April 13, 2024
Character, Spiritual Formation, Covenant Community

Community and Character

During the last 10 days, I have been in Japan, getting to know our SEND missionaries and their ministries in this beautiful, yet spiritually unresponsive country.   Over the years, I have heard much about the challenges and discouragements faced by our church planters here, but one thing I had not realized is the challenge of creating a real sense of “authentic community” within a Japanese church.   Japanese people are very committed to their work, and with long commutes to work and long hours at work, they often are only available for meetings on Sundays.    As a people, they are also committed to preserving the forms and conforming to the expectations of their culture.   They find it difficult to leave the safety of this prescribed tradition and truly become transparent with one another.   Even believers who share a bond in Christ struggle to get back the polite forms and to allow… Read the whole post

Avatar and All Things Virtual

I have not yet seen the movie “Avatar”.  I don’t enjoy science-fiction novels, have made no attempt to learn Klingon, and I slept through the remake of Star Wars back in ’90s.   But I may make an exception for “Avatar”.   I am intrigued by a news report I read about the impact on the viewers:  “The world of the sci-fi epic Avatar is so perfect the line between fact and fiction has become somewhat blurred. … The stunning special effects of the film have contributed to its success with film-goers declaring that they feel depressed at not being able to visit the fictional world.” A psychiatrist told CNN, “Virtual life is not real life and it never will be, but this is the pinnacle of what we can build in a virtual presentation so far.” I have little fear that I will be needing counseling for after-movie depression.  … Read the whole post

Declare Your Intent

I have just finished reading The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything, a book  Warren Janzen (our International Director) has been talking about.   One of the points that Stephen M. R. Covey makes is that one’s intent (motives) and how that intent is perceived by others have a huge impact on how much people trust us.     While we generally judge ourselves by the motives behind our actions, we judge others by their actions, and by our assumptions about their motives.     And those assumptions are often wrong.   But nevertheless, trust is damaged if our fellow workers or teammates believe that your motive in saying what you did or doing what you did was not to help or build them up but either to promote your personal agenda or tear them down.   So Covey says,  “People often distrust us because of the conclusions they draw about what we do. … Read the whole post
Covenant Community

Sabbath and The Covenant Community

As we seek to understand what it means for our mission team to be a covenant community, we need to go back to the nation of Israel in the Old Testament.  Their identity as a people was grounded in their special covenant relationship with Yahweh.   The Lord God made some special promises to them (redemption from slavery, a land of their own flowing with milk and honey, etc), and made clear His expectations of His chosen people (no tolerance for hedging their bets with the competition, obedience to the Law, etc).   As a sign of their mutual covenant, God gave them the Sabbath, both as a distinguishing practice among the nations, and as a scheduled life “pause button”, enabling them to refocus their attention on their relationship as a covenant community with their God Because the Sabbath day was a sign of their covenant, the Israelites were to remember to… Read the whole post
Team Leadership

The Priority of Trust

In his book, “Leading Cross-Culturally: Covenant Relationships for Effective Christian Leadership“, Sherwood Lingenfelter says that the most difficult challenge in leading multi-cultural teams or communities is to build trust within that team or community.   So he places great importance on this leadership task of forming a community of trust, which he goes on to call a “covenant community”.  In fact, he goes on to say that “instead of giving first priority to attaining vision, meeting goals and productivity, they (leaders) must rather give highest priority to the formation of a community of trust and then to doing the hard ‘bodywork’ of creating both community and trust.” This is not the typical advice we give to a new team leader, not even to a missionary team leader.   But when we have served on or worked with a team or church in which its members no longer trust one another,… Read the whole post
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