Archive for the ‘Practical Mobilization’ Category

Missions Catalyst 4.9.14 – Practical Mobilization

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

In This Issue: Passing on Prayer

About Us

Missions Catalyst is a free, weekly electronic digest of mission news and resources designed to inspire and equip Christians worldwide for global ministry. Use it to fuel your prayers, find tips and opportunities, and stay in touch with how God is building his kingdom all over the world. Please forward it freely!

About Shane Bennett

Shane has been loving Muslims and connecting people who love Jesus with Muslims for more than 20 years. He speaks like he writes – in a practical, humorous, and easy-to-relate-to way -  about God’s passion to bring all peoples into his kingdom.

» Contact him to speak to your people.

 

Passing on Prayer: Practical Ideas on Praying for the World

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Practical Ideas to Help You, Your Friends, and Your Church Pray for the World 

By Shane Bennett

Here’s the deal: Most Christians don’t pray for the world. No big surprise there. This “world” thing is most of my life and I still struggle to pray for it! Christians who don’t pray for the world don’t do so because they’re bad or carnal or somehow inferior to big-time missions people. We don’t pray for the world because we’ve got a whole lot of world right up in our faces, pulling on our pant leg, texting us after we’ve gone to bed.

And it’s tough to remember to pray for people you don’t know, whose names you can’t pronounce and whose cities you’ll never visit. (To be honest, there’s also the possibility we don’t believe prayer matters. That’s a subject for another article, maybe even another author!)

My hunch is still that many Christians, maybe most, would pray for the world if they were equipped and reminded. And you and I can do that.

Andrew Murray said, “The man (or woman) who mobilizes the Christian church to pray will make the greatest contribution to world evangelization in history.” Do you want to make a great contribution? Here are tools and ideas in six categories designed to facilitate global intercession. Dive in.

1. Deck the Halls

When our family lived in Holland, our neighborhood was haunted by a small, furtive band of shifty-eyed malcontents who got paid (perhaps in narcotics?) to slap up posters on every flat, semi-stable surface in the city center. They always seemed to be just one step ahead of the law, and neither their dog nor baby looked to be eating well.

Your church has walls and you have a message to get across. But don’t be like the malcontents; go above board on it. Ask permission. And ask early. Prime bulletin board space was reserved months in advance in one church I worked for!

Once you’ve secured permission, make it big and beautiful (like this) and readable from half the distance to the opposite wall! Offer clear, bold prayer requests and flyers people can take with them.

If you’ve got the digital chops to maintain it, consider leapfrogging technologies to a couple of flat-screen TVs with scrolling prayer info from the ministries your church supports. I’ve got friends who pull this off well, and they're in a church that isn’t big. Maybe you can do it too.

2. Use the Newsletter Better

Does your church publish a monthly newsletter or a weekly bulletin? Does it ever include questionable clip art of a sunset with a scripture on it or overly large, swirly font headlines in the kids’ section? Those are your clues that they might need more worthy content. You could kindly offer to provide that content in the form of winsome, well-written global prayer requests.

But where are you going to get that content? Glad you asked:

  • Operation World is still the gold standard for global prayer fodder.
  • You're welcome to reprint what you get from Missions Catalyst.
  • Additionally, check out Justin Long’s amazing Prayer Guide page to find dozens of sites and publications packed with prayer possibilities. If you publish a prayer guide that’s not yet on Justin’s page, let him know.

3. Please Remind Me

I frequently invite Perspectives students to subscribe to Missions Catalyst because it will provide a weekly dose of, “Yes, I believe in this stuff.” Sometimes all it takes it a little poke in the brain to help us pray for things we really want to pray for. Since you’re probably not going to text all of your friends once a week to remind them to pray for the world, here are some resources that might accomplish that for you.

  • Subscribe to Global Prayer Digest: This can give you and your friends a venerable and effective daily dose of global prayer.
  • Luke 10.02 Prayer: Ask people to set an alarm on their phone for 10.02 am to remind them to pray as Jesus instructed, “Father, send laborers into your harvest!”
  • Prayer token: Give people something to carry with their keys or change to remind them, maybe multiple times a day, to pray for the world. Consider glass gems, tiny globes, foreign coins, or maybe a poker chip that says, “All In.”

