Blog

Many churches which have done a number of short term missions trips have been struggling with some common questions. "We have done construction or other tasks. Is there more? Is there a way for us to develop a relationship with another church or community? What are the pitfalls to avoid and the opportunities to embrace in doing joint ministry? What about serving together in a third location?

July 19, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Video

Is it possible to develop relationships that cross cultures and cross significant differences in wealth and power? Andy Crouch, executive producer for the Global Conversation video series, sat down with two men whose churches have nurtured twenty years of partnership in mission, Chapel Hill...

July 19, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

This paper comes out of personal experience and observation of missionaries of many nationalities working with West Africans who are Muslim Background Believers, in several Sahelian, francophone, predominantly Muslim countries (Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Guinea.)

The immense income...

July 19, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

How do we increase the odds that STM will make a long-term difference in the lives of our kids long after the suitcases are unpacked and the photo albums are buried in bedroom closets? A two day “Short-Term Missions Effectiveness” Think Tank showed a common theme: we need to do a better job...

July 19, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

An article by Hunter Farrell from a special issue of the Journal of Latin American Theology: Christian Reflections from the Latino South on short-term missions in Latin America. 

July 19, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

"Everyone knows . . . That short term missions benefit the people who come, not the people here."

Is that true? If so, then thousands of people are raising millions of dollars each year to do something not for others, but for themselves. Are we fooling ourselves by pretending these trips...

July 19, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Authentic partnership is characterized by “mutually enabling, inter-dependent interaction with shared intentions,” which implies, “inter alia, a joint commitment to long-term interaction, shared responsibility for achievement, reciprocal obligation, equality, mutuality and balance of power.”...

July 16, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

This article explains the crucial roles a facilitator plays in successful global partnership.

July 16, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

This article addresses why Western high-control leadership styles may not fit cross-cultural partnerships.

July 16, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

General guidelines for international partnerships between PC(USA) congregations, presbyteries and synods and international churches and institutions.

July 16, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Cross cultural experiences open our eyes to areas where our own culture needs transformation. Assessing resources in both organizations is more than just financial, it also includes intellectual, spiritual, emotional and the like. 

July 16, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article
Should you do to others what you would have them do to you?

In 1987 we spent two weeks of cultural orientation living in an empty hut in a Fulani village in Mali. Another missionary couple lived and worked on the other side of the village. Our Fulani neighbors brought us lunch every day--millet...

July 16, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

This article from Catalyst Services shares the most essential elements of successful partnerships and most frequently seen partnership quagmires.

July 16, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

We believe that everyone has been given gifts and resources by God. We see close relationships between distant churches as a way to share the resources and knowledge that we have with each other.

July 16, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

A multi-agency task force has assembled this draft of principles that can help guide partnerships.

July 16, 2010 0 1 comments
Resource, Article

Condensed version of World Renew (formerly known as CRWRC) Core Learning module: Community Development and Transformation, Basic Principles and Practices. (CRWRC/World Renew).

July 15, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Huyser Prayer Letter, March 2009
Christian Reformed World Missions
Apartado 1076
Managua, Nicaragua
E-mail: jhuyser@crcna.org


Dear friends,

“For now we see in a mirror dimly . . .” I Corinthians 13:12

One of my highlights this past year has been...

July 15, 2010 0 0 comments
Blog

Timothy was trained in ministry by the Apostle Paul and called upon to train others (II Timothy 2:2) so that the church would have an on-going supply of focused, disciplined and hard-working leaders.  This makes the use of his name with a new leadership training material very appropriate.  Although this material was developed for untrained pastors in Africa, it is now being used in Asia, Latin America, Europe and North America as well.  In fact, Timothy Leadership Training (TLT) is present in 48 countries around the world. The genius of the method is two-fold: inductive approach and action planning.

July 13, 2010 0 0 comments
Blog

The uniting general council meeting of the World Communion of Reformed Churches is now history.  It's hard to know what impact this merger will have on the mission effort of the 80 million Christians who belong to one of the member denominations.  Concepts of mission certainly vary within and across denominational lines. 

June 29, 2010 0 1 comments
Resource, Article

Squirrels and chipmunks scurried underfoot. Birds sang brightly in the beautiful trees. Buildings, clean, elegant, modern and vibrant stretched around immaculate, manicured lawns. I had to pinch myself to try to remember I wasn’t actually in a Disney film – and that a singing fawn was not going...

June 29, 2010 0 0 comments
Blog

The maturity of the worldwide Church that the World Communion of Reformed Churches gathering exemplifies is something to celebrate, and to ponder. Although there is still much that North American churches can contribute to the world in terms of ministry among unreached peoples, leadership training and the application of Christian worldview, there is also much that we can learn and receive from our brothers and sisters in the Majority World (Asia, Africa and Latin America). The vigor of those churches, their deep commitment ...

