Helping the Truth to Speak

Truth with a “T” is hard to discern in the sea of data that is shouting at us constantly. There are many facts that can be bent, twisted and molded to the purposes of the one standing at the podium, but Truth is often more elusive.

In the Gospels, Jesus broke through the reams of rules designed by the religious establishment with the power of a parable. We also see examples of how Jesus established Truth through simple but powerful actions.

In today’s world, visual tools such as maps and infographics are critical to helping Truth to speak. In the most recent Economist, they have an excellent piece on the power of textbooks to influence culture and a nation’s interests. But one quote from the article grabbed my attention. The reporter talked with Simone Lässig of the Georg Eckert Institute in Braunschweig, Germany. This group researches textbooks and has collected them from 160 countries. Which ones do you think might be the most debated across the globe? Lässig “says the most contentious are books covering history and geography, especially when they include maps…”

When I read that quote it jumped off the page. What a powerful insight into the fight for Truth in our world today! Leaders, activists, politicians and soldiers are fighting for the hearts of the next generation and they know that maps can lay bare many realities they would rather keep hidden and out of sight.

That makes the work of GMI so critical in today’s world where information is regularly used to deceive. Spirit-led research and creative presentation helps the Truth to speak loud and clear. The research and maps that our researchers and the countless other mission researches around the world are producing are key to giving us a True picture of the world as God sees it.

Selection* of Field Leaders, Part I (*Second Stewardship Practice)

People stewardship requires much wisdom in its selection of team, country or regional leaders, the second stewardship practice.  The following three areas are of critical importance: understanding the specific contexts of a vacated leader role; recruiting individuals whose DNA, skills and values match the role; and finally, selecting the gifted and committed person who best suits the vacated role.  And while completing these tasks, do not forget to consistently practice your spiritual disciplines, remembering Continue reading

Fueling Leader’s Passion

“One who has a genuine burden for reaching the unreached wants to be informed and equipped.” Bob Waymire, founder of GMI

Recently I found an interview that GMI’s founder, Bob Waymire, gave in 1984 to Bruce Graham, consulting editor of the IJFM. What a treasure trove for me as I assume this new role to get a glimpse into how Bob described the ministry of GMI almost 30 years ago.

As I read his answers and thought about what it must have been like to pioneer digital mapping for missions just as computers were coming on the scene, I was struck by his vision and innovative thinking. But more than Bob’s willingness to go out on a limb and use new tools, I was struck by the quote I shared above.

Leaders who are serious about the task of bringing in God’s Kingdom want to know the information that will help them be effective and intentional. They want intelligence that they can then take before the Lord and ask God for His Spirit’s leading.

Now that intelligence might be in the form of statistics and numbers. But it also might be in the form of case studies, ethnographic research or personal accounts from the field. The job of the leader is not to limit the intelligence that they consider but to use discernment to judge the value of what is presented to them.

The challenge that I and others at GMI have today is to help meet this crucial need. We must continually be finding ways to see Kingdom research progress and then be presented in relevant ways. Sometimes we will do that work, other times we will provide training and still other times our job is to be the cheerleader for others who are doing excellent work.

In fact, my hope is that GMI will more and more be an organization who is networking, facilitating and publishing for the many wonderful missions researchers who are at work in every corner of the world. The goal is to fuel leaders with the information they need to accomplish what God has put in front of them.

When Bob finished his interview back in 1984 he said, “To a significant degree this project (GMI) is for them, the “harvest force” of the future.” Today leaders around the world are benefiting from his passion to make information available for the Kingdom effort. He and Mike O’Rear carried that vision forward and I am privileged to continue leading GMI as it serves Kingdom leaders.


Kingdom Information Leads to Real Leadership

There is something about a “can do” attitude that makes a leader. It is someone who sees the potential, brings a fresh optimism and plows ahead to realize their dream. But there is a dark side to this “can do” approach that I have seen play out in two leaders featured in the past year.

When leaders believe that optimism and zeal can trump the reality of a situation, it usually requires them to bend that reality to their will. For any of you who have read the latest biography of Steve Jobs, you see over and over in that book how Isaacson describes Steve’s ability to “distort” reality to accomplish his goals.

Another example came last night as I watched a 60 Minutes interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Here is a man who has been successful in three different professions. In order to do that, he bent reality to his will and pushed through some significant character flaws in his life. He thought by ignoring his indiscretions, that he could be everything he wanted to be.

The reality of both of these people is that they successfully harnessed this world for their ends, but they destroyed countless people in the process. They had information about how this world worked, but they didn’t have Kingdom information. They were uninformed (either ignorantly or by choice) about the ways that God would look at their life’s work.

A Kingdom leader must lead out of Kingdom information. They must see those around them and the situations they come up against through God’s perspective. And then they must act. Steve and Arnold had a lot of this world’s information at their disposal but they were missing a Kingdom perspective. They gained success in the world’s eyes but in the Kingdom they failed when it counted most.

Our team at GMI is striving to help ministry leaders gain Kingdom insights for ministry. We hope that our resources, research and services can be a blessing to you as a Kingdom leader.

Spiritual Resilience III: Prayer

No one will argue that prayer is central to our spiritual health.  We even create helpful acrostics to assist us such as ACTS.  We talk a lot about its importance, but find the discipline of doing it more difficult.

