Category Archives: Missions Philosophy

Survey Trip Info (All In One Place)

This post puts all the links to the info about “survey trips” on this blog into one place for your convenience.


Survey Trip Basics (1 of 4) Objective & Goals

Survey Trip Basics (2 of 4) Implementation & To Do’s

Survey Trip Basics (3 of 4) Research

Survey Trip Basics (4 of 4) Questions

Survey Trip (1 of 3) Pre-trip Survey & Transportation

Survey Trip (2 of 3) Places to Visit

Survey Trip (3 of 3) Chinese Cities


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.

Teamwork: Aspects and Advice

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

The Theory of The First Year (5 of 5) A Plan

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.

The Theory of The First Year (4 of 5) Language

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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!

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The Theory of The First Year (3 of 5) Consider

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What should you be prepared to give up?

What are you willing to sacrifice?

As a family, you need to talk about these questions with your pastor and somebody who knows missions (language learning) to find out what you should be willing up to give up.

If you discover that you are not willing to make the necessary sacrifices, then maybe there needs to reconsider going. Saying, “God send me I’ll go!” should also mean “God I’m willing to give up what is necessary to fulfill that command.”

Here are some things to consider:

  • During your first year of language acquisition, your children might get behind in school.
  • During your first year of language acquisition, you might not see your kids as much as you want.
  • During your first year of language acquisition, a stranger might be taking care of your children.
  • During your first year of language acquisition, your kids might be going to a school where they don’t know anyone, they have no friends, and they can’t communicate with anyone.
  • During your first year of language acquisition, you might be scared, fearful or terrified because of the so many new things happening, and you can’t speak the language yet.
  • During your first year of language acquisition, you might need to sacrifice the amount of time you spend on social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest.
  • During your first year of language acquisition, you might need to limit email.
  • During your first year of language acquisition, you might need to limit blogging (Side Note: I think blogging during your first year is great because you will think of tons of things to write about. Your training is now practical application and will spark several ideas. If you don’t write these things down, you will forget them. Just schedule a time so you’re not spending more time than you should.)
  • During your first year of language acquisition, you will spend lots of money to learning the language. (If you don’t have enough money for language school or for a maid to watch the children, you have failed in budgeting or counting the cost before going. Please raise the amount you need and then some so there are no financial issues.)
  • During your first year of language acquisition, you might need to limit the number of things that you read in English. (Including blogs, books, articles… anything that just takes up your time but doesn’t have to do with learning the language.)

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The Theory of The First Year (2 of 5) Sacrifice

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The reason I am placing the importance of language learning in “the first year” is because you are going to be the most excited and have the most energy to learn it during that time. Everyone eventually gets burnt out from studying and learning the language. My theory is that you have one year to get a good portion of the “language foundation” underneath you before you experience major “burn out”. If you don’t do good in the first year, it is most likely that you will always be learning, but never fully achieve fluency (a term with many definitions).

Therefore, if this is true, you have the opportunity and you are not on the field yet, then please heed this advice. Take language acquisition seriously. Please don’t convince yourself that you have a whole lifetime to learn it, because in reality, even though you will always be learning the language, the theory is that you only have a short window to really “get it”.

It is similar to a young child learning the language. Young children are like sponges who can learn the language of the environment that they are put into without much effort. On the contrary, adults have to put a lot of effort into learning the language if they are put in the same environment. No doubt both can learn the language, but the child will probably end up more fluent than the adult. That is my point in focusing on “the first year” for language acquisition.

If you are somebody who has already passed your first year, and you didn’t focus right during it, this post is not to tear you down in any way. I think there is still hope for you to learn the language, but it takes more effort and work to do so. I know you can do it! You can make certain commitments to work towards continuing your language learning ( <<< that is another post). I am writing this to help those who have not yet arrived on the field. My intention is to save them some trouble by having the right focus from the beginning of their first year.

With that said, let’s get into it:

Be prepared to make whatever sacrifices necessary to learn the language.

As modern-day missionaries, we forget “the practice of sacrificing” once we are on the field. We realize that leaving family and American comforts behind are a sacrifice, but outside of those things, we often don’t live lives of continual sacrifice on the field.

The practice of sacrificing means that you will have to give up things that you like for things that you don’t like. You will give up things that you love for things that you don’t love.

For example, missionary wives who want to learn the language can’t be with their children all day during the first year. Many seem to forget this the day that they land on the field. They don’t want to leave their children (understandably). All the sudden their children become the number one reason why they cannot learn the language. They do not trust the national to take care of their children. They do not trust a school. They stay home and watch their children. They home school their children. They come up with whatever excuse they can, but they are not willing to sacrifice time with their children for learning the language.

Don’t get me wrong, this is hard, but the motivation behind such a sacrifice is good and the necessary to accomplish the goal, so no one is asking you to sacrifice just for the sake of sacrificing!

