Archive for the ‘News’ Category
by Mike Fritscher
Twenty five years ago my wife and I moved three miles east of Dublin, Texas to pastor a Southern Baptist church called Cottonwood. In the late 1800s the site serviced a Baptist congregation one week and a Presbyterian one the next. Chartered in 1908, I became her 30th pastor in January of 1985, with an expected stint of 18 months. In the days before and after our arrival, the church serviced about 35 people and on any given Sunday would see about 15 in Sunday School and 20-25 in worship. It was a small, far away, country church with a group of people who loved the Lord and their neighbors.
I must confess, driving up to the place on that first Sunday to “supply”, (my thought was), “What could God do in a place like this?”
Today, not much has changed in the surrounding area of Cottonwood. It is still a far away, country church with a group of people who love the Lord and who desire to love their neighbors. Through the years we have come to define more clearly what that love looks like and who our neighbors are. Our neighbors today indeed are those that live in the surrounding area of the church. But the reach of “neighborly love” has extended to unreached peoples in South East Asia, Eastern Africa, Northern Mexico, the Navajo of Arizona and the Mexican community in our area.
What began as an “adoption” of an un-reached people group, partnering with a sending agency, has grown into a mission that now sees the church as setting apart, training, sending and supporting our own people in the various areas of the world God has called us. In recent years the term “church based sending” has gained interest as churches no longer default to sending organizations to train, fund and send their people to the unreached of the world. In recent centuries, the church has abdicated her role, responsibility and privilege to equip and send to organizations that “specialize” in the Great Commission.
Cottonwood, like many churches has had three “default” buttons of mission sending. By using the first, the church defaults to an organization by simply sending money to do missions. This was a very convenient way for Cottonwood to “do missions.” And make no mistake about it-there is a belief in many circles that “This is the way you do missions! Send us your money and we will do the rest!” Some churches will not only send their money to a specific denomination, but will also send money on behalf of “missionaries” who come through churches to raise support for their livelihood on the field. Of course there is nothing wrong with this. Matter of fact, we still send money to the denomination, as well as other organizations on behalf of missionaries. Two of our families ministering abroad are serving with a large mission agency. It’s just no longer our default button!
Eleven years ago, we adopted an unreached people group in South East Asia. This animistic “nation” was 1.4 million strong with no access to the gospel. Not long after “the adoption” we defaulted to sending three families to target this people group through a large mission sending agency. What we found in those years was a bit disheartening. We lost intimacy and community with our people. There was really no accountability to or from the local church. Don’t get me wrong. We sent hundreds of our people on short term trips where we ministered in ESL camps, prayer walks, medical services and Christmas parties. We saw and were a part of the wonderful things God was doing in this part of the world. We just found certain disconnects with our people that we felt were unnecessary and grievous.
Did not God call the Church – the local body of believers – to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the world? Does He not place people with distinct gifts and callings to see the church reach “their slice of the world?” What is a sending church supposed to look like?
We grappled with questions like these and in the midst of these questions we developed a new “default” button- Church Based Sending.
There was a family in our church that had come to love our neighbors in SE Asia and who felt that God was calling them to this distant land and people. In the process of moving them toward this place of mission, they asked that Cottonwood send them. This new model was a bit frightening for me as a pastor. Even with all the disappointments in the agency model, it seemed to me that the easiest thing was to let the sending agency do all the work and spend all their money. But our friend had moved to the conviction that his church needed to send his family. God led us to agree. So we began the year and half long process of training, raising funds, taking care of logistics, putting together a strategy and plan to be a part of continuing to reach our “slice of the world”.
Today, they, along with a family on the east coast of Africa, are finishing their first terms of service, having been sent by Cottonwood. We have been allowed to be a part of seeing our neighbors in SE Asia come to Christ in large numbers, gathering in a few hundred churches. Our family in Africa has seen two church starts in their work in recent months. There are now two other couples who are beginning their training piece as they are being prepared to be sent to SE Asia and to South Asia, a new area of the world Cottonwood will find herself in!
Has it been easy? No! It’s been difficult in many ways. But as our Mission Pastor, Dave Bollenbacher says, “God doesn’t call us to the easy; He calls us to that which is worthy.”
