A Dozen Ways You Can Summon and Release the Next Generation of Global Christians

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4569741215_63ddc9a182By Shane Bennett

As the father of four daughters, it’s been impressed upon me that different people think differently. What seems entirely sensible to me does not make similar sense to everyone, apparently! In some cases, it doesn’t make sense to anyone in our house. And the crazy thing is, unless the sense-difference results in tears (not at all uncommon), I might not even notice it.

What if that dynamic is at work on a broad scale as we invite people into God’s global purposes? On the one hand, we have a huge, manpower-intensive task before us in reaching the couple billion people who presently have little or no access to the gospel. (Justin Long unfolds the task brilliantly and soberly.)

On the other hand, the U.S. is home to more than 95 million Millennials, the generation born between 1982 and 2000. If you live in another country, maybe you’ve noticed them there, too! Some percentage of them love Jesus and wouldn’t be totally put off by a relevant invitation to get some skin in the Great Commission game. But what if the “relevant invitation” that makes sense to me (straddling the frontier between the Boomer and Gen X generations), doesn’t, like, work for them?

This is more than marketing. God help us, we don’t need Millennials to buy our stuff. But we certainly need them to take up the mantle for reaching unreached Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and others. If you’re under 32, please copy and paste this line into the comments section (below) and fill in the blank: “Seriously? If you want me to jump into God’s purposes with you, you need to…” If you’re older than 32, here are a dozen things I already know we should keep in mind as we invite Millennials to follow us as we follow Jesus.

1. Learn how they tick.

Sign up for the MissioNexus webinar on October 9 during which Jim Raymo, co-author of Millenials and Mission, will give you the real scoop! Or, you could get the book. In the meantime…

2. Invite them in.

Nothing beats laying down your phone, leaning in over a coffee-stained table, looking someone right in the eyes, and asking them to go do a certain job in a specific hard place among a truly beautiful people.

Turns out that also bestows great honor on the invited, and it’s closely related to number three:

3. Unleash their latent capacity.

Peter says in his first letter, “Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God.” The Holy Spirit has put gifts in the lives of Jesus-loving Millennials. Do you recognize their gifts and skills? Our job is to help them see those and connect the dots to productive global service.

As we do this, we’ve got to invite Millennials to lead and also give them room to fail.

4. Teach them to raise money and to make money.

The movements we long to see in the world will be funded not only with raised funds, but by hard work paid by the hour. People catalyzing those movements need to be familiar and skilled in both.

5. Motivate with the Bible, the world, and a big God.

We shouldn’t be surprised if Millennials need more than an accurate exposition of the Great Commission to get in the game. Couple biblical mandate and authority with a vision of solving big-time global problems. Place these both under the umbrella of a big God bent on remaking the cosmos and we’ll find Millennials rising to the challenge.

6. Hire one to get the rest.

In What the Church Can Learn from Jimmy Fallon, Tiffany DeLuccia talks about NBC’s brilliance in hiring Fallon to replace Jay Leno in their premier late-night time slot: “They invested in a person who could authentically speak to a different generation, who could make them laugh and make them want to share their laughs with a friend.”

We might see success that mirrors their ratings bump if we hired Millennials to mobilize Millennials.

7. Recognize that friends bring friends.

Youth with a Mission recently surveyed 186 of their global staff. When asked to list all the factors that influenced their decision to join YWAM, almost everyone cited a friend’s leverage in their decision to join. Only five percent cited a missions event or conference.

How can we encourage people to invite their friends to jump in?

8. Embrace the appeal of diversity.

When we moved back to Colorado from England, our then-twelve-year-old son looked around our town and asked, “Where are all the black people?” Millennials form the most racially diverse generation in American history; more than four out of ten are non-white.

When they look at your agency or church, does it feel really white?

9. Make cross-generational connections.

Drew Dyck, managing editor of Leadership Journal and author of Yawning at Tigers, says, “Intergenerational relationships are crucial. The number one predictive factor as to whether or not a young Christian will retain his or her faith is whether that person has a meaningful relationship with an older Christian.”

