How to Be Sure You’ll Never Mobilize Your Pastor for Missions

By Shane Bennett

8797472651_c80175345a_bDear Missions Guy and Gal,

I know you mean well and I love your passion, I really do. But I’ve got to tell you I’m starting to scan the crowd and drift left when I see you coming from the right. I like you and all. It’s just that your advocacy for the world is becoming a little strident. Your zeal’s starting to make me daydream of making you a missionary to a galaxy far, far away.

I don’t want to be too harsh here. But it’s late on Sunday, my football team lost today and I’m not happy with my sermon this morning. So I might use my current mood to get a few things off my chest. You may want take a couple aspirin right now and put on pads and a helmet.

Here goes… Here’s how you can be sure I’m never going to be mobilized for missions:

1. Present all your requests as though they were crises. Emergencies happen. I get it. But sometimes I think maybe you just didn’t think ahead. Or when your emergency 8500 miles away is competing with eight other emergencies within a stone’s throw of the church door, it’s hard for me to prioritize yours. Heck, it’s kind of tough just to listen to it. For added anti-impact, corner me with your crisis just before the service on Sunday morning!

2. Use jargon that I should probably know, but don’t. This makes me feel dumb. Which makes me get defensive. Which leads to saying snarky stuff I later regret. Yeah, and refer to people I don’t know, but don’t explain who they are.

3. By all means, go to my wife if you’re disappointed in how I’m responding to your requests.

4. Give me books I don’t ask for, the context for which I lack, and the content I’m not interested in. Do this monthly. Then ask me if I’ve read them. Heads up: If you ask me twice, I’ll give the books back to you. That way you’ll have them to give to your new pastor.

5. Leave me out of the process. Send me a support letter that you haven’t even signed, telling me you’re off to do something the Lord’s led you to do with another organization, when we haven’t even had one conversation with each other! When you’re actually in the decision process, keep it between you and your college crew.

6. Don’t pray for me, just give me more work to do. And if you do pray, really give it to God on my behalf. Ask him to change me or re-locate me.

7. Inundate me with information, but don’t ask me questions. Don’t ask how I’m holding up or what God’s saying to me lately. Let me pull back the curtain just a bit: I’ve got all the normal family issues anyone else has. And maybe a few more “pastor family” issues, I don’t know. Plus I’m juggling the good, the bad, and the ugly at church. This week that includes the death of a child – unexpected (aren’t they always?), two dear saints going into hospice, the unplanned pregnancy of an elder’s high school daughter, the need to terminate a staff member, a decision to repair or replace the roof, and preparing a sermon on trusting God. (I’m wondering if I can live it enough to preach it.) So I feel for the persecuted church in the horn of Africa, I really do. I cry for a million displaced Syrians. I just struggle to find the energy and focus to take action.

8. Don’t serve what we’re currently doing; just tell me how our church isn’t doing all it could. It’s hard for me to believe you’re willing to bleed on the foreign mission field when you won’t even get up 30 minutes early to help us set up chairs. And honestly, how familiar with our present ministry are you? God has opened amazing doors here in our community. I’m sure it’s not all he has in mind for us. At the same time, I don’t accept the feeling I get from you sometimes that ministry doesn’t count unless it’s a certain number of miles away from home.

9. Ask me if your missionary friend can speak to whole church. Then get that hurt look on your face when I question if he’s really qualified for that!

10. Ask me to go with you on a three-week-trip to the craziest parts of the world. (Me paying, of course!) Then that hurt look on your face again when I hesitate!

11. When you email me about the cool thing you’d like us to invest in, be sure to bad-mouth eight other similar things. This will feed my insecurity and make me wonder how you speak about me to your missions friends.

12. Tell me missions is what’s really on the heart of God. You and I both know I haven’t preached a missions series in two or three years. The implied distance between God’s heart and mine will be clear.

One last thing: Some of us see the giving records, you know. Are you really asking me to allocate church funds to missions when, as far as I can tell, you’re doing nothing to fund the church?

OK, this is more direct honesty than you usually get from me, but I thought you should know. And you should know this as well: None of these issues is forever. Any of them, in fact all of them, can start being different tomorrow morning. I hope they will.

Sincerely, hopefully,

Your pastor

P.S. If you really want to get me connected to the Muslim world, do this: Fly my wife and me to Turkey for a week’s vacation. Include a day and a half kicking around with your missionary friend there. Just a day and a half.

» Comment on this article on our website.

Photo: Creative Commons image from State Library of Victoria.

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.

Subversive Mobilization: Starting a Church Missions Team

I’m excited about a meeting coming up in a few days in which some friends and I will dream and scheme about starting a missions team for a really cool church I love!

Would you give me the gift of responding to these two questions?

  1. What pitfalls should I watch for as we begin this process?
  2. What should we definitely do early on?

Even if you’ve never commented before, I’d value your thoughts and your time to record them below.

If you’re in a remotely similar situation, you’ll love the brief, insightful ebook, How to Operate an Effective Missions Leadership Team in Your Church. It was written by my hero, mobilization master David Mays, who’s now resting with Jesus.

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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girl with globe

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.