Monday, November 29, 2021

Multiply Your Gift to DML on Giving Tuesday! And a prayer request for Tanzania.

Friends, we have an amazing opportunity on Giving Tuesday this year.  Two businesses, Belstra Milling (Indiana) and Alsum Farms (Wisconsin) have each agreed to match, up to $10,000, any gift given on Tuesday, November 30.  BUT if you give to DML through Facebook on Tuesday morning, your gift will be met with a fourth match by Facebook.*  That means if you give $100 through the DML donation website, it will turn into a $300 gift, and if you give through Facebook your $100 gift will become a $400 gift!  That is amazing!  We are so thankful to Belstra Milling and Alsum Farms for this opportunity!

(*Facebook will match the first eight million dollars given through FB starting at 8 am, and after that they will match 10% of gifts given.  Last year they had $50 million given through FB on Giving Tuesday, so if you want that fourth match, please give early!)

We are excited to finish 2021 strong and lead into 2022 with continued growth and opportunities in new areas.  Please consider joining us!

And for our prayer partners, we received word over this past week from our partner in Tanzania of an ongoing drought throughout Tanzania.  They told us that the Masai pastoralists with whom they have been working, pictured below, are losing many of their livestock due to this drought. 

The DML team in Tanzania was able to put a well in, and it has turned out to be a great help.  All the Masai and Mang'ati in the area are running here.  Before they were not mixing but they are now coming together in harmony:

Before it was a little bit green in this area, but not now:

Pastor Anthony also sent this message this past weekend of the effects of the drought in Dar es Salaam:

Frank's project is one of the unique projects through which many people are going to learn how to raise chickens (egg layers), pigs, and cows in Dar es Salaam environment. Sadly, Frank has experienced a very bad disease in his project which has led to the death of more than 350 chickens. Thanks to God, government veterinarians have intervened in medical support.   The main challenge now is water availability. WE NEED RAIN. Let's uphold East Africa before the LORD Praying for rain 🌧️🌧️ 🌧️ Drought has affected many social and economic activities. It has led also to serious power cuts due to hydroelectric power dependency. And when there's no power, many businesses remain stagnant.  Pictures to follow:

Friends, please join us in prayer for rain in Tanzania!  Thank you for your partnership in prayer and financial support for the ministry of Discipling Marketplace Leaders!

Monday, November 22, 2021

An Appraiser for God

Last week I had the privilege to be in Hamilton, Ontario (Canada), visiting several members of Immanuel Christian Reformed Church in their workplace.  Someone asked me during that week, "Where does your joy come from?"  I had to enthusiastically reply that it comes from meeting with people at their workplace.  I love learning what people do and how faith and work intersects for them.  So my days in Hamilton were very enjoyable.

Let me give you an example of why I love this so much:

Bob and Lynn are a brother and sister who run a Hamilton-based residential appraisal business that was started by their father.  Residential appraisals are unbiased professional opinions, done to determine the real value of a property, as each property is unique.  These appraisals are often done for loan purposes.

I asked Bob and Lynn to share what they love about their work and what is challenging in it.  It was quickly apparent that there is a rich opportunity to fulfill an aspect of God's character in this work, and to be part of the flourishing of customers that they serve.

If you look at the purpose of appraisals described above, they are "unbiased professional opinions."  There is a science to it, but it is ultimately an opinion based on experience and various criteria.  Bob very quickly began to tell stories about the high need for integrity in this business - he is serving the home owner but also the mortgage company. The home owner would often like for the number to come in high, while the mortgage company wants it to be very realistic.

Before long, they began talking to me about their customers.  This year, starting in January, they saw a surge in appraisals needed for divorces - people had hung in there through the holidays but in January started to call it quits in their marriage after the stress of 2020 covid pandemic.  Customers were often crying, and pressuring for a low or high number, depending on their position.  Other customers are engaged with needing an appraisal for the settlement of the estate of a parent or loved one.  Again, customers who are in pain, often fighting with other family members, pressuring for a high or low number, depending on their position.  Others are getting a second or a third mortgage, knee deep in debt and showing signs of drowning in it.  Bob and Lynn have strongly recommended against homeowners having an appraisal done (even though they would make money from it) if it looks like the number will not come in at what the homeowner wants in order to refinance.

