Archives For October 2012

BIG Idea: Follow the money, find your heart.

As a teenager, I had an addiction. A secret sin, something that consumed my thoughts and threatened to overtake my life. I was addicted to cheesy Christian music (cue “friends are friends forever” by Michael W. Smith). Back when music was still sold by the album on plastic discs, I bought all that I could get my hands on. I bought music by Petra, Newsboys, Audio Adrenaline, and even a little Christafari.

I soon found that there was a dark side to my CD collection. What I owned began to own me. I no longer possessed the music. It possessed me. Since my collection was so big, I felt internal pressure to keep adding to it, even with bands I didn’t really like. I felt the constant need to listen to a CD, to justify the amount of money I had spent. My CD collection had captured my attention. It had captured my heart.

In Jesus’ famous discourse about money, he gives a simple truth that cuts to the core of our relationship with it. He says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be” (Matthew 6:21). This verse tells us a couple of things. First, it forever puts to rest the idea that money isn’t a spiritual issue. Money is an intrinsically spiritual issue. Why? Because your heart follows your money. Follow the money, find your heart. Your heart follows your pocket book. Don’t believe me? Think about it for yourself: where do you spend most of your discretionary money? Do you spend a lot of money hunting? Maybe on shopping? Perhaps you have a huge car note that you pay monthly. Chances are you’ll find that your thoughts, your attention, your passion, your heart, follows what you spend your money on.

Why is this all important? It’s not because God wants your money. He doesn’t need money (and remember, it’s all His anyways). God doesn’t want your money, he wants your heart. And your heart follows your money. That’s why Christians are told in the Bible to give a portion of their resources to the local church and Kingdom work. Because God wants your heart passionate about what’s important to him. Follow the money, find your heart.

QUESTION: If we followed the way you spent your money, where would we find your heart?

Why do Apple, Southwest Airlines, and Harley-Davidson have cult-like followings? What separates them from their competitors? They start with WHY.

My first encounter with Simon Sinek was his famous TED Talk. He briefly shared his concept of the Golden Circle and how it applied to businesses today. A few weeks ago, I saw him speak live at Catalyst Conference and was impressed with his presentation of the same subject matter.

His book, Start With Why, encapsulates his philosophy and is a must-read for leaders and visionaries. He begins with the Golden Circle (as illustrated). His thesis states that the difference between great companies and their competitors is the fact that they start with WHY as opposed to WHAT. His classic example is Apple and the computer market.

Apple isn’t the only company that sells computers. Nor are they the only company that sells good computers. You could make an argument that on some points other competitors produce better computers. Yet Apple creates a cult-like following not generated by any other company. Why? Because Apple knows their WHY and starts from there.

Here’s what most computer companies sound like:

“We make great computers” (WHAT).

“They’re beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly” (HOW).

Wanna buy one?

Apple, on the other hand, starts with WHY:

“Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently” (WHY).

“The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly” (HOW).

“We happen to make great computers” (WHAT).

Wanna buy one? (p 40-41)

Sinek uses the Golden Circle as template that pierces the fog surrounding great companies like Apple, Southwest Airlines, and Harley-Davidson motorcycles. All companies that stand out above and beyond their field. We know there’s something that makes them stand out above the fray. Sinek uses the Golden Circle to identify their secret.

Once that’s established, Sinek uses the rest of his book as an opportunity to talk about the power of WHY, why many companies fail to capitalize on their WHY, and how to identify your WHY. It’s all abstract, without simple guidelines or how-to’s that many love to walk away with. And yet, his book is absolutely priceless for those wanting to differentiate their lives or their businesses from the fray of the marketplace.

Of particular interest to me was his discussion of the way the human brain is wired. The two main portions of the brain are the neocortex and the limbic brain. The neocortex is the outer portion of the brain. It controls language and rational thought. It’s how we form words and communicate. And yet it’s not where we make our decisions. Our decisions, our most primal motivations, come from the limbic brain, the inner portion. It controls emotions and all human behavior, but it has no capacity for human language (56). If you’ve ever made a decision based on your “gut,” then you’ve decided from your limbic brain in a way that you couldn’t describe in words.

Here’s where things gets really interesting. When we use words, manipulations, or offer our products based on rational arguments, we are describing our WHAT to the neocortex. But decisions aren’t made there. Decisions are made in the limbic brain, where the HOW and WHY reside. Great companies are companies that start with WHY because they appeal to the core of the human decision making process. They penetrate through the fog of WHAT and appeal to the WHY, to the part of the human brain that makes decisions. As Sinek says, “People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it. A failure to communicate WHY creates nothing but stress or doubt” (58).

