The Monday after Mother’s Day

What a day it was yesterday, we celebrated Mothers Day. Hopefully, you went out to eat, wore nice clothes, and smiled for all the pictures. But you know what happened? Weekend chores were probably neglected, lunches were unmade, and laundry remained undone. After a day of celebrating all the moms, there comes the Monday after Mother’s Day.  

I can leave the house for the day or even days for work and the house continues to function, almost without any interruption. What happens when my wife leaves for a couple of hours? Pandemonium, total and complete chaos ensues as I’m left in charge. I am big on the idea that dads never babysit but in my house, I’m the JV team of keeping the house going. I may cut the grass and deal with the gross stuff. I may even help in planning fun things but in keeping things orderly and organized, well, let’s not address those deficiencies!  

Monday comes, school for the kids, lunch, dinner, laundry, and everything else to do remains. All the things that need to happen today, just today, are not adequately addressed by one day of celebration. Can we adequately celebrate our mothers or those who are the mother of our children? Nope, we can’t do it, and it’s not even close.  

I wrote this article and saw this video that says what I feel much better.

On this Monday after Mother’s Day, I am thankful for the day in and day out work moms do. There is this glorious mundane work of mothers. There is a constancy in life and work that only comes from present and persistent moms. Mothers have a calming presence as they continue on the routine of life. They live and serve their families with little to no fanfare. Moms receive the fiercest attitudes from their kids. They deal with all of the things.  

I posit this to you, mothers must be a ministry priority for any church, especially the global church. If we are to think missiologically about the impact moms have on the health of the church, we must think about mothers and their role in the life of the church. Timothy, the pastor of the church at Ephesus, and a key disciple of the Apostle Paul was taught the Scriptures by his mother and grandmother. Paul writes, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well (2 Tim 1:5).” 

If you have read the book The Insanity of God we can see the way the church is persecuted in different parts of the world. The stories of the imprisonments are incredible. The men go to prison and continue to share the gospel, make disciples, and even plant churches. In the book, there are stories of men spending years in jail because of leading churches and sharing the gospel. What stood out to me is the need for ministry to women because they are the ones who remain at home while the men serve a prison sentences. The women of the church help to share the gospel with the kids. They live out the gospel before their children, raising another generation of gospel-believing boys and girls when the men are in the home and when they are gone.  

For us in the US and the West, the chance of being imprisoned for the sake of the gospel is almost nonexistent. Even still, the role mothers play in the lives of their children remains. What ministry could function without the women and moms of the church? None of them, even the men’s ministry!

What is the method for developing a robust ministry that emphasizes the importance of women and mothers? Paul writing to another of his disciples, Titus, writes, “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled (Titus 2:3-5).” On the Monday after Mother’s Day, we see that what is needed is for older women to teach and train younger women how to live, love, and lead a life following the Word of God. So it is, what is needed again is not a day to celebrate all the mothers. What is needed again, is the mundane Monday mothering and instructing of the ins and the outs of life. We see on the Monday after Mother’s Day what we need is moms.  

To all the moms out there, thanks for what you do. You are raising a generation of faithful children and your husbands are thankful, especially on the Monday after Mother’s Day.   


mission killers: newsletters and reports

Would you fire Jesus from your missions agency? Would you lead your church to stop supporting him if he was your missionary? These questions seem outrageous and in a way, I mean them to be. Sadly, there is more truth to these questions than anyone wants to admit.

Modern missionaries are not Jesus. They do not claim to be the Savior of the world. They are just his messengers. Somehow, we want to hold them to a higher standard than we would the one they serve.

Here is the scenario. The missionary either raises their support or they are fully funded. Normally, the missionary who raises support will send out newsletters chronically their ministry successes. These newsletters will be full of pictures, numbers of decisions, worship attendance, or other metrics. The newsletters justify the missionary’s support. Like the newsletter, the missionary who is fully funded answers monthly ministry reports with much of the same information. Yearly reports must show a growing ministry of more salvations, baptisms, and new churches.

The missionary is tempted to embellish numbers or frustrated to see all their ministry turned to just a couple of numbers on a report or newsletter. Month after month, all of their hard work and ministry turned into numbers that never seem to be enough.

Can you imagine, Jesus in this situation? Early in his ministry, he had performed miracles, turned water into wine, and called the twelve disciples. One Passover over five thousand men and their families were fed by Jesus. Can you imagine his ministry report!

Well if you keep reading in John 6 where it records Jesus feeding the five thousand men, you will see that things take a turn for Jesus’ ministry report. Jesus began to teach on the meaning of the Lord’s Supper. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life” (Jn 6:35). Then Jesus said in the synagogue in Capernaum, “Eat my flesh and drink my blood.” Then thousands left him (Jn 6:66). So many left Jesus that he asked the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well” (Jn 6:67).

