God-Directed Deviations in Missions

God-Directed Deviations in Missions

 

 

 

 

Like my posts on God-Directed Deviations in Discipleship and Evangelism, I will now begin a series on God-Directed Deviations in Missions.  First, a few what ifs:

 

 

 

 

What if we redefined our terms?  The word Missionary occurs nowhere in the bible except for the headings between chapters, and unless we think those inspired, we must start at the beginning and ask ourselves what is a missionary?

What if we removed the destination designation from a missionary and stuck to location?  Instead of being a missionary “to” a place, we could be missionaries “in” a place.

What if we completely did away with the missionary/non-missionary divide amongst the body of Christ and embraced the idea that we were all Missionaries.

What if we took another look at how effective short-term missions are and where we could improve their impact for the Kingdom of Christ.

What if thought in terms of “being on mission,” instead of “going on missions?”

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Over the next week or so, I will be dealing with the above questions and sharing from personal experience as a Missionary in the Cloud Forest Region of Ecuador.

If you can think of any other “What ifs,” please add them to the comment section below.

Miguel

Savior Service Swap

Savior Service Swap

 

 

 

Consider the following quotes on focused (or unfocused) Christian service.  How often do we swap service to the Savior for th Savior Himself?

 

 

“To concentrate on service and activity for God may often actively thwart our attaining of the true goal, God Himself. At first sight it seems heroic to fling our lives away in the service of God and of our fellows. We feel it is bound to mean more to Him than our experience of Him. Service seems so unselfish, whereas concentrating on our walk with God seems selfish and self-centered. But it is the very reverse. The things that God is most concerned about are our coldness of heart towards Himself and our proud, unbroken natures. Christian service of itself can, and so often does, leave our self-centered nature untouched… With those things hidden in our hearts, we have only to work alongside others, and find resentment, hardness, criticism, jealousy, and frustration issuing from our hearts. We think we are working for God, but the test of how little of our service for Him is revealed by our resentment or self-pity… We need to leave our lusting for ever-larger spheres of Christian service and concentrate on seeing God for ourselves and finding the deep answer for life in Him.” *

Roy Hession

*We Would See Jesus, Christian Literature Crusade, 1961, p. 15.

I used to ask God to help me. Then I asked if I might help Him. I ended up by asking Him to do His work through me.

Hudson Taylor

Trying to work for God without worshipping God results in joyless legalism. Work minus worship magnifies your will power not God’s worth. If you try to do things for God without delighting in God you bring dishonor upon God. Serving God without savoring God is lifeless and unreal.

John Piper

Worship empowers serving; serving expresses worship. Godliness requires a disciplined balance between the two. Those who can maintain service without regular personal and corporate worship are serving in the flesh. It doesn’t matter how long they’ve been serving that way or how well others think they serve, they are not striving according toGod’s power, as Paul did, but their own… At the same time, one measure of the authenticity of worship (again, both personal and corporate) is whether it results in a desire to serve… Therefore, we must maintain that to be Godly, we should discipline ourselves for both worship and service. To engage in one without the other is, in reality, to experience neither.

Donald Whitney

So many of us think about it the other way around. We think of church in terms of our serving God and receiving from others. But this is backwards. Sacrificial service in the church doesn’t start with serving. It starts with being served by God. Then as we are satisfied in Him and who He’s revealed Himself to be in His crucified Son, we gladly overflow in service of others.

David Mathis

If God is my portion, if God is the true source of my joy, and if it is God who will fulfill me, then I am free to be a companion instead of a consumer. That is, because of what I receive from God I can give to another person instead of always taking; I can minister rather than manipulate because of the fulfillment I get from God.

Richard D. Phillips and Sharon L. Phillips

Trying to do the Lord’s work in your own strength is the most confusing, exhausting, and tedious of all work. But when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, then the ministry of Jesus just flows out of you. 

Corrie ten Boom

It is possible to be so active in the service of Christ as to forget to love Him.