These ministers in the Marketplace speak words of comfort and reality to people in pain on a daily basis.  They are helping people to flourish by presenting the reality of a value of the property.  They are able to pray for the customers who are struggling through divorce, death, and debt.  God is a God of order, and they help to bring that order to the people they serve.  They often walk away from a day of work feeling the weight from the result of sin in the lives of their customers.

I left that office amazed by the opportunities that are present in being the hands and feet of Jesus in fulfilling the work of residential appraisals.  

And that is just one business I visited.  I could tell you many more stories.  

On Sunday, I was able to give a message about why Marketplace Ministers need the church on Sunday.  While the church is scattered from Monday-Saturday, we need to carry in our joys and laments from those days when we gather again on Sunday.  Bob and Lynn need to carry and share the weight of what they have seen in the Marketplace, in the safe company of fellow believers in Christ, and be fed and equipped again to go out of Monday.  If you are so inclined, you can watch that service here:

Very thankful to Immanuel CRC in Hamilton for the opportunity to spend this time with them!

And in this week of Thanksgiving in the USA, we want to express our thankfulness to God who has allowed us to join Him in this work, and to each of you for your care, concern, prayer and support of this ministry!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 8, 2021

From John 3:16 to 1 John 3:16

This past week we had our DML Global Team Retreat.  We met daily through Zoom with about sixty of us from eleven countries and it was such a joy!  We could hear so clearly that the message of our commitment to bringing the Kingdom of Heaven on earth is deepening and growing in the hearts and minds of our DML leaders.

Pastor Nokoson from Cameroon led us in devotions on Wednesday and he started by telling us that it is time for us to move from John 3:16 to 1 John 3:16.  I don't remember hearing the tying of those passages together but it caught my ear.

John 3:16 is probably one of the most famous verses in Scripture, especially in evangelism.  It says:

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. 

The essence of the gospel in one verse!

But 1 John 3:16 takes us further, as we strive to become more like Him.  Some say that this is the critical second half of the gospel:

This is how we know what love is:  Jesus Christ laid His life down for us.  And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

These two texts show a journey of awakening that is critical and essential to the whole story.  We move from an adolescent faith to the maturity of love, which IS the fullness of Jesus Christ.  This changes our calling while on earth from simply waiting for heaven, to being the hands and feet of Jesus in every place and every space.

Helping people requires us to show up and respond.  Loving people goes so much deeper: being in relationship, listening, and building trust.  

But laying down your life for others?  A depth that is difficult to describe.  

Yet that is what we are called to do.  We can't rely evangelistic events to do this.  We can't do it from the church building.  We do it as we are "going" about our business.  We do it as we meet people, listen to them, learn from them, and share with them.  As we do our work with excellence, bringing about the flourishing of humanity, using the gifts and talents of a creative God, we help to bring the Kingdom of God to earth.  We are the picture of God's love.

In Genesis 3, three things were broken as a result of the fall:  our relationship with God, our relationship with each other, and our relationship with work and creation.  Many of the messages we hear from church are about our relationship with God and understanding Him better.  But 1 John 3:16 makes it urgent that we also learn how to take that relationship, mature it, and apply it to our relationships with others, with work, and creation.

One would think that it would naturally flow, but the lack of transformation in nations and societies that are predominantly Christian tells us that it does not.  We need teaching and preaching and practicing of how to live out this great gift on Monday, Tuesday, and so on.  We need to develop the muscle that can answer the question, "What does it mean to love people where we work - the dishonest person, the unmotivated person, the negative person?  And what does that look like?"  

2 Corinthians 5:14 says that Christ's love compels us - because we have been loved much, we too need to love much, even to the point of laying down our lives.  May God bless you this week as you live this out!

