) with field projects through homestays (sharing biblical hospitality), and equipping the students through dozens of short video lessons followed by personal interaction with a mentor (discipler).
What are the advantages of flipping discipleship training?
- Gives teachers/mentors more time to spend 1:1 helping students
- Builds stronger student/teacher relationships
- Offers a way for a collaborative community of students, mentors, project hosts, and donors to move together on mission with Jesus
- Produces the ability for students to “rewind” lessons, review them, and share them with peers. These video lessons are powerful!
Visit ipoconnection.org for more information.
It was one. Just one of the ten. He noticed. He returned.
He always stood at a distance. Never close to anyone, except the few social rejects with him. The “others”. The un-welcome.
Never would he be allowed to come inside. To sit with friends. To eat with others.
He and the other nine had leprosy, a chronic infectious disease that causes skin sores, nerve damage, and muscle weakness. It just gets worse over time, until the light colored skin starts to fall off. Nobody wants to be near you.
Keep your distance! You’re UNCLEAN!
By law, you must announce yourself, “unclean”, and stay away.
So distant. Nobody will touch you.
He could never shake hands. Never embrace a fellow human being. Never hold a child to comfort. Never receive comfort.
Keep your distance. That was the rule.
Then the Teacher came walking through their village, with many followers.
“Have pity!”, he and the other nine cried out from a distance.
When Jesus saw them, He responded, but with the requirements of the law. Anyone with leprosy must do this:
“Go and show yourselves to the priests.” (Luke 17:14 NASB)
Sent away again.
But the words of this Teacher were strangely different. It was warmth. There was compassion in his voice, in his eyes. It was like physical touch. How did he do that?
So the ten misfits did what he told them to do. They went to see the priest.
Why? Not sure.
But as they were going, they were cleansed.
What? Amazing! Clean!
No longer must I announce to strangers, fearful of my curse, “Unclean.”
I am freed from my loneliness. I can be close. I can touch. I can get lost in a crowd.
And that is exactly what the other nine did. They blended into the crowd, never again required to announce:
I’m different. I’m cursed. I’m to be rejected.
It was just one. Just one foreigner. A Samaritan. A hated stranger to the people that live so close, the people of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses.
Just one noticed.
Just one could not be unnoticed. One of the healed lepers could not allow this amazing miracle to go unnoticed.
It was the stranger, the foreigner, the one rejected because of both disease and heritage who returned to Jesus.
It was just one who approached the crowd that still rejected him. It was just one who came glorifying God with a loud voice. “I’m clean! I’m clean!”
He came very close to Jesus, close enough to touch him..
… and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. (Luke 17:14, 16 NASB)
This Thanksgiving, as we enjoy time with family, may we all take notice of the amazing miracle Jesus has done for us.
Though we were once far away, rejected, and under a curse, we have been brought near. We have been brought into intimate, loving friendship with The Lord of every family.
Gen. 12:1-3 : The beginning of the story of the Father of Faith
1 God told Abram: “Leave your country, your family, and your father’s home for a land that I will show you.
2-3 I’ll make you a great nation
and bless you.
I’ll make you famous;
you’ll be a blessing.
I’ll bless those who bless you;
those who curse you I’ll curse.
All the families of the Earth
will be blessed through you.”
It is time for me to be honest.
Fathers do not typically share their frustrations. They tend to be reserved, sometimes emotionally distant. Some more affectionate fathers are more engaged, but they choose to protect their children, keeping the hard realities of life out of sight. That is understandable and appropriate. But this is time for honesty, as a father.
I’ve been frustrated with religion & politics lately. Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between the two. Political movements can get too much like religious cults. And churches can be way too political.
Listening to political ads and news reports can get a bit surreal! Obviously, both sides have placed their faith in what they believe, the candidate they support. Sadly, others simply check out. They say it’s all a waste of time. They say it doesn’t matter. Some believe Jesus is returning when the world goes to hell, so why try to stop it? What kind of faith is that?
Yes, the Church is political too. Sometimes our Christian friends, pastors and leaders, are caught up in political games. Or perhaps I should call it business games.
I’m a missionary, so I believe businessmen and women can fully participate in Christ’s mission; Business as Mission. The trouble is, too many Christian leaders have adopted a kind of Mission as Business.
What do I mean?
Playing to the crowd, too many church leaders are marketing, rather than ministering; competing for members or attendees among the shrinking percentage of evangelical christians, rather than contending for lost souls;
controlling the agenda, rather than equipping the saints for the work of the ministry and the vision God is giving them; organizing for church growth, rather than discipling people of all nations to walk in the promise of receiving the blessings God has promised.
Really, what frustrates me most is the impact this lack of spiritual leadership is having on people. (Recently, two people close to me asked if faith really matters. They asked: What good does it do?)
We should not seek leaders, or train for leadership in the church. (There is very little reference, in fact, to “leaders” in the bible. The word Pastor only shows up once, Eph. 4:11) And there is an important reference to “shepherds”
Jeremiah 3:15 (NIV)
Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.
Please do not misunderstand me. I am not picking on your pastor.
What I am saying is this: Instead of seeking leaders (political or pastoral), we need to seek the Lord. We need to bring forth fruits of repentance on behalf of our generation and our children. We need a revival of faith and faithfulness.
Let’s stop putting our faith in a political platform or a politician. And let’s stop finding refuge from our broken world, hiding behind the stained glass windows of our churches.
It’s time for believers to once again be equipped (as it says in Eph. 4:11) through a plurality of servant leaders for the work of ministry in every sector of society, among every people grouping, in every way God blesses us to be a blessing.
We need to stop seeking security in anything or anyone other than the Person of Jesus Christ.
Are you with me?
Could it be there are some that are not discouraged or frustrated as I have been? Maybe your faith in Christ is strong and this message is not connecting with you so far.
Maybe you are one of the Fathers (or Mothers) of the Faith. Maybe you ARE reaching across cultural boundaries into the lives of people with extraordinary need. It’s difficult, isn’t it? It can be just as frustrating, if not more, to watch our leaders pick at each other when there is such need, when time and money could be directed to help people who are really hurting.
Perhaps others learn from you.
Honestly, sometimes I worry. I wonder if seeds I’ve sown into the lives of young people, in poor and in church communities will bear fruit, fruit that will last.
I always watch for faithfulness and fruitfulness so I can fan the spark into flames with encouragement.
And I admit I get tense. I’m an intense guy. I want to push with my own strength to get my way, my hopes fulfilled. I want to say I trust the government to meet my needs. I want to say I trust the church to be all it says she is in my bible. But then reality strikes and I’m disappointed again.
How do you respond when life throws a curve ball, when disaster strikes, when you lose a job, a child, a marriage?
Here are our choices:
1. Turn from God?
2. Reject the church?
3. Refuse to ever participate in community again?
4. Renounce my citizenship?
5. Fight back! (One of three ways: as a religious zealot, as a materialist seeking personal gain, or as a political crusader)
6. Pretend everything is okay, paint a religious smile on my face, but allow anger to fester just under the skin.
Or finally, …
7. Fall broken before a God who allowed himself to be broken for me.
God sets before us a choice: Life or Death, Blessing or Curses.
I don’t know much, but I know this much. Life is better.
So choose life, grace, and truth,
and with it, choose the way of the cross.
The only way the devil, sin, and death can be defeated is through the cross.
Politically, I believe it is time to choose life. Here’s a basic question to guide us in this political season: Do human rights come from Nature, or Nature’s God? (This is what many of the Founders of the US Constitution wrestled with and they chose God. Only they didn’t choose a Church to guide the State. They believed we have inalienable rights, including freedom to choose, to speak, and to congregate in public gatherings to worship God. The State does not give us rights; God does. This is the arena of battle for the minds of men and women and of the future of this nation. Let’s choose life and truth.
Truth is not merely an objective, scientific, and observable reality; Truth is embodied in the Person of Jesus Christ who said, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, but through me….
The enemy, Satan, hates it when we preach Jesus. The world is confused, thinking we are being exclusive. We do not choose who belongs to God; he does. We preach Christ and him crucified. This is taking the battle to the enemy.
Yes, there is a very real enemy.
One day when the angels came to report to God, Satan, who was the Designated Accuser, came along with them. (Job 1:6 MSG)
Satan is a liar, a deceiver, and dedicated to killing and destroying all that God loves, including you and me.
If he can’t destroy us, he’s satisfied to shut us down. He is happy to frustrate us and anger us so we will not talk with each other. He’s happy to deceive us into believing God may not be as good as he says he is. He may bless other people, but not me. Why bother to serve him? Why preach Jesus if your neighbor is just going to get angry? Stay quiet, be a good citizen, and go to church.
After Jesus sent out the 70 to preach on a short term outreach, he said,
“I know. I saw Satan fall, a bolt of lightning out of the sky.” (Luke 10:18 MSG)
He told them to go and enter homes and accept hospitality, leaving a blessing when they went. What an interesting missionary strategy to our neighbors!
Here’s a suggestion: Instead of creating ministry programs with big budgets and lots of work, we could simply sit down for a meal with neighbors, sharing “Table Fellowship”. That’s what Jesus did, and that was the issue of the early church as she crossed cultural boundaries.
The big religious hang up of the early church was Table Fellowship, Believing Jews sitting down to eat with Gentiles. Perhaps, we could avoid all the politics and simply offer services in our homes, breaking bread with neighbors, offering hospitality, friendship with strangers, extending the grace and fellowship of the Holy Spirit in the simplest form, in the relaxed setting of our home. Certainly, Mothers and Fathers of the Faith can do that.
Jesus gave us his authority; he said “Go, in my name!”
He didn’t say to form a committee and set a budget and ask the leaders of the Temple or the Synagogue.
We must not allow ourselves to get so frustrated with politics and disappointments that we lose faith.
He said that we would do all that he did and more, including the huge task of teaching entire nations (peoples) to obey him.
So we have a choice.
I choose to believe God is good and true and faithful. We need to choose to trust in The Lord; he has always been faithful.
We preach, and teach, and live as witnesses of the truth of this gospel message.
What will you do when disappointments keep coming? What happens when you’re so discouraged that you wonder if you can continue?
I asked the two people who questioned their faith last week to read Ps. 73.
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26 NIV84)
Imagine you are holding two apparently identical eggs and I asked you:
“What’s the difference between the two eggs? One egg is completely different. One will remain an egg and the other will completely transform to become a chicken.”
Answer: One has been fertilized, one received DNA information.
It’s like looking at two people. Both may claim to be Christians, each with reasons that cannot be distinguished with our eyes. But one has not surrendered his life, while the other has submitted his life to King Jesus. One really believes.
How do you know if you believe? Here’s how John 8:31 MESSAGE reads:
Then Jesus turned to the Jews who had claimed to believe in him. “If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure.”
It begins with words that come up out of our hearts.
Romans 10:9 says:
“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
And when you believe, when you speak with faith. Something happens. It’s like a mighty rushing wind, a Tornado effect, that will change the landscape and all your relationships.
Look below to vs. 14:
“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”
Obedience of one will have a big effect. Small things make a big difference.
Like a contagion, the gospel of the kingdom is like a little yeast, it changes the whole lump of dough.
This is simple, yet impossible for anyone to grasp without a full surrender. The battle for the hearts and minds of every living soul rages everywhere, in thousands of languages, hundreds of nations, and millions of families.
We are in a battle, and the battle belongs to the LORD.
The word of God to my Lord: “Sit alongside me here on my throne until I make your enemies a stool for your feet.” (Psalm 110:1 MSG)
The battle is about belief, not religion or politics. That’s small stuff. As believers we must follow Paul’s advice:
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. (2 Corinthians 10:3 NIV84)
We are called to
… Take every though captive.
“Be very careful. Keep a sharp eye out for the contaminating yeast of Pharisees and the followers of Herod.” (Mark 8:15 MSG)
What is this Yeast-teaching?
While Jews clamor for miraculous demonstrations and Greeks go in for philosophical wisdom, (1 Corinthians 1:22 MSG)
Yeasty Teaching is often missed, not understood. It’s hidden, a mystery to many.
Some heard thunder, others heard angels. But God did speak a word from his heart.
