“How To Pioneer” – David Male – A good practical handbook for anyone who wants to engage missional in their community. An excellent resource that is practical, sensible and evidence that anyone can engage in pioneering ministry. 10/10
“Neighborhood Mapping” – John Fuder – A helpful book with practical wisdom for getting under the skin of your community in order to serve as a missionary church. You think you know your community but maybe you need to think again and put a strategy in place for getting to know it better. This book is gold dust for practical thinkers. 9/10
“Church Planting Thresholds” – Clint Clifton – A manual for church planters from a reformed theological perspective. It is very detailed and full of practical wisdom, biblically loaded. It is not for everyone but useful for church leaders who are looking to plant a new church and recruit a team. 6/10
In a work place that demands higher productivity, greater rewards and demands visible success it is no surprise that people are falling ill, requiring medication and suffering continual stress. The bottom line is market dominance, share price and brand awareness and if we are honest, this thinking has invaded the evangelical church to such a point that we are losing sight of God and building a church that is the bridesmaid and not the Bride.
We can quote sport stars that tell us ‘some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen and others make it happen’ (Michael Jordan) and put unknowing pressure on ourselves to perform. We need our church plants to be financially viable but try and model our churches on a franchise set up without reference to the community they serve, we want to see full pews in buildings that were built in a different generation…..the list is endless.
If you quoted that previous quote at Jim Elliot (missionary to the Aucas) his ministry would have seemed like failure. With the years that have passed, we can now credit the success of the ministry but it is only now that we can celebrate knowing that the Auca people met Christ. The disciples sat huddled in a room as their messiah was dead and defeated but in time they discover their resurrected Lord had conquered death.The missionary to London who has sowed seeds of faith continually in their neighbourhood and may never see the rewards but the person that follows…..Boom!
Goals are killing us…..because we are setting the wrong goals. The goal is to be faithful to a living God, to worship Him, living a life worthy of the calling we have received. We must not remain idle, we are fellow workers with Christ and will be held accountable for what we have done but we must reset the balance and set the right goals, otherwise our goals will kill us. It is not the balance sheet, it is not the numbers of seats filled, it is not the number of churches we have planted (they may be indicators of something…but do not over estimate their value) but the obedience to our call and the way we live our lives.
Set the right goals…..and know life.
Elisabeth Elliot died today. It was her story, and that of Jim, who helped shape the story of my teenage Christian years. Here are some of her greatest quotes:
“Waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon one’s thoughts.”
“Leave it all in the Hands that were wounded for you.”
“Faith is not an instinct. It certainly is not a feeling—feelings don’t help much when you’re in the lions’ den or hanging on a wooden Cross. Faith is not inferred from the happy way things work. It is an act of will, a choice, based on the unbreakable Word of God who cannot lie, and who showed us what love and obedience and sacrifice mean, in the person of Jesus Christ.”
Have we lost our missionary vision? In the Evangelical world, it can sometimes feel that we have lost the same heart and passion for seeing ‘souls saved’ in order that we can see ‘communities transformed’. It is true that one can lead to the other but the reversal of priority order is problematic for the evangelical movement.
It is exciting to see the people fed, sanitation restored, lifestyles improved, the poor cared for and these things should be mightily applauded but if the cost is an eternity in hell rather than heaven, are we selling ourselves and our faith short? Are we becoming satisfied with 2nd best?
In Numbers 32, we see the Reubenites and the Gadites seeking land that was not a part of the promise. Yes, they helped the promised land to be taken but they settled in an area on the wrong side of the Jordan – they forsook the promise for 2nd best.
As evangelicals it is my contention that we get the order right in our mission – souls saved and communities transformed. The former must take priority and the consequences will benefit all of society, otherwise we may fail to take hold of all that God has promised….that would be a shame.