Posted tagged ‘mission team’

No Grow and No Go

May 7, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          May 7, 2017

                                     

Recently a pastor friend of mine was sharing his church’s “simplified plan.” Our ministry support group of five people was sitting in a restaurant having lunch together. The noise and my aged hearing caused me to misinterpret what he was saying. His congregation’s simplified plan is “Know. Grow. Go.”

I, however, heard him say “No grow and go!” I thought to myself, “That’s an unusual plan…no grow and no go!’ I asked for clarification and my friend corrected my understanding when I told him what I had heard. All five of us got a good chuckle out of it, but then I thought about it a bit more. “No Grow and No Go!” might better define many churches of various flavors around the country.

There are many reasons why a number of churches don’t desire to grow as disciples and go and make disciples of others. First of all, growing requires commitment to something and surrender of part of my agenda. “Growing” is a marathon race and the church is crowded with sprinters and jumpers. In sports there are “fair weather fans”, and in churches there are “fair weather attenders.”

Growing requires change and, whereas we are fluid in many areas of our lives when it comes to change, we are also entrenched in other ways. For example, I need a new pair of jeans but I love the pair I’ve been wearing for about a decade. The pocket that I’ve carried my wallet in has a hole in it that resembles a woodpecker’s carving. I’ve tried changing pockets, but then I feel like I walk funny. I’m considering the option of not carrying my wallet with me rather than buy a new pair of jeans that I have to get used to. That’s how we are in various areas of our lives. I drink my morning juice out of a certain plastic cup, but I drink my dinner milk from a glass. I write my blog from a certain stool at a certain Starbucks. To vary that always gives me the feeling that the quality of the writing has diminished…unless I’m visiting my dad in southern Ohio, and then it’s okay to write from the Starbucks across the river in Huntington, West Virginia.

On the other side of the equation are churches that have a hard time figuring out what that “growing” element looks like. Our recent history shows the jumping around of churches trying to nail the discipleship block. But growing followers of Christ is not easily contained in a program or a curriculum, and that’s a hard truth for many of us professional church leaders to admit. It’s not that programs and curriculums are bad or unnecessary, but rather that we often put all of our eggs in one basket and there’s, so to speak, a growing number of spiritual egg-haters!

Moving on to the “go” part we’re often unmovable! Jesus’ Great Commission too often is the great omission in congregations. To sum it up, most of a typical church’s budget goes for what happens inside the walls, and what is designated as the mission budget is what gets sent outside the walls to support people not from the church in mission work. When the budget gets evaluated each year the mission budget lies there like a clay pigeon ready to be shot at. Want proof? Just notice how many people in your church come to a potluck dinner, and compare that to how many people participate in a community service or ministry project!

“No grow and no go!” symbolizes the “standing firm congregation.” We’ve mis-translated that great hymn “On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand” a bit! Jesus didn’t intend for us to be stationary and anchored to what has always been, protective of our resources and unsympathetic towards a broken world around us.

Meeting The Children

June 28, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                        June 27, 2013

This week, if you have been reading my blog, you know that I’ve been in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic as a part of a sixteen person mission team doing basketball camps and construction projects. The construction crew painted all of the classrooms and the hallways so that when the 400 students come back to school in August they will be greeted with a fresh look, a new beginning.

Today many of us were able to meet the children that we sponsor through VisionTrust. Carol and I have been sponsors for several years, but today was the first time I was able to meet our two Dominican children face-to-face. Alexa will be in sixth grade. I can tell that she loves to laugh and talk. She is cute as a button, and shared that she loves all food…even veggies!

I found myself getting emotional as I met her and talked, through our translator, with her. I’m not sure why my eyes got a little misty, but I think it was probably because today was a connecting point- connecting the sending of our financial sponsorship each month with who it is helping. I have to admit that Carol and I have sponsored children for so long that it has become easy to see it as a monthly bill to be paid instead of a gift to help someone in a different country. Just send the bill in with a check along with the utility bill and car insurance bill.

Today, however, gave me a completely new appreciation.

And then I met Johan, a third grader, who was shy and much as expansive in his answers to my questions as Alexa was. I’m sure it was a little intimidating for him to meet an old guy for the first time who kept asking a lot of questions about him and what he liked and didn’t like, favorite school subject, how many siblings, etc.