Paul understood Yeasty Teaching. It’s not “baptizing” (religious acts), not “words of wisdom” (philosophy); it’s the gospel of power.
The power of the cross is the full working of the power of God through a surrendered life.
This is the essence of what it means to be a Great Commission witness. This call to carry this message of God’s grace and favor for every family is his forever dream.
Gen 12 is the Promise; it’s God’s plan to bless. He is good. He is True.
We all know the New Testament Great Commission texts. Each has a different focus.
Mt 28-go, teach, nations…
Mk 16-go, preach, individuals…
Act 1:8- The Holy Spirit enables you to be his witness, a testimony to his truth and goodness.
Here’s another Great Commission text; one that you may not have considered:
2 Cor 4:7-11
If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us.
Wendy is a young leader in the 24/7 prayer movement. She lives in Kansas City and travels frequently to Asia. The conclusion of the recent Lausanne North American Younger Leaders Gathering in Madison, WI last week confirm some important developments we are working on in the Student Mobilization Centre, MENTORSHIPS! The following is reposted by permission. – John Henry
This last week, I joined 119 other younger Christian leaders (40 and under) from Canada and the USA in Madison, WI, for a 3-day consultation. This gathering convened a small section of the global “Lausanne movement” – let me explain!
The story of Lausanne begins with the evangelist Dr Billy Graham. As he started preaching internationally, he developed a passion to ‘unite all evangelicals in the common task of the total evangelization of the world’. Lausanne is a global movement that mobilizes evangelical leaders to collaborate for world evangelization. It grew out of the 1974 International Congress on World Evangelization convened in Lausanne, Switzerland – hence the name. :) The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization (October 2010) in Cape Town, South Africa, brought together 4000 Christian leaders, representing 198 countries. The resulting Cape Town Commitment serves as the blueprint for the Movement’s activities.
During this NAYLG, we spent hours split into “working groups”, looking at ten topics pertinent to the Church on our continent in our day - Discipleship, Unity in the Church, Reaching Cities, Mission to Unreached People Groups, Arts & Media, Theological Education, etc. My group (pictured above) focused on “Developing Christ-centered Leaders”, and after hours of conversation, we concluded something incredible: We believe that the most pressing need in developing (and sustaining) young leaders is personal, relational investment from the older generation, as well as some like-hearted, peer-level friends. Many of my peers at this gathering feel isolated and alone in their leadership, and we agree that we don’t need more skills training or instruction! We need intimate relationships, above us and beside us, so that we can provide the same for others.
I love this conclusion! I feel quite rich with both, and I am amazed at all the Father has invested in me as a young leader. To act on what we ‘discovered’, we are writing a shout out to the entire Lausanne movement, which we’ll get out to many other church networks as well, expressing our need for the older generation and inviting them to invest in us. “He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.”(Malachi 4:6)
“Consider things the way they could be and say, ‘Why not?’ Look at the landscape and say, ‘Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done.’” - Doug Birdsall, Exec Chairman of the Lausanne movement
Here’s one for Missionaries & their current (and future) Supporters.
It’s been since the Fall of 1985 that I have been a “faith missionary;” I have depended on the faithfulness of God through his people who give out of their love for God and his mission and their love for me and my family. I can testify, through all the years and many tests and trials, that God IS faithful.
Much of what I have learned has come through our living example of faithfulness, our Ministry Partners. One of our Ministry Partners said it well: “John and Mary, you have a calling to go; I have a calling to send.” It is such a privilege to be in partnership with friends who know their calling and honor the Lord through their obedience to His calling.
I want to share a few of those lessons with you. Whether you are a missionary or a supporter, these lessons are for partners in Christ’s mission:
1. Whether you are a missionary or a supporter, choose a Ministry Partner to pray for. We may not always communicate who we are praying fo or when, but God often stirs our hearts for one or more of our supporters.
2. Communicate regularly. We have sent a prayer-letter every month with only one or two interruptions. And many of our supporters send a monthly note with their support. This communication is an amazing encouragement. Ministry Partners can use email, Skype, Facebook, and even short text messages to stay in touch.
3. Be hospitable. Hospitality literally means “friend of the foreigner.” The result of hospitality is friendship; we become closer. Host your Ministry Partner for a meal or an overnight. If you can, help provide temporary housing or transportation too.
4. Connect your small group or ministry team with your Ministry Partner. Broaden your hospitality, inviting your network of friends to also become Ministry Partners.
5. Invest your vacation. Invite Ministry Partners to visit your ministry site or community. Travel with your partner; its a great way to spend part of your vacation. (Most of our vacations are combined with visits with supporters.)
6. Help create or strengthen a ministry project for your Ministry Partner. My wife and I have volunteered with several churches to help them with outreach preparation, youth ministries, missions and leadership training, consulting and counseling. Virtually all of our short term teams have served the long term work of Ministry Partners on the field. You can offer your time to a special project, outreach, or event. You could take a volunteer job, like weekly administrative tasks, driving shuttles, or kitchen duties.
7. Be generous. For years we sent YWAM Prayer Diaries or other books as gifts to our Ministry Partners. We try to bring gifts from the field, especially when we visit Ministry Partners. We have also received care packages, baskets of food, and surprise gifts. These are acts of generosity displaying the goodness and faithfulness of God. Very often those surprise gifts have been direct answers to prayer, which helped us meet our monthly bills.
We all, both missionaries and supporters, are walking by faith. We all are called to put our faith in God to supply our daily needs. When we, as Ministry Partners in the work of Christ’s kingdom, give our hearts, our time and resources, we cause thankfulness to overflow and bring pleasure to the heart of God.
Special thanks to all our Ministry Partners. We love you!
Be Missional: How can you support and encourage your missionaries or your supporters in their calling?
It has been too long since I posted here. Please forgive this long absence. I will be sharing several brief posts over the next several days to, hopefully, make up for my absence.
Recently I attended a YWAM North American Cities Conference in the beautiful French Canadian city of Montreal. My friend and colleague in the University of the Nations leadership team, Jeff Fountain, was the keynote speaker. I gave a couple workshops on Missional Collaboration, which were surprisingly well attended.
That YWAM leadership team and the community of city missionaries I have had the privilege to engage with on several occasions continues to inspire me. This expression of YWAM is doing deep theological reflection as a matter of daily living in their respective city ministries. This network of ministries teams in North America is doing more theologically because they are concerned with more than the “seed”, the Word of God; they are also concerned with the “soil”, the context in which they are ministering. Typically, missionaries will reflect deeply on their context, the people and the cultures represented in the place where they are ministering. But far too rarely do ministers in the North American context reflect with true missionary intent on the theology of place.
Our Student Mobilization Centre team plans to follow their lead in a couple ways.
- First, we plan to have several of our class lecture times for our mobile School of University Ministries & Missions (SUMM) in a dozen cities in N. America in coffee houses and student lounge areas.
- Second, rather than fly speakers to us, we’re going to the lecturers, campus ministry leaders, in their context. We’re inviting them to exegete their university community.
We’re starting the first week of the SUMM at the URBANA Student Mission Convention (Dec. 27-31, 2012), where all participants will also be representing YWAM Int’l at our exhibit booth. We’re partnering with YWAM Emerge, traveling with their band, doing mobilization events in cities in the Midwest and Northeast USA. So all SUMM participants will also be recruiting on this mobile mobilization school.
We welcome you to participate with us according to your ability or calling:
- YWAM: If your YWAM ministry team needs a recruiting boost, and you are praying about engaging the colleges/universities in your city, this mobile SUMM may be just right for you or a member of your team. Go here for details and application.
- Ministry/Project Leaders: If you could use interns at your ministry location, the mobile SUMM will be recruiting students for internship around the world. Go here for details and an online application.
- Student Group: If you are with a student ministry or church interested in having us do a missions mobilization and/or prayer event with live band and an awesome challenge to respond to the Call of God and you are in Madison, WI, Minneapolis, MN, East Lansing or Ann Arbor, MI, Boston, MA, New Haven, CT, Williamstown, MA, Charlotte, NC, Pittsburgh, PA, or anywhere near those major cities, contact us. We would love to invite you to an event.
UofN Student Mobilization Centre
“We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you. We are not going too far in our boasting, as would be the case if we had not come to you, for we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ. Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand, so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in someone else’s territory. But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. 2 Cor. 10:12-18
All young leaders need encouragement, and sometimes correction. Some young leaders are timid, always looking inward, and wanting circumstances to be “right” before they can faithfully fulfill the call of God. Other young leaders seek to do too much too soon. They idolize celebrity preachers seeking to by-pass the growth period and discipline necessary to produce lasting fruit. They repeat what they have heard, the stories of those they idolize, but fail to endure hardships that prove God’s faithfulness in their own lives. In order for “our sphere of activity among you [to] greatly expand,” as Paul the apostle suggests, we need both a clear vision and a work in “regions beyond you.”
In fairness to young leaders, it is also true that too often older leaders- those who ought to be mature, “boast” of their vision to “change the world.” See James Davidson Hunter’s book, To Change the World.) Hunter provides a penetrating appraisal of several approaches of Christian leaders to change the world. He highlights their inherent flaws and the presumption of ministry leaders. What is too often ignored is this: change implies power. Christians seeking to change the world have all eventually embraced strategies of political engagement. Sadly however, few Christians are taught a theology of power or how to engage the world.
In this post, I am offering an important foundational understanding necessary to grow as leaders and ministries as we obey Christ’s command to “make disciples of nations,” to change the world.
There is a tension in any growth. Babies cry when they are teething and small children cry when their bones are growing. There is always a painful maturing process if we are to grow. It is painful for an individual to grow in giftings and calling. It is painful for a ministry to develop leadership teams. And it is painful for families of churches, ministries, and organizations to learn to network and cooperate in their calling to make disciples of nations.
During the past 1500+ years, the Church has been led by people, mostly men, with two primary giftings: pastors and teachers. The tension of growth naturally feels uncomfortable for anyone, but especially painful for pastors and teachers. Both pastors and teachers want to protect and teach their members in a safe environment of learning and growing in the Lord. A safe place to hear and study the Bible is very important. I thank God for the protection and wisdom of leaders who watch and pray in Christian communities. However, putting too much emphasis on safety and a kind of lecture-style learning-without-doing will stifle the growth of leaders and ministries.
We Need Everyone to Help
Have you heard that before? “We all need to help right now!” When we work with a ministry or church, including a Youth With A Mission location, we are challenged to take up the urgent issues that frequently emerge in any growing ministry. YWAM particularly, at its foundation, is a pioneering apostolic organization. There will always be an urgent call to reach into “regions beyond.” This is consistent with YWAM’s global calling. Why? Because there will never be enough people, money, or time to do all we are called to do. Actually, it’s also consistent with the calling of any church community. Jesus did tell all of his followers to “Go into all the world…” (Mk. 16:15) and “Make disciples of every nation.” (Mt. 28:18-19)
When a church or ministry location leader calls his or her staff team or volunteer leaders to help in the urgent issues of the moment, every one of them is under pressure to lay aside their “primary call,” if they know what that is. Their “primary call” may or may not be directly related to the urgent issue at hand. This urgent call is always to action, rebelling against the status quo, and not to the tension-free lecture hall experience of most church experiences. Of course, this tension between individual and corporate callings presents an opportunity to grow and mature in the Lord far more fruitfully than if they remain in a safe, secure, and relatively inactive lecture setting.
It is not only the proactive call to action that creates this tension; it also comes as a reaction to crisis. When times are tough, the natural tendency of any community, including a YWAM community, is to hunker down, to enter into a spiritual warfare mode. It may or may not be readily apparent, but “battle lines” are increasingly drawn, and the whole community is mobilized to meet the urgent challenge of the moment through prayer, sacrificial giving, and long hours of sacrificial service. Making this kind of urgent call is actually proper for pioneering and apostolic leaders and it is proper for the community to rally to help.
However, if this rallying to help is not sufficiently aimed toward the apostolic purposes of reaching new spheres or territories, the community will become in-grown. If the reactive “battle” rages on and on without time for reflection, for creative and re-creative thinking, and without releasing initiatives of pioneering activity, the members of the community will grow weary. (Of course, the community may also become ingrown where there is no “battle cry,” where the members of the community are without direction and focus. We can discuss this in a later post.)