June 14, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Type Not Listed

This question and answer addresses the question of timing.  Is it best to respond immediately upon completing one's education or gain some experience (and lose some student debt) first.  This is not the final word but raises some good points.  Steve

June 11, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

My husband is big into fishing. I could wallpaper my house with all the pictures we have of him holding a fish. They all look the same to me, but he can point to it and tell you how many inches it was, what stretch of the river he got it, during what season, and using what fly. Shocking the...

June 11, 2010 0 31 comments
Resource, Website

Catalyst Services provides many valuable resources for missions committees seeking to educate and stimulate their congregations to deeper understanding and involvement in missions.

June 11, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Often new church starts think that international missions is great . . . but must wait until the church is up and running.  This resource focuses on the concept of building an international component into the DNA of the church from its beginning.

June 11, 2010 0 0 comments

Pages

RSS

Brother Daniel

7), I believe participation by ALL stake-holders is needed before proceding in continuing an important dialogue such as this. This is my wisdom sense. This includes our Missions and Reformed African church partners. Our partners' ideas suggestions and wisdom should shape forward positive shaping of our business involvement in Africa.

My emphasis has and remains focused on implementation that will build stronger African churches and denominations in Africa.

Philosophical or theoretical discussions I must admit are NOT my strong point. Strategy yes, the Great Commission yes, going and consulting in Africa yes.

In lay church language: I am not 'comfortable' with policy discussions, debates and meetings that will not uplift the Church in Africa. I am just being honest.

I am no expert on movements, but I think that the components common to movements are a sticky idea or goal, broad grassroots connections, a critical mass and open communication.  Conversely, as these components weaken, a movement fizzles out and/or becomes a limited program.

Ministry "with" involves mutual, side-by-side participation, a relationship of trust, and an affirmation of each other's contributions toward achieving a common goal.  Each of these features of doing ministry "with" are challenging because each defies the norms and patterns of our history.  However, when we step away from ministry "to" and "for" and into ministry "with," we look back and wonder how we ever got a fresh breath of air in our old, sealed bubble.

I view this forum. Fronse as something of a "think tank" where policy that affects the global mission of the CRC is dicussed openly, and hopefully that it those who have responsibility for setting mission policy egage in the discussion and adjust some of what they think and how they set policy accordingly.  

As we think about how we carry on the "mission" of the church I have been looking at three issues.  The first has to do with general missionn philosophy as it affects policy.  This has to do with how we can most affectively deploy resources and people the most effectively.  the 2nd issue which we have also been discussing has to do with how to best engage and mobilize the Christian business community in both the mission of the church and in economic development empowerment.  The 3rd issue which also affects this discussion of mobilizing the body of Christ effectively, is how we partner with other Christians both at home in in missions (I have addressed this more in the forum on the Belhar confession).  

Your comments in a previous commment about the Reformed churches in Zambia and South Africa relate to this issue.  Our we as "Reformed" thinking people most effective in extending the gospel of the kingdom by partnering and encouraging other Reformed communities with our resources and time.  Or are we also effective in extending the gospel of our king as effeccitvely by engaging with denominational mission aspirations from various evangelical fellowships who are aggressively engaged in church planting.

So let me again suggest that you address the six points--amend them, add a 7th point.

Brother Daniel, I'm not sure if modifications are needed. My key question is HOW a strategic, cohesive discussion can take place in the CRWRC and other agencies with business people who are CRC and other serious interested parties. For me I've learned to read as much as I can that is available from CRCNA about Mission and to trust their leadership to shape and guide members' participation. This said, it has not been easy and requires faith, trust and communication.

You know 'Business' thinking is different from the norm and too often structure has to be understood to navigate positively.

Fronse,  Can you make some modificationns to what I wrote and inform me regarding additions.

To gkynast: Yes the fruit of that labor is amazing--and that amazing story is being told in the book On Mended Wings, to be released in November.  It has been a humbling privilege for me to gather the information and tell that tale..

posted in: Can We Be Friends?

Great to get this perspective on the start of a friendship that I was privileged to see up-close... Two men, egos aside, allowing God to do HIS thing through them... The fruit of that friendship has been nothing short of amazing!

posted in: Can We Be Friends?

Thank you Lou, I have been doing lay-person business consulting in Zambia, South Africa and Senegal since 1993 in conjunction with my wife Germaine who centers on education advocacy for African students seeking higher education at Hope College, Western Seminary and Calvin College.

