Monday, May 30, 2022

"What a tragic waste of human potential."

Have you ever had a conversation with a stranger, and you just feel an instant connection?  You feel like they "get you"?  

That is how Discipling Marketplace Leaders feels about the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity (LICC).  After searching the world over for other practitioners taking Business as Mission through the local church, we found LICC in the UK speaking our language.  But this organization started speaking this language ten years ago and is so far ahead of DML in terms of content and resources for equipping the local church.  It's exciting!

I have the opportunity to join LICC for a two-day conference in London prior to flying to Asia in early June.  There I will have a chance to meet with Mark Greene, who speaks in the brief video below about the failure of the church to embrace the workplace.  I encourage you to watch this short clip and be encouraged.

Mark is addressing the Lausanne Movement, and says that there are two main strategies for reaching the world by the Global Church:

  1. To recruit the people of God to use some of their leisure time to join the missionary initiatives of church-paid workers.
  2. To equip the people of God for fruitful mission in all of their life.
Most people from most countries in the world said that #1 is the model of missions that their church uses.

He says that the result of using the #1 strategy is that the 98% of Christians who are not in church-paid work are not equipped for mission except for the two to ten hours per week that they might spend in church-related activities every week.  "98% of Christians are not equipped for mission for 95% of their waking life."

Workplace ministry is not some little thing on the side for the church, he says, but it goes right to the heart of the potential of the world evangelism movement.

"What a tragic waste of human potential." 

Can I get an amen?  

And if so, what can we do to do to take this from a great video to a great movement in the global church?

It's time.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Why Asia and South America? Isn't DML an African ministry?

In a recent blog post, I announced that the DML team would be traveling to Asia and South America over the next few months, to launch DML.  

Some of you may be wondering why we would be doing this - are we not mostly an African ministry?  Is there not more work to do in Africa?  Has the curriculum not been mostly formed for African churches and businesses?

To these questions, I would say, "Yes, yes, and yes."  And then I would add, "But..."

DML was started, formed, and developed in West and East Africa.  That continues to be the place where we do most of our learning.  Our DML teams across Africa are continually testing and trying ways to see how to help the local church and denominations be change agents in the marketplace, and to reclaim the marketplace for Christ through the local church.  Africa will always be further ahead in the implementation of DML than any other place and we continue to learn from what are teams/church denominations are doing there.  

There is still more work to be done in Africa.  Our teams, in most places, have captured one or two denominations, have set up trainings in a few of the cities and there is much more opportunity in every place!  Additionally, there are many more countries in Africa that can be reached with this message of the integration of faith and work through the local church.  

BUT the good news is that our teams are responding to these requests.  Our teams in Burkina Faso are reaching Cote d'Ivoire and Gabon.  Our team in Nigeria is reaching Botswana.  Our DML leader in Tanzania is speaking to a team in South Africa.  This is happening naturally as people from different countries hear our teams speak.  We praise God for this!

DML has committed from the beginning to work on a "pull" rather than a "push."  That means that we would not look for opportunities to go to different places, but rather wait for a pull from a place and discern whether that pull was a good fit for who we are at the time.  

In 2019, DML met with an organization out of Texas called "Global Advance."  They serve and equip pastors and church leaders, and also had a passion for reclaiming the marketplace for Christ but didn't have the tools necessary to make that happen.  Global Advance had a strong pull from their teams in Asia and South America for this.  In 2020, we started a formal partnership with them, and our goal was to equip their leaders who had a desire to reach the marketplace through the local church. Since then, our teams have trained their leaders in eight countries where they are working, and this summer we will help two of those teams to officially launch. 

What is exciting about this is that we don't have to vet these requests or partners but because of our relationship with Global Advance and their long-term relationships with their partners, we can jump right in and get going.  

The curriculum does need to change slightly in the approach as many parts of Asia do not have nearly the number of churches/Christians as Africa.  Some have very strong opposition to anything Christian being brought into the country, so I have to be careful even in writing this blog.  We need to learn about the religions and cultures in these places and adjust them accordingly.  Thankfully we do have partners who are helping us through that.