When there is a continual “battle,” the community can take on an “us against the world” cultural ethos. If unchecked, this ethos can result in organizational silos growing taller. Those organizational silos can be departmentalism within an organization, or they can become wider organizational silos between political groups, church denominations, or cultural Christian identities. When it happens in a ministry or church, worldviews shrink, attitudes narrow and positions tighten. Unaware, the increasingly in-grown community will begin to find fault in the leaders and criticize anything that makes them feel uncomfortable. Some members seeking to grow may feel disloyal, and they may be labeled “rebellious” if they raise questions that point out an increasingly ingrown ethos.
About the Apostolic and Prophetic
This tension between the ministry organization or church community and the apostolic visionary impulse to pioneer is normal. This is what Paul is writing about to the Corinthian community about “spheres of activity” greatly expanding into “regions beyond.” However, this expansion of growth does not automatically occur; it requires spiritual leaders with apostolic and prophetic gifts, those with vision to expand ministry outside cultural boundaries, and those who bring a “check” or correction to leaders and communities who cannot see outside their cultural boundaries.
This “check” against organizational silos comes from a prophetic gifting. Prophets are called to “build up,” but they are also called to “tear down.”
See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and teardown, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” Jeremiah 1:10
Perhaps the reason the Church has splintered into hundreds of denominations and local churches split and individuals hop from church community to church community is because their has not been a sufficient understanding and appreciation for the apostolic and prophetic leadership giftings? Perhaps our communities would grow more and more in unity if we appreciated all five of the leadership gifts Christ gave to the Church, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers?
Just a thought. What do you think?
Today 104 YWAM communities and groups around the world signed online to participate in a global meeting. One of the locations was in Nigeria. Loren Cunningham, co-founder of Youth With A Mission, gave a testimony of a woman in Nigeria who fell and died in the middle of a church service. Paul Dongtungda, the YWAM leader there, was encouraged to pray for her. The community was afraid and would not enter the church. Paul entered and immediately prayed and bound the spirit of death in the church. The woman rose from the dead, Loren said. And then, at that moment, we saw and heard that very woman on our screen. The woman spoke quickly in a thick accent. Her testimony confirmed that she was raised from the dead. We were extraordinarily encouraged!
This message of resurrection became a theme for the remainder of the global gathering. John Dawson shared how the elders of YWAM, our Global Leadership Forum, met in Mexico recently. They focused on several things, including Eldership.
Our elders asked many questions, which John Dawson shared with us during the global online meeting today.
What are your circles of covenantal love? What kind of agreement does that produce? How should we appoint what is lacking in our groupings?
What is the principle of Eldership?
Is it merely gathering in prayer and “covering” people? Is it merely older, more mature people? Or is it also walking in agreement and standing in the gap on behalf of others and on behalf of the future.
Is it not also to receive words from the Lord and declare His thoughts? Is it not releasing into the heavens the intents God has for a group through the power of agreement?
Do you really know one another personally? Do you meet together and pray? If you are praying, can you really cover one another if you don’t know each other? Can you protect one another from the spirit of contention? When you meet with love, John Dawson suggests, ask each other personal questions with affection and kindness. By doing so, you will be creating an altar of agreement so that the “work” of the ministry can be accomplished with God’s blessing.
John shared much of the word from the Lord given by Loren Cunningham during the Global Leadership Forum meetings. Loren encourages us all to follow the biblical injunction to make altars of worship.
An altar was made of stones, each of which is unique. They are an example of unity in diversity. Each altar is different, as each individual contributes to its creation in unity. Paraphrasing the apostle Peter, “We are like living stones built together as a holy priesthood.”
This eldership is not something we delegate to others. This is something we do in the grace of God with an authority that comes through unity in the place of prayer.
To overcome the spirit of fear in our communities, we need unity in eldership. Most of us face fears, not as triumphalists, but with a complete dependence on the grace of God. In that dependence and in the unity of the Spirit, we have powerful authority to bind the spirits of darkness that would attack our communities and those to whom we serve.
To close the global online gathering, John Dawson exhorted us and led to pray in the power of agreement over the things that are broken, the dreams and hopes, that have been broken. We prayed together and took up each others causes in love.
Though some may have been tramatized by loss, we declared together in the Spirit and we appealed to the Lord to heal and restore and resurrect those things. We released over the global YWAM family, a new day of beginnings in the grace of God.
“He died for all that those who live should no longer live for themselves.” 2 Cor. 5:15
As I was teaching, I stressed the importance of Jesus message: “He said ‘Repent!” Who was Jesus speaking to? He was speaking to Jews. He was preaching the gospel of the kingdom, which calls for the necessity to “repent.”
Think about it. Jesus was preaching to those who were already assured of their covenant relationship with God. They needed to repent. How about you?
“He died for all that those who live should no longer live for themselves.” This is the gospel of the kingdom. People who live ultimately for themselves are not living the Christian life.
The gospel of the kingdom begins with one word: REPENT. It doesn’t say, “Accept Jesus in your heart.” The gospel of the kingdom is not just about going to heaven. The gospel is about changing individual lives, however it is also about changing everything, changing whole cultures, including our own.
So, to begin, it is about individuals. It’s about the conscience. It’s about heart transformation, a heart that is tender and obedient. That nasty word, repent, is difficult to use in the modern world. Flaky people use the word “repent.” Call me flaky; I’ll follow Jesus. Jesus said:
This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Mt. 24:14)
Before we continue, we need to clarify the definition of the kingdom of God. I presented a question to the Perspectives participants: “If you had a map and a set of keys, which best represents the kingdom of God?”
Has “this gospel” been preached everywhere? Is the gospel of the kingdom about claiming territory for Jesus? Yes and No. Yes, it is about claiming territory, but not in the way it has historically been done by the Crusader-type sword-bearing missionaries of European nations. The kingdom is not about a realm or land. What is the kingdom then?
Jesus compared the gospel of the kingdom to keys (Matthew 16:19), which represent authority. All authority has been given to Jesus Christ. There is no kingdom without the King. The kingdom is defined by allegiance and obedience to a good King. The gospel is the message of Jesus. The dramatic historical events of the New Testament, Jesus birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and his appearing to many is the gospel. Jesus is the gospel. He is the King. (1 Cor. 15) The King gave the command to all of his followers saying:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. – Matthew 28:18-20
So then, is the gospel of the kingdom, obedience to the King, preached to all nations? Are we discipling nations?
We have churches. Some cities have big beautiful cathedrals, with few members or attenders. Some mega-churches are attracting tens of thousands of attenders. Some nations have majority populations of “christians,” such as Malawi with nearly 90% christians. However, Malawi has been among the poorest in Africa and the world. Malawi has been among the worst in corruption and the highest in infant mortality. Has “this gospel” or the number of “christians” made a difference?
Perhaps you are from the United States or another Western nation where the gospel has been influencing the nations toward a more just and more merciful society. Agreed. Western nations, where the gospel has been preached for centuries, have more just governments and better living conditions. But let’s take another look.
The latest U.S. Census shows in 2009, there was no difference in the rates of divorce and abortions between the more progressive citizens of Oregon and the Bible-belt citizens of North Carolina. The murder rate in North Carolina is double that of Oregon. And did you know the United States has more prisoners than any other nation, including China. The USA has the highest rate of incarceration in the world.
Landa Cope, author of the Old Testament Template writes:
Christian pollster George Barna finds there is “no significant difference” between the behavior of people in the United States who call themselves born-again Christian and those who do not make that claim. Muslim evangelists in Africa ask, “What does Christianity do for the people?” The answer today is nothing. Nothing changes. The churches get bigger. More and more people get saved. But nothing changes. They are still poor, diseased, uneducated, and left in political and economic chaos.
Perhaps this seems is unfair, and perhaps a bit too pessimistic. Certainly, over the long stretch of history, Jesus has been doing his work of building his Church as a witness for all nations. True. Isn’t life better where the gospel has been preached? Yes, materially. For example, the per capita annual income in the USA is over $45,000 compared to $980 in Malawi.
On the other hand, we need to get honest, the positive influences of the gospel in culture do not happen in a moment. And some of those positive influences require tearing down before there can be a building up. Jesus prophesied the destruction of the Second Temple, freeing the Israelites from their bondage to tradition, but it took about 60 years for the prophecy to be fulfilled. And the destruction of that temple, which God intended to be a place of welcome for all nations, resulted in the complete destruction of Jerusalem. Israel had been called to be a “light to the nations” (Isa. 51:4), but they failed. Jesus himself became the representative of Israel, fulfilling Israel’s calling.
The destruction of the Second Temple amplifies the importance of the message of the kingdom. We must not cling to our cultural traditions, no matter how good the original intention. He is the King! His gospel will be preached Are we preaching and obeying the message of Jesus?
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matthew 3:2
Have we heard this gospel of the kingdom?
The gospel of the kingdom is not merely about personal salvation, saving yourself for heaven, which ultimately serves the selfish interests of sinful people. It’s not about personal incomes and comfort. It’s not about us building a church and a “christian culture” to which we invite others to enter. It’s about Jesus sending us out of our comforts and our culture to preach a message for every other culture. It’s about Jesus building His Church, which is the extension of his family. However, that family looks different in every culture.
The gospel of the kingdom is an all-encompassing declaration of Jesus as King, over our individual hearts and over every culture. It’s a radical message, which I fear many of us still have not heard.
On my next post, I will pursue this message of the kingdom further. We will consider the powerful influence of “teachers,” and the “leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees” that Jesus warned his disciples about.
The SMC is equipping campus ministries leaders and SMC staff for multiplication around the world. After running the School of University Ministries & Missions (SUMM) four times on three continents in 2010 & 2011, we will again run the SUMM in North America in 2012 and South America in 2013, this time as mobile schools incorporating mobilization events in various cities into the curriculum. In addition, our six friends from Madagascar who took the SUMM last year in Seoul are requesting the SUMM to be run in Madagascar for their growing university ministries; they’re completing their sixth UDTS and they are pioneering a second university ministry in another city. Aldrin Bogi and his team in Bangalore, INDIA are planning to run the SUMM again soon, perhaps in 2013.
The SUMM is UofN Student Mobilization Centre’s core training for all YWAM staff and students serving university students. (UofN Code: STU/HMT 293). The following is a rationale and purpose statement for the next SUMM in North America, scheduled to begin on December 27, 2012 at the URBANA Student Missions Convention in St. Louis, MO.
Mobile SUMM North America 2012-2013
During 2011, we convened two Consultations, one in Northfield, MA and one in San Francisco, CA, where we met leaders representing several new YWAM campus ministries which have emerged in the past few years in North America. The universities in North America represent a particularly urgent context with strategic importance to the future of the Western missions movement and the need for partnership with the new majority Church outside the West. It is time to cultivate and assist those new ministries and equip leaders for greater effectiveness and growth through collaboration and pioneering new ministries.
The SMC’s commitment to student involvement in world missions will be evidenced not only in the curriculum of the SUMM, but also through active mobilization and prayer with potential student volunteers at various campus events during the North American Mobile SUMM.
Since 1986, SMC’s Field Ministry Internships (FMI), the principal program of the SMC, has mobilized students from over 100 different colleges/universities onto 75 internship teams in over 35 countries. We have mobilized students, as learners and not experts, for every sphere of society. To date, the FMI program has been designed by and directed by SMC leaders. Beginning with this SUMM, we are making a change to the FMI program; we are emphasizing internship placements.
Participants in this Mobile SUMM will not only practically experience the mobilization process at events, they will also be involved in the planning and coordination of internship projects for which they are recruiting students. Every SUMM participant will identify Field Partners (YWAM and non-YWAM organizations) to help them design and register their own internship programs for students in 2012 & 2013. During the SUMM, we plan to have 100 internship FMI Field Partner Hosts and their Field Projects posted on the SMC website.
We are championing university students to serve Christ’s Great Commission through their life-work. Students and Associate Field Partners are challenged to partner together in the next major wave of collaborative missions and holistic witness in and from university communities worldwide.