We’ll see a similar benefit in Millennials staying connected to the Great Commission if we also connect them with older mentors.

10. Open your network.

One of the greatest gifts an older person can give to a younger person is access. You know people succeeding in a variety of fields and a plethora of cross-cultural situations. Consider introducing newcomers to veterans of similar focus and passion. As a bridge, you can tell a smart, successful older person that it’s OK, beneficial even, to give some time and attention to a future (apparently distant future) rock star. Cast the vision: “I know he talks kind of funny and he only owns one pair of pants, but I think you two could accomplish some good stuff together.”

11. You think what?!?

You see it coming don’t you? Maybe you’ve already experienced it: You’re sitting in the lunch room, someone’s decrying the latest court ruling allowing same-sex marriage, and your sharp, young mobilization director (see number 6 above) says softly, “What’s the big deal anyway? Why are we so concerned about this?” Or your brochure-worthy evangelist, reviewing with you the future of the fourth church she’s helped start, confesses that she’s both gay and not inclined to leave the work God is obviously blessing.

Millennials are living through tidal shifts in culture and thinking differently from many of us in significant ways. How do we respond? How can we get ready for this?

12. Know that smart phone’s not going away.

Expect that technology will play a bigger part in a Millennial’s life than yours. We also need to check the assumption that technology is a distraction or an inferior way of relating. While we’re at it, let’s add live-chat to our websites! I totally believe that will lead to more coffee-shop opps (see number 2 above).

Bonus: 13. Foster holy hookups.

Millennials are marrying later and doing so out of a greater context of broken relationships than previous generations. Without rushing people to marriage, how can we provide relationship counsel and help them through the minefields and decisions? How can we offer opportunities to meet like-minded Jesus followers? For starters, how about, “Go on a short-term trip with us and get a free six-month membership to CalledTogether.us”?

Conclusion

God will accomplish his global purposes, his kingdom will come, and I love to watch as coming generations rise up to run their leg of the race. May he give those of us who need it grace to listen well, open the door, and get out of the way. And to you who are stepping into the fray, success to you beyond what we all together have ever asked or dreamed.

» Comment on this article below.

Photo: Creative Commons image from quinn.anya.

ShaneAbout 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 Shane to speak to your people.

21 Easy Ways to Introduce Your Friends to the Nations (and Five Ways to Ensure They Stay Away)

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By Shane Bennett

We all feel it, don’t we? You experience something beautiful, cool, or amazing, and you’ve just got to share it with someone. Maybe it’s a book, place, thought, or discovery. Whatever, you want those closest to you to know! You want your friends and family to share the joy and wonder you feel.

When the “cool thing” is God’s love for the nations, particularly his concern for people currently without access to the good news, your concern is not just that they share the wonder, but that they join in to solve the problem.

So “practical mobilization” really just means “come share this passion and lean your shoulder into this work with me.” In June we looked at 75 Ways to Put Your Money to Missional Use. Our second installment in the summer list series consists of simple, cheap, and effective ways to bring your friends into your obsession.

