- Pursue continuous growth and learning in all areas: spiritual, intellectual, emotional, physical, relational, and mental.
- Exhibit godly characteristics, qualities, and the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.
- Adapt to the culture and the local way of thinking (How do they think? What makes them tick?) Be creative in your adaptation (How do they do things? ) and critical in your Biblical discernment (What part needs to be avoided or redeemed?)
- Engage the local people and serve them; contribute something to their community through good works. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
- Interact with the locals, spend large amounts of time among the people, and effectively communicate the gospel. Be a fisher of men. May their hearts burn within them while you talk and open with them the scriptures “by the way”.
The following is a continuation in my Starting A Conversation, Missions series of articles and was written by a friend who gives a perspective of serving on the other side, the side of being a yokefellow. What exactly is a yokefellow and how is being one a blessing in missions? Read below!
The Blessings of Being a Yokefellow
Philippians 4:3 “And I
The term “yokefellow” shows up just once in the Bible. All we know is, whoever this fellow was that Paul is writing about, they were close, they were united in cause and they were putting forth an equal effort. The unidentified person is called a true yokefellow which indicates also that the relationship may have weathered some thick and thin. This term is often applied to a ministry where families at the home church working closely together with families on the foreign field. Along with the basic ministries and spiritual disciplines that every believer should have in his life, to be a yokefellow with a missionary family is a special blessing. It takes effort and comes at a cost, but a few of the blessings a true yokefellow can look forward to are as follows:
- Deeper involvement in foreign missions: Getting involved in missions is a simple as giving and praying. Foreign missions wouldn’t happen without those things. Becoming a yokefellow is asking for
a deeperinvolvement in a specific mission field and missionary family. It is a union of efforts to advance the Gospel ministry in the area where the missionary serves. It feeds a craving that the believer has for involvement in foreign missions,while serving in their own ministry at the home church. The yokefellow shares in the excitement of the success, and challenges of the setbacks that go along with mission work. In the yoke with the missionary, he is a co-laborer that brings all that God has packed into his life to aide in the work. In many cases, it will be the closest working relationship the missionary has and will give him the assurance that he is neither alone nor forgotten. The effectiveness of the missionary will in large part be determined by their ability to stay. Being a true yokefellow is a great way to make a meaningful impact on the stay-ability of the missionary, and with that, the long term outcome of the mission.
- Rewarding friendship: The best kind of friendships those that are genuine. Our missionary family serving in China are our friends. We reach out to check on them, but they reach out to check on us as well. They care about us, ask for help when they need it, speak honestly and keep confidential things confidential. After all, that’s what friends do. What a blessing it is to have good friends that live interesting and unusual lives. There is always a lot to talk about. My wife and I enjoy our fellowship with them and love being honorary uncles and aunts to their children. Everyone needs friendships that are genuine, not motivated by programs or private goals. The connecting implement that God chose to use as the analogy is a yoke. Joined at the neck is pretty close. Our closeness comes
becauseour friendship centers around our mutual interest, seeing people reached with the Gospel. Friendships are vital for Christians to challenge, encourage and comfort each other as we follow Christ together. Being a yokefellow opens the door of blessings that comesfrom a close and mutually beneficial Christian friendship.
- A special connection with an interesting culture: God made people and designed them to be different. In that difference is a world of interesting things. The stuff they eat, the ways they speak, the customs they have. There are many interesting things that can be learned by studying and understanding another culture. For the Christian who has not been outside of the U.S., a visit to see their missionary yokefellow on the field could be the first and most significant trip they ever make. It will certainly be life-altering. Having a connection with people living in another country is a great conversation starter that ultimately leads to Jesus. People want to know why our American friends would live such risky lives in China. You may find that people from the country where your missionary serves live close to you. You may even learn some of their languages. More conversation starters that lead to Jesus. Being a yokefellow gives you a special connection with interesting cultures and easy ways to share your testimony.
There are built in blessings for every step we take into a closer relationship with Jesus. One of the most meaningful relationships with other believers one can have is to be in the yoke with a specific missionary family. It feeds the craving every growing believer should have to be deeply involved in missions, brings a wonderful friendship and a special connection with an interesting culture. Its work for both sides of the relationship if it’s done well, but the blessings make it well worth the effort.
By John Pearson
This week I had the privilege to attend and teach a session at the Our Generation Pastors Conference hosted by our home church, Vision Baptist Church. It and other events have reminded me about the much-needed conversation that we need to have about missions.
As Independent Baptist, we are blessed with a network that desires to reach the world by planting churches. I pray that we keep this focus on global church planting going forward.
