Six Missionaries Trained to Bring a Genesis to Two Cities

By: Alejandra García

On September 29, 2019 the new missionaries assigned to Genesis arrived in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic for training before going to the field. After six weeks of previous online training, these four weeks would be the final step to prepare for their task: planting new churches in Monterrey, Mexico and Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.75271515_2430500563712655_1334343848062615552_n.jpg

Oscar Isem Quej (from Guatemala), Elba Duson (from Dominican Republic), Teresa De cuesta García (from Mexico), Diana González (from El Salvador), and Edgar Daniel Santiago and Andrea López (both from Mexico) brought with them an eagerness to bring the good news of salvation to those in need, the desire to see lives transformed through Christ and to be used for his glory, and most of all, the conviction to obey and always say “yes” to the Lord.

Once they finished their classes on Urban Mission, Church Planting, Missionary Anthropology, Personal Care, Teamwork, and much more, they departed on October 25 for Monterrey and Quetzaltenango with many useful tools and a new knowledge of how to serve in their cross-cultural ministries. They learned a great deal and expressed an unwavering commitment to continue serving the Lord. Let’s hear some of their testimonies:

Elba: “During this time of training and living with my fellow missionaries in Genesis, the Lord confirmed even more strongly the special call that he had placed in my heart about 4 years ago. Each of the topics discussed were of great importance to us as we carry out the work ahead. As we reached the last day of training, I was more convinced than ever of what God wants to do through our obedience in the city.”

Oscar: “I thank God for the time of training in the Dominican Republic because it was a great blessing and help. I thank Him for all the facilitators who taught us the courses, the moments of evangelism and the prayers of Scott and Emily Armstrong, and the help and care of Gary and Naomi Faucett and Alejandra García. I feel more prepared after seeing how God is leading me and giving me wisdom for my missionary work. It is a joy to be part of this mission.”

Diana: “The training time was a great blessing and full of challenges. Above all, God spoke to my heart about the love and interest he has for the city. Sometimes, when we think of the city, we focus on material abundance, busy lives, self-centeredness, or people living their lives as they want, but now I thank God for the opportunity to serve in the city by sharing the hope Jesus gives us.”

Teresa: Without a doubt it has been a time of great blessing, full of laughter, learning, tears, but above all challenges. During this month God has touched my heart and has made me see that Genesis begins with me. He has completely demolished some barriers in my life and has now begun to build a new city, a new life, as I am comforted with the vision of preaching the message of salvation.  I am sure that God is already working in the hearts of those I will meet and that these two years will be of blessing to Xela (Quetzaltenango).”

Daniel and Andrea: “From the moment we arrived in the D.R., everything felt different. We began to miss several things from southern Mexico, and God showed us in a surprising way what He wanted for our lives in each of the topics discussed. During several activities in the city, we could see the difference in urban classes, and we were surprised to see the large number of houses and people living in the apartment buildings. Seeing the lack of water and basic sanitation services also impacted us, since the garbage trucks do not pass through the places we were walking. During this month of training, we touched lives, and we are positive that the seed was sown in their hearts and that God will continue to work in them.”

76762622_2398626683713206_4071879294417108992_n.jpgWe thank God for the life of each of these missionaries. Pray for their ministries in the next two years. And may God bring a genesis to Monterrey and Quetzaltenango!

 

The Relevant Church

By: Dan Reiland

Culture is changing, and it’s changing fast. More than ever before, the church has an incredible opportunity (and responsibility) to make a difference.

But let’s be honest, we can’t lead with cultural relevance from the back of the parade.  We can’t lead future generations if we don’t know what they want, how they experience life, and how God wants to engage them.

Keeping up is the baseline. Understanding how people perceive their world is essential. It’s best to be thinking ahead, seeing around the curve, anticipating, and staying relevant.

This doesn’t mean you need to panic.  It’s not a race; it’s about being deliberate in your leadership. Relevance is not about being cool, creative, and clever; it’s about the ability to connect.

