Friday, November 13, 2015

The Motivation of Team

This past week I received a note from a reader in response to my article published in the October 2015 Evangelical missions Quarterly.  Miguel writes,

“I enjoyed your article on EMQ (How Teams Work: A case Study in Senegal, West Africa), and I was impressed for the way you concluded on regard of the different level of involvement of the members. I am currently writing a book on high-impact teams (in Spanish) and I have a question: How different layers/tiers provide members to next levels? How members increase the involvement and get access to the next level?”

My answer below,

“Thanks for the note and reading the article.  As to your questions, the article points out that there are no "steps" in levels of role or leadership.  The Beersheba Project team is egalitarian with limited leadership roles.  As a football team works in tandem for the completion of the goal, so, too, does the Senegal team.  Each member of the BP team work within their areas of giftedness which contributes to the overall goal of reaching their community with the Gospel as well as strengthening the local church. It is because of this structure that makes the Senegal team unique.”

Using sports teams as a metaphor, be it basketball, football or baseball, the only thing that members “compete” for is to be a part of the team.  The left tackle doesn’t aspire to be a tight end; the forward does not aspire to be a guard. 

Too many times in business, missions and the local church, the ambition to get to the next level of leadership hinders the stated goal.  Structure is important, but a team that wins is when everyone is playing to the best of their ability in their position and giftedness.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Missions Across the Street

Last weekend in the Dallas area, I visited a good friend and partner in our work for 40 years.  When I first visited his church back in 1975 they were located at the end on a vacant lot on a dirt road.  Today, their church is surrounded by houses and businesses.

One of the interesting things about this neighborhood is that most of the people who have moved in are either from Nepal or Tonga Islands.  He asked me the obvious question, “As a missionary, do you have any ideas how we can get these people in church?”  Great question, and of course I did have some suggestions. 

There is hardly a place in the America where there are not immigrant people groups.  A vast majority of these people will never enter into a church, indeed, cannot enter a church because of cultural barriers.  So how do we reach the Nepali Hindus, or the Pakistani Muslims who are in our communities?

When I first went out as a missionary to Africa I heard the refrain in U.S. pulpits, “If we aren’t taking the Gospel across the street we shouldn’t be sending missionaries across the world.”  In today’s world our neighborhoods is every bit as foreign as those we send 10,000 miles away.

My advice to my friend was obviously brief as how to befriend a Hindu, which may lead to a discussion of Christ and His salvation, couldn’t throughly be explained over lunch.  I was able, however, to give some simple ideas to get him started.  How to take those suggestions to the next introductory level will take at least one full day and for the serious cross-cultural church planter more than a week.  However, I was encouraged that he at least was thinking about the questions.  Perhaps in the future I will be able to coach he and his church member how they can serve their ethnic community.  It really is true, cross-cultural ministry is not just on the other side of the world, but also across the street.

For more information on how to reach those across the street, visit our webpage,

Monday, September 07, 2015

The Lowe’s Model of Missions

The trend of North American local churches and world outreach for the past decade has been the Lowe’s home improvement model, do it yourself or…”Let’s build something.”  Rather than hiring a plumber or carpenter, let’s save money (surely not time) and just do it ourselves.  In the same vain, instead of depending on a mission organization or American missionaries on the field in reaching the world with the Gospel, many American congregations have adopted the philosophy of let’s just do it ourselves.  We, the local church, can save money, engage our local congregation in projects better than the old model of sending missionaries.

There is a certain ring of truth to this trend.  It cost a great deal of money to send North Americans overseas and in today’s economics the expense is outstripping the budget, as the IMB announced last week when they determined they are forced to reduce their missions staff by 800 people (  However, beyond economics, the Lowe’s model of missions is, mostly about meeting the needs of the local church. 

What are the motivations for Lowe’s model of missions. 

FOCUSED MINISTRY - We will target the people and fields we want to support.  Example, instead of supporting a North American missionary family going to Germany, which we are not interested in, we will support a national pastor working among the Aka pygmies in the DRC. 

ECONOMICS – Instead of supporting the Western missionary for $200 per month, which is not even 3% of his needed monthly support, we can use that $200 to sustain a national pastor for a month.

 HANDS-ON – Along with focus we can engage our local congregation in taking trips to work alongside the national, build orphanages, have feeding programs and provide leadership seminars.  We can, in some ways, duplicate our church in the states overseas. 

On the surface it looks like the Lowe’s model of missions makes more sense than contracting a professional.  However, below the surface, where reality resides, we find a different story. 

