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There are places that we can’t go.
In order to get there, we have to strategically plan to reach the people…
…who can reach the people…
…who can reach the people in the places that we can’t go.
This applies to everyone – not just Westerners. There are places where Asians can’t go that Westerners can, and places that Westerners can’t go that Africans or Latinos can.
We all need each other, and we need the people in the harvest too.
It’s the whole church – past (written, story), present (us), and future (harvest) – bringing the whole Gospel to the whole World.
Want to skip to specific questions? Here’s the minute markers:
0:01 About Redeemer Church, a 6-year old plant
0:03 Ballpark, about how many people we have on the field…
0:04 how do you identify candidates? what do you look for in people?
0:07 the church benefits from a nearby college, and outreach to it
0:10 what resources do you offer to build up vision within the church
0:14 Role of perspectives alumni in mobilization
0:15 Vision trips for candidates searching out fields
0:18 walk me briefly through what happens with a potential candidates
0:21 are there points where you check for fruit?
0:23 about the Missionary Training Program
0:29 and about the Advocacy Teams
0:39 the Missionary Covenant
0:45 anything in place to help every member think of themselves as mobilizers
0:50 (there were no other call in questions)
0:51 what would you say is your biggest challenge that you’ve uncovered?
Here’s a summary of some of the information contained in the interview:
Bryan Padgett is the Mission Mobilization Director at Redeemer Church in Lubbock, TX.
Redeemer Church: We have about 1200 on Sunday mornings, with 420ish of those being members. We are 6 years old as of Jan. 13th. We currently have 10 units overseas part of 7 (shooting for 20 by 2020) church planting efforts. We currently have 20 in our Missionary Training Program with plans to be overseas in the next 2-3 years. We have another 20-30 expected to be in the program this coming Fall. We are currently working to create a triad partnership between our church an agency and a kingdom minded business. This partnership, as far as I’ve heard, would be a first of it’s kind. This would gives us not only an agency to send through which we highly value, but a business that would create jobs for our people overseas so they don’t have to start businesses.
What kinds of people do you look to mobilize? How do you identify candidates?
I seek to mobilize the whole church. My hope is to see everyone in the church live connected to God’s global mission. In a sense create a stock pond of potential goers, and from that pond fish out those to send. I believe the Lord wants many from Redeemer to go overseas and so we recruit in many ways. One is to teach others how to mobilize and recruit their friends/family. Another way is simply promoting what we’re doing and casting our vision regularly as a church, and a third way is through hosting many seminars on world religions, PVC trips overseas (Practical, Vision and Care trips) and other similar educational/equipping events.
what kinds of resources do you offer people who are interested in missions?
We have hosted Perspectives 5 of the 6 years we have existed. In all 6 years, Redeemer members/attenders have made up over 50% of the class with average class sizes being around 60 for the 6 years. Currently close to a third of our members have taken Perspectives (we have about 420 members), and all executive staff and all but one out of 5 elders has taken Perspectives.
We do short term trips, but not are not seeking to become a short term mission enterprise. We are very calculated and field led on these trips. We do 3 types of trips, which I have termed PVC trips. We have Practical trips such as medical, teaching, agricultural, etc. All depending on field needs. We have Vision trips, which are primarily reserved for those in our training program to explore possible locations to go. And we have Care trips, which serve to care for our people on the field and create advocates for them back at church. Also mentioned above, we host seminars twice a year about different world religions and how to engage them with the gospel locally and globally. So far we have done China, Islam and Mormonism. Later this year we will do Hinduism.
How do you promote the idea of missions into the congregation?
When the church was planted 6 years ago, it was planted with what we call 20/20 vision. By 2020, we wanted to have developed/supported 20 domestic church planting churches, and we wanted to send 20 church-based church planting teams or be part of other teams doing church planting among the unreached/unengaged. This is communicated often through member meetings, Sunday morning messages or commissionings, social media, blogs, etc. We are known as being one of the most globally mission oriented churches in town. We get a lot of people coming here because they want to go.