As a career Pharmaceutical Purchasing Manager now retired, MBA GVSU, etc. I made a life commitment to make a difference in Africa and America years ago. I am more than willing to discuss my experiences at any time.

I have a Linkedin.com profile page, my email is bellopellebonsmith@yahoo.com

Brother Daniel, Your plans sound feasible and I concur on most points. I would offer the concept of utilizing the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa, Univ of Stellenbosch, the Reformed Church in Zambia and Justo Mwale Theological College all who have active programs touching on your numbered items especially seminary, diaconal training and church planting. Working on-the-continent with established Reformed institutions and the URCSA will be efficient and practical.

You have thought well and shared your wisdom ideas and I thank you.

"While you were sleeping...." Wow!  Daniel, you have quite an agenda, and one while not unfamiliar to me, is "bigger than both of us"!  And throw in a whole lot of others for good measure!   I trust that this will get the attention of some folk, both in the trenches and in the  offices.  I'll try to call this piece to the attention of a few people I know, and see where it goes.  Steve, we count on you to get this circulated also (OK, people see this here...good) beyond this site to a few key people you know.

(forgive me, but I'm on three, four other "projects" right now that are stretching me time wise; but I respect the topic/issue)

Let me switch my comments away from the topic of the role of business in missions to a rough sketch of how we should focus our mission resources both people, time and funds.    

First, let me say that part of my experience and education comes from being raised in on one of the most dysfunctional mission fields in the CRC's history---our first foreign mission field among the Navajo people.  It was dysfunctional and still perpetuates that dysfunction because of parentalism, dependancy, control issues, and a general failure to raise up and release leaders.     We essentially failed to apply the principles of self-governence, self-support and self-propagation.  When I look at CRC missions as a whole we have done better over time, but still make some of the same mistakes.

Our mission strategy with both CRWM and CRWRC need to simplify our approach to several basic mechanisms that stand beside our brothers in the churches we serve in other countries.  

1) We should say to any evangelical denomination that we will support and resource their church planting efforts with 80% of a decent salary for every church planter that their local churches raise up and send out.  In Ethiopia this would be $80/month.  In Mexico it might be $480/month.   This support will decline over a 5-6 year period--and may be susttained longer if new church planter begins a second congregation after 3 years.

2) We will support the development of mini-seminary training (5 lessons on each seminary course) put on laptop computers--filmed in the language of the church planter by a more educated pastor.  We will support these "apostolic" educated leaders with a higher salary (x3) and expense budget.  We may also support 

3) We will send pastors from our U.S. churches twice a year to participate in conferences for these pastors--who with their congregations in the U.S. will develop distance pastoral relationships with key leaders in these church planting efforts.

4) CRWRC will focus primarily on helping various denominations set up "diaconal conferences" that assist pastors and their deacons in ministering to the poor.   These diaconal conferences will be shown how to run micro-loan programs, provide startup funds for businesses, provide loans for private school development, and advise in special projects that are being developed---sourced by the people in the conferences.

5)  We will limit our field staff to a few country coordinators whose job is to know the partners with whom we engage, and oversee the development of 1-4.   Note: It costs us around $100,000 annually to field a missionary--who drive around in nice Toyota Land Cruisers while our partners in ministry struggle with transportation.   For $100,000 we could help local congregations send 100 church planters in Ethiopia and most of sub-Saharan Africa.

6) We would also become very intentional about raising up Christian businessmen, and investors who would selectivvely joint venture with Christian businessmen in businesses that have potential for economic transformation.

Most of the denominational leaders with whom I work in Ethiopia would love this approach to partnering with them.  Most are more capable than I am, as are the businessmen.  While some mentoring takes place between us, it is really the encouragement, prayers, and resources that they desire.

The rough sketch that I propose above will probably not be easily embraced because we are comfortable as things have been done in the past.  But the CRC could release 5-10,000 church planters if we pursued this type of approach, and our ties between US churches would be greatly enhanced. 

 

Fronse, greetings, where ever you are (you referenced travels to parts of Africa earlier)...    If you haven't seen the book "My Business, My Mission" you will get some good perspective from people who are doing that.  But you sound as if you are already into things like that; in which case, carry on the conversation with some of the staff people perhaps.  Steve VZ can put you in touch with them ( I have it on his grapevine that someone may be contributing soon to this conversation also)          - Lou

This conversation is great and I appreciate the dialogue and information. I am learning more than I 'thought I knew'!!

Thanks to all

I emailed the conversation to Greg Elizinga of Partners Worldwide.  He is currently in India, but said he would get in on this conversation ASAP.  Steve

Lots of good information, and perspective, in your two posts, Daniel.   Steve and Wendy, strikes me now is the time to get someone from the "business as mission" people into the conversation (not really my field, tho it interests me, having translated last year for a PWW conference).

