When the status quo changes

Many times our world changes. Trends that have been happily unfolding for years or even decades finally shift. And these changes never fail to surprise us. How do you deal with these changes?

Sometimes it is easier to embrace them than others. Sometimes we have a lot riding on keeping things the same. In those moments we hold on to the status quo with all our energy. In other moments when change is in the air we are more open.

Today we are experiencing many changes to established trends and assumptions. One of those is global population. We have gotten used to skyrocketing population and the talk of an ever-more crowded planet. But that is changing. We are soon to be a much older planet. There are a lot of reasons for this and you can watch an excellent TED video on this subject here. But the bottom line is that our understanding of the world’s population is changing.

So how will this impact your ministry? There are a million small ways. But you won’t really understand any of them if you don’t first consider your assumptions and look at how the status quo is changing. Take a moment to check out our latest infographic on the change in population and consider how you will respond.

A Tribute to a Lifelong Learner

People are complex. You can stand up and talk about someone for an hour and the minute you sit down you remember 20 more things about them. That is why I love people. God makes each one of us in this insanely unique way that cannot be replicated but always amazes.

Today (January 14) is the second anniversary of Mike O’Rear’s sudden passing. It is a time to remember Mike and be inspired by the way God made him and prepared him for service. And if each of you reading this post who knew him would stand up and share, you would each teach those in the room about the unique person you experienced and spent time with.

Since taking the role of CEO at GMI, I have gotten to know Mike in a very unique way. I spent time with him before his death, but for the past year and a half I have lived in the footsteps he would have walked. I have talked with the donors he would have visited. I have been on the airplanes he would have boarded. I have prayed through the decisions he would have made. I did not respond as he would have . . . I’m a unique creation as well. But that fact allows me to appreciate him all the more.

One of the things that continues to amaze me about Mike’s life was his commitment to be a lifelong learner. He was always asking questions, researching and probing the issues of the day.

An example of this lifelong learning discipline was in his regular column with Dr. Scott Moreau in Evangelical Missions Quarterly (EMQ) called “Mission Resources on the Web.” In these articles Mike and Scott scoured the Internet and brought some of the best resources on different subjects to the table for EMQ readers to feast . . . and what a feast they served up!

As I was remembering Mike this week, I decided to pull out a bunch of these EMQ articles and look through them. I was amazed at the detail, breath and depth of engagement that they both brought to the issues. Mike brought that same level of engagement to his work at GMI; which is evidenced by the fact that I still use his notes, contacts and files as important references in my work today.

So to highlight and celebrate Mike’s passion for learning, I decided I would pull out the April issues of EMQ for the years of 2002-2007 and list below the diverse topics that he and Scott tackled. If you get a chance to dig into the digital archives or look back over your old copies of EMQ, don’t miss spending some time with Mike through these articles:

  • April 2002: Missions Fundraising
  • April 2003: Theology of Mission on the Web
  • April 2004: And So the Story Goes . . . Web Resources on Storytelling, Myths and Proverbs
  • April 2005: Oceania On the Web
  • April 2006: Browsing Virtual Libraries and Book Collections
  • April 2007: Missions-related News on the Web

I’m grateful to Mike for his inquisitive mind and willingness to ask the hard questions. I’m also grateful that he made this investment to share what he was learning. So now we must ask what we will learn from this faithful Christian who gave his life to mission.

How are you planning to invest in lifelong learning as you begin this New Year?

Is God’s Agenda BIG for You?

Note: I will be starting to do blogs on each of the infographics we release as part of our Missiographic Service. You can see our currently library at www.missiographics.com and sign up for the free newsletter to be alerted twice a month to the new infographics.

What do you consider big? Your answer to that question says a lot about what you value. Our world says, “Bigger is Better,” so the things we think are big are usually also on the “better” list.

We think China is big . . . it’s impact on our economy and on geopolitical realities is indeed significant. Many of us think that a Hummer or other SUV is big . . . they overpower everything else on the road. Still others think that the skyscrapers in Dubai, Kuala Lumpur or New York are big . . . the height and engineering achievement astound us.

So here is my next question: “What does God consider BIG?” Put another way, “What is truly BIG in the Kingdom of God?” With that lens the list looks very different. It would include movements of house churches in persecuted countries, acts of love done without fanfare, a Bible translation that takes 20 years to complete . . . you get the idea.

This issue is what is behind our latest infographic on Indonesia. Most people think of Indonesia as insignificant . . . a bunch of islands in Asia. But when you actually look at the information about God’s work on this grouping of 17,000 islands it is HUGE! These islands make up the largest population of Muslims and also a place where God’s Church is growing quickly. This place is BIG on God’s agenda and we need to be seeing this country through God’s eyes.

Take a minute to look over the infographic and ask yourself how you can better see God’s BIG agenda and leave the world’s agenda behind. Then share this infographic with others. Let’s celebrate God’s BIG work in Indonesia.