North American Mobile SUMM Context:
Today’s university students are more diverse, more pluralistic, more internationally aware, and more cross-culturally connected than previous generations. Students travel abroad and study abroad more than any previous generation. The number of internationals studying in the United States has more than doubled in the past twenty years, from 325 thousand to well over 700 thousand today, most of whom are from nations in the 10/40 window. Those seeking to plant churches among unreached peoples ought to make ministry to these strategic persons a priority. International concern about human tragedy and injustice, such as impure water, human traffiking, and HIV/AIDS orphans, have captured the conscience of this generation. Today’s students, both Christian and non-Christian, are seeking to make a difference and they are seeking a vital community that shares their concerns. Christian students, many of whom have desperate need for family and community, are at the same time seeking God for his justice and his mercy to be extended through a shared vision of a community and through their own life’s work.
North American Mobile SUMM Strategic Objectives:
This twelve-week interdisciplinary course emphasizes the impact and strategic importance of the mobilization of students toward their life work and calling. It is the SMC’s objective to recruit, equip, and place student volunteers ready to practically serve communities caught in a cycle of poverty resulting from unproductive worldviews. International Student Ministries (ISM) are a priority of the SMC. It is our objective to help North American YWAM centers within reasonable reach of university communities to adopt this priority. In addition, we will be encouraging YWAMers and former YWAMers currently enrolled in university to form missional communities with fellow students. It is the aim of the SMC for students to learn more deeply the importance of a biblical worldview, their calling from God, and what it means to love our global neighbor. Participants in the SUMM will therefore:
- Examine and practice teaching how God’s calling relates to the destiny of nations.
- Research the migration of students, the growing international student population, and learn how to equip university students for effective witness in their generation and in various areas of society: arts, business, education, government, media, science and technology.
- Gain understanding and practical knowledge of university student ministries as a mission strategy with particular application the variety of cultures in the North American context.
- Study the historical and biblical basis of university student ministries,
- Learn how to lead an intensive and integrated discipleship and outreach experience, and
- Gain practical instruction for pioneering and leading a campus ministry and for leading Field Ministry Internships.
We accomplish our objectives through a four-part strategy, which will be applied to this SUMM:
- We Gather - We will gather students & leaders from university communities in several North American cities through mobilization events.
- We Train – We will further develop curriculum through contextual and practical research in university communities in North America.
- We Send – We will recruit students for 100 different service projects related to global human need, their individual fields of studies, and their future influence in the spheres of society. Students will have opportunity to participate in short-term outreaches, serve long-term field projects, and discern their life-work and calling.
- We Network – We will cultivate missional collaboration and partnerships with various organizations, churches, and agencies in and around university communities in North America for the purpose of mobilizing an emerging generation of student volunteers serving Christ’s Great Commission.
North American Mobile SUMM Plan:
This Mobile SUMM in North America will visit several cities to observe and serve some of the most effective campus ministries and leaders. The SUMM mobile community will participate in and/or help organize mobilization events in several cities, including St. Louis, MO for the URBANA 2012 Intervarsity Student Missions Convention (Dec. 27-31, 2012). Every SUMM participant will enroll with the expectation of participating as one of the YWAM international exhibitors at the URBANA 2012 event. (SUMM tuition fees will include URBANA 2012 exhibitor registrations fees.)
SUMM staff assignments are limited to those who have completed the School of University Ministries & Missions -or- current YWAM staff with a Four-Year College Degree and Student Ministries Leadership Seminar (STU 195). All staff members for the North American SUMM will make a full 12 month commitment, in order that they may serve as participant mentor/overseers for SUMM Field Assignments.
The Foundational Values of Youth With A Mission are integrated into the teaching/learning experience in a variety of ways. The Values we find most closely relating to the School of University Ministries are:
- Godly Character & Servant Leadership: SMC seeks to build Godly character and demonstrate principles of servant leadership; humility and integrity are essential to produce in the student a trusting relationship with God.
- Championing the potential of young people: The SMC seeks to mobilize today’s university students recognizing this population may be the most potent missionary force on earth.
- All ministries and functions are equal in the Kingdom of God: the SMC course seeks to promote calling in relation to a broadened understanding of the character and ways of God to reach and teach all nations;
- Commitment to the Word of God: SMC is committed to the authority of the Word of God, to seeking to know and hear God’s voice, and to a lifestyle of intercessory prayer.
- Visionary: Students come with a desire for revelation of how their field of study in university (other than the UofN) relates to God’s call on their life. The SMC curriculum is designed to foster the development of that vision.
- Great Commission & Discipling Nations: Believing that the Gospel of Jesus can transform not only individual lives but the structures of society, SMC is dedicated to fulfilling the Great Commission to disciple all nations.
- Hospitality: The Biblical meaning of hospitality is ‘friend of the foreigner’. God has always instructed His people to love and care for the strangers and sojourners in their land;
- Communication: SUMM participants will communicate and methodically follow up with students and leaders from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures. Participants will articulate succinctly and clearly what today’s students need to be able to serve as missionaries in a 21st century mission field, emphasizing YWAM’s commitment to the Christian Magna Carta and a spirit of collaboration in response to dramatic shifts in the Church globally and extraordinary economic and societal crises. Communicating to mobilize students on cross-cultural, serving-learning experiences is an integral part of YWAM’s discipleship of students in every campus ministry location.
If you or someone you know would be interested in the SUMM course in North America or another part of the world, or if you can host the North American Mobile SUMM for a campus event at one of the cities we plan to visit (St. Louis, Minneapolis, Madison, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Boston, Baltimore, Richmond, Atlanta), or if you know of an organization leading a project that needs interns to serve and learn for a few weeks or a full semester, contact us. We’ll be really glad to help you connect with this exciting series of events.
William Carey’s influence on “Haystack” Students
Setting the stage for the historic prayer meeting with the five students who gathered under that haystack to find refuge from a storm in August 1806 was a little booklet written only a decade or so earlier by William Carey. The booklet was entitled: “An Enquiry Into the Obligations of Christians to use Means for [...]
A “New” Kind of Church Minister: George Isley
My pastor, George Isley, who went to be with the Lord five years ago, modeled a kind of leadership in the Church that is, from my perspective as a missionary of 25+ years, too rarely seen. One of George’s classmates, Dr. Don Lundgren, Missions Minister at College Church in Northampton, MA, said George had been [...]
Introduction to Missional Collaboration
As I develop a new training course on Missional Collaboration for the University of the Nations, I will be unveiling several aspects of the course through this blog. Today’s post originates from one of my papers and in response to an article on the Trinity by Mark Avery, professor of a course on Collaboration at [...]
New, Old Meaning for Hospitality
Hospitality has taken on fresh meaning to me lately. I’ll explain. I understood hospitality to be mainly “friendship with the stranger,” and NOT primarily how to set your table to impress your dinner guests. Welcoming strangers, radical as that view seemed, isn’t broad enough. Recently, while doing some research on church eldership, the word hospitality [...]
Our table is the center of our home. It’s the place our family comes together, the place we welcome friends, neighbors, and strangers. We invite others into the kitchen where we chop and sauté vegetables, bake bread, stir sauces, pour the fruit of the vine (juice or wine, you choose), and prepare to savor the [...]
History: Adoniram Judson
In September 1809, college student Adoniram Judson began to ponder seriously the subject of foreign missions. At the age of twenty-one, he had just finished his first year of theological studies at Andover. Judson read a sermon which was preached in the parish church of Bristol, England, by Dr. Claudius Buchanan. Buchanan had been a [...]
Calling: What I’m looking for…
U2 singer songwriter Bono expresses a spiritual yearning in the 1987 album The Joshua Tree hit single: “Still haven’t found what I’m looking for…” New Musical Express (a pop music mag in the UK better known as the NME), points out that the popularity of the song may be due to the way it showed [...]
Easter Note: Holiness is Intimacy with God
“What language should I borrow, to thank Thee dearest friend, for this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end? O make me Thine forever, And should I fainting be, Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.” This line comes from “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded,” a 12th century hymn by Bernard of [...]
Sitting here warming in the sun and listening to the gentle spash of the waves along the jagged lava rock of the Kona Coast of the Big Island of Hawai’i, I find it difficult to believe this is where a tsunami slammed the small shopping center along the shore on March 11, 2011. That contrast [...]
Holiness is MORE than Intimacy with God
At Easter I wrote about Holiness, that holiness is intimacy with God. (Here’s that post.) I described how Bernard of Clairvaux’s 14th century hymn, O Sacred Head Now Wounded, was a personal and public pre-Reformation plea for intimate relationship with Christ. I return to this subject because I did not adequately describe the beauty and [...]
#11 Special Tribute:
It Happened at a Haystack
I first learned of the monument on the Williams College campus in 1988 while researching student missions. In 2006, I joined several student ministries leaders from across the nation at the 200th anniversary of the event that led to the establishing of this memorial. Do you know why there is a monument on the small [...]
Thank you for a great year! – John Henry
1. To foster missional partnerships, placing interns to serve field projects worldwide.
2. To recruit and place students and staff ready to serve and learn a biblical worldview as a missional strategy worldwide.
3. To establish an international coordination office, including guest house, study center, and library.
‘… Yet if the gross national product measures all of this, there is much that it does not include. It measures neither the health of our children, the quality of their education, nor the joy of their play. It measures neither the beauty of our poetry, nor the strength of our marriages. It pays no heed to the intelligence of our public debate, nor the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our wit, nor our courage, neither our compassion nor our devotion to country. It measures everything in short, except that which makes life worth living, and it can tell us everything about our country except those things that make us proud to be a part of it.’
Robert Kennedy, US Senator;
Kansas city, 1968.
Amid all the protests of 2011, Robert Kennedy’s words are a timely reminder of what is really important for the citizens of a nation. Of course, the famous words of Jesus of Nazareth are most appropriate for the citizens of his kingdom. Jesus instructed his disciples by telling a story about a king that went on a journey. He told them to “Occupy Until I Come.” He told them to stop concerning themselves about when the end of the world would come (hello 2012!) or when the world would somehow suddenly have justice (hello “Occupy”). Instead he told them to remain faithful and fruitful in their life and work.
Ps. 90:12 (Message) reads: “Teach us to live wisely and well!”
Before this New Year begins, stop a moment to consider making these three things your priorities for 2012. I’m convinced by doing so, we will avoid the dead-ends of life, such as climbing the corporate ladder, joining a protest movement, or sitting in a religious sanctuary waiting for the return of the king. Instead of measuring our bank accounts or the days until Jesus returns, we can choose to measure what is really important.
1. Be Creative.
Eleanor Roosevelt said it well, “Do one thing everyday that scares you.” Invest the time to do that big project you hoped to do “someday.” I’m not getting any younger. I’ve been around the world several times, but I still have very big dreams. So, this year I recommit to getting some big projects started and some smaller projects accomplished. This year, I recommit to closing the door and shutting myself off from distractions so I may finish my book manuscript and seek to get it published. I also recommit to a radical redesign of our student outreaches. By the end of 2012, I commit to identifying 100 Field Projects for student outreaches doing things like volunteering in orphanages and clinics in China, helping start businesses in the Middle East, and teaching forgiveness in war-torn cities of Africa and Ireland.
What about you? Stop dreaming and start doing. There’s no better time than now.
If you have dreams, or ideas that you think would change the world for the better, write them down.
“And then God answered: “Write this. Write what you see. Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run. This vision-message is a witness pointing to what’s coming. It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait! And it doesn’t lie. If it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It will come right on time.” Habukkuk 2:3 (Message)
2. Enter the Story
The thought of making New Year’s resolutions is a bit annoying. Lose weight? Pay off debt? If you are like me, you can get a bit overwhelmed with the realities of life. Paying bills, family pressures, deadlines to meet, and the barrage of bad news and suffering we read about and see on the nightly news, it’s too much to handle. And yet, this is our reality. It’s a drama playing out in our lives and the lives of our families and neighbors. Some may seek escape from the pain with a diversion. That diversion may start as a harmless hobby and become an obsession, a wall around your heart to protect you from seeing and hearing the suffering all around. Whether you drown your sorrows with a six-pack of Budweiser, smother the pain with another brownie, or resolve to lose the weight, fit in those jeans, and buy that new car, you may have lost something important along the way. You’ve lost your story.
