Musings on Cross Cultural Work and the Church

Long post. Sorry. I’ve been trying to not be so verbose, but alas, I’m wired verbosely.

Our church’s vision is simply a fancy worded restatement of Jesus command to disciple the nations in Matthew 26:16-20. Having said that, this end bleeds down into our mission, strategy and tactics. We eat, sleep, breath all nations for Jesus’ fame. That means we have to be narrowly focused, look different and operate different to move in the direction of Jesus purpose for us.

Having said that, we are always conversing on the paradigm shift that we are, and how we see challenges some don’t see because we are trying to cut a path to what a church that equips and releases its people to the world looks like. We’ve fought to shun the typical model found in most of North America for 17 years. We’ve been successful so far. It’s hard, but our vision demands it. It does not attract consumers. It releases disciples to their domains to make disciples. Nothing here to consume. Not fancy. Not flashy. Not pretty.

I’ve recently been beset with “musing” on this while lifting weights at 5 in the morning this week. Yes, weights at 5 am. Yes, musing on how to do Jesus’ mission while sweating and blasting some POD, Police, GNR, AC/DC in the power beats. It’s possible. Don’t judge me.

I want to share two musings with you.

First, in our many discussions and wrangling we have noticed that there are significantly more ladies committed to the world than men. This fact has also been noted among agencies that facilitate cross cultural work.

Without question, one stated reason in our own tribe is sexual impurity related to pornography that has ensnared many men. That’s a real problem. But I believe it’s more than that.

I would argue that one reason we have significantly more women than men signing up for cross cultural work is because we have made disciple making a job rather than disciple making being an issue of obedience for every Christian everywhere all the time.

Disciple making is not a vocation. Disciple making is obedience to Jesus on the part of every Christian as they engage in everyday life like working their job. It’s hard to make disciple making a job and it not look fishy to outsiders. “How do you afford that house? You don’t have a job.”

I’m not in any way decrying our awesome and brave women setting the example. Keep doing this ladies! You are rocking it.

For men though…

Men were hard wired by God to work and get results whether in manual labor or some labor of the more “neck up” variety. For example, some men like to cut grass (I love it) because there is immediate gratification of seeing the results of their labor. If you are a guy that does not like to cut grass, then you need to spend time on a landscaping crew and you’ll learn to love the nuance of a well cared for patch of green.

Men were made to work. What does it look like for men to engage their vocational skills in the public square, get paid to do it, and make disciples as they naturally grind out life beside nations of people who have no witness of the gospel among them?

We must explore not just the DNA of or the theory of our people leveraging their vocations as the means to work cross culturally in the public square, but we need to figure out how that works in hard places and not just places that are already beginning the climb out of economic devastation. This is a booger.

Here’s the kicker…this is not for para-church agencies to figure out. This is the church’s job to figure out. We can’t delegate this to someone else. Jesus gave this mission to the church. Every local church has a responsibility to strive beyond writing a check to a para-church.

That is going to take work not mere ideas. That is going to take grass roots development of economy. That is going to take manual labor and “neck up” labor. That is going to take more than disciple making, but not less than disciple making. It’s going to take both side by side.

What means will make that happen? What effort? We are trying to answer those questions.

Another musing…

Second and last, as much as we focus on the world, and as much as we have planted our members around the world, I’ve noticed that even our members default to looking outside of the local church when they consider working cross culturally. Why is that? Why do local church members have to go outside of God’s vehicle (the local church) to find ways of working cross culturally? I know the answer. It’s painful. We are not there yet in this paradigm shift practically.

The modern movement to the nations was birthed by a work of God among faithful sisters and brothers who saw that the church was not doing what Jesus commanded us to do. These faithful, like Adoniram Judson, went with or without local church support to obey Jesus’ instructions. From that work there rose agencies that helped to facilitate the work.

I  believe the Lord Jesus is stirring a new era in history from his church. I believe that era looks less like agencies facilitating global work to the local church facilitating its work with its people.

I’m not trying to poo poo on agencies doing the work. I’m simply observing the realities of the limitations of the current framework.

I understand this is a massive e framework shift. But we have to wrestle with the fact that men are not going. The current model depends on external funding because church budgets are bloated with internal goodies not external mission. The current model cannot meet the demand of the task numerically or financially.

Solution? Mobilize the entire church as the missionary.

  1. Teach everyone that their vocation is their vehicle to the world.
  2. Restructure our local churches to facilitate sending our people  and shepherding our people around the world.
  3. Plant new churches that get this idea, and build it in from inception.
  4. Teach everyone that evangelism and church multiplication is the task of every disciple not just a few special operator Christians.
  5. Pastors must become globally savvy and believe the primary vision for the local church is the Great Commission. Vision-Mission-Strategy-Tactics….Meaning that if the vision is all nations, then everything under that needs to vertically align. Thats how we get to #2.
  6. Pastors have to lead the church to hard places, take their people, then release their people to the world.
  7. Christians have to begin to view education in the disciplines of the world as their “seminary”. Skilled labor. Liberal arts. Where are the Christian educational institutions providing training to enter the work force globally with an actual job? As a former educator, I fantasize about a college that had degrees for skilled labor along side the liberal arts…hang with me here…what if they were mingled on some levels? What if electricians were able to also get business degrees without extra hours?

This is just the beginning. We have striven for this for 17 years. We are just beginning to make strides in all our success and failure at shifting the framework of how we do the work. But I’d encourage you to stew on this, and let the Spirit produce the fruit of Jesus’ kingdom in us to the world. The gospel of the kingdom makes disciples in all domains of society, and from there Jesus’ followers multiply the church in all nations.

Our DNA of KDSC will work this out if we don’t let the current of a dying framework suck us back into it’s flow. Keep rowing hard agains the current and let’s get this done.

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