Last month at our last GCPN board meeting, I made a statement to the board members that Cottonwood no longer defaults to a mission agency to do missions. They, knowing full well the story of our church, asked what we default to. My reply was that I would hope that we neither default to a sending organization or to a “church based sending” model. My hope is that we would always default to only default button – the Spirit of God and His leadership – where I believe the heart of Nations and sending is at Cottonwood! And that is another topic for another article in a not too distant Communiqué!
Three years have passed since official steps were taken to assemble the bare-bones infrastructure of a church network called GCPN. Our ideals were founded upon Biblical evidence and suggestion regarding how the Church and the churches did, ought and ought not function in carrying out the commission of Christ. Those foundational ideals which shaped our thinking were not simply ideas, but rather were a design rooted in observation of the effective and loose nature of the 1st Century Christian movement. While some structure was emerging, the power of 1st Century movement appears to be the Spirit of God moving in the loose and fluid nature of authentic faith which intersected real life in real relationships. While the early church had a strong appreciation for the foundational truths that preceded the re-birth of God’s people, loyalty to Old Covenant institutions or practices did not define their future. It seemed more common that the Sprit of God was leading the Church just a little ahead of its most orthodox representative body – the Jerusalem church. As Greeks were being transformed and exercising the gifting of the Spirit of God, the Jerusalem church was constantly challenged to embrace the new realities of the new covenant.
And the followers of Christ pressed on. By means of commerce, family, friend, persecution and connection the Gospel penetrated Europe and north and east Africa. The Good News infiltrated kings’ palaces, philosophical forums, academic institutions, prisons, families, businesses, communities, the hearts of prostitutes and centurions and others. It’s really an amazing story. In fact it is so amazing that even today, the speed of the Christian movement is analyzed and pondered. In a November 20, 2010 article in USA Today, Dan Vergano approaches this amazing phenomenon. He quotes Adam Schor of Long Island University, in Brookville, N.Y., in the current Journal of Religious History who analyzes the exponential growth of the Christian movement in the early centuries from three perspectives – the missions model, the values model and the social model. Yet Schor states that none of them adequately describes the nature of the movement. Schor then proposes a new model to explain the phenomenon –
A new approach, he [Schor] suggests, might borrow a kind
of model popular with epidemiologists studying
disease outbreaks called “network” analysis.
Network analysis mathematically models each person
as a node connected to others by bonds whose strength
can vary by any number of factors,
from family relationship to social status. That might account for life
in the complicated Roman era, where status varied with wealth,
citizenship, rank, occupation and reputation.
“Network-based modeling thus offers a new (though still limited) path
in the study of religious change,” Schor concludes.
Introduced into networks, the authentic gospel should be uncontrollably infectious. It is passed through relationship, through sharing and handling, through touch, communication and through the powerful silence of heartfelt prayer. It permeates societies like…you know…like yeast in bread – rising in a transformational force that alters the state of the whole of society by infecting individual lives.
GCPN’s focus in 2010 will be a continued commitment to the core values that have defined us to this point. We will continue to emphasize:
Spiritual and Missional Formation
We believe the church is the base for mission. In the context and community of the local church, Christ has equipped us with everything we need to be prepared to take the gospel to a lost world. When the responsibility for mission sending is extracted from the local body, there is an immediate sigh of relief. Sending is a messy and challenging business. However, this extraction of the church’s responsibility is to the long-term detriment of the church and to those who are sent by the church. When relieved of the responsibility of sending, the church becomes crippled, the missionary becomes a professional employee and the lost world remains for the most part untouched. GCPN will continue to develop formational equipping experiences for local churches which will be web-based, community-oriented and network-accessible.
In the parable of the talents, Christ clearly states his mind on the issue of responsible handling of resources. It appears that even those who have little resource are expected to invest in such a way that results in productive and reproducible growth. Hoarding and kingdom competitiveness is not an option. Intentional planting and investing is essential for productive harvest. To see beyond one’s self and beyond one’s church is the challenge in Kingdom thinking. While it may take time for you to invest in the development of another minister, leader or church – the long term result is markedly more productive. GCPN will continue to promote collaboration of resources – knowledge, people, possession, time, and money. We are churches partnering with churches to reach the world for Christ.
