Category Archives: Converge Values

Good Things or Right Things?

wild flower bouquetOne of our children was exceptionally skilled at doing good things while overlooking the right things. We would leave for an evening, giving him the clear directive to have his room cleaned when we returned home. Sure enough, when we arrived at our front door later that night, there he would be with a beautiful wild flower bouquet for his mother with a grin a mile wide–and with a dirty room. It’s takes some skill to navigate disciplining a child in that scenario. He was doing something really good, but at the expense of what he was clearly told to do.

Christians throughout history have had the same problem when it comes to Jesus’ directives. We see an epidemic of that in our North American churches–churches doing lots of good things rather than the right things. Yes, there are those champion standout churches that are right on target, but the vast majority, even of evangelical congregations, fall short.

Jesus said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be my witnesses…,” Acts 1:8.

Jesus directive for his disciples is that we are moved and empowered to tell what we have seen, heard and experienced about Jesus. This is to be the ultimate objective in our lives and congregations. Along with all of the other important pieces like fellowship, learning, compassion and care, nothing takes precedence over what Jesus told us to accomplish while He is away. It is of ultimate importance–Jesus gave His life for this purpose.

I’m thrilled at the Acts-type motif we are seeing in our church plants with the Timothy Initiative among least reached peoples. Churches pic1are started with all new converts and within months, new church planters are identified, mentored, trained and deployed to start the process all over again. Converge has helped start over 2000 of these churches in the past year–each one averaging 16 converts to Christ in the first 12 months. By the way, many of these churches are started where the name of Jesus has never been heard before. For more, go to this link on GLOBAL CHURCH MULTIPLICATION.

I’m thrilled at the skilled and strategic work our missionaries are engaged in from Europe to Asia, Africa and Latin America as they develop transformational leaders in order to multiply transformational churches. We are creating cultures of obedience-based discipleship where being Christian truly means being a witness first.

As I witness what it costs so many around the world to follow Jesus, and how eager they are to spread the word, I’m moved to do the right things, not just the good things.

 

Safety Nets and Swinging Partners

Trapeze ArtistsI’m always amazed when I see trapeze artists swinging from ropes, flying through the air with perfect timing to grab the arms or legs of the other artist in motion. So much is about team work, timing, and artistry. They take my breath away by what they accomplish together. But, they also have a safety net in case something goes terribly wrong.

Our 8th Converge International Ministries value is that “we deploy within local support networks.” We are committed to seeing our missionaries succeed. A crucial part of this includes not sending or leaving missionaries isolated on the field. We will help them identify support networks at the local level to provide valuable care for their personal and ministry lives.

We want to be sure that there are safety nets in place in case things go wrong. A worthy support system is essential in order to care for our team members and to hold high the honor of Christ.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ,” Galatians 6:2.

Even beyond the safety net issue, there is a tremendous opportunity to produce beautiful artistry in cross cultural settings as we collaborate together to get God’s work done. This can be done best with intimate partners that know the nuances of who we are.

We deploy global partners within local support networks because we love our team members and we’re committed to honoring Jesus.

 

 

The Only Way…

Our seventh Converge International Value is that we are partnership driven. We value working together in relationships with individuals, churches, or groups who are like-minded in strategy and theology. As varying members of Christ’s body, we are better together than alone.  This includes working with local Christians, churches and mission agencies on our fields, as well as collaborating closely with districts and churches in the United States.

Collaboration is so critical to our effective ministry that we currently have 17 major partner organizations around the world and untold regional partners, countless movement leaders, and valued relationships with Converge districts, churches, and pastors.

CV joined us for dinner on Sunday and brought along some beautiful gifts from Amazing India!

CV Vadavana on a recent visit to our home.

As an example, I am traveling to Texas today to meet with our major partner in India. CV Vadavana leads Truth Ministries International, a ministry that is transforming lives and regions across India. We have been attempting to forge captivating and accessible doorways to engagement for our U.S. churches. It’s important enough to “move this forward” that we find two days to do just that. We ARE partnership driven.

“I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ,” Philemon 1:6.

