Perspectives Course Revision Completed as Movement Reaches New Heights
A Conversation with Co-Editor Steve Hawthorne
As the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course reaches its greatest size to date, an editorial team has completed what is the most significant update and revision of the course since its origination in 1982.
"We've simplified it, yet intensified it," says Steve Hawthorne, co-editor with Dr. Ralph Winter of the revision. Hawthorne adds that this third edition of the course that has more than 33,000 alumni is filled with more hope"firm, bold, Biblical hope for what God will accomplish."
While the enormity of the missions task has, for some, been crippling, Hawthorne emphasizes that the latest version of Perspectives clarifies how the investment of our lives in God's mission can give incredible strength and significance as we share just a "small sliver" of this colossal task. He says someone may sense, "I'm just a little part of this, but man, this is so large. Because of the immensity of the value of the task that I'm involved in, I am doing a huge thing."
Even the very update of the course was not a particularly small task. Over the last ten months Hawthorne headed up a sacrificial, full-time editorial team of seven and a dozen others who made significant contributions.
Of the 124 chapters in the new Perspectives reader, 59 are new additions while some 20 others have been significantly revised or updated. Additionally, the course has been updated to deal with significant changes in the missions world, including:
- The growth in the developing world's mission movement
- An increased awareness of the complexity of genuinely completing the task
- Addressing issues raised by the successful mobilization efforts of the last 20 years
- Recognizing the stark differences in churches that follow Christ with full Biblical fidelity yet display features that appear alien to the Western Church
As the course takes a multi-faceted approach to dealing with the complexity and immensity of our mission, Hawthorne freely admits that "there is something in it to disappoint everyone guaranteed."
The completion of the curriculumwhich includes a reader, a study guide and a notebook editioncomes at an appropriate time. The Perspectives course is being offered this spring at over 75 locations across the nationmore venues than they have witnessed at any single time to date. Lee Purgason, Director of the Perspectives Study Program, believes that when classes to be held this fall are added, they may, for the first time, pass the 100 mark for classes offered in a single year.
Hawthorne is the founder and director of Waymakers, a prayer mobilization ministry, based in Austin, Texas. In an effort to promote awareness of the essential nature of prayer Waymakers developed the prayer journeytrips to unreached areas where the journeyers participate in saturation prayerthe attempt to pray for every member of a given village or portion of a city.
Over the last 10 months, he has made countless trips from his Austin home to the U.S. Center in Pasadena. But why the extensive effort and travel time for the update of a course that was, at least numerically, still growing?
"Just one hour ago," Hawthorne explains, "I was in a Perspectives class, doing a review of a lesson and a student said, 'If this is true then our worship is just partial, it's not complete without the rest of the nations.'"
"She caught it," he says. "The value of that radical vision in a few surpasses ten thousand who are glibly in agreement."
For Hawthorne, the Perspectives course has already born fruit sufficient to justify such an undertaking: This reader contains two case studies on church-planting movements amongst previously unreached peoples written by missionaries whose primary influence for entering missions work was their earlier attendance of the Perspectives course.
"There are people groups reached, now worshiping God," he says, moving his hand as if snatching a soul from the grip of the Evil One. "I can just see these long, lost nephews in Jesus that are now in the family."
Hawthorne recognizes God's clear hand of blessing on this course that runs counter to so much that is being offered today. "People are consumers," he says, "they are strolling through, looking for something to add to their life. This is a course where people are looking for a way to give away their life."
In regards to the worthiness of the missions task for such abandonment, he affirms, "The worship from every tribe and tongue is precious, it is to die for, and it is exactly what Jesus died for, to get a priesthood from all the nations." Hawthorne contends that God's purpose in mission is to reveal His glory to the nations in order that He might receive glory from the nations.
New Recruiting Network Established to Facilitate Partnerships
With a passion for reaching the unreached peoples and a desire to see field partnerships move forward, 60 leaders from 35 agencies and 11 denominations joined their hosts, John Orme (IFMA), Paul McKaughn (EFMA) and Phill Butler (Interdev) for a one day conference in Chicago on December 14.
The single purpose of the meeting was to establish a network of agencies that would aid in the coordinated recruitment, training and deployment of facilitators for on-the-field agency partnerships which Interdev, the Seattle-based initiator of the meeting, calls Strategic Evangelism Partnerships. Currently, there are 43 functioning partnerships that Interdev has helped to initiate and assists with their growth. These partnerships are seeing significant results and more kingdom impact as a result of working together.