But there is room for growth and to refocus. Some churches are working hard at the great commission, some are complacent, some never got involved, others are just too busy. Thus, its time we have a conversation. Or continue the conversation. Not argue and fight, but see what more we can do together to get the gospel to the world. Here are the posts that I have been writing that I hope helps contribute to this conversation.
- Blessings Of Independent Baptist Missions
- Blessings of Deputation
- The Right Focus: Church Planting
- Revitalizing Missions. Renewing A Passion For World Evangelism.
More to come, Lord willing.
Here is the current situation.
Some churches are just focused on preserving themselves. Others are willing to slowly cease to exist in an effort to resist any kind of change. But there also has been a recent push to revitalize churches…meaning to help churches that are struggling to get new life again and become a healthy local church once again. There has also been a push for church planting in the USA…mainly because churches are dying, new areas are changing because of business shifts, culture changes, etc. And for the most part, church revitalization and planting is good. I wholeheartedly support church planting in America and helping struggling churches become thriving churches again.
But there is a problem.
I do see a problem within our Independent Baptist movement. While we are focused on holding on to the old paths, replanting churches or planting new churches in the fastest growing parts of our towns, there are thousands if not millions dying around the world without ever having a church planted among them. The thought of the lost, dying, hopeless, and unreached around the world use to burden our souls and permeate our churches.
Our churches do preach the gospel. We are blessed with hearing the gospel over and over again. We are blessed with churches that care about properly adapting to our culture and yet still standing firmly on the truth of God’s Word! But there is a missionary conundrum and it has nothing to do raising support. The missionary problem is this: local churches are slowly loosing their passion for world evangelism. That is not to say that we don’t have a financial budget for missions, but do we truly have a heart for missions. How interconnected is reaching our Jerusalem with reaching the uttermost?
“Any church that is not seriously involved in helping fulfill the Great Commission has forfeited its biblical right to exist.”Oswald J. Smith
The solution is to revitalize missions.
The solution is simple, yet hard. The solution is a call to revitalize missions; to renew a passion for world evangelism; to restore a vision for reaching the world in our generation; to risk everything so that all nations, kindreds, people, and tongues will be able to cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9-10)
“There is nothing in the world or the Church — except the church’s disobedience — to render the evangelization of the world in this generation an impossibility.”Robert Speer, Student Volunteer Movement
The solution is simple: “Both”
Generally, the first objection to missions ironically comes from the Bible. I think a misapplication of a principle from Acts 1:8 has caused us to focus on part of the mission, but not the whole mission. In the book of Acts, we see the great commission lived out. In Acts 1:8 we see the reiteration of the mission: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. ” In this verse, we are given a geographical pattern that is worked out in the following chapters: Jerusalem 1–7; Judaea and Samaria 8–12; the uttermost part of the earth 13–28; but I don’ think this is a command to follow. I think the take away from this verse is the same as when we read: Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-18; Luke 24:46-49; John 20:19-23…meaning that our goal is the entire world. If there is a principle to be taken from this verse, it would seem to say, “Start where you are, but run to where aren’t.” Thus, I think it is wrong when we apply it to mean that we need to reach our Jerusalem first and only then can we focus on reaching the rest of the world. We must have an established world vision that focuses on both our Jerusalem and the world at the same time. We are to go to everyone, all the time. Consider the following thoughts:
- The Great Commission is the task of the church to be continuously making disciples of the “people of the world” until Jesus’ return. It says to go: to “all nations”; to “all the world”; “among all nations”; and to “whose soever”. We can conclude that Jesus is sending us to make disciples of all people of every nation, country, people group—“whosoever will”. We have the responsibility to go preach the gospel and send around the world those willing to witness of Jesus. We are local and global ambassadors for Jesus—this is the purpose of the church on earth until Jesus returns.
- “Nations” which is used twice in two of the great commission passages generally means a large group of people that are associated with each other based on language, culture, location or other various common factors. The use of this term in the great commission is to emphasize that Jesus is sending us to every single person—no matter their language, culture, location, etc. (This term was not used in the great commission to make enthroned-linguistic lists of peoples based on arbitrary criteria so that we can focus on getting a small percentage of as many diverse kinds of peoples saved or to usher in Jesus’ return. This is often misleading and can cause us to focus on a small portion of people while ignoring a large portion of people.) The formula is simple: every person, every place.
“People who don’t believe in missions have not read the New Testament. Right from the beginning Jesus said the field is the world. The early church took Him at His word and went East, West, North and South.”J. Howard Edington
Don’t be that guy who misunderstands everything.