When someone expresses interest in missions, how do you “move them along the path” or encourage them to take the next step?
I sit down with a lot of people that are interested in going one-on-one. This gives me the best opportunity to really personalize their next steps. For many my first step is take Perspectives. For some I recommend going with a mission mobilization ministry out there such as Cafe 1040, The Traveling Team (which I was part of for 5 years), and some of the options that agencies offer. The “big” next step at Redeemer is our Missionary Training Program. This runs the length of a school year and allows us to not only develop people but assess their readiness. The MTP is phase 1, and for many there will be a phase 2 and possibly 3 which have to do more with those aspiring to be team leaders overseas.
When someone wants to definitely go, what is the process?
The Missionary Training Program. If they do not go that, they will not be sent from Redeemer. Most are OK with this, but some are anxious to go NOW and are not as thrilled. Our stance is that we don’t just want to send a lot of people overseas to say we did it. We want to invest well in them, assess whether they should even go or not and then send them well cared for so they have a much better shot at actually staying till their work is complete. In the context of the training, we personalize next steps by helping them choose an agency to go with, location, a team perhaps, etc.
hat sort of support does Redeemer give to missionaries on the field? what can they expect from Redeemer?
If a member goes overseas and is part of a church planting effort, then they receive monthly support from us. If they go and do something not connected to church planting but still among unreached/unengaged then we give a large one time gift. If they go somewhere not unreached/unengaged then we do not give financial support. We have also created a non-profit called Sunergos Initiative to raise big money to better support those doing church planting among unreached/unengaged peoples. We will also give money to business ventures that are tied to church planting among UPG/UUPGs. Now having said that, we see support as much broader than financial. So, any member that goes, no matter where, we seek to support more fully.
We are currently building two things out to better serve our missionaries. (Note: I have only been here for a year and a half so that’s why some is in process still.) The two things are: 1) Advocacy Teams and 2) Missionary Covenant.
The advocacy teams idea we took from Austin Stone in Austin, TX. The idea here is to have a team of people (at least 5 people) that would be advocates for any Redeemer missionaries on the field. So for every unit we send we will have an advocacy team around them. Their purpose would be to pray regularly for them, communicate often with them, help them with re-entry, visit them and advocate on their behalf before the leadership and church. Right now we have 10 units on the field, thus we are seeking at least 50 people to join their advocacy teams. In the next 2-3 years we will have another 10-12 units out thus needing 50-60 more people. And it will keep going up.
The second is the Missionary covenant. We realize that those we send are not able to keep certain aspect of the Redeemer members covenant, so we decided last fall that we would have Redeemer Members and Redeemer Missionaries. We would then have covenants with both of them. I’m really excited about this because it raises the bar for both church and missionary and it spells out expectations where I think a lot of there are lots of uncommunicated expectations and people get frustrated and hurt. This covenant is being developed right now and should be done by the end of March 2014.
(I will add here that we are currently planning to do a Redeemer Missionary conference/retreat every 3-4 years overseas for all of our missionaries. Similar to what agencies do every few years. This is a way to bring them all together and have our leadership come over and love on them, serve them, do some teaching and care for them. Really excited about this!)
What do you expect of your missionaries?
We expect them to communicate with us regularly. We expect them to submit to the leadership of the agencies they have joined. We expect them to work with us in organizing and planning trips to visit them (along the PVC lines and at times that work for them). We expect them to do their jobs faithfully and with excellence. (Alot of this will be in the covenant and is in process, but this is an idea.)
What do you expect of agencies?
We expect them to do what they do best – train our people to plant churches cross-culturally, help them with language learning and cultural adaptation. We expect them to help us and our people in figuring out schooling for their kids, best practices, etc. We expect them to further assess our people and help us better develop those we seek to send. We expect mutual respect between agency and church.
New animated video from policymic.com: The wild economics of sex.
