New Missions book…first look!

In late July Becky and I finally finished writing and editing the second edition of Missions: Biblical Foundations and Contemporary Strategies.  Completing this missions text is very significant for Mission Alive.  Writing the chapter on “Planting, Nurturing, and Training: An Incarnational Model for North America” (in the context of theMissionsText other chapters leading up to it) has helped to sharpen our thinking and led us to be very intentional in the process of church planting and renewal.  This text has nine new chapters and moves more intentionally from theology to practice than the 1996 edition (http://zondervan.com/9780310208099).  This first edition has gone through 12 printings. Its publication will also be significant for us as a ministry.

In the next few weeks I will continue blogging a few excerpts from this text.  We invite you to read and to respond.

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God’s Ministry through Jim and Julie

Jim and Julie discerned that they were naturally gifted as evangelists and this understanding amplified their interest in missions.  As youth ministers, they felt the calling of God to begin Missional Communities, meaning in this case, Christian relational networks within schools to help searchers know God and walk with him.  With other leaders of their church, they conceived of multiple Missional Communities, embedded in neighborhoods and relational networks, as extensions of their public Worship Gathering on Sunday morning.  The seeds of the communities were planted when they began to pray with Christian student leaders about their schools and to minister with these students during campus activities and in coffee houses.  They were present for many school activities; it was their arena of mission.  Soon Jim and Julie were ministering to a broader group of students who were friends of the core group within the church.  After a student’s death, Jim and Julie were at the school to comfort, counsel, and pray.  They attended many sports events and the coaches frequently asked them to pray for and minister to struggling students.  Jim and Julie attempted to model Jesus’ ministry on earth in their campus environments by teaching, listening, praying, and healing.  Reflecting the ministry of Christ, they also prayed diligently for the students from their church who ministered with them.  After extended prayer, they selected twelve students, six from each of the two high schools in their area, and invited them into two discipling huddles.  The huddles’ focus was to help the students grow as disciples of Jesus and partner with them to be Christ to their campuses.  As a result, within a year missional communities of about 40 students were ministering in the name of Jesus on each campus and worshipping in the church’s public gathering.   Mission had gone out of the church building and into the schools and homes of the community.

What do you think are Jim and Julie’s assumptions about the nature of ministry?

The Anatomy of a Day

Every day of ministry in Mission Alive has its own special flavor. This morning I thought I would describe what happened yesterday, January 10, so that you might catch of glimpse of one such day. The day was a mixture of preparation for an upcoming lab, working on a developing Missions text, participating in a Partnering Team meeting, and working with church planters in a Planter Forum.

Strategy Lab Preparation

I spend much of the early morning working on a Strategy Lab to be held at the Riverside Church of Christ next week, January 16-20. I focused on a section about sensing, discerning, and entering the will of God. I am using a diagram from 3dm about God’s timing or Kairos. “Kairos” is God’s timing (as compared to “Chronos”, which is sequential timing as indicated by a watch or calendar). Kairos occurs “when the eternal God breaks into your circumstances with an event that gathers some loose ends of your life and knots them together in His hands” (Breen and Cockran in “Building a Discipling Culture”). “Kairos” time occurred when God sent Jesus into the world (Gal. 4:4-5) or when He led Peter to enter the house of Cornelius. It occurs when “the kingdom of God comes near” and we “repent and believe the Good News” (Mark 1:14-15). This transformation is illustrated by the following diagram from 3dm:

Kairos Moment

Kairos Moment

God, the Source of Mission, enters into our lives leading us through a process of transformation. We, therefore, must live with an expectation of God’s leading in our lives and ministry.

As I was working on this course, Brian Williamson, my 3dm coach, called. We talked about the redevelopment of the Strategy Lab and set up another time to talk together on Friday morning.

Conference Call on Mission: Biblical Foundations and Contemporary Strategies

Missions text

Missions text

In the mid-morning Anthony Parker, Becky, and I talked by phone for over an hour about the revision of Missions: Biblical Foundations and Contemporary Strategy, a missions text first published by Zondervan in 1996. This book has gone through frequent reprintings and a second edition is long overdue. Anthony is working with me to edit and collaborating to write certain chapters of the new edition. We worked for the later part of the morning on editing this text.

Anthony is a long-time friend and co-worker. He served for three years as my first graduate assistant at Abilene Christian University from 1988-91, ministered as a missionary to West Africa for about 20 years, and today works as a coach with the Pioneer Bible Translators. I am thankful for how well we think and work together.

Partnering Team for Carlos Bautista

In the early afternoon I travelled to the Highland Oaks church for a Partnering Team meeting with Carlos Bautista who has planted the Iglesia de Cristo: Un Lugar de Gracia (“The Place of Grace) in Grand Prairie. A Partnering Team is a group of church leaders who walk alongside the church planting family in ministry. One of our core beliefs is that Church planters should not work alone but within a network of support, encouragement, and equipping. Sixto Rivera of Genesis Alliance coaches Carlos and facilitates the Partnering Team. We rejoiced to hear that last year 39 souls were baptized into Christ within that community in 2011. Carlos and his son Jacob made a presentation about their goals and plans for 2012. We then talked about an evaluative grid to help the church develop deeper relationships with God, within the community, and with the unchurched. We sometimes call this the Triangle with three prongs: UP (relationship with God); IN (deep, authentic community), and OUT (on mission with God where members live, play, and work). We concluded our meeting with a prayer of blessing and asking that God lead us forward on His mission.

I then went from this meeting to the ACU campus in Irving, where our monthly DFW Church Planter Forum takes place. I settled in for a couple of hours of preparation for the Strategy Lab before the 7:00 p.m. gathering. (It was too far for me to return home and then come to the evening meeting).

Dallas-Ft. Worth Church Planter Forum

I greatly enjoyed our church planter forum this month. Only three of our DFW church planters were able to come: Wesley Esquivel of ONEcommunity in Mesquite; Charles Kiser of Storyline Christian Community in Dallas, and Bret Wells of The Gathering in Burleson. For two and a half hours we worked through what was occurring in our various church plantings and helped each other. We also explored new insights that we have learned from 3dm (www.weare3dm.com) and the Mission Increase Foundation (www.mif.org) and how these insights were coming into the development of our Strategy Lab. It was a time of growing and learning forward as participants in the kingdom of God.

This is a glimpse of a very long day! While returning home I rejoiced in the Lord for His work in ministry.

Living for the sake of His kingdom,

Gailyn Van Rheenen