Vision for the Nations and EXPLORE Score High
One Pastor's View of Two USCWM Resources
Pastor Joel Palser of Liberty New Testament Church in Portmouth, Virginia, desired to impart a mission vision to his church, but had almost given up on using videos as a teaching method—until he discovered the U. S. Center’s new video curriculum Vision for the Nations (VFN). (The church is now in the process of adopting an unreached people group.)Reverend Palser says that, like many pastors, he gets calls from telephone salespeople marketing the latest in video curricula on popular topics designed to attract people to his church, but he admits that he doesn’t pay much attention to them.
On the contrary,the Perspectives On the World Christian Movement course very much got his attention, yet Palser knew that most of his congregation would never commit themselves to a 16-week, three-hour-per-session class. “We needed a 13-week class that could be taught in one-hour sessions on Sunday morning and what we found with Vision for the Nations was the most user-friendly tool for teaching world missions we’d ever seen. Even though the video teachings are considerably shorter than the two-hour Perspectives lectures, the messages cut right to the heart of each topic.
“VFN allows more people to understand the concepts of Perspectives,” said Palser. “When people hear that the world outside of America is in revival and that God is using world evangelization to bring closure to world history, it makes a powerful impact on them.”
“VFN is a beautiful and well organized curriculum. The videos are half an hour or less in length, which leaves time for reading the study notes that come with each lesson and time for class members to learn from each other through questions and discussion. The cost of this video curriculum is less than most of the other Christian video curriculums I’ve seen. After our class is finished the videos are put in the church library so anyone in the church can have access to them.”
Other things that impressed Palser about VFN were:
1) “...the academics and study notes of the written portion of the curriculum were top notch, consistently well-written, yet simple. I could introduce each
lesson to the class, sit and learn with them, and not have to know everything about each lesson in order to teach the class.”
2) Palser believes that many pastors could benefit from utilizing VFN as a personal study. “You can go through seminary and not learn many of the important things that VFN teaches... The problem in many American churches today is that pastors have forgotten the Church doesn’t exist to please people, it exists to please God.” That is why Palser believes many local churches have relegated missionaries and world missions to the sidelines rather than seeing them as central to the life of the Church.
3) “These videos are like spending time with some of the best missions teachers in their various fields of expertise. You’ll learn how world evangelization is one of two central themes woven throughout the Bible and that the church exists for God so that he will be worshipped in all the world for the salvation he has provided through Jesus Christ... These are just some of the concepts that VFN teaches.”
With the year 2000 approaching and many Christians becoming concerned about the “end times,” Palser said he found VFN’s concept of closure through world evangelization, and the way that God has amazingly prepared numerous people groups to be receptive to the gospel, to be far more exciting than videos dealing with end time prophecies so popular with many Christians today.
Two final thoughts on VFN from Palser: “Before using these videos I was afraid that some of the people in the class wouldn’t understand a missiological speaker like Don Richardson, but that wasn’t the case. One man said he thought Richardson’s lesson was the best session of all.
“You’ll find that the VFN videos aren’t as flashy as some of the Christian videos on the market today, yet they are done in reasonable time segments with arresting messages that the church needs to hear.”
Reverend Palser liked the Vision For The Nations curriculum so much he decided to come visit the U.S. Center personally with some of his staff during the time of one of the special EXPLORE programs in Pasadena (EXPLORE is a two-day open-house for introducing the Center and the frontier missions movement). “My staff and I consider the Center to be the ultimate resource for learning about the unreached peoples,” said Palser. We knew that the Center would stress evangelism, yet with a social and cultural sensitivity to the peoples of the world. The Center also teaches truths about world mission that are broader and give a bigger picture than what any single denomination can give.”
One of the things that surprised Reverend Palser was how helpful the staff at the Center was in responding to the needs of his church. “We came to learn how to formulate a missions policy for our church, we didn’t go to make fellowship connections, but after only one week there, I made connections with people who I can now call friends. There was a willingness to adapt the agenda of the EXPLORE program to our needs, so when we said we needed to develop a missions policy, the next day we had a thirty-page document on the topic and we were able to talk with Center staff about the appropriate role of the church in missions,” said Palser.
Reverend Palser hopes more pastors will take the opportunity to use the VFN curriculum and to experience an EXPLORE seminar at the Center because “It’s like getting away to be with a great scholar and it’s a place to become re-oriented about missions.”
For more information on the VFN curriculum or EXPLORE write: Vision for the Nations and/or, EXPLORE c/o USCWM • 1605 Elizabeth St. Pasadena, CA 91104. Or call: (626) 398-2200