Here is a composite overview of the MinistryNet conference, told by several who attended.
Archives for October 2009
I watched the 166 MinistryNet participants leave on Saturday. 37 countries on 5 continents received back some highly motivated people with written strategic plans to implement specific steps to leverage internet communication tools in our win-build-send mission.
In an interview Friday, I was asked about this MinistryNet compared to previous ones in 2005 and 2007. I shared that each has seemed better and better. The tide of understanding the value and role of internet communication is definitely rising and lifting all the win-build-send boats. One difference this year is there is more organizational momentum in the Virtually-Led Movements area.
Another difference this year is the program team decided to intentionally “go after” organizational leaders to bring teams of people. We wanted organizational leaders who control budget and staff to engage with their teams. This approach probably would not have worked in previous years, but the tide has lifted us to another place in 2009. As one National Director told me this morning, his leadership suggested that he send 2 people to MinistryNet. But he understood that would not bring about the deep changes he knows he needs in his leadership team. The “delegate approach” doesn’t allow organizational leaders to understand the deep changes the internet is bringing in our world today. So he recruited his top leaders to come with him to MinistryNet. 8 people came with him. He said it was extremely valuable. They are returning home with specific, written plans. But more importantly, they are returning home with a team of people who understand together and committed together to the plan.
My prayer is that the world will never be the same. That the kingdom will be impacted for eternity because of our days together.
175 people. 37 countries. Antalya, Turkey. Four days. Exploring how to use the internet media of today to share the gospel and follow up new believers.
Wait! Hold on! That’s coming soon. That’s the next trip. I’ll share more about that later. I’d like to tell you about what happened on my recent trip to Africa.
There are 4 billion mobile phones in use around the world … and 6 billion people.
Mobile phones are enabling African countries to leapfrog generations of communications technology as they spread rapidly.
Mobile users on Facebook are 50% more active than non-mobile users.
Recently, I met with Dr. Emmanuel Bellon, Vice Chancellor of Nairobi International School of Theology. Emmanuel sees distance education as the only effective way to increase theologically-trained leadership. He is implementing a plan to expand distance education.
There is an urgent need for trained leadership to guide the exploding church membership in Africa. Our training institutions do not graduate enough leaders to supply the new churches planted each year in just the city of Nairobi alone. It’s fairly normal for a church to see its trained pastor preach once every 3 months. The interim times are led by lay leaders and women, mostly untrained. There is an urgent need for trained leadership across the African continent. Dr. Emmanuel Bellon.
But in Africa and many other places, the “last mile” is the hardest. Few have internet in their homes. But millions have mobile phones.
So, what if we could provide theological training to 20,000 pastors through a mobile phone? What if we could train thousands in how to share their faith with their friends? And follow up the hundreds of thousands of new believers?
We think we can.
We will run a pilot project in Africa next summer with a focus on training CCC staff in several countries. We will learn much about the possibilities of training millions through a mobile phone.
Now, back to the future. Kay and I are in Turkey for 2 weeks hosting conferences. We’ll tell you about that in a few days.
Patrick Lencioni wrote a brief but very insightful perspective on leading virtual teams. He introduces the topic with:
When I speak to audiences about teamwork, one of the most frequently asked questions I get has to do with managing groups of people who are geographically dispersed, a.k.a. virtual teams. This surprises me a little because the topic, as well as the solution for addressing it, is certainly not very sexy.
He says the key is to avoid making three mistakes.
- The first mistake that virtual teams make is underestimating the challenges of being dispersed. Because e-mail and voicemail and texting and instant messaging have become so second nature, we too often assume that a team member’s physical location makes little difference in the effectiveness of the team.
- The next mistake that virtual teams make is wasting the precious time that they do spend together. Too many virtual teams utilize their quarterly or monthly in-person sessions engaging in social activities, somehow believing that this is how the team will bond. While social time is okay, there should be a focused and organized attempt to build relationships in the context of the work that needs to be done.
- The last mistake that virtual teams make is failing to master an event that is one of the most loathed and underestimated of all corporate activities: the dreaded conference call. What teams have to do—and I told you up front that this is simple and unsexy—is make a serious commitment to one another that they will maintain a high standard of behavior during conference calls, even higher than they would for an in-person meeting.
What are your experiences leading from a distance?
I just finished reading John Piper’s book Filling Up the Afflictions of Christ: The Cost of Bringing the Gospel to the Nations in the Lives of William Tyndale, Adoniram Judson, and John Paton. Great book. I’ve been thinking deeply about the role of suffering in the propagation of the gospel since I first listened to a Piper sermon in 2007 called Doing Missions When Dying Is Gain. If you haven’t listened to this Piper sermon, get on over to the Desiring God website and listen. It’s free. You can listen online or download to your favorite MP3 device.
Speaking of free, you can download Piper’s book for free too. How sweet is that? So if you’d rather burn 128 pages in your printer, you can print your own copy. Or do what I did. I recently purchased an Amazon Kindle 2 (I’ll write about that sometime). I converted the book into Amazon’s Kindle format and read the PDF on my Kindle. It’s not as clean as a true Kindle book, but it worked fine and God stirred my soul at a deep level.
Some of Piper’s thoughts that I can’t get over:
I am saying that this suffering is part of God’s strategy for making known to the world who Christ is, how he loves, and how much he is worth.
… this voluntary suffering and death to save others is not only the content but it is also the method of our mission.
“… Christ’s suffering is for propitiation; our suffering is for propagation.”
[Colossians 1:24] is one of the most important verses explaining the thesis of this book—that missionary sufferings are a strategic part of God’s plan to reach the nations.
In his sufferings Paul is “filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for . . . the church.” What does that mean? It means that Paul’s sufferings fill up Christ’s afflictions not by adding anything to their worth, but by extending them to the people they were meant to save.
So the afflictions of Christ are “lacking” in the sense that they are not seen and known and loved among the nations. They must be carried by missionaries. And those missionaries “complete” what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ by extending them to others.
God intends for the afflictions of Christ to be presented to the world through the afflictions of his people.
Paul’s missionary suffering is God’s design to complete the sufferings of Christ, by making them more visible and personal and precious to those for whom he died.
And these thoughts are just from Piper’s introductory teaching. His exposing the lives of William Tyndale, John Paton, and Adironam Judson and they way they lived out the sufferings of Christ so that “‘the gospel of the glory of Christ’ (2 Corinthians 4:4) spread to all the peoples of the world and take root in God-centered, Christ-exalting churches.” Piper calls this “The invincible purpose of God in history.”
So get on over to Amazon and buy the book. Or get it free from DesiringGod.org. If you need to whet your appetite more, listen to Doing Missions When Dying is Gain. And may we not regard God’s call lightly. It’s why Kay and I are doing what we’ve done for 33 years, but now with greater clarity and purpose than ever before.