• 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!

Are you growing tired of being excited?

The other day, I talked about how “whether you are in your 30s, 40s, 50s or 60s, one of the first ways to ‘fan the flame’ again of the movement is to sit and listen to a new worker making one of their first presentations to supporters.  It warms one’s heart to hear how God called them to work among these people with this team to fulfill this common vision.”  Then I realized that might not be the case for everyone.

TiredWhen that kind of talk doesn’t stirs one’s heart, one’s excitement or passion reservoir may be in the red.  What I mean by that is that life and ministry, in the short term or long term, can gradually ‘snuff out’ the passion that God placed in our hearts at the start to multiply disciples and communities of believers, to bring the Gospel to lost people everywhere we go.

In reality, it’s the same with the impact of the Gospel in our lives. We can so easily forget the ‘music’ that wooed our hearts to Jesus. We need to ‘awaken’ our hearts afresh each day to that amazing story of Christ’s love for us.

So it is with the mission God to which God called us.  Hearing the stories of others (in print, in person, by video) can serve to remind us of God’s call on each of lives that brought us to Himself.  Hearing the stories of others can also serve to remind us of that call of God that brought us to where we serve and minister now.

We can all grow tired. We can all lose our passion from time to time.  Yet, we’re part of a movement and other members can ‘call us back’ to that passion which drove us to serve where we are; to ‘call us back’ to God.

There is a BIG difference between a network and a movement

Sometimes when I talk, I can use words interchangeably that do not really mean the same thing.  For example, when I talk about networks and movements, I can make it sound like they are one and the same thing.  In reality, there is a BIG difference between networks and movements.

A network can be defined as: “An association of individuals or organisations having a common interest, formed to foster cooperation, provide mutual assistance, share helpful information, and attain a heightened awareness of the activities of the entities represented in the network.”  To put it in more down to earth language, a network is composed of people who choose to blend their forces together in a cooperative effort, all the while maintaining their own autonomy, identity, and ministry.

A movement however “is formed when individuals, groups or organizations unite into a single group with a common purpose, mission, values and strategic priorities.”  A movement involves bringing together diverse people and teams to work as one.  A movement creates a context or culture where everyone chooses to serve and work together in a united way towards the larger vision.paper boat

Why is it so important to make such a distinction?  Primarily because of ‘drift’.

‘Drift’ is where the original dream or vision of a group is slowly lost.  ‘Drift’ is where the call that brought each of us into this ministry movement has been muted.  ‘Drift’ is where life and ministry loses its passion because of being ‘self-comfortable’.

Whether you are in your 30s, 40s, 50s or 60s, one of the first ways to again ‘fan the flame’ of the movement is to sit and listen to a new worker making one of their first presentations to supporters.  It warms one’s heart to hear how God called them to work among these people, with this team, to fulfill this common vision.

Why I love boards

Some of you read that title and thought, “Is he nuts?”  For most oboring board meetingf us, the topic of boards and board meetings is particularly dull.  Nothing could feel more unpalatable to our spiritual souls than sitting through a ‘bored’ meeting.

No, I do not believe I am ‘nuts’ to think that boards and board meetings are worth a second look.  And this past weekend reaffirmed my ‘love’ of boards.

I spent Saturday morning and some of the afternoon with people like Ray, Cedric, Tom and Anthony.  Several markers of that time together stood out for me.

One marker was time.  These four, along with others, gave up precious time from their full-time jobs to spend a day hearing about WT ministries, making decisions to remove obstacles which might hinder those ministries, and praying for those ministries.  If they didn’t believe in World Team, they wouldn’t choose to spend a Saturday in a board meeting when they could have been doing something else.

A second marker was insight. The various boards of WT and our partners are made up of people who bring incredible insight to the table; people who see things differently then we as cross cultural workers.  Ray made one comment during our conversations which was my primary ‘take-away’ from the meeting.  Up to that point, I had never even considered the insight that he shared.

The third marker was shared vision.  I wish I could come up with a better phrase, but these four are thrilled to be part of what WT is doing in the world, thrilled to be able to contribute in some way to helping WT accomplish its vision, thrilled to be standing behind us as cross cultural workers.  If they said it once, they said it at least five different times during our meeting: “We share the vision of World Team Global“.

