Monday, July 30, 2012

A Missiology of Suffering

Remember the word that I said to you, The servant is not greater than his Lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you...
John 15:20a

In the Western context we know that there are parts of Scripture that refer to persecution and we hear stories about other parts of the world where it happens; but we ourselves do not know much of the realities of it. I will go as far to say that most of us do not believe it will ever happen to us and that in the Western context it could not happen. 

Recently there was a news story of a pastor being arrested for having Bible studies in his home, which turned out to be an altogether different story. At first glance appeared to be a form of persecution taking place, outraged many Christians including myself. A good friend of mine pointed out that if that story had proven true that we should not be surprised, but rather mindful of what our Savior Jesus told us would be coming.

Now living in a context where persecution is more common, it has opened my eyes to the difference in attitude amongst believers. Upon visiting a graveyard where some missionaries were buried, my national brother looked to me and said, "Perhaps this is where we too will be soon as it tells us to expect persecution in the Word." I thought wow...am I really ready to join my brother in this line of thinking? 

The following information on developing a missiology of suffering is taken from a man that I have sat under his teaching on two separate occasions. I can not disclose his name as it is likely that there are those out there looking for him in order to kill him. I have learned a lot from him, especially regarding the persecuted church.

A MISSIOLOGY OF SUFFERING

"For the cause of Jesus Christ, we choose to go through suffering and persecution. 80% of the Christians in the world live where persecution is normal."


5 RESPONSES IN THE FACE OF EVIL-SPIRITUALLY PROGRESSIVE
  • God saves us!
  • God judge them!
  • God forgive them!
  • God forgive us as we forgive others!
  • God glorify Yourself!
You cannot make persecution fair so you must always ask yourself, "Is Jesus worth it?"


PRESUPPOSITIONS - IN THE BIBLE PERSECUTION WAS NORMAL
  • Today, the number one cause of persecution is people turning to Jesus!

VICTORIOUS FAITH IN THE MIDST OF PERSECUTION
  • They know Jesus.
  • They know the power of prayer and fasting.
  • Large portions of Scripture can be recreated by memory.
  • Large amounts of indigenous music can be recreated by memory.
  • The persecuted know that they are prayed for.
  • The local believing community cares for the persecuted's family.
  • They know that their suffering is for Jesus' sake.
  • They know their persecution is normal.
  • They have claimed their freedom.
  • They have lost their fear.
  • They have a genealogy of faith

Friday, July 27, 2012

Does Religious Faith Have Evidence?

This week I have been reading God's Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? by John C. Lennox. Lennox, who is a Professor in Mathematics at the University of Oxford and Philosophy of Science at Green Templeton College, has debated Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens and lectured at universities around the world. 

This book is written more as a reply to the "New Atheists," addressing the question of intelligent design. He spends much of his time in the book by using philosophical arguments against the arguments of those of Richard Dawkins. Although this book is written primarily using science, it is not such that an average educated person cannot understand it.

Early in the book Lennox points out that Dawkins' hostility to faith in God is the impression he has (sadly) gained that, whereas 'scientific belief is based upon publicly checkable evidence, religious faith not only lacks evidence; its independence from evidence is its joy, shouted from the rooftops'. Lennox in turn poses the question, "Where is the evidence that religious faith is not based on evidence?" 

He adds that mainstream Christianity will insist that faith and evidence are inseparable as faith is a response to evidence. The apostle John points to this in his writing in John 20:31 "But these things are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."  Likewise the apostle Paul points to nature as part of the evidence for the existence of God.

The thing with Dawkins' and those like him, they require evidence that they themselves do not give in their own definitions. For example, in his own definition of faith, which he calls 'blind faith,' he gives no evidence, but then he himself requires it of others. In Dawkins case he provides no evidence for his definition for faith because there is none; but in the case of a Christian we can and should provide evidence for our faith because the evidence has always been there.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Global Hope India

"As the largest and most unreached & neediest nation on the planet, India has never been more open to the gospel of Jesus Christ than it is right now."

I love what Global Hope India (GHI) is doing in the most unreached and neediest nation on the planet through  church planting, village development, and child rescue. Even better, GHI, is located in my hometown of Raleigh, NC. So people are always asking/looking for opportunities with something worthwhile to invest their time in, well here it is, Global Hope India.




Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
Romans 10:13

Monday, July 23, 2012

Does Taking A Stance = Being Openly Discriminatory?