Don’t misunderstand! Yes, we need strong churches to be strong senders and to raise up a strong generation of goers, but without a passion for world evangelism and with an overemphasized focus on reaching only our Jerusalem first, we fall into the trap of never seeing our churches as healthy enough or mature enough to reach into the countless dark places around the world who are yet to have the gospel. As the great commission is lived out in the book of Acts, it is messy, churches aren’t perfect, they don’t have the best programs, the largest buildings and everything is not meticulously put into place before they go to the next place.
“It is possible for the most obscure person in a church, with a heart right toward God, to exercise as much power for the evangelization of the world, as it is for those who stand in the most prominent positions.”John R. Mott
Summing it all up.
We need to revitalize missions in our Independent Baptist churches. We need to re-establish our passion for world evangelism. This means that we live within that tension of reaching both our Jerusalem and the world at the same time. And the pastors must lead this charge in his congregation, he is the key to the missionary problem.
“The mission of the church is missions.”Oswald J. Smith
Questions To Consider
- What is your church’s plan to reach your local community?
- What is your church’s plan to reach China and India?
- How much of your budget is spent on your Jerusalem?
- How much of your budget is spent on the rest of the world?
- How many people go on your church’s behalf to reach your community?
- How many people go on your church’s behalf to reach other countries?
- How do we live this out? How do we properly live in this tension?
- How can we make missions more than just a budget item?
- How do we make missions, not just another program but the actual plan?
- If your church already “gets it”, what are you doing to help others “get it”?
- How does discipleship and training men help accomplish this goal?
I wrote about the Blessings Of Independent Baptist Missions which is “an incredible network of independent churches that are willing to partner with missionaries from various Baptist churches of like faith and practice to evangelize the world.” This post is in that same vein and builds upon it.
In general, we have a strong focus on church planting. And this is something that makes our approach to evangelizing the world very unique (and Biblical). As our movement grows,
Although I believe our focus as a movement is still on church planting as a whole, there is a trend that sees the importance of their local church and even the importance of supporting national church planting but regulates “foreign missions” as just a “good works outreach” instead of a “foreign church planting effort”. But missions should equal church planting, and here are a few ideas why:
- Missions should equal church planting because it is the result of obeying the great commission—”make disciples of all nations through going and preaching the gospel, baptizing new believers and teaching them all that Jesus taught. As a result, new local churches would be established all around the world.”
- Missions should equal church planting because churches can be the light of its community by its good works outreaches. For example, a church in America doesn’t need to have a missionary to foster kids in its local community, the members of the church can reach out and foster the children and care for them. The church is the answer to this problem. In the same way, the foreign field doesn’t need a missionary sent out to start a foster care ministry on the foreign field, they need a local church planted by a missionary who teaches them to be light in their community through the various means. Again, the local church is the answer.
- Missions should equal church planting because it is an active and constant witness. What greater gift can you give to a community
than“a group of believers who consistently gather together in one place for the common purpose of carrying out the will and work of God and to grow in the grace and knowledge of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”—this is a local church.
Sometimes there are needs for various ministries as “stop-gap measures” meaning trying to evangelize or be light in communities around the world until we have a local church there to do the job, but if we never send church planters then the temporary fix becomes permanent.
As we are finishing up the sixth month of our tentative one-year furlough, I am reminded of the blessing that we have in our model of missions as Independent Baptist. To my knowledge, there is nothing else out there like it
We have an incredible network of independent churches that are willing to partner with missionaries from various Baptist churches of like faith and practice to evangelize the world. For the majority of our missions programs, the focus is on church planting because we understand that “the local church exists to evangelize the world. Jesus commanded believers to be witnesses of Him to the entire world. Each local church should be involved in preaching the gospel to their local area and sending missionaries to preach the gospel in all parts of the world. Together we can pray, give and go.” We have been convinced that “the mandate of the church was to make disciples of all nations through going and preaching the gospel, baptizing new believers and teaching them all that Jesus taught. As a result, new local churches would be established all around the world.”
My family and I started deputation about 10 years ago, finished in 19 months, served in China for 8 years (with a couple short trips in those years), and then we have been on furlough for almost 6 months. Lord willing, we will be on furlough for another six months and then head back to China to continue our church planting ministry. So now that I have been traveling again, I have visited many of our supporting churches and also met many new churches. I am reminded of much of what I learned about our “deputation system” or the way that we network as Independent Baptist to raise finances, prayer, and laborers. Not to mention the incredible blessing that we have to go into local churches and “rehearsed all that God had done” with us, and how He had “opened the door of faith” unto the Chinese (Acts 14:27). I wrote about those things that I found as “Blessings of Deputation” here in 2011.
