Practical Mobilization: Three Personal Challenges for 2024

You likely know that January gets its name from Janus, the Roman god of transitions. Roman mythology says he had two faces: one looking back, one looking forward. In the same way, January gives us a Janus-like moment to consider what happened last year and what’s coming next.

Of course, if New Year’s Day took you by surprise, without a resolution or a “word” for the year, fear not. Looks like Chinese/Lunar New Year rolls around on February 10 and Persian New Year, Nowruz, is March 20. In the liturgical calendar, February 14 will launch us into Lent, and that might be a good time to turn over a new leaf or lay aside a distraction. And then there’s the ultimate resurrection day, Easter Sunday, which most of us will celebrate on March 31.

Face it. Any day is a good day to start anew and embrace new life. We walk with a God whose steadfast love never ceases and whose mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Might one of these gospel-inspired challenges shape your 2024?

1. Make a Different Kind of Resolution

Here’s something thought-provoking from East-West Ministries.

They wrote,

“The Apostle Paul was certainly a proponent of becoming more like Christ every day (Romans 12:2). But Paul also had a different kind of resolution that was not focused on improving himself. In fact, his resolution embraced his shortcomings.”

They’re referring to what he told the church in Corinth after hearing complaints that he wasn’t an impressive performer (1 Corinthians 2:1-5):

“When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.”

Is there something here for us?

“As you contemplate your resolutions this year, consider whether your supposed area of improvement might be an opportunity to display God’s power in your life. Perhaps your weakness is the very thing God will use to draw many people to him.”

Read A Different Kind of Resolution.

2. Do Your Devos (or Discipleship) Differently

“We would love for our team to grow,” a Pioneers worker serving in Eurasia said in a recent newsletter. “When we’re in the U.S., we enjoy meeting folks considering overseas life. We join interview committees to listen to peoples’ stories and help direct their next steps. In the summer, we host interns to give them a look at long-term life.

“Dialoging with potential coworkers gives us a glimpse into trends. Those currently looking to move internationally want to join teams that will disciple them not just in language and culture but in the Word. During interviews, we ask, ‘How do you commune with God? Have you ever taught the Word?’

“More and more candidates are saying they use devotional books and book/video studies; they have never learned to study or teach on their own.

“So, if those we send have never been discipled, how can they make disciples? We’re kind of scratching our heads. We definitely want to disciple others. That’s the command: Make disciples. And we definitely will sharpen one another as coworkers. But our intent in moving overseas was not to disciple coworkers from fellowships in our home country. It is to teach new brothers and sisters from the people we now live among.”

Rather than bemoaning how hard it is to find qualified candidates, this cross-cultural worker invited his supporters and other readers to be part of the solution:

“Can you help? As the new year comes, if you know how to study the Bible on your own, pray about inviting two or three others to study with you straight from the Word so they can learn, too. Then, in 2025, ask them to pass on their new skills to two or three more people. If you’ve never learned to study or teach, be willing to learn and find someone to help you.

“If you’re a leader, can we ask you to evaluate the teaching methods in your fellowship? We know that it’s easy to have people lead book/video studies, but it can become a crutch and hurt in the long run. Are you teaching people how to feed themselves? Who are people in your fellowship who possibly have the gift of teaching that you could develop?

“We’re thankful that people are following the command to go. And we’re grateful for you standing behind us to get and keep us here. We look forward to receiving some of those you’re sending. We’ll work together to build up the kingdom on both sides of the ocean!”

3. Prioritize Funding Ministry to the Unreached

Recently, Justin Long of Beyond published an article revisiting the oft-quoted statistic, based on data from a few decades ago, that less than one percent of all money given to missions goes to reaching unreached people and places. Is it true? Still?

After explaining where the number came from, why it’s more difficult than ever to measure, and why he believes the imbalance is not as severe as it once was, Justin concluded:

“The percentage spent on mission to the unreached is almost certainly less than half of the total spent on foreign mission (which is itself 5% of total Christian ministry funds)—very probably less than a third of it. I would go so far as to guess, I think very reasonably, that it’s less than a quarter. If correct, then 25% of 5% would mean about 1.25% of total giving to Christian ministry is spent on mission to the unreached. It’s probably safe to say that 1% or less is given to mission to the unreached.”

But here’s the takeaway:

“Those who’d like to make a difference might look at their own giving and consider how they might give their own personal 1%, 2%, 10% or more to this ministry. It might not jar the global numbers very much, but it could make a very strategic difference in specific works.”

Consider looking at your own budget through this lens. How would you like to see churches and believers using their resources? Could it start with you?

Want to dig deeper in the data? Read the article (at the end of the email).

For more from Justin, subscribe to one of his newsletters: the Weekly Roundup, free or premium edition (this article was in the premium edition) or to the free, weekly prayer-guide based on the Roundup.

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