I had to immediately struggle with a reflexive thought: putting it in this terms was equating it to prostitution. That’s not the purpose of the video. The point of thinking of an “exchange” in “economic terms” is: for anything you desire (be it a relationship, sex, food, recreation, whatever) you are going to pay something (be it time, money, attention, effort in learning a new skill, whatever). The video explores just how a technological innovation led to a radical change in the sex/marriage market, and introduced a massive “split.”
Beyond the immediate applications to the trends in marriage and maturing in the United States and elsewhere (and this doesn’t even look at the impact of widely available pornography, either), another fascinating topic to consider is “split markets” (which it discusses). Are there split desire markets in other areas as well? For example, in churches (discipleship and maturity), or mission, or politics?
Student debt keeps a lot of would be missionaries from the field. The Go Fund is grappling with solutions for this. This article by the Traveling Team explores how the Go Fund works.
As always, Eddie Arthur has a great post up on the limitations of mission strategies that focus exclusively on people groups to the exclusion of all other targets. Read it here. Seriously, go read it first.
Eddie’s absolutely right in that if you focus only on one group (e.g. “I’m only going to reach the Kazakhs in Kazakhstan, and ignore all those Tajiks, Uzbeks, Pashto and what have you …”) there would be a problem.
The idea of focusing on a people group began as a cry for recognizing the additional complexity of the task. When Ralph Winter first talked about people groups, it was within a context of a mission industry largely satisfied that it had finished the job (because there was a church in every “nation” where nation = country). Dr Winter said, no, the task was more complex: that there were pockets within nations – people groups – that were cut off from the Gospel because they did not speak the language the Gospel was being presented in.
BUT – we need to recognize, just as Dr Winter would recognize, that our lists of people groups can in themselves hide incredible complexity and additional pockets.
No one has ever been clear on how far “down in detail” one should drill in the lists. Stay with the languages? Add in castes? Religions? Sociopolitical groups? Taxi drivers in New York? The UK’s royal family? Of the making of lists there is no end.
Dr Winter himself has said that one wouldn’t really know whether a people group (e.g. a “group of people” not necessarily an ethnolinguistic group) had adequate access to the Gospel (were “reached”) until you were among them, living life among them. All the lists in the world won’t substitute for the up-close, personal, immediate interaction of believers and nonbelievers.
I’ve written before that closure must be multigenerational and sustained over time. This means that in between “A church for every people” and the “Gospel for every person” there must be a “witness for every individual.” You can’t just have one congregation for a people group of 10 million, obviously. You have to get churches and believers in touch with all of the people within an area.
The estimate that 86% of all Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists do not personally know a Christian speaks more to the problem, to me, than the idea that 2 billion people are unevangelized or unreached or whatever. Christians have to get in close, immediate, daily, personal contact with nonbelievers. THEN we will not only know that people are reached – we will actually be reaching them.
This is one of the reasons why I’ve launched the District Survey. Because countries are too low a “resolution” on the problem. People groups are an improvement. But even within people groups, there are many places that lack a witness, and many subcultures and nuances. We need to make sure that more places and peoples, and most of all people, hear the Good News and can experience the blessing.
Since starting the Think Tank videos, in the mornings (while doing minor data entry work etc.) I’ve taken to hanging out in the Think Tank online conference room (https://zoom.us/j/6336000128). I’ve invited people who have specific questions (statistics, trends, research, what have you) to stop by and pose them, and I’d try looking up the answers. (I’ve got a lot of research material in my library here).
Yesterday @missioeric stopped by and asked if I knew the ethnicity %s of the Western missionary force (e.g. what % of any given mission force was, for example, Hispanic, Latino, African American, Asian, etc).
It’s an interesting question and not one I have readily available to me, although I’ve seen anecdotal articles about the IMB talking about the need to recruit African American missionaries. I suggested that the best way to find out the %s would be to simply call up the agencies and ask.
