The Field: Dec. 21, 2022
What is THE FIELD newsletter?
This e-newsletter is designed to inform and energize all of us for the work of the harvest. Jesus told us to pray for the harvest fields and for all those working in the fields. I hope you will join me in this exciting adventure.
Church Planting Mobilizer
Where I’ve been…
and where I am going…
I spent time on the U.S./Mexico border in the Rio Grande Valley, where our LAMB District (Latin America Mennonite Brethren) members reside. I had such an enjoyable time with an amazing and godly group of men.
My highlight of the trip was at the end of a discussion on being more intentional about disciple making and church planting. One of the pastors shared a story (he only speaks Spanish, and I only speak English) but here’s the translation: Once there was a group of mice that kept being attacked by a cat. The mice wanted to come up with a way to keep the cat from harming them. One mouse said, “I have an idea. We can put a bell around the cat’s neck!” After a short pause, another mouse asked, “But who will be the one to put the bell on?”
With a firm look on his face, this wonderful, godly pastor looked at us and said, “I will put the bell on the cat.” And with that, each of the pastors renewed a commitment to sacrifice even more for the kingdom of God. If you missed the symbol, each of the pastors was recommitting to do the hard work of sacrificially planting new works and expanding the kingdom. I’ve got to say, there must have been some onions being sliced because my eyes were teary in that holy moment.
How God reminded me again to scoot over, shut up and listen!
At the end of my last trip, I had a layover in Las Vegas. When I got onto the plane, the attendant said it wouldn’t be a full flight, so we could spread out. I love hearing that. I flopped in a middle seat deep in the back. Since I was one of the last people to board, I was pretty confident it was my lucky day. Then… a rather loud (and slightly annoying) young man strolled toward the back, dropping the “F” bomb as he made his way closer to my row. I kept from making eye contact, secretly wishing he would find another row to sit in. To my relief, he selected a seat two rows in front of me. The people around him had looks of “Oh brother, not this guy!” just like me.
Before he sat down, he declared, “Just got out of five weeks of rehab! I’ve been clean for five %^&# weeks!” Nobody seemed to care or acknowledge this. That was when the Spirit of God got all over my spine! I was not looking at him as a man made in the image of Jesus. I was looking at him as an annoying, foulmouthed guy.
After arguing with God, I knew what I had to do. I needed to call him back to my row. So, I wrote on the back of my boarding pass, “I NEED TO HEAR YOUR STORY. COME ON BACK.”
For the next couple of hours, I got to hear about Nick and how God has been working on him (sans the language). He needed someone to listen. Sure, I spoke a little bit and shared about my walk with God, but this was really a moment where he needed to be heard. That reminded me once again that sharing Christ really starts with listening to people not simply telling people things or treating them like a project.
What does the Bible say about churches working in cooperation with other churches?
In the United States, we value independence and autonomy. Churches do, too. And while it’s not all bad, when we think of the early church in the New Testament, we see a model of mutual cooperation. I wanted to learn more about the interdependence of the early church, so I did a quick study in Acts and the epistles.
In Acts 11, spiritual leaders were sent from Jerusalem to help the new church in Antioch. But the church in Antioch responded by sending financial support back to Jerusalem.
It was the churches (plural) in Galatia that were giving (1 Corinthians 16:1). Then, in 16:19, Paul mentions the churches (plural) in Asia that sent greetings of encouragement. In 2 Corinthians 8:19, it is the churches (plural) that appointed workers. In other words, churches worked together in developing and sending leaders into the ministry. At another point, the Corinthian church was supported by other churches (plural) 2 Corinthians 11:7-8.
In fact, Paul states the rare occasion that the Philippians were alone in supporting him, implying this was not to be the norm. (Philippians 4:15). In other words, Paul was praising them and highlighting the uniqueness of them giving even when they did it alone. Truly, the pattern in the New Testament was churches partnering with other churches.
Here’s my point: The churches in the NT partnered together to work because it made the job lighter and better. Working together made the load lighter as it was shared. Many hands make light work. It also made it better because of the added benefit of encouragement and fellowship. Think of a paraphrase of this in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10: Two (churches) are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one (church) will lift up his fellow (church). But woe to (the church) who is alone when he falls and has not another (church) to lift him up!
May I encourage you to link arms with other churches in 2023? I will be working hard to develop even more missional networks next year. Each of these networks are clusters of churches doing together what by themselves could or would not be done.
My Discipleship & Evangelism Book Suggestions
A discipleship book I’m pretty excited about
I have been searching for a number of years for a specific kind of discipleship book designed for disciple makers to use to train new disciple makers. I wanted a book that followed the life of Christ and that could be used in a small group setting. I’ve seen a lot of books on discipleship, but I think I stumbled onto a really good one. I can’t sing its praises yet because I am planning on getting into it beginning January 1 with a few guys, but it looks VERY promising!
If you are interested in this book and want to be a guinea pig with me (it’s very new) check out the link and let me know.
Best book for a seeker
Need help in sharing Jesus? Give a book! One of the best books to give a seeker is Andy Stanley’s “How Good is Good Enough?” I buy it in a bulk 3 pack for under $6. Here’s a link.
Excellent book for those wanting to be a more intentional disciple maker
Perhaps you are wanting to be a disciple maker but have some questions on how to be effective. This short book lists seven elements that are essential. I found it to be a great book for anyone wanting to be more effective and intentional. Here’s the link. 5 stars
“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Luke 10:2
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