While this is the most challenging and least defined aspect of our vision, we are committed to fueling and developing global networks. This vision has multiple layers – emerging from geographic region, extending to affinities and merging across lines to form kingdom networks that will strengthen the vision and development of kingdom efforts. GCPN will continue to support the people who are thinking and living their lives with this vision.
We are grateful for you and your church’s presence in this network. There is much work to be done together. I pray that you will be both a recipient and a contributor to the efforts in 2010. May God be glorified as we live out this calling to preach the gospel to all nations. May your year be marked by Kingdom success.
Is that the defining word of my ministry life and career? I feel like I have spent my entire life in transition
. I have navigated the journey from my Smith/Corona typewriter to my first “laptop” computer – a Kaypro II (ok – it weighed about 30lbs, but you could actually place it on your lap) to my first desktop PC to my latest Dell laptop.I just bought the newest htc
model phone from AT&T – it is a far cry from my first mobile phone that looked like a walkie-talkie straight out of a WWII combat scene. And – I still have a collection of my favorite albums
– those LP’s that sounded so good on our RCA Hi-Fidelity sound record player. I know about transition!
Not to mention my sermons that used to be heard by a live congregation that knew me – and are now digitized, live-streamed, broadcast and down-loaded by folks I’ll never meet.
On top of all of that, I am right in the midst of another significant transition; I am leading my church through a transition in missions. As challenging as it has been, the reward of witnessing the healthy relationship between our ecclesiology and our missiology has been worth all the effort. My church is more invested in the Mission of God on both a local and global scale than ever.
However, while churches like mine are on fire – the flame of centralized, denominationally-based delivery systems is diminishing. I think it is pre-mature or even incorrect to surmise that we now live in a “post-denominational” ministry environment. More correctly, we are living in an era where the local church is beginning to take its rightful position in the missions arena and denominations are being forced to embrace this reality. Denominations will not cease to exist – they must, however, make significant changes if they are going to survive in this new day.
21C – such is life in the 21st century church world! The 21st century probably began with the dawn of personal computing. It certainly was birthed by the time the internet became available and usable. Now – technology has connected the world in unprecedented measures. There is little doubt that the 21st century is home to vast and sweeping changes in missions. Local churches are developing meaningful and significant relationships that are independent of denominational considerations. Our churches are no longer dependent upon a centralized organization that often has dictated the time, place and conditions of community and cooperation. That era has ended. It is a new day.
T.O.E. – the reality of this new day has been variously embraced. For some, it has been an alarm that has caused them to look longingly in the rear-view mirror for simpler times and “cleaner” methods of cooperative efforts. Understandably, some folks are calling for greater “loyalty” to institutional structures while others warn about the dangers inherent in the entrepreneurial missions connections that are developing faster than anyone could have ever predicted.
However, many church and missions leaders are fully engaged in leading churches and mission efforts forward during this time of transition. Praise God for these innovative and courageous men and women who are challenging us to pursue the glory of God to the ends of the earth.
While I remain committed to my historic Baptist roots, I am giving leadership to the entrepreneurial side of the missions journey. I am working to lead new networks of missional community, conversation and action. It is exciting.
In the midst of all of the excitement and the fast pace of formulating something new, I think we need to address something that may slow us down. It is T.O.E. – Theory of Everything. While Albert Einstein took great pride in discovering and publishing his Theory of Relativity, he never overcame his frustration with his inability to discover a Theory of Everything. Physicists are still struggling to find a framework to fully explain the fundamental forces and particles of the universe. Many of them have focused their attention to the mathematical formula known as E-8 – an incredibly complex pattern comprised of 8 dimensions with 248 points. Yet, the search continues as some of the smartest people on the planet debate the merits of any proposal that can explain everything.
What does T.O.E. have to do with missions? It is germane to this discussion because it may help to explain the reluctance some folks express when they are presented with the array of networks and collaborative efforts currently available to churches. Let me explain what I mean.
