Missions Feed

Enough for All - My Bible Study

If you are in Germany then you might be joining the 100,000+ people in Hamburg for Kirchentag 2013 (Church Day) on May 1-5.

12 04 02 Kirchentag 2013

If you make it to my session, please say hello afterwards.

The Kirchentag folk do an absolutely incredible job of organizing and hosting a massive scale festival  - the best organized I have ever seen - and they invited me to teach over a year ago. Here is the info they sent me.

Information about your Bible study at the 34th German Protestant Kirchentag from 1st to 5th May 2013 in Hamburg

Dear Mr. Jones,

"As much as you need” – is the theme for the 34th German Protestant Kirchentag. Meanwhile there are tens of thousands of people who have received a program booklet and discovered that you are holding a Bible study.
Your Bible study will take place at the St. Pauluskirche (Heimfeld), Petersweg 1, Hamburg (758 / AA1)on Saturday the 4th of May 2013, from 9.30 to 10.30 am.
You will be welcomed and introduced. Furthermore, your Bible study will be accompanied by the gospel choir Schacht-Audorf.

The topic of Kirchentag 2013 is "As much as you need", with reference to the manna from heaven that sustained God's people in the desert. My teaching will add the miracle of the Feeding of the Five Thousand (John 6) to the mix and will focus on abundance and poverty,  generosity and equitable distribution, sustainability, God's provision and His plan to use his people to solve the global challenge of hunger. Hope you can make it. 

 T 7f360c06ae

Reflections on Kirchentag 2011.

12 Resources for Christian Generosity

My friend Sas Conradie from the Global Generosity Movement has just released 12 Resources for Christian Generosity:

E.G. “Jay” Link’s latest book ‘Who’s In Charge Here?’ is now available. The pdf and Kindle versions of the book are free - just go to this webpage


 The Money Revolution is a website linked to a book that helps Christians apply Christian principles to handling money. The book is one of the best practical books on how Christians should engage with money.

The Generous Business is an electronic booklet with stories of companies leading the way in giving. It also includes practical suggestions on why and how to become a Generous Business. 

Spanish articles on generosity related issues and on mission resource mobilisation.

Brian Kluth’s sermon ‘Journey to Generosity: Why Become a Generous Christian?’ gives reasons to become a generous Christian

‘Biblical Principles of Financial Giving’ is a Bible study outline from Xenos Christian Fellowship in the US that explores how to cultivate a godly manner of dealing with money and material possessions.

The journey from an emerging giver who gives primarily because of relationships, tax savings, public recognition, or a feeling of obligation to a giving champion is explained in Journey of Generosity: Emergent to Generous Giving’ 

The MBA in Biblical Stewardship and Christian Management has information on the MBA in Christian Management and other courses taught through the Center for Biblical Stewardship at the Asian Theological seminary in the Philippines. The goal of this program is to equip leaders and managers of Christian non-profit organizations in the areas of strategic thinking, good governance, management and effective resource development.


The Future World Giving report examines the potential for emerging economies to transform their societies through philanthropic action. I also posted an article on the report and a progress report on the international Giving Pledge. 

How America Gives’ has a link to a fascinating report on giving in America. One of the most interesting tables is a generosity ranking of US cities. If you are living in the US, see where your city is ranked. How encouraging would it be to see the percentages increase as you encourage generosity in your community!"

The UK Giving 2012 report is not as extensive as the ‘How America Gives’ report but provides a picture on giving in the UK.

The Generosity Spiral of Giving and Receiving is an illustration of the growing interaction between giving and receiving - starting with giving to impose (values, ideas and beliefs) and receiving to manipulate through various phases to ultimate giving (giving of your life) and spiritual receiving.