This week Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy, who I have personally met, publicly said that his privately owned company supports the biblical definition of marriage. The company also said, "We have a culture and service tradition in our restaurants to treat every person with honor, dignity, and respect - regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender." Moving forward, Chick-fil-A intends to leave the policy debate of same-sex marriage to the government and political arena, which I highly commend them for and believe is the right place to leave it.

Now my issue here is that Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, has accused Chick-fil-A of being openly discriminatory. For someone in his postion this sure seems like an immature and unprofessional way of pointing fingers and playing the name game. The rhetoric of this is that Griffin is being openly discriminatory and writing about it as a way to get people to stop supporting the restaurant. 

If this is the definition and place that our society has come to in defining an openly discriminatory position then put my name on the list at the top right next to Dan Cathy. I, Matthew Boyd, too choose to support the biblical definition of marriage.

How choosing to take a stance, a biblical one at that, makes a person or a company openly discriminatory baffles me. Yes, I support the biblical definition of marriage, but I do not choose to be friends or not with someone based on their sexual orientation or gender. I follow Jesus and believe that the Bible lays out a better plan for marriage, the best plan, but I also know and believe that Jesus loves all people and wants them to come to him in the shape they are in. Chick-fil-A states a similar stance on their customers. They are not discriminatory towards any of them and maybe all of us on Sunday, :).

If you ask me, based on Chad Griffin's open statement that Chick-fil-A has a decidedly stuck-in-the-past mentality, Griffin himself is the one being openly discriminatory by making these type of remarks and choosing not to eat at America's best fast food restaurant based on his own discrimination. For Griffin and those out there like him, quit accusing others of being discriminatory and look at yourself in the mirror to make sure that you aren't the one discriminating, because often times it is the other way around.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Essential Characteristics of an International Church Planter


Do you think you've got what it takes to be an International Church Planter? The following list is the essential characteristics of an International Church Planter that I went through during my assessment with SendRDU, which exists to help plant gospel-centered churches in North Carolina, North America, and cities around the world. If you are interested in church planting or being assessed to plant check out their website to learn more. So what are the essential characteristics of an International Church Planter?

Essential Characteristics
International Church Planter
  1. Spiritual Vitality & Maturity
    1. Do they give evidence of a Gospel‐centered life?
    2. Do they possess a passionate love for Jesus and a vibrant devotional life?
    3. Do they exhibit a godly character?
    4. Are they growing in their understanding of the gospel and Christ‐likeness?
  2. Calling
    1. Can they communicate a compelling personal calling? Do others recognize their call?
    2. Are they ready to work hard to see this calling fulfilled?
    3. For couples – does their spouse share their call? Do their children support their call?
  3. Healthy Marriage and Family
    1. Do they exhibit a healthy marriage and family?
    2. Do they understand the balance of family and ministry?
    3. For Singles – Are they content in their singleness?
  4. Humble/Teachable
    1. Have they displayed a humility and willingness to listen and learn from others?
    2. Are they submissive and responsive to leadership?
    3. Can they receive constructive criticism and feedback?
  5. Relational
    1. Do they show genuine love and compassion for people?
    2. Do they establish and maintain healthy relationships?
    3. Are they friendly? Do they take the initiative to meet new people?
  6. Missional
    1. Can they naturally build relationships with the unchurched?
    2. Do they consistently and effectively share the Gospel with the unchurched?
    3. Have they shared the gospel with people from a different culture?
    4. Have they discipled others? Are they engaged in disciple‐making now?
  7. Committed to Biblical Community
    1. Are they active members of the church?
    2. Do they love the local church as God’s primary strategy for advancing the gospel?
    3. Are they committed to loving one another?
    4. Are they willing to be accountable to others?
  8. Flexible/Adaptable
    1. Are they adaptable to new people, places, cultures and concepts?
    2. Do they exhibit flexibility to changes and needs?
    3. Are they willing and committed to learning a different language and culture?
  9. Resilient
    1. Do they have an entrepreneurial, risk‐taking spirit?
    2. Have they demonstrated resilience and the ability to push through adversity? 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

WHAT IS A HEALTHY CHURCH?

In our Church Planting trainings in S. Asia we talk a lot about healthy church. But we also often get the question posed back to us, What is a healthy church? Based on God's Word we have been given the criteria that defines just what a healthy church should look like.

A HEALTHY CHURCH HAS ONE PURPOSE

The sole purpose of a healthy church is to make God and his glory known. According to the Bible, the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord just as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14).