This is where the power of WHY really takes flight. If you’re interested in shaping or influencing human behavior, you absolutely must now the power of WHY and the limbic brain. Too many people, organizations or churches rely on the WHAT to drive their success. To effect real influence, you must speak to the WHY. WHY do you do the things you do? WHY does your organization exist?

Sinek finishes with some good advice on how to discover your WHY, and the positive affects it will have on your life and career. Discovering your WHY makes you more than just an effective leader. It makes you a charismatic leader. “Energy motivates but charisma inspires. Energy is easy to see, easy to measure and easy to copy. Charisma is hard to define, near impossible to measure and too elusive to copy. All great leaders have charisma because all great leaders have clarity of WHY; and undying belief in a purpose or cause bigger than themselves” (134).

LESSONS LEARNED

1. This book is an incredible reminder of the truths we can learn from the “secular” world. Although Sinek is most likely not a Christ follower, his insight into the human condition is incredible. There were numerous points that he made that speak to the way God designed us. Although Sinek might not agree with it, I see God’s fingerprints are all over the truths of this book.

2. Too many churches rely on WHAT to fuel their growth. A church in some ways is like any other organization. Churches can get caught in the cycle of relying on WHAT to market themselves to the world. They can advertise their great facilities, high energy programs or remarkable staff to set themselves apart from other churches. It’s nothing but WHAT.

3. Churches need to rediscover their WHY. This can be a little tricky, especially since we can all point to several Bible verses to back up our beliefs. But the question is worth asking: WHY does the church exist? To glorify Christ? To be a witness to what Christ did through his death and resurrection? To make disciples of all nations? I think all are valid WHYs (with Bible verses to back them up), but they still need to be captured and communicated in a way that inspires action. Here are some WHYs that aren’t found in Scripture but are used by too many churches: to continue the tradition of a long-standing congregation, to promote family-friendly activities, to teach the Bible (easy now, don’t stone me), or to promote the platform of the pastor. However and whatever you describe your WHY, I think the reason that many churches are dead and dying is because they lost their WHY, the reason they exist.

4. When churches market themselves, they need to start with WHY. Playing off of the last point, how do we present ourselves to prospective members? What do we advertise? Yesterday I spoke for a few minutes at our Discover Mt Vernon class, where prospective members find out more about our church. Looking back at my notes from the previous session, I realized that I had started my pitch with WHAT, not WHY. I fell into the trap. So yesterday, I started with WHY we exist: we’re a part of the movement that’s changing the world. We’re about changing lives and changing the world. That’s a much better selling point than “great facilities, new environment, contemporary worship.”

5. Once you discover your God-given WHY, your life takes on a new level of purpose. Sinek speaks to reality that we’re all made for a purpose. I believe that purpose comes from God. Once you drill down and discover what that purpose is, you’ll find a whole new reality of living. I’m still working on capturing my WHY from my limbic brain to my neocortex, where I have the use of language. But here’s my first attempt. My WHY is to inspire others to reach their full potential in Christ. That’s what I love to do. That’s what gets me up in the morning. That’s what gives me the most joy. I do that through preaching, blogging, personal interactions, and training others. When I get to be a part of someone taking a step towards their full potential in Christ, my soul sings. That’s what I want to do my entire life.

QUESTION: What’s the WHY for the church? WHY does the church exist?

Yesterday in my message “How to Fight Your Spouse,” we looked at ten unhealthy ways couples like to fight. Read the list and see if any of them describe you!

1. Stonewall Jackson - this is the spouse that emotionally shuts down in a fight. The more your spouse yells, the more you become like a an emotional wasteland of human recognition. It’s like you’re in an emotional coma. Your spouse says, Why won’t you talk to me? Let’s talk this through,” as you’re grabbing your keys and heading to the car.

2. The Corpse – if you’re a corpse, you just sit there and take it. It’s like the Stonewall Jackson, but this one admits guilt to everything that’s not their fault. They’re a corpse because their soul died a long time ago. Your spouse yells, How could you let me take the interstate to work today? There was a huge accident and I was stuck for an hour!” You respond, “Yes Dear, I should have known about the bad traffic. I’m sorry.”

3. The Boombox – This is the yeller. They feel the only way to argue is to yell at the top of their lungs. Typically their increase in volume tries to make up for the weakness of their argument. When in doubt, yell louder. It makes you sound like you know what you’re talking about.