This year I am committing to enter the story more fully, to listen, and pay greater attention to the drama playing out all around me. I recommit to engaging with the grand narrative through prayer.
“Stay alert; be in prayer so you don’t wander into temptation without even knowing you’re in danger. There is a part of you that is eager, ready for anything in God. But there’s another part that’s as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire.” Matt. 26:40b-41
When we are wide awake, we can learn the art of storytelling. I recommit to learning from the stories of the Bible. But I want to learn from the stories playing out on the world’s stage, in my neighborhood, and in my family. I also want to learn from the great fiction writers. Their stories may not be “true,” but it’s “truth.”
3. Enjoy God’s Presence and Listen to His Voice
If you are reading this post, you are likely “connected” to Facebook or Twitter and the expanding blogosphere. I’ve found it tempting to get distracted, to check Facebook before reading the Bible in the morning. True, God can speak to you through a friend’s post. However, you need your time with the Father. In order to share the good news of the Father’s love with a hurting world, you and I need to first enjoy his presence. I recommit to time with my dearest friend, my hope, and my king in 2012. I love his presence.
Though I may experience pressures and fears of failure, and though I may not have a lot of money, I know I have a calling from God to fulfill. He’s my source and my supply. He does not call the qualified; he qualifies the called. The concern for paying bills and raising funds sufficient to accomplish all that God has called me to do may weigh heavy on my, but when I am in his presence there is joy and hope with faith to fulfill all he asks of me.
Whether you are rich or poor, we all have the same precious and practical asset. It isn’t money or even knowledge; it’s time. I read recently that time is the currency of the most successful people in the world. My prayer for you in 2012 is that you really live in the time you have this year, that you really live each day before the face of God.
Oh! Teach us to live well!
Teach us to live wisely and well!
Come back, God—how long do we have to wait?—
and treat your servants with kindness for a change.
Surprise us with love at daybreak;
then we’ll skip and dance all the day long.
Make up for the bad times with some good times;
we’ve seen enough evil to last a lifetime.
Let your servants see what you’re best at—
the ways you rule and bless your children.
And let the loveliness of our Lord, our God, rest on us,
confirming the work that we do.
Oh, yes. Affirm the work that we do!Ps. 90:12-17
- To foster missional partnerships, placing interns to serve field projects worldwide.
- To recruit and place students and staff ready to serve and learn a biblical worldview as a missional strategy worldwide.
- To establish an international coordination office, including guest house, study center, and library.
Watch this video and consider taking one of the Perspectives Courses taking place around the world. I will be teaching in two courses, in Madison, WI and in Elgin, IL. On January 15 at Door Creek Church in Madison, WI, I will be teaching on “Your Kingdom Come” (Lesson 3). And on February 21, I will teach at the Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Elgin, IL on the “Expansion of the World Christian Movement” (Lesson 6).
Watch the Video and go to Perspectives.org to find a class near you.
Interested in partnering with SMC hosting student interns for a Field Project serving the poor?
In order to become a Field Partner with SMC, your organization must be leading (or in partnership with an in-country organization) a Field Project, which will at least:
- Have a history (at least 2 full years) of serving the poor, excluded, and/or vulnerable people for the purpose of alleviating poverty or reducing vulnerability.
- Be registered as a legal entity in your country of operation. (Note: We understand that the Field Host may not qualify. For this reason, we encourage the Field Host to place students with legally registered organizations.)
- Provide opportunities for the intern(s) to practice and/or research components of your Field Project related to the intern’s field of study.
- Provide the intern a weekly schedule, including participation in your community/team practices of worship and intercessory prayer, and community living work duties. The FMI intern will function in the regular schedule as if he/she were a member of the Field Project staff team.
- Be personally available to the intern(s) for advising, including at least a (one-hour) One-on-One interview at regular weekly intervals. You will agree to offer timely and candid feedback on the quantity and quality of the intern’s work.
- Provide a short online evaluation on the intern’s performance at monthly intervals (after every 30 days at your location) and upon completion of the internship term. All hours accumulated by the intern will be signed off by the Field Project Internship host supervisor.
What SMC Offers:
- We offer you the widest possible participation in the internship program decision-making. We want you to actively engage in the process. We agree to actively recruit qualified student interns on your behalf if you allow us to post your Field Project opportunity on the SMC web site and at various mobilization and recruiting events throughout 2012 and 2013.
- With your help, we are creating a registry of 100 Field Projects for university student internships to be displayed at YWAM International’s URBANA 2012 Exhibit. Registration as a Host for student interns is just $50 USD until June 1, 2012. After that date, the fee will be $100 USD.
At the recent Campus Ministry South Asia Leaders meeting Peter Moon was named CMSA director.
The CMSA team meetings were met with a strong unity and excitement . All came to agree to CMSA ‘Vision 725′. The 725 stands for the universities in South Asia.
Teaching Teachers Forgiveness Education in Liberia
In partnership with Dr. Robert Enright, licensed psychologist and professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the International Forgiveness Institute, Inc., and Grace Network, the Student Mobilization Centre is seeking students and volunteers to help teach Enright’s Forgiveness Education curriculum to primary school teachers in Liberia.
Despite fourteen years of civil war, the future of Liberia is not without hope. The children of Liberia are the future. What is desperately needed in Liberia right now?
Liberian pastor Josiah T. Cheapoo, Sr., President of Grace Network, and Norm Bucholtz have a plan. Josiah and Norm are leading this two week outreach in January 2012. And Norm has 5 years experience teaching forgiveness education. Last January 2011, Josiah and Norm went to Liberia to teach this extraordinary curriculum. As a result, they have been invited to teach forgiveness education in every school in the country, both public and religious schools.
To complete this challenge, we need to teach teachers who will teach both children and other teachers. This strategic plan will begin with this first team of up to ten participants teaching teachers in Gbamga, Liberia.
Who should apply?
Education, Social Work, Psychology, and Youth Workers and students.
If you know someone that may be interested, please use our social networking links (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) at the top of this email notice. Thank you!
Purpose of our Missions and History Book-reading group:
To learn more through reading books about missions, past and present, from a Christian theological perspective. And that learning is incomplete until it is operative in our changed behavior (motivating actions, decisions); learning is more properly and biblically understood to be discipleship. That learning, that discipleship, must become an integral part of the fabric of our dispositions, what Aristotle and Aquinas called habits. We are forming a community of missional learners, whose rhythms of life and ministries are bringing change to our wider community, including the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
We meet in Madison, Wisconsin (though some are now also meeting with us online). We currently meet in the offices of Youth With A Mission’s PHOS House on the corner of Langdon St. and Frances St. adjacent to the University of Wisconsin Campus.
This monthly book discussion group began in the summer of 2006. Since then we have read and discussed over 40 volumes. On occasion the authors of the books have honored us with a presentation of their book. For a complete listing of the books we have read, visit our Missions and History Book Reader’s Blog.
You are not required to read all the books to participate. This group is ideal for anyone, particularly christian leaders desiring to learn in a small community of fellow readers. Students, business people, government officials, pastors, and faculty are all welcome.
Post a comment with a request to attend our next meeting. Even if you cannot attend, we’ll add you to our list and keep you posted on the next gathering.
This is from a short talk at the recent Missional Learning Commons event in Chicagoland:
Though part of a “warm” fellowship, many Christians have an internal war and their secret prayer is “please God, do not send me to hell.” Christian children often wake in the morning worried that the rapture had already happened and that they were “left behind.”
The predominant experience for too many is fear, which instead of producing spiritual growth results in a cycle of fatigue and burnout. Then depression.
Many who graduate from college, even Christian schools, end up as atheists. In the past, perhaps after a few years, they come back to faith, often to bring “stability” to their young families. However, most in recent years are not returning.
The young man who reported on this experience at the MLC meeting realized he was never discipled. Thankfully, he was liberated into an intentional process of learning, but he had to first recognize that he could not do the basic things of a vital Christian life. He did not truly know the Lord. He had much to unlearn as well as much to learn.
How about you? Does the experience of true transformation only happen after being pushed to a place of weakness? When did you learn to hear God’s voice? Have you learned to hear the voice of the Spirit?
I believe the most transformation comes when we are in obedience to what we know is God’s desire; it may be even in the simplest things, like reading the bible. Discipling others and being discipled in accountability is a process of obedience and immitation. That is how we learn to do the basics (following the example of others.)
As we form Missional Communities in formal and non-formal settings, we must consider the importance of the culture of our own formation.
These are process questions from Mike Breen at the MLC event:
As we are becoming disciples with the life-style of making disciples, we must understand that belief is more caught than taught.
- What is the culture that formed your early Christian experience?
- What worldview, what language and practices, formed you?
- Where and what is the formative culture of your life?
- How has it influenced the forming of your faith?
Let’s hear from you. Feel free to respond.
May God bless you with discomfortAt easy answers, half-truths, superficial living and superficial relationships,So that you may live deep within your heart.May God bless you with angerAt injustice, oppression and exploitation of people,So that you may work for justice, freedom and peace with the Prince of Peace.May God bless you with tearsTo shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger and war,So that you may reach out your hand to comfort themAnd turn their pain into joy.And may God bless you with just enough foolishnessTo believe that you can make a difference in the worldSo that you can do what others claim cannot be doneTo bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor and needy.Amen – Author Unknown
The day the world changed for me was like any other. I was eleven, riding alone with my dad in our Pontiac Bonneville 2-door. We were on our way to the barber on a sunny Wisconsin saturday afternoon in 1969. Dad parked downtown, turned the key, and the engine went silent. Then, looking straight ahead at the parked vehicle in front of us, he said these few words: “Your mother is leaving.”
I was only a child, but I could hear the pain in his voice. I do not blame my Mom or my Dad. I learned over time that both of them were just kids that grew up and had kids. They divorced. At the time, it felt like the end of the world.
The world around us is changing. Change often comes suddenly, like a gut-check. For many, change comes when a loved one dies unexpectedly. For others, it’s the loss of a job, changing a home town or school.
Change can shake us to the core, making us feel powerless, wondering if anything will ever return to normal. There’s something change does NOT do, however. Change cannot necessarily rouse us from our slumber or cause us to grow up out of our immaturity.
Yes, we all face dramatic personal shakings. However, too many continue to live in denial, never changing themselves. They live as though somehow everything is going to get better, like it was before, if they just hope for it. Or they spend their lives blaming others, think OccupyWallStreet, and seeking a way to hang their troubles, like a Scarlet Letter, on someone else.
The shakings that happen in life will not necessarily change you, unless you allow yourself to be stirred deeply at the core of your being. Change, real change, is not what happens TO us, it is what happens when we choose to do FOR others.
Change does not come when we complain that the world has gone wrong; change comes when we become world changers.
So deep personal change must occur, in spite of all the changes that happen in our surroundings. If we fail to allow our hearts to be stirred, choosing to change from the inside out, we will not have a positive influence in a rapidly changing world. And change is happening like never before.
Few people in history have ever lived through the kind of dramatic global and cultural change taking place during our lifetime. Jesus of Nazareth announced major change for the Israelites; he told them their Temple, the center of their culture, was going to be destroyed. They could not accept it; and they sent him to the brutal public and painful death of crucifixion. The Temple was destroyed, and everything changed. But too few living in Israel understood the importance of the changes taking place. Too few allowed their hearts to be stirred.
Jesus warned that they should “flee to the mountains”, but too many held out to protect their precious Temple, even fighting each other when the Romans surrounded the city just before they burned the Temple to the ground. After the destruction and the fire ended, Roman soldiers entered the temple to harvest the gold much of which had melted and seeped between the stones in the floor. Yes, as Jesus foretold, “not one stone” was left unturned. The city of Jerusalem could not be recognized after the destruction. People could not imagine anyone living there. Change.
It appears today that the very fabric of modern society is collapsing. Have the foundations been destroyed? If so, what can be done?
When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Psalm 11:3
This video outlines the changes occurring today, especially how they relate to the church. Watch it and let us know what you think.
Since the summer of 2006 a group of friends in Madison, Wisconsin have met monthly to discuss books we have read related to Missions and History. Recently we decided to create a blog to list the books we have read and make comment on them. The initial work of posting all the books, over 40 in all, is now accomplished. As time allows we will post comments about each of the books. Take a look and consider reading one or more of them. I highly recommend everyone of them for anyone interested in university missions.
