Monthly Archives: August 2008

Off to Dallas!

I leave early in the morning for Dallas to attend the 2008 National House Church conference. It is fully booked! I hope you make it in! Be sure to come up and introduce yourself to me – I’d love to chat with you.

God Bless!

Don

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ANNOUNCEMENT – No Need to Register for roundtable

Greetings, since there were few who registered, we will get a smaller room – and need no registration or fee for the Round table meeting.

Networking with Mission Organizations

I recently got a post on my personal blog (The Dreaming Revolutionary) from Tim in Carlisle, England. Here is his post and my reply to him. Feel free to join in the conversation:

Timothy Wright Says:
August 21, 2008 at 12:32 pm e

Hello from England,

My name is Tim Wright. I am with OM. I work at the International HQ of OM in Carlisle, England. I am very interested in House Church . Where I live in England, there is not a house church that I know of. The city is only 75,00,00 people.

A big question for me is how is OM in the future going to engage all the people involved in house church and learn from them instead of trying to get them on our agenda instead of learning and partnering with them. I would appreciate any comments from you and would enjoy learning from you.

Tim

Don Davis Says:
August 22, 2008 at 9:56 am e

Hi Tim, That question is a very important one. I am part of a network of missionaries that will be attempting to mobilize house churches to do missions. We have a dialog going in preparation for the launching of this network. It can be found at https://h2hmissions.wordpress.com/ the network is called House2Harvest Network.
I work with several missions organizations, and the only we it can work is if they can agree with doing church simply rather than institutionally. If they are critics of the simple church movement, it will not be easy to work together with them.
There are also several issues and ways of doing ministry that is not conducive to simple church (those I mentioned in my 8 part “Church Structure” article on my blog), therefore a missions organization will need to make changes in their structure so that it is more “organic” and relational. When that happens, the opportunities to work together will happen.
Our main task first is to assist the simple churches and their networks to do the mission work that God has called them to do and help them remain strategic.

God Bless! Don

Please Register for the Roundtable Now!

OK folks, many of you have expressed the desire to be a part of the missions round table on Sunday (31st). So far very few have registered. This may hinder us from getting a room.

Do me a favor and register now for the round table session if you have not done so. Also contact those you know who plan on being there and reminding them to register.

Go to this website to register – http://www.house2house.com/roundtable.html

The Conference is FULL! Hopefully you have already registered for the conference as well.

See you in a few days!

Don

To Fund or Not to Fund Indigenous Workers and Projects

There has been a little discussion regarding the funding of indigenous missionaries with western support off the blog via email so I thought it may be a good topic to bring to the forum here on the blog. Let me suggest two books that can help in this area. These books are a must read in regards to this issue, and they balance one another out quite well. They are: When Charity Destroys Dignity: Overcoming Unhealthy Dependency in the Christian Movement by Glenn Schwartz; AuthorHouse 2007; and To Give or Not to Give: Rethinking Dependency, Restoring Generosity, & Redefining Sustainability by John Rowell; Authentic Books 2006

We as westerners are so blessed financially that that we desire to be a blessing in areas where funding is lacking. But this causes concern as discussed in both of the above mentioned books. The first problem is when we give without considering the repercussion it can develop an unhealthy dependency upon the more prosperous portions of the Body of Christ which leads to a “colonial” type of relationship. What I mean by this is that we give generously and then put restrictions on the recipients and force them to be subject to our goals and standards. This can get even more complicated as time goes on. Second problem or “other side of the coin” (pardon the pun) is that if we do not consider the blessings in which the Lord has given us and use these funds to spread the gospel through our brethren’s efforts in other parts of the world we tend to become stingy.

Jeff Gilbertson shared in an email a quote from the Acumen Found CEO/Founder Jacqueline Novogratz;

“Dignity is more important to the human spirit than wealth.”

Jeff also refers to Schwartz when he states;

The healthiest parts of the Christian movement are those where local believers know the joy that comes from supporting the work to which God has called them, governing their own ministry and caring for their own outreach. They can then justifiably feel ownership of the calling they have before the Lord.”