Let me suggest two small follow up steps.  First, I would encourage each Ministry Support Centre board to put together a short photo/bio on each board member and send it to all members of the WT global community.  Second, I would encourage each of us to drop a short note of thanks to one board member.

Maybe that will help us begin to understand what boards and board members give to us as a World Team global community.

Raise the sails!

This past Monday, I met with two young leaders from a small mission that is “re-building” itself.  I say ‘young’ because the two guys could have been my sons.  They asked me questions, almost nonstop, for 90 minutes.  Good questions; the kind that make you sit back and hesitate before you try to answer.  They were eager to learn from another.  They were passionate.  They were focused.

When I say that their mission is ‘small’, it does not do them justice.  Their numbers may be small, but their dream is huge and draws you in to want to know more abpelicanpnewall4out how they believe God will accomplish it.  Their vision caused me to want to help them, not criticize their efforts and strategies.

As I thought about all this later, I realized the dream was compelling, but it was their passion, their hunger to engage in the accomplishment of this vision that spoke to me.  It was as if, we were all on a sailboat together and these guys were screaming: “Raise the sails!  Get ready to ‘rock and roll’ because the wind is up!”  What would you do?  You would run to grab hold of one of those rope cords and start heaving to raise those sails.

God has laid on our hearts a dream, a vision of multiplying disciples and communities of believers among the unreached.  However, we ‘lack’ the passion at times to give our all for this missional endeavor.  When the call is heard to ‘raise the sails’, some of us prefer criticism and push back, rather than heart-y engagement.

As we begin to see the world as God does, as we recognize more and more the depth of His grace towards us, our hearts will ‘overflow’ with joy, with passion, with the unstoppable desire to grab that rope cord and join together in a movement.

What am I supposed to be doing?

It seems like a rather straightforward question for cross cultural workers.  We would normally answer by using the verbal equivalent of our role.  What am I supposed to be doing?  Church planting, discipling, translating the Bible, or teaching, for example.what-am-i-supposed-to-be-doing

However, what if we tried to answer the question by ‘keeping the end in mind’?  In other words, what if we responded to the question by focusing on the longer term objective?

The World Team Ministry Framework puts it this way: “reach, invest in, and equip others to release them into ministry”.  That’s what I am supposed to be doing every day as I work as a church planter, discipler, Bible translator or teacher.  I am supposed to be raising up another corps of committed followers of Jesus who will join in ministry.

Two outcomes come quickly to mind.  First, the ministry is a shared activity.  We as cross cultural workers are only one part in much larger plan God has to ‘multiply’ His people around the globe.  Our role may be one of a church planter, but our longer term objective is to raise up other church planters.  Second, I will have to ‘stand to the side’ from time to time to let others be launched into ministry.  Just as someone did for us, we need to platform, support and encourage others into ministry which will mean letting others do the ministry in our place.

Perhaps this is one of the long term outcomes John was referring to when he wrote: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”  (3 John 4)

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.

Stand up with me

A number of months ago, I saw this commercial online and felt it captured, in a humorous way, the struggle that many of us have in ministry calling others to join us in the vision God has placed before us.

As believers, we talk a lot about community, working together, teamwork, and learning how to carry out the ‘one another’ exhortations.  However, in practice we are at times reticent to join with others; to stand up with them.  The simple reason being that we believe we often have a better idea or better vision than the one being suggested. Instead of giving support to a vision, we prefer to evaluate and critique that direction.  Is this beginning to sound a little like a group that wandered through the desert for a number of years?

Now I’m not suggesting that we each drop the dream God may have given to each of us.  However, it is time for us as a World Team global community to stand up together and to lock arms together to fulfill the mission & vision God has given to us: Innovative teams multiplying disciples and communities of believers, bringing the Gospel within reach of lost people everywhere we go.

It’s time for us as a World Team global community to stand up together and share our resources with one another (human, prayer, intellectual and financial).  It’s time we stand up together and challenge young and old into cross cultural ministry with us.  The idea of World Team growing to 500 workers in the next five years will not happen if we don’t stand up together and mobilize together.  It’s time we stand up together and speak the Gospel to one another day in and day out so that our confidence would be in the Lord and not in ourselves.  It’s time we stand up together and live by what we say are our guiding principles and organizational ethos, and fulfill our central ministry focus.

Will you stand up together with me?