John Henry, SMC International Leader
In this short post, I invite you to think a bit about this quote from a book I read by Lesslie Newbigin, The Open Secret:
“Significant advances of the church have not been the result
of our own decisions about the mobilizing and allocating of resources…The significant advances in my experience have come through happenings of which the story of Peter and Cornelius is a paradigm, in ways of which we have no advance knowledge. God opens the heart of a man or woman in the gospel. The messenger (the ‘angel’ of Acts 10:3) may be a stranger, a preacher, a piece of Scripture, a dream, an answered prayer, or a deep experience of joy or
sorrow, of danger or deliverance. It was not part of any missionary ‘strategy’ devised by the church. It was the free and sovereign deed of God, who goes before the church…this mission is not ours but God’s.” (1995:64)
In this respect, we can see that significant missionary advance is not primarily a human enterprise. We should be fully and actively involved in missions. However, we must reorient our posture, because it is not God’s Church that has a mission. Instead, it is God’s Mission that has a Church.
Every church community must recognize the Lord Jesus, not merely for their own salvation and acceptance, but for their orders and instructions in His Mission to all people.
If we properly understand our Identity as “members” of the Church, we will then fully participate in our Responsibilty in Christ’s Mission.
What Happened in San Francisco at the SMC Consultation Sept. 14 & 15, 2011?
A brief summary report by John Henry.
A big “Thank You” to Tim and Karol Svoboda and the team at YWAM San Francisco for extending their gracious hospitality in the Gold Rush City and the Tenderloin District of San Francisco. Thanks especially to Karol who was so engaged in hosting us that she rarely sat down, let alone sat in on our meetings. Bless you!
I must apologize to everyone for the delay in writing this summary report on our consultation. Thank you all for coming and participating. For me, the meetings and conversations kindled new and growing friendships. I must admit I did not keep very good record of all that was said. I invite you to pass along your notes if you can complement what you see here. In any case, I came away with an expanding vision and a deepening sense of the call of God to the universities, especially as they relate to the cities.
Exegeting the City and the University – Tim Svoboda
Tim, you gave us an excellent picture of the contrasts, the “Geek”/Silicon Valley with its algorithms on one side and the artists/wealth and wine community on the opposite side of you. You helped us feel the tensions between Berekley, and its Prophetic voice, and San Francisco, with its extending of Mercy without boundaries, which may have a tendency toward anarchy. I wish we could have stayed longer to experience the small, organic church life, the marina, and the multi-lingual mosaic of peoples, the Vietnamese, Yemmeni, Cambodian, and Afghani, etc.
As I was departing the city at the end of our consultation, I was struck by the story of William Taylor, the Methodist preacher, who in the 1850′s wrote the book, “Seven Years of Street Preaching” and how hundreds would come hear him sing on the streets and then preach. Though his church is now a law college, I am also moved by the continuing story of how a Hastings Law College student, Randy Shaw, applied his studies to reality in the Tenderloin. The start reality of the story is both at your front door and inside the Ellis room where institutionalized poverty and homelessness now costs over 1 billion, with several non-profits enriching themselves off government system.
Yes, I was struck by the thought that God may intend for the Bay Area to be ground zero and the epicenter of the next major move of missions and the transformation of a Church caught up in the Fourth Wave of Missions. I was struck with the thought that it may all begin with students, prepared to act “Because Justice Matters” and collaborate, because they are equipped with tools unlike any previous generation. Perhaps, God in his mercy is calling for a new generation of followers to get their own “better cut of steak,” like NYC Tenderloin’s “Clever or Cleaver” Al, without the extortion and beatings, of course.
Perhaps God is calling for a new engaged church community, those Donald McGavran would say are not “birds of the same feather” and do not “tend to flock together.” The newly engaged church with a broad vision for the city must include students in university, especially the vastly different demographic of today’s universities. (i.e. Berkeley Enrollment: African American 3.4%; Asian American 45.7%; Latino 11.5%; White 31.7%)
Amid the wasteland of broken dreams where 11,000 people live in SRO’s and where police are social workers, God still offers hope and a future. The YWAM community and the Ellis room is not only a peaceful place to drop in: it’s also a peaceful place for guests. The Ellis room is a beautiful “third-space” between the streets and a 10×10 over-priced single, where conversations can lead to relationships and relationships can lead to prayer.
The Ellis room and the ministries of YWAM San Francisco are ripe with opportunities for university students like Randy Shaw. However, I believe God may be calling a different generation of Christ followers to leave the lecture halls of universities to enter a live-learn laboratory of urban life. Yes, the city is a funnel for 360 discipleship, your 1 year program in 4 phases of 3 months each. However, there are many more learning-serving internship experiences that may be also be honored in academic institutions, as Doug Batson so adroitly told.
I came away from our meetings with some action items and some books to read. Among them, I am committed to read The University and the City (1988). Tim, you are modeling the way by asking the right questions to exegete the city. And you began a process I will continue when you began to exegete the university.
Theology of Evangelism & Place
Tim, you and Karol and your team are helping provide a “Theology of Evangelism and Place”, which will be most readily adopted by university students. Church folk, even YWAMers, may be a little slow to see and hear, smell and taste, the gut level “pull” of the gospel to the city. However, students will need far less convincing; they will respond as you (and we) present a gospel big enough for the city, living as stakeholders and adding value to the city.
What is missing in university community? Yes, they are transient neighborhoods.
There are few automobiles, particularly on campus. Everything is roughly in walking distance. The are institutionalized young adult free agents cloistered in a tightly defined neighborhood. The contrast of the diverse typically cloistered university to the diverse un-cloistered urban community must be examined. We must come to grips with the fact that we are, most of us, not insiders; we are outsiders. As with any missions endeavor, there are implications and consequences for the missionary. Tim, you said it well: “If you are an insider, it’s because you are a resident and have a theology of place.”
And then you asked, “How does a city transforms a university?” and, inversely, “How does a university transforms a city?” Hmmmm….Good questions. “The world is the domain of the university, not just the city,” you added. Yes, in the origins, the university would pick up and move if they did not receive the benefit of the city. However, the earliest prototypes of universities were on the frontiers where the need was great. Today’s urban centers are areas of incredible need, including the spheres transportation (GO), communications (PREACH), and cultures (ALL NATIONS).
What I saw in San Francisco are myriads of opportunities for students in the Bay Area’s 200 colleges/universities looking for ways to apply their studies to reality. Everything from urban agriculture and art to law and economic development, from health and beauty to medicine and social work, every field of study has application in the city. There’s opportunity to study and serve as we all exegete the city, including issues related to the Poor, Suicide, Church, Media, Family, Prisoners, Muslims, Government, Business, Gutter Punks, Homeless, Drug Addicts, Migrant workers, Elderly, Street Kids, Handicapped, Arts, Education, Prostitutes, Sports, Middle Class, Unemployed, and Hindus.
Opportunities for University Students
I came away with some important words ringing in my ears, “The weakness in YWAM is the need for a central database.” That statement is something I have been giving a lot of thought to. How can we connect students in universities outside of YWAM with the myriad of opportunities for student internships/outreaches both at YWAM ministry locations and at partner organizations around the world? I have been working furiously to answer that call through our new web site and Salesforce.com cloud-based database. The programming I am doing (way over my head, so I hope to get some expert help from Kyle and Angie) is linking many-to-many applicants-to-projects, all though a web-based applications and approval system. To see the new SMC web site (embedded applications not all operating yet), go to http://www.studentmobilizationcentre.com.
Tim mentioned another book, Salt & Light, about Knoxville, TN and how partnerships have formed across the entire city. This approach, city leaders setting the stage for collaboration, is necessary to begin the mobilization of students into city projects. What kind of partnerships can be created for internships? One of the partners can be the university or college. For example, Grand Canyon College wants to plug their students into internships. Their goal: “Break their hearts for the city.” Another example: Westmont Urban College, which offers internships in city, and their professors visit YWAM. The city is divided up according to majors, partners, etc.
For SMC’s Field Ministry Internships (FMI) teams, students participate in five phases, including:
- Orientation (mini-DTS type; one-week),
- Enculturation (history of project, leaders and cultural background),
- Assessment (listening, observing, and interviewing while serving the project),
- Ministry (serving the project while writing a research paper or proposal for ministry related to the students’ field of studies), and
- Debriefing (final 3 days of reporting and celebrating). – initial times
Note that FMI students are not experts. They serve as learners, with the accompanying vulnerability. In so doing, the students observe, listen, and interview leaders and clients of a project in order to discern, while on the ground serving, how their field of study may best be offered as a research or proposal for an extended ministry project. The posture of a learner is fundamental to FMI. YWAMers who work with FMI student teams are few and far between, however this kind of ministry project with students could help us “get YWAM out of YWAM.”
How to Mobilize a New SVM – Doug Batson
Doug Batson, Human Geographer with US Gov. DOD, and Analyst for Turkic Speaking World spoke about adult continuing education, which he did mostly while with the Department of Defense DOD. Doug notes that missionaries (and missionary candidates currently in high school) are a traveling constituency, like the thousands of soldiers and family members he has helped to earn college credit. Doug suggests an approach to education that examines and addresses global needs, which thereby can fuel a new Student Volunteer Movement. What would that look like…tens of thousands from North America every year? Doug writes:
“Today, millions of 18-23 year olds pursue an increasingly costly campus-based undergradaute education with decreasing relevance to globalized business environments and their own life goals. Many believers would rather choose the mission field as a place of Christian service, learning, and building relationships, if only that were a valid option. Good news! With the right counsel, it is a very valid option! Via exams and portfolio assessments (not on-line courses), young adults can serve Christ cross-culturally and, as a by-product, earn a B.A. degree from a State University in the same 4-5 years, and for the same $40,000-$50,000 charged by traditional institutions! How? Through assessments of relevant learning acquired from missions fields: foreign languages, cross-cultural communication, comparative religion, social sciences, administration and leadership.”
Why pursue such a radically different education path?
- Offer the first fruits of one’s life to make Christ known where He is not
- Test one’s God-given gifts and talents in real-world environments
- Avoid student loan debt
- Become a local church missions catalyst and mobilizer—before age 30
- Choose graduate education based on reflections from a purposeful personal journey
Students may desire to go, but they are too often caught in debt trap, and therefore, despite their best intentions, often do not get involved in missions. There are currently 1,000,000 students in North American colleges every year. If 10% are evangelical enough to desire Christian service, then that’s quite a few candidates for missions mobilization!
Doug suggests a plan to move these missionary candidates from institutional structures of universities to a Christian missional community, with options to gain academic credit, saving thousands of dollars, through testing. Some institutions will recognize genuine learning and offer transcripts with minimal expense. Should we present an alternative to earnest missionary candidates currently in high school? Should we help them save 4-5 years, and $40 to $50 thousand dollars for education and career training? For many parents and many forward thinking high school students, this will be a very attractive option.
Goal: Minimize Tuition cost and residency.
Doug listed three regionally accredited secular state colleges/universities that require have no residency requirement:
- Excelsior.edu – part of SUNY system
- Thomas Edison State College – tesc.edu
- Charter Oak State College in CT
What would it look like ON a university campus?
Imagine a missional community of students with a few students taking courses, but with no intention of graduating. Those students could graduate with far less expense and far less time from Excelsior.
The plan would be different for every student, so making this work will require some basic information accessed perhaps by a web site and a deeper consulting service for those needed additional help. Here’s an example of College Level Examinations that Doug says every high school student could do…
- Analysis and Interpretation of Literature. (6 semester hours.)
- American Lit. (6 semester hours.)
- British Lit. (6 semester hours.)
- Gen’l Humanities (6 semester hours.)
- UNC challenge exams. (pay $150 for proctor) NT & OT as Lit. 3 semester hours.
What kind of savings would this mean for a student/family? For 30 semester hours, it’s $10,000 = One year of college credits.
Doug suggests a supportive missional learning community could help prepare students for these exams.