When we began GCPN, I expected to encounter questioning and evaluation from both mission leaders and church leaders. That happened. But – it was mostly positive and helpful. In fact, our network is stronger and healthier today because of the continued input of partners across the world. I am grateful for the lessons learned already.
Now, we are in the midst of connecting multiple networks and mission partners. Our conversation and collaborative efforts are expanding. Some people continue to ask questions like, “Well, what you all are doing is good, but what about this?!” Or, “What about that?” Often – the this or that is connected to a very specific situation which probably needs to be addressed at some point. However, often it is something that will be addressed in the doing of the work!
My point? On the one hand, we can’t afford to be reckless and throw caution to the wind in our new mission models and networks. However, neither can we be paralyzed just because we don’t have a Missions Theory of Everything! The journey of entrepreneurial endeavors is a journey of discovery. We are discovering new things each day. Praise God!
It is the 21st century. It is a new day in missions. We may not be able understand and explain everything – but we know enough to utilize the resources available to us and forge ahead. We are on a magnificent journey as we join God in all He is doing across the world.
Pastor, First Baptist Arlington
Equipping Your Church For Cross-Cultural Ministry
If we had the privilege of viewing a re-run of the life of the Apostle Paul, we would observe Paul’s life being directed and shaped by the sovereign hand of God who used all of Paul’s previous experiences, knowledge, and even his family heritage to make him a useful cross-cultural servant in His hand. There came a point in time when a church who knew Paul well was called upon to send him out into a lost world to carry the torch of the Gospel to peoples who had never heard. Paul’s worthiness for this calling had been proven through the test of time and the church had no reservation when the Holy Spirit prompted them to send him out with blessing and support from their church body.
Paul’s process of preparation for this calling was guided and shaped by the hand of God. But God used many mentors and teachers to assist Paul in his readiness to fulfill that calling – parents, Gamaliel, Ananias, the brothers in Damascus, Barnabas, Peter, and Christ himself. The Word reveals that from the time he received his calling to the point of being commissioned by a church to take the gospel to the Gentiles, about 13 years had passed. Preparation takes time. Preparation requires intentionality. Jesus has given the responsibility of shaping and training kingdom citizens to the church.
A few years ago my church began asking the question, What do we need to do to become a responsible sending church? We came to the conclusion that there are multiple answers to that question. However, a huge piece of the sending process is that of missional formation and cross-cultural preparation. Preparation is then married to assessment. It is the church’s responsibility to insure that the people they send out are equipped missionally, spiritually, emotionally and financially. With all of the resources availed to churches in this era, it would be negligent for my church to send its own people into the unreached world without utilizing the resources and tools God has offered us to equip them.
Many people ask our network, How do we prepare people for service? …What are the resources available to us? …How can we assess people for readiness? GCPN has chosen to assist churches in finding these answers. Here is GCPN’s nutshell answer to those questions.
Preparation is a church’s lifestyle. From the earliest educational programming in the church, we choose to educate children about God’s love for the nations and their role in sharing that love. This is an intentional process that continues through the Bible studies and discipleship ministries of our churches. However, there comes a point in time where a more serious process is implemented. As people feel a draw toward cross-cultural ministries, we recommend that they participate in a course called Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. Perspectives can be taken for credit or by audit. It can be taken on site or on-line. Perspectives is a foundational piece upon which other preparation is erected. After the completion of Perspectives, we recommend that candidates for cross-cultural service enter into a training community established within the context of the local church. In this community they will spend approximately one year focusing on issues of character, community, competency, church, connections and covenant. Our recommended curriculum for this year of preparation is PANORAMA: a Broad View of the World and Your Place in It.
There is more to sending than financial provision and praying through a prayer calendar. As a nurturing family of faith, we hope to take advantage of all the opportunities to love and care for our people in a responsible way. The assessment of our people for cross-cultural readiness is a part of that nurture. We encourage churches to offer medical, dental, psychological and educational assessment to your cross-cultural servants prior to placing them in cultures where even the smallest issues are often magnified. GCPN can assist churches in obtaining these services through our assessment team which is made up of believing professionals who feel called to serve the cross-cultural servant.