A HEALTHY CHURCH HAS TWO SOURCES OF AUTHORITY

The first source of authority of a healthy church is of course the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is the head of the body, the church (Colossians 1:18-19). The second source of authority is the Word of God (Bible). God's Word is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness that the man of God may be competent and equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

A HEALTHY CHURCH HAS TWO TYPES OF LEADERS*

The first type of leader is an Elder/Pastor/Shepherd. The qualifications for an elder are laid out in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. According to Scripture this office is for men that are above reproach not only to those within the church but also outside the church. It also points out that if a man is not a good pastor in his home with his family then he has no business being a pastor outside of his home.

The second type of leader is a servant leader in a Deacon. The qualifications for a deacon are laid out in 1 Timothy 3:8-13 and Acts 6:1-7. According to Scripture this office is for men or women and also live a life that is above reproach. 

*There is a third type of leader that is highly recommended in that of a Treasurer, a trustworthy leader who can handle the giving. Although this is recognizably not a mandatory role it in most cases can be a wise choice as money is one of the number one reasons that a church will not be healthy and often split. 

A HEALTHY CHURCH HAS FOUR SIGNS OF HEALTH

First, a healthy church will support itself financially. Second, a healthy church will be self-governing. Third, a healthy church will go and multiply by making other healthy churches. Fourth, a healthy church will correct itself and one another through the use of God's Word.

A HEALTHY CHURCH HAS FIVE FUNCTIONS

A healthy church will exhibit five functions. First, it will exhibit worship through love for God (Matthew 22:36-38). Second, it will exhibit service through love by submitting and taking care of others (Matthew 22:39; Acts 2:42-47). Third, it will exhibit fellowship by love for one another (Matthew 22:39). Fourth, it will exhibit evangelism by going and telling others the good news of the gospel (Matthew 28:18-19). Fifth, it will exhibit discipleship by teaching others to obey all that Christ commanded (Matthew 18:19-20).

Monday, July 16, 2012

What Are The Five Parts of Kingdom Growth?

The following post is adapted from Nathan Shanks Four Fields.

And he said, "The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come."
Mark 4:26-29

From the above parable that we find in the book of Mark, a very effective church planting training material has been produced that has proven successful in many countries, especially in S. Asia. In this parable we discuss how there are five parts to Kingdom growth which occurs that result in the planting of healthy reproducing churches. 

Here Are the Five Parts of Kingdom Growth:

1. Entry Plan

  • Field must be ready before seed is laid.
  • Farmer has a plan and prepares the soil.
  • We too must have a plan for entering our field where we will church plant.
2. Gospel Plan

  • Farmer must know what he is planting.
  • We too must have a plan, a Gospel plan, that results in a church.
3. Discipleship Plan

  • In the parable God causes the growth and the farmer does not know how.
  • The farmer does have a role in water and fertilizing the field.
  • We too must have a plan of Discipleship for the growing field.
    • Both short-term and long-term discipleship plans.
4. Church Formation Plan

  • At the right time the harvest occurs.
  • The farmer must have a plan for the harvest so that it does not spoil.
  • We too must have a plan for the harvest God will bring, a Church formation plan.
5. Leadership Multiplication/Development Plan

  • In farming the process continually repeats itself.
  • The harvest provides two things:
    • Food
    • Multiplied supply of seed
  • We too must have a leadership multiplication and development plan in place to ensure continued reproduction of healthy churches.

The five parts must be in place in order for growth to occur, but it is important to remember that it is God that works and allows the growth to occur, resulting in church.

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Year In Reflection of God's Goodness

This week marks one year ago that my family was faced with a temporary crisis, not life threatening, but a real stressful situation in our lives. This week I have naturally been reflecting back on this last year and that situation. In it all as I said throughout the entire situation that God is Sovereign and I had to learn to find my contentment in him.

A full year later I can rejoice in what God has done over this year in spite of the situation. First, people were forgiven for the wrong actions taken. Second, bitterness ceased after much prayer. Third, there have been some things that have worked out better because of the situation.

To be clear my reflection was not one to harness up the past and become bitter again, but rather to reflect on the sovereignty of God in all things. It was clearly a trying time in the life of my family where much questioning took place, but in the midst of the situation we truly learned that it is God who giveth and taketh away (Job 1:21).

Much positive things have come as a result of the situation that only God knew. First, we got to see the church truly be the church, (Acts 4:32-35), in ways that we had never experienced before. Second, Elliot was able to spend his first Christmas with my family. Third, our housing situation and overall set up was a better fit for our family by arriving on the field later.