21 Easy Ways to Introduce Your Friends to the Nations

  1. Buy them a book. Ridiculously old fashioned? You bet. But also still effective. I am who I am today in part due to In The Gap: What It Means to Be A World Christian, by David Bryant. If you have a book club (and can forgo Amish romantic fiction for a month), suggest a volume that will introduce club members to a part of the world they might not otherwise discover.
  2. Do your friends lean more toward film than print? Why not make an armchair journey to Africa or Asia?
  3. Express your need for their help in hosting a class or event. Nothing invites someone in like the words, “You have a skill I lack. Can you help me with this?”
  4. Take them on an entry-level mission trip. Visit and serve an unreached people group in your city or nearby. Aim for at least half a day, but not more than two days.
  5. Invite them to join a short-term prayer group, e.g., 15 minutes before church for four weeks. Even lower commitment: Ask your small group if you can lead a global prayer once a month.
  6. Make your next small group meeting a potluck, and encourage participants to bring something from a different part of the world. Crack open your copy of Operation World and pray for the nations represented by the food.
  7. Take your friend out for Indian food. Or Ethiopian. Nervousness about the unfamiliar will keep many people from enjoying these fascinating cuisines and the complex and beautiful cultures behind them. Your experience and encouragement might open new doors.
  8. Take them along to a visiting foreign lecturer at your university. Or leave the car in the garage and watch a TED talk by a brilliant innovator from another culture. This one might be an interesting start.
  9. Ask them to get on the mailing list of an expat worker or foreign minister you respect. This one would be a good start.
  10. Invite them to contribute to work focused on an unreached people. Jesus was right about the proximity of our hearts to our treasure.
  11. Invite them to attend one night of a Perspectives, Pathways, or Kairos course. Try to be sure the speaker is one who will make them want to take the whole course!
  12. Introduce them to music meant to mobilize, like that of Perry Lahaie.
  13. Go meet international students together. Find where they hang out and go meet some. It that’s too open-ended, go with the goal of learning a little Arabic or another language of your choice. Few native speakers will shoo away someone trying to pick up their language.
  14. Invite your friends to participate in a nearby university’s friendship family program, providing a family connection for an international student.
  15. Host a sharp, young, cross-cultural worker at your house to share with your friends about her work. Bill it as (and make sure it remains) a non-fundraising event.
  16. Take a friend with you to volunteer at a local refugee assistance program.
  17. Visit a mosque, temple, or gurdwara together. (This isn’t cheating on Jesus!)
  18. Take the kids or your church group on a cultural scavenger hunt – maybe in your closest Chinatown.
  19. Don’t be annoying about it, but talk about how Jesus connected with people beyond the main flow of his culture, often times the very ones the religious people wanted to avoid!
  20. If you’re in ministry, invite your friend to pray for and support you.
  21. Ask your friend questions so you can find common ground, hear their passions, and listen to their concerns. This may happen best over coffee (or tea) and time.

Bonus: Five Ways to Ensure They Stay Away

Want your friends to stay away from your missions stuff? These habits should do the trick handily:

  1. Constantly bash your home culture for not caring, not being as good/pure/cool as the foreign culture you’re invested in.
  2. Constantly bash your church (directing particularly nasty invective at your pastor) for not caring about the “real heart of God.”
  3. Act as if God only loves people who aren’t like them. Or maybe just likes them better.
  4. Trumpet your cross-cultural accomplishments, while only slightly masking your disdain for “local” missions.
  5. Don’t care for your friends. Care only for the cause.

» Are you doing any of the things on this list? The first list, I mean! Let us know, and tell us what you’d add.

ShaneAbout 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 Shane to speak to your people.

75 Ways to Put Your Money to Missional Use

Missions-Catalyst-no-tagline_largeBy Shane Bennett

Money graphicLet’s say you have some money lying around. Maybe it’s, like, five whole dollars! Or, on the other end of the spectrum, let’s just suppose it’s a lot and growing every month. You feel the reality of the Jesus story in which the big guy drops some coin on his workers then takes off, leaving them to wrestle with making the most of their “talents.” Whether we have a lot or a little, don’t we want it to work for God’s kingdom?

If you want to put your money to good missional work, but wonder how, three things might guide you:

  1. The Holy Spirit may say, “Do this with your money!”
  2. Someone (sent by the Holy Spirit) may walk up to you and say, “I could use some cash.”
  3. You could read this list and get tons of great ideas.

Three caveats about this list:

  1. It’s not exhaustive. There are other good ways to spend your money. If you’re inclined to share some of yours (ideas, not money) with the rest of us, we’d be honored.
  2. I’m thinking broadly when I talk of using money in ways that are good, “missional,” and contribute to the kingdom of God. I’m also thinking how I think, likely inferior to the way you think, which will probably cause you to think about some of the items on this list, “What? That’s a dumb way to spend money!” No worries. That’s your prerogative.
  3. This is the start of a three-part summer series featuring lists! If you have a list you’d like compiled, feel free to let me know.

