Saturday, October 31, 2009

Some Cool Stuff

Hi everyone.  Sorry to leave you hanging for so long.  I've been doing some traveling and will be preoccupied with meetings and conventions for most of the rest of the year.  Don't know if I'll get to blog much here.  But for now, check out some cool stuff that is going on here


Saturday, October 10, 2009

What did I learn?

The last couple days of CPM training were pretty intense as we had to draw up our own "Master Plan" based on CPM principles and present it to the whole group.  So, I didn't blog the last couple days.  But now we're finished.  I presented my plan and had a very good response from those who listened.  I hope they will pray for me and the work here in The Location.

What did I get from the training?

Besides a library of information and concepts to consider...

God really planned to have me here.  There were about four major things that should have kept me from even attending in the first place.  I can't go into all of them on here, but one of them was the fact that I had missed the deadline and all the slots were full.  Still, one man in my agency kept praying and just a week before the training a spot opened up.  I didn't really want to go at such a late date and so many responsibilities where I am at, but after talking with my wife we concluded that God must want me there.  And now I can see way.

I have felt more like quitting the mission field in 2009 than I ever have since I came to work here nearly a decade ago.  We have been hit with problem after problem after problem, and indeed were hit with yet another major problem just this past week.  Yet, in the midst of all of this, God also did a miracle--our paperwork for an important enterprise here was approved last week after waiting for over three years.  When I told some of our faithful supporters who had been praying for this for three years--they cried. 

I feel that my heart has gotten off track in a lot of ways and this training helped me to get it back on track.  I certainly have a much clearer focus on the mission that lies ahead.  Along with that, I have regained a passion that I must have lost along the way.  I have been pretty depressed at times feeling like I am not making any difference, that I'm wasting time, money and resources, and that I do not have what it takes to be an effective missionary.  I have become stressed over too many things to do and little help to get it all done.

Mostly, I am convicted to pray, stay focused, believe that God WILL act and work through me, and obey him in everything.  It is God who sustains us and empowers us.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Business and Missions

Four types of Business and Missions models:

Business As Missions—The business actually allows you to do ministry you couldn’t otherwise do.  The business is successful and is a platform for successful ministry.

Business For Missions—The business helps to fund missions or gives you an entrance to do ministry, but the ministry doesn’t really flow out of the business.

Business as a Front For Missions—The business is not seriously undertaken to be active or profitable, but just provides a front in hostile locations to hide the work of ministry that you are actually focused on doing. The ministry has nothing to do with the business.

Business in Spite of Missions—The business is done well and may have some positive effects, but ministry is mostly left behind in order to focus on making the business work.  (Missions as a Front For Business.)

I can live with one of the first two, but not with the last two.

CPM Video

This is the Baptist's video about CPMs (Church Planting Movements). It is a little cheesy, but communicates some of the ideas. The guy at the end is David Garrison who wrote the book Church Planting Movements. He is Baptist, so they tend to talk more about Baptist stuff in the book, but he is by no means a denominationalist. You certainly don't have to be Baptist to get a lot out of the book.

Monday, October 5, 2009



Do you know what this means?   Here it is:

If You Keep Doing What You Have Been Doing You Will Keep Getting What You Have Been Getting. 

Most of the time when we think about how we can reach people for Christ we say things like pray more, share our faith more, do more events.  Rarely, however, do we actually increase our efforts.  If we do, we do it for a while and then fall back to a status quo level of prayerful and evangelistic output.

One definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and expecting different results.

If we are not reaching our targeted people group by the ways we have been doing it up until now, then we need to do things in new ways. 

Most people get rather defensive when you start to question methods and approaches to ministry.  Why is that?  Because we are invested in what we've been doing.  If someone suggests that our method is not effective we feel a need to justify it in order to save face, legitmize our position, and justify the time and money we have put into our approach.  We don't want to feel like we've wasted time.  We really don't want to feel like we've wasted money people have given to us to do ministry the way we've told them we will do it.

But... What if, in all honesty, there ARE better ways to reach our people?  What if God would have us change?  Do we have the courage to change?

If we have an approach that we're not willing to sacrifice in order to see a Church Planting Movement, then we have the wrong approach. We must be committed to the the growth of God's kingdom, not to our "pet" approaches for growing it.

