This is an article from the May-June 2013 issue: Equipping the People of God for the Mission of God

Further Reflections

Next Steps in Your Church

Further Reflections

Without the “fires burning” on the home front, things go cold on the frontlines. The first time I wrote about this in MF was in the 1990s. Over the years, I’ve written about the need for a “champion” who takes on the cause and keeps it in front of the church. I’ve also talked about prayer, mentoring, and the missions conference or what my home church calls a “festival.”1

A growing problem for the church to grapple with is that there are more and more people at church who have a deeper engagement with the world. One reason is the wealth of information available on the Internet—which can be alternatively helpful or false and overwhelming. Often it is very difficult to effectively interpret. Another reason for this growing interest is the increasing travel of many church members for their work—not to mention the huge numbers of people who go out for short terms. 

But often, those globally engaged brothers and sisters don’t have an effective way to talk and learn more about the burdens they see. They come to church or attend a Sunday school class, but fail to see a connection between the teaching and day-to-day life in the world.

While I was speaking at a church outside Houston, Texas a few weeks ago, I talked with a geologist from a large oil firm who was experiencing something different. Since he could work wherever he wanted, he had gained international experience by living in Nigeria for five years. Their kids had their worldview shaped by living in a very different culture. Their mom was able to reach out to all kinds of people—both from the country as well as global workers living there or passing through. And the company paid for it all! Now, as their kids go off to college, the parents are looking forward to where they might go next and the wife is as up for it as the husband!

As we talked, it was clear how much they enjoyed a particular class at their church that focused on global issues. It included not only Bible study but also concepts and books that allowed them to grapple more deeply with cultural understanding. They studied one that talked about shame and honor—subjects that the Bible has a LOT to say about, but we Westerners often miss.2

They studied another we have mentioned in this magazine: When Helping Hurts by Corbett and Fikkert. I suggested they consider, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes as a way of understanding the Gospels and statements of Jesus in a whole new light. Kenneth Bailey, the author of that book and a new one, Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes, spent his career teaching NT in the Middle East.

But what was so encouraging to me was what I heard in this calm engineer’s voice. I heard a sense of engagement and excitement in church and its purpose. As we talked, he was able to discus a much broader range of subjects than is often the case. I sensed the church was tapping into his experiences and he was committed to the church and to helping them share their missions values. As I talked with others and heard other global workers share, I was very encouraged by the level of interest. 

I know there are others who were not really that interested—such is always the case. But I was greatly encouraged by the weekend to sense that the engagement would continue. There was not a sense of “well, missions week is over for another year.” It was more of a “how can we continue to grow and improve what we are doing?” 

How is it going in your church? Perhaps there is something you have tried out that worked well—or failed! Are you excited about what your church is doing? Or are you frustrated? How are you engaged? 

Why not grab one of those books I mentioned and discuss it with others? Then share what you learn by posting your thoughts about this article in the comments below and see what others are saying.

  1. While helpful to bring sharper focus, one-week events are problematic if that is the only time “the world” is really talked about.

  2. A friend and long-term field worker who is very engaged with key missiological and theological issues and how they intersect with his extensive and effective work, told me that the book Honor, Patronage, Kinship and Purity: Unlocking New Testament Culture by David A. de Silva was one of his top ten books. It is on my reading pile!


“Without the “fires burning” on the home front, things go cold on the frontlines.”- Great quote! 

And everyone knows that fires take stoking and fuel to keep burning.  We can’t simply believe that because we stoked the fires twenty years ago that we have done our work as mobilizers. 

Of course not!  We need to keep fires stoked and fueled as well as help get new fires started and spreading.  In every generation there is the opportunity to impact all three generations- “grandfathers, fathers, and sons”, if you will.

Even more of an opportunity is what you are speaking of in this article…getting the fire stoked in the lives of these “non clergied” yet globally engaged brothers and sisters who are looking for a way to play their part in God’s global purposes.  There is a huge need in most all sectors of society for this kind of mobilization.

May God increase this tribe!


Thanks John, good word.
Just met this morning with a guy who has been doing this for a number of years. When he started, he was a salesman and an elder. He was tapped to continue the church focus on missions and expand it. Now they have 20 they consider “sent” by the church! He’s been in all kinds of places with their workers and other projects. He knew next to nothing when he started, but was wise to ask all kinds of people questions and focus on mentoring those in the church with interest.
Encouraging stuff…

These are stories that need to be shared!

I sometimes think that the most of us are like the rest of us.  We don’t think we have the “goods” to even get started.  We pray something like, “Here I am Lord, send HIM.”  But stories like these give us hope that God could use ME too.

Hello Greg,

You say it well.

I’ve observed that monkey eats banana when they reached the top of its tree. I arrived in my AOR
with only handfull of “pack lunches"from home front but, PTL bananas are all over the place.
Mobilization is sometimes a cry from the wilderness.

I was not able to joined the Cmai V59. were you there?



no, missed V5:9 this time, but will be at Call2All next week.


Your name is familiar to me. Were you around the U.S. Center for World Mission from fall of 1979 til summer of 1980? I took the missions class there in the fall of 1979 and the China evangelism course in summer of 1980. I was encouraged to be a tent maker and I choose engineering to do so. Well, after graduating from USC with a BSEE in electrical engineer four years later, having been married and with four sons, I lost my vision and calling. I am sure you have heard this type of story many times. I eventually did no missions work.

Today I have just retired from electrical engineering, most kids are grown and the wife is supportive. So, I am interested in being some part of reaching a hidden people group now. If you could inform me or refer me to someone who could give me guidance/advice on what steps I can take to be a part of a ministry to a hidden people group. I have been studying and praying for the Maldives, a Muslim hidden people group residing on a series of islands off the coast of India.

Thanks for your help Greg.

Tim Blunt
(831) 261-1430

ps- how many hidden people groups are there left today? Back in 1979 it was +17,000.

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