Saturday, September 27, 2008

Little Things That Make a Difference

As I attended the conference, one thing came out over and over - little things make a big difference. Here is what I mean. When you are talking about relationships with people all over the world, little things that seem insignificant can mean a lot, for good or for bad.

One example is the conference call. When you schedule a conference call with a group from around the world, who picks the time? Is the US office getting the most convinient time during business hours?

So many times we are in a hurry to get something done. In our haste we overlook things that show another culture that they are not valued. This happens between any two cultures but as we try to work together it keeps us from building trust.

Those silly little mistakes communicate more than hundreds of hours of meetings and thousands of airline miles logged. So how can we pay attention to the little things?

Moving Forward - Ideas Presented

This conference has been very colaborative. There have been some great efforts to collect ideas, bring together input and create consensus. One of the things I am most impressed about is the effort to create concrete steps for how to build powerful Global North (GN)/ Global South (GS) relationships.

Here are some of the ideas that people have shared (by no means all of them) about building stronger relationships:

NOTE: These were some of the initial brainstorming ideas. There will be more consolidated ideas/action steps coming out of the final discussions. Hopefully the conference will release those in some way to benefit others who could not attend.

1. Create Listening and Learning Opportunities
  • Exchange visits for listening, prayer, learning and family time, not just tasks.
  • Schedule days of listening, repentance and forgiveness for GN /GS failures
  • Select couples with relational skills to dedicate to long term relationship building
  • Share perspectives on N/S topics with internet video in many languages
  • Add peer review process by local voices for GN publications about GS issues

2. Require Cultural Training on the Field with Local Partners
  • Use varied national church contexts for orientation and training of staff and visitors
  • Teach culturally appropriate ways to listen, dialog and partner to new missionaries
  • Invite GS leaders to help design pre-field and on field training for short-term and long-term teams.
  • Invite leaders from GS nations to visit and train organizations in the GN

3. Support Majority World Missions Movements

  • Ask global partners for 1-2 ways to assist them in their own missions mobilization
  • Create business as mission jobs for GS workers in restricted access contents

4. Demonstrate Partnership Vision and Competency at all Levels

  • Set up partnership training for all levels from board to field personnel to partners
  • Establish partnership criteria/expectations for key levels of organizational operation
  • Work on clear, mutually sensitive agreements, policies, MOU’s, and contracts

5. Internationalize Leadership

  • Populate teams and networks with GS/GN people who are reaching the world together.
  • Expect GS/GN people to participate in decision making councils and advisory boards.
  • Place GS individual as co-leader of the organization – regionally or internationally
  • Involve GS people in the recruiting process for their regions by GN organizations

6. Engage Boards in GN/GS Issues

  • Boards should meet internationally
  • Set objective of 50/50 balance for boards between GN/GS
  • Require board members to travel overseas at least once a year to see ministry in context

7. Create Culturally Sensitive Funding Patterns

  • Encourage GS leaders to nominate priority initiatives and projects for funding
  • Clarify benefits and culturally wise methods of funding GS missions movements
  • Redesign funding structures to work flexibly with GS partners in accountable ways.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Mentor . . . Mentor . . . Mentor

Tonight we are listening to young Majority World leaders who came in special to speak to us. They are sharing several of the issues that we have heard during the week. But the thing that is coming out loud and clear is that the next generation wants mentors. They want people to come alongside.

These young people even said that having a mentor from a different culture was a positive thing because it gives them new perspectives and ideas.

My heart will choose . . .

As we began worship tonight, we sang the song "Blessed be your Name." It is a powerful song that many churches have been singing for the past few years. But tonight one line stuck out in my mind - "My heart will choose to say Lord Blessed be your name"

The reason this stuck in my mind was that partnership is a choice that our heart must make. Building lasting relationships and loving others is a heart decision. It is a deep commitment to the value of people and the passion to reach those who yet do not know about the hope we have in Christ.

Mission Next Idea 9 - Don't Glamorize

How do we correct the misalignments between the Global North and Global South without glamorizing the side that we are not on. People in the Global South glamorize life in the Global North. People in the Global North glamorize the dynamic ministry in the Global South.