If you study missionary biographies, you will realize that those who went on before us paid a greater price. Many sent their kids away to boring school (something that is even hard for me to read and image doing), only seeing them once or twice a year so they could do gospel work. Others had many children who died due to sickness and they stayed on the field knowing that each child they had on the field would be subject to the same danger of illness. They fully understood the  practice of sacrifice.

These emotions need to be dealt with before you arrived on the field. You need to make plans about what you are going to do before you come. I mean, you are raising your support telling people you are going to learn the language to reach the people on your field with the gospel, aren’t you?

I call this, “Parent Protection Mode” and it is completely understandable. I am thankful that parents care for their children. But it can also be a curse it you allow it to dictate how you are going to learn the language in the first year.

Moms are the ones usually most effected because they are the main ones who stay home with the children. Mom’s who go into parent protection mode don’t forget they need to learn the language, they just ask create a new language learning plan around watching the kids and homeschooling them. A plan that often won’t end with language fluency. They will learn just enough to get by. Asking around for advice from other wives in parent protection mode usually doesn’t help either.

Fathers, however, usually know that they have to preach in the language one day. Therefore, they hit the field running. But they leave their wife behind to deal with “parent protection mode” by herself. He doesn’t have an adequate plan for her to overcome this struggle, so he just agrees for her to stay home, as long as it frees him to go out and work like he needs to. Besides, he doesn’t trust anybody either and he already has enough stress in his life by this point, so a fight with he wife doesn’t sound appetizing. When we husbands allow this to happen while we run off and spend all day learning a language, we are hurting our wives and the effectiveness of our future ministry.

So it is just as much a lack of leadership for the husband to allow this to happen as it is the wife to give into her fears. The first attack against your family not learning the language during the first year will come from your parental instincts about your children.

The discussion needs to be stared: What are you going to do about your children the first year? Are your prepared? Have you talk with the missionary on the field about it? Have you discussed it with your mission board? Have you discussed it with your pastor? Husband what is your plan?

Here is the more important question: Are you, dad and mom, willing to sacrifice your time with your children to learn the language during your first year?

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The Theory of The First Year (1 of 5) Language

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The following is my theory of the first year of being on the mission field. This is in the context of a missionary learning Chinese in China (though it can be applied elsewhere).

The general idea is the first year is going to be one of the most difficult years on the field, but also the most foundational. This is not a new concept, and many come to the field prepared for it, but it seems many forget everything they were taught the second day on the field.

Everything seems adventurous and fun when you land with tons of money to set up your house in a new place. But it is scary. The setup process seems to catch people off guard: spending large amounts of money, being pressured to find things they like in a short period and having no idea where to find them. But this isn’t really about “how to setup with the least amount of stress“. There is something else I am aiming towards.

Instantly upon arriving on your new field you will experience “culture shock“. Many deny culture shock, but it starts the first day that you’re on the field. It is the source of many of the crazy things people will do in their first year. It is the source of many tears. It is the source of what just caused a person who seemed to be doing well in America to be a wreck on the mission field. (Honestly, getting to the field and realizing that a restaurant does not serve cold drinks and does not have ice for your drinks is enough to make most Americans crazy.) But this isn’t really about, “how to deal with culture shock on the mission field.” There is something else I want to discuss…

…the goal of the first year.

What is the goal of the first year? It is to learn the language and the culture. Correct! But more importantly, the language. What I mean is: if in one year you can carry on a basic conversation in Chinese, but you still don’t know how to use chopsticks, you have succeeded. On the contrary, if in one year you know how to use chopsticks, but you can’t carry on a basic conversation in Chinese, you have not succeeded. Therefore, the theory of the first year that I want to write about is not as much about culture adaptation as language acquisition.

So let’s talk language.

The theory of the first year is simple: if you do well in the language during your first year, you will be working towards fluency, but if you don’t do well during your first year, then you most likely won’t become fluent. The first year will set the pattern for the rest of your language learning time and is foundational for future ministry impact. Language is the most necessary part of the equation, but also the hardest to do and easiest to neglect.

Now, of course, I don’t know everything about it. I don’t even claim to be an expert, but I have lived in China for five years and I have been learning the language ever since. I’ve have “studied” for about 2 1/2 years full-time, then started a Chinese ministry.

I have learned Chinese “okay,” but even that is questionable.

So why am I writing this? Because I have learned a few things, and I want to help. I have watched other people. I have drawn some conclusions. So in these posts I want to help you focus on learning the language in your first year. (Yes, this sounds like a given, but if it were so easy, then I wouldn’t have to be writing a post about it, so stick with me.)

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Church Organization (4 of 4) How?

