I have frequently been asked about resources for local church missions programs. In 2015, Steve Beirn, Global Ministries Pastor at Calvary Church in Lancaster, PA, published Well Sent: Reimaging the Church’s Missionary-Sending Process. Steve served at our sending church in Holland, Michigan before going to Calvary so I know him well. He writes with passion and experience. In the introduction he writes:
This book seeks to elevate the role of the local church in the sending effort. The trend in missions today is to place the individual at the center of the sending process. Sometimes the agency is placed at the center. This book places the local church at the center of the sending process. – Well Sent, p. 17.
The Second edition of From Seed to Fruit: Global Trends, Fruitful Practices, and Emerging Issues among Muslims, edited by J. Dudley Woodberry
contains reports and analyses of the Global Trends and Fruitful Practices Consultation in 2007. The consultation included almost 500 people from around the globe involved in outreach to Muslims. The book is a tremendous resource for anyone involved in Muslim ministry. Many of the fruitful practices would find application among other people groups as well. The tone was upbeat and realistic.
The Introduction reports:
Muslims are following Jesus throughout the spectrum of types of contextualization – from those in traditional churches using non-indigenous language to secret believers. A majority of the fellowships are in what is called the C3 to C5 range – that is, from using the Muslims’ language and non-religious indigenous cultural forms and calling themselves Christians to “Messianic Muslims” who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior but remain legally and socially in the Muslim community. -Kindle loc. 213
From Seed to Fruit contains 31 chapters divided into 4 parts:
Over the past three months, this blog has been hibernating, and I am not happy about it. I could give you a number of excuses such as a busy fall travel schedule and several training and speaking engagements. But now that we are back in Kiev, I am hoping to encourage the blog to come out of hibernation, with possibly some help from fellow colleagues in our mission organization.
Let me begin by highlighting some recent additions to our SEND U wiki. The wiki continues to be the primary collection of the training resources that SEND U provides. But I continue to receive emails from various missionaries within our organization asking for some training resource that I have mentioned in the past. I am glad to direct my colleagues to the desired resource, but I have noticed that almost always, the training resource can be found relatively simply by typing what you are looking for into the search box in the top left menu box on every page. In fact, I often find myself going to the wiki and searching it rather than looking for the files on my own computer.
Another training resource that is available to missionaries are webinars (interactive seminars offered over the Internet).These webinars allow a missionary to receive additional training from experts in a particular subject area without requiring the missionary to trave or experience a significant interruption in his ministry.
The best source that I have found for webinars for cross-cultural missionaries is The Mission Exchange (formerly EFMA). SEND International became an associate member of The Mission Exchange (formerly EFMA), largely so that we could benefit from the learning initiatives provided by this network of mission agencies and denominations.
Last month I asked our SEND missionaries to fill out a simple survey about what roles they thought SEND U should play in our mission organization. I used the analogy of a campus. If SEND International was a university campus, what role or roles would SEND U fill on that campus? Would we be like the classroom where missionaries would receive formal instruction and training from the “experts”? Would we be more like the faculty offices where missionaries could meet with the “experts” to discuss their questions about what they are learning and doing? Or should we think of ourselves more like an academic counselling department where you could get assistance if you are struggling to succeed? All of those options were chosen by a significant percentage of our missionaries. But the highest number of our missionaries said that one of the roles that SEND U should play is that of a library – a place where missionaries could go to find information and resources for their life and ministry.
We have been seeking to provide that library of resources on the SEND U wiki, and through this blog, and so it is encouraging but not surprising that our missionaries see that as a valid role. During the recently completed online module for SEND team leaders, the class participants suggested a number of books in the area of leadership, and these have been added to the wiki. A couple of resources were also mentioned in the area of discipleship, but this area is still pretty skimpy.
As I travel and talk to missionaries, I see and hear that more and more of them have purchased the Amazon Kindle e-book reader, or are planning to do so in the near future. With the significant reduction in price to under $140 for the Wi-Fi only version, the cost is no longer prohibitive. Given the difficulty and expense of first of all shipping the books they own to their assigned field and then purchasing additional resource books in English while overseas, I am not surprised by this interest in the Kindle on the part of so many missionaries. See my blog post a few months ago.
But this is only half the story! Did you know that many books for the Amazon Kindle (electronic book reader) are available for free? Publishers, including a number of Christian publishing houses, frequently allow e-books to be “purchased” at no cost for a very limited time (a few days), so as to boost their rankings in the Amazon store. FYI, in the span of the last 6 weeks, I have downloaded 43 free Kindle books! Realistically, I doubt that I will read even a quarter of them. Nineteen of those were non-fiction books by Christian authors, including ones by John MacArthur, Max Lucado, Mark Buchanan, and Bill Hybels. As a result of these finds, I have recently read The Power of a Whisper Participant’s Guide: Hearing God, Having the Guts to Respond by Bill Hybels and am currently reading Leading at a Higher Level by Ken Blanchard (and others). Great books, and ones that I was wanting to read anyway, but I found them for free!
How do I find out about free books that are being offered for a limited time only? I regularly check blogs about the Kindle and theiReaderReview blog is one of the best in keeping me updated on the latest free books being released on Kindle.
Maybe you are wondering how a missionary obtains access to all these great books that SEND U is recommending at www.senduwiki.org. Most countries in which we work have very limited opportunities to purchase books in English, and basically nothing is available on topics related to professional development of missionaries. So we can order from Amazon, but then we have to pay shipping and wait several weeks or months.
But the problem is bigger than just obtaining a new book on church planting or team leadership. One frequent question I get asked by new missionaries is how I recommend they send their entire libraries to the mission field. My answer to that question these days – leave the paper books at home, and take as much of your library as you can in digital form.