One of our panelists said that we need to remember that we are all human. We all have strengths and weaknesses. The key is finding out who is passionate about what and empowering them in strategic ways.

How have you glamorized the other side of this globe? Think about your own thoughts and ideas.

Mission Next Idea 8 - Motives

One of the things I have seen at this meeting is the tendancy to question motives. I think this is natural. People question motives based on actions that they see. The challenge we have is that actions cannot always be understood because cultures are so different. So we see someone say or do something and in our culture their action would indicate inappropriate motives. However, that person may not actually have bad motives.

So we have to get beyond guessing about motives and really get to know people. As we get to know people then, we will see their hearts and their passions. That doesn't mean that many times people do not have bad motives. But until we know people intimately we will not understand what drives them.

One of our panel members said, "We want what is best for you." If all of us assume we want the best for each other then we can build the relationships that will allow for understanding the dynamics that are going on.

Close connections will allow us to be honest with each other and will allow us to come alongside each other in strategic ways.

Mission Next Idea 7 - Who goes to a conference?

Conferences are the lifeblood of so many things. Those that go to the conference, are included in the strategy, build the relationships and create the networks that make ministry happen. But as conferences go global, how do Majority World leaders who cannot afford the expenses participate.

Many times Western countries provide scholarships to get key people to these conferences. Our panel mentioned that when someone else pays your way, a person feels limited in what they can say. There is a loyalty that is insinuated or expected. This makes accepting scholarships difficult if the Majority World leader desires to represent their ministry's own visions/agendas.

There has to be another solution regarding how to network people in a time with high fuel costs, restricitive governments and cultural challenges. A conference is a model defined by the West based on our expectations and realities.

One thing that Lausanne 2010 is doing is looking at how to distribute the content of the conference digitally. Distribution of the networking opportunity and training content is key.

What are other ways that we can democratize the networking opportunities that are not dependent on global travel?

Mission Next Idea 6 - Paternalism is an Attitude

Our panel is talking about paternalism. The key idea being shared is that "paternalism is larger than money." K. Rajendran shared that paternalism is more about control. It can manifest itself in many aspects of minsitry. The projects selected, who must follow orders, what strategies are selected, how people are hired, etc.

If we look at paternalism as an attitude, then we need to look at all elements of our ministry. Are the decisions that we are making focused on loving people or treating people as objects?

When people become objects then we dehumanize the partnership. When we see people as a dot on a project timeline or a means to an end, then relationships falter. Paternalism is about control of the chess pieces on the board.

When we treat people as fellow laborers, then the issue of control does not become so critical. There is a relationship to create dialogue to solve issues of control.

Dr. Ralph D. Winter Awarded Liftetime of Service Award

Mission leaders are meeting September 24 through 27 for a triennial conference of the Mission Exchange, CrossGlobal Link and EMIS associations. At this special event focused on partnership with the Majority World, leaders took time to recognize Dr. Ralph D. Winter for his years of service to the Global Missions Cause. Dr. Winter received the award on Thursday September 25 during the evening session of the meetings with family, friends and the entire conference attendees participating. Dr. Winter is most known for launching the US Center for World Mission, the William Carey Library and the Perspectives on the Christian World Movement course. Marv Newell, executive director of CrossGlobal Link, and Steve Moore, president and CEO of the Mission Exchange, presented Dr. Winter with the award, describing his service as “pioneering”, “faithful obedience”, and “a world class educator.” Through his various roles as missionary, educator and missions leader, Dr. Winter has championed the cause of unreached peoples and the Global Missions Movement.

Power of Connecting

One of the people moderating discussions in the conference is Phil Butler. He is the CEO of a group called VisionSynergy. It is a great effort to connect global networks of ministries and Christians for global causes.

They are involved in some key initiatives and you can find out more at They also have a facebook group that you can connect with at:

One of the things that we trivialize so many times is the hard work of connecting. It is uncomfortable, costly, perplexing and humbling. But out of these realities comes a powerful result that only God can take the credit for.

