America, Part 2

April 15, 2008

The purpose of my trip to the States was to speak at a conference. The purpose of the conference was to interact with and get to know churches that might have a desire to get involved with work here in Western Europe. During the conferences we had little break-out sessions where we were able to really jump into conversations with the representatives from the churches that attended. I really enjoyed getting to know these people, their heart, and their interest in things happening overseas.

But there where two things that struck me about my conversations. One, there’s a big difference between “doing missions” or being “missions minded” AND being missionAL or being ON mission with God. The first two terms seem to indicate that missions is simply a ministry of the church, like the mens ministry or the childrens ministry. I heard these two terms from quite a number of those attending the conferences. The second two terms indicate (or should indicate) the inherent nature of you and your church. Being on mission with God should be at the center, the core, of who you are to those around you, and how your church is seen by others. Unfortunately I didn’t hear these terms used very often.

Now some might say that it’s simply a matter of training or re-training. But I think it goes deeper than that. We’ve been conditioned to see church in a consumeristic way. We, being the consumer, come to shop on Sunday’s (or for really big churches most days of the week) and get our fill. In many cases these things have the purpose of making us feel better about ourselves. Now, no one would say that’s the purpose, but let’s be honest. When a guy comes home from a men’s ministry camping weekend, or the wife comes home from a weekend women’s conference how do they report their experience? And mission trips are no different…another ministry opportunity to get people “plugged in”.

However, the missio dei (the mission of God) is about seeing His kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven. It’s inherent in who He is. He doesn’t have a mission, He is the mission. And His mission should be carried out not only in the church, but in the lives of the individuals that make up the church…that’s you and me. Don’t make missions another ministry, another short term trip, another dollar in the offering plate. Make it who you are, someone who is on mission with God, not just someone that is missions minded.

The other big thing I noticed is that there were several churches that were waiting to get involved because they felt as though they didn’t have the resources. I’m sympathetic to smaller churches with small budgets not feeling as though they can make a “big” impact on things happening overseas. My recommendation…don’t wait until you have the resources. You never will. Partner with other churches, start small, start with a single purpose in a single place and let God grow it. But better still, start in your own community. Being on mission with God doesn’t necessarily mean that your involvement with God’s mission has to be done over here. Bring about God’s kingdom in your community. Partner with other churches that share your vision and passion for seeing God move in your community and in your world. And go from there…

If any of this resonates with you I’d love to talk more with you about it. Shoot me an email. This is something I’m passionate about and I would love to see your community transformed through your obedience to be on mission with God.

Technorati Tags: ,

I was planning to post another short about my recent trip to the States, but it will have to wait for another day. This post, while it is about America, has nothing to do with my trip. I wouldn’t normally comment on things like I am today, but I couldn’t really let this go.

My mom forwarded me an email the other day about Oprah. Let’s pause here and just say for the record that my mom is really good about not forwarding emails to me that she knows I’m not going to be interested in. And I appreciate that. But this one I guess she couldn’t resist. The email had a link to a YouTube video that basically says we need to be aware of what Oprah is preaching, flip off our TV, etc., etc. It seems a new resistance, or problem, or worrying trend, or whatever you want to call it, has sprung up against Oprah regarding her new book club selection The New Earth. It’s basically a new age book, which according to some, looks very similar to what you would find in Buddhism. Now for the record I don’t think or care about Oprah all that much. They air her show over here about 6 months after it airs in the States. The only time I really get interested in watching is when Dr. Oz is on. I like him, and come on, when is more knowledge about your colon not a good idea.

I think many individuals for a long time have realized that when it comes to faith or spirituality Oprah is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. So when she speaks about faith (or anything related to it) I typically don’t pay much attention. And I haven’t paid much attention to this either. And I don’t really plan to. And I don’t think you should either.

Here’s why. Focusing on things like this only succeed in taking our focus off things that really matter, things that will in the end have a lasting impact on eternity. Focus on being Jesus to your neighbor, your co-worker, your children, your parents…basically anyone you come in contact with. Take all the energy and effort you would use to tell the masses about the evilness of Oprah and use it to tell about the greatness of God. Go work at a homeless shelter. Clean up your neighborhood. Invite your neighbors over for dinner. Do something to increase the Kingdom. Don’t waste your time on Oprah.

The only thing that’s worth noticing about the latest belief system of Oprah, and those that are following her is that once again, it’s evidence that America is heading towards post-Christianity. In all honesty, America is the new mission field. And just think, you’re there, living right in the midst of it. You don’t even have to pack up your belongings and move across the ocean to be on mission with God. It’s all around you, right where you live.

-shorty

America, Part 1

April 6, 2008

I recently went to the States to speak at a couple of conferences. This was my first time back to the States since the first part of 2006…almost 2 years. I’m planning several posts about my time there.

To say I felt a little funny would be an understatement. The first night I ate at Chili’s with a colleague. Chips and ranch, chicken crispers, and loads of sweet tea. I paid the price later that night, but for an hour or so it felt great to eat some “old-normal” food. You see, I’ve had to differentiate between old-normal and new-normal. Chili’s, the mall, and driving on the right side of the road, these are the things that are my old-normal. The Gourmet Burger Kitchen, arcades (not the kind with games), and driving on the left side of the road are my new-normal. I don’t know that one is better, or that one is right, and the other is worse, or wrong. They’re just different. And for the first time in my life I felt a little out of place in that Chili’s. The teenagers, the dress, the accents, they all felt a little weird. When we went through training before moving over here we were told that our kids were no longer called MK’s (missionary kids). The new term was TCK’s (Third Culture Kids). Our children don’t fit in with American culture, and they don’t really fit in with the culture here. They fit in a third, almost undefined culture. I felt a little like a TCA (third culture adult).

I enjoyed my time in the States. It was short. But I was glad to get back to western europe…where I feel more normal.

-shorty

The Stories of Others

January 2, 2008

I was watching a show recently where a part-time character was killed in an auto accident. One of the main characters was responsible for telling the spouse about her husband’s death. The main character commented that until this particular day she didn’t even know the wife (they worked at the same place), but was now the one that brought the news that would make up one of the worst days in the life of the wife. The main character would now be known as the one who told the wife of her husband’s death. She would be “that” person in the wife’s story of her life.

It got me to thinking…what part have I or will I play in the stories of others? When my neighbors tell their life story what part will I play? Will I be the one that showed them what Jesus was like, or will I show them what hypocritical religion was like, or will I even be mentioned at all?

I hope that when others I know, or will come to know, mention me in their stories it will be because in me they saw and experienced the hands, feet, eyes, mouth, and ears of Jesus. Hopefully they will say that I pointed them to the throne of Christ.

-shorty

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Unhappy

June 29, 2007

So, here’s a question. Can you be in the will of God, doing what you’re called to do, and be unhappy at the same time? I’m not talking about joy. Happiness and joy are two totally different things. I’m talking about being unhappy with life. And if you’re unhappy how do you fix it?

I was speaking with a colleague today and his opinion was that unhappiness was due to one of two things: either working outside your giftedness, or selfishness. In other words, if you have peace about where you are and what you’re doing, you know that you are in God’s will for your life, and you are unhappy it could be that the work you are doing doesn’t match up with what you’re gifted in. Or, you are unhappy because of selfishness, wanting things that you can’t have or don’t need. For example, when you move to a new culture you inevitably miss things from back home like certain aspects of the city you’re from, friends, familiarity of things, etc. If you begin to want those things in the new culture you find yourself in, knowing full well that you won’t get them, you can become unhappy with your current situation.

So how long should this unhappiness be allowed to last? And how do you take care of it?

Technorati Tags: ,