Alexa and Johan, two children who I will pray will be held in God’s hands, protected and growing each day.

It was a good day! A day of firsts. Perhaps tomorrow I will write about how I put my foot in my mouth on the first day of basketball camp this week and ended up giving away 91 basketballs.

 

P.S. The Cunfer family is awesome! They met the child they sponsored today also. Like me they connected to points that gave them a new perspective.

Plan and Adjust

June 25, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                             June 24, 2013

 

Plan and Adjust”

 

Today was our first day of basketball camp and construction projects here in the Herrera area of Santo Domingo. It was a day of adjustments. Kevin Hodges, heading up our construction crew ended up using his plumbing skills half the day… changing out a faucet…fixing a toilet…each a necessary thing that needed to be done…each a needed thing for the school we are at that serves 400 children.

The rest of the construction team ended up painting three classrooms in the school that were desperately in need of a new coat.

The basketball camp staff adjusted and adjusted. There, evidently, was some misunderstanding between the school principal and the students. Students were told that they could only come to one session of camp this week. She meant one sessions each day, either 8:30-10:00, 10:30-12:00, or 1:30-3:00. But some of the students misunderstood and thought she meant they could only come once…in other words, one day…the whole week. Our first session only had 9 kids come, but then our second session had about 25, and our third session 30. Evidently, word began to get out. When our afternoon session began, however…time-wise, there was only one boy there. We figured out it’s because it was raining at the time. Campers waited until the rain stopped. No parents were driving up to the school and dropping their kids off. No one drives up to the school except delivery trucks and motorbikes.

But by the end one had grown to thirty.

One of our groups meets in the sanctuary on the top floor. It’s cooler there, but the tin roof above it has openings that allow large puddles of rainwater to fall onto the floor. Teaching basketball in the sanctuary is fine, unless it rains. Then we must suddenly adjust so we can avoid people slipping and falling in the water.

So we went into Monday with a plan that quickly changed.       Plan and adjust, plan and adjust.

The student team members have been great. Sydney and Garrett Cunfer shared their testimonies in worship of Sunday. Samantha McKinney is a sweetheart to always wants to help people. Emily Lundquist is adjusting to situations as much as she needs to keep tabs on her diabetes and stay monitored. Hannah Lundquist is doing awesome as a basketball helper. Mason Ripple hooped it up with the young boys close his age; and Megan Lundquist got almost as much paint on the walls as she got on herself today…all with a smile.

We’ve adjusted to Dominican plumbing limitations. I will avoid explaining that too much here. We’ve also adjusted to showers that are two degrees warmer than cold, but feel surprising refreshing.

I adjusted quickly to Dominican coffee. Excellente’!

We’re adjusting to having translators, and we’re learning certain words that are helping us communicate.

God is in the adjustments! We’ll see if he has a different plan for Tuesday!

First Dominican Lesson Learned

June 23, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                    June 23, 2013

 

Our mission team arrived in Santo Domingo safely tonight, except for one bag and one team member. Jeff was meeting us in Miami, but got delayed in Georgia. Hopefully,, he will join us tomorrow.

My first Dominican lesson was learned before we even got on our team bus at the airport. One man asked me for a tip as our bags were finishing being loaded on the bus. I assumed he was an airport porter, so I reached into my pocket and got my wallet out. He said “Twenty!” So “Mister Clueless” gave him a $20 bill.

Then he had a friend standing there also, who I cluelessly assumed was also a porter.

$20 for him!”

My first Dominican lesson cost me $40! It was only after my wallet was lighter that it dawned on me that I had been taken.

When you look clueless, people looking for someone who IS clueless pounce. Losing a quick forty can suddenly make you wiser as you grow poorer. But one of the things about the Dominican Republic is that there are a lot of people…a lot of people who live on the fringe of survival. Sometimes survivak fringe is a place where boundaries are loosened and people do what they need to do to get by.

Understand that we were greeted by many friendly smiling people, genuinely happy that we are here in their land, but we are also acutely ignorant of systems, customs, and tendencies.

Lesson one learned. On to lesson two and more tomorrow!