Also, if you’d like more info on any of these items that don’t have a link, email me and I’ll help you connect.

75 Ways to Put Your Money to Missional Use

  1. Tell your favorite missionary you’ve got their medical insurance deductible this year.
  2. Get a master’s degree in a field that will open doors internationally.
  3. Take a world missions course like Perspectives, Kairos, or Pathways.
  4. Pay for someone to take the course with you.
  5. Fly to a faraway place to encourage and pray for missionary there.
  6. Sponsor a local missionary in an area where Islam and Christianity meet.
  7. Set up a scholarship fund for students in your culture and students in another culture.
  8. Link your giving efforts with strategic prayer via Praelude2020.
  9. Pay for Bibles to be put in the hands of some of the most under-evangelized people on the planet.
  10. Sponsor a helpful training seminar in your church. How about Bridges?
  11. Give your pastor an Amazon gift card and a list of 25 missions books you’d recommend.
  12. Buy clothes and a pay for a professional photo for a young missions speaker/writer.
  13. Fund a young writer’s self-published book.
  14. Set up a stock fund ear-marked for a particular missionary’s retirement. Trade it well.
  15. Scholarship a TESOL program for a worker.
  16. Help fund a refugee care ministry in Europe or the US. Serve some Syrians.
  17. Send four bright young friends to Urbana 2015.
  18. Upgrade a mission worker’s phone. Or car!
  19. Pay for dental work for a cross-cultural worker.
  20. Find a global-minded screen writer/director with a dream and fund her movie.
  21. Capitalize a micro-loan project.
  22. Invest in a business-as-mission worker by underwriting their visa, registration, licensing, and office lease.
  23. Buy homeschooling curriculum for workers who use it. And a case of iPads?
  24. Fund a pallet of flour for a bread company to help feed starving North Koreans.
  25. Pay for surgery and rehabilitation for kids with birth defects.
  26. Fund adoptions for parents who want the kids no one else wants.
  27. Fly an international student and their best local friend back to their home country for Christmas. Or fly their mom in for a visit and insist she stay in your home.
  28. Underwrite an album of global worship songs by a mission-minded musician like Perry Lahaie.
  29. Assemble a library for a worker in Mozambique.
  30. Pay for a willing pastor to go on a vision trip to someplace where he won’t preach (just learn).
  31. Cover a week-long retreat for a cross-cultural worker.
  32. Underwrite a strategic prayer conference.
  33. Publish a beautiful prayer guide for an unengaged people group.
  34. Invest in a water treatment facility for 30,000 people who need it.
  35. Cover travel costs and a generous honorarium to get the best missions speaker you know to come to your church.
  36. Get a small gift for a worker through forafriend.com.
  37. Cover a year’s subscription to calledtogether.us for a single missionary.
  38. Tell some young buck at church that you’ll order the curriculum if he’ll lead a dozen of his buds through Operation Worldview.
  39. Buy a pair of walking shoes and use them to prayerwalk your city.
  40. Send a worker couple to a marriage seminar.
  41. Underwrite the development of a marriage seminar for an unreached people.
  42. Help launch the innovative funding site, buck4good.com.
  43. Buy sub-zero sleeping bags for people who are truly homeless. Think “warmth for the weary.”
  44. Buy and read Gary Hoag’s The Choice.
  45. Pick a local family in need and once a month send a care package based on their individual needs.
  46. Contribute to an organization rebuilding homes after a hurricane or other disaster.
  47. Purchase a life insurance policy and make your favorite mission agency the beneficiary.
  48. Buy a water filtration system each year to send to those who do not have clean water. Get a filter for your home and stop wasting resources buying bottled water.
  49. Hand out bug spray and sunscreen to homeless families.
  50. Give money to a micro-finance organization in Uganda or anywhere that gives small personal loans to help people start businesses and escape the bondage of poverty.
  51. Encourage a pastor, ministry leader, missionary, or youth worker with free use of your lake house.
  52. Buy running shoes, FitBit and a 5K entry fee for a worker friend who needs to get in shape (and wants to!)
  53. Buy sewing machines and hire someone to teach refugees to be seamstresses.
  54. Give $5 or $10 gift cards as an encouragement to someone you see serving others.
  55. Go to a local school and offer to buy school supplies for kids who need them.
  56. Pay for a child to attend church camp.
  57. Donate games, movies, comic books, or toys to a children hospital.
  58. Pay for the person behind you in a fast-food drive through.
  59. Give gift cards for gas and food, coins for vending machines, and notes of encouragement to families of children with cancer.
  60. Help a missionary pay off school debt so they can serve cross-culturally (check out the Go Fund).
  61. Plant a fruit or shade tree.
  62. Buy a bed for an orphan. See Sweet Sleep.
  63. Donate to buy some Drinkable Books.
  64. Support the venerable Operation Christmas Child.
  65. Send doctors to hard places via Doctors Without Borders.
  66. Give to those who minister to those in ministry.
  67. Freshen your breath and wardrobe when you buy from these guys: Project 7 and Sevenly.
  68. Offer to care for pets while mission teams are on the field, or pay for boarding.
  69. Fund and mentor a child or teen who wants to start a business.
  70. Donate money for food for hungry kids.
  71. Buy, assemble, and distribute hygiene kits for homeless people.
  72. Send video tech to a worker friend at the ends of the earth to help her tell great stories of God’s work in her midst.
  73. Buy and raise a few chickens.
  74. Donate a bike to help an Indian pastor see more people.
  75. Buy the supplies and hire some kids to spruce up a retired missionary’s home.