We thank God for these opportunities, and we covet your prayers as we go outside of the places that we know a tiny bit about, to places that we know even less about!  

Monday, May 16, 2022

Weddings and Wisdom and Writing, oh my!

Wedding:  The wedding of my son, Noah, to his bride Hannah, was a beautiful and joyous event.  We don't have many pictures yet, as we relied on the photographer and kept our phones in our pockets, but I have a couple that I can share with you.  We welcome Hannah to our family (formally - she has been part of our family for six years already!).

Now we begin to focus on my daughter Hannah's wedding in less than four months!  Such joy!  Such blessings!

Wisdom:  I received so much excellent feedback from many of you as it relates to workshop titles that would resonate with North American pastors and church leaders.  Several of you actually asked your pastors for feedback, others of you proposed excellent alternatives, and still others proposed sound methodology that we will be taking under consideration going forward.  I feel so blessed that you take the time to read and respond in such thoughtful ways!  It makes the body of Christ very real and alive to me - thank you!  

Writing:  This past week had the additional joy of completing a year-long project of writing a paper for the BAM (Business as Mission) Global Think Tank.  The subject of the paper was "BAM and the Church" and involved three key areas:  the theological challenges inherent in the sacred/secular divide, the structural challenges of the local church in engaging the marketplace, and the cultural challenges found in many parts of the world regarding the view of work and the perception of the role of the church.

This was a group project with contributions from faith & work leaders from around the world.  Anyone who remembers doing group projects in college or high school can likely recall both their joy and the struggles, and when you add in about twelve time zones, different styles of writing, and different voices, it did become a complicated task!  But we are all happy with the final draft and we hope to be able to release not too long from now.  

God is good!

Pastor David Beelen, the pastor Noah has known his whole life, officiated the wedding.

Noah's side of the family including my mom, one sister, brother, nephew.  It was good to be together!

Monday, May 2, 2022

Feedback Requested

The ministry of Discipling Marketplace Leaders was started and grown in both East, West, and Central Africa.  It is now beginning to be exported from Africa to other parts of the world.  I'm excited to announce that in June, we will be in Asia for three weeks, meeting with three partners.  And in August, we will be in Brazil meeting with a different partner.  God is opening doors and we are thankful for the opportunity to join Him in His work.

Many of you have been reading this blog for some time and have an understanding of our goal to have every Christian understand their calling and mission in every workplace.  That means what we do is important (and we are to do our work with excellence), how we do our work matters as we are Christ's ambassadors, understanding why we work (flourishing of creation and humanity), and where are called to work (in every space and place where work leads to flourishing) matters!

And many of you have said at one time or another, "We need this in the US."  In fact, I have been asked the following occasionally by Africans, "This must be working well in the US for you to bring it to Africa."  I have to let them know that this was started and shaped by African pastors and businesspeople and now can be exported to the rest of the world.

But getting traction in the US is not easy.  There are many reasons that I believe are the cause of that, but today I'm looking for feedback on how we can attract busy pastors and church leaders to at least stop and hear the message of discipleship for the workplace.  

To that end, I have created a number of titles for a one-hour or two-hour workshop and would love your feedback for which you think would resonate with a pastor in the US or Canada.  It is our belief that almost every pastor wants to be making disciples and see transformation happen in and through their members.  Understanding that common vision, we would like to offer a title that would capture enough attention for a busy pastor to make space in his/her calendar to attend.  Our offerings are:

  1.  The Purpose of Sunday is Monday
  2.  Whole Life Discipleship:  Every Place and Every Space
  3. Meeting God at Work
  4. Unleashing the Church:  From Sunday Christians to Everyday Christians
  5. Preparing the Church for a Post-Christian World
Would you be willing to think about which might resonate with pastors and send me a brief response?

This week my son, Noah, gets married so I will be slow on responses but will respond as soon as I can.

Scholarship Campaign Update:  We are so thankful for the Gospel Patrons who joined our scholarship campaign during the month of April!  Whether you have been a Gospel Patron with DML for some time or you are new through the campaign, we thank God for you!  Although we did not quite meet or goal of $30,000 in April, if you are interested, there is still time to contribute to the message of "work as worship" going far and wide!  Click here for more details.