Churches become irrelevant when they can no longer connect with the next generation.  The gospel is never irrelevant, but we have a responsibility to discover the best way for it to be received.

How do you assess if you are relevant? Who decides? This article gives you practical insights to frame a conversation for your leaders.

5 Insights For A Practical Grasp Of Ministry Relevance

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1) To Be Relevant, It Simply Means That It Matters.

Relevance means what you do matters. Relevance means that your ministry makes a difference, and people’s lives are changed.

True relevance would suggest that the surrounding community notices your presence and appreciates your ministry. Relevance is measured only in part by attendance, and perhaps a smaller part, it’s truly measured by the community’s opinion of the good you do.

The first step in your city perceiving your ministry as relevant begins by knowing that you care.

2) Don’t Confuse Relevance With Style Or Culture.

Relevance is not about your choice of worship songs or how casual you may or may not be; that is a matter of style, preference, and culture. Relevant isn’t about whether your shirt is tucked or un-tucked, or whether you preach 25 minutes or 45 minutes.

Ministry relevance is more about quality and effectiveness.

Pastors will ask me if I think choirs are still relevant in today’s culture. If the choir is really good, it is absolutely relevant. Bad choirs are irrelevant.

Regarding relevance, just ask the question, “Does it work?” If it works, it’s relevant. But you have to be honest about the answer to that question.

3) Don’t Answer Questions That No One Is Asking 

Have you ever played Trivial Pursuit? It’s a fun game, but beyond that, who really cares about those questions? If you weren’t trying to win the game, no one would care about the answers.

If we aren’t careful, we can answer questions as part of a local church ministry that no one is asking. That is irrelevant.

As a leader, I first learned this principle with my own children. When they were young, they asked hundreds of questions. By their teen years, the questions slowed to a near stop. I had to find where they were at, be patient, learn what their questions were, and parent from that perspective. Then I could use their questions to lead to timeless truth.

You don’t have to dumb down your theology to be relevant, but you do need to understand what people are asking to be a relevant leader, teacher, and pastor.

Start with their questions and then lead them to biblical truth.

4) Relevance Requires Asking What The Community Needs

Innovation that comes only from your boardroom is not likely to be relevant.

Talk to people who don’t attend church. Ask people who left your church. Ask people in your church who are under thirty years old. Learn how other churches are connecting. (Again, that doesn’t mean you need to do what they do, but you can get ideas and adapt to your context.)

One of the best ways to shut down relevance is to talk to the same people about the same issues, making a small tweak and end up doing the same things.

Relevance isn’t in competition with the culture; it’s about connecting with current culture. It’s not about surrendering truth; it’s about meeting people where they are at.

How’s your church doing with that?

5) Embrace Innovation And Change. 

You don’t have to do what other churches do, but you can’t do what you’ve always done.

The message remains the same, but our methods must change. Technology alone insists that you change your approach to ministry.

Technology changed positions we put together a ministry team, how we broadcast and share messages, and how we communicate with volunteers.

People used to carry their Bibles to church; now Bibles are in their smartphones.

Relevance matters.

What are you doing really well?

What is working?

What’s not working, and you need to change?

 

Dan Reiland is the Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. 

© 2019 Dan Reiland | The Pastor’s Coach – Developing Church Leaders

 

Seeking Virtue In All

By: Scott Armstrong

A recent journey into social media caused me to end up pushing myself away from my laptop and cell phone, wide-eyed at the exaggerated self-promotion of so many voices proclaiming they are right and the other side (whoever that may be) is wrong.  It all reminded me of an excerpt from Stevenson Willis’ book, The Proverbs of Leadership, that I have found particularly insightful (pp. 134-136):

“No longer use the gift of your vision to focus on the flaws and frailties of another.  Search instead for the virtue within him and bring it to light for all the world to see.  Never pay attention to the whispers of gossip, nor allow your ears to hear words that slander or diminish.  When the idle or the agitators commence their hurtful chatter, always speak up for the one who is maligned and sing of their qualities to all whom will listen…

No longer must you view yourself as superior to any, for though prosperous or poor, will your bones not return unto the same pile of dust? Never walk so tall to think that you can never stumble nor esteem yourself as wise and incapable of error.  All forms of arrogance and conceit must be banished from your mirror, for such blinding self-deceptions distort your sense of worth.