Minding the Gap

In CPM (Church Planting Movement) training they asked us the following question:

How many people from your targeted unreached people group will hear the gospel today?

All of us had already done extensive research on our groups.  We all know their population, what percentage of them are Christians and how many Christian resources are available to them.  So, we all went up to a board in front of the room.  We each wrote down the name of our group, their population and how many people among them we estimate will hear the gospel in the next 24 hours.  Then we added up all the populations from every group, and the total number of people who will hear the gospel.  The result?

At the current rate, it would take close to 200 years for all of them to hear the gospel, assuming that each time someone hears the gospel, it is the first time.  (No repeats.)  If some hear it more than once, then it will just take longer before they all hear. 

"Folks, that ain't cuttin' it!" 

These were the words of the facilitator leading the session.  In business time = money, but in missions time = lost people who either hear the gospel, or die without it.  There is a huge gap between those who need to hear and those who are hearing it.  And we need to mind that gap.

Something must be done so that the message of Christ is communicated in a way people can understand and respond in a much broader fashion.  What needs to be done so that they will hear?  Part of the answer lies in radio broadcast.  In some places it will involve literature distribution or the Jesus film.  But in no place will there be a better way for people to hear the story of Jesus than "mouth-to-ear."  Christians need to be mobilized to share the gospel in person. 

You might ask, "Where could we possibly find enough evangelists to tell them all?"

The answer:  The resources are in the harvest.  Those who hear must be trained to tell others, and then those in turn trained to tell more, and so on.  Those who hear and accept become the evangelists to share the story to the next person in line.  The idea is seen in 2 Timothy 2:2:

"And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others." 

Friday, October 2, 2009

Potential New Church

"Each believer is a potential new church."

This is one of the concepts we are learning at CPM training.  Typically, when someone comes to Christ two things happen:

1) We seek to incorporate them into a church of a bunch of people they mostly do not know and help them form relationships with other Christians in the Christian community.  They are encouraged by fellowship, accountability and example.

2) Before long, they lose the opportunity to witness to their families, friends and network of non-Christian acquaintances as they immerse themselves into the new Christian community.  The "fire" they have for Christ is spent in the existing church.  Then, years down the road when they have learned more about the Bible and what it means to be the Christian and are "mature" enough to be trusted to teach others, the fire is mostly gone.  They might teach Sunday school or something.

A friend of mine told the tale of two girls he and his wife led to the Lord.  The first one was incorporated into the existing church structures in a big city here in The Location.  She learned a lot, grew and served well in the church.  But she never really led anyone to Christ.

The second girl was encouraged to start worshiping in her home with anyone in her family who would join.  She was not confident to do this by herself, but she was coached by the missionary on what to do.  Then she did it.  Her whole family joined her.  They all came to the faith.  She baptized all of them.  Every day during the initial stages she was e-mailing the missionary asking questions about God, the Bible and what to do with new believers and how to have worship.  For months her whole family worshiped together with joy in their new faith.  A church had been planted.

Later, an official church leader in the registered church in The Location found out about her meetings and came to their house.  He chastised the girl and her family for doing this outside the authority of the church.  She had no right to lead it, he said, because she was not a trained and ordained pastor.  She had no right to baptize them so he declared all of her family's baptisms invalid.  He reminded them that this meeting was illegal and said they all need to go to the official registered church. 

The official church leader killed the budding new church.  He crushed a beautiful flower that was just beginning to bloom.  Only the girl and her younger sister joined the offcial registered church.  The rest of the family fell away.

Later, the missionary visited and had a chance to interview the parents and the family members.  They said that they had put their faith in Christ when they had seen how their daughter's life had changed--how it was so evident as she taught and led the studies.  Now that she can't do it any more and she has joined the church in town, we don't see how her life has changed much.  Also, worshiping in their home felt like they were really believing in God in a natural way; going to the big church downtown felt like they were joining a foreign religion--so they stopped.

Every person we lead to Christ is a potential new church.  It is important that we get them sharing their new life with their families and friends before we quench the fire of their faith in the lake of the church.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Paperwork Signed

There is a very important set of paperwork we have been trying to get signed and approved here in the Location for over three years. 

