• 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!

Why the ‘tyranny of the urgent’ plagues us

Most of us have the best of intentions when we start out our day or our week.  Some of us may even have spent time reflecting, ahead of time, on what should be our ‘most important’ ministry tasks in that coming week. However, the week gets started and … two or three ‘urgent’ emails come into our box needing ‘immediate’ attention; a ministry partner calls and asks if you could do lunch together today; and the one hour Skype call turns into a two and one-half hour discussion.  It’s the ‘tyranny of the urgent’ where everything that comes across our desk needs to be addressed now.

tyranny of the urgentThe ‘tyranny of the urgent’ plagues all of us.

Our hearts, as cross cultural workers, are attuned to the needs of others and so we genuinely want to meet the needs of others; whether it’s an email, a luncheon appointment or an online discussion.  We just have a hard time saying ‘no’ in the moment and learning to juggle our days in light of His mission to which He has called us.

‘Interruptions’ are certainly God given opportunities for growth and ministry.  However, God has given us a missional task that calls for us to focus our energies, not dissipate them in a flurry of activity that may not lead us to seeing that missional task realized.

Perhaps the following steps (or others) might help us stem the tide of the plague of the ‘tyranny of the urgent’ in our lives:

Ask the simple question: Do I really need to do this now?  Oftentimes, I place the expectation of immediate response on myself.  When I go back to a person and ask if I can meet with them later or if I can answer their question in a few days, they are happy to give me that added time.

Solicit the help of others.  Many of the leadership teams I have worked on have helped me to respond to an immediate request by saying: “I need to talk to my leadership team about this before I can give you an answer.”  This lets me to put that activity in a larger context and to get the input of others first.

Ponder whether the ‘tyranny of the urgent’ activity helps to fulfill the larger calling of God on one’s life that week.  The answer may be a resounding ‘yes’ and you can jump in with all your gusto.  Or it may be a ‘no’.  Yet, by placing it in that larger context, it gives you the ability to sort out those ‘tyranny of the urgent activities’ so as to keep your mind and heart focused on the larger objective.

Mission Forward

Mission Forward.  The term suggests movement or traction.  Perhaps, we ought to write forwardit: Mission (moving) Forward? More importantly, the term oozes enthusiasm and delight. Perhaps, we should edit it again to read: Mission (moving) Forward (with shouts of joy)?

You might be thinking that sounds kind of silly, but you and I know there is a difference between ‘moving forward’ in a long slow lane of traffic and ‘moving forward’ with a project where many team members are involved and contributing.  In both cases, you are ‘moving forward’.  However, the one brings you no real joy while the other creates a wellspring of joy that pushes you out to share the work with more people.

Our ‘mission’ is to work together in teams to see communities of believers birthed who will in turn give birth to other communities who will in turn give birth to other communities.  Our ‘vision’ is characterized by innovation, multiplication and expansion.  We want to approach the same task, but via different approaches or avenues.  Our goal is always a chain reaction of multiplication.  Our focus is on those who have the least opportunity to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

If Mission Forward is currently synonymous with drudgery for us, then we may need some ‘outside-in’ perspective.  We may need someone to help lift our eyes above the grind and see how our God is at work in this world.  If Mission Forward isn’t currently causing that gospel joy to well up in our hearts, then we may need to ask the Spirit to drive 1 John 4.19 deeper into our hearts.  If Mission Forward is one’s current driving motivation, then we should spread that joy to others and draw them into the work.

Mission Forward.

Who is your one?

Last week, I attended church with my older brother. I was taken by a statement and a slogan that the pastor shared with this group of believers.

He read a familiar text from Ephesians 1:1-14, emphasizing these verses: “Blessed by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.”

Then he made this statement: “I want to talk with you about ‘your story’.  However, ‘your story’ does not start with who you think you are.  Your story begins with who God says you are.”  God set His love on me, on you.  He pursued us ‘one by one’ and chose to make us part of His family.  “Mission,” he said, “starts with knowing who we are.”

That resonated with me.  It was the Gospel applied to or being worked out in mission.  Our story is wone-bisrapped up in Him and our mission flows out of that identity.

Then he shared this slogan via a question: “Who is your one?”  Who is the person God has put on your heart?  Are you close to anyone who is far from God?  Are you in touch with anyone who is wondering how they fit into God’s mission in the world?

Who is your one?”

As a worker with World Team, your ‘story’ begins with what God says about you, “who is your one?”

It’s another way of stating the Central Ministry Focus of our WT Ministry Framework.

Who is your one?”

What are our distinctives?

I am often asked: What are the distinctives of World Team?  There are two ways that I try to answer this question.what-makes-us-different

First, World Team’s distinctives flow out of our mission and vision of multiplying disciples and communities of believers.