Neither must you draw attention to your strengths nor boast of your talents that others might be awed.  From this day forth dedicate the usage of the gifts you’ve been given for one purpose only: to stir within others an awareness of their own.

The creator has endowed each soul with potential and asks of you to see it in whomever you shall meet.  With this simple truth the masses will receive you and the cause you’ve embraced.  Without it you will flounder, even with those whom you love.  From this day forth you must view every person in only one way: not as they have been or as they are, but as how they were created to be.

For when you view your fellow man through the eyes of our maker compassion and humility will flow from your heart. 

And many will draw near to discover the source”.

 

A Strong Foundation

By: Scott Armstrong

A while ago I had a conversation with a college student who I see a lot of potential in.  I actually see gifts and graces in him to be a fantastic missionary someday.  He is passionate about issues of justice and helping the world to become a better place.

At the same time, he recognizes that his morality is lacking.  He wants to hold on to some habits and practices that are slowly eroding his effectiveness as a student, a leader, and a Christ-follower.  Sadly, it appears that he is willing to change the world, but he is not willing to change himself.

Stevenson Willis wrote a book chock-full of wisdom and called, The Proverbs of Leadership: Principles for Leading Your People to the Pinnacle of Greatness.  In it he reflects on this issue of character (pp. 110-111).  I hope you find it challenging.  I may send it to my university friend:

“As with all the great cities built to stand for the ages Jerusalem is established on a bedrock of stone.  The outer wall which protects it is likewise constructed, for the footings that support it have been set to such a depth that it cannot be moved. ancient-angkor-wat-antique-1531677.jpg

But what would happen if the plans for its foundation called for stones that were cracked? Or were it constructed with a base inadequate to carry its load? And what of the cities which might copy its design, unaware of the flaws concealed within? As sure as the sun will rise, each would collapse.  Maybe not today nor tomorrow, but the downfall of all would be certain and inevitable.

And so shall it be in the building of your character.  You may rise to a position of leadership based upon charisma or personality – and indeed succeed for a season – but such unstable stones are not sufficient to sustain you.  If you are to endure through the challenges which will come and emerge with a character worthy of replication, your life must be established on a foundation that will last. 

Integrity is the bedrock upon which character must be built; honesty with self, the first stone to set in place.

Do not bargain with life by coasting on talent or relying upon charm to reduce the payment required for success.  Though such gifts have value they are often misused by the short-sighted to avoid sacrifice.  If you are blessed with talent in abundance or skilled in the art of charm, do not deceive yourself and others by hiding behind your gifts to conceal your unwillingness to work.  For, as many have discovered too late, the cost of your discount will be great and soon subtracted from your character.

Anything of lasting value requires that the price be paid in full before its benefit can be savored.  Though talent alone may propel you to the summit, you will not be allowed to remain; for your conscience (and others) will quickly remind you that you did not pay the price which was necessary to get there.

Cheat by avoiding sacrifice and you swindle only yourself.

There are no shortcuts in the construction of character.  Though the price for building it may seem expensive today, to correct its flaws tomorrow following a failure will cost even more.  From this day forth be honest with yourself and pay with gladness whatever price is demanded for success in your endeavors”.

 

 

 

 

 

Soaked

A Reflection From Cathy Spangler

“I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint” (Hab. 2:1).

The other night I had some great contemplation time.  I was digging around in Habakkuk 2:1-2 and asking the Holy Spirit, “What does it mean to ‘stand at my post,’ and what is my ‘post’? How does one ‘stand’ or ‘station’ herself?”

The questions kept coming as I read verse 2: “Then the Lord replied: ‘Write down the vision and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.’”