Eric was thinking about the strategic implications of having a lot of missionaries from the “majority” group of one nation working amongst the “minority” groups of others. We were talking about how to measure whether a group was “majority” or “minority.” Also the implications of recruiting cross-cultural workers from rural, conservative regions of one nation, and sending them into urban areas across the world (I come from a largely urbanized environment but cities like Singapore, Bangkok and Manila can be very overwhelming).
If you have links to published research (or even articles talking about the issue) I think @missioeric would love to see them. Post in the comments below.
There are some possibilities for ministry trips in the next few months: trips where to build new relationships with field workers, collect data, uncover questions and possible research needs, and share information.
Most trips are funded by someone who is inviting me to come for some purpose, but there are a handful of opportunities not taken because the budget isn’t there.
Coming up in May, there is a potential ministry trip to a restricted access area for a conference in which hopefully a new Ephesus team will be launched.
In all, this particular trip will require about $1,750. If you value our work in research, information sharing, and advocacy, and can give a one-time gift toward this trip, it would be very much appreciated.
Say a given district is about 1,000 square kilometers. Just how big is that? Here’s a scale:
~5 square kilometers = roughly the size of Central Park in New York
100 square kilometers = Paris, or Walt Disney World
1,000 square km = Hong Kong or Los Angeles
2,000 square km = Tokyo
10,000 square km = Jamaica
Most of the world’s districts are somewhere between Paris and Hong Kong in size, with a fair number about the size of Tokyo. Districts as large as Jamaica are far rarer.
Still, imagine Los Angeles without a single church or Christian in it, and you’ll have a fair idea of the challenge.
“Jesus never told us to be servant leaders. He told us to be servants, period.” ~Neil Cole
“Jesus didn’t come to make Christians, but new creations!” ~Carl Medearis
“What the 27 million people in slavery don’t need is people committed to raising awareness. They need people committed to setting them free.” ~Andy Kirk
“We often forget that great movements for world missions have been fired up by students, not pastors.” ~Scott Sunquist
…aim for the impossible, but be honest with yourself while you do.
Don’t set up a goal that you have no intention of reaching. Don’t make it a “distant rallying point” – that’s just as bad as lowering your standards.
“We started in London, and we said our goal was Beijing, but we all knew we’d never make it. We got to Kabul, though – that’s further than we’d gotten before.”
People who don’t think they can make it, don’t do the kind of thinking required to make it.
They lie to themselves, and they become intellectually lazy.
Set a real goal – even an impossible one – and then do the hard work required. If you set it, mean it.
The unreached are living lives mired in death, destruction and despair, waiting for you to mean what you say.
I’ll be talking with Brian in the Think Tank on Tuesday, on the subject of churches mobilizing missionaries. This video gives a little tidbit about what Redeemer does and the impact it’s having.
For those interested, I wrote this document some time ago as part of my studies at William Carey International University in their World Christian Foundations program. It may be of use to you to understand the historical trends behind this vast movement.
The bar is set too high. The goal is implausible, or worse, impossible.
The moon can’t be reached. The world’s information can’t be organized. The diseases can’t be cured.
Problem is, the kind of thinking needed to address a problem is not the same kind as what it takes to solve the problem.
If you don’t set the bar too high – if you don’t set the complete solution as the goal – it will never be reached.
If you start out on a trip from London and aim for Beijing, you may only get as far as Kabul. But if you aim for Moscow, you will never get to Beijing.
Aim for the impossible. It just takes longer.
“Beating the State: Third Century Christianity in the Third World today.” I don’t know anything about Gary North, but this is a very readable if long article on movements in China, with application to many other places.
One of the keys to a movement often cited is “radical prayer.”
Prayer is required on the part of workers focused on a people group or cluster, as well as on the part of those supporting them. “Radical prayer” has been variously described in some meetings as “we started seeing results when we started praying several hours daily for our group.”
Groups lacking workers also tend to lack prayer guides. There seems an obvious correlation: where there are workers, who believe prayer is needed, they would tend to create some form of prayer guide, be it a booklet, bookmark, calendar, or what have you. No workers, no one to create the tool.