Recently, I came across a short article by Gordon McDonald on how a prayer affects him.  The prayer highlighted one of the ACTS categories, but in a new practical, redemptive mode.  It was a new angle that probably was stimulated by his restoration journey.  It reminded me of Christ’s prayer and it’s affect on Him in the Garden.  It also reminded me of the many challenges a field leader faces Continue reading

Coming to Listen and Receiving a Blessing

God’s timing is amazing to watch. Whether we plan or not, God is designing our path and planning the steps He wants us to take. It is still our job to respond, but we are doing just that . . . responding. Our response to the Father is an offering of obedience and invites blessings we might never expect.

As I launched into the leadership role at GMI last week, God ordained two very specific opportunities and challenged me to respond to them. Out of each came amazing blessings that I am still processing in the midst of my transition.

The first opportunity came in the form of a request. I found out through one of GMI’s board members, Joseph Vijayam, that the International Orality Network was holding a network admin meeting ahead of their 10th ION conference. I requested to attend this meeting and the group graciously invited me to participate at this key juncture in their ministry. I went for two reasons:

  1. As so many of you know who are close to GMI, listening is a key value and a core skill that GMI staff hold very highly. I wanted one of my first activities in my leadership role to be that of listening to those who are about the task of global evangelism.
  2. My hope was to learn about this network and begin to imagine how GMI can serve and bless networks of ministries around the world through the gathering, evaluating and presenting of ideas.

The event did not disappoint. But the most meaningful moments of that day were what ION gave back to me. I went to listen and they responded with an amazing gift. Right before lunch the group asked if they could pray over me and for my new role. They prayed with power and shared a Scripture and a song as God led. What a significant way to launch into this role and what an amazing example of the Church of Christ reaching out to its own. I am so grateful to everyone who was in the room that day.

The second opportunity came in the form of a launch. The team at GMI has been working tirelessly for the past few months to roll out the Digital Collection of Patrick Johnstone’s The Future of the Global Church. So on my first official day, I got on an airplane and attended the Missio Nexus North American Missions Leader Conference in Chicago.

At that event Patrick Johnstone, who has been a long-time friend to GMI and helped instigate its beginnings, was a keynote speaker. In partnership with IVP, the publisher of the print edition, we launched the Digital Collection of Patrick’s seminal work at the event and the leaders we have served for years responded so generously.

We sold almost all the DVD’s in stock and so many leaders approached me with warm greetings and appreciation for GMI’s role in serving them over the years. Again, I came to listen to these wonderful leaders and hear about their opportunities and challenges and they responded by supporting me, GMI and the new resources we came to launch.

Both of these examples show the power of humble service and the response of Christ’s Church. Who do you need to be listening to today? How can you serve others from where you stand? How might God respond to your faithfulness as you take a step of service?

So Much Data . . . So Little Discernment

Our world is awash with data. Everywhere we go we get stats, opinions, summaries and endless raw information. We are not lacking data. But what we are lacking is the space and ability to discern valuable Kingdom truths from all that information.

How do you move from data to discernment? What strategies, tools or disciplines are you employing in this effort? My guess is that most people reading this blog post have this as a high value but haven’t figured out how to make it a reality. I understand . . . I struggle with the exact same thing.

That is why I have always been so excited about the work of GMI. Here is a group that takes mountains of data, helps leaders around the world ask the right questions and then presents that information in ways that allow leaders to take action in advancing the Kingdom!

Now more than ever this effort is critical to the efforts of global missions. Whether a leader is sitting in New Delhi, Bankok or Buenos Aires, they need actionable information with Kingdom insights that empowers them to respond to the Holy Spirit and carry their efforts forward.

My goal with this blog will be to explore innovations in mission information, new resources available to leaders around the globe and share about GMI’s journey to come alongside Kingdom leaders in their efforts to share God’s love with this waiting world. I look forward to your comments and interactions and I pray that God will use this space to bless you in your ministry efforts.

Spiritual Resilience – Part II

On April 20, 2012 we wrote a post on “Spiritual Resilience: A key foundation for effective field leaders.”   We got two replies on how individuals sustain their own spiritual health.  Thanks, but we need a lot more interaction on this topic.

Let me add into the mix an interview from Leadership Journal with Peter Scazzero, pastor of the New Life Fellowship in New York City.   While you might not agree with all of Peter’s points, I think you will find the interview called “Emotional Stability” rich enough to stimulate your thinking.  And the church has also come up with 12 “Rules of Life” for the pastoral staff.

Read and think about the demands of being a field leader.  Give us comments on your reaction to the material.  More importantly, share your ideas on your own practical “rules of life” (principles) that you want to live by.  Blessings as you serve.

Developing a Leadership Reservoir* (*First Stewardship Practice)

There are many reasons for needing new field leaders on a regular basis, in addition to the regular emergencies that demand an immediate replacement: expansion of ministry, illness of field leaders or their immediate or extended family, change of family needs, leader burn-out, and sensing a misalignment of one’s personal call with field role.  These are just a few reasons.  The need for “field leaders in waiting” was confirmed by IMPACT research data: Continue reading