What vision? Why write it down? What does it mean that “the vision awaits an appointed time,” and why will it surely come and “not delay” (v. 3)?

As I processed through that, I looked out my window and noticed it had rained again.  The ground was wet; the street had puddles.  Suddenly the Word of the Lord came to me and I wrote it down:

“Like the rains that soak the ground I will rain down.  Receive it like thirsty ground.  Splash in it like the birds do. clean-clear-close-up-1100946.jpg

For surely in times past I did rain and pour out My Spirit, but My people didn’t want to get wet.  They regarded My Presence as a bother; a burden; a threat!

As rain runs off the hard surfaces covering the ground, some are hardened and unreceptive, so the Holy Spirit will pass by.

Prepare yourself, confess, forgive, get rid of offense and hardness.  Open to Me!  Seek Me.  Not My gifts or miracles.  Seek the living water of My Presence.  Yes, splash around in it.  Be cleansed, refreshed and cast away “care”.  For from My throne flows a trickle that becomes a fast, flowing stream and then a deep and wide river.  The river brings healing to the multitudes and brings life to what was dead and lifeless.

Blessed are those who come…

To drink of Me

To enjoy Me

To be made clean and new and whole.

I invite you to receive the latter reign!”

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Revived by the Word

Freya Galindo Guevara

Over the course of our lives, we have all had to go through various situations that have left us feeling discouraged or defeated.  They made us feel beaten down, afflicted or worried.  Maybe we felt weakened, powerless, or like we had lost all our energy.  Many times instead of drawing close to God, we drift further and further away until we end up losing our focus.

To be revived means to give vitality or strength to a person who is weak, or to something that has lost energy. The opposite of reviving is to discourage.

Psalm 119 is well-known for being the longest chapter in the Bible.  There are many things one could say about this psalm: it is divided into 22 sections (8 verses each) that are each identified by a letter from the Hebrew alphabet.   Throughout the passage there are several terms the writer uses as synonyms for the law of God (word, commands, statutes, judgments, precepts, testimonies).  The psalmist makes comparisons between walking in God’s commands and walking in the natural ways of humanity.  The psalm also has many praises for the Word of God. These are only a few of the elements of Psalm 119.

The first time we find the word REVIVE (taken from the New American Standard Bible) is in verse 25, which says: “My soul cleaves to the dust; Revive me according to your word.” The word “revive” reappears nine more times through the rest of the Psalm.  Other English translations use the word “preserve” or forms of the phrase “give life.” In the NASB, the word “revive” appears 27 times, and 10 of them are in this single psalm!

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Maybe “reviving” is not a verb we use frequently when we refer to the scripture.  And that made me think: we know the Bible is our instructional guide, our map and our light. But how many times do we proclaim that the Bible has the capability to REVIVE?

If we are discouraged, afflicted, or dejected, if we feel we do not have enough strength or we are weak, do we immediately draw close to the Bible so that God, through his Word, can give us strength, vitality and energy?  Maybe we do seek the Bible, but not immediately.  Nevertheless, God’s word is the answer! The way the Lord can revive us is if we search for him in his own Word: “I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have revived me” (Ps. 119:93).

The next time you feel discouraged, open your Bible! The words captured there can encourage you and absolutely revive you!

5 Mistakes that Cause a Slow Leak in your Influence

By Dan Reiland

We all make mistakes, that’s part of leadership. When you’re leading into the unknown and taking new territory it’s impossible to get everything right – all the time.

Some mistakes, however, are those unintended but avoidable missteps that slowly decrease your influence over time.

They are slow, subtle and therefore not as easily noticed. Your leadership isn’t affected right away like a more dramatic mistake, or bad decision might cause, but little by little your influence is eroded.

It’s like a prolonged leak in one of the tires in your car. You can keep driving for a long time, but eventually, the tire goes flat, and your forward progress comes to an end.