Peter answered in a way that may help us evaluate the missionaries we support or oversee. He said, “Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (Jn 6:68-69). Missionaries have the very words of life. Instead of measuring missionaries on the response of lost persons, let’s make sure they are sharing the words of life. Here are some questions to ask instead of being so “decision” or “number” focused in your missionary evaluation.

  1. How are you doing?
  2. How is your family life? Wife? Children?
  3. Is there anything particularly difficult or challenging right now?
  4. What is most life-giving in your ministry?
  5. What are ways you have seen God at work around you?
  6. Is there any ministry story that you would like to share? This can be good or bad. Ministry is hard. We do not always get the “results” we hoped for!
  7. How can I pray for you?

There are many other questions but these are a good start. Instead of evaluating missionaries based upon basic metrics, try and use a time of reporting (which is good) as a way to build relationships and free the missionary to share the words of life. Let’s not forget, William Carey, the “Father of the Modern Day Missions Movement” served seven years before he baptized his first convert. Aren’t we glad support wasn’t taken from him because he didn’t “produce” or “reproduce” enough!

Missions History Uncategorized

mission killers: man-centered missions

It seems odd to think that a missionary or pastor can do man-centered ministry. What is man-centered missions? Man-centered missions sound like some of my old sermons and college papers. It all changed when I heard a sermon by Paris Reidhead entitled, Ten Shekels and a Shirt.” The sermon changed my life. I listen to it regularly. What is the big take-away? Do missions for God’s sake and not for man’s.

What is the difference? Metrics. It’s all about metrics and how we consider something a success. Man-centered metrics look at two things, attendance and response. If these are the metrics by which you measure success, then you will conduct your ministry to these two ends.

How to gain a boost in attendance: Make church as little like church as possible. Give away anything you can. Make the music as much like what you hear on the radio as much as possible. Find a song, some skilled musicians, and play some of the most popular songs. Make the message as application-heavy as possible. As a speaker, be funny, give great stories, and don’t get real “preachy.” People don’t like that stuff. Let the people feel good.

For a boost in your response, make it easy for people to respond. Just take a show of hands, count those up and then report the raised hands. If you want people to respond, offer them the deal of a lifetime. To kids, have them repeat a short prayer. Promise them unlimited ice cream in heaven and let them know they will see their grandparents there. To adults, let them know heaven will be full of streets of gold, six-pack abs, and a mansion. You can relax at the heavenly beach home that you have always wanted. All you have to do is repeat this short prayer.

Other ways of man-centeredness are not so blatant. Before you completely dismiss the above methods, I’ve heard them all. I haven’t embellished. I remember them because they are so outlandish. I am not as worried about the crazy ice cream promise to kids. I am worried that someone said it but it isn’t as common as much as the other ways we do man-centered ministry.

When we make the success of our ministry man-centered, we operate with the goal that someone leaves happy. We want them to come back. We want them to respond. So we minister in such a way to find a way to give a man what he really wants.

We are the prosperity gospel preachers but we just make the payoff in heaven and not on earth.

Do we want people to attend? YES!

Do we want people to pray and trust Christ? YES!

Do people who have never prayed before need a model to follow? YES!

So what is the difference? The end. The goal.

Man-centered ministry can look like other types of ministry and missions but the goal is not man’s response. The goal is God’s glory. Full Stop. Nothing Further. God is the goal, not man.

We must make a change in our methodology by changing the metrics. The goal must be making much of Jesus.

Jesus says,And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself (Jn 12.32).” If our goal is man’s response

Missions History

mission killers: hyper-Calvinists

There is nothing as dangerous to missions today as hyper-Calvinism. Calvinism is just fine but not hyper-Calvinism. It’s dangerous and it should be avoided like a leftover wet sock left at youth camp.

The clearest distinction between the addition of “hyper” to Calvinism goes to the very beginning of what is called the “Modern Day Missions Movement.” Missions programs, methodology, and cooperation began with the sending of William Carey. Carey was a cobbler turned preacher turned pioneer missionary who is affectionately called, “The Father of the Modern Day Missions Movement.” It’s a great title of which we will see more later but for now, just think British shoe cobbler turned Jesus loving preacher.

Carey is in a meeting with some Baptist pastors. He’s one of the younger ones and the least influential. However, he had finished reading Captain James Cook’s book’s Voyages. Carey was captivated by the people and need to evangelize the lost. Hearing Carey’s passionate plea about the need to evangelize the lost, Dr. John Ryland Sr. said, “Young man, sit down! You are an enthusiast. When God pleases to convert the heathen, he’ll do it without consulting you or me.”[1] And that my friends is hyper-Calvinism.