Also Mike Kiekover, who may not be seeing this again - I'll contact him directly.  As you can see on his July post, he has insight and first-hand experience with this kind of topic.     -Lou

Regarding Parrtners, Lou and Steve, they do wonderful work and are deeply involved with business men who do great work.     I used to attend there annual summits regularly, one of the only pastors who has.   But the basic paradigm is still "charitable, business development", and is led from the context  of development work and not business as business as done here in the U.S.  When our business men become "charitable, business mentors" they do wonderful work, and some may even invest some funds throught the global development funds---but they do not do business as if it were their own, or as if they were fully vested, full at risk partners where they are willing to lay it all on the line as they had to when they did busiesss successfully in the States.  As a result there are limits to their potential for successful business outcomes.  There is an artificality that limits the businesses potential to attract huge amounts of capital to the business enterprises.   There are huge opportunities for profitable enterprises in places like Ethiopia, but we create an artificial barrier that prohibits charitable businessmen from the Christian community in the U.S. from entering such opportunities in partnership with Ethiopian believers as  a for-profit enterprise.   As a result the amount of capital, technology transfer etc. are limited and retarded.  The Chinese, the Arabs, and the Indians enter these countries to do business--- our Christian businessmen wonder why we are not present with them.  They prefer us because even when we do business as business we have a different kind of relationship that is fair and without avarice.

Lou,  I have been working in Ethiopia (16 visits) since adopting a son there in 2004.  I work under Mission Ethiopia and First Mission after being requested by church leaders from Ethiopia to return.  Yes the OPC has a very small work in Ethiopia.  The PCA has a ministry to AIDs people, Rehoboth CRC from NM, has a strong relationship with Bethany and a children's home called Yezelem Minch.  The Presbyterian Church of Ethiopia was restarted in 2002 with two small congregations, but it has grown to 84 churches since in part by uniting with former Presbyterians who were forced to join the Lutherans by the communist regime in the 80's.  I also work closely with the Ethiopian Orthodox leaders and the Mennonite churches. 

The PCUSA has had a long term mission work in Southern Sudan and Ethiopia since the early 1900's, and the Dinka, Anuak and Nuer are largely conservative presbyterians today, eager for a relationship with churches in the U.S. from the Reformed persuasion.

Hi Lou, the "our agencies" with which I hope that business people feel they can engage with referred to CRCNA agencies in general (CRWRC, CRWM, and PWW although it's not an official "agency")

The fiscal autonomy was referencing just CRWRC.  I can see where that would be confusing, since in the first paragraph I used "we" as in representing all of CRCNA, and in the second I was referring just to the agency for which I work. 

Hi Dan,

  You mentioned Partners Worldwide very briefly with the comment that it was being run by development people.  But the point if PWW is to engage Christian business people here in North America.  All the people that I know working with Majority world partners are business people.  I'm forwarding the conversation to Greg Elzinga who was in the business world for a number of years before going to world for Partners.  Steve

Thanks, Wendy... I'll likely need more clarification as to what you mean by "fiscal autonomy."  You say "our agencies...."

In relation to what Daniel writes an hour later, I'm a bit puzzled.  Not sure who you are in Ethopia with (I know the OPC has had a lot of work there years ago; had to leave, I believe.  You mention "presbiterians."    What I'm wondering is if you have seen what a CRWRC spin-off - Partners Worldwide - is doing.  Check out their websire, see if you can get some ideas from them. They have quite a bit of info online, and some publications. 

Limited time just now, but this to keep us going.     Fraternally, Lou

 

Regarding the use of businessmen to strengthen the church.   This should be a natural for us with our concept of the Reformed faith integrating every sphere of society, but very little thought has been developed in this area.  Business is often thought as being to contaminated by “worldliness”, and yet the CRCNA has some of the greatest (and wealthiest) business people in the world.  Profitability when doing business as mission is looked at unfavorably.

Our business community should be engaged not simply as mentors, but as angels and investors—doing business as business—using best business practices.  This should always be as profitable a relationship for all the parties involved as possible.  When we do business as charity, or even as developmental aid we do not do business as well as it needs to be done.

What we need to create a  small-cap funds, mission venture funds, and seed money funding (which we have)  that permit Christian US business people and investors to engage hand in hand with the Christian business community in Africa, Asia, and South America---in places where we or others are extending the gospel of the kingdom through church planting, and diaconal ministries.    Mike, if I understand your comment  regarding “our investments” it strikes me that you have a fear of a mutually profitable relationship that should be nurtured between Christian business men from both sides of the equation.  I am guessing that you are not a business person---most development workers are not business people.

