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Reflections and resources for lifelong learning for missionaries

Category: Training Page 2 of 16

Reflections on the Radius Debate

In recent years, church planting strategies have been broadly divided into two major categories: Church Planting Movements and the traditional model or what is now being called the Proclamation Model. Sometimes advocates of Church Planting Movements (CPM) prefer to call their strategy “Disciple Making Movements” or DMM. If you are unclear about the differences between these two church planting strategies, see this very helpful article by Ted Esler in the International Journal of Frontier Missiology. The table on the last page of the article summarizes the distinctions.

There has been no small controversy in the debate between proponents of Church Planting Movements (CPM) and proponents of the Proclamation Model. Blog posts and articles have sometimes included unhelpful and judgmental rhetoric.

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Multi-tasking is a cultural trait

Over the past few weeks, I have been listening to a fascinating series of lectures by Dr. David Livermore of the Cultural Intelligence Center.  I purchased the lectures on Audible as part of one of “The Great Courses” that they offer. This course is 12 hours long and is entitled “Customs of the World: Using Cultural Intelligence to Adapt, Wherever You Are.” I would highly recommend the course in learning more about other cultures and as part of learning to work in other cultures and on multicultural teams.

In one of the lectures, Dr. Livermore talked about how different cultures view time. Besides contrasting a value on punctuality with a value on relationships, he talked about monochronic and polychronic cultures.

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Why did Jesus prohibit his disciples from going to the least reached?

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. – Matthew 10:5–6

Why did Jesus not send his disciples to Gentiles and Samaritans? The Gentiles were the people who knew the least about the true God. From a missiological standpoint, they were the least reached. The Samaritans knew something of the Law but were not accepted as genuine worshippers of the God of Israel. They were also unreached and proved to be among the most responsive to Jesus’ message. Among them, Jesus saw one of his greatest harvests (John 4:35-42).

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Not OUR disciples

Who are your disciples? Whom have you discipled?

While these questions are helpful in directing our focus on the importance of disciple-making and encouraging us to be intentionally investing in other believers, I think there is an inherent danger as well in these well-intentioned questions.

During my sabbatical last year, I spent a lot of time thinking and reading about discipleship and disciple-making. I became increasingly convinced that in order to be a disciple-maker, we first need to be a disciple. In other words, to learn how to be a disciple-maker, we need to be learning from Jesus. As Dallas Willard so aptly said,

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Book Review: Contextualizing the Faith

Last month a new book on contextualization was published by Baker Academic. It is by A. Scott Moreau,  and is entitled Contextualizing the Faith: A Holistic Approach. Contextualizing the Faith: A Holistic Approach by [Moreau, A. Scott]Dr. Moreau is associate academic dean and professor of intercultural studies at Wheaton College Graduate School. He takes a ‘dimensional’ approach to contextualization, “an approach that deals with the whole life of the church and yet organized in a way that it could be taken in smaller chunks” (preface, ix). Moreau develops an approach to contextualization that goes beyond the intellectual or theological level.

In chapter 1 he sets the stage by briefly discussing “What is Contextualization?” He does not give a formal definition but the following quote characterizes his understanding:

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Book Review: Looming Transitions

Transitions are common in a missionary’s life. My wife and I have been missionaries for 41 years and are now in the middle of our 9th “Home Service.” Saying that transitions are common does not mean they are not difficult or disruptive. Transitions are never easy but there is light beyond them. Amy Young has written a helpful book, Looming Transitions: Starting and Finishing Well in Cross-Cultural Service, published in 2016. She writes from her own twenty year experience serving in Asia where she helped “hundreds of people adjust to the field and prepare to leave it” (back cover). She writes in an easy conversational style.

The Introduction and first two chapters give a clear and honest picture of what transitions look like. The author points out that the stress of transitions stems from the gap between our expectations and the reality along the way. Transitions affect us socially, physically, and emotionally.

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Two-sided writing

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. – 2 Corinthians 3:1–3

I have a grey SEND T-shirt with the words, “Be Disciples, Make Disciples.” It communicates a central idea, key to our calling as missionaries, but also to every Christian. Each of us has been called to be both a disciple and a disciple-maker. We need to be learning and growing disciples of Christ who are multiplying ourselves in the lives of others so that they also become learning and growing disciples of Christ.

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