The Mission of Missions

August 30, 2008

While perusing the pages of “Consuming Jesus, which my very perceptive wife gave me for my birthday, I ran across a Chinese poem that I see as summarizing our mission in the Netherlands:

Go to the people

Live among them

Learn from them

Love them

Start with what they know

Build on what they have:

But of the

best leaders

When their task is done

The people will remark

“We have done it ourselves.”

While in Slovenia three summers ago Kate and I were heavily impacted by the ministry of Josiah Venture in the capitol city of Ljubljana.  With a staff of around 6-8 intent on reaching students and thousands of them in the city, we were surprised to find the staff reluctant to “get results”–at least, they are reluctant to get results on their own.

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As I see it, missions is not about getting out there and saving souls.  Let me clarify, before the missions police show up at my door: missions is not only concerned with the saving of souls.  Missions has also to do with the growth and maturation of the Church on a global level.  It is not about sending home high stats–that is missions at its shallowest.  In my opinion, approaching missions in a deep way requires that we do it patiently and in a way which leads the national (or local) church deeper in to ministry rather than supplanting it.

Perhaps, thinking back over our poem, the only thing that remains would be to nuance the final phrase, to make sure the reader leaves room for God in the concluding “We have done it ourselves.”  Whew!  Gives me goosebumps!

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Missions Cookies?

July 29, 2008

It has been incredible these last few days to watch as God has been providing for the garage sale our senders are putting together for this Sunday.  While I had originally thought the sale’s main purpose would be helping to get rid of Kate and my stuff.  Now, with the addition of the fresh vision of our senders, the sale has become a get-rid-of-their-stuff/fundraiser aimed at raising Kate and My airfare to the Netherlands! 

It has been awesome to see people get behind this.  From the donations that are now overflowing my parents’ garage to the cookies I hear are being made to sell, I find myself thinking over and over, “This is the whole church taking the whole Gospel to the whole world!”  So many times I when people hear missions they think, “What can I do?”  Come check out the sale this weekend, and you’ll find your answer in the actions of all the people it took to clean, price, setup and run this sale.  This is missions.  It is no less.  Thank you for your ministry alongside us!  We could not do it without you–nor would we want to!

Technology in Mission

May 14, 2008

It is like the question never leaves me: “How can we use technology to further the building of God’s Kingdom?” While I sometimes find this question being applied to ministry in general, I more often apply it directly to the task of missions (as a subset of mission, which of course draws the whole of Kingdom Building in to the mix). Most specifically, “How can we, with our sending team, leverage technology to involve the whole Kingdom of God in building the whole Kingdom of God?” Two nights ago, I stumbled upon one answer to the question: RSS feeds.

“RSS” stands for “really simple syndication” and is technology by which regularly updated pages are brought to the consumer (check out the introduction of the article “RSS” on Wikipedia for more information).  So what could be done with a technology which “makes it possible for people to keep up with web sites in an automated manner that can be piped into special programs or filtered displays” (1)?  Prayer requests.  Though I have yet to figure out how, we will be using RSS for prayer requests so that everyone of our senders has the option of receiving to the minute updates of our prayer needs in Holland through the automated updates of an RSS feed. 

This is one way we can partner better to do mission together, but it is far from the end, because it is only one man’s brainchild.  What else can we do?  What insights or ministry might you bring to the table?  If we are to pursue the Great Commission then we must do it as the “whole church, bringing the whole Gospel, to the whole world.”  Where do you fit in?

Wiki Ministry

May 11, 2008

In a million Kate and I have been trying innovate on in mission on our way to the field, and along the way we’ve learned a lot.  When we started we had very little idea what was out there, or how things are typically done, and perhaps this naivety has served us well.

I have just finished reading a book called Wikinomics.  Coming initially from a business perspective, this book takes a critical look at emerging technologies and platforms and how they are changing the way we work.  

Email vs. Wiki Collaboration

In the book Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams show how wiki‘s, blogs and other web technologies are changing not only the way we interact, but also the way we think and approach life.  Wiki’s for instance create a community editable space whose content is created and maintained by the community, creating an entirely different message through the medium (see “medium is the message” and “Marshall McLuhan” on wikipedia.org).  The hierarchy is subverted, the audience becomes the creator, and “in-process” replaces the finished product. 

Understandably, my mind naturally takes the ideals of the “Wiki Wiki World” and applies them to the area I am most preoccupied with: missions.  Though ideas like these have far to go before they are received in the faith community, or even deemed biblical,  I still find myself dreaming about the world of mission turned upside down.  In this world “Senders” becomes co-creators (and really co-missionaries), “overseas ministry” truly becomes a joint venture and the “local sending church” is able to intertwine itself in the global body of Christ in uncharted ways. 

What will it look like for the church to catch up with innovation?  As the world grows smaller, how will the next generation answer Jesus’ Great Commission?  These are the types of things that keep me up at night…

May Update

May 2, 2008

            Two weeks ago on a Thursday I found myself sitting at a table with two recovering meth addicts.  The topic for discussion?  Fatherhood.  “She’s gunna say a lot of things she don’t mean”  “Just hope you don’t have a colicky baby!”  I had to laugh.  “Am I really getting parenting advice from ex-meth heads?”  The conversation couldn’t have lasted more than twenty minutes, but I found myself walking away with more than a smile on my face.  God is at work in the lives of these two dads, restoring them to fatherhood.  For me it was one of those this-is-what-salvation-is-all-about moments where the work of the cross is so beautifully fleshed out in the broken lives of people so carefully pieced together again by the Maker. 

            Whew!  Just twenty-four weeks left until Kate and I (and baby Jude) plan to catch a plane to Holland—and the clock is ticking!  In preparation of zero hour, we will be hosting a senders training night May 22 at 7:00 pm in Crossroads’ family room.  Once we are gone, we will be heavily dependant on our senders not only for financial and pray needs, but also for practical, technical and moral support—this is what we will be gathering to explore.  We look forward to seeing you there as we collaboratively craft an integral part of the support system which makes our going to Holland possible! 

            Thank you for your fervent prayers on our behalf.  They are a comfort and strength to 

us daily.  Here are some of our current needs:
  •  BUSYNESS: things are heating up as we head toward a packed summer schedule—pray for balance.
    • SUMMER MISSIONS: with the teams populated we now begin the real logistical heavy lifting
    • BABY JUDE—only 15 weeks left!       

                   

                Thanks for your prayers and help along this journey of faith.  We look forward to getting together with you all on the 22nd!

                JW

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