Archives For Missions

Recently at a LifeWay chapel service, we hosted Dr. Lamar Vest, who is the President and CEO of the American Bible Society. I had the privilege of introducing Dr. Vest, and, while doing so, I shared a bit of my own background and how I was impacted by the American Bible Society.

As a new young believer, I would order Bibles in different languages from the American Bible Society to share with friends who spoke those different languages. I also collected a few of those Bibles on my own, and valued and appreciated the contribution of the American Bible Society to the distribution of the word. The American Bible Society continues its ongoing passion for making the Bible available, understandable, and read by people all over the world. It has a particular interest in Bible engagement, not just Bible distribution, but how people read, dig deeper and are changed by the Bible.

However, what many people do not know is that the American Bible Society is behind a Bible translation, and there are actually missiological impulses that undergird their translation.

After I introduced…

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I was deeply saddened to hear the news about the passing of Calvin Miller. It was always a joy to learn from him.

A native of Enid, Oklahoma, Dr. Miller was a faithful servant of the church. Though he only pastored two churches in his lifetime, his 25-years of service at Westside Church in Omaha, Nebraska, shaped his ministry and that of many others. Under his leadership, Westside grew from 10 members to over 2,500 when he left to join the faculty of Southwestern Seminary in 1991. Since 1999, Dr. Miller had served at Beeson Divinity School (one of my alma maters).

A prolific writer, he authored more than forty books and countless poems and free-lance articles. Dr. Miller was deeply committed to the evangelism, apologetics, and cultural engagement for the cause of Christ. He even contributed a “Letter to the Church” for the Mission of God Study Bible (that essay is below). When he asked me to endorse his book, Letters to a Young Pastor, I felt like a kid was asked to endorse a celebrity. (You should get the book.)

He was never one…

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Listen to the words of Jesus on being sent…

  • Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work.” John 4:34
  • “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” John 5:30
  • “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” John 6:38
  • “I know Him; because I am from Him, and He sent Me.” John 7:29
  • “And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” John 8:29
  • “We must work the works of Him who sent Me, as long as it is day; night is coming, when no man can work.” John 9:4
  • And Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me does not believe in Me, but in Him who sent Me. And he who beholds Me beholds the One who sent Me.” John…

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Jesus said, “Go and make disciples.”  You’ve heard it.  You’ve studied it.  You’ve preached it.  But, have you ever defined it?  What, exactly, is a “disciple”?

May I suggest that, for all practical purposes, a “disciple” is synonymous with an “ideal church member.”  Or, at least, it should be.

If you agree, then try this exercise with your church leaders: List the qualities of an ideal member of your congregation.  How should such a person act?  What should he say?  How should she feel?

Once you have listed the qualities of a disciple, examine your church’s programming to see how—or if—you are helping people reach this ideal.  After all, it seems reasonable that church activities should lead people toward some goal…

Here are nine characteristics I suggest could begin your thinking about the characteristics of an ideal member in your church …

An ideal (assimilated) member:

1.   …understands and identifies with the goals of your church.  Goals are what church leaders have determined to accomplish in the coming year.  How many of your constituents could list at least two of your church’s goals for the coming year? …

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Guest column by Jon D. Wilke

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) — When it comes to discipleship, those who regularly attend church struggle with sharing Christ with non-Christians, according to recent study of church going American Protestants.

The study conducted by LifeWay Research found that 80 percent of those who attend church one or more times a month believe they have a personal responsibility to share their faith, but 61 percent have not told another person about how to become a Christian in the previous six months.

These distressing results came from an extensive discipleship research project focused on measuring spiritual maturity in individuals. Overall, LifeWay Research found eight biblical attributes consistently evident in the lives of maturing believers. Of those eight, “Sharing Christ” has the lowest average score among Protestant church attendees.

Three-quarters of churchgoers say they feel comfortable in their ability to effectively communicate the Gospel, while 12 percent say they don’t feel comfortable telling others about their faith.

Despite a vast majority believing it’s their duty to share their faith and having the confidence to do so, 25 percent say they have shared their faith once or twice over the…

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Setting up task groups is a great way to develop a growing number of faithful volunteers in almost any area of ministry.  A task group is distinct in that it isn’t just a traditional fellowship-building group or a team of people simply fulfilling a task.  By definition, task groups attempt to accomplish both fellowship and ministry at the same time.