4. More than Cat Videos, Celebrity Updates, and Politics?  

Brilliant, kind people have harnessed the power of the Internet for good and made it easier for us to pray for the planet with these great sites:

  • Joshua Project’s Unreached People Group of the Day. It now comes in app form as well!
  • The International Mission Board has given us an amazing gift with this interactive map of unreached/unengaged people groups. And you don’t have to be Southern Baptist to join!
  • World in Prayer is my new favorite website! Started by St. John’s Episcopal Church in Lodi, California, World in Prayer is now produced by an all-volunteer team of 15 members, living in three countries (two continents), and representing a half dozen different denominations. They write beautiful prayers of petition and thanks in response to changing global situations.

5. Putting Your Prayers Where Your Wallet Is

I’m helping some visionary friends launch Praelude2020, an online effort to facilitate cross-cultural workers raising 24/7 prayer and full funding. It involves prayer partners selecting a 20-minute window in a worker’s week and committing to pray for them some time during that window. The worker adds current prayer requests to the site, maybe once or twice a week.

An hour before the pray-er's selected time, they receive an email or text message to remind them their time slot is approaching and provide the current prayer requests. There's also a link to click indicating they’ve prayed. That click gets reported to the worker which, you might imagine, is very encouraging!

The weekly prayer commitment is coupled with a monthly financial donation. We hope to see tons of workers in tons of agencies using this to get seriously prayed for and sent into their work.

6. Some of the Best Prayers Come from Little Kids

  • Kids on Mission Pray: This is a gorgeous suite of downloads and information to lead kids through a focused prayer project for a “forgotten” people or city. Thank you, dear IMB friends!
  • Kidzana's prayer cards guide kids and those who care about them in a full month of praying for the needs of children all around the world. And they’re free!
  • Check out some DVDs from the world-changing radicals at Bethel that help you teach teams of children about healing the sick and raising the dead!

Conclusion

I don’t want to be your mom or anything, but can I ask you to do three things?

  1. Look back over this list and ask God to highlight one or two of these ideas for you to begin implement this week, along with one or two friends to share them with.
  2. Please post in the comments your cool idea that didn’t make my list. There’s a world full of wisdom out there. I’d love for us all to benefit from yours.
  3. Please think of one or two friends, mission committees, or organizations that would be blessed by this list and forward it to them. Thanks.

May God hear our prayers and answer them beyond what would could even ask or imagine.

Missions Catalyst 3.12.14 – Practical Mobilization

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

In This Issue: Ten mistakes we make. OK, fourteen.

About Us

Missions Catalyst is a free, weekly electronic digest of mission news and resources designed to inspire and equip Christians worldwide for global ministry. Use it to fuel your prayers, find tips and opportunities, and stay in touch with how God is building his kingdom all over the world. Please forward it freely!

About Shane Bennett

Shane has been loving Muslims and connecting people who love Jesus with Muslims for more than 20 years. He speaks like he writes – in a practical, humorous, and easy-to-relate-to way -  about God’s passion to bring all peoples into his kingdom.

» Contact him to speak to your people.

FEATURE: Ten Mistakes Mission-focused People Make (Plus Four Bonus Mistakes!)

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

By Shane Bennett

What with it being Lent and all, I thought about giving up Practical Mobilization or maybe mission mobilization in general! That’s a thought. But one that raises all sorts of Psalm 137 feelings, you know, “May my right hand forget its skill, may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth.” I’ve been hanging with mobilization so long now we have a hard time knowing where one of us stops and the other one starts.

I have been thinking about confession this Lent, though, prompted by a sweet little devotional by N.T. Wright currently featured on YouVersion. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but “missiony” people have a little bit to confess. Well, some of us do. Maybe not you. Definitely me.

I don’t think any of these items are mortal sins. Mostly they’re just dumb. And for the record, I’m pretty sure I’ve done them all.

1. Talking as if my thing is the only thing.

This makes me crazy, probably because I want my thing to be the only thing! But you’ve seen this, haven’t you? A missiony person describes their work or ministry in terms that make it clear God has given up on alternatives. Their thing is it! Oh, God may have done other things in the past, but, well, that’s the past. This goes for Muslims, human trafficking, international students, water, orphanages, schools, youth, Europe, Asia, the whole of mighty Africa, and the persecuted church. To do this is to catch a fish and kill the pond.

Good news: It only takes a couple lines of text or a couple sentences in a talk to communicate that your thing is a good one on a table full of good ones.