It is time for the gospel to be proclaimed in all nations. Let us pray. Let us give. Let us send. Let us go…prepared.
Let us know if GCPN can assist your church in any way along your journey to the nations.
Executive Director, GCPN
by Cindy Wiles
Executive Director, GCPN
Want to travel fast, travel alone. Want to travel far, travel together.
There’s never a cookie cutter answer to any missions question. You know from your own experience that every mission frontier requires unique vision, unique strategies, and unique relationships. When asked by churches or cross-cultural workers how to do something – as if there is some standard book of guidelines or rules – I usually respond by saying, “There are as many ways to get people into places as there are people whom God calls there.” God is not strapped by our methods and strategies. He is God.
But He is a God of community – triune in his own existence – he never seems to suggest alone is best
. Even when calling his people into isolation it is usually for a meeting with Him. The Scripture suggests over and over again that collaborative investments not only result in stronger and more effective systems, but that the journey together meets an innate human need for community and love. In Exodus 18, Moses, overwhelmed by the task of judging disputes for the people of Israel from morning till evening, was able to lead more effectively because his father-in-law, Jethro, understood the value of collaboration. By increasing the capacity of the judicial system as a whole, Moses was freed up to play the leadership role God intended for him to play while others were effectively incorporated into positions of influence as God had gifted them. The resulting health and sustainability brought order and peace to the community as a whole.
Collaboration has its challenges, requiring communication, processing, sharing, consensus-building, time, patience and a surrender of power (God forbid!) For those who need to receive credit, be recognized, own it and move at their own pace, collaboration can be a test. But when collaborative partners grow into a state of interdependency, considering the goals and success of all partners, the maximum benefits of collaboration can be felt. Although slow in its beginnings, the long-term effects of collaborative partnership can enhance the corporate gifting of churches, organizations, networks and other partners so that the power of the united whole is much more effective for the Kingdom than any one of them can be on their own.
From its beginnings, CGPN has identified itself as an all things in common network
. Following the model of the 1st century church in Acts 2:44 which states, all the believers were together and had everything in common
, some churches in this network have been willing to make great sacrifice for the benefit of others. There are some who have been beneficiaries of the collaborative spirits of others. There are a few who are just learning to spell collaboration. Collaboration is available but must be embraced.
In this new era of church-based mission, my prayer for you as a missions leader is three-fold. I pray that you . . .
- won’t wait on someone else to do it for you
- will be willing to seek wisdom from those who have done it before you
- will search for the partners God has ordained to take this journey with you
May God be glorified as you unite your efforts for the Kingdom!
by Cindy Wiles,
Executive Director, GCPN
Have you noticed how many academic programs have begun including degree programs and concentrations in Global Leadership the last few years? I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about, reading about and looking at models of organizations and leadership in recent days. What I’ve realized is that many of the new and thriving organizations are less organizational and more ideological in nature. They are more organism than organization. They more resemble movements than structures. And it also appears to me that leadership has much more to do with tapping into the potential of the adherents than empowering a designated few.
Another thing I have noticed is the shift from hierarchical organizational structures to emphasis on community within mild structure. In a world characterized by wireless voices, text messages and global conferencing, the emphasis on community has become a huge factor in determining the success or failure of any movement. Depending on the measure of connectedness experienced by adherents, loyalty to a movement or organization can intensify or fade.
I think that’s why the community aspect of GCPN has been such a drawing card for churches and organizations who are involved. The last facilitator training for GCPN was a warm reminder of the strength of community in mission. In a two-day conversation between the seven churches represented in the room, not only did we find camaraderie and friendship, but we also discovered the strengths of each mission leader and the corporate giftedness of each church that would benefit the movement as a whole. I left the training experience enriched by the people who were there and my ministry enhanced by the resources in the room. I knew when we walked out the door that the world Christian movement would in some way be strengthened by the fact that we had all come together.
As a missions leader I am challenged at this point in my calling to focus a lot less on what I personally possess in terms of leadership skill and to focus a whole lot more on what adherents to the Jesus movement have to offer to the Kingdom at large. If we want to tap into the power of God, then let us tap into those who possess His Spirit. If the Spirit reveals the mind of God to those who possess His Spirit (I Cor. 4:5-16), we as leaders have failed if we do not seek out the mind of God through the people of God. The key to Global Leadership is to seek to harmonize and implement the collective wisdom of the church which possesses the mind of Christ.