Why I decided to become a follower of CHRISLAM

You know when a word has real scare potential when Hal Lindsay starts using it on TV. Like the word "CHRISLAM".

insider movements, mission, chrislam

Last year, televangelist Jack Van Impe got kicked off TBN for calling Rick Warren a 'Chrislam' promoter. Rick Warren says the newspaper reports were false and he does not promote Chrislam, but the damage had already been done: Van Impe still hasn't got his job back on Christian television which is a shame for all his TV-watching fans and for the hair-spray company that has lost a loyal customer.

It's a silly word. Can we please stop using it?


Chrislam is a tiny religion in Nigeria that happily mixes Islam and Christianity and counts about 1500 people in two churches in Lagos. I really don't think this group is any more a threat to American Protestantism than my daughter's dough recipe is a threat to Pizza Hut.

Today a conference is happening in Asia which tackles the "insider movements". One of the lectures scheduled for this afternoon is entitled "The Whoredom of so-called Contextualization: 'Spreading our Legs' for the Latest Religious Ideas." The book under discussion is called "Chrislam: How MIssionaries are Promoting a Islamicized Gospel" and it is published by the same people that are hosting the conference. I really hope its a balanced discussion today and not a one-sided witch hunt. Is anyone blogging it???

HEY - Lets talk about the controversial issues in missions, including contextualization and insider movements, but let's also try NOT to use scary words that freak out elderly evangelical ladies and drive extremists into tight corners. Like the word "Chrislam".

So why am I following CHRISLAM?

Because I was thinking that the blame for the end-times deception and the horrendous deviation of the past three decades of Christian mission should not be shouldered by a Vancouver based graphic designer named Chris Lam. Or a British breakdancer named Chris Lam, who I emailed this morning and apologized if people were blaming him for the destruction of the world as we know it.

So I am now following both Chris Lams. But I chose not to follow Chris Lam the MMA boxing/judo enthusiast as @cagedocbecause he looks as though he could kick my ass.

chrislam, insider, chris lam

Related: Emerging Muslim Followers of Jesus, Christianity's Next Challenge, Insider Movements and Wycliffe's Translation

Coming up soon: Is the Insider Movement the new Emergent Church Controversy of this decade?

BEST THING I saw recently on the Insider Movement was Cody Lorance's response to John Piper, summarized here by Warren Farah.

Global Church Forum

A really important missions gathering is happening from Tuesday to Thursday in Chicago and is being streamed. I was invited to be there and blog the conference but I am still in the southern hemisphere and couldn't make it. But I hope it goes well.

Global church forum

A lot of my friends are speaking there and I think this would be a conference thats worth following the streams and conversation.

Global:Church Forum for the live stream.

Twitter: #gcf12

The world's fastest multiplying CPMs and a dead Kiwi theologian

I am talking about church planting movements that go viral and out of control, producing hundreds and thousands of lean startup churches and communities in a very short amount of time. Does that get your blood pumping? 

Last year was my first time in China, as well as my first time in Indonesia and a few other South East Asian countries. I learned a hecka lot. I met young people starting movements that have grown huge and expanded way beyond what anyone expected. I spent time with a movement that is seeing their hundreds of simple spiritual communities reproduce themselves into the fourth generation. One movement in a country I visited has tens of thousands of new communities all started quickly and with little resources.

In looking at movements like these, it is clear they have a simple pattern for ministry that is reproducible, even in an oral society. Perhaps it is because of the emphasis on oral communication that such success has occurred.

3 interesting things emerge:

1. Church planting movements that kick ass tend to have a simple oral pattern of teaching that is passed on from new believers to new believers and so on.

2. It is possible, and even probable, that a recognizable pattern of discipleship is recorded in the Scriptures and was utilized by the early church, enabling new believers to learn, remember, apply, and efficiently pass onto others the essential of the faith.

3. If such a pattern in the Scriptures exists, a New Zealand theologian wrote about it in the 1940's 

This is where I introduce you to the Most Rev. Philip Carrington (6 July 1892 - 3 October 1975). 