2. Measuring spirituality in terms of passion for my thing.

The tag-along younger sibling to “My thing is the only thing” is the sometimes subtle, often overt, implication that the non-missiony person’s spiritual maturity can be gauged by their passion for the thing I’m promoting. Paul seems to have used this reasoning in Philippians 3:15, “All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.”

We need to be cautious. We’re not Paul.

3. Playing “the God card.” 

“God told me…” “I feel like God would have us…” “God just doesn’t seem to be blessing…”

It is so important to hear and follow the voice of God. It’s also so easy to use the concept to try to get your own way!

4. Motivating with fear and guilt. 

Here’s the classic example: “If not you, who? If not now, when?” My friend Steve Hawthorne says, “If not me, someone else. If not now, later. But if God is doing this, I don’t want to miss it.”

I love that: Motivation based on what God is doing, not what our enemies are doing (fear) or others are not doing (guilt).

5. Speaking in jargon.

I happen to love our jargon. “The 10-40 Window” “Unengaged Muslim Peoples” “Contextualization” are rich words for me, often with pleasant associations to people or places I love. No, really, it’s true. Of course, we’ve got nothing on theology students (Think: supralapsarianism!), but we can cause normal people to glaze over in a jiffy with our jargon.

Let’s do the hard work to speak in a language our audience can understand without consulting the Perspectives book glossary or simply feeling dumb. You know, contextualize our message to the recipients!

6. Asking too much. 

You can’t ask God too much, but you sure can ask too much of your pastor, church mission team, or even potential candidates. At my organization, the uber-cool Frontiers, our front porch, “get to know you” form used to ask for roughly the same amount of info required to get on the gubernatorial ballot in 39 states! It was too much.

It might also be too much to ask your pastor to cut support to workers you don’t find strategic or to pony up cash equivalent to half the outreach budget for a big splash missions conference.

At the same time, avoid…

7. Asking too little.

“Could you allocate $107 for a mission conference? That will cover gas to bring retired missionary Ed from the denominational rest home to speak to the Mature In Christ And Other Ways Sunday School class. If he’s able, we’ll have him stand and be recognized during morning worship.”

Maybe you can think bigger and ask for more?

8. Asking too late.   

I am the poster child for this mistake, not inviting people to engage until it’s almost too late. But just to give you hope that change is possible, I’m already plotting a fall break cross-cultural trip with a couple of local churches! It’s like the book of Acts happening right now!

See also Look Smarter Than You Are: Ten Things You Need to Plan Ahead. That’s something else for our list…

9. Failing to plan.   

Yes, lots of mission-types are great planners. But not me, so much. That’s why I put this on the list. In fact, if you’re a good planner, could you help a brother out? Let me know how you do it and how I, even decades along in life, can learn how.

10. Failing to pray.

Count Zinzendorf and his Mighty Moravian brethren kept a 24/7 prayer meeting going for 100 years! I’m happy now to see a 2/1 prayer meeting! Some of us, including me, need a restart of the whole prayer thing. Start now. Grab some buds and pray, start a prayer ripple or even just go to Al Jazeera and pray through the headlines!

Those may be the top ten traps for many of us. Here are a few frequent foibles I suspect we’d also do well to avoid.

11. Prioritizing cheap above all else.  

We all want to be good stewards of what often feels like limited resources. I get that. But it’s easy to go overboard. It’s easy to think poor, talk poor, and focus on saving a dollar at the expense of time, relationship, and talent.

If our default is to do what’s cheapest, maybe we should take a closer look at our understanding of stewardship.

12. Asking for funds in multiples of Starbucks drinks.

This sounds like it could be an incarnation of one of the mistakes above, or several. Can we just agree not to do it?

13. Passing on undocumented statistics.

And this? Take ten minutes to Snopes it, Google it, or email a smart friend. Accuracy is worth the effort.

14. Acting odd for the sake of effect.

OK, this might be a little judgmental: Sometimes some of us do stuff, like wear out-of-date clothes or say things Britishly, not because that’s who we are, but because that’s how we want to be seen. We have a peculiar passion, so we affect a peculiar persona.

We do this at the risk of alienating normal people. The logic is simple: “Mission people are odd. I’m not really that odd. Therefore I’m not a mission person. Whew.”

I’m happy for odd people to be involved in the world, but I also want the bulk of normal people to pay attention and jump in as well.

» What other mistakes have you seen missiony people make? Comment below.