Wisdom is not the only resource the church possesses. What about the Spirit gifts and the skills of individuals and corporate bodies? I like to think of leadership from a Wild Bill Hickok point of view – we lasso the wind of the Spirit of God among his people not to control it but to ride upon it. If we have determined the strategy of our church or organization without assessing the gifts and skills of our people or without looking at our corporate giftedness as a whole, we have grossly miscalculated our potential and our end goals are nowhere near the mark God has set for us.
God has recently led my church into a very complex partnership in which each corporate partner has a unique giftedness that can be utilized to transform lives and nations. Within each partner organization lays the unique gifts and skills of multiple people with a heart for the same cause. The realization of the gifts and the encouragement of the collaborative partnership to use our gifts has been a magnet to draw in new partners. The beauty is – nobody owns it. Well, God owns it. But each of us realizes that the system as a whole would be much weaker and less effective if not for the contributions of each partner. In the end, the God of all resource will get credit for that which only He could have orchestrated.
Leadership is not about me. It’s not about you either. Leadership is about being a part of us – whoever your us may be. So you want to be a global leader? Start by dropping your bucket into the deep wells of the lives that surround you and draw out that which may be hidden in the depths. You will be empowered by what you find. Your mission will be strengthened and the Global Kingdom will expand. Trust God and trust those He has placed around you.
Together in the Kingdom,
Please click on the links below to explore these training options:
Pastors’ Vision Trip (West Africa)
A teaching tour/vision trip for pastors and missions leaders.
Healthcare Missions Conference
May 7-9, 2009
Sponsored by Baptist Medical Dental Fellowship
Join the Restore Hope Partnership
Project Restore Hope is intended to bring hope and sustained health
to the nation of Sierra Leone through unified strategies with
Sierra Leonean and other international partners that result
in transformed lives, stable infrastructure, social
responsibility, and capacity for development.
Current partners include: Buckner International, Evangelical College of Theology,Sierra Leone, FBC Arlington, Fourah Bay College, Sierra Leone, GCPN, Louise Herrington School of Nursing, UTA Dept. of African Studies, UTA College of Engineering, UTA College of Liberal Arts, UTA School of Nursing, UTA School of Social Work.
For more information contact the GCPN office
at (817) 276-6494.
Sahara Challenge Training Conference
June 6-13, 2009
Following the training, visit the Muslim world abroad
in Lebanon, Turkey, Indonesia, London or North Africa.
Or spend a week in a Muslim community stateside
in Atlanta, Minneapolis or Detroit.
2009 Muslim Background Believers Conference
October 2-3, 2009
Sponsored by Gospel for Muslims (GFM)
GCPN Facilitator Training
May 22-23, 2009
First Baptist Church of Arlington, Texas
Led by Dr. Mike Stroope
by Dr. Dennis Wiles
Chairman of the Board of Directors, GCPN
God has a plan. Isaiah describes the intentionality of God’s faithful plan in chapter 25 as marvelous things, things planned long ago. Isaiah’s prophecy about God’s future plans declares-
On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples…
on this mountain he will destroy the shroud
that enfolds all peoples,the sheet that covers
all nations; He will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign Lord will Wipe away tears from all faces. (Isaiah 25:6-8)
Yes, God has a plan. Therefore, any plans you or I have must be painted against the backdrop of God’s eternal plan of redemption for all peoples. This is the joy and the challenge of leading our churches to be missionally formed. There is no higher call or purpose than to participate in God’s plan and to lead our churches on that journey. The temptation we often face is to limit our plans and dreams to our own abilities and our own resources. We must pause to realize that God has already painted the future and our role is to fill in the fine details. He places the brush in our hands to fulfill that portion which he has pre-ordained us to do. Thus, we paint with freedom and with the blessing of God as we join him in what He has already planned. The only limitations on the gospel are those we place on it. While painting, we do not gaze into our own resources or ingenuity, but we gaze into the mind and heart of God.