During the morning session Phill Butler and the Interdev team gave an update on the growth and challenges of the partnership movement. While existing partnerships have demonstrated their ability to significantly aid agencies and churches in penetrating a people with the Gospel, experience has also shown that the partnerships do not work well or prosper without an effective facilitator or facilitating team to lead them. Interdev stated that there are 70-plus partnerships primarily among unreached people groups that are currently in development and which could be launched right now if qualified people were available for this important role. So how can these facilitators be recruited and deployed in a coordinated fashion?
In the afternoon small group discussion session the delegates were asked to consider three questions:
- Is the role of a Strategic Partnership Facilitator legitimate and important?
- Is the proposed new network an appropriate response to the need?
- What will it take to make this new network effective?
The delegates agreed that the role of a Partnership Facilitator was important and vital to reaching unreached peoples, but there was some question about how to convince agencies, always short of staff, to reassign quality people to this role. The greatest discussion centered around the nature of this new network. Questions like, "What would this network look like? How would it function? Who would lead it?" were raised. The meeting ended with delegates recommending action steps to get this new network off the ground.
There was a general consensus that a list of high priority needs for facilitators should be distributed to IFMA and EFMA agencies. A coordinator or facilitator for this recruiting networkmost likely from Interdevis needed, and that specific goals and deadlines needed to be established for recruiting the needed facilitators. It was also recommended that IFMA, EFMA, WEF and other mission associations be involved in helping to promote this new network and the need for Partnership Facilitators.
For more information on partnerships contact: Brian F. O'Connell at Interdev 800-775-8330 e-mail: [email protected]
Passion '99 Draws 11,000 Youth to the Throne in Praise
With a crowd of over 11,000 college-age youth descending on Fort Worth for a three-day New Year's event, some might be quite surprised to find out that it was no exercise of unchecked carnality. Instead the third annual Passion conference dealt with themes considerably more redemptive: personal holiness, embracing suffering, developing an awe of God, intimacy with Christ and coming to grips with what one attendee calls "the fleshy life" she was living.
The January 1-4 event was near-maximum capacity for the Fort Worth Convention Center. The greater difficulty faced was finding space to accommodate what Passion has called Community/Family groupssmaller groups of fixed members that met at intervals throughout the conference greater intimacy and accountability.
Bill Bright, executive director of Campus Crusade for Christ challenged the youth to pray for the many college campuses in the world who have no legitimate witness for Christ whatsoever. John Piper gave a Biblical exhortation for embracing suffering. Louie Giglio, popular speaker to youth and founder of Passion, used the Ark of the Covenant to demonstrate God's holiness, encouraging a sense of awe and reverence for God.
Giglio is well aware that the synergism of the heavily praise-oriented weekend is prone to be viewed as end in itself. Matt Morris, Event Coordinator for Passion, explains that the crowd was made aware: "the worship wasn't really incredible unless God dramatically affected your life. What you were called to do after the conference would really be how to gauge whether or not the worship was incredible."
Some have viewed the Passion conference as an Urbana of the Southa comparison that is unjustified as Passion is not focused on missions. They are seeking revival for this generation of youth, recognizing that these "cataclysmic" events allow young people to draw strength, unity and encouragement from each other. Yet the conference has integrated the role of missions in a manner worthy of emulation. Their speakers, their worship, their declaration, their vision statement all reflect the fact that the crescendo of God's work on the planet is the ingathering of the nations to worship Him.
Perhaps this explains why missions has been a great beneficiary of the Passion conference. Morris, at 27, recognizes a rise of missions interest considerably different from when he was in college just a few years ago. He says when he was in school, missions service was seen as "kind of a weird thing," while today it "doesn't seem to be an odd thing anymore."
He has also seen young people increasingly considering missions service as a life endeavor. Money, he has recognized, is simply "not as important as it was for the previous generation. Students just want to find out what is true, what is realand they see God answering that call," Morris says. "If He calls them to China or an unreached people group I don't think they're flinching at that as much any more. You see more students answering that call."
While he recognizes that this year's meeting was largely White, he notes, with enthusiasm, that groups came from Japan, Botswana, Australia and China. Passion hopes next year's event will be a truer cross-section of this generation of youth. Current plans are for a large, open-air event in the Spring of 2000less expensive for attendees and not limited in size.
World Christian Magazine Returns
The magazine that has been a force for a more global form of the faith, World Christian will return to press again under the leadership of Executive Editor Tonya Eichelberger. Now being published by WINPress, World Christian will be released quarterly, beginning March of this year