Philip carrington

Philip became Rector of Lincoln, on the South Island of New Zealand. His father, who was Dean of Christchurch Cathedral, must have been proud. Philip later moved to Canada, unfortunately ;-) where he slipped off the NZ radar but managed to do alright for himself, becoming Archbishop of Quebec, Metropolitan of Canada and the guy who renovated the Canadian Anglican lectionary. 

[Renovated is NOT the right word - no offense to Anglicans.]

During those years, he was gripped with the idea that the early church had a pattern of discipleship and teaching. 

"The history of my own country (New Zealand) up to about eight centuries ago depends upon the organized oral tradition of the Maori race, who had no writing at all. The Jewish Mishnah, as its name implies (it means 'repetition'), consists of such oral tradition; it was arranged and edited and written down a century or more after Mark wrote his Gospel. It is fortunate that the tradition of Jesus and his apostles was written down at once." Carrington, According to Mark, Introduction.

Carrington suggested that the oral tradition of Paul was something handed over to him and contained "rules or precepts for life, or walking (halakah) as the Rabbi's called it, as well as narrative (haggadah).

Continue reading "The world's fastest multiplying CPMs and a dead Kiwi theologian" »

Mission of God Study Bible and Itinerant Ministry

The Mission of God Study Bible has just been released. It carries the missional theme and  . .  what I really love about it . .  it honors the memory of the Baptist missiologist Dr Francis DuBose who brought the word "missional" back into play with his 1983 book God Who Sends. [see the video I recorded of Dr DuBose shortly before his death] The Study Bible also has contributions from so many of my friends that I won't even start to name them. 

I was asked to contribute something on itinerancy that might share some light on Acts 12, when Saul and Barnabas are sent out.


Here's my bit which now appears on page 1153

Itinerant Ministry (Acts 12:2-3)


Maybe it’s not right, but I feel a slight pang of grief when I read the fate of Saul and Barnabas. Despite having a secure future as church leaders, they are sentenced by the church in Antioch to the downwardly mobile status of itinerant ministry. Doomed to wander the earth like Cain through places always foreign and rarely familiar, they will limp forward as borrowers and beggars, as strangers and sojourners, but never settlers.


MissionOfGod FNL CVR

An itinerant is a wanderer who travels from place to place without a home. Stereotypes are demeaning: drifters, hobos, vagrants, bums, squatters, tramps, and carnies. Some are neutral but few are positive. And yet there are people who have voluntarily embraced itinerancy for the purpose of the gospel, including circuit riders, pilgrims, mendicants and wandering monks. The worst examples of the latter were frowned on. Benedict called them ‘gyrovagues’ (lit. “those that wander in a circle) and Augustine called them ‘circumcelliones’ (lit. “those that prowl around the barns”).


However, despite the stigma of being homeless ragamuffins, it was often the wandering missionaries who enabled the church to accelerate its mission into new spheres: extraordinary itinerants including Jesuits, Franciscans, Methodist circuit-riders, tent-revivalists and the Celtic peregrine, who one writer described as “intrepid Irish adventurers”.


As an itinerant for most of my twenty-five years in mission service, I share both in the shame of this lowly disposition and the joy of freedom to travel wherever God is shining his light. I also have some perspective on why the Holy Spirit might have set such a precedent in Antioch.


Practically speaking, itinerancy is more effective in both cost and time, having no house to maintain or return to. Our apostolic efforts are not tempted by the idolatry of building our own empire because next week we will be somewhere else, serving another ministry project. But it’s more than that. 


As itinerants, our dependence on others for their participation with us in the gospel becomes a filter that leads us to the right people at the right time, as Jesus outlined in Luke 10.


We depend on God. We depend on God’s family. We even depend on the people we are sent to.


Like Abraham, we are told to go but not given a destination. We find ourselves in intimate company with the people of faith, who viewed the heavenly city as their real home. We have no house but we enjoy a hundred houses in this life and the benefits of a large and diverse spiritual family. 