Monday, November 1, 2021

Tom Nelson: The Day I Confessed Pastoral Malpractice

Last week, I was blessed to have a conversation with Tom Nelson, the senior pastor of Christ Community Church in Kansas, president of the organization Made to Flourish, and author of several books, including The Economics of Neighborly Love. The mission of Made to Flourish is to "empower pastors and their churches to integrate faith, work, and economic wisdom for the flourishing of their communities."  How this resonates with the work of Discipling Marketplace Leaders!

In 2014, Christianity Today printed the following article from Tom Nelson, entitled "The Day I Confessed to Pastoral Malpractice."  The article is well-written and tells the story of Pastor Tom's journey into discovering the need to equip Christians for what they are doing for the majority of the week.

This article tells his story, but maybe you just want the quick summary - if so, watch this three minute video.  It will be worth your time!

Confession is good for the soul, but it’s hard for pastors. At least it was for me. Years ago, I stood before my congregation to make a heartfelt confession. It was indeed difficult to do, yet it would prove transformative for our entire faith community.

More than a decade has passed since that day, but I still remember it clearly. Against a backdrop of pindrop silence, I asked the congregation I served to forgive me. Not for sexual impropriety or financial misconduct, but for pastoral malpractice. I confessed I had spent the minority of my time equipping them for what they were called to do for the majority of their week.

I didn’t mean to engage in pastoral malpractice; my pastoral paradigm had been theologically deficient. As a result I had been perpetuating a Sunday-to-Monday gap in my preaching, discipleship, and pastoral care. I blurted out what my heart had been holding back for way too long.

With a lump in my throat, I feebly grasped for the right words. I wanted to confess that because of my stunted theology, individual parishioners in my congregation were hindered in their spiritual formation and ill-equipped in their God-given vocations. Our collective mission had suffered as well. I had failed to see, from Genesis to Revelation, the high importance of vocation and the vital connections between faith, work, and economics. Somehow I had missed how the gospel speaks into every nook and cranny of life, connecting Sunday worship with Monday work in a seamless fabric of Holy Spirit-empowered faithfulness.

Journey to Wholeness

What led to this realization? Let me share just a bit of my journey. I was privileged to grow up in a devoted Christian family and as a young boy experienced a transforming conversion to Christ. I was blessed to be part of an evangelical church that believed and taught the Bible and whose members wholeheartedly sought to love Christ with mind, heart, and hands. After graduating from college, I joined a campus ministry devoted to evangelism and discipleship.

In addition to a decade of parachurch ministry, I attended and graduated from a fine evangelical seminary. During seminary while studying Hebrew my mind and heart were drawn to a Hebrew word that frames God’s creation design for human flourishing. This Hebrew word is tome or tamim. We usually translate tome as “blameless.” The challenge with this English translation is we often associate blameless with an external ethical perfection. But the Hebrew word actually speaks of a broader concept of ontological wholeness.

From the early pages of the biblical story, we encounter the tome or integrated life as the life God designed for us, the life Jesus would come to a sin-ravaged planet in order to redeem. As a young church planting pastor, this theological framework from the biblical narrative still informed much of my thinking. Yet just a few years into ministry, I began to have a great deal of heart-level dissonance. My own spiritual formation anemic at best, and I was seeing little true transformation in my parish. What I saw behind the nice Sunday smiles was a troubling lack of spiritual maturity, a shallow sanctification shrouding a dangerous disconnect between Sunday belief and Monday behavior.

Something was awry—but what was it? If God had originally designed us to live lives characterized by tome, and if Jesus had gone to the cross to make this kind of life possible, why were so many in my congregation living such fragmented, disconnected lives? Why was our understanding of the gospel not speaking to every area of life? Why was our discipleship not transforming everything we were and did?

Faced with these uncomfortable truths, I began a quest to more fully grasp the kind of holistic faith taught from Genesis to Revelation. I also began to look more closely at Protestant Reformers like Luther and Calvin who not only recovered the authority of Scripture and the gospel of grace, but also connected Sunday to Monday with a rich theology of vocation. Reading the Reformers made me pay closer attention to the bookends of the biblical story—original creation and future consummation. I wrestled deeply with how the gospel tied the entire biblical narrative together. Through prayerful study of the Scriptures, I began to see human vocation as integral and not merely incidental to biblical revelation. I started to grasp that faith, work, and economics were woven together in the fabric of faithful gospel ministry.