You probably have another idea, a better idea, and a better place to execute one these ideas. Please share with the rest of us (comment below).

Join me in praying that God would shower financial resources on us in huge, wonderful surprising ways. Ask him for the grace to give hugely, joyfully, and strategically toward the advance of his kingdom to the Earth.

ShaneAbout 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 Shane to speak to your people.

Missions Catalyst Practical Mobilization

Missions-Catalyst-no-tagline_largeIn this issue: Missionaries dating, plus your ideas for Urbana

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: How to Look for a Spouse When It Looks Like You Have Few Options

By Shane Bennett

In his Locksley Hall poem Lord Tennyson famously asserts, “In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” I contend that a young man’s fancy can’t “turn to thoughts of love” in the spring, since they haven’t really ever turned away from such thoughts. Turns out, “thoughts of love” pretty much form a core in the psyche of most young men. And old ones. And women as well. Even those men and women who’ve dedicated their lives to God’s purposes outside of their home cultures. (See our previous article, Sex and Dating on the Mission Field!)

Most of us, regardless of our vocation, are subject to a deep and emphatic need to connect – connect to family, friends, God, and for a good number of us, a spouse.

Here’s how it might go: You have a sense that God wants to use you for his kingdom among a culturally distant people group. You decide you’d also like to marry someone. You start your search with a determination only to pick someone of the opposite gender, thereby cutting the global pool of candidates in half. Further, you’d like someone roughly of your own culture, which, depending on the size of your people, may significantly cut down the list of candidates!

More names are cut from the list when you add that you desire to marry a fellow Christian (snip, snip…), who really lives the faith (spin snip), who also has a desire to work cross-culturally (snip, snip…) and finally, since you drank the Perspectives Kool-Aid, someone who is (snip, snip, SNIP!) headed toward unreached peoples! The result? Four guys qualify! You grew up with two of them in church. After your mom said you’d make a great couple, you swore to never be more than just friends. All this is well before you get to your other list with items, like eye color or depth of appreciation for Jane Austen novels.