ARROGANCE – The Lowe’s model of missions is a little like the song from Annie Get Your Gun, “Anything you can do I can do better.  I can do anything better than you” (   Just because the American church can finance a program doesn’t mean they know how to do missions better.  It’s true, the Western church can make ministry on the field look shinny and appear successful, but it’s arrogance to think it’s better than what a North American missionary on the field can do. 

MISSIOLOGICALLY NAÏVE – There is no evidence that supporting a national pastor, missionary or church planter is more effective than a North American.  Cheaper, yes, but saving money is not the issue, or shouldn’t be.  I have been working with nationals for thirty years.  I have met and worked with some indigenous servants who were really gifted and blessed of God.  I have met others who were inept and ineffective.  Due to tribe, caste or socio-economics, in some cases, nationals are actually less effective than North Americans.  An Indian from the south is not naturally a more effective in outreach to Hindu’s to the north.  Indeed, because they do not know language or know the culture of those in the north, they could easily be more of a liability than a blessing.

THEOLOGICALLY INCONSISTENT - An American church I am familiar with recently ceased funding American missionaries all over the world to focus on a particular unreached people group in South Asia.  The reports of people coming to Christ and churches being established by the nationals were staggering.  In visiting this indigenous mission I was stunned at their lack of understanding of basic Bible doctrine.  In fact, our guide from this mission stated openly that he thought going to a seminary was a waste of time, remarking that most false teaching is due to people going to seminaries!  Over the course of two days I visited several of their churches in the region.  Not one time was the Bible opened.  Every testimony from the church members was conversion through healing, some from deafness, cancer and one reported to have risen from the dead. 

The American congregation that supported this indigenous mission is a solid, conservative and theologically strong church.  There is no way that they would allow the teaching from this South Asia congregation to creep into their church.  Yet, they have invested thousand of dollars into this national organization.  Why?  The only thing I can think of is due to the naïveté of this church’s mission leadership. 


The Lowe’s model of missions needs a different focus and a new theme.  This will mean a remodeling of our thinking, including better training among American churches and indigenous leaders in missions.  It will mean a bit more humility, on both sides, than stating “anything you can do I can better.”  It means recognizing that, indeed, the old ways of doing missions needs to be analyzed, but also recognize that not all those in the West are disqualified from serving Christ cross-culturally.  The 3.6 billion people in this world who have never met a Christian will not be reached with the Lowe’s model of missions.   Rather than state, “Let’s build something,” Lowe’s current slogan is more appealing…”Never Stop Improving.”

Keys To Effective Missionary Training


Through a partnership between LCCTI and Glenwood Baptist Church in Kansas City, we provided a missionary training program called Double Time last week. Here are four keys that made it successful.

1. LEARNERS - There are three types of people who attend special meetings: Prisoners (they are there because someone made them attend - Visitors (love to fellowship, eat and have a good time) - Learners…obviously serious students with a focus. Those who attended DOUBLE TIME this year were motivated learners.

2. ACCOMODATIONS – Environment goes a long way in setting the tone for classes. If the motel breakfast is a bagel in a bag hung on the room door and cockroaches on the shower floor begins the day, class time is already has an uphill climb. DT students commented that they really appreciated their accommodations.

3. CONTENT – Trying to teach a two-week course in three days is impossible. However, we chose the most important and practical subjects to tackle and, based on the evaluations, I believe DT hit the mark. One missionary stated, “The classes opened my eyes to so many characteristics of culture and methods of research that can be recognized and used for my field. Preparation breeds confidence, and I feel more knowledgeable on how to work on the field.”
4. HOST – Hands down, the success of DT was because of our host, Glenwood Baptist Church. GBC didn’t just host a missionary training program, they made an investment in the lives of those who attended; underwriting some of the accommodations, catering the lunches, providing child care and even making sure there was plenty of snacks for breaks. 
Plans are taking shape for DT/KC in 2016, and we have already heard from missionaries who will be on furlough next year who want to attend.

Perhaps your church or organization would be interested in a Double Time intensive.  Contact us to learn more how we can help you in your training needs.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Mercy Rescue Trust

While in Kenya this past month my wife and granddaughter visited a children’s home called Mercy Rescue Trust.  Mercy rescues abandoned, orphaned or vulnerable young children and babies.  They currently have 26 babies and children at the home.  The oldest is 13 years old and the youngest is just a couple of months old.  Their aim is to live and care for these children as best as they can, provide for their daily needs, give them a good education and loving place they can call home.  Where possible they try to find new and loving forever families for them or reconnect them with their biological families.  