If you’ve ever wondered if you should comment on a Practical Mobilization article, this is a good time to start. And if you know a missiony person who might benefit from reading this, please forward and get it in front of them.

(Just don’t send it back to me; I already know I make these mistakes! Thanks for reading my confession.)

SUBVERSIVE MOBILIZATION: Turning Short Term into Long Term

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Whenever someone disses short-term missions, I like to ask, “Have you ever met someone who went long term without first going short term?” One guy answered, “Yes, I did.” Cheeky little missionary! But that is the exception rather than the rule.

A friend of Missions Catalyst, Holly, is working on a project and looking for statistics from mission agencies on what percentage of your short-term workers have become long-term workers. If anyone knows where these kinds of statistics can be found or if you would like to contribute your own agency’s statistics, contact Holly. Information is needed by end of April 2014.

Thanks for helping Holly out. We’ll work with her to get the results out in a future Practical Mobilization article.

Missions Catalyst 2.12.14 – Practical Mobilization

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

In This Issue: The Jonah Juxtaposition

About Us

Missions Catalyst is a free, weekly electronic digest of mission news and resources designed to inspire and equip Christians worldwide for global ministry. Use it to fuel your prayers, find tips and opportunities, and stay in touch with how God is building his kingdom all over the world. Please forward it freely!

About Shane Bennett

Shane has been loving Muslims and connecting people who love Jesus with Muslims for more than 20 years. He speaks like he writes – in a practical, humorous, and easy-to-relate-to way -  about God’s passion to bring all peoples into his kingdom.

» Contact him to speak to your people.

FEATURE: The Jonah Juxtaposition

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Why people gravitate to God’s global purposes and why they run away.

By Shane Bennett

Jonah

Who wouldn’t want to have a book in the Bible named after themselves? My guess is that Jonah wouldn’t. As far as I can tell, though, he’s the only one to get four eponymous chapters dedicated solely to himself. And it couldn’t be the recounting of noble exploits or sharing of time-honored, God-revealed truth. Not even an angelic visitation. No, it had to be a giant, unmitigated foul-up. It may be Jonah’s one and only foul-up, but it’s preserved so we can read it, raise our eyebrows, cluck our tongues, and judge poor Jonah.

Or maybe he’s not so much “poor Jonah.” He clearly disobeyed. And in the process, he may provide mission mobilizers with a moral on a silver plate: “Obey God. Become a missionary. Don’t be a dope like Jonah.” Powerful stuff if wielded well, but not as interesting to me as the “why?” behind the “what?”

Why did Jonah, on hearing God’s call to Nineveh, head to Tarshish? Sometimes we go for a secondary moral: “Jonah was afraid of the Ninevites, so he ran away. Don’t be a baby like Jonah. Be brave. Follow God to where there aren’t even any Starbucks!”

But Jonah tips his hand at the end of his short bio and shows us it wasn’t fear that made him run. It was his conviction regarding the character of God: “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” Essentially, “If I preach, they might repent. If they repent, you’ll relent. Ergo, no Ninevite carnage.”

Apparently Jonah was compelled by his logical conclusion that dead enemies are less likely to visit their nefarious plans on your beloved homeland. He prioritized his perceived national security over God’s glory and Ninevite salvation. He didn’t go because he didn’t want them at the party.

What about us? What about us? What causes us and our people to run away from or toward obedience to God’s purpose?

In the course of my job, I ask tons of people to jump into God’s global purposes. Many of them don’t say yes. And since I can’t stomach the possibility that it might be me or the way I ask, I have to wonder why. I frequently ask students the following question in Perspectives classes: “What are some of the reasons people, perhaps including you at some point, run from involvement in God’s purposes for the world?”

A bright class will generate a long list. Long enough sometimes that we have to stop before we all get convinced to bail out! Here are some of the top reasons.

Reasons to Run away from God’s Global Purposes

  1. I can’t learn a language.
  2. I don’t measure up.
  3. I’m really happy here and don’t want to leave what’s comfortable.
  4. I’m engaged in ministry locally.
  5. I can’t (won’t?) raise support.
  6. I don’t understand what it looks like. No role models.
  7. I don’t really care.
  8. I don’t like foreign stuff.
  9. Life is so full and crazy, it’s all I can do just to get by.
  10. I just don’t see the need.
  11. I didn’t know God was into that stuff.
  12. It feels so imperialistic, intolerant, and non-pluralistic.