Majestic and Messy

Devotional thought for Friday
Marv Newell - President of CrossGlobal Link

Ecclesiastes 4
Four Advantages of Working in Unity
1. Better success - the advantage of a better yeild
2. Better stability - the advantage of helpful assistance
3. Better chance of survival - the advantage of companionship
4. Better security - the advantage of additional strength

How do we apply the concept of 2 being better than one in missions? What does it mean for our organization. Marv made a point that partnerships are better, but not easier. Essentially relationships honor God but are very messy. Are we willing to do the hard work of partnership even when it is much easier to do our own thing?

So are you ready to dive in?

Thoughts from Majority World Leaders

Majority World Perspectives from Thursday

“Give time for new initiatives to succeed. Give us the opportunity to learn from our mistakes.”

~ K. Rajendran

“In spite of everything there is tomorrow.”

~ Timothy Olanade

“Just because we don’t write as much doesn’t mean we don’t have any ideas.”

~Bob Lopez

Bob Lopez gave us a test question: Are you willing to let Asians lead major projects or global networks and support them?

Bob Lopez wants to know, “Are you having fun yet?”

- Gathered my Mission Exchange Staff

Reflections on Global Partnerships

Thursday night at the Mission Next Conference, we had a panel of Majority World leaders answering questions. The questions had been collected throughout the day and they ranged from "What pictures to take on the field" to "What a good partnership looks like."

All that was good, but one thing struck me more than anything else. One question was, "What does your country bring to a partnership?" Of course, as we talk about parity and mutual benefit, that is a very critical question. If Western countries are bringing funding and resources, what are other countries bringing that they view as equal to the resources.

Some of the answers were:
- Experience of the church
- Passion
- New Questions / Answers about the Bible
- Fun
- We love Jesus, we love others and we want to get the job done
- Able to live with little
- Godly insight and wisdom
- Sheer desire to survive

What caught my attention about these answers is that these are not things you can put in a suitcase. They aren't things you can physically hand to someone. And they are definitely not things that you can grasp easily via phone and email.

Bottom line, as I have been listening to the issues, the greatest challenge seems to be "face time" with global partners. The value that Majority World people bring is something that has to be experienced in person. We can't have a conference call and say it's done. It is deeply personal and any effort to depersonalize it and comoditize it will fail.

Are Western organizations and individuals willing to make the commitment to this type of personal and long-term investment in partners? I think many were asking that question on Thursday night.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Statistics on Global Christianity

See the difference between where Christians lived in 1910 and where they will live in 2010. The darkest areas show where most Christians live. These slides come from Todd Johnson's study.

Mission Next Idea 5 - Reacting and Reframing

One of the things I have noticed in this conference is related to a trait that is very American. North American people live at the edges of the pendulum. North Americans are known for their dramatic swings in reaction to the realities of the day. Just look at our financial markets this week and you will see an example of living on the edges of the pendulum.

I am getting a very strong sense at this conference that North Americans now see how they have pushed their own agenda and ignored the voices of the Majority World. In the process of coming to this realization, they now put down their own value and ideas as they swing over to the other edge. Now the Majority World can do no wrong.

This is just as harmful as the other edge of the pendulum. Both are valuable. There is a huge need for the Majority World to be leading in the Great Commission Cause, but that does not nullify the value and importance of Western participation. We need to see the influence of the Majority World rise without putting down the value of what the Western World has added to the discussion.

Can we have a paradigm where both are valued and leveraged for God's glory?

Mission Next Idea 4 - Is Status Limiting Your Strategy?

This morning Steve Moore lead devotions and talked about the challenges to Servant Leadership. One of the key points he made had to do with status. He said so many times status keeps us from being servant leaders.

He said that we get status in the following ways:
- Status by Position
- Status by Association
- Status by Information
- Status by Exageration
- Status by Education

These status issues keep us from serving others. They keep us from passing influence and opportunties to others. These issues keep us focused on ourselves.

Do you get your identity from your status? Are you willing to give up status for the larger Great Commission Cause?

