BOOK: Missionary Monasticism

Missionary Monks: An Introduction to the History and Theology of Missionary Monasticism, by Edward L. Smither. Cascade Books, 2017. 202 pages.

You may remember the desert fathers from church history… and if you’re a mission history buff, also recall the significant role monastic movements played in reaching Europe, or have some stories about the Celtic church, the Eastern church, or the Jesuits. In this new book, we can “journey with monks and monastic orders who led the way in global mission from the fourth to the seventeenth centuries.” Quite the scope! Meet mystics and leaders like Patrick, Boniface, Anskar, Cyril, and more, exploring their ministries in context as well as drawing lessons for today from their approaches to mission. This book is a good read and a great resource for those who may teach on these topics.

The author is Professor of Intercultural Studies and History of Global Christianity and Dean of the College of Intercultural Studies at Columbia International University (my recent alma mater).

» Learn more or purchase this book from Amazon (or elsewhere) at US$9.99 for the Kindle edition and US$25.00 for the paperback. A substantial excerpt on the author’s website will give you a good sense of the book’s tone and contents.

Editor’s note: After our comments in last week’s edition about leveraging Saint Patrick’s Day for mobilization, a number of readers wrote in with resources and ideas. Much thanks!

ARTICLE: Stuck: How to Overcome Five Church Mission Impasses

Source: Catalyst Services, February 2017

“Do you or your missions team sometimes feel stuck? You’re not alone! Many churches wrestle with similar feelings. The enemy would like you to believe that you can’t do more in global outreach. Refuse to accept the status quo! Here are five common places churches bog down and some ideas to get moving.”

Don’t miss the practical suggestions and the stories of four churches that have successfully gotten their missions program moving again.

» Read the article, a four-page PDF, and see a related blog post with four ideas for mission committee field trips to stimulate ideas and motivation.

» You might also be interested in asking your team to set aside a few hours for OnMission 2017, a free, virtual conference for church mission leaders from Missio Nexus.

TRAINING RESOURCES: Coaching in Ministry

Source: Creative Results Management

Looking to multiply your ministry impact? Consider getting some training in the art of “coaching.” Christian Coaching allows you to develop both skills and character in other people, while doing ministry. Rather than giving advice, asking powerful questions will draw out what the Holy Spirit has put in. Many missionary trainers, leaders, and missionary-care specialists use these skills to encourage the personal and professional development of their workers, but the same principles can also help people grow in evangelism, discipleship and leadership development.

Creative Results Management, founded and led by Keith Webb, is a Christian organization providing training to help multiply ministry impact internationally. They have worked extensively with missionary and mission agencies. Begun in Southeast Asia and now based in Seattle, they provide regular training on every continent, mostly for mission personnel. You might want to check out their Coaching Mastery course and the Coaching Workshop for Christian Leaders, as well as specialized courses in cross-cultural coaching.

» Learn more about upcoming coaching classes or get a good start by reading Webb’s 2015 100-page book, Coaching In Ministry: How Busy Church Leaders Can Multiply Their Ministry Impact.

EVENTS: Upcoming Conference, Courses, and More

Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar


April 5, OnMission 2017 (online). Free, virtual conference for church mission leaders from Missio Nexus.

April 6-9, Catalyze Northeast (Hamilton, MA, USA). Join us as we explore the concepts of effective ministry among Muslims; provided by Frontiers.

April 7-8, Mobile Ministry Forum 2017 Consultation (Zelhem, Holland). Leading mobile ministry innovators and practitioners.

April 7-9, Entrepreneurial Readiness Workshop (College Station, TX, USA). Sponsored by the Global Enterprise Network, a ministry of The Navigators.

April 9-14, ABIDE (Joplin, MO, USA). Re-entry and debriefing for singles, couples, and families provided by TRAIN International.

April 10-11, The Journey Deepens (Portland, OR, USA). A weekend retreat for prospective missionaries.

April 14, Global Day of Prayer for the 4/14 Window (global). Praying for the world’s children (especially those aged 4-14).

April 17 to May 26, Ministering in a Muslim Context (online). Six-week course from COMMA and the Grow2Serve network.

April 17-18, Personal Support Raising Boot Camp (Rogers, AR, USA). Provided by Support Raising Solutions.

April 20-22, Legacy Conference (Edmonton, AB, Canada). A conference about Muslims, missions, and the heart of God; provided by Horizons International.

April 23 to May 5, Second Language Acquisition (Union Mills, NC, USA). Provided by the Center for Intercultural Training.

April 24-27, Thrive Retreat (Dubrovnik, Croatia). For North American women serving cross-culturally.

April 24 to May 7, ORIENT (Joplin, MO, USA). Learn key skills for surviving and thriving cross-culturally. Provided by TRAIN International.

April 26-28, Mission Influencers Conference (Raymond, WA, USA). Annual conference sponsored by World Venture.


May 1-2, Standards Introductory Workshop presented by Standards of Excellence in Short-term Missions (Phoenix, AZ). A pre-conference workshop at the International Wholistic Missions Conference.

May 3-5, International Wholistic Missions Conference (Phoenix, AZ, USA). From the Global CHE Network.

May 12-13, People Raising Conference (Oak Brook, IL, USA). Be equipped for raising personal support.

May 15-20, TOTAL It Up! Taste of Translation and Linguistics (Dallas, TX, USA). Provided by Wycliffe Bible Translators.