Sound business investment practices alongside are Christian brothers in countries like Ethiopia and Nigeria can when done as business bring an end to severe poverty.  When business is done as charity it falters and fails.  What I am saying is known by Christian businessmen in Ethiopia.  They get it immediately.  I am not capable of mentoring them—if they have survived as businessmen in their setting, they are often

We are trying to launch a three wheeled, rural automobile factory in partnership with Ethiopian partners.  We are in the 3rd phase of our development.  As we move to our fourth phase we anticipate being able to attract $3 million.  The 5th phase  $12 million.  And we should have a several models that will work in the rural agricultural setting.   Poverty is the absence of $$$ capital.  Business is the solution to poverty—not development aid.   We hope to undergird the huge Christian community in Ethiopia with the resource of affordable transportation.   We hope to have a program that will permit a church planter to own a rural transport vehicle that will generate enough income to support his family.

We have a partnership and ownership of a 600 acre farm in Southern Ethiopia. If we could attract $300,000 investment to this farm we would be able to establish a partnership model between U.S. investors and the farmers we are working with there.    This are of Southern Ethiopia, and Southern  Sudan is huge—as big as the breadbasket of the Midwest.  Their largely Presbyterian.  They want us to partner with them.  We—the CRCNA with its millionaire farmers could wipe out the cycle of hunger in the horn of Africa.   But we need to move to a totally different paradigm to have this kind of impact.

 

Regarding the use of businessmen to strengthen the church.   This should be a natural for us with our concept of the Reformed faith integrating every sphere of society, but very little thought has been developed in this area.  Business is often thought as being to contaminated by “worldliness”, and yet the CRCNA has some of the greatest (and wealthiest) business people in the world.  Profitability when doing business as mission is looked at unfavorably.

 

Our business community should be engaged not simply as mentors, but as angels and investors—doing business as business—using best business practices.  This should always be as profitable a relationship for all the parties involved as possible.  When we do business as charity, or even as developmental aid we do not do business as well as it needs to be done.

What we need to create a  small-cap funds, mission venture funds, and seed money funding (which we have)  that permit Christian US business people and investors to engage hand in hand with the Christian business community in Africa, Asia, and South America---in places where we or others are extending the gospel of the kingdom through church planting, and diaconal ministries.    Mike, if I understand your comment  regarding “our investments” it strikes me that you have a fear of a mutually profitable relationship that should be nurtured between Christian business men from both sides of the equation.  I am guessing that you are not a business person---most development workers are not business people.

Sound business investment practices alongside are Christian brothers in countries like Ethiopia and Nigeria can when done as business bring an end to severe poverty.  When business is done as charity it falters and fails.  What I am saying is known by Christian businessmen in Ethiopia.  They get it immediately.  I am not capable of mentoring them—if they have survived as businessmen in their setting, they are often

We are trying to launch a three wheeled, rural automobile factory in partnership with Ethiopian partners.  We are in the 3rd phase of our development.  As we move to our fourth phase we anticipate being able to attract $3 million.  The 5th phase  $12 million.  And we should have a several models that will work in the rural agricultural setting.   Poverty is the absence of $$$ capital.  Business is the solution to poverty—not development aid.   We hope to undergird the huge Christian community in Ethiopia with the resource of affordable transportation.   We hope to have a program that will permit a church planter to own a rural transport vehicle that will generate enough income to support his family.

We have a partnership and ownership of a 600 acre farm in Southern Ethiopia. If we could attract $300,000 investment to this farm we would be able to establish a partnership model between U.S. investors and the farmers we are working with there.    This are of Southern Ethiopia, and Southern  Sudan is huge—as big as the breadbasket of the Midwest.  Their largely Presbyterian.  They want us to partner with them.  We—the CRCNA with its millionaire farmers could wipe out the cycle of hunger in the horn of Africa.   But we need to move to a totally different paradigm to have this kind of impact.

I just returned from a trip to Uganda with a church from California that's trying to establish a sister church type of relationship. They had many great ideas; I'll highlight some of them here. It's interesting to note that many of them came from the two high school students that were with the group!

- provide a photo of the church in N.A. to put in the church in Uganda

- make rubber bracelets with the name of both churches and a Bible verse, so each can remember to pray for each other

- distribute letters with photos from one church to the other. This was a big hit, and the community returned the favor and they'll be brought back to the NA church.

- we spent a week meeting with the church leaders. In the evenings the pastors took turns hosting the group. Was a great time for fellowship.

I have very much enjoyed reading everyone's comments. I just returned from a trip to Uganda where a church from North America is developing a relationship with a church in Uganda. What struck me most was the similarity between the two churches, even though divided by so much distance. Also how vibrant that church in the "developing world" is! 