What’s a girl (or guy!) to do? Here are three thoughts.

1. Be patient.

Ouch, I don’t even like typing that. It seems to be just a step or two above telling someone, “It’s okay; you’re married to Jesus.” But since almost all of us have to (or have had to) be patient in the spouse department, it’s really only a matter of degree.

2. Fish in the right pond.

If you’re designed by God to live a chunk of your life in a different culture and you’ve been asking him for a spouse, hang out in situations where others like you are likely to be. If that’s who you are, your dream guy is probably not spending the upcoming summer on the couch in his mom’s basement mastering his new Call of Duty game. He’s answering the call of duty in Calcutta, holding the hand of someone as they die of AIDS, or in Istanbul, drinking tea and playing backgammonh with Muslims.

Since this point could be derisively titled, “Short Term as Spouse Hunting,” let me add this caveat: Please don’t go on a mission trip just to find a spouse! I’m just saying to keep your eyes open. I think generally God would be pleased to link you up with someone who shares your vision. I know anecdotally that this worked for me: Ann and I fell in love one summer in Izmir, Turkey, all the while obeying our team rules not to date. (Almost totally obeying them. Really.)

3. Sign up at CalledTogether.

Not too long ago, if a couple found each other on line, they’d guard that secret like the recipe for KFC chicken. They would rather look their Baptist mom in the eye and confess they had met in a bar! Today, more and more good relationships start at an online dating site. Now technology and cultural acceptance has caught up with the dream that goes back at least as far as Roberta Winter, who famously advocated for a missionary matchmaking system.

Director of Operations Gerin St. Claire says CalledTogether.us is not just a dating site, but “a global community of singles pursuing transformational engagement outside the comfort zone of their own cultures, whether serving through NGOs, education, business, justice, media, or other means. If you are dedicating your life to making him known where he is not known now, CalledTogether seeks to connect you to other singles who share your specific burdens and calling, who can partner with you, in teams or through godly marriages and family.”

When I tell people about CalledTogether, I give them permission to laugh. It’s a new idea, and to many, it feels a little odd. But then I encourage them to think about it. In fact, I tell the men that CalledTogether should pay them to use the site. Not because they’re such studs (though they are!), but because it’s still true that more single women are willing to launch out to the ends of the earth. Single men of such valor are at a premium due to their scarcity.

Gerin adds, “Please consider who in your circle might benefit from joining this community, and pass the word along to them! The impact of this project will multiply as it grows, and our hope is that God will use it to send many new families to the nations, with hearts and callings aligned.”

To encourage you to sign up and invite your friends to, Gerin is offering a discount for Missions Catalyst readers. Drop in “2014MC” when you sign up to get your first three months for only a US$1/month. After that the price goes up to US$5.

» Read more about CalledTogether in articles from Christianity Today and NPR.

SUBVERSIVE MOBILIZATION: Crowd-sourcing Urbana Workshop Topics

You know Urbana, right? The super-colossal, triennial missions conference that brings together a gazillion college kids to spend four days and nights between Christmas and New Years under the loving guidance of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, imbibing global-God-info like they were trying to drink from Old Faithful!

Imagine you were invited to do a workshop at Urbana 15. It’ll be here before you know it! What would you want to talk about? Why? What would you title your workshop?

Full disclosure: I know a guy who knows a guy who’s working on U15. The guy-who-knows-a-guy was on IV staff at my college campus and also knows i love to talk about the world. He invited me to float some workshop ideas to him to pass up the chain.

So I thought I’d crowd-source it with the brilliant minds of the Missions Catalyst tribe. To be sure, I won’t swipe your idea without permission. But I would love to hear what you think those fresh-faced kingdom-shakers should hear.

» Leave your comments below so others can see them, too. Thanks.

Missions Catalyst Practical Mobilization

Missions-Catalyst-no-tagline_largeIn 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

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 Practical Mobilization

Missions-Catalyst-no-tagline_largeIn 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!)

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.)