Hyper-Calvinism takes the idea of God’s sovereignty and election to an unbiblical extreme. The extreme measure looks like this: God has chosen who will come to faith in Christ and it is not dependent on our actions. We do not need to interfere with God’s sovereign will. If they are to be converted they will be, whether we evangelize or not. The most thoughtful will believe that if we share the gospel with them, then their judgment will be more severe because they will know more about the gospel message. We should not heap extra judgment on those who are not elect and therefore have no chance at coming to faith in Christ.  

You can see how this is a problem. Carey is excited about learning about people from all over the world and he wants to tell them about Jesus. Ryland thinks this is preposterous at best and spiritual harmful at worst. Carey replied with a small booklet called, An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens in which the Religious State of the Different Nations of the World, the Success of Former Undertakings, and the Practicability of Further Undertakings are Considered, or An Enquiry for short.

His booklet set the world of missions on fire! In his booklet, he demolished the hyper-Calvinism of the day. He argued that God uses “means” or methods to see the conversion of the lost. He argued that we could not know the elect but that we must evangelize because God uses means to convert the lost. We are the means. Hyper-Calvinists were comfortable with man having no responsibility and action in God’s election. A Calvinist like Carey believes in election but knows God’s method is to use other believers’ prayers and gospel presentations to change the lives of the lost.  

You can see how hyper-Calvinism is dangerous. It is dangerous not because it misunderstands election (it does) or because it wrongly applies missionary methods (they do) but because they are biblical. Jesus calls us to make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:19-20) and to be witnesses (Acts 1:8).

Before you go, maybe ask yourself this question, “Am I a hyper-Calvinist?” You may say, “NO WAY!” So let me state it another way, do you live like Rylan or Carey? Do you have a passion to see the lost come to faith in Christ? Are you praying for lost friends and sharing the gospel with them? Or, are you acting like John Ryland?

[1] Mark Galli and Ted Olsen, “Introduction,” 131 Christians Everyone Should Know (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 244.


don’t be a cheapskate

I have a friend who is the most generous person I know. He is a guy who would gladly give you the shirt off his back. He is also skinny, with a six-pack, and perpetually tan so taking his shirt off isn’t exactly offensive. He’s not just generous in offering his shirt. He offers time, money, and his things. But let’s be clear, he’s very generous with money. He’s not rich but what he has, if you need it, you can have it. He doesn’t just give a little, he gives much. 

It has me thinking about missions. I live overseas because of him and many others who give generously. I live here to continue gospel ministry. When we think about the gospel ministry, we need to give the gospel generously. The opposite of a generous person is a cheapskate, I don’t want to be a gospel cheapskate. How can someone be a gospel cheapskate? We cheapen the gospel when we do not share the gospel robustly. 

We cheapen the gospel by minimizing it to just a couple of verses or a memorized presentation. Furthermore, we cheapen the gospel when we make the goal of our ministry getting someone to “pray the prayer.” I remember hearing someone share how they shared the gospel. We shared a hamburger at a restaurant as he told us about his gospel exploits that day. He had little booklets which shared the gospel message. He was in a van with several others evangelizing the city. Rightly, the group started out with prayer and asked God to bless their day. Then they drove to a rough neighborhood. They wanted to win the baddest dudes in the city so they set off looking for people who looked tough.

He told us story after story how he would jump out of the vehicle standing on street corners and share the gospel with them. He would scare them initially but then lead them to Christ. His gospel presentation went something like this: How sure are you if you were to die today that you would go to heaven? After the person expressed some doubt, he would ask, “Would you like to pray this prayer to make sure you go to heaven?” After the person prayed, he’d give them the booklet and jump back in the van. He had an amazing success rate. I’m just not sure we can really call it a success. He did consider it a success because he was able to lead someone to Jesus in less than a minute. His best that day was 47 seconds. I was devastated by this gospel cheapskate. 

The gospel is not about getting someone to say a prayer to get them out of hell. The gospel is the good news of God. The good news of God means we have to understand him, our offense against him, and his provision for restoration. In other words, we need to know about God, sin, Jesus, and our response. We can’t do that in 47 seconds. I’m hesitant to put a time limit on this process but it takes longer than a minute. If a person comes up to you and asks you what they have to do to be saved chances are it will still take more than 47 seconds but rest assured there have been previous encounters. We don’t need to see how little of the gospel we can share because the message is a message about God. We don’t need to try to minimize God. Instead, we need to see how much we are able to communicate about God. 

The gospel is the gospel because it is about God. It is rich and wonderful because it is his story. It is breathtaking and captivating because only he could make the way. It is marvelous and miraculous because we get to be involved in sharing this great news! If your heart resonates with some of this, then why try to share as little as possible? 

When we think about a gospel cheapskate, we need to remember Jesus. He didn’t give us part of himself. He gave us all of himself. He died so we can live. He paid for our sin so we can have a relationship with God. He came to earth so we can go with him and so much more. God is the God of so much more. He can do more than we can ask or think. He gives his grace and mercy more than we can imagine. These attributes of God will be discussed in the next post so stay tuned.