Category Archives: 2008 H2H Preconference Discussion

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

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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

Voices from the Field

We are having some great dialogue, and many are lurking these posts reading what has been written. I hope that we are stimulating one another to take this time of history to finish the task of reaching the least reached nations!

Keeping that in mind, we here in the States can quickly be accused of being “armchair” missiologists and ignoring some of the issues from the field. Although many of you who have posted have had cross-cultural experience in another country, we would like to hear from those servants of other nations (sometimes called missionaries) and glean from their wisdom.

Would you take some time to contact some of the field workers you know and see if they would be willing to add their voice to this discussion? We would be foolish to think that we can discuss and make some of these decisions and not take into consideration what is happening on the field.

Let’s hear from the field! I am confident that God has great thinks on store for us as we labor together to reach the last reached nations (peoples)!

A Plan – (in process)

Over the past few months Steve Lyzenga and myself have been brainstorming regarding what House2Harvest Network will look like. This blog is adding to that discussion, and of course the round table discussion after the close of the 2008 House Church Conference in Dallas, TX will provide further discussion and hopefully implementation.

Here is what we have written up so far:

House2Harvest Network

Ideas / Notes / Concepts

Edited 7/10/08

[The following description is a work in progress. It is here that we have merely written some of our ideas, dreams and brainstorming results. House2Harvest Network will begin to take shape during the “roundtable” discussion held after the close of the 2008 National House Church Conference in Dallas, TX on August 31, 2008. Here is what we have come up with so far.]

House2Harvest Network – an equipping/serving ministry – a prophetic voice to the Body of Christ regarding facilitating the end time harvest.

House2Harvest will serve the thousands of simple (house, emerging, post-modern churches and the like) churches by helping them become a part of a major mission movement focusing primarily on reaching the unreached, the marginalized, the poor, and the development of strategic missions both locally and internationally.

We desire to help Simple/house churches and networks do the following:

a. Be mobilized to the least reached ethnic groups (nations), the marginalized, and the poor sending apostolic teams to make disciples among them.

b. Provide training to those who are called to minister cross culturally.

c. Develop a plan to send teams to the least reached, the marginalized and the poor.

d. Establish their own sending council or missions organization (via their regional house church network) so that they can effectively and strategically send apostolic workers to the frontiers (i.e. Strategic Church Network – http://www.strategicchurchnetwork.org).

House2Harvest will provide training, consultation and resources to facilitate mobilization, deployment and engagement to the unreached as well as wisely engaging in ministry to widows and orphans and the poorest of the poor.

Focus:

  • Acts 1:8. In areas where foundations have never been laid (the unreached) as well as targeting the marginalized poor (such as refugees, widows and orphans). This will be done via sending apostolic teams and partnering with already sent apostolic teams.

Values & Ideas (in no particular order):

  • Never separate training from doing. Our philosophy of training needs to be “doing” based rather than just knowledge based. When we do trainings, it must involve real ministry and missions.

Examples:

Short term trip

House churches set up exclusively for training servants to the nations and to reach specific communities, neighborhoods and social groups.

Partnering with viable models that can be used as training points.

Connect what they have learned with a ministry activity or project that allows them to put it into practice in the real world – not contrived exercises.

  • Emphasize the role of the apostolic over the traditional professional missionary.
  • Maintain the network via actual relationships rather than organizational and institutional tools and methods. This network will not only be focused in the USA but in other nations as well.
  • Encourage sending teams rather than individuals. This would also include partnering with already sent teams.
  • We are NOT to be an information monopoly – but work “flat” (starfish principles). Share what we have openly and not for the profit of an organization.
  • Income will come from training, consulting and coaching activities as well as hosting trips. Funding will also be secured from partners and grants.
  • Use different terms to communicate values:

o Instead of Missions – use “Serve the nations”

o Instead of missionary – use “servant to the nations”

o Instead of church planting – use “making disciples”