Another blessing of the way we organize our missions effort is that local churches are not only the main focus of the work of the missionaries on the field but local churches are also the core of how we raise financial support, raise up new laborers for the great harvest field of the world, and build partnerships with believers who are encouraging us as we go forward into the fight, knowing that we are doing this together to advance the gospel in our generation. We build real relationships that allow, not only the missionaries, but local churches to be directly involved in world missions through real relationships with their missionaries; they can give to real missions projects of the missionaries they know; they can pray for those the missionaries are trying to reach by name as they read their prayer letters and various updates. I know many missionaries who don’t have a network as we do and they are almost not connected to local churches that are cheering for their success and get behind them in so many different ways. Our model of missions is a blessing! And if you are a missionary in our ranks and want this kind of support structure, it is there if you want it. Yes, it takes work to build it and maintain it, but if a missionary is afraid of work, he shouldn’t go to the field anyways. The devil is not going to hand over any victories to you just because you arrive on the field. We are in a spiritual war and we have to act like men of God who know that Jesus is with us alway, even unto the end of the world (Matthew 28:20)
So let us continue on! Let us keep going forward with this wonderful system that we have. Please don’t lose focus. Local churches are the key of world evangelism, both in going and sending. Churches, let us continue to partner with church planting missionaries as the best method to reach local communities all over the world. Missionaries, let us continue to partner with local churches to facilitate the necessary partnerships that we all need to make a greater impact. There is always room for improvement, no system is perfect, but our model of missions as Independent Baptist is truly a blessing!
This post puts all the links to the info about “survey trips” on this blog into one place for your convenience.
Questions: Survey Trip – The following are questions that I sent in to Austin Gardner to be answered on his “Leadership with Vision” podcast. He answers these questions in the podcast.
CATEGORY ARCHIVES: SURVEY – My “survey” thoughts on different places I have been that I jotted down.
Before, I wrote a three part series on “Teamwork“. This post is in that same vein. The following are things that I have learned as I have moved into different roles but continued to work in team setting.
Three aspects to team relationship that needs to be understood for a proper relationship to form:
- Friendship: this is doing things together as equals. For example: going out for coffee or doing something fun together. This has to be worked on by both sides because it means investing time! If one side doesn’t have any time to invest then this will not develop.
- Authority: this is one leading something and the other serving in it. For example: one leading the men’s ministry and the other serving in it. This means one needs to humbly lead and the other needs to respectfully submit.
- Influence: this is one having more experience in a specific area than the other and giving advice based on it. For example: living on the field longer than the other. This requires the one to not be a know-it-all and the other to be a leaner at all times.
Each of these areas are part of missionary relationships on the field. To accomplish all three in harmony is hard. Some come naturally and others don’t. So it is good to remember the following:
- Don’t Judge – you are in this thing together and for the same purpose. You can talk about differences of opinions and go against advice but you don’t need to judge each other or think bad of the other because of it. No one is right all of the time. Some need to learn the hard way.
- Show grace – the other person is constantly going to be doing things or saying things that cause you to think “they don’t deserve for me to be nice to them” and when this happens it is the perfect time to be nice and show grace.
- Control Attitudes – don’t let your attitude control you but control your attitude. This is easer said than done, but cultural shock will put your attitude on an emotional rollercoaster and we need to be able to face the downward spiral with confidence.
- Reject Selfishness – most problems stem from selfishness and pride. You think about ourselves and what is best for you, showing pity for yourself and not thinking about others. Reject this.
- Don’t Compare – everyone’s situation, schedule, kids, parenting styles, housing situations, schooling, maids, areas of hardship, background, learning speed and cultural adjustment is different. Don’t compare yourself among yourselves or you are setting yourself up to fail.
- Pray Daily – pray for the other person you are developing a relationship with daily. It is hard to harbor hard feelings against them when you take them by name before the Lord in prayer. You need God’s help.
- Admit Faults – no one is perfect and a fractured relationship means there are faults on both sides, thus be the one to admit faults and choose to love.
If you can recognize these three aspects of team relationship exists and remember the above advice then I think you can work towards a proper team relationship.
So what does all this look like practically?
You need to have a plan…
…a plan about what you are going to do for the entire first year to learn the language.