 

Leveraging Culture to Communicate the Gospel

“Missionaries who enter other cultures may be compared to actors who have spent their entire lives learning the script for a Shakespearean play only to find that the stage they’re on is presenting The Phantom of the Opera,” Charles H. Kraft in Anthropology for Christian Witness.

Thailand leadersOur sixth Converge International Ministries value is that “we are sensitive to other cultural points of view.”

Out of love and mutual respect for all people, recognizing that we are all created in the image of God, we value the diversity of other cultures, worldviews and belief systems. We do this in order to effectively communicate the Gospel and to have a more fully-orbed understanding of the Gospel through the culture’s impact on our own lives.

In many ways, cultural diversity can be transformational in our understandings of all of Scripture. A. Scott Moreau has said, “The Bible is so rich and multifaceted that we need insights from people who are different than us if we are to see truths more fully,” Discovering the Mission of God, page 410. Whether we realize it or not, we all understand the Bible through our cultural lenses. Consider how ludicrous it is to consistently interpret ancient Scripture of middle eastern culture through our 21st century western mindset. No wonder we have a plethora of fallacies and quirky understandings of the Word. Culture will always open our eyes to deeper realities of truth in the text.

Our value, however, goes beyond this, challenging us to actually understand the cultures we’re in so that our communication of the gospel can be many times more effective. The apostle Paul did this regularly as he planted churches across Asia minor. He declared, “I have become all things to all people that by all means I might save some,”  1 Corinthians 9:22.

Consider a few MARKERS we have identified to measure how well we are actually doing in this value:

  • Mutual trust is evident in all our relationships
  • We joyfully accommodate diverse cultures without violating Scripture
  • We leverage the distinctives of other cultures when communicating the gospel

We love the rich depth of the thousands of cultures around the world. We want to leverage those for even greater effectiveness in communicating the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are committed to “being sensitive to other cultural points of view.”        

Resourcing for Effectiveness

In Converge International Ministries, we are committed to effectiveness and excellence. We want to sure to develop high potential strategies, deploy carefully assessed and prepared missionaries, and then provide life-giving encouragement and support through all their years of service.

IMLT 2014Our 4th International Ministries Value is that we Resource for Effectiveness.

We strive to eliminate the barriers to success for all of our personnel. A lack of leadership, finances, tools, ministry partners, and more will keep us from reaching our greatest degree of influence. We are committed to developing and implementing systems of support that will enable us to reach our maximum degree of influence.

“If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously,” Romans 12:7-8. Most simply, the point is, for whatever God has gifted and called you to do, do it really well.

We are currently developing The Leadership Pipeline which will encourage and stimulate our global partners everywhere to continue developing as leaders in their personal life, professional/ministry life, and family life. If we are healthy and continue to grow in these areas, there is a high probability that we will become increasingly more effective in the calling that God has entrusted to us.

For the Glory of God and for the salvation of lost people, we resource for effectiveness.

Being Results Oriented

At Converge Worldwide, we believe that our mission efforts should result in individuals saved, leaders deployed, churches started and strengthened. Activity without effectiveness dishonors God. With grace, understanding the uniqueness of each ministry setting, we will hold one another accountable for what we said we would achieve.

IMG_2526 (800x600)Our fourth Converge International Ministries value is that we are results oriented.

The early church set the precedent of celebrating great results! They even recorded those results in Scripture for all to see throughout history. “And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. Barnabas…exhorted them…and a great many people were added to the Lord. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people.” Acts 11:21-26 Why is this stated? Because results matter to God.

Two primary realities form this value:

  1. We are commanded to the specific task of making disciples and need to help one another to do this well. Activity is not productivity. I once had a youth pastor who was so busy all the time that he lived his daily life at a feverish pitch, but he produced very little. Upon inspecting his work habits, I discovered that he never identified the priority of activities that would push him toward his goals. He just thought that a good minister was a really busy minister. The last thing we want are busy, tired, stressed out, and ineffective missionaries. We are implementing systems and relationships that will help us constantly move toward greater effectiveness in the Great Cause appointed to us.
  2. We are expected to be good stewards of all that God entrusts to us. When a church or individual sacrifices to support a Converge missionary, we want to be sure that they have made a very good investment. Systematic encouragement and accountability for our global ministers will enable their talents, skills, experiences, and spiritual gifts to be leveraged toward their greatest influence.