I have been in missions nearly 40 years.  I have seen some really good programs for children and some that are questionable. The quality of any endeavor, business, church or organization is in those who are in leadership.  Jedidah Mvula seems to be one of the most self-less Christian young ladies I have met in a long time.  Her father is a pastor from Zambia, her mother from England.  She told Sandy that “Since the age of 15 I have wanted to work with children.”  She lives on the compound with three other Mercy workers, sleeps there and often when a child is sick they sleep in Jedidah’s room.  She is with the kids 24/7.

The board of directors of Mercy is in the UK and they operate on a shoe-string.  Can you imagine the laundry that must be done each day for 26 kids?  While we were there we purchased a blender for them and hope to raise enough funds for a cooker.  Their on-going needs include kitchen utensils, school bags, shoes, boys and girls underwear, Bibles, baby blankets, towels and spit-up cloths.

If you’d like to learn more about Mercy, go their Facebook page,  If you would like to contribute some of their needs, contact us, Lewis Cross-Cultural Training, and we will contact you with Jedidah who has set up a PayPal account.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Forty Year Veteran Missionary

A single missionary working in Latin American called and asked, “I’ve been on the field 40 years, would your training have any benefit for me?”

I paused and stammered a bit.  I told her that I wouldn’t presume that I could teach anything to someone over 70 years old.  In the course of the conversation she told me she teaches in their Bible College teaching men and women preparing for the pastorate and cross-cultural missions.  At that point I told her, “Yes, absolutely, I believe you would benefit from such training.   “In fact,” I continued, “it’s possible that you will gain even more from the classes than those attending who have not yet been on the field.”

I was over 40 years old and had been in Kenya over ten years when I took my first courses in intercultural studies at Biola University.  In those classes in cultural anthropology, linguistics, cross-cultural communication and the dynamics of religious experience the lights went on for me because it was not just theory but life I experiencing in Africa.  It was because of those courses that I eventually focused my doctoral dissertation on how to best to plant churches to a specific people group.

Like many missionaries in my day, and still true today, my preparation for overseas work was limited to theology courses.  Good stuff, necessary for the task of ministry, but woefully lacking in how to take what I knew to a people group that were illiterate, tribal and animistic.  Thirty years later I am still learning how cultures work and how best to enter into a specific culture that is contextual and more culturally relevant. 

Whether you are new in mission work or a seasoned veteran, whether you are going to do youth work, train indigenous leaders or social work, no matter if your focus will be in the urban West or the backwaters of Asia, it is my belief that DOUBLE TIME will be worth your time and money.  Mark your calendar for August 25 -27 and go to this website for more information and registration.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

For more information on this training event CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Missionary Training Opportunity

TIME and MONEY.  Those are the two things that I must consider in everything I do.  When someone invites me to teach cross-cultural missions I always have to check two things…my budget and my calendar.

There are precious few options for pre-field training for North American missionaries.  And, if you are able to find training opportunities it usually is too long (TIME) and too costly (MONEY).

Last month I was asked if I would provide training for a missionary family going to Western Europe working among Muslims.  Knowing that TIME is important for missionaries raising support (difficult to take off a weeks of visiting churches and donors for training) and, that MONEY is always an issue for missionaries trying to get to the field, I agreed, on two conditions.  First, it must be concentrated…to save TIME.  Second, it be affordable.

Through the cooperation of a church in Kansas City, LCCTI  is instituting a three-day intensive program we call DOUBLE TIME: Accelerated Missionary Training to be held August 25 – 27.

TIME – August is the dog-days of support raising.  Churches do not usually schedule mission conferences or missionary speakers in August.  Missionaries attending DOUBLE TIME will have Monday (August 24th) to travel to KC and still have time to get to their next Sunday’s destination after it concludes on Thursday.

TIME – To make the most of the intensive, those who sign up for the class will be sent the text reading 15 day before the class.  Additional reading and assignments will be given during the training and the student has two months to complete the assignments.

MONEY -  Housing for these sessions has been secured at a very nice hotel at a reduced rate.  Breakfast and lunch is provided.  The cost for the three day training is $150.00 per person, $250 per couple.  

In a recent survey I asked how many pastors would be willing to underwrite the cost of training for their missionaries.  Over 75% said they would.  I encourage pastors to send their missionary candidates to DOUBLE TIME, and for the missionary wanting to attend this class I suggest they approach their donors to help in the cost.

To register or inquire about DOUBLE TIME, contact Chris -