It’s unclear whether the link between prayer guides and the presence of workers, however, is correlative or causal. In other words, do we lack prayer guides because we lack workers -
– or do we lack workers because we lack prayer guides (or prayer of any sort)?
Perhaps one of the best things that a church or a person passionate for a people group (or for the Great Commission in general) to do would be to pick a people group off the list and work on creating a prayer guide for it. This would not necessarily require relocation, language acquisition, etc. It would be a fairly straight forward task, but one that could have huge ramifications for the long term harvest among a group.
The initial guide need not be hugely comprehensive. A prayer calendar (12 entries for 12 months) or a 7-day guide could be used as the basis for creating a 30-day guide.
If you want a list of peoples for which there are no guides (at least that I am aware of), see our prayer guide page.
Here’s what I have been reminded of while finding a new WordPress theme:
1. When presented with thousands of options, deciding on any single option is hard, especially when none are perfect and learning how to tweak any of them is very time consuming.
2. The more complex a choice is, the more painful the upfront decision is. In the end, I’ve chosen a very minimalist theme with the idea that I can tweak it later. It forced me to drop some things that were in the sidebar, as this is a one-column theme, but I think perhaps that’s not a bad thing.
3. Very few decisions are not immediately reversible. In fact, I’ve done a lot of experiment-and-reverse in the last 24 hours. In some ways, the more reversible a decision is, the harder it is to pick something and decide to just stick with it for a while. Getting married, for example, is an expensive and time consuming commitment, but this makes it somewhat easier: you either decide “yes” and proceed; or “no” and don’t. Picking a WordPress theme is far less expensive and time consuming. I’ve “picked” about a dozen, each lasting for a period of between 5 minutes and an hour.
4. In the end you have to pick something and stick with it long enough to get a real evaluation of problems and benefits.
5. Iteration is not failure. The overall goal is to keep this blog and publish on it; it’s “iterations” (specific Themes) are chosen primarily for their success in accomplishing the overall goal.
All of this applies to any series of decisions – not just WordPress themes.
In several books (most recently, the World Christian Encyclopedia and World Christian Trends), missionary researcher Dr. David Barrett (a mentor of mine) argued the Great Commission contained several “imperatives” or commands. These included two minicommissions (Evangelize! and Disciple!) which could be broken down into 7 imperatives:
Receive! (the Holy Spirit) – prayer evangelism, or the role of intercession
Go! – pre-evangelism – going and getting among people, loving, encountering, engaging, reaching, seeking
Witness! – personal evangelism – individual, conversational, dialogue, seed-sowing, being present, confessing
Proclaim! – public, mass, saturation, preaching, advertising, announcing, demonstrating, declaring
Disciple! – persuasion evangelism – discipling, harvesting, imparting, inviting, persuading, retaining, reaping
Baptize! – pastoral evangelism – church planting, incorporating, shepherding, celebration, blessing, multiplying
Training! – programmed evangelism – teaching, broadcasting, educating, follow-up, instruct, mobilize, nurture
We often think “the Great Commission” can be reduced to just one aspect. I think a multifaceted approach that incorporates all of the different mental places that people can be in is required. We ignore some of these at our peril. A child growing up in a Christian home and immersed in a church environment will need a different approach to help them apply the Gospel to their own lives than will someone who grew up in a non-Christian or anti-Christian home.
Wonderful 2 minute video from Pioneers on what an unreached people group is. Hear the passion of these workers for the people they work among.
“The real test of progress is how we love God and our neighbor.” – Michael Pocock
“…the ocean of religious convictions stops at the shore of public service.” ~Andy Stanley
“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” ~Helen Keller
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” ~Albert Einstein
“Until the Future of the World is more important than the future of your church, your church has no future.” – Ralph Winter
“A snowflake is one of God’s most fragile creations, but look what they can do when they stick together!” – Unknown, via @EdifyHub. Would love to know the original author.