We are results oriented because we don’t just want to do good things, but the right things.

Strategies of Multiplication

Addition will never accomplish the great commission. That’s why in Converge International Ministries, our #3 Value is to pursue strategies of multiplication.Bangkok group (2)

Addition is always needed to begin movements. Jesus added disciples in the early days of His ministry. In the first church, “the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved,” Acts 2:47.  For years, missionaries needed to focus on addition because multiplication was not possible on so many newly engaged fields. We still have numerous missionaries that live an incarnational ministry—to be like Jesus in cross-cultural settings, gathering a few disciples in order to eventually begin a strategy of multiplication. These ought to be applauded, supported, prayed for, and celebrated. Unfortunately, these are often the missionaries whose support is withdrawn because there is so little fruit. At times, addition is desperately needed.

Our International Ministries’ goal, however, is to pursue multiplication in all places and ways possible. Paul stated to Timothy, “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also,” 2 Timothy 2:2. Our missionaries are charged with implementing strategies of multiplication whenever and however they can. Our high priority is the raising up of indigenous leaders among least reached peoples who will do the work of ministry in their contexts much better than a Westerner could do. Our strategies of multiplication are producing hundreds of equipped leaders in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Multiplication is one of God’s best methods for impact and scope of transformation.

 

Prioritizing Least Reached Peoples

IMG_5820 (800x583)Our #2 value in Converge International Ministries is that we prioritize least reached peoples–those who, because of geographical, religious, or social isolation, have not heard a credible presentation of the good news of Jesus.  We prioritize these peoples because God desires that all people have an opportunity to hear and respond to the Gospel.

We believe that good missiology directs our attention, resources, and efforts at reaching those people groups who have still not embraced Jesus as Savior and Lord. We especially target those who do not presently have a significant church presence among them.  When a critical mass of believers is reached among an affinity group (often considered between 5% and 10%), they are more capable of evangelizing and growing the church than we outsiders can do. Of course, there are times when missionaries can still fill a nitch as the church matures, like providing leadership training, theological education, and equipping missionaries to go where westerners cannot. The general rule, however, is that the greatest need we can meet is to help bring the gospel to those who have no sustainable church presence to speak of.

This also resonates with the heart of God. Jesus declared that, “this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come,” Matthew 24:14. This is Scripture’s clearest statement as to when Christ will return — when every ethne’ (people group) hears the good news of the kingdom. This is on God’s heart and mind. It is the focal point of what God is doing in all of history. I want to be a part of that! Do you?

Check out what we’re doing among least reached peoples these days. It’s really amazing! Global Church Multiplication Video

You can take a look at our web page on this…

 

 

Word Based, Spirit Empowered

As servants of Christ, we need to do the right things in the right ways–and then see results that go way beyond our ability to produce.

Our Converge International Ministry value #1 states: We are Word-based and Spirit-empowered.

The Word of God tells us what to do and how to do it. This is our baseline in all that we do. We need to be in the Word, listening for God to speak, searching for truth, hungry for spiritual nourishment. Our natural default is to sample the Word — maybe just enough to help us still feel biblical or acceptable — but to bypass the Truth as our true source of guidance and confidence. I find myself constantly needing to refocus my life so that I’m a man of the Word. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. If I’m going to truly live by this value of being Word-based, it means that I must be pursuing truth constantly right from the pages of Scripture. Anything less is a sham.

When we are people of the Word, the Spirit loves to take our offerings of service and multiply its fruit. The Spirit has been given as our “Helper.” Too often, in our western version of Christianity, we theologically espouse the Spirit’s supernatural power, but fail to depend on His intervention. To see a great post on this, a friend of mine, T.J. Addington, recently wrote a good one! I’m convinced that a minority of believers actually know how to walk by the Spirit and be radically used by Him. But this is what we all must be doing every day! As the apostle Paul declared, “each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done,” 1 Corinthians 3:13, ESV.

Whether we are a missionary, pastor, volunteer in the church, or Christian in the marketplace, we must be Word-based and Spirit-empowered in order to fulfill God’s designed plan for our lives.