  • Be willing to develop in areas where models do not exists as well as use of existing models.
  • Hold Conferences – round table style consultations in order to facilitate networking and sharing of ideas, resources, and strategies.
  • Provide Resources, web based, etc.
  • Provide consulting and coaching.
  • Assist in the Process of (this will be an integrated process – not linear):

o Preparing

o Planning

o Partnering

o Placing

o Planting

To Do:

  • Develop a network to connect, to send, to train/do. This will begin at the Roundtable discussion in Dallas (August 31)
  • Find out what House/Simple Church networks we can work with and develop a data base of resource people and networks. (part of Steve’s research)
  • Find out what projects need to be developed.
  • Develop Website and find a talented web designer willing to serve as webhost.

More thoughts:

  • Mobilizing simple churches to:

a. The unreached – the least reached ethnic groups (Matthew 24:14).

b. Strategic mercy ministries such as orphans and widows and the poorest of the poor. Providing counsel to assist the SC to connect with ministries of integrity.

  • Serving house church networks and ministries for the purpose of advancing the kingdom of God. Thus, keeping a Kingdom of God focus, and not an organizational, network, or ministry focus.
  • Work towards helping ministries/networks become mission, church planting, disciple making movements. This begins at home and will then spread to the areas of the world where Jesus in unknown and the gospel of the Kingdom is not yet preached.
  • The goal will be to stay flat (i.e. starfish, open sourced). Be viral – produce viral tools.
  • Potential Projects:

a. Develop a prayer network that is missions focused.

b. Maintain a list of networking partners (both individuals and missions organizations) who willing to serve to see the least reached nations reached through Simple Church networks.

c. Maintain a list of what people are actually doing who are willing to serve as points for training and learning.

d. Bridge Centers (Forward Operating Bases) in the region of major affinity blocks. (see description below)

e. Develop and maintain a Web Site – Open sourced / equipping and resources. This will also serve as a communication hub taking all security precautions in mind.

f. Training team of cross cultural, apostolic workers that will itinerate to simple church networks to assist them in the cause.

g. Training Houses (M-Pact Houses – Missions Houses – see description below)

BRIDGE CENTERS – FORWARD OPERATING BASES

  • Serve as a bridge/connector between the field and local churches/ministries/missions orgs.
  • Providing:

o Resources

o Research

o Renewals for field workers

o Training

o Exposure opportunities for supporters and potential teams

o Providing a forum and venue for a team of strategic coordinators for a specific affinity block and/or its sub groups.

o Strategic forums for field workers and partners.

  • Local – in a non-threatening location
  • Key Component – Serve
  • Network with local practitioners in the affinity block and their organizations.
  • Network with local businesses and humanitarian/educational organizations to provide opportunities for service.
  • Host Short-Term teams, consultations, seminars, language studies, cultural studies, training initiatives.
  • Relational Connections will make it work.
  • Must be international.
  • Possible locations. Locations will be in strategic location throughout the 10/40 window. The list is not to be publicized for security reasons. There is already a working model in South East Asia.
  • Systems to be developed/administrated:

o Short-Term Teams – Hosting

o Guest House

o Member Care for servants to the nations such as retreats and counseling.

o Language School – UPG languages and trade languages of the region.

o Consultation and partnering events.

o Local Relationships with legacy/institutional/traditional churches, humanitarian organizations, schools and businesses.

o Library and resources for servants to the nations and study groups.

o Strategic Studies (i.e. IIS) and programs.

o Pre-field Orientation School

o Staging base for teams, research and community transformation ministries.

M-PACT Houses

A Mission House Concept: A place to grow, be equipped and change the world!

M=Mission, Pact=A Covenant, A Promise until a certain goal is achieved. – Root Latin Pax = peace. Sounds like impact!