God is not required to provide for my plan. But He does provide for His own plan. As long as what I am doing is contributing to the accomplishment of His plans, the resources of God are available to me. When I come to believe this, the wealth of the Kingdom becomes accessible. I can view the Kingdom as a whole and join in on Kingdom endeavors. God thinks comprehensively. In order to join him we must have grand ideas. Rarely does God think small scale. God thinks God-sized thoughts and dreams God dreams.
I am convinced we are often impressed with the wrong things. We focus on Pharaoh and not on Joseph. The power and plans of Egypt were temporal. But God was fulfilling His redemptive plan. Egypt was successful. But God’s provision was not for Egypt. It was for Israel. He was not providing for Egypt’s plan. He was providing for his own plan and used the resources of Egypt to accomplish His own will. When it was time for God’s people to accomplish His plan, all resource was available to them.
The limitations we place on the power of the gospel are self-imposed. The church must cease thinking from our limited perspective. If we can touch our horizon, it is one we have painted on our own canvas, not the one God has painted on the canvas of his plan. Why would we want to live our lives within the confines of our own horizon? If you reach your own horizon, you have accomplished your own goals. If you are moving toward God’s horizon, you and your church will go places you could have never imagined in your wildest dreams. One is chaff. The other – of eternal immeasurable worth.
It is God’s plan for all peoples that keeps me from giving up on a church-based model of mission. In spite of our imperfections, I strive to maintain the same level of confidence in the church that Christ had when he said, upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. If I lose faith in the church as God’s means of reaching the world, I am falling short of the mind and will of Christ. The church must be led, formed and empowered. With Christ as the head, I have no doubt these are reasonable tasks.
If you need to be reminded of the power of the gospel or the incredible resiliency of the church I pray that this will be a time when you experience a renewed vision of God’s plan for the church. It is time to join in on the grand faith venture to take the gospel to all nations through all possible means. God’s vision is grand enough. The church is sufficient in Christ and the gospel possesses all power for the salvation of all peoples.
The GCPN Board of Directors and staff value your partnership on this Kingdom journey. For those of you who are new to the network – welcome. For those who have been enduring through the seasons of formation and definition, thank you. For those who have given counsel and shaping guidance – we are grateful. Let us press on together with patience and endurance toward the horizon God has set before us. Let us be found faithful!
Together in the Kingdom,
More Thoughts on Strategic Networks
Mission networks have always amazed me. You probably have had similar experiences – you turn on your computer, pull up your email to find a note from someone who was referred to you by someone else because you have an affinity for the same people, are working in the same area or because they have heard of what you are doing and want to be a part of it. I call it the God-web. When I am asked, How do you two know each other? or How did you get connected to that? – I always respond – it’s the God-web. God has a way of bringing together Kingdom people who will benefit from affiliation.
It has been a dream of mine for several years to simply promote connectedness between people, organizations, networks, churches and those with common affinities. How much could be accomplished and more wisely stewarded if we had knowledge of what others in the Kingdom are doing among those we are called to reach? How can we encourage these types of connections among those who are working in various regions of the world? How much more strategic and effective might your church be in mission if you were to find out what God is already doing and join Him in it?
Case in point – my church recently got hooked into a partnership of various organizations – some of them secular and some of them Christian in nature. The magnet that drew us all together was a love for the people of a particular war-torn country. My church’s interest arose out of a commitment to a particular people group in that country. However, we have found ourselves invested in a partnership that includes two major universities, a large U.S. city government, an international Christian orphan care agency, a U.S. non-profit agency, two churches and a few retired missionaries who can’t get a country out of their hearts. As God drew these entities together, we learned of evangelical organizations that were already invested in the same place. After a couple of emails and phone calls, our network merged with an existing network with similar goals. They had more recent experience in our target area. What I learned in just a few conversations will save me hours and volumes of research. From interaction with others, we will develop an informed strategy that meets real needs and focuses on what God is already doing.