If you don’t fix it, you can’t go anywhere. Worse, I’ve seen some people attempt to drive on a flat with that thump, thump, thump thing happening, and we all know how well that goes.

The scary thing is that because these mistakes are usually slow and subtle as I mentioned, they often go unnoticed or unheeded. Even when someone points them out, the leader just keeps going. I’ve had that happen while driving my car.

At a stop light, a guy points at my tire and calls out loudly. “Your tire is low!” I motion back a friendly wave of acknowledgment, and think “yeah, right, maybe later. I’ve got to keep going right now.” Several days later I’m driving with a thump.

Leading with a thump just doesn’t work. When you know what these mistakes are, you can avoid them.

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Together we could list a good number of this specific kind of mistake, but I’m presenting five of the more commonly experienced.

5 leadership mistakes that cause a slow leak in your influence:

1) Allowing speed and pressure to kill your kindness.

More people — more pressure right? We love people, and it’s a privilege to serve, but let’s be honest, it’s not easy to keep up with all the needs and requests.

Then add speed to the mix and leadership really becomes complex. “Faster” seems like a core leadership value these days. It’s not intentional, but just the way it is.

When speed and pressure are added together, simple kindness can get squeezed out of your daily relationships. That doesn’t indicate that you behave in an overtly mean way, it’s more about the absence of kindness. And that is always noticed and felt.

Those you lead will give you grace for a while, but over time this will catch up with you and decrease your influence.

Slowing down is difficult but necessary. Be intentional about expressing kindness to those you serve and lead.

2) Leading from emotion rather than thinking.

It’s always important to communicate with a sense of authentic emotion – straight from the heart. Leading with that kind of authenticity is just as vital.

However, emotionally driven leadership often delivers poor decisions, confusing or last-minute changes, and ideas that are incongruent with your core values.

When emotions such as discouragement, frustration, anger, or jealousy, etc., are allowed to shape your leadership behavior, you will slowly see a decrease in your overall influence.

Your best leadership always starts with your best thinking. Focused, disciplined and mature thinking is required for your best leadership. Demonstrate your leadership with lots of heart, but first, guide it with right thinking.

3) Questioning people rather than asking questions.

Great leaders ask great questions, but there is a significant difference between asking questions and questioning.

Insightful questions seek purposeful information to help someone, but questioning feels like an interrogation seeking to corner, trap, or even hurt someone.

Questions come from a need for understanding, questioning stems from an inherent place of distrust. It’s rare that a leader does this knowingly, but inner battles that result in things like fear and insecurity can flip questions to questioning.

Questions look for something that is there, questioning presumes upon things that are not there. This quickly decreases a leader’s influence.

4) Leveraging authority over empowerment.

Command and control may seem like an ancient leadership style, but it creeps into the mix more often than you might think.

Its more subtle forms are packaged in things like micro-management, using policy over influence, and pushing a personal agenda. These things will slowly erode anyone’s leadership.

Real empowerment is based on the foundation of trust and does not depend on org-chart based formal authority.

Authority may seem fast and efficient, and in the moment that’s true, but over the long run, authoritative leadership will cost you much of your influence.

Empowerment trusts, values and builds people up. Empowerment embraces freedom with guidelines and recognizes results.

5) Failing to do what you say you will do.

Failure to do what you say you’ll do may be one of the biggest and most common leadership mistakes there is, and it’s so easily avoidable.

I rarely recommend that anyone stop using phrases like: “I’ll do it, or “I’ll take care of it, etc.,” but that would be better than failing to do what you say. But the truth is that it wouldn’t address the real problem.

The real problem often originates in something as innocent as being forgetful or overly busy, but can also represent a character issue. Either way, it will eventually diminish your influence.

The people you serve and lead need to know they can count on you. It doesn’t matter if it’s something small like telling someone you’ll call them in the morning, or you’ll email the information they asked for. If you said you would, you absolutely must do it.

Avoid these “slow leak” leadership mistakes at all costs and your leadership will gain a distinct advantage.

 

This article was originally published at: DanReiland.com