P.T. Forsyth

True saints do what they do because they are drawn by love. True Christians find that the love of God in Christ is so attractive, so beautiful, that they cannot help wanting to serve Him. There is a splendor, a beauty, about God and His ways that lures humans beings to Him.

Gerald McDermott

Don’t ever forget that you cannot do what God has called you to do. You cannot parent that child, love that husband, care for that elderly parent, submit to that boss, teach that Sunday school class, or lead that small-group Bible study. God specializes in the impossible, so that when the victory is won and the task is complete, we cannot take any credit. Others know we didn’t do it, and we know we didn’t do it. We must always remember that we can only live the Christian life and serve God through the power of His Holy Spirit. As soon as we think we can handle it on our own, we become useless to Him. We have to be willing to get out of the way, let God take over, and let Him overshadow us.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Till men have faith in Christ, their best services are but glorious sins.

Thomas Brooks

We’re here to be worshippers first and workers only second. We take a convert and immediately make a worker out of him. God never meant it to be so. God meant that a convert should learn to be a worshiper, and after that he can learn to be a worker… The work done by a worshiper will have eternity in it.

A.W. Tozer

If we give God service it must be because He gives us grace. We work for Him because He works in us.

C.H. Spurgeon

This does not mean that I cannot desire to be blessed by my service to God. In fact, God promises to bless our obedience according to His loving purposes, and in some measure He uses these blessings to encourage us to honor His standards. The point is not that His blessings should never motivate us at all, but they cannot be the driving force of our service. His blessings are the oil that helps the machinery of obedience operate, but love for God and desire for His glory are the pistons and wheels.

Bryan Chapell



 





 

 

 

 


"Missiopathic" ~ Mission with an attitude.

 

Missiopathic ~ Mission with an attitude

 

 

“Missiopathic,”

“What it means to be a Missiopath.”

 

 

A working Definition:  A Missiopath is somebody who exhibits missiopathy, who behaves in a way that suggests a strong sense of mission (living as sent). Unlike the average human, a missiopath does not feel any sense of shame when committing to live out an aspect of God’s mission. Because of this predilection for service they will always look for opportunities to advance the Kingom. The types of behaviors they exhibit are those that might make someone with a spiritually awakened conscience uncomfortable.

My intention in creating (coining) this word is to invoke the idea of Missiopathy amongst those who wish to live as sent.

There are no negative connotations in this word, and my intention is to steer clear of any suggested.  What I would like, is to have you, the reader, contribute to defining this word more clearly and to suggest further meanings or clarity.

 

Miguel

God-Directed Deviations in Evangelism: Summary

Accepting Christ?

1. Any evangelist whose expressed objective is to “get his audience to heaven” or who holds out the prospect of proverbial “pot of gold at the end of a Gospel rainbow,” in whatever terminology it is couched, must immediately be viewed with deep suspicion. Regrettably all too many evangelists have fallen victim to an approach that is openly or subtly man-centered.

2. No, the aim of the Gospel is not to get men to heaven, but to return them to God, neither is it to make them trouble free and happy, but to render them sin free and holy. The Good News is and should be God-centered, thoroughly and unashamedly. Only then, ironically, it serves the (best) interests of man.

3. When an “evangelist” gives the audience the choice between the horror of hell or the bliss of heaven, and between a life of abundance and wealth or an existence of trouble and at best survival by show of hands or otherwise, it invariably and unanimously will opt for heaven and abundance. Such is the natu- ral inclination of man.

4. If that same “evangelist” can convince his audience that “accepting Christ” will mean the difference between heaven and hell, between abundance and trouble, there is every reason to believe that in retro- spect he can boast that 100% of that audience made a “decision for Christ.” With the stakes so high, why would it be otherwise?

5. However, when a preacher of the biblical Gospel invites the audience to choose either God and holi- ness or man and happiness, it will unalterably and without exception opt for the latter. It is man’s natu- ral inclination to say yes to heaven and happiness, but to spit out his no to God and holiness. Only the biblical Gospel will bring this out and so set the stage to deal with the real issues of life (and death).

