Modern Missions in a Globalized World: Looking back to the 400 years of silence between Malachi and Matthew it is interesting to study and see how God used that time to prepare the way for His Son. It was not silence at all but rather a time of great noise and activity moving the world to be a place where the stage was set with roads, language, open borders; all for the purpose to propel the gospel into the world. Today we find ourselves at a time just like that. Like never before we can travel on "roads" to enter countries in just hours. These "roads" are in the air and don't require the sacrifice that missionaries once went through to carry the gospel into all the world. The ease of travel has opened many new opportunities. In today's world it seems like many borders are closing to US missions efforts. However, there is a great opportunity in crossing these borders using new methods. Technology has created a way to do ministry like never before. Just ten years ago we could have never imagined networking leaders and churches in different countries by just setting up a screen and a modem. We can now help train, encourage and mobilize leaders who are thousands of miles away. We can create a website that will open up resources to train men and women for ministry. No matter if they are in the jungles of Peru or the cities of Mexico, a globalized world is a world of opportunity. We live in a time like no other, prepared by God to move the church to reach a lost world.
I believe that the church was not created to be a refuge, an island in a world of conflict and confusion, but rather a launching pad. This launching pad is a place where men and women are being moved through a process that every day gets them closer to mobilizing into ministry. We often talk with our churches and leaders about the kinetic flow that needs to occur within the church. This flow starts with every unbeliever to believer, every believer to disciple,every disciple to member and every member to a servant leader. This flow is an expectation that everyone is being pushed from behind and pulled from ahead with the clear mandate that:
I have always found interesting the stand that the Amish take on formal education. They believe that too much education leads to a proud heart. They do not encourage ignorance but what would seem to be a focus on creating a desire to learn informally over the course of one’s life. I have read that they are encouraged to read a lot, with a special focus on the Bible. This seems to be the very opposite within the current culture of the evangelical church. The high focus on formal education seems to infer that education equals competence and commitment in the Christian life. Not so sure we have that one right.
My family was Catholic up until my early teen years when both my parents where born again. It did not take long for my dad to feel called into ministry and was then challenged by the pastor to go back to school and get his Masters in Divinity. I can remember the shock wave that went through our whole house when he made the announcement. From that point up until I had spent a few years on the mission field, my view was that ministry and formal education seem to be tied at the hip, a necessity.
As I began to participate in church plants where “formal training institutions” did not exist I began to face the struggle of answering the how and the where in leadership development. I can remember struggling with the idea of an exit plan in a church plant. This exit plan was greatly dependent upon a succession of leadership, someone capable to take over where I was going to leave off. It did not take long to realize that my exit plan was stuck, no “formal institutions” close by to pick a pastor, no big funds to make a pastor happy full time, what in the world could be done?
These struggles have led me to ask the ever so deep questions of how much knowledge is enough for someone to be able to lead/pastor? and how much experience is enough for a new leader/pastor? Both of these questions have led me to rethink both traditional leadership development and the current professionalization of ministry.
This is why we are now focusing on a Servant Leadership model where the local church is responsible for the training and mobilizing of its leaders. Our desire is to equip the local church with the tools to train their leaders and form them into ministry teams that are willing and capable to start new churches around their communities.
Sussex County Bible Church and Roca Viva have been in a church to church partnering relationship for almost 4 years now. We saw an opportunity to use this partnerhsip as a tool to strengthen and develop Roca Viva as a new church plant. SCBC would be a source of encouragement and resourcing that would come directly from a local church and not just church planting missionaries. SCBC has sent teams over the past years down to Roca Viva to help train, teach and encourage the believers. Their impact has been huge and crucial to Roca Viva's ongoing development. As this relationship has developed we have seen how mutually beneficial it has been, impacting not only Roca Viva but SCBC as well. With this in mind we began to help plan a trip for two families from Roca Viva to travel up to Delaware and spend a week at Sussex County Bible Church. They were to do exactly what the teams from SCBC had done with them, teach and encourage their partnering church. Over this past week they used various opportunites to reach out to the men and women at SCBC challenging them in the walk and witness for Christ. Each team member used their secular profession and their role at Roca Viva to teach SCBC. Alfredo, who has spent over 20 years in the Costa Rican coffee business, took time one evening to teach the men how coffee goes from plant to pot. He brought up a special blend of his coffee and used this as an opportunity to connect and share God's love with the men at SCBC. On Sunday Alfredo preached and Jeff was the translator, sharing God's word, crossing cultures for His Glory.
Sussex County Bible Church Men in Delaware with Alfredo and Jeff from Roca Viva, Paraiso Costa Rica
Alfredo's Special Coffee blend for the men at SCBC
Sharing a meal with families from SCBC
The families from Roca Viva prepared a typical Costa Rican breakfast for the church family at SCBC
Mara (wife of Alfredo), who is an interior decorator by profession, shared with the women of SCBC. She and Natalia were able to
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