Regarding engaging businessmen: I hesitate to say that money cures everything. But I do hope that they feel they can get involved through our agencies. What do you think should be done to improve that? What would that look like?

Lou: CRWRC is seeking clarification about fiscal autonomy, as government agencies want to be assured that we have control over our finances and that it's not really controlled by CRCNA. We are still very much committed to partnering with other agencies and we couldn't function without the support and partnership with our churches.

Thank you for sharing, Steve. I just came back from spending a week with a church in Uganda and there is so much we can learn from our neighbors in the developing world. The church I visited has this vision: "A healthy discipled church, doubling in number each year, rooted in God's word, showing love to the community and committed to carry out the great commission." How inspiring! 

Joel,

Thanks much for the list of questions. In my three-decades-old small group, we often ask a leading question as a conversation starter. I plan to put these to good use.

posted in: Can We Be Friends?

Thanks, Joel.

Your post helps me find words for what I have experienced and seen during at The Nehemiah Center over the past three years. I have seen the energy and synergy of a movement. And it was that energy and synergy that motivated me to write a book about what I saw and heard: On Mended Wings: Transforming Lives and Communities in Nicaragua, schduled for release in November 2012.

 As a novice and observer in the world of global mission, I find myself wondering  how diminishment of the energy and enthusiasm of a movement can be prevented as it begins to generate programs.

Wow.  These questions are incredibly thought provoking.

I would love to see a lot more.  Joel, if you are on facebook you could easily post a question every couple days for people to ponder.  One good question that causes even one person to reflect just a little more is better than some long winded devotional.  Spiritual guides have used good questions for centuries.  I believe Jesus was good at asking the right questions as well.  Now, may we have the sense to slow down and ponder how we might answer.

God bless!

posted in: Can We Be Friends?

It is hard to pick the top ten, so I'll list fifteen, but this is not a prioritized list and not necessarily the top questions (I have a list of about 400 questions):

1.  Considering the opportunities God presents to you and the way he has shaped you, in what ways can you add the most kingdom value to the lives of others?

2. How do you keep from becoming a "consumer" rather than a "worshipper"?

3. Eldon Ladd calls our present age the "already but not yet" kingdom.  What is the evidence that we are living in the "already"?   How can you allow God to use you to increase the "already" aspect of the kingdom in your spheres of influence?

4. What is the question that, if you had the answer, would give you greater freedom or transformation?

5. What are the rough or crooked places in your life that keep Christ from more fully using you in the arenas where you have oversight or influence?

6. What one change would you like to make in your life?  What keeps you from making the change you desire?

7. What are you doing to constantly grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ and to avoid attitudinal or behavioral ruts?

8. Is God having his way with you?  How might you be getting in his way?

9. What is the biggest obstacle you face to growth in Christ-likeness... from within?  From without?

10. What burdens has God been putting on your heart to see happen?

11. Who benefits from your success?

12. What are you risking for the sake of the Gospel?

13. What percentage of your God-given potential are you using?  What would it take to increase that percentage?

14. Do you have a prayer life, or a life of prayer?  What is the difference?

15. Why are you doing what you are doing?

 

I hope these questions also help you to listen more than talk and that they open up for you and others deep and important issues in your faith journey. 

Peace, Joel

posted in: Can We Be Friends?

And the top 10 questions are . . . ??  Please share.  Thank you.  

posted in: Can We Be Friends?

 I have been collecting questions for the past 15 years, because I have a tendency to talk more than listen.  Asking questions helps me to listen better.  However, any old question will not suffice; the art of asking simple but profound questions focuses everyone on thinking about what really matters. 

posted in: Can We Be Friends?

Was going to comment, but I can't say it any better than George did. Amazing that one question was the catalyst for such an amazing movement! 

posted in: Can We Be Friends?

Too often I think I can go it alone in many aspects of life, including my specifically church-related work.  And I think that to my own detriment, as I suspect many others do, too!  Thanks for these inspiring reflections.  ~Stan 

posted in: Can We Be Friends?

Having had the opportunity to visit the Nehemiah centre a few years ago and witness the powerful way in which cooperation between ministires multiplies affectiveness I thank God for this one question that bridged the gap and made such a crucial beginning.  I am also thankful to hear that this model is now being replicated in other places and having the same powerful affect.  We need far fewer walls and far more bridges of freindship and cooperation.

posted in: Can We Be Friends?

Great to get your input, Mike.  Your dad (who forwarded my note to you)  and I have been friends and missionary colleagues two continents apart for all these years; so good now to get some perspective from the next generation.  Our son John is presently in Tanzania and South Africa doing what you suggest: training trainers (in church strengthening and growth.