Stan Parks initiated a conversation about strategic networks in the last GCPN Communiqué entitled, The Body of Christ United for the Great Commission. I would like to continue that conversation from the church’s perspective. If your church is asking any of the following questions, you will understand the beauty of strategic networks:
- How do I know where to send my people who feel called to mission?
- We can’t just send someone out by themselves. They need team and community. Who is going to provide this for them?
- How do I make sure that my church is doing strategic mission?
- We feel called to work among the X People, but where should we begin?
- What can the North American church do to fuel other nations who are doing mission?
- How can we foster networking among the various individuals, groups and churches working in a specific region?
When a young woman in our church had completed her training for cross-cultural service, she clearly understood that God was calling her to a specific country. Because we have a strategic catalyst working in that region who makes it his job to be aware of the many places God is moving and working in his region as well as the needs in various areas, he was able to direct this young woman to a place of service in the country of her call. This is only one small part of the role our strategic catalyst plays in his region. He serves as a connector, networker and catalyst for workers from many nations who desire to partner with one another to reach the UPG’s. What if there were 12 such catalysts in various regions around the world? What if there were 12 or more strategic teams made up of folks who were willing to share resource, knowledge, expertise and live with the commonality that should characterize Kingdom people?
GCPN desires to promote regional strategic networks by helping to identify strategic partners and provide them with the additional resources needed for strategic meeting, planning, communication and new works. In regions where these partners cannot be identified, we desire to place a catalyst to develop strategic teams. You can assist this process in several ways:
- Pray for God to create a desire for partnership among Kingdom people in each region.
- Give to provide resource for connectedness and strategic structures.
For more information on strategic teams, contact Stan or Cindy at firstname.lastname@example.org
Let us be one in heart and spirit. To God be the glory.
Cindy Wiles, Executive Director
Missions was birthed in His heart as He is a Missionary God reaching out to a lost humanity. The end of missions is the worship of God as is shown in Revelation 7:9-10 : After this, I saw a large crowd with more people than could be counted. They were from every race, tribe, nation, and language, and they stood before the throne and before the Lamb. They wore white robes and held palm branches in their hands, as they shouted, “Our God, who sits upon the throne, has the power to save his people, and so does the Lamb.”
I’m not sure if this happens to you, but I find that I pick up life’s menu daily to find that the dessert listing always contains the option, Humble Pie. I have learned that voluntary selection of this option is a rather wise choice that keeps me in harmony with God and also with others. However, there seem to be seasons where I pick up life’s menu and find that all the entrées have been scratched through and someone has scribbled humble pie in the place of many much more desirable options. Unfortunately, I occasionally recognize that handwriting as my own. In other seasons, I feel that God is asking me to consume more humble pie than I feel any one person should be required to eat – as if I am being force-fed humble pie for the purpose of transforming me into the image of the One who was perfect in humility. But I typically find that the further I stretch myself and the busier my calendar becomes – I seem to eat the dreaded stuff more frequently and in larger quantities than I can stand.
Such was the case this week. If you received the apparently unedited version of the GCPN Communiqué that was sent out from the GCPN office a few days ago, I hope that you did not find wading through the swamp of misspellings and poor use of punctuation a total loss. Perhaps you could print this version of the Communiqué and take it with you on your next international flight as a replacement for your Sudoku puzzle book. However, if you are maintaining a tally sheet of errors – you may want to take plenty of paper along.
The truth is – buried in all of the grammatical disaster of that Communiqué were three great opportunities you will want to consider. Please click on the links below to explore these training options:
- God’s Amazing Church Planting Movements Conference
October 15-17, 2008
First Baptist Church of Richardson, Texas
Sponsored by BGCT, GCPN, Impact Indonesia, Mission to Unreached Peoples and First Baptist Church of Richardson
- 2008 Background Believers Conference
Let Us Love One Another
September 26-27, 2008
Park Cities Baptist Church
Sponsored by Gospel for Muslims (GFM)
- GCPN Facilitator Training
August 14-15, 2008
First Baptist Church of Arlington, Texas
Led by Dr. Mike Stroope
I pray that your summer has been full of Kingdom success. Enjoy the watermelon and ice cream… and if you’ve never tried it you might want to sample a small taste of the Humble Pie.
Together in the Kingdom.