6. Now “accepting Christ” is no longer relevant or sufficient. The audience is confronted with a need to turn away from itself in order to serve God (repentance), a need to flee to Christ as the only way back to God (faith), and a need to call upon him not only to secure forgiveness of sins but also holiness of life. The difference between a message made by and centered on man and the Gospel given by and centered on God is one of night and day!

These points were taken from one of my previous seminary professors*.  I will continue this series in blog posts titled “Applications of God-Directed Deviations in Evangelism.”

 

Miguel

 

* Dr Henry Krabbendam

God-Directed Deviations in Evangelism Part III

Te Choice

 

 

When an “evangelist” gives the audience the choice between the horror of hell or the bliss of heaven, and between a life of abundance and wealth or an existence of trouble and at best survival by show of hands or otherwise, it invariably and unanimously will opt for heaven and abundance. Such is the natu-ral inclination of man.

Aren’t we clever?  We created a situation in evangelism so as to make people choose between two or more alternatives and then pressure them into a “decision.” For what?  So we can put another notch in whatever accounting system we use to track the Making of Disciples?  If the construct of the choice is faulty, the decision is also faulty.  When the scenario that we portray does not come to pass, it is we who are at fault for un-Jesus-shaped spirituality that manifests itself in the Church.

God-Directed Deviations in Evangelism Part II

Heaven or Hell

 

 

Continued from yesterday’s post

2. No, the aim of the Gospel is not to get men to heaven, but to return them to God, neither is it to make them trouble free and happy, but to render them sin free and holy. The Good News is and should be God-centered, thoroughly and unashamedly. Only then, ironically, it serves the (best) interests of man.

 

If you were to die today, where would you go? Heaven or Hell?  It is surprising to me how many people actually answer this question and answer it honestly from their current framework or conviction.  The problem is that we immediately distort the Gospel by making salvation about a place instead of a person.  The gospel is not destination, but relation.  A place is attainable, at least intellectually speaking.  A relationship with a person interjects conditions which are outside of oneself.  Heaven should not be used a carrot on a stick to bring people to Jesus, instead it is through Jesus that we attain heaven.

God-Directed Deviations in Evangelism Part I

God-Directed Deviations in Evangelism

God-Directed Deviations in Evangelism

 

God-Directed Deviations in Evangelism

Part 1

1. “Any evangelist whose expressed objective is to “get his audience to heaven” or who holds out the prospect of proverbial “pot of gold at the end of a Gospel rainbow,” in whatever terminology it is couched, must immediately be viewed with deep suspicion. Regrettably all too many evangelists have fallen victim to an approach that is openly or subtly man-centered.”

 

 

It’s called “Destination Disease,” and its symptoms are easily recognized.  If evangelism efforts are directed towards getting people to a place (Church, Heaven, Geographical Location) rather than a person, (Jesus) then efforts must be spent in keeping them there.  Herein evolves the religious machine instead real relationship.

7 God-Directed Deviations in Disciple Making

God Directed DeviationsSurpassing 4 Generations of Disciple Making Disciples in less than 1 year.

What does that mean? It means that disciples were made who made disciples who made other disciples who in turn made others and that all generations continue to make disciples. How did we pull it off? We didn’t, Jesus did. But I will tell you how it happened.

There are scores of methods including one of my own for sharing the gospel with people and most are cursory introductions to the person of Christ at best. I will not say that any in particular are incorrect, but I will say that most are incomplete. If we assume that evangelism is not a method to win souls but a manner in which to communicate the good news of the person of Jesus to the world and we further assume that evangelism ( proclaiming good news) is a necessary part of making disciples, then for better or worse, you can begin to understand how this amazing thing happened.