You've put out a lot of suggestions that our leaders, in the various dimensions of mission, will have to take into account.  Those are in many ways more complex than some of the things we did in our roles.  But if that is what it takes then we must gear up for that.     -Lou

Well said Mike ! You make very salient points !

Sadly, my four paragraphs of comments disappeared when I pressed the back arrow!!  So this will be a shorter version of the earlier version, with some additional comments where my back arrow led me astray!!  Mike Kiekover here... 

In order to keep my train of thought going, I will paraphrase my earlier comments... 

I only have the prior 11 posts to refer to in my response.

CRC missions (and this covers both CRWRC and CRWM) have done a great job of educating - training students from early elementary age through seminary.  We've also been very successful in the area of health and health administration.  But the days of sending a missionary out to be the teacher of students in a single, isolated school are over, in my opinion. 

My experience is entirely in Nigeria, so it may not apply to some other areas.  My thoughts are personal reflections based on my years of experience in Nigeria. 

The CRC has failed to realize the power and impact that Christian businessmen have in the church!  By this, I am not referring to local churches here in North America.  I am referring to local churches in the country where missions is taking place - in my case, Nigeria.  They have the means to empower and support the church, not just our foreign investments! We need to foster and to encourage them, mentoring them to become more productive and to better live their Christian walk Monday thru Saturday.

But we need to do so very carefully and in a new way.  I have a very hard time accepting that we can preach to a Nigerian how to live as a Christian businessman, when none of us have been a Nigerian businessman and know how business operates in a highly corrupt environment.  My discussion on how to avoid corruption truly has little merit when I live in a house built by mission hands, in a compound secured by  24 hour guards and towering walls with razor wiring atop them, being paid a US dollar salary and not having to worry about my income source being shut down by corrupt officials or goverment employees! 

By encouraging and opening opportunities for the businessman to be successful, we only empower the church to be more productive and responsive to the needs of its congregants thru the success of the businessman.  Such a church is able to go out into its own community and meet the needs of those around them in ways that show the love of Christ most effectively.

What we need now is to press the missionary to become the trainer of trainers.  The high school teacher needs to spread his or her wealth of information and cutural awareness with those within the community who are also teachers.  He or she should facilitate and open the door to hosting and accomodating educators from NA to lead short seminars to empower and morally support those in similar fields. 

The administrator needs to lead seminars on accounting to local church accountants, giving them the tools necessary to making their jobs more fulfilling.

The mechanic needs to run a for-profit shop, offering training sessions regularly to other mechanics in the area, showing them how to read wiring diagrams, helping them to access repair information and training seminars, both online and by hosting people from NA to lead seminars. 

It's thru training and living a life outside the comfort of those walls that we will truly have an impact on the society at large who so desperately need to see Christ's love in a tangible way!

I guess I wrote enough for y'all to ponder for now!  Blessings!

Mike

Hi Lou,

  Just a quick response to your comment that I "guess that some are reading it."  Actually, in this modern era, the stats are all compiled electronically.  647 views of the page have happened since it was first posted, exactly.  Steve

I will try Lou, Handouts are (to me) when people come to say a rural area, bring their own tools and materials, build a room, house or clinic and then leave. The people 'helped' are left with a building they did not participate in building and the building thus is not theirs. Too often the local craftspeople are not involved, and too infrequently the local unskilled people are not trained in a craft (carpentry, stonebuilding, roofing) .

Sourcing is when local craftspeople, local materials, and local resources are identified first then used. This includes labor. If there are no craftspeople, then training is given and the congregants on site build for themselves. Elders are invovled in the conceptualization and implementation of a project BEFORE outside people are brought in.

This is not true of medicines, medical supplies, medical machinery that are not available.

Another way I can express this is the 'source' must the people themselves, collectively working together.

All of what I've written above is capacity building to me because when 'we' leave people have not just a building but knowledge to do for themselves.

There are two 'development' definitions: Capacity Building and Fundraising.

Tell us a bit more, Fronse, about the difference between "handouts...and sourcing."   

Also the "capacity building" component; aren't the develoment people quite expert at that?        -Lou

As a lay-person and retired businessman my travels to Africa (South, West) have taught me to adapt to and learn how best to 'help' by listening, learning and hearing what African businesspeople and churchpeople need and want expatriates like me to do. And it is not always money handouts, rather it is sourcing, providing information and learning capacity  building possibilities.