Doug is a living example of this method of gaining credit. He has a Ph.D. and he’s never been a resident. Most all of his credits were gained through testing. He got 36 hours credit, saving $12,000, by taking German language tests while a soldier in Germany. He didn’t get German degree, but he said he didn’t need it. Then he took the GRE Subject Test – Aptitude predictor in Grad School, testing content knowledge of a full grad degree. He asked Excelsior.com: “What if I took a GRE Subject Test and got a top half score? Would you give me degree?” They answered: “YES. We’ll give you 30 sem. hrs and a degree.” He did it all for just $89.
Doug says this is a matter of educational justice. The University of the Nations does not have regional accreditation, but has excellent training. He asks: “Why shouldn’t UofN students be recognized for their knowledge of the subjects?”
Consultation Summary: Take Away Action Items
Most participated in our wrap up session, listing take away actions on PostIt Notes. That list is below. Thank you again for praying and participating in this important gathering in San Francisco. I believe God has already formed new friendships. I trust the fruit of our time will be new partnerships and a focused mobilization of university students.
The following is a summary of all action items:
- Continue study of Worldview/cultural studies.
- Spend more specific prayer time for campus-on campus.
- Read Salt & Light book re: Knoxville, TN
- Read University & the City book.
- Be a servant-hearted minister to current campus ministries.
- Be more intentional about prayer.
- Write a blog for student audience.
- Pioneer house of worship to strengthen and encourage campus ministries.
- Focus our outreach teams around prayer.
- Create a summer opportunity to immerse students in city-wide evangelism locally and overseas.
- Develop closer working with international bases for partnership, especially in Latin America (Mexico).
- Encourage campus groups in strengths to develop love of place and to engage.
- Develop alongside to provide symbiosis at UC Berkeley & YWAM
- Networking between campuses through quarterly combined prayer meetings.
- Evangelism & Service workshops held off campus in central location (maybe YWAM SF?) and/or Niko?
- Join in meetings of campus ministries alliance
- Participate in campus ministry activities whenever possible
- Survey: Inventory what’s present on campus (CM’s, service orgs, student orgs) What does each do? What are the gaps?
- Create a tool to assess campus issues and various projects
- Create database of projects
- Create a web-based platform to highlight and help students to find overseas ministry opportunities.
- Challenge students to take language courses to gain long-term affinity with that people group.
- Perspectives Course was originally designed for secular campuses, but gravitated to churches. Praying for it to return to campus, with result of sharing Christ.
- Presence on Campus; regular place, meetings, and exegetes campus.
- Present models for communities of faith, with best practiced on web site. Restart more on UW campus.
- Start a UDTS
- Continue to pray for for the start of a YWAM engagement at Berkeley
- Launch DTS with focus on releasing students to support and strengthen ministry outreaches.
- Visit YWAM bases with university focus.
- Develop relationship with regionally close based (Tyler, CSprings, Denver)
- Connect base leaders to vision through regular SMC updates
- Christians and mission orgs= student-led and missionary mobilized prayer mtgs. & missionaries equipping supporting students in leadership& students leading other students on mission trips= Missional generation of influence.
- Connecting students & Professionals
- Have a network of Christian professionals who would mentor/be available for students looking to go into that field. E.g. Med students connecting with Christian doctor once a month?
- Investigate running perspectives intensive Boise In mendecino (w/college credit)
- Maintain contact with this group of direction seekers: mutual prayer, shared resources.
- Adopt-A-People group incorporated into campus ministry. Many of us have been processing deeply the implications of a fourth wave of missions, which we believe will include a flourishing of missional communities, a fresh movement of church planting with missional focus. Our goal is to ride this wave of change by fostering missional communities in university settings. We believe these missional communities will be very strategic if they work in collaboration with global missions, leveraging the resources of universities and NGO’s, and churches of all kinds.
What do you think is lacking in a university education?
Could it be we need a fresh vision of education? We have been discussing the book Desiring the Kingdom by James Smith.
In his book, Smith has outlined an “anthropology of desire”, which may shake up your thinking about education, culture, institutions, spheres of society, and the discipleship of nations.
I promised a few questions in this final post about the book. I will in just a moment. First, I want to share a bit of my perspective as i read this book.
My focus and my interest in reading the book is to think through how Smith’s message relates to the call of God and the living witness of the gospel of God’s kingdom in every sphere of society in every culture. Education, most especially the university, is at the heart of this discussion.
Calling infers that human persons are responsive and responsible. Smith writes that we are “dynamic beings” and “desiring arrows” aimed at something ultimate, which in turn reflects the kind of people we desire to become. In my view, God’s voice, his calling, is never “heard” or responded to by anyone who does not desire God’s kingdom, his vision of human flourishing.
In my view, calling is meaningless if it is not responded to. And calling is not directed and fulfilled merely as individuals. We are, all of us, embedded in social relationships and institutions. Therefore calling is both vertical, directed in response to God, and horizontal, engaging our world and all our personal, social, political, and material relationships.
This is why Smith’s book is so important. He writes,
“Through practices, the self is shaped by, tethered to, and embodied in concrete social institutions.”
Therefore, there are no truly private practices; our hearts are constantly being formed by others, and the institutions we create, and in which we participate, especially our educational institutions.
In other words, culture is formed through practices, shaped by desire for a kingdom. Culture is more a verb than it is a noun. Smith writes, “Culture is not ‘out there’; it’s what we do.”
Institutions are cultivated through practices by a people seeking to address human needs, wants, and desires. At the most basic level, people have sought to meet bodily needs for provision and protection. At a higher level, people have sought to order their cravings for intimacy and the meaning of their lives. The result is our cultural institutions.
Cultural institutions have systemic power which gives them an influence that is far beyond what any individual may do to change it. On the other hand, cultural institutions possess a similar “hope for a future”, a similar telos, to that of individuals.
The main difference, however, is that our cultural institutions powerfully promote practices to point the desires of multitudes, and generations of people, toward certain ends, a certain vision of the good life. This “vision” is inscribed into the institution itself.
That specific configuration of cultural practices, which become our cultural institutions, function as “liturgies”, in Smith’s words. Those cultural liturgies are pedagogies, or methods of instruction, teaching people an (ultimate) desire, a desire for a kingdom. Smith suggests, “We need to ‘read’ these institutions and practices in order to discern the telos (future) at which they’re aimed.
So, rather than concern ourselves solely with ideas or beliefs bandied about in the universities, we ought rather to be discerning to what ends they are seeking to direct our love. We need to discern an array of “liturgies” that function as pedagogies of desire.
Okay, now on to the questions I promised. If our practices can become powerful cultural liturgies, shaping institutions and cultures, I suggest we take Smith’s (somewhat revised) “Practices Audit”:
1. What habits shape your actions and attitude?
2. What does your time look like? How much time is spent on what?
3. What is your most important ritual? Is it toward God’s kingdom or not?
4. What is most potent practice in university?
5. Do you have any “thin” habits that might really be “thick”?
6. Is worship a thick habit? How?
7. What competes for worship in your life?
Take some time to reflect on these questions, and let me know you did.
To close, here’s a great quote summing up Smith’s book: (it refers to a bible text, 2 Pe. 1, which I often quote):
“The end of learning is love; the path of discipleship is romantic.”
Rituals are among several ways we picture and practice our ideals, our vision of a kingdom with human flourishing. For example, the marriage ceremony is the ideal of marriage. The bride is in white, representing purity, and celebrated for her surrendered devotion to one man. The groom is in tuxedo, honoring the bride with his commitment to love and cherish one woman.
In a few months the two will be settling into married life, with daily chores, and other habits. Some habits are not bad at first. However they can grow in their influence, often with ill effects on cherished institutions like marriage. Shopping at the mall or jockeying a recliner in sweats for weekend football games are not harmful if we are attentive to their potentially destructive power.
In his book, Desiring the Kingdom, James Smith outlines how over time our rituals, especially our most cherished practices, help train our desires. Rituals mold and shape our worldview, our precognition of the world. Our daily motions and rhythms, our embodied routines, train our minds and hearts so that we develop habits. Habits are like attitudinal reflexes; they make us tend to act in certain ways toward certain ends.
For example, most of us use a keyboard pretty regularly. So, where is “d” key. Do you know? Not so easy to say where it is, is it? But, your hands “know”, don’t they? How? By practice. rituals, routines, and exercises. It’s not reasoned thought that tells you where to find the “d” key.
Philosopher-scientist Blaise Pascal writes, “The heart has reasons of which reason knows nothing.”
There are different levels of habits according to Smith: thin and thick.
The thin habits are mundane, like brushing teeth; they are the instrumental things we do. Thin habits do not touch our identity, or our fundamental desire, our love.
Thick habits are meaningful, significant to identity. They are representative of our core values. Often, they are religious habits.
Cultural anthropologist Charles Taylor emphasizes that we understand before we “know”. And we love before we know. Ancient Christian ascetic tradition had the axiom: “Desire forms knowledge.”
So James Smith proposes: “We must shape desire in order to know.”
He continues: “What we do (practice) is intimately linked to what we desire (love), so what we do determines whether, how, and what we can know.”
Maximus the Confessor in One Hundred Chapters of Love, writes about the key to directing and increasing one’s desire for God; it’s in the acquisition of virtues.
How are Christian virtues acquired? Through concrete practices like confession, communion, prayer, service, etc.
According to research by Bargh & Chartrand, “the development of most acquired forms of automaticity (habits/virtues/skills) depends on the frequent and consistent pairing of internal responses with external events..over time, conscious choice drops out as it is not needed.”
In my final post on this book, I will ask several questions to help us think through the implications for our lives, particularly as habits and “cultural liturgies” relate to Christ’s mission. Of course, for those of us in university life, the implications are culture forming. Look for that final post very soon.
The Student Mobilization Centre is a centre of the University of the Nations, a ministry of Youth With A Mission. The SMC is not a local ministry; we are an international network of YWAM staff fostering the emergence of a new movement of university students serving Christ’s Great Commission through their life-work and calling.
Through our ministries, university students are challenged to lead the next major wave of collaborative missions by partnering with global projects with holistic witness in every arena of society and major field of studies. In addition, we are affirming and assisting the emergence of student missional communities in universities worldwide.
To recruit, equip, and place students ready to serve and learn cross-culturally.
We Gather - Students & Leaders through Consultations, Events, and Projects.
We Train - Developing curriculum through contextual research, and conducting seminars and schools.
We Send - Mobilize students into service projects according to their field of studies and the spheres of society. Our short-term programs, while bolstering long-term projects, serve the students as they discern their calling.
We Network - Cultivating missional collaboration in and around university communities for the purpose of mobilization of an emerging generation of student volunteers serving Christ’s Great Commission.
Immediate SMC Goals
- We will host Passion Points Conferences: 3-day events in 2013.
- We will host Consultations in Australia, Europe and Africa – By Sept. 2012.
Train: We will post Best Practices and Curriculum Resources for all our SMC Programs and Courses on web site by Mar. 2012
Send: We will send hundreds of Field Ministry Interns (FMI) by Jan. 2013
- Redesigning to attract non-christians
- Tie internships to UDTS outreaches
- Focus FMI for Thematic, Passion Points, Causes, and Projects in Society
- International & year-long projects: Megacities/Africa
- We will unveil a new Web-based Project Development Registration Process for Hosting FMI – By Jan. 2012
- Develop new Strategic Alliances/International Partners (Call2All-Students, UofN Colleges, YWAM CMI, Christian Colleges, Churches, National & International Student Organizations, IJM, etc.)
In addition, the new SMC Web Site will provide a collaborative information gateway for strategic networking.
The SMC offers student organizations and churches access to a missions networking centre where credit card payments, donations and field support can be channeled to mission projects globally. The SMC is providing a new framework for student groups and campus churches to cooperate with YWAM and other global partners and nongovernmental organizations.
The SMC represents a global Kingdom community for the emerging student missions movement. Our goal is to provide the arena—the forum—where students who are embracing a missional life-style and life-work can learn from one another.
John Henry – SMC International Leader
Hospitality has taken on fresh meaning to me lately. I’ll explain.
I understood hospitality to be mainly “friendship with the stranger,” and NOT primarily how to set your table to impress your dinner guests. Welcoming strangers, radical as that view seemed, isn’t broad enough.
