Monday, April 16, 2012

thoughts on being a sender

One of the greatest surprises along the way this last year here in New Braunfels has been the privilege of being introduced to several Christian business owners (couples). As I am going through the process of becoming one, here the Lord provides me with these examples to encourage me and challenge me.

One of these specifically, Bill, has helped me grapple with the reality of being a sender. He wrote the note I'm including below which I share with his permission. I hope it challenges you like it did me.

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I just read our mutual missionary friends' newsletter, and it brought back memories of our dinner together last Fall. What a sweet night that was! Connie and I left so encouraged! On that evening you & I had a brief conversation about the dynamics of being a SENDER. I have recently had some experiences that clarify these dynamics…and for some reason the Spirit is urging me to share them with you.

Reading of our mutual missionary friends' experience helps me focus on the trials, tribulations and victories that come with spreading the Good News. In fact, this is the second reinforcement I have received in the last 24 hrs. At Bible Study/Small Group gathering last night we discussed Acts 13 & 14. In Acts 13:3 (which Connie & I use as the foundational scripture for our business), the church at Antioch fasted, prayed and laid hands on Paul and Barnabas, and SENT them on their first missionary journey. The remainder of Acts 13 & 14 is full of the trials & conflict P&B encountered when preaching Jesus.

Our group leader then made this statement, “Persecution leads to perseverance. The Bible has many instances where God’s Word is effectively spread when God’s people don’t buckle under the weight of conflict & trials”. And he followed up with this question, “Can you describe a situation, and the outcome, in which you encountered conflict & trials when speaking out for Jesus?”

Well, I couldn’t think of such a situation…certainly not a dramatic one…where I have faced significant opposition while expressing my faith, or speaking out for Jesus. (Though I think America is increasingly moving in that direction). And then it occurred to me…it was P&B who encountered significant opposition, not the SENDERS from Antioch. If my church life in New Braunfels is something like the church life in Antioch, then my exposure to significant opposition will be much less than those who are physically in the battle field…like our mutual missionary friends.

I further thought, why don’t I relate more intimately with the truth of the “persecution leads to perseverance” axiom? I can think of two reasons:

  1. I am not aggressive enough to put myself in situations where opposition exists
  2. I am not vicariously involved with those who do encounter such situations

So here is my conclusion to this matter:

1. A SENDER is just a check-writer unless they are emotionally and spiritually involved with the people they are supporting.

2. A SENDER needs to vicariously live the experience daily.

A SENDER needs to know what’s going on with the people they send, or they can’t be vicariously involved with them. This is where our mutual missionary friends are doing a great thing for me by relating the struggles, encouragements, feelings of inadequacy, and moments of inspiration that they encounter daily. As I read their newsletter today, I felt an emotional and spiritual connection…no, participation…in their efforts. I believe this connection between SENDER and SENDEE is the key to successfully increasing the involvement of the local church in missionary work. And, I believe their work will be more successful because they don’t battle their opposition alone. I am battling with them! If “persecution leads to perseverance”, then let the persecution be lived, vicariously, by the entire church! How much greater would be my conviction to provide the support that our mutual missionary friends of the world need! And how much greater God’s work could be in spreading the Good News!

Not sure where all this came from…….hope it strikes a chord with you too…..

Are you available for lunch or coffee some day to get our minds together on this issue?

William J. Jones, PE


ANTIOCH International, Inc."

Friday, April 13, 2012

Entertainment vs. Education in the Church

I asked my little brother, Tim, to share some thoughts on his perspective of the Church in the US...


After 6 years of my job, I'm tired. I am not saying that I hate my job. I don't. I look forward to work every day, but I'm tired.

What I "do" is teach middle school kids about God at a private Christian school. And I know that any teacher, even a good one, can get tired when the spring semester comes around. But this exhaustion that I feel is different. It's not from spring fever or having too much to do. It has been building. I am mentally and emotionally tired.

I've wondered why. I thought perhaps it was because I am an introvert in love with a job that surrounds me with people. Or maybe it is the specific age group I teach. But today, I found myself wondering if I feel run down because of something bigger than my job. I think I'm tired because of our culture. More specifically, I think I'm tired of our church culture. Please understand that I don't mean to bash the American church. I love Jesus and his bride and I know how blessed I am to be a part of her. But lately, I have felt my little corner of "church" has become bored. What I mean is that the many of the Christians I know are numb to the epic romance we are invited into. I see this most clearly in my students. If I could be truly honest, my guess is that most of my students do not really care about the stuff I teach. Some of them try to care. They know they should. Many of them may not even realize they are simply going through the motions or pretending. But the boredom is obvious. This is where I start to get tired. Naturally I don't want my students to be bored so I will try to entertain. I come up with polished expositions and elaborate presentations. I develop in-class projects and activities to get the students active and out of their seats. I have learned to adapt to the bored looks on my students faces and constantly find ways to keep them entertained. But the bell rings, they leave the class, and nothing changes. I am not accusing my students as much as making an observation. And while this is an observation of only 6 years, I have seen enough patterns and consistencies in my students to know the boredom is there. That instead of an adventurous relationship with Christ, they have a hollow religion.

I know that not every church is like this, but I do think many are aware of the problem. Because there are a lot of people that are bored with the church, Christians and non-Christians alike. And truth be told, many churches are very entertaining with their polished expositions, elaborate presentations, projects, and activities. But when church is done, people leave the building and nothing changes. Let me say again that I do not mean to judge or condemn the body of Christ, simply to express my sincere confusion. Although what is becoming more clear is that entertainment is not the goal. In fact, entertainment is exhausting for an educator.

So I go home at the end of my day, still loving my job, but trying to think of how to teach kids about God and wondering what happens to bored Christians when they grow up.