Oh boy, Daniel!  Thanks for picking this up after nearly 10 months of no posts (I hope Steve's guess that some are reading it  is correct.  And here I'm going out on a limb to see if we can provoke a few more comments:  In the light of how little we know of the real reasons for our E.D. (in the computer generated Spanish translation that went out that became "erectile dysfunction"!) Jerry Dykstra's resignation, might it even be that this long-time super sticky issue was one of the things that generated conflict?  I have no way of knowing and am not trying to start a rumor (yes, maybe surface some facts!).  But as Steve alludes, that closer cooperation between agencies (read especially CRWM and CRWRC) which is "not easy" and  "there are a lot if issues" could very well be one of the areas that continues to plague our denomination.  The latest rumor I hear out this direction (Holland MI) is that CRWRC would like to work more indepentedly so as to have a still wider influence.  ??? (fair/ "appropriate"?) (Now please re-read the initial post on this topic, above)

   Daniel, I was a translator for Partners Worldwide last year, and came away with a couple books and a video that have been informative.  And with ongoing involvement in support of a very small and often ineffective Word and Deed Project in Central America I am well aware of the realities and aspirations of different sectors.  I would caution you on the use of words such as "reaching the globe" (OK we must be World Christians in an age of Globalization) and "huge amounts of capital." While there is tremendous potential in the CRC and others that think and act like us, we still must be duly aware both of the scope of the challenge and the humble limits of our potential.  I'd almost suggest you send your ideas to the IMF!

And know that I am a (retired) "missionary pastor."  I am of the period that experienced the transition from more ecclesiastical mission models and methods to the enterprise and business way of doing the Lord's work.  The jury is still out on what the results of that will be.  Your suggestion that the CRC business community is capable of making a "huge economic transformation" is saying quite a bit; maybe too much?  And to introduce a fascinating ideological element into this discussion, until more of our CRC businessmen genuniely understand where a lot of the developing world is "at" on the   questions of economic models and production methods, we have a lot of work to do.

   Too long already... over to you, and hopefully some others as well, especially non-staff folk (whose services I very much do appreciate).    Lou

Hi David,

This is a great story about using technology to better connect.  Thanks for sharing.  Steve

Thanks to the leadership and encouragement of our worship leader Pam Rock and pastor John DeVries, the Mission Committee is recording Skype calls with our missionaries.  The recorded call is edited down in time to be shown during our Faith Promise offering, the last Sunday of every month.  It is great to remind the congregation where the money that they are contributing to Faith Promise is going.  So far the videos have been very well received.  A recorded call helps eliminate problems that can arise from unstable internet connections and missionaries being unavailable during the time we would like to hear from them.  Editing down a long conversation is a challenge!  So many topics and requests can be covered in a call.  One conversation was an hour and a quarter long.  This was edited down to a 8 minute video.  The videos have also been posted to youtube and we have a link from our church missionary page to the posted videos.  Not only is the video important to remind the congregation about the missionaries we support, what they are doing and their prayer requests, it is also a form of encouragement.  Missionaries face the same challenges that we all do in our daily lives, plus the added challenges that come from living in a foreign country.  Just knowing that their supporters know about these challenges and are praying for them as they face these challenges is an encouragement.  I would encourage everyone to give Skype a try, you won't be disappointed.

We have purchased the "Plugged-in to Missions:..." dvd set.  I have had a chance to view the dvd on Haiti and look at the Additional Resources cd.  I am very excited about using the set as the basis for a Global Missions Sunday school class this fall.

posted in: Missions Toolkit

I am not quite sure what you are really talking about here.  Its a bit sketchy--for those who are staffing our agencies maybe.  I am not intending to be critical, just that I would like to engage in this discussion.  Observation---if we are really serious about reaching the globe more affectively--we still have not discovered how to fully engage gifted business men.  Word and Deed is fine, and vital--but the churches with the greatest potential to reach the 10-40 window live in impoverished countries like Ethiopia, Kenya, and Nigeria.  They are ready to go--access is easier for them into 10-40 countries.  They are generally well trained.  

The best way to resource the churches of Africa is to mobilize our CRC business men and farmers into genuine partnerships that are capable of attracting huge amounts of capital and creating transformational industries within and alongside of our brothers in the Christian Community.  They are waiting---for us to mobilize our business community, and I think the business community would heartily respond.  Partners world wide is a start in this direction, but is being led by development people with limited experience in business--so we are still doing development work, when its huge economic transformation that we are capable of---I mean the CRC business community.

On target article.  I work regularly in Ethiopia, and believe that "Business not Charity" is the solution.  All Christians in the West should re-allocate their charity, tithes, donations, gifts, or offerings into investments with business partners in Africa.

or they should consider investing 10% of their portfolio in impact investing--see investforward.net

What a great question, as applicable in North America as it is anywhere in the world. Hopefully we can answer that question together.

Pages