Recently, while doing some research on church eldership, the word hospitality emerged again. I thought a practical, personal, and local expression of hospitality helps us engage with Christ’s mission. It does and it should. However, it should not be limited to a ministry of elders.
Of course, Paul’s instructions regarding elder qualification, at first glance, is rather unremarkable: “Don’t get drunk.” I’m pretty sure that didn’t mean everyone else should get drunk.
The elder, besides being “apt to teach,” must be hospitable. Certainly it means elders should be friends to strangers, including strangers from distant cultures, as part of Christ’s mission. Perhaps the broader meaning is given if we drop a letter, “r”. It’s not merely welcoming the stranger; it’s welcoming the strange.
Hospitality has been reduced in modern times; it’s about folding napkins and making table decorations. The original meaning of hospitality is much broader, tied to Christ’s mission.
That little “r”
The challenge to my missional view of hospitality is that even “friendship with strangers” is too narrow a definition. Drop the “r” and you get “friend of the strange.”
Our modern definitions of biblical terms tend toward reduction, therefore “Mission” has been reduced to reaching every individual from every nation. Sounds like a broad definition, doesn’t it? However, reducing the kingdom message of Jesus to individual decisions has contributed to a church of spectators and a society that demands their rights at the expense of others. As a result of the modern interpretation of mission, the modern church formation and leadership has separated out the missionary to go do missions elsewhere, not inside the church structure or the culture in which that church has settled.
Paul was not a modernist. What Paul instructed Timothy and Titus, and the members of the early church, was a Missional meaning to hospitality, that elders were to welcome the “strange.”
Certainly, the gospel and the message of the kingdom of God is a “strange” message; it’s “foolishness to the Greeks” and a “rock of offense to the Jews.” God’s message is fresh bread from heaven; we’re called to live by every word that proceeds from God.
That message from God will tend to be “strange,” shaking us out of our complacency and our tendency to settle into the surrounding culture, protecting our position, our power, and our privilege gained.
Hospitality is a vital part of leadership of a church community because an elder must be careful to listen for the word from the Lord, even though strange to the ear or delivered through a strange means. The message may come through a prophetic word, a tongue to be interpreted or a vision of something like a “sheet with animals”.
The elder must be hospitable, protecting the freedom in the Spirit for anyone to bring a word and not be hindered, including women and little children. The elders must welcome that strange word and test it carefully as a community, always ready for that teachable moment led the Spirit of God.
Now, the table is set. This is hospitality. Enjoy the feast!
What “mechanism” could be employed to motivate them and help them govern their way of life, decisions, actions, pursuits, and relationships?
The answer simply is this: Habits.
Habits are what we ultimately value most deeply. Habits are love’s fulcrum, according to James Smith in his book Desiring the Kingdom. The fulcrum is the support on which the levers of our lives rest. Habits serve us or hurt us.
Desire for a vision must motivate our actions and our decisions by becoming an integral part of the fabric of our heart’s dispositions, those precognitive tendencies, which Aristotle and Aquinas called habits.
Our love is predisposed to be aimed in certain directions, which over time and practice become habits.
Good habits are virtues; bad are vices. We learn habits. They are not innate, not biological, but they are a kind of second nature, intricately woven into the entirety of our being.
Habits are like default, quasi-automatic dispositions, the product of long development and formation. Habits become our hard wiring; the way we function without reflection or cognition. Habits tend to fly under the radar.
Habits are the fulcrum of desire, the hinge that turns our heart.
How are habits are formed?
This is why we must have a theology of embodiment. We must understand that we are affective, desiring animals, and embodied creatures.
Alongside a theology of embodiment, we need to present messages that will capture hearts, shock us at our gut, shock us out of familiarity, touch our center of gravity and identity, and our embodiment. The most effective discipleship, therefore, is the kind that sends us out of the classroom or the church building and into the world.
We feel our way more than we think our way through the world, because worldview is more imagination than intellect. Imagination runs off the fuel of images that touch our senses.
The result of a “come, follow me” discipleship approach is a more holistic, less dualistic picture of the world and of humanity. We learn through our gut; we are embodied.
As it turns out, I will offer two more posts: One to summarize the importance of what James Smith’s book, Desiring the Kingdom.calls Cultural Liturgies, and the Final post, a personal inventory questionnaire to help you make application.
When we have a distorted vision of the kingdom, the kingdom where the good king Jesus is not the supreme leader, we are deceived. Sadly, though we are created in the image of a God of love, our love can be misdirected. The shape of God’s kingdom is contested. Different stories are generated from different kinds of people, citizens of rival kings.
We established earlier that we are not primarily thinking beings. At core, we are loving beings. Decartes, the French mathematician and philosopher offered a notion to help a divided and skeptical world a way forward. His philosophical notion, “I Think, therefore I Am”, centered and founded modern philosophy on human rationality. The problem is this: We are too easily deceived. Perhaps Cartesian philosophy is best understood as “I’m deceived, therefore I am.”
Yes, any vision of hope and a future that does not have at the center a faith-filled vision of Jesus Christ, our supreme God and king, the ultimate lover who demonstrated his love through the ultimate suffering at the cross, anything less is a distortion, a delusion, a deception. Our vision of hope for the future must be centered on the One who created us and loves us supremely. He holds the future.
So then, how can we present a picture of the good life, a vision of human flourishing, to students and university communities?
How can we “read” the different configurations and distortions of kingdom which is assumed by and often enforced by different cultural institutions and narratives?
How does love get aimed in different directions?
Most importantly, how can we assist a generation of students to aim their love at Christ and his kingdom?
Or rather, how is a vision of a good life in Christ’s kingdom best presented?
Do we use arguments or propositions?
How does a vision for Christ and his kingdom get infused in the hearts of students and faculty?
What “mechanism” could be employed to motivate them and help them govern their way of life, decisions, actions, pursuits, and relationships?
The.answer: the gut, the kardia, the heart.
I will wrap up this series by outlining how to do that in my next post.
Because we are created in the image of God, we are compelled by love to a vision of a kingdom. How? We begin to pursue the goods, the practices, and aspects of a vision of human flourishing which are painted in our imaginations by alluring pictures. The vision of a kingdom, and accompanying components, seep into our being, our subconscious and our gut, our hearts. That is when the compelling vision begins to pull us, to govern and to shape our decisions, actions, and habits.
We become a people who mimic, emulate, and reflect a particular vision formed by desire.
So, as James Smith’s book Desiring the Kingdom argues, our ultimate decisions come from desire, not thinking. To be human is to desire a “kingdom”.
Every human being posseses some version of the kingdom. We posses a vision with an aim, a quest. And we are all groping, feeling our way to a future, a dream of utopia, a vision of human flourishing.
This deep vision is what pulls us up out of bed in the morning. We put on our armor and go out on our quest every day, whether we are a student, a baker, or a candlestick maker.
We are all “lovers”, but we don’t all have the same love. However, the great human tragedy known in the Bible as the Fall, when humanity failed to trust the good dreams and visions of our Creator, still didn’t take away our capacity to love. The Fall into sin and selfishness merely distorted our love, and with it, our vision for human flourishing. How is this great tragedy rewritten to end with good news?
I will attempt to answer that question in my final few post in this review of James Smith’s book.
“What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”
So then, as creatures of desire, created to love and be loved, we have an intent, a direction and purpose in life. We seek a vision of the good life. All our choices, actions, and habits emerge as we are pulled by our hearts toward a picture of that good life, the city, or that kingdom.
Such a vision will always include implicit assumptions, which may include some kind of answer to the following questions:
What is a good relationship?
What is a just economy?
What play or recreation do we value?
How do we relate to nature and our environment?
What is good work?
What is flourishing family?
What, therefore, does it mean to be “saved”?
Everyone has answers of some kind tucked away in our hearts. Possessing a vision of a future is implicit in the fact that we are created in God’s image. Our hopes and dreams are what get us up out of bed in the morning. Our desire for a kingdom may or may not be the same desire, or the same kingdom, for which Jesus of Nazareth went to the cross. However blurred or distorted our vision may be, the fact that we have a vision is testament to God’s creative impulse within us.
The question we must ask ourselves in the quiet place is this: Does my heart pull me toward the One who created me for good?
Your answer will lead you to live a life worthy of such a calling.
Desiring the Kingdom 3
This is a continuing discussion with thoughts stimulated by James Smith’s book: Desiring the Kingdom.
In the previous post we established the fact that we are creatures of desire. We are not primarily thinking or believing beings; we are primarily loving beings. We are created in the image of the One who is love.
Martin Heidegger, influential German philosopher, said we are essentially discovering beings; we are feeling our way around.
He apparently agrees with the apostle Paul, who said we are “groping”:
God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ (Acts 17:27, 28 NIV)
So then, we are not static, isolated, and primarily thinking being, who are individualistic at the core, merely perceiving people and objects around us.
No we “intend.” We are in motion over time in relationships with affective connections and interactions with family, neighbors, our community, our society, and our environment. We are creatures of desire who are moving in a direction compelled by our heart, our gut, which is the meaning of the original Greek word found in our Bibles, “kardia.” Our hearts are compelled in a direction, a telos or destination, of a perceived and believed and shared notion of human flourishing.
In the next post, I will discuss components of human flourishing.
I began to explore the Calling of God about 25 years ago. I’ve learned through the Scriptures and my love of the study of history of the Church and Christ’s Mission. Even more, I’ve learned as I’ve listened to students who have gone on summer internships testing their calling by serving people through the field of their studies.
So now I have a long history of teaching on calling, on four continents and over 20 countries. My learning, my understanding of God’s calling, came through practice, trial, experiment, and relationships with hundreds of students who are learning outside the classroom and on the field, loving and serving others.
What have I been learning? I have learned that I have more questions. I have learned that teaching and learning is not accomplished by talking, teaching, or even preaching. I see that we all need to fine tune our vision for teaching, and making disciples, especially disciples of nations.
What questions do you have about your calling? Those questions are being asked multiplied hundreds of thousands of times every day in university communities around the world. Too often insufficient answers are found in their classrooms, and in their churches.
This is the question I ask when I walk and pray on the university campus: How best can we reach, equip, and mobilize students? To what do we mobilize them? What targets?
In universities, we are taught that we are primarily “Thinking” beings, with human rationality as the basis of deciding what is valuable and true.
In churches, we are taught that we are primarily “Believing” beings, choosing to trust in God and believe his promises.
The trouble with both of these bases for our identity as human beings is that they place our ultimate identity as individuals, largely isolated from others in our thinking and believing.
What are we ultimately?
We are ultimately loving beings, designed by a great God who is love himself. He created us with desire, affection, and as the objects of his love. He created us in his image, with a desire for love and to give love.
With French philosopher Rene Descartes, we were taught to doubt everything and we were given an identity founded on the phrase: “I think, therefore I am.”
This elevation of human rationality reversed what St. Augustine had ordered as the human way to faith: “I believe in order to understand.”
But Augustine had framed the faith at a deeper level. He wrote, “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.” We are foundationally desiring beings, with affections, and love which seeks the ultimate object of love. We are created to love, especially the One who loved us first.
Where is love and how does love shape our identity and vision for humanity?
Love is not a list of abstract, disembodied concepts and values. We are fundamentally noncognitive, affective creatures. Our vision for life, the good life, is not a list of ideas or propositions or doctrines. Our vision for life comes from the heart, the deepest part of our being.
In my next post, I will begin to unpack that deep part of our human identity.
Desiring the Kingdom
I’m writing from Kona, Hawaii where I am attending the University of the Nations Workshop, an international gathering of YWAM leaders. Before the Workshop we had Student Mobilization Centre leadership team meetings. I shared with that team a devotional with refections from James Smith’s book, Desiring the Kingdom. This is a portion of that devotional:
During much of August, I woke early to take my daughter Becca for swim team practice. She was not happy at first, having to be in the water by 5:30am, but before I left for Kona, she was adapting. As a father with some experience in sports, including early morning swim team practice, I’m aware of how this experience is helping Becca develop character. Her coach says she’s pushing the team with morning and afternoon practices now in order to develop “muscle memory.”
What does that mean?
With the next few posts, I wiill attempt to unpack the formation and re-direction of human desire, the shaping of habits, the establishing of institutions, and the discipling of a culture and nation.