We drink deeply of the sufferings of Christ who, having no place to lay his head, walked the same path we tread.


Strangely enough, recent years have seen a more positive spin added to the mobile lifestyle. Partly in response to globalization, and the necessity of competence in foreign cultures, many are eager to embrace new itinerant identities such as global nomads, couch surfers, existential migrants, and even families on the road.


Likewise, interest in itinerant ministry has intensified as a new generation discover a spirituality of the road and new forms of missional pilgrimage. 


Like Antioch, there are still young spiritual leaders of export quality being sent out on itinerant journeys that are initiated by God, modelled by Christ, led by the Spirit and given an enthusiastic thumbs-up by the church. 

The Folly of Picking Emerging Young Leaders

They all happened at the same time. Charisma Mag announced their latest lineup of emerging leaders for tomorrow's church, Lausanne reported on their Young Leaders gathering in USA, and the reading in our chapel service was about the folly of selecting young leaders - it was Samuel sorting through the big manly sons of Jesse to find the emerging leader that God had chosen. NOT AN EASY TASK!

So it was, when they came, that he looked at Eliab and said, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” i Sam 16

God's people do not have a great track record of choosing emerging leaders. This alone should humble us.


 I think Charisma Mag selecting the "21 Emerging Leaders of Tomorrow's Church" is an idea that has not really been thought out. On what criteria are these people selected? Popularity? Book sales? Twitter count? Are we more perceptive than the prophet Samuel who found it hard to look beyond the bling and the testosterone?

This week I was teaching some missions history which is often skewed towards people who look like us and act like us who make a brave journey to a poor, less civilized, third world country to start an Western style institution that makes news in the homeland. In 1910, the missionaries worthy of inviting to the International Missionary Conference in Edinburgh were pretty much all associated with the big mission organizations. And most of them white and English speaking. A few names like John Mott stay in our memory. Some good people there, for sure . . .

But in 1910 there were other missionaries who were quietly serving God in their little corner of the world, unnoticed, without media fanfare, without invitation to global mission events, and without making anyone's list of the Young Christian Leaders Most Likely To Succeed. Yesterday I talked about 3 of them. 

Toyohiko kagawa

In 1910, while the mission executives were filling their tea cups in Edinburgh, a 22 year old Toyohikio Kagawa was living in a 6ft x 6ft shanty in one of Japan's slums. Tuberculosis was a big killer back then and many of the prostitutes who took shelter in Kagawa's tiny shack were infected. Kagawa vowed to eliminate the slums in Japan, which he eventually did through a strategy of Christian cooperatives and activism. Edinburgh 1910 ignored him but the 1938 International Missionary Council Conference in Madras acknowledged his contribution and actually spotlighted his work as a way forward for sustainable mission strategy.

Continue reading "The Folly of Picking Emerging Young Leaders" »

Mission: Where? What? How?

This morning I am teaching a module on mission for Praxis training.

Mission praxis new zealand teaching

Part of the session will include looking at 3 missionaries that kicked butt but for some reason never made it into the popular evangelical mission history books. Although some of them are making a comeback. I'm talking about Charles de Foucauld, Toyohiko Kagawa and Roland Allen. In particular, Charles de Foucauld because of the huge amount of people he influenced (Little Brothers of Jesus, Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, worker-priests in Belgium, etc) including many that are now a part of our present mission practice.

And a little bit of recent mission history never hurt anyone, even if it is a little skewed. (Click image to enlarge)

Edinburgh 1910 mission

Insider movements, Wycliffe's translation and missiological controversies

There is a kerfuffle on the internet that might be worthy of some exploration. The controversy around Wycliffe's Bible translation, currently on the back burner and under the WEA spotlight, has created a lot of talk about insider movements, contextualization, dynamic equivalence, postmodernism, and the connection between the emergent church and insider movements among Muslims. 

