If I learned anything from my brief stint in playing educator, it was this, “Never do for a student what they can do for themselves.” (Reference, Are We Listening? from Nov 2009)
Jesus followed this rule both in how he taught and in how he performed his miracles. We might be able to learn something here.
Once, his disciples were asked by Him to organize a multitude (of at least 5,000 people) into groups of 50s and 100s and direct them all to sit down on the green grass (Mark 6:39-40). Then Jesus fed them with food created from thin air. He had the disciples do what they could: crowd control, while He picked up where they couldn’t: multiplying bread miraculously.
“Take away the stone,” Jesus told those standing by the tomb of Lazarus. This was something they could do. After they had rolled back the stone:
- “Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, ‘Take off the grave clothes and let him go.’ (John 11)
The disciples could roll back a stone. They could take grave clothes off a man. But they couldn’t raise a dead man from the grave. Only the power of God can do that.
Today I’m leaving for Haiti. Will be there for a week. I’m not sure what to expect. I’m just planning to show up and serve. That’s what I can do. And that’s what we’re called to do as Christians every day, whether at home or abroad. We serve and share, plant and reap. But it’s only God who can change a life or save a soul, that’s what He can do.
I may not blog for a week or so, depending on my internet connection. Would appreciate prayers!
A Haitian child finds her own space as a religious crusade is held in the background at the national stadium on Jan. 9 in Port-au-Prince. The ceremony, sponsored by American evangelist Franklin Graham, came a few days before the country noted the one-year anniversary of the magnitude-7.0 quake that killed more than 220,000 people and left millions homeless. (Ramon Espinosa/Associated Press) (source)
In short: Incarnational Ministry Among the Poor
I first read this article about a month ago. I got excited reading it! It discusses Incarnational Ministry from a practical perspective. Though lengthy – and at least one of my friends found boring – it does lay down a thought out framework.
The author discusses Incarnational Ministry as a Model, a Method, a Message, and a Spiritual Discipline.
Ok, that was the post. What follows next are rambling thoughts of mine sparked by the above article…
Nick’s Thoughts on Incarnational Missions
This past summer I read a book entitled Misisonal Small Groups by Scott Boren. I would recommend the book to anyone mission-minded as I thought Scott made some excellent observations, particularly in breaking down what he sees as four types of groups.
Having been involved in multiple small Christian groups myself – some structured, some unstructured, some in the capacity as a leader, some as a follower – I would say none of them yet have been necessarily missional. In case you’re not familiar with the buzzword “missional,” Wikipedia has a pretty good definition.
One theme in Scott’s book is that missional small groups cannot be formularized. You can’t formularize how God is going to work or how he will choose to use his servants to help accomplish his work. However, there are principles… though the principles may not be convenient or popular.
“This book does not provide a program, plan, or method for group success. Instead it points to a way of life together that makes a difference in the world.”
One recurring theme was being missional is being relational
Perhaps my favorite quote was his tip on the direction a small group should head when planning ministry:
“Refuse to simply add some kind of service project or outreach initiative to your group experience and call that missional. As an alternative, take a more relational route. Build relationships with some people who are under resourced and listen to their stories and their needs. Or befriend some people in your neighborhood without any secret motivation to get them to pray a prayer or come to your group. Simply listen to them, share life, and see what God is already doing in their lives.”
The answer? “Depends on the mindset of those going,” according to Noel Becchetti. He provides an interesting break down of unhelpful attitudes Westerners often bring as they go to minister in other cultures. Despite the title of his article, keep in mind he actually does promote short term missions. If you’re considering taking a missions trip, I encourage you to read it:
Why Most Mission Trips Are a Waste of Time
Apparently, task-oriented rather than relationship-oriented is what gets Westerners into the most trouble. Noel writes,
“One of the most common cultural collisions occurs between linear cultures (like ours) and nonlinear cultures (like Latin). Our culture is task-oriented; Latin culture is people-oriented. Our culture is time-sensitive; Latin culture is situation-sensitive.”
My assessment is this lack of relational focus gets us Westerners in trouble here at home too. In light of this, my next several posts are going to have the following theme: Being Missional is Being Relational
“Relationship with [those you’re visiting] is far more important than money, buildings, and preaching. They will remember you for your love and friendship, not what you did!” (shorttermers.com)