As this realization dawned on me, I started to see the Scriptures afresh. Seeing Jesus as a carpenter brought a new fullness to the doctrine of the incarnation and reinforced the dignity of everyday work. Studying the book of Philemon, I began to see more clearly how the gospel transforms not only the worker, but the workplace and work itself.

Looking more carefully at Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan expanded my understanding of what neighborly love truly requires. The Good Samaritan exhibited more than compassion. His diligent labor, wealth creation, and wise financial management allowed him the economic capacity to generously meet some else’s critical need. Jesus’ teaching on neighborly love brought together the threads of faith, work, and economics in a seamless way.

Working for Change

On the day I stood before my congregation, I did more than ask for forgiveness; I promised that, by the grace of God, things were going to change. Our language was going to change. Any hint of language that connoted a sacred/secular dichotomy would disappear. Pastors would affirm everyone’s calling and not just their own. We would abandon the language of “full-time ministry” that had previously been reserved for pastoral or missionary work. We would change how we talked about work. In fact, our definition of work was going to change. It would be understood as being about contribution, not merely remuneration. Our discipleship curriculum was going to change. From cradle to grave, our commitment was to equip our parishioners with a robust theology of vocation and to help them see their vocational stewardship as a high priority of gospel faithfulness.

Our pastoral care was going to change, too. Pastors would not only make hospital visits, we would make workplace visits. We would learn about our members’ work worlds. We would encourage them in their work, we would pray for their work, and we would celebrate their work. We would see our congregants’ work as the primary work of the church. Everyone’s work would be regarded as mission.

How have things changed in our local church congregation? Over the years we have seen greater numerical growth and expansion to a multisite presence in our city. But more importantly, we have seen greater spiritual growth and more effective gospel mission. We now teach a robust theology that informs our congregants’ work, have a regular liturgy that affirms their work, and make relational investment that applauds their work. We are now deeply committed to equip our congregation for what they are called to do the majority of their lives. Our pastoral staff work hard not only to connect Sunday to Monday, but to bring Monday into Sunday. Our Sunday worship services reflect the reality that the gospel speaks to and transforms all of life including our work, and that the gospel speaks to wealth creation, wise financial management, and economic flourishing.

Extreme Makeover

We are still learning and unlearning as we go, doing our best to navigate what it means to narrow the Sunday to Monday gap. But I’m encouraged when I receive an e-mail from a CEO or a stay-at-home mom or a student or a retiree in my congregation who now sees Monday lives through the transforming lens of a biblical theology of vocation. I find increasing joy in seeing congregants embrace their paid and non-paid work as an offering to God and a contribution to the common good. Many of my parishioners have a bounce in their step and a new excitement about all of life. For them, the gospel has become coherent and more compelling. They look forward to sharing it with others in various vocational settings and spheres of influence throughout the week.

With our kids heading off to college, my wife, Liz, wanted to do a major remodel of our kitchen. At first, I was reluctant. Our kitchen was just fine, it seemed. Sure, the green countertops were dated and the cupboards were aging, but I was used to it. It was the only kitchen I knew.

Yet Liz saw something I couldn’t see. Thankfully, I listened to her and we forged ahead with our remodel. I will never forget when I saw our remodeled kitchen for the first time. It was beautiful. Simply designed and wonderfully welcoming. As I stared at our remodeled kitchen, for the first time I realized how ugly and drab it was before. How had I not seen it? How had I been so content to live in this kitchen for so long?

The best way I know to describe the journey our congregation has experienced is to compare it to that remodeling project. Looking back I can’t imagine how I had served for so long with such an inadequate pastoral paradigm. The newly remodeled congregation I serve now is more beautiful in its expression and more effective in its mission. I have the joy of knowing I am being more faithful to my flock. Making the transition wasn’t easy, but looking back, we sure are grateful we did.

The Day I Confessed Pastoral Malpractice (

This week the DML Global Team is having it's retreat on Zoom.  Please pray for us as we continue to seek how to refine and deliver this message!