Reasons to Run toward God’s Global Purposes

  1. I want to obey what the Bible says.
  2. I feel compassion for people in need.
  3. I sense an opportunity for adventure.
  4. I honestly think I can help.
  5. I want to join in what God’s doing.
  6. I want to live a life of purpose.
  7. I believe God is worthy to be followed by all peoples.

For people like us, these lists do a couple of things. One, they give us language to articulate our judgmental, Pharisaical attitudes. I don’t recommend using them that way. (Although I should probably add, “Do as I say. Not as I do!”) But they also give us a window of understanding into the people we hope to mobilize for God’s global purposes. And maybe if we’re smart and work together, we can mitigate some of the first list and maximize the second one.

That said, I’d like your help. Can you take one minute right now and do something for me? Pick an item from each list and suggest a way to decrease its impact (first list) or increase its effect (second list). Because I’d really like this exercise to change things, pick items you feel have the best combination of “easy to address” and “high potential to make a difference.”

This article is a full 25 percent shorter than normal! Whoop! Please use the extra time that just landed in your lap to share you smarts with the tribe. I’ll follow up next month.

Editor’s note: For some more on Jonah, listen to a message from Shane, “In the Steps of Jonah or Jesus?”

 

SUBVERSIVE MOBILIZATION: Best Practices with Mega-churches

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

By the kind gift of a gracious God, I happened to get to do some good work this past weekend at one of the 15 largest churches in the U.S. It got me wondering about mobilizing mega-churches.

I’ve got to be honest, I was a little dazzled by the scale of the operation and the staggering quantity of resources they bring to bear on the world. This church in particular is hitting missional home runs on a regular basis. But maybe they could be more strategic (Read: Hit into my section of the stands – unengaged Muslim peoples!).

So I’m looking for some friends who’d like to kick around best-practice ideas for mobilizing mega-churches. If you’d like to contribute to that conversation, shoot me a quick email introduction. I’ll float out some questions to the pool and we’ll go from there.

Missions Catalyst 1.15.14 – Practical Mobilization

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

In This Issue: Three new models for connecting with like-minded people in the new year

About Us

Missions Catalyst is a free, weekly electronic digest of mission news and resources designed to inspire and equip Christians worldwide for global ministry. Use it to fuel your prayers, find tips and opportunities, and stay in touch with how God is building his kingdom all over the world. Please forward it freely!

About Shane Bennett

Shane has been loving Muslims and connecting people who love Jesus with Muslims for more than 20 years. He speaks like he writes – in a practical, humorous, and easy-to-relate-to way -  about God’s passion to bring all peoples into his kingdom.

» Contact him to speak to your people.

Three Models for Connecting with Like-minded People in the New Year

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

By Shane Bennett

With a gloriously clean year stretching out before us chock full of hope and possibility, I want to ask you to consider connecting with like-minded people in some new ways. If you are a classic Lone Ranger, and experience has taught you that your productivity increases with increased distance from other people, this isn’t for you! Otherwise, read on.

1. Starting Ripples of Prayer

My friend Robby of Mission Network turned me on to this. “Prayer ripples” are a simple way to encourage colleagues and friends who share your interest in God’s global purposes. Someone – like you, for instance – can invite four friends to pray with them monthly for one hour via Skype, Google hangouts, or simply over the phone. You might use an online tool such as doodle.com to find an overlapping hole in everyone’s schedule. Three days before the appointed time, the convener (you, for instance) will write and send out an agenda. It may include prayer for the world, the participants’ areas of interest or ministry, and their personal concerns.

Several minutes before the scheduled event, the convener (you know who!) will set up the call. Even with people who are rather computer-literate the technology aspect can be a little tricky. Give everyone some grace to work through the kinks. As you wait, humble yourself by considering what William Carey would have accomplished with an iPad and a fast internet connection!

Honor one another by sticking to the agreed-upon time table. Honor God by giving the bulk of your time to prayer rather than conversation. If you do this monthly with people you even half-way like, that will be way easier to say than to do! Part of the convener’s job will be to watch the clock and the schedule, gently moving the group along.

Now this is where a prayer ripple gets interesting: from the outset the understanding is that each participant will also start their own monthly gathering with others. If you participate in one prayer ripple, convene and participate in another, you’ll devote three hours a month to this effort. Three hours of your schedule matters, but the investment may be well worth it as we significantly bump up the amount of prayer lifted for God’s global purposes.