If someone was coming to China today to learn the language and asked me for a plan… here is what I would tell them (in our context as of today):
- Everyday, Monday through Friday, attend university four hours a day from 8:30-11:30. This will allow the student to have structure and motivation to stay the course because they are enrolled in an official program. My goal for them to learn from this program would be: how to read and write characters, grammar and listening. Both husband and wife would be required to attend. Thus children, would need to attend school, daycare or be watched by a nanny (based on age). This means you will be in class 20 hours a week. It requires sacrificing your personal time to do what you want and time with your children. (But you get natural breaks with the holidays and semesters.)
- Everyday, Monday through Friday, attend spoken Chinese classes three hours a day from 1:00-4:00. The student would review the university material, learning how to say everything correctly and saying it many times with a teacher, one-on-one. They would do this for the first half of the time. The second half they would use a pinyin based lessons to continue learning how to speak and say sentences correctly. My goal for them to learn from this program would be: pronunciation, grammar, tones. They will spend at least 80% of the time speaking with a teacher correcting them the entire time. Both husband and wife would be required to attend (but the wife could do two hours instead of three). Thus children, would need to attend school, daycare or be watched by a nanny (based on age). This means you will be in class 15 (10) more hours a week speaking. It requires sacrificing your personal time to do what you want and time with your children.
- The evening would be given to spending time with family as well as doing any of the necessary homework for the next day. Each student would be encouraged to go out and speak with someone on the street.
- The summer/winter breaks would be used to focus on weak areas or learning Bible terminology. A personal tutor can be hired and learning will continue, as well as using the summer time to talk to people on the streets with the nice weather.
- Saturdays are days of rest.
- Sundays, you will attend Chinese church services. Also, you could be use the free time to focus on spiritual terminology, studying Bible passages or the songs we sing in church.
This is a basic plan that could be used to put someone on the right path to learning Chinese. If someone just did the above plan for an entire year, they would have a great foundation in the language.
But the plan I proposed above is basically a full-time job for both the husband and the wife for one year. I don’t think most missionaries are thinking about that when they land on the field. But that is what it takes to learn the language, at least that is what it takes to learn Chinese.
Of course there are other factors, like limiting english, creating an environment to learn, attending all church events, having enough money to make life comfortable, eating out instead of making everything homemade…and I could go on…
…but the idea is you have to spend the majority of your “productive hours” everyday learning the language. It will take sacrifice to do it. This isn’t easy. But you can do it! You can prepare yourself. You can know what it is going to take a head of time and be prepared. You can make the commitment to do it. After all, the motivation is already there! That is why you are coming in the first place.
People who teach you how to learn languages, (and I think most language learners would agree), will tell you that you can learn a language quicker if you put yourself in an environment where you are forced to learn the language, such as you move in with a local family who only speaks the target language. I am not suggesting you move in with a family, but the idea is if you were only forced to speak their language, and nobody else spoke your native language, that would be the best thing for you.
This means you need to work on creating this environment the best you can.
But many things fight against this…
- Today, many places have people who can speak English. Of course, it is not the majority of people, but there’s enough English speakers in large cities that we can get around by speaking English. So we can feel there is no need to speak the local language. With English speakers present (and an iPhone), there is less reason to learn the language in today’s word (at least that is what we tell ourselves).
- Or you live with a spouse who speaks well, and they speak for you. Therefore, you don’t have to speak or learn the language as well.
So creating this environment of learning…
…entirely depends on you and your drive to learn the language.
Back to sacrificing…to do this you will have to sacrifice things that you like and enjoy for the sake of learning the language. This is not something you will enjoy doing, but that is precisely why we call it a sacrifice.
So here are some thoughts to consider…
- For those who do deputation before language school, this is even harder. Towards the end of deputation, you are excelling and exceeding in our prefield ministry and are on top of the proverbial mountain. Arriving on the mission field means you are back in the valley. Most aren’t ready for that change. This is where breakdowns happen.
- If you are not going to work with a missionary who has a language school already established with students going through it, then there’s a good chance that you’re going to fall trap to many of these things that I wrote about, and it will be harder to create this environment (being overwhelmed by everything new–culture shock).
- If you are going out on your own, it might seem good because you are no longer relying on anybody but the locals to learn the language. But often that falls through. Just throwing stuff together usually doesn’t work. You might say you are doing language school, but there’s no real plan if you are honest. Time is ticking away… ticking away at the first year that is so foundational. Have a real plan.
Therefore, sacrifice what is needed to make an environment of learning. Have a plan. A real plan about how you are going to learn the language. Do real school, but don’t just rely on it. You need an environment of learning. You have one year, give it your best shot! You can do it!