Let me provide a little background. My wife and I, after having left our careers, home, and family in the United States, answered a call to go to Ecuador and serve as missionaries. We work in a region of Ecuador where there have been no other missionaries for many years. It is not the city and the population no where nears the populations of the cities in Ecuador. On any given day, there are hundreds of missionaries, short and long term visiting the cities and doing Kingdom work. In our region, the Cloud Forest, harvest workers are few and far between. We are often challenged in ways which most would find intolerable. Many times we have been trapped by mud slides, without electric, phone, water and a myriad of other and sometimes life threatening situations. We have been attacked from without and within by people and spiritually. Nothing here works out the way we want it to and if it does, it usually takes twice as long than expected.

In spite of the renewed interest in being missional and reaching our native communities, which we think is absolutely encouraging, we were called by God to serve in a foreign mission field and become part of another community in a different part of the world. We do believe that Making Disciples is an integral part of every believers life regardless of where you are called or where you find yourself. In that light we have moved from what would be considered more traditional methods to what we believe are God inspired processes. In fact, I would call them “7 God-Directed Deviations in Disciple Making.”

From Follow up to Follow in – Following up with a person or a community usually entails a consistent pattern of entering people’s day to day lives for a time and then leaving again for others to do more follow-up. We have chosen to follow people into their lives and live amongst them, work amongst them, suffer and cry with them, grow with, encourage and be encouraged by them. Following in and staying in, to us at least, seems more like the biblical pattern of Jesus.

From Outreach to Inreach – Closely related to the first, it remains somewhat different. In outreach, when you have to leave where you are, where you live or where you have been called to, to reach others “outside” of where you would normally live, there always comes a time when you have to return to where you came from. That place is often contextually different from the place you reach out to. Reaching inward, within your sphere of influence is naturally more productive because your context is already defined. You should not have to seek how to be culturally relevant, you should already be culturally relevant.

From Fly Paper to Flying like Eagles – The desire to attract and trap is replaced by equipping and setting free. We have to trust God in that when our time of influence over a community or a person is done, that He will propel them into the next phase of their lives.

From Dependency to Development . – We do not want to be pushers of the gospel offering all sorts of addictive attachments so that we can report large numbers of “salvations,” but are more focused on developing those that God has appointed us for and to. Though it may seem to us to be too few at times and hurt our prideful effectiveness, we know that focusing on a few at a time in equipping and development have much greater long term impacts. We focus less on being leaders and more in the development of leaders.

From Verbal to Tactile – In the abundance of words there is foolishness. (Proverbs 10) We don’t minimize the eternal power of the scriptures nor the use of those very same scriptures to bring people to salvation. At the same time we are convicted that there has been, in most cases, entirely too much talking and not enough action. A woman whom we recently visited in a remote town said “They come to preach sometimes, but never has one come to visit the poor, pray for the sick, or help those in need.” This was the answer she gave when asked if any Christians have visited. Our desire is to never be one of the “they.” My wife and I make sure we physically touch in every single person in appropriate circumstances. A hug, a kiss on the cheek, the laying on of hands, or even a simple pat on the back. Then we evaluate how we can touch their lives in most effective way with our current ability and capability.

From Regimental to Relational – Routine is good for some actions, but a routine implies that there is little or no change in the execution of a task. Discipleship is more of a process and like a relationship, there is give and take and constant adaptation. We have a relationship with Jesus and yet we hopefully become more Christ-like all the time. In any relationship, there is continual shifting, giving, and receiving. Methods may change, manners may be different, but the message of the gospel remains steadfast.

From because “They say so,” to because “He says so.” We could easily employ the latest and greatest ideas in how to disciple others, how to win souls, and how to effectively grow the church, but we are more interested in what God says to us and for His people that we have been called to work with. There are many times when certain pragmatic approaches will not work in different contexts, so we do our best to go where the Father says to go, say what He says to say, and do what He says to do. For the record, I love analyzing trends in disciple making and seeing how our iron can be sharpened by others who are also making disciples.

These 7 God-Directed Deviations from the status quo discipleship that has prevailed for years has produced remarkable fruit in our region of Ecuador.