Just two days ago the governor signed this paperwork and yesterday we received two very important documents/certificates that we need. 

Praise God.

Training for Trainers

One of the CPM-friendly methods we have been studying here at CPM (Church Planting Movements) training is the Training for Trainers (T4T) process.  This was started by a Taiwanese man who has since seen a CPM in China to the likes of this:
  • After 2 months (of beginning the process in 2000): 20 small groups started.
  • After 6 months: 327 house churches with 4,000 baptized.
  • After one year: 908 house churches with 12,000 baptized.
  • The following year: 3,535 new churches with more than 53,430 baptisms.
  • First six months of 2002: 9,320 new churches and 104,542 baptisms.
  • End of 3rd year: 15,000 new churches with more than 160,000 baptized believers.
This man was the son of a preacher who made it his goal to start a new church every year.  When he grew up and started ministry, he followed in his father's footsteps and did the same thing, leading 50-60 people to Christ each year.  After attending a training in the year 2000 (very similar to the one I'm in right now) he reasoned:

"What is better than planting a church?"  Answer:  Training others to plant churches.

"And what is better than training others to plant churches?"  Answer:  Training trainers to train church planters to plant even more churches!

His simple method for training trainers of church planters was to make every discipleship lesson reproducible and repeatable.  Below is the process of T4T when the small groups met.

T4T Training Process

There are three parts to the meeting and each one should take about the same amount of time.  Usually the first initial meeting (when they explained the whole process for the first time) would take a half-day.  This would include everyone writing down a list of every non-Christian family member, relative and friend they could think of.  Most people's lists were around 100 people long.  Then they would mark off the first 5 they would share the gospel with.  They did this by each preparing simple testimonies consisting of three parts:  1) What you were like before Jesus, 2) how you met Jesus, and 3) what your life has been like since Jesus.  Then he had them remove all religious vocabulary from their story.  They were then required to share with their first 5 people on their list during the first week.  The next week, the second five.  After they built a small group of inquirers or new believers, they would begin meeting regularly as a small house church.

After the initial meeting explainging the process, meetings would last for about 2-3 hours each time, and they would normally do them about once every two weeks.  This would give people time to put the lesson into practice before filling their heads with new knowledge.  What the people learned and did in this meeting, they repeated in the meetings with their new disciples.  Most of the groups had 5-6 disciples.  The meeting had three parts:

  1. Sharing Time (Fellowship and Accountability)
  2. New Lesson Time
  3. Practice Time
Below is further explanation of what they did during each part of the meetings:

Part 1: Sharing Time

  • Worship
  • Prayer (for the disciples and people in the group)
  • Accountability and problem solving
(These first three things are pastoral care for the group itself.)

  • Review of the last meeting's lesson.
  • Vision Casting time by Leader (Putting the vision of the Great Commission before the people--always putting the burden of the lost out there).
Part 2: New Lesson Time

  • New Lesson (They had their own plan, but you could use any lesson plan or oral story plan you wanted.)
  • Disciples Learn the Story—by retelling it as the trainer asks, “What happened in the story?”
  • Memory Verse (From the lesson)
  • Trainer Testimony—The trainer gives a testimony from his own life what happened when he obeyed the lesson of this story.
  • Application. What will you do with the new lesson?
Part 3: Practice Time (It is critical to do Part 3!  If we are pressed for time we typically want to skip this portion of the meeting--along with the review from Part 1--but if we do we are skipping the most important thing that actually creates obedience rather than mere knowledge, and the CPM tanks.)
  • Trainees lead Part 1 of the T4T session (do it another time with the trainer observing rather than leading)
  • Trainees pair up and re-teach new lesson.
  • Trainees set goals for next two weeks.
  • Pray and Send off.
After Parts 1, 2 and 3 are finished, the trainees go to their own groups and repeat the same process, only as trainers in those groups rather than trainees.  Their trainees learn and repeat the lesson and are encouraged to go out and teach even more people.  You can see how this reproducible model leads to the multiplying of churches.  And it is not just theory--this has actually been put into practice and has worked with the Holy Spirit's help, producing amazing results.