To illustrate the conundrum, I recall John Rowell sharing at the recent UPG Consultation in Dallas the story of when he was meeting with some national leaders in an eastern European nation and some western church leaders. The western church leaders were wanting to inform the eastern European brethren that it was now time for them to grow up and take care of their works with their own resources. The illustration that was given was that the western brothers had taken care of them as a father cares for his children and it was now time for them to step up to maturity. The eastern European brothers replied they were not their children, they have only one father and we eat from the same table. All they ask is that the brothers from the west “pass the potatoes.”

As you can see this is not an easy subject. I certainly cannot cover both sides of the issue here, and I would recommend that anyone planning on funding indigenous workers and projects take careful steps so that when that funding ends (or begins) that the Kingdom of God is advanced. There is no reason that these two opposing sides of the issue should be at odds, but that the issues they raise will cause us to act with wisdom and generosity.

The Lord has a solution for every one of the issues that funding indigenous workers may create. We must rely on His wisdom as we venture into other cultures and assist them in reaching the ethnic groups around them. That is why we must keep a open ear to the Lord through prayer and study of His Word. It would be foolish to depend on” doing what we always do” when we do missions in other cultures and economies. There is no pat answer for all situations, but there is the promise of wisdom when we ask for it, for we will surely need it when we partner with brethren from other cultures to preach the gospel of the Kingdom.

Any thoughts? Wisdom? Ideas?

Cultural Baggage – What do we leave at home, and how do we leave it at home?

One of the major concerns in missions is the historic tendency to influence cultures more towards who we are (Americans, Koreans, Westerners etc.) rather than the Kingdom of God. Jeff and Maria Gilbertson discuss this in an excellent post on this site under Training For Pioneer Missions. At Jeff’s suggestion, It would be good if we make this a topic of discussion rather than being buried in another thread. Let’s read it and then let’s talk about it!

Here is what Jeff wrote:

Dear All,

If we are to be fruitful sending house churches / apostolic teams from the western world into the last remaining unreached people groups, I believe that we must look at the “unknown/unseen” baggage that most westerners will carry with them. My wife and I call it: “the White Man’s Burden”. (WMB)

Simply put the WMB is: “the supposed or presumed responsibility of white people to govern and impart their culture to nonwhite people.”

In an excerpt from a speech by William Jennings Bryan, a gifted speaker, lawyer, and three-time US presidential candidate, basically sums up the position that there is such a thing as a the “white man’s burden”.

No one can travel among the dark-skinned races of the Orient without feeling that the white man occupies an especially favored position among the children of men, and the recognition of this fact is accompanied by the conviction that there is a duty inseparably connected with the advantages enjoyed. William Jennings Bryan — July 4, 1906

This speech, made on Independence Day 1906, was not that long ago. You see in his own words that he is not joking and that he really believes that the white man has an “especially favored position” vis-à-vis, the dark-skinned. YUCK!!

You can’t argue with success, Baby.

“Success is probably the highest value in American life. It relates to so many other characteristics of American life — individualism, freedom, goal-setting, progress, experimenting, social mobility, making money, pragmatism, and optimism.” Stan Nussbaum

We have seen the visible signs of this “burden” from Eastern Europe to Central Asia. As white missionaries enter poor nations they automatically, like “default mode” on your computer, enter in with ideas of how they can help, “What this country needs is . . .” etc. Most of the time they simply transpose what works in their country to the country they are in, with little thought to what is indigenous or reproducible at the local level.

One example from our experience is the effort made to bring into a poor nation in Central Asia “solar ovens” that would help poor villagers cook meals so that they would not further deplete their scarce wood supply. Well, as things actually worked out, the solar ovens – which can be produced with local materials although the concept is foreign – are not being used to cook meals at all but are used by some to boil water for tea.

I guess this is a “hybrid type” of success story but nevertheless the principle of “what worked for us is what will work for you”, carried on by the power of the WMB, still remains alive and well on planet earth!

I have read of poor African nations almost being forced by Western governments to purchase huge farm tractors to jump start their “deplorable” economy. Well, a few years later the tractors are converted into “city taxis” and farming goes on as it has for generations. But now the country suffers under more debt to rich nations for purchasing the tractors in the first place.

Your feedback would be much appreciated.

Jeff and Maria Gilbertson