The principle mission of a task group is to set aside a 30-45 minute group time to develop the spiritual and relational life of each team member.  People tend to join a group because of the task they want to work on, but ultimately they will stay because of the mutual caring among the group members.  Being intentional about developing the sense of community through a designed group time strengthens and improves the overall health of the ministry.

Most of the principles used to develop effective traditional small groups can be transferred to working with task-oriented groups.  However, several features will especially enhance the development of task groups.

1. Encourage groups to meet before or after their serving time.  No matter how frequent the serving…

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When was the last time you watched a movie at home with your family and a few friends? Did you call the church office to decide whose house you would go to? Did you ask your pastor who to invite?

Probably not!

If you are like most people, you just got the movie and called a friend or two. Then why do as church leaders often go to so much trouble signing people up to get into small groups and matching them with a small group leader?

Do we not trust them to invite the “right” people? To turn on a DVD or VCR? Or do our church attendees and members not have any friends, family, neighbors or co-workers they would like to hang out with for a few weeks studying a DVD-driven Bible study?

I realize this may be a new idea, but ironically it  follows Jesus’ model for forming his own small group community with the 12 disciples. First he spent time with a number of “Christ followers” getting to know them and discerning whether they would be the ones he “asked” to join his own group….

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By Guest Contributors Don Graham & Barbara Denman

Bible storying holds the key to evangelism in the U.S., with 50 percent of all Americans being functionally illiterate.

Storytelling is one of the most effective ways to reach two-thirds of the world’s population who “learn through stories or music, drama or poetry.”

“If you hand them a book to read, they either can’t read it or they won’t read it,” International Mission Board worker Annette Hall said of chronological Bible storying’s impact.

Hall, who has worked for nearly 40 years with North African and Middle Eastern peoples, said chronological Bible storying also holds the key to evangelism in the U.S., with 50 percent of all Americans being functionally illiterate.

One recent news report, for instance, indicated that 30 percent of children in the third grade in Richmond, Va., cannot read on their grade level, Hall said, noting that they most likely come from families of non-readers and never will be active readers.

The process behind chronological Bible storying is simple, Hall said, explaining that she often uses a set of 20 individual stories that move listeners through the Bible from Genesis to the second coming of Christ.

“We tell them the story, and then we have them…

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Sikh TempleThis morning, we saw horrible violence at a Sikh Gurdwara. Several have died and all the details are not clear at this point. However, we know a terrible act of violence has been perpetrated against the Sikh community.

Christians stand with and pray for the Sikh community today. As Christians, we stand up for freedom of religion and against violence– against the evil present in such horrible acts.

I’ve written about defending freedom of religion and how to relate to people of other faiths– you can read more here.

Today, we should all be grieved and we stand with the Sikhs.

You may not know about Sikhism, so let me share a bit.

Though it is the youngest world religion, dating back only about five hundred years, there are now over 23 million Sikhs worldwide. This makes it the fifth largest world religion. Twenty-two million Sikhs are found throughout South Asia, the largest portion of them residing in the Punjab area of India.
Foundation of Sikhism:

The word ‘sikh’ means ‘disciple’ or ‘learner.’ Guru Nanak Dev Ji founded Sikhism around the fifteenth century. During one of his daily meditations, Nanak…

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Silver Bullet“Silver bullet”— Any straightforward solution perceived to have extreme effectiveness; a phrase that typically appears with an expectation that a particular practice will cure a major prevailing problem. i

Based on my 30+ years in studying the process of evangelism and church growth, I can confidently say there is a “silver bullet” for fulfilling Christ’s command to go and make disciples.  Here it is:

The most effective evangelism—by far—occurs through meaningful relationships between Christians and non-Christians.

Did you know that over twice as many non-Christians come to Christ through relationships with Christian friends or relatives than all other reasons combined?

Many times in his ministry Jesus talked about and modeled this “disciple-making silver bullet.”  To the demon-possessed man (Mark 5:19) he said, “go home to your friends and tell them what wonderful things God has done for you…”  When Zacchaeus believed, Christ told him that salvation had also come to his friends and family (Luke 19:9).  After Jesus healed the son of a royal official we learn that the Centurion, and all of his family and friends, believed (Mark 2:14-15).  Jesus was teaching about sharing God’s love with the people we already know. …

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