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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Nothing To See Here, Folks...

We often have people express interest in coming for a visit to "see" our ministry. Some are church planters from the States, some are pastors of existing churches, some are missionaries in other places. We've had seminary students write papers on us, journalists write articles about us, and at least one grade school kid interview us for a class project. We're thankful when anyone shows interest in our work here, and flattered with all of the attention. Nevertheless, everyone who comes to observe our work first-hand sees pretty much the same thing: not much.

Our ministry is entirely relational. How many American pastors and missionaries can I introduce my friends to before they really start to feel like projects? We don't identify ourselves as missionaries. How many creative ways are there to explain how I know these strangers who are always passing through?

We spend time with friends in parks and cafes. Since we're planting simple churches, we don't have a building. We likely never will. We don't have an office (though we could really use one). Our team meetings take place in our homes.

Like I said, there's not a whole lot to see.

Some people understand that there isn't much to see. Some leave disappointed. At least two have accused us of "hiding" our ministry from the "public;" one praising us for protecting and nurturing our fragile relationships, the other criticizing us for avoiding accountability. It wasn't some conspiracy to keep people from seeing our work- there just nothing to see.


Camel Rider said...

Sounds like Jesus ministry.

Stephen M. Young II said...

You wrote this on my birthday. You couldn't have given me a better birthday present. You put into words something I felt, but couldn't communicate. It felt good to read.
a fellow so-called missionary,

The Lee Family said...


I understand exactly what you are saying. I can not say that I disagree with it, at all. I do that a lot of the time now.

However, after watching Paul Washer (who I personally hold in high regard) here--> (near the end of the video in case you want to fast forward it)
has helped revolutionize the way that I see evangelism. At the same time though, I know that linebacker evangelism here-->> is out of the question.

My question is how do you see Paul Washers method? Would that work there? Why or why not? Would you do it?


Paul said...

Those foreign visitors can be such a pain in the....


stepchild said...

I'm so sorry, but I didn't see your comment until today. I'm not sure if you're still around or care now that it's three weeks later, but I'd still like to answer you're question.

I watched the YouTube video you posted about Paul Washer. I'm not familiar with him. You ask about his method of evangelism. I imagine you're referring to his strategy of supporting national missionaries rather than sending Americans.

Supporting nationals is a good idea when it is possible. Unfortunately, it can be quite difficult to invest wisely in nationals without having some experience with them and insight into the culture.

I've blogged about this before, but here in Western Europe, many of the believers are quite out of touch with their own culture, having retreated to the Christian subculture that our forbears taught them to build. I think the best people to support in missions are those whom God has called. The hard part is finding those people and discerning what they're all about.

At the end of the video, Paul Washer said something that I thought was pretty silly. He said something to the effect of,

"Whenever I go somewhere, I say, 'Give me one man to preach in the town square.' And let him preach until he is stoned to death or until someone is converted. Because God will bless that kind of preaching."

Not only is this not true (that God will necessarily bless this "kind of preaching"), but there are accounts in scripture where escaping persecution was the best thing to do (Paul in Acts 14, Jesus in John 8).

This may be hard for some to understand, but "Preaching" (if it is defined as giving a speech in a public place) is not always a clear means of communication. There are many people for whom such a medium actually makes the message unintelligible.

Thanks for your question. Sorry to take so long and so many words to answer!

The Lee Family said...

Dont worry about answering so late. I appreciate the fact that you took the time to answer my questions! They have proved to be valuable to me.
God bless!