Mission Next Idea 3 - Expanding Networks

So much of missions work is done in networks. Those networks - Lausanne, WEA, etc - drive ideas, strategies, partnerships. Those networks have been established over time and in the models driven by Western mission agendas.

So how do these venerable networks bring in the new movements within the Great Commission? As people from the Majority World join these networks, how do they plug in? How do the Western leaders of these networks continue to share their valuable history and experience while not dampening new ideas that are coming out of very different contexts and cultures?

A key element of this is trust. Will Western Leaders trust new partner's ideas in the Majority World and lend their name/credibility to these new ideas. I think that if established leaders will point to new ideas and stand behind them, new ideas will be given life.

One of the keys in a transition of leadership between old and young / West and Majority World is that the established leaders will value the new even if it lessens their status. Would you be willing to sacrifice your status and importance to bless a new voice?

Mission Next Idea 2 - Standards Drive Action

What happens when a standard is developed? After that people work to implement it. So in reality the place where a standard is developed is the place of influence. Are we developing standards for missions that really allow all the voices of the Great Commission Effort to interact?

Because the standards are still being developed in the Global North, the challenge comes in the implementation in the Global South. The Majority World is where the standards are applied but they are not developed there.

This is where we are today, but the bigger challenge is that many of these standards have already been developed. How do we move forward? Do we tear down the old standards to have another discussion? Do we isolate certain standards as untouchable and then open new areas up for new dialogue?

This is a key issue of buyin. Standards related to evangelism, theological education, church planting, and sustainability need buyin from all players.

So what does that process of buyin look like for you in your ministry?

Mission Next Idea 1 - The Place of Money

"Money is less important in partnership for us than it is for you. We want respectful cooperation more than resources." David Ruiz

Money is always a challenge in culture isn't it? But do we all look at money the same way. David is saying that money doesn't necessarily hold the same value in every culture. There may be other values and things that you can bring to the table in a partnership with people in the Majority World.

What might a partnership that wasn't focused on money look like?

What does David mean by "respectful cooperation"?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Engaging the Majority World

"The purpose of the 2008 North American Mission Leaders Conference is to challenge assumptions, broaden perspectives, and stimulate actionable dialogue among Great Commission leaders regarding how we relate to the Majority World harvest force." - Steve Moore, president of the Mission Exchange

As the Mission Next conference begins, one of the first things to think about and get your head around is the concept of the Majority World. This is not a new term, but there are so many terms out there that people are using, that it can get confusing.

Wikipedia defines it this way: "The majority world (sometimes capitalized as Majority World) is a term used in preference to the largely inaccurate, out-of-date and/or non-descriptive terms developing countries, third world and the "Global South". In the early nineties, Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam [1]began advocating for the new expression “majority world” to represent what has been known as the “Third World.” The term highlights the fact that these countries are indeed the majority of humankind. It also highlights the anomaly that the G8 (whose decisions affect the majority of the world's peoples) represent a tiny fraction of people in the world."

So what does this mean in missions work? Well, the reality today is that a vast majority of the Great Commission work is being done by people who live in this Majority World. Many reading this blog are from a Majority World country and many others are living in one of these countries.

The reality is that the missions movement of the 20th Century was defined and carried out by the Western developed nations. In the 21st Century the missions movement will be defined and driven by the Majority World.

So what is the role of Western leaders meeting in Denver then? God has a bigger plan than any of us can imagine. While the Majority World is the largest player in this new century, the role of the Western missions movement is still critical.

The key is sincere and humble partnership between the two. Both are God's agents to share the Gospel. This is not a "Door Number 1" or "Door Number 2" discussion. God is going to use all that come in humility and obedience. He will use them all in unique and powerful ways.

So as this discussion begins, lets see what God might do . . .

Blogging at Mission Next

What is Next in Missions?

This week, The Mission Exchange, Cross Global Link and EMS are meeting for in Denver under the theme Mission Next. At this meeting in Denver, people will be talking about what is next in missions - what it looks like to do missions with technology, the rise of new missions movements and new levels of strategic partnerships.

This is a key time for this discussion. The global economy, the changes in the church, and the rise of persecution along with a number of great issues are impacting missions significantly.