Part of a church organization is “getting organized!” What exactly is involved in a church organization? The principles of church organization are found in Scripture, but it doesn’t give us an outline on what must be involved. Obviously, a group of believers desiring to become a local church will be committed to do everything the Bible requires of them to do as a church. The following list are suggestions to help a church fulfill those requirements in an orderly manner:

  • Church Constitution: A church constitution is a document that states the churches name, the foundation, object, and priorities of the church, affirmation of their faith, the church covenant, membership, leadership, organization, and church property guidelines. This gives the church direction in how to handle its affairs.
  • Church Doctrinal Statement: This is a document that states that main doctrines of the church. Every person who desires to become a member of the local church must agree to these Biblical truths.
  • Church ByLaws: The church bylaws is a document that states the procedure a church will take when adding or disciplining church members to it’s fellowship, choosing church leadership, handling church employees, finances and other necessary areas of concern.
  • Church Charter: The church charter is a document that states the purpose of the church, the expectations of it’s members, and a description of it’s function. It is encouraged that the founding members will sign it.
  • Attitude of Independence: This is a document that states the attitude our church has towards the government and the reasons why we can’t completely comply with the State-organized churches.

After the service was turned over to me as pastor, I thanked the church and then called on a young man to come to the front and read the church charter. After he read the charter, we invited everyone who was standing and willing to make the commitment, as the charter stated, to come forward and sign it. These few became the “founding members” of our church (we had around 10). Then after the service, we took the charter and hanged it inside the church building as a reminder of the covenant made.

The reading and signing of the Church Charter is probably the most important parts of the ordaining service… here is the text of the church charter we used:

Today, Sunday, November 9, 2014, in Dalian, Liaoning, China, the signers of this document desire to form an independent Church for the glory of God.

Through the Word of God and the Holy Spirit’s leading, each of us affirm that we have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, been baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and now enter into covenant with one another as one local church.

We declare, as saved and scripturally baptized believers, that this church is founded, on the Word of God and Jesus Christ, who is its Head. We believe in the historic Baptist principles summarized in our doctrinal statement, and with the blessing and authority of our sending church, Vision Baptist Church, we are organizing into a Baptist Church.

We promise to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

We promise to be responsible for our church, to edify our church, to fulfill our church’s Scriptural duties and ordinances, as well as, obey the great commission of making disciples of all nations.

This document will be the official charter of our church, which shall be named the: Dalian Grace Baptist Church.

This charter will be a living testimony for future generations of our commitment to and celebration of our Sovereign God.

Church Organization (3 of 4) Who?

Who organizes a church? Jesus established the first church with His disciples and it was empowered on the day of Pentecost. Since then it seemed only natural that churches start churches. The church, as commanded by Jesus, has the authority to send out qualified men to make disciples through the preaching of the gospel, baptism and the continued teaching of the Scriptures. Once enough disciples are made in a certain place then a church can be organized.

Since I was the man who was sent out to make disciples (who was given the authority and blessing of his sending church to establish like-minded churches), I assisted the local believers in organizing into a church.

My Pastor was also there to help us with the organization. The authority of each local church is within each of the local churches themselves as they are ultimately organized under the headship of Jesus, submit to the authority of the Scriptures, and are guided by the Holy Spirit. A sending church is for accountability. Our home church has prayed for and assisted us in starting this new work and it is out of Vision Baptist Church that we started Dalian Grace Baptist Church. So it was an honor to be able to have him with is for this special day and the support of our home church as we became recognized as a Local New Testament Church.

He first preached and challenge the people and had all those who were willing to follow Jesus and become members of this church stand up. The first order of business was the church needed a pastor, and so he had them vote on me as the pastor. Once they voted me in; he turned the service over to me, and I continued with the organization process that we chose.

Also, we also had two Chinese pastors from other churches of like-faith that participated in the organization service. We were glad they could come for this time of celebration and commitment.

Church Organization (2 of 4) When?

We have worked at planting a church in this city for two years plus now. We arrived here not knowing anyone. One Chinese friend of our family moved with us to help with the kids and around the house, she was our first attendee, but after about a year she rejected the faith and turned away. Needless to say, planting a church isn’t easy.

We have worked at making disciples. We started the church with just my family and a couple of contacts. From there, we saw some growth, but also started reaching out to a new part of town with an evangelistic Bible study that also turned into a small church. Over time, it only seemed reasonable for us to merge these two works together.

So the question is, “When should a church be organized?” Every church is different and may choose to do this at different times. We know that Jesus said (in reference to church discipline), “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20), so there needs to be two or more believers who are willing to unite together for the purpose of establishing a local church.

Next we see that, “They that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:41-42). New believers were baptized, added to the church and continued together in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship. These are the very basics from which a church is started: (1) born-again believers who are (2) baptized, (3) starting to regularly assemble (4) willing to continue in the apostles doctrine and (5) desiring to fulfill its purpose as a church.

Where this group of believers exist and desire to become a church, they should organize so that all things will be done decently and in order.

For us this meant that we waited until we had a core of people who met these requirements. After merging the churches together, we seemed to have this core and were ready to make this public commitment.

If you are wanting to know dates and actually time frames, here you go: Gospel held its’ first service on April 7, 2013 and Grace had its first service as a church on April 6th, 2014. They merged together and held the first joint service as Dalian Grace Baptist Church on September 28th 2014. So that is about 22 months from the first service to the Organization service on Sunday, November 9, 2014.