May 18-20, Christian Community Health Conference (Cincinnati, OH, USA). Provided by the Christian Community Health Fellowship.

May 22-27, TOTAL It Up! Extreme – Taste of Translation and Linguistics (Waxhaw, NC, USA). Provided by Wycliffe Bible Translators.

May 25-27, Global Children’s Ministry Equip Conference (Nairobi, Kenya). An annual event.

May 27 to June 25, 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World (global).

May 28 to June 3, Single Vision Retreat (Dolphin Bay, Thailand). A member care program for singles in the mission community.

» View the complete calendar. For additional information about a specific event, please contact the organizers.

World News Briefs

Missions-Catalyst-no-tagline_largeIn this issue: St Patrick, Captives freed, famines, and Jesus sightings

  1. MIDDLE EAST: Jesus Appears to Jailer, Leading to Release of Imprisoned Pastors
  2. BANGLADESH: Despite Persecution, Christianity Exploding
  3. NIGERIA: Christians Cry Out as Authorities Begin Church Demolition
  4. SUDAN: Czech Aid Worker Released, Two Sudanese Pastors Remain in Prison
  5. MADAGASCAR: Witch Doctor Finds Peace in Christ
  6. KOREA: The Blossoming of a Mission Movement

St patrick headerGreetings,

We are just two days away from my favorite holiday celebrating a person: St. Patrick’s Day. I’m not Irish but I am named after him as I was born one day before his day. I’ve come to think the March 17th revelry (which sometimes gets out of hand) as a Western version of India’s Holi Festival.

If you’ve been a Missions Catalyst reader for long, you may have noticed I like to leverage “holy days” for the Great Commission. Could St. Patrick’s Day be the least leveraged and most powerful holiday for mission mobilizers?

Christ’s words to love our enemies come to life in the story of Patrick. What stories could be more relevant for the church today? Read and share the stories of some modern-day Patricks below.

Celebrating saints past and present,

Editor’s Note: I (Marti) was pleased to come across a new book about missionary monks which gives Patrick a whole chapter. Reading it now!

St. Patrick’s Day header designed by Freepik.

MIDDLE EAST: Jesus Appears to Jailer, Leading to Release of Imprisoned Pastors

Source: God Reports, February 8, 2017

Two pastors conducting a Bible study for new believers in an underground Middle East church were beaten, arrested by police, and taken to a secret jail. But after Jesus appeared to an official at the prison, their situation changed dramatically.

After the first two months, they became discouraged and cried out to the Lord: “Where are you? Why won’t you come and save us?” They prayed, “If we have done any sin and iniquities, forgive us and purify us by your precious blood and save us from this situation.”

Three days after their heartfelt cry to the Lord for help, a top-ranking officer of the jails visited them. The official ordered the guards to give them larger servings of food, and then disappeared into his office.

Then they were surprised when the officer returned alone that night, entered their cell, and sat down on the floor beside them. Then he did something even more surprising—he asked them to pray for him!

[In one of a series of dreams] Jesus [had] appeared before him and said, “My children are being tortured in your jail. I leave them before you. My children are the apple of my eyes.”

So the official quickly canceled his other plans and rushed to the jail. For three days he stayed in the official residence of the prison, but spent most of his time with the pastors—praying and learning more about Jesus and the Bible.

» Read full story or go to its source, a report from Bibles4Mideast.

BANGLADESH: Despite Persecution, Christianity Is Exploding

Source: Christian Freedom International, March 9, 2017

According to official estimates, the religious composition of Bangladesh is 89.1 percent Muslim, 10 percent Hindi, with less than one percent Christian in a nation of over 156 million people. But unofficially, Christianity is much larger and growing, especially in the rural areas.

Official reports on religious composition only count “traditional Christians,” i.e., people who are born into the Christian faith and attend government-approved churches. But “converts,” those who change their religion from Islam to Christianity are not counted and no surveys have been made.

The consensus among “converts” is that Christians in Bangladesh make up of at least 10 percent of the population and is growing more every day. Some indigenous evangelists tell CFI they believe that Bangladesh will become a Christian nation in their lifetimes.

» See full story with details and photos or watch a CBN News report based on this report.

NIGERIA: Christians Cry Out as Authorities Begin Church Demolition

Source: World Watch Monitor, January 23, 2017

Anxiety is high among Christian communities in Nigeria’s northern state of Jigawa after authorities began demolishing church buildings in Dutse, the state capital.

On January 11, bulldozers, escorted by security forces, reduced to rubble the Redeem Christian Church of God and the Lord Chosen Church.

They arrived at the Redeem Church at about 10am, according to Rev. Yakubu Musa, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) for Jigawa. The Executive Secretary of Urban Development and some key police officers were at the scene. The police blocked all the entrances to prevent church members from entering the premises. Those who tried to take pictures were chased away by police officers.

The bulldozers first removed the fence. They then demolished a small building inside the premises, before destroying the main church building. At around 12 noon, they went to the second church, which was also completely demolished.

“It was a terrible experience, with so many Christians who witnessed the demolition crying,” said Rev. Musa. “I felt so bitter because we were in a situation were you have been cheated and you cannot talk.”

» Full story provides helpful context about the situation. Read other recent news from Nigeria from World Watch Monitor.

» See also Education Is Forbidden about Boko Haram’s attacks on education; this article has great visuals (Roads and Kingdoms).