• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

The art of sacrifice in a region (Africa)

The Mission¹⁴: Vision Forward Africa conference was the second of Area conferences in 2014.  The conference focused on our WT Ethos (purpose, vision, values and ‘culture’) as well as getting input from national leaders about partnering to reach the unreached.  The large group and small group interaction times were fruitful, with many opportunities to talk further about the issues being raised.20140524_123751

As I wrote in the previous post, “I shared a number of challenges with each region or Area.  The purpose was to affirm and celebrate what God has done through us over the past few years as well as to challenge Area members to “excel still more” in their work and ministry for Jesus.”

During the WT Africa conference, I shared the following challenges.

First challenge: learn to say ‘no’. Learn to say ‘no’ to one thing in order to build a heart for a new team.  World Team Africa has historically focused its work(s) in one specific region.  The outgrowths of these efforts have been progress in translation projects, multiplying small groups and leader development.  That good work now needs to be turned towards other projects in other locations and countries. In order to do that, it will mean that workers will need to say ‘no’ to one thing to have the time to give towards researching and building new teams to reach new unreached people groups.

Second challenge: ask the hard question. “When is the time to move on?”  This hard question is not restricted just to WT Africa workers. It is the question that we all need to ask ourselves at certain times.  “When is the time to move on?”  In other words, at what point do we need to transition to a new work and project?  How might our ongoing presence be inhibiting others (national believers) to take leadership of the work?  This is neither an easy question nor an easy discussion.  However, we must help one another to regularly think through this question.

Third challenge: offer and accept outside-in input.  Each of us has experience and wisdom gained from our unique journey with Jesus.  However, we are each easily blinded to our faults and shortcomings.  Offering and accepting outside-in input is a way for each of us to come alongside other workers by investing in their lives.  However, we must be equally willing to accept the same input from those outside our contexts.  I often hear workers, in response to the offer of outside input, say that ‘those people would not understand our context.’ Granted there is an element of truth in that statement, but people from the outside are also able to see things to which we can easily be blinded.

I share these challenges to the WT AFrica workers with all of us both as a reminder of the challenges given, but also as a motivation to pray for one another as we seek to learn the further change and growth to which God is calling us.


6 Responses

  1. Dave, really enjoying reading your challenges to the different areas. You’re putting forth a good church planting plan if you combine these different challenges that you’re writing. I’m still very concerned on our field about the topic of knowing when it’s time to move on. When you work in “slower response” countries where it’s taking years to get a church planted, it’s quite easy to keep holding on, hoping to get over the hump when there will be willing, qualified leaders who take on the responsibility. We start not expecting God to raise up the new leaders and we keep settling in to our routine. May God help us to keep believing, to plan wisely, to take a few more risks, and to sacrifice greatly.

    • I appreciated that insight as I would not have thought of combining all the challenges and point us to a CP plan. As I said in my post, the ‘when is it time?’ question is one that we all face and is not an easy one to answer. Part of the answer is found in community (having us give us insight we might not have about the situation) and part of the answer is found in being more intentional about being facilitative and not having people come to rely so heavily on us that they can’t envision the church functioning without us. Thanks!

    • What a great question. Is the criteria for moving on the same for a “slower response” country as for places where there is greater response? If the criteria is the same (do we have adequate criteria?) then how do we determine the amount of time to be allocated. I know one mission agency adopted the short cycle (5 years) church planting approach because they said it helped them to think and minister more strategically. If our bent is more apostolic than pastoral, we will likely be more willing to pursue new initiatives. Personality plays a big part. People with lots of patience, who are slower paced, will likely camp longer. We really need to keep our eyes on Jesus, the Head of the Church, in order to be sensitive to His guidance. I like your last sentence — God at work in and through us!

      • It is probably why we need a ‘community’ around us, so that such decisions can be made with good input from both inside and outside. In many cases, we as workers take on more than we should in a new cross cultural church plant. So, from the very start, we have positioned ourselves to have to stay longer than we might. If, from the very start, we began giving away the ministry, the question might be easier to ask and easier to respond to. I think this idea was behind the short cycle teams, but it imposed an unnecessary time frame. It’s more attitudinal and our position or stance from the start that is most important.

  2. I like the emphasis on community, exercising interdependence from the beginning. If church planting in Spain was initiated in partnership with church planters from Spain, then there wouldn’t probably be such a big challenge of finding mature national leadership to develop the newly planted church.

  3. That is one of the needed elements. The DNA of multiplication needs to be present from the start which would cause us to turn over work more quickly because we would see our role differently. I believe Andrew Walls said that a cross cultural worker is ‘temporary and always ready to move on’.

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