» Forward this idea to three or four people scattered around the planet who you’d like to pray with monthly. They might be workers your church is connected to, people in your organization, or like-minded people you met at a conference or on a trip.

2. Mission Meet-ups

This takes a ton more work than a prayer ripple. Really, maybe just pass on this one! You’d be crazy to try to pull together the various missions-interested parties in your city for a monthly meeting of information and encouragement. Probably someone else has already tried and failed anyway.

But what if you could do it? What if God gave you favor and people responded to your invitation? Can you imagine the strength and hope that might emerge as individuals who thought they were the only ones realize that God has many in your city fully devoted to his global purposes?

I’ve been encouraged when I’ve had the opportunity to visit gatherings like this, but I’ve also been equipped. Missions consortiums (as they’re sometimes called) provide several tangible benefits:

  • Corporate prayer: Pray for upcoming events, for a particular local ministry, and for God’s empowering of the people and work represented.
  • Information and resource sharing: New resources can be offered for review and improvement. Helpful tools can be shared for broader benefit. Local or visiting experts can share their expertise.
  • Networking: Missions consortiums provide a setting in which to find people with skills and expertise you lack. And to offer capacity you have which could benefit the broader community.
  • Project collaboration: You can consider city-wide projects that would be beyond the scope of a single group or church, such as Perspectives or Pathways classes, or Bridges or Al Massira training.

If you’re going to give it a go, here are some pointers to keep in mind:

1. Make sure your city/region doesn’t already have a missions consortium.

This could save you significant embarrassment. See this list of about two dozen (and let us know if you have updates).

2. Fish from the biggest pool possible.

I’m thinking in terms of organizations and denominations as well as varied styles and approaches. How open you can be will vary depending on a number of factors. And probably if you invite “that” church, that “other” church will refuse to participate. Happily, missions people, perhaps more than any other subset of church people are able to look beyond difference and collaborate for the sake of God’s purposes.

3. Find an anchor church.

It might be your own. Your anchor church should be centrally located, broadly respected, able to seat and feed 50, and have at least one stakeholder who thinks what you’re up to is a good idea!

4. Pick a good time.

Some groups meet for lunch. I like a week day at 6.30 or 7.00am, as this allows participation by people whose bosses actually expect them to show up for work! If you can swing a light breakfast, more or less covered by donations, you’ll help people allocate the time.

5. Invest in invitation.

Visit 20 key people you’d like to see participate. Call another 30. Email 100.

6. Focus on value over size.

A good missions consortium will likely start small, but will grow as people sense value in it.

7. Get a great emcee.

If this isn’t your strong suit, now is not the time to try to grow! If you can find a respected pastor who will agree to emcee for six months, you’ll benefit from name recognition and consistency. All the better if he or she can tell a good joke!

8. Start and end on time.

Nothing encourages people to stay home next time like, “If I could just take a few extra minutes…”

9. Bring in a ringer.

Don’t be afraid to launch on the strength of an outside expert, but build on the value of local connection and collaboration.

» Please take a minute to comment on our website (below) if you have further ideas for these meetups or would like to mention good models you know.

3. Hub Communities

My friend Nate, author of the new book Coffee & Orange Blossoms: 7 Years & 15 Days in Tyre, Lebanon, has given the lion’s share of his attention and ample talent over the past two years to spreading the word about city-based groups that call themselves “hub communities.” These groups are designed to provide mutual support for a small, but beloved set of people: those who are actively pursuing friendship with Muslims. The word “hub” connotes a center or core, plus it’s the Arabic word for love!

Nate has found that often people who have a passion for connecting with Muslims in their town tend to assume they’re the only ones. Maybe they’ve shared their conviction with a pastor or Sunday school class with less than resounding endorsement. Maybe they’ve invited friends to join them, but it just hasn’t happened.

The Hub Community Network aims to gather these people together for ongoing mutual encouragement. The only requirement for joining one is that you have a Muslim friend. That’s the common denominator. The groups are not heavily “led,” nor do they follow a standard curriculum (though they have collected a list of quality resources). Someone simply facilitates the gathering. The group decides what they might like to study together. They share with each other how their relationships are going. And they pray for each other and their Muslim friends. Simple, but life-giving.

While hub communities are specifically being implemented for people befriending Muslims, the idea could certainly apply to people building relationships with other unreached groups.

» Learn more about The Hub Community Network and how to join or start a hub community in your city.