Not all traditional methods are invalid – “Do not move the ancient landmark that your fathers have set.” (Proverbs 22:28) To be fair, we have used many traditional methods at times which seemed appropriate in the moment and context. We have practiced door to door evangelism, used gadgets, gizmos, and gifts as ice breakers to reach the lost. We have used tracts and dramas, street preaching, medical incentives, and clean water projects to effect positive changes within the communities in our region. We have hosted mission teams from the United States for the benefit of all involved, those ministering and those being ministered to. We have had a discipleship group meeting at our house every week for the last year covering a wide range of topics in a sometimes formal and sometimes informal teaching mode. All of these traditional methods have been brought under the guiding principles of the 7 God Directed Deviations listed above and they may not look exactly like what people are used to, but it has produced multi-generational disciples and disciple-makers.

The subject matter of our weekly gatherings has not been so traditional. With each week we encourage discussion amongst new believers and we have practical homework. For example, we in the States are used to finding bargains like “buy 2 get 1 free.” We decided as a group on several occasions to “buy 2 give 1 free.” We instructed in this manner: In the course of your daily lives this next week, whatever you need to buy, and if possible, buy 2, milk bread etc. Then find a person to give the second item to, someone in need. If they ask why you are doing this, explain the love of Christ to them. In this manner entire communities were affected.

All of our subject matter has also come under the guiding principles above. We have had a Discipleship Conference that was very successful at motivating others to make disciples in their communities. As a capstone to these practices, we have also instituted small discipleship groups of no more than 4 people (a variation of “Life Transformation Groups”*) and entire communities are involved in these as well. We can’t say that we have figured out the secret to making multi and trans-generational disciples, nor would we want to, but many have asked how we have gotten where we are. I hope this helps to answer some questions and I would be happy to give further details to those who would like them. You may also leave your comments below.

This article will soon be updated and expanded.

In and For Him,

Miguel Labrador

Gospel Fencing, arguing about it without ever sharing it.

Regardless of how many times I ask someone, “What is the Gospel?” I get different responses.  It seems, to me at least, that the answers given are more agenda driven than careful and biblical conclusions.

Believers often hesitate at answering the question because they either can not articulate it, or worse, they simply do not know.

 

 

 

It also seems that there is a competition of sorts to plant the definitional flag on the future territory of the Gospel’s meaning.

And so believer or not, the Gospel Fencing continues in order to win definitional dominance instead of using that very gospel message to effect Christlike living in those who would receive it.  And so, we lunge and parry, stab and feint, and posture ourselves in an on guard manner whenever the question is raised and do little to take that very same message to those who need it.  We would rather win our gospel fencing match than proclaim it or even live it.

That said, the Gospel is proclaimed in 5 senses in the New Testament as follows:

(1) The gospel of Jesus Christ (Mark 1:1; 1 Cor. 9:12) and the gospel of His Son (Rom. 1:9). These two descriptions speak of the good news of salvation that comes through the person and work of Jesus Christ who is the very Son of God in human flesh. Again, this is a good news of deliverance from sin’s penalty, power and presence through the two advents of Christ.
(2) The gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24) emphasizes that salvation in all of its aspects is on the basis of grace rather than on some meritorious system of works.
(3) The gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 4:23; 9:35; 24:14) is the good news that God has and will continue to establish His kingdom on earth.
(4) The gospel of peace (Eph. 6:15) describes how this good news of salvation in Christ brings peace in all its many aspects (peace with God, the peace of God, peace with others, and world peace) through the victory accomplished by the Savior.
(5) The eternal or everlasting gospel (Rev. 14:6) expands our perspective of gospel as we normally think of it. This gospel as proclaimed by the angel has several key elements of gloriously good news that are developed in the same chapter.

Any answer to the question, “What is the Gospel?”, that does not contain these 5 elements, is not complete.  What elements would you add (with scripture references, if possible) and what are your experiences when you ask the question, “What is the Gospel?”