 And it raises a series of other questions about the integrity of missional practice on location vs. satisfying the accountants in the home country, sustainability vs. dependance, colonialism vs. equality, missionary paternalism vs. freedom for younger churches to self-theologize, etc.

I was thinking about doing a weekly post to flesh out some of these issues, probably each Sunday.

Is this of interest to anyone? If so, lets start chatting about it Let me know in comments below. If not, lets move on to another diversion.


Nomads, Itinerants, and Diaspora Missiology

Some conversation and action today regarding "people on the move", global nomads [see my post], and "diaspora missiology".

Screen Shot 2012 07 05 at 11 54 35 AM

Firstly, I am happy to announce my e-book is nearly finished, based on my travel adventures and extraordinary moments through 30+ countries in the past 3 years in our 4x4 truck named Maggie. The name of the book will be No-t-mad and I will be sending it out to those who sent a donation to get our truck over to NZ. Still room for more donations btw since we didn't raise enough money for the whole project.

Secondly, Lifeway is releasing its Mission of God Study Bible. They are sending me 10 copies because I  contributed a short piece on itinerant ministry which, as you know,  is the narrative environment for much of God's revelation (Abraham, Issac, Luke) and certainly for the expansion of the early church and later mission movements. Here is part of what I submitted, although the published version might be different [more eloquent, I hope]. 

An ‘itinerant’ is a wanderer who travels from place to place without a home. Stereotypes are demeaning: drifters, hobos, vagrants, bums, squatters, tramps, and carnies. Some are neutral but few are positive. And yet there are some who have voluntarily embraced itinerancy for the purpose of the gospel, including circuit riders, pilgrims, mendicants and wandering monks. The worst examples of the latter were frowned on. Benedict called them ‘gyrovagues’ (lit. “Those that wander in a circle) and Augustine called them ‘circumcelliones’ (lit. “Those that prowl around the barns”).


However, despite the stigma of being homeless ragamuffins, it was often the wandering missionaries who enabled the church to accelerate its mission into new spheres: extraordinary itinerants including Jesuits, Franciscans, Methodist circuit-riders, tent-revivalists and the Celtic “peregrine’, who one writer described as “intrepid Irish adventurers”. 

Well said, if I don't mind saying so myself. Thanks to Ed Stetzer and Philip Nation for your hard work and your wise inclusion of my thoughts. You can already buy a hard copy of The Mission of God Study Bible here.

Thirdly, fellow-blogger Cody Lawrence just told me that The Global Diaspora Network, part of the Lausanne movement, are meeting right now. 

Lausanne 3 in Capetown was a great experience for me but there were a few frustrating moments for me, as a global nomad. One of them was deciding which geographical gathering of homies to attend each day. I just didn't know which country or continent I was from. On the Lausanne website I was from USA. The Lausanne preparary meetings placed me in the UK, as part of the Europe group. But when I met the Aussies and Kiwis I decided to attend a few of their meetings, having lived in both countries. But generally, I felt quite homeless and unassigned to any geographical area.

Why is having a geographical location so important to everyone?????? Would they make the Apostle Paul attend the Tarsus group? Would Jesus be assigned to the Galileans? Would Abraham be stuck in a room drinking coffee with the residents of Ur?

Ur .  . Ur . . . Ur . . . urrrr I think NOT!

Another issue of frustration was the questionnaire that all 4000 of us were supposed to fill out. I got stuck on the part where you had to describe the country or geographical area you were working in. Ahhhhh . .   how about ALL OF THEM!!!  I had no idea what to fill out so I threw the form in the rubbish bin. 

Anyway, I am happy to see that Lausanne are taking seriously the diaspora and "people on the move" on both sides of the fence. Some bedtime reading material courtesy of Lausanne:

The Soul Declaration on Diaspora Missiology (2009)

Diaspora Mission: Keeping Churches in the Conversation

Diasporas and International Students

Lausanne Diasporas: One Year after Cape Town