A. Gather together approximately six believers who want to live out a biblical discipleship model as a team in order to:

  1. Grow in Christ
  2. Experience simple/organic church
  3. Make disciples in their neighborhood seeing the Lord build his Church.
  4. Serve as the team leaders for short-term missions trips through House2Harvest.
  5. Prepare for the mission field in the areas of the world that are unreached.

B. Obtain house in needy urban areas to house the teams. These houses will need to be large enough to accommodate 6 singles. We will need a separate house for men, women and couples. The team members will need to be adults who are capable of living on their own.

  • The House will be run by the team. It is the intention that each team member will be treated as an adult and will be expected to make adult decisions together.

o They will write up a covenant agreement among themselves establishing:

· House Rules

· Financial Responsibilities

· Discipleship goals

· Vision and Ministry goals for the neighborhood

· Methods of accountability.

· Training plan for cross cultural ministry

  • The team will meet together regularly as the church (all the “mission houses” in the neighborhood – men, women and couples).
  • The team will be responsible to make disciples throughout the neighborhood using the “Church Planting Movement” strategy and variations thereof seeing churches planted in various homes.
  • The team may also be a part of the core leadership team for the House2Harvest short term mission trips in the USA and around the world.
  • Each team member will hold down at least a part time job or attend college/university. This will be so that:

o The team members develop real-life skills and not be insulated from the integration of life and ministry.

o The team members will not be isolated from real life experience; their training experience will not be an “extraction” experience so that they will not produce disciples themselves via extraction.

o This will provide the financial needs for the house as well as their personal needs.

  • Each team member will be responsible to raise the funds needed for mission trips. This may be done from the house churches which they have planted and other relationships they have developed through the Body of Christ.
  • The team will have a one year commitment to be part of the house. At the end of one year the can choose to remain as part of the team or leave. The other team members will also have voice as to whether a team member remains on the team.

C. The coaching team will be responsible to:

  • Provide guidelines through each of the above activities and processes.
  • Provide training and coaching in the area of doing house church, reaching their neighbors, and cross cultural ministry.
  • Meet regularly with the team members for fellowship, encouragement and mentoring/coaching times.
  • Provide leadership and intervention when needed.

D. The House Churches

  • The team will make disciples thus planting as many house churches as possible.
  • Each team member will facilitate a house church until the attendees of that house church are prepared to grow and multiply without his/her assistance.
  • The goal is that when the Mission House team leaves the area, the gospel continues to be spread throughout that neighborhood/community through the active ministry of each house church that was planted.
  • The house churches planted will follow the basic philosophy of house church and will not be under any denomination or hierarchal entity preserving the priesthood of every believer and allowing the house church to be autonomous.

E. What do we need to begin?

  • Houses to be used to the glory of God in strategic communities.
  • Team candidates that are willing to follow the plan.
  • Funding for set up costs and missional outreach.

M-PACT – “The adventure is out there!” M-PACT –“Whose life is it anyway?”

Well what do you think – let’s talk about it!

Training for Pioneer Missions – Can we do it?

Our seventh question is:How will the house/simple church networks train and send missionaries (apostolic teams) to the field?

This question focuses on training. How are we going to train this new “army” of missionaries, apostolic teams, to take the gospel to places that are nothing like home, and the people have a different way to view life and their world?

These fields are in areas where there are no Christians, no churches, no support systems like we have at home. This is one of the reasons house/simple church folks are so well equipped to go to these areas – they dependence is not on an institution but they have been discipled to be self feeding and to have a personal intimacy with Jesus. So how do we train beyond normal discipleship?

What about cross-cultural training?

Language training?

Understanding methodologies and the dangers of foreign influence rather than Kingdom of God influence?

Let’s talk about it – what are your thoughts?

How Do We Do It?

Our sixth question to discuss is: How can a house/simple church effectively do missions amongst the unreached and the poor?

In other words, what are some of the methods that you are familiar with, or that the Lord has revealed to you regarding reaching out to the unreached (remember the definition of unreached), and the marginalized poor?

Share some of your ideas and methods.