To say I would go back and experience this all over again would be a lie because honestly I wouldn't wish it on anyone else or myself again. But I will say that through it all I learned that being content in the Lord is not always an easy place to be, but that in the midst of my weakness it was a great place to be as it caused me to truly put my faith in God.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Seven "Be's" of A Good Soldier


You then my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
2 Timothy 2:1-7

The above passage was taught from during one of the sessions at a retreat I attended last weekend for workers in S. Asia. From that passage the teacher encouraged us to strive to be what he called the "Seven Be's." 

Seven Be's:
1. Be a Noticer
  • See the potential in people.
2. Be an Adopter
  • Model as a father to his son (Paul & Timothy)
3. Be an Encourager
  • In season and out of season.
4. Be an Entruster
  • Pass teaching onto the faithful.
5. Be a Warrior
  • Share in Suffering.
6. Be a Competitor 
  • Keep running the race so not to be disqualified.
7. Be a Harvester
  • Look for the harvest to come.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Summer 2013 Opportunity: Face2Face

Face2Face is an exciting new summer program designed for college students, where they will spend 8-10 weeks in East or South Asia. The students will be challenged to get Face2Face with God, Face2Face with themselves, and Face2Face with the nations. The initial program launches next summer and I am personally excited because this means students will likely come out and work with our team in S. Asia. In fact I am writing up a summer project now for eight college students to work directly with my family and team next summer. For more information or to be involved click on Face2Face or send me an email.

            

Friday, July 6, 2012

Six Lessons Six Months In

My family has been on the ground now in S. Asia serving as Church Planters in an international context for six months. I recently compiled a list of six lessons that we have learned six months in to overseas work. There are many more lessons than what is on this list, but only wanted to share a limited amount from our first portion of time here.

Six Lessons:

1. Go with or join a team.

2. Set clear and realistic expectations (Culture, language, ministry).

3. Recognize you will change, your marriage will change,and you will be dealing with change.

4. Be patient when equipping nationals.

5. Don't be surprised when spiritual warfare takes place as it is everyday life.

6. Don't invest all of your time or resources in only a couple of national leaders.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

How to Share the Gospel (2-3-4)

The following post is adapted from Wilson Gesiler's RAD booklet.

Most Christians I talk to know that they should share their faith, but they often do not know how to share their faith. Sure, they can easily be taught to hand out a tract, but is that really sharing the gospel? The following way of sharing the gospel is a proven method that we often use in our trainings in S. Asia (2-3-4) that is an easy way for people to remember what it is that they are to say when sharing the gospel.

2 - The 2 means that the Gospel has 2 parts - Your story and God's Story

3 - The 3 means that your story has 3 parts:

  • Your life before Christ
  • How you met Christ
  • Your life after Christ
4 - The 4 means that God's story has 4 parts:
  • In the beginning (Gen. 1:31)
  • Sin/Judgment (Romans 3:23, 6:23, Hebrews 9:27)
  • Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:3-4; 1 Peter 3:18)
  • Your Invitation (John 3:18, 36)
Once sharing (2-3-4) ask them if they want to respond to the invitation by trusting Jesus (Rom. 10:9).

Monday, July 2, 2012

Who Has The Authority?

Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Matthew 28:18-20

In the following passage we see that Jesus is the one that has the authority, but something strange happens here because Jesus gives that authority away. Who did Jesus give his authority to? He gave it to his disciples. So this begs the question for us today then, who is a disciple? Simply put a disciple is a believer/follower of Jesus (Rom. 10:9).

This then begs the further question, what authority in this passage was given to all believers? The authority to go and make disciples, to baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and to teach them everything Jesus has commanded. 

In other world religions we see that only the priest are permitted to perform all of the rituals, but in the Bible we see that God refers to all followers of Jesus as priest (1 Peter 2:9), which means we all have the authority to make disciples, baptize, and teach others. What I am referring to here is called the "Priesthood of Believers." The neglect of this teaching from the Bible is one of the many hindrances to reaching people today.

In many cultures around the world it has become the normal tradition to only allow the ordained priest perform any of the rituals mentioned above. But when we operate in that way we are operating as any other world religion, but Jesus himself has given us all the authority.

Now I am not against ordination per se, but there is much in an ordination that can hurt the church overall I believe. For example I just attended my first Anglican ordination where the bishops were all dressed up in funny looking costumes where they performed all of the spiritual rituals. Once again nothing wrong with it in itself; but what it communicated clearly to the context I am ministering in is that only those guys with those costumes and "right" instruments for serving communion can do so.

I understand some of the push back will be that God has ordained or set apart certain people for certain tasks and that in order to be an elder and deacon that there are clear biblical requirements. I would agree with both of those, but in regards to obeying the Great Commission and who has the authority to perform all of the rituals, we all do!