On Strategy

July 10, 2007

I read with great interest blogs and sites that deal with issues of strategy and methodology in missions. I appreciate and respect individuals like Guy Muse and David Rogers. They talk about things like MAWL (Model, Assist, Watch, and Leave), or common elements found in CPM’s (Church Planting Movements), or strategies from Wolfgang Simpson’s book Houses That Change the World.

In and of themselves these are all good things to discuss. I’m of the belief that while strategies are good to study, the implementation of them is quite dependent on the geographical location and group of people you are working with. There are things that Guy writes about on his blog that simply wouldn’t work where I’m at. It doesn’t mean that they are bad, they’re just not right in this context. Much of what is written about mission strategy starts with a wrong assumption. The assumption is made that there are those that have either come to faith, or about to come to faith. So the strategy focuses on what to do at the point of conversion so that it can be duplicated such that it leads to a movement. This is why much of what I read about mission strategy doesn’t work for me.

I live in a European context. But I’m not working with Europeans. I’m working with Muslim ethnic minorities. The community is completely closed. They have little to no use in outsiders. If you don’t have a good or service to offer them they want nothing to do with you. To “do life” with them is very difficult…next to impossible in my opinion. Theological discussions will not persuade them. And these people are not coming to faith and are not near coming to faith.

So you can see that I have a hard time taking what others are doing (or not doing) and try to implement it here. I have to find something that works for where I’m at and who I’m trying to reach. And this has led me to a passage I read recently in John 4. The son of a royal official is very ill. The father comes to Jesus asking him to heal his boy. Jesus responds by saying, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe”. In other words, Jesus is saying “look, you won’t believe in me based on what I’m saying, so I’m going to have to show you something miraculous and blow you out of the water in order for you to believe.” And he does just that. He heals the boy and as a result the father and his whole household come to faith (v. 53). This is where I’m at with strategy. I’m not giving up on building relationships with those in my community. In fact, I’m doing just the opposite. But I truly feel that these people will have to see sign and wonders, and will have to have dreams and visions in order to come to faith. I know that God can move anyway he chooses, but it just seems that something is going to have to shake these people to their very foundation before they will look and behold the glory and grace of Jesus Christ.

So now my strategy contains a lot of praying for signs, wonders, dreams, and visions. It may be the only way this community is saved.

-shorty

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6 Responses to “On Strategy”

  1. Alan Knox said

    Shorty,

    I would love to hear Guy and David respond to this. I think they would agree with you. Strategies and methods may work in some instances, but that doesn’t mean they will work in all cases. I think that we have relied on strategies, methods, models, and structures too many times. The problem is that these things are created to help us reach and disciple people, but they can turn into a hinderance. We must always keep people in mind and focus on people, not on the specific strategies, methods, models, etc. I pray that God will begin to build and strengthen your relationships with people, and then work through you to bring them into his kingdom.

    -Alan

  2. David Rogers said

    Shorty,

    Great post! I do think there are certain universally applicable missiological principles. But the context, and the specific barriers to be overcome in the making of disciples are going to be different in each context. Thus, in some contexts, we will concentrate our efforts more in overcoming certain barriers, and in other contexts, other barriers. In your case, the barrier of spiritual blindness seems to be one of the real “biggies.” And specifically spiritual barriers require specifically spiritual strategies.

  3. shorty said

    Alan – it seems David heard your request. And I agree with your assessment that we sometimes rely too heavily on strategies. If we’re not careful it’s easy to fall into the trap of trying something just because it’s worked somewhere else. And thanks for the encouraging words.

    David – when you have time I would be interested in hearing what you believe to be universally applicable missiological principles.

    -shorty

  4. David Rogers said

    Shorty,

    If you could send me your e-mail address to loveeachstone@gmail.com, I have a PowerPoint presentation on my ideas related to your question I would be happy to send you.

    One of these days, I would like to actually flesh these ideas out more, and put them into book format.

    What I’ve got to say on this is way too long for a blog comment, though.

    Blessings,

    David

  5. GuyMuse said

    I just “discovered” your blog and have been reading through several of your posts. Good stuff!

    I think you are right in being careful to blindly adopt a “one size fits all” mentality. For me all these things you mention are tools in our CP tool box. Depending upon the situation and need an appropriate tool is pulled from the box. Kevin, another IMB-M in S. America has a good post on this very thing today here.

  6. Paul said

    Prayer and fasting is a strategy that we should all be using.

    I love other kinds of strategies too…just look at the emrgnet.eu blog on the European context.

    But we must never forget that a life of prayer and fasting must guide our strategic thinking. After all, salvation is a miracle.

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