I will be blogging from the conference. Will anyone who reads this blog be there? Any questions issues that you would like to hear about? Lets have a discussion around this event and the outcomes.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Introducing Generous Minds

I recently asked our Innovation in Mission facebook group to let me know if they had published any books that I could share with our larger audience. I got a great response. Here are some of the books from other innovators out there. Take some time to consider them:

If you have a book that you have written, please make a comment to this post and share it so that others can connect with your creative ideas.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Who Stole My . . . ?

One of the biggest challenges for innovators is the fact that any new idea is seen as taking something away from the old. TV stole away radio listeners and the airplane stole away train passengers.

So what do you do when people feel like your idea is stealing soemthing they love? Well, read Gordon MacDonald's book "Who Stole My Church" to get an idea. This is a fictional book where Pastor MacDonald is a pastor in a New England church going through great change. In the midst of this he gather a group of long-time church goers to meet every week to discuss the changes.

As you read you will see the human side of change. The "Us and Them" will go away and it will inspire you to engage those who are feeling a sense of loss.

You can't lead change if no one is following. And just ignoring those who are struggling is not the answer. This is a tough thing to deal with as you can't wait forever either.

So take a few days to digest this book and be encouraged in your innovation.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Creating Win Win Innovations

One of the key elements to an innovation is the ability to help seemingly opposite interest groups to find benefit from your idea. This is not easy to do and that is why it is so valuable.

The reason that this is so difficult is that when you please one group, you identify with their values and solve things that they are concerned about. Another group will naturally have different values and concerns. Like a lunar or solar eclipse, the times when these two celestial bodies cross paths are few and far between.

So how do you go about creating a win win innovation? Here are some ideas to consider.
- Identify the need that your innovation will meet.
- Pray that God will give you a tender heart to help the people who have this need.
- Ask God to show you which groups have this need.
- Once you have 2-3 groups identified then ask yourself what they have in common.
- Ask yourself what are their desires and motivators.
- Isolate those things that they have in common and that drive them.
- Look for a solution that tracks with those commonalities.
- You may just have found a win win innovation.

A Win Win in Action
I would like to introduce you to a win win innovation within our facebook group. Justin Marquardt has started something called Versemail. He combined his passion for missions and technology into a service that meets the needs of American Christians and also the missions community.

Here how Justin describes the birth of this idea, "I have always had a passion for Technology and my wife has always had a passion for missions. There came a point where I felt God’s calling to get more involved with missions to equal that of my wife. We pooled our abilities, prayed for an Idea and then together came up with a service that provides funds for missions opportunities, uses technology, and helps others with their daily walk with Christ. We saw many sites out there dedicated to a daily bible verse so we wanted to add some cool technology and a personal feel to a daily Bible verse idea. We added voice messaging and practical life application to go along with the verse. We believe there is something powerful about the spoken Word of God. Our vision and prayer is that the Lord uses Versemail to uplift the lives of our daily subscribers at the same time raising money allowing the gospel and good news of Christ to be shared with others all over the World."

What I love about this idea is that in praying for an innovation, God put both the donor and the missions cause on their heart. They identified a cool new service that would encourage and a way to benefit missions. The idea of Versemail is unique as well because it is delivered as a voicemail. If you think about it, when you receive a voicemail on your phone it is usually an action item. Voicemail is an actionable product. So delivering devotional thoughts this way allows you to engage in an idea and act on it.

Justin is using the proceeds of this new innovation to support missions, "We support a number of different organizations and also take missions trips ourselves. Bridges of Hope International, Campus Crusade, World Vision are a few ministries that we will be supporting initially."

Read a story of impact from this innovation, "Our last subscriber signed up a friend who is struggling and in need of prayer. She felt Versemail was a great way to reach that individual. Others have been encouraged on a daily basis by the action plans Versemail delivers."

Do you see any practical ways to apply Justin's innovation? If so contact him at the site or in our facebook group.

So as you look at your innovative idea, can you see any win win situations? It will strengthen your idea and create more adoption.