  • World Team focuses on establishing communities of believers that will reproduce themselves in creating other communities of believers. We want to bring living examples of God’s church within reach of people who do not have a personal relationship with God.
  • World Team works in teams. We work in teams because we believe teams are a tangible expression of our need for all members of the body of Christ in order to carry out the mission mandate that He has given to us.
  • World Team members regularly ‘speak the Gospel’ to one another. It is the ‘air we breathe’ because if the Gospel is not good news for us, how can we expect it to be good news for others.
  • World Team’s size allows us to be more flexible in our approach, more innovative in our activities.

Obviously, others in the World Team community might put these distinctives differently or might add one or two others.  The point is that World Team has markers as to who we are and what we do.

A second way to answer the question is by asking a question.  Why are distinctives so important?  By taking a ‘marketplace’ approach to missions, we try to find our market niche and offer our product to those most likely to join us.  Now there is nothing wrong with trying to communicate well in this way.  However, the context of missions has changed in significant ways.  Many of us, as agencies, are quite similar in our distinctives.  In fact, several are considering inter-agency partnerships where people are recruited to ‘multi-agency’ teams. The focus is less on the agency and its distinctives, and more on shared distinctives and a longer term objective: multiplying disciples and communities of believers.

World Team has distinctives that make us different from others.  However, the World Team Global community is open to work with many other agencies and national movements because we all share similar distinctives and the same long term goal of bringing the Gospel within reach of lost people everywhere we go.

What happened to our passion?

I do my best to run three times a week.  It is part of my effort to be a good steward of my health in order to better minister to others and to ‘run the [ministry] race’ well.  When I head out early in the morning for a run, it’s a time I can also set aside to pray for others and our ministries around the world.  Unhindered by phone calls or emails, I can spend the time to pray.

However, in recent weeks I have noticed a slippage creeping in.  Rather than three times a week, it’s been more like two or just one time a week.  The night before one of my runs, I was trying to ‘work up’ the desire when I realized that the problem was just that: my 155600-159730desire or passion was waning and none of my great efforts were helping to make that desire come back.

Ministry or missionary passion can go through the same life cycle.  There are times when the motivation and passion are seemingly there.  There are other times when the question keeps ringing in one’s head: what happened to my passion?

Like slippage occurring with my running, the answer is not found in ‘working up’ that passion again.  Rather, the remedy is found by turning away from self-fascination to consideration of the God who is our Father and who called us into this work.  “You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you!  I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told.” (Psalm 40:5)

Our loss of passion for ministry can often be an indicator that something else has taken the place of Jesus and holds our charm.

May we be passionate about God so that we might be passionate then about the ministry!

Remember the promise, pray the promise

Some of us push our trucks through mud to reach our ministry location.  Some of us battle urban traffic to be able to attend a national church planter meeting. Some of us spend large portions of our day trying to master the language of our people group.  Some of us spend large portions of our day just talking with people from our people group, looking for openings for spiritual conversation.

All of us, though, have one and the same objective: to lead people into relationship with Christ, to grow them  in discipleship, and bring them into a community of believers.  That is our ‘central ministry focus’, if you will: reaching, investing, equipping and releasing.

God does not promise us that each one of neighbors or friends will come to Christ.  We pray, we share, and we work to that end.  However, we don’t know whose heart will be opened to message of Jesus’s death and resurrection.  We pray in faith that God will lead to Himself some of those to whom we minister.

Last Friday, Dave (WT Africa) shared at a field gathering that there is a promise that God will fulfill and to which He calls us to pray.  The Apostle John put it this way: “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb!”” God promises that there will be someone from every people group standing and worshiping before the promisethrone of grace.  God will fulfill that promise and we can pray that promise to its fulfillment.

That assurance will get us up out of bed every day; remembering that God delights in the worship of His people, and that He is calling people from every tribe, tongue, and nation to that worshiping assembly.  We can pray that promise together as we work towards its fulfillment … to see some from among the Chom people, Italian urban dwellers, and the displaced Chinese of South America praising the Lamb before God’s throne.

Collaboration: take two

‘Organizational culture’ refers to what should define our relationships with one another. Organizational culture tells us in what kind of atmosphere we will work.collaborative-meeting-clipart-1

Collaboration among members and teams within the World Team global community should be a natural reflex. That heart stance of serving together should then lead us to collaborate well with brothers and sisters outside of the World Team context.

I saw a good example of this recently among one of our teams in Africa. Wanting to further process where God might be leading them to minister next in Africa, they invited a national director of the church association that they serve under to share in their discussions. In the course of these discussions, it became evident that the Lord was laying on everyone’s hearts the same locations to consider.

Over lunch, one of our leaders said to the national director: “Would you be interested in joining together to do initial research on one of these locations that God has laid on our hearts?”

Collaboration is not about you joining ‘our’ project or us joining ‘your’ project, but putting our collective resources at the disposal of one another to work together on our (all parties included) project.

I think it took a lot of humility to ask that question of the national director as it was an admission that we need each other and that we can’t go it alone.

I also think it took some guts to ask that question because it changed our ministry work context to one that would be multicultural with all the inherent difficulties and potential misunderstandings. Yet the ultimate outcome will be a much better representation of what missions will be like in the future.