4. Oscar Winner – These spouses are a blast to watch. True artists. They employ the waterworks at the drop of a hat. They can cry in an instant. They tend to use it as manipulation to deflect criticism. Husband comes home and says innocently, Honey, what’s for dinner tonight?” Wife, who got distracted and didn’t do anything that afternoon, deflects [Weep] “How could you ask me that? Don’t you know how much that hurts?”

5. The Resurrector - If you’re a Resurrector, you have the magical ability to bring up any and all old arguments and issues that your spouse thought was settled a long time ago. You’re like an elephant, your memory is so good. Your spouse says, Babe, we don’t have the money to spend on that right now.” You adeptly reply, “Oh yeah, well you sure had money to spend on that new stereo system when we were dating 10 years ago!” Boom. They just got resurrected on.

6. The Extreme Jumper - This form of arguing is subtle, but just as sinister as the rest. The Extreme Jumper makes universal ‘all’ arguments off of single incidents. If a husband gets home late one evening from work, the wife will complain “You always come home late. You never have time for the family.” If the wife reminds her husband he needs to pick the kids up from school, he counters “Quit riding me. You’re always nagging me. Why do you think I’m a complete idiot?”

7. The Dormant Volcano – This is the spouse that takes it for years, then explodes in one huge blaze of glory. Also known as the Postal Worker. You get the picture.

8. The Gymnast – This spouse has the ability to turn any argument back on the spouse. Your spouse might say to you, “Honey, we need to talk about how much money you spent last week. You overspent. We talked about this.” You counter with, “Well, the reason I overspent is because you said you were going to help out and you broke your promise,” or “What about that time last month when you overspent on this or that?” Genius. The best defense is a good offense.

9. The Nutty Professor - This spouse comes up with crazy allusions and explanations to justify their argument. If your spouse complains, “Why do you always think about yourself first? Why don’t you think more about me and the kids?” You might justify yourself by saying, “Well, because a tree has to remain strong if the branches and seeds want to be strong. I’m just taking care of the tree. The tree needs to come first.” If it makes sense to you, that’s all that matters.

10. The Puppy Killer – That’s the spouse that’s just a jerk. If their words were knives, there would be no more puppies in the world. They’re that mean.

Five for Friday

October 26, 2012 — 1 Comment

Here’s a Five for Friday: political edition. I know everyone’s a little tense with the election. Let’s feed the dog that’s barking the loudest this week:

The Politics of Trust – why don’t we trust our politicians anymore?

The Church & Politics = A Mess – great words from a guy (Perry Noble) who tells you how it is.

The Inconsistent Logic of Abortion Rights Advocates – want to get politically touchy? Let’s talk abortion. Great dissection of the flaws behind the abortion rights advocates.

Why is Billy Graham So Involved in the 2012 Elections? – good article. What’s bringing Billy Graham out of retirement?

What am I Doing When I Vote? - what principles should guide you when you enter the voting booth?

Synchronized Ushering

October 25, 2012 — 4 Comments

The world of ushering is itself an art form: the subtlety, the unspoken solemnity, the majesty of it all. Many ignorantly focus on the type of the offering plate itself (KFC bucket vs. oversized cloth-covered dinner plate vs. two-pronged velour bag). What captivates me is the movement of the ushers themselves. Being raised in church, I’ve seen just about every type of ushering move there is.

The Jolted Usher – This is the usher whose only real reason to come to church is to get to pass the offering plates. It’s the high point of his week. A quick jab or poke is needed to wake him up and let him know it’s time to do his thing.

The Noobie – This is the replacement usher who’s called on at the last minute because Brother Bob decided to go fishing that day. The noobie shows his true colors quickly as he accidentally breaks the cardinal rule and passes a second plate down the same row. It will be another few years in the D League before he’s called back up.

The Wave-Off – This is the awkward moment when there’s only one person sitting on a row. A delicate dance is had between usher and member, where they decide through gesture and eye contact whether it’s really necessary to send a plate down a pew with one person who probably isn’t going to tithe anyway.

The Walker – I loved being this person growing up. The walker is the person who gets to stand up and walk the offering plate from one end of the pew to the other end (since there’s a big gaping hole of empty space in between). Not only did it let me imagine that I was in the elite world of ushering (even for a moment), it allowed me to stretch my legs and gird myself for the coming onslaught of the sermon.

The Coronation – I was in a church for a few years where at the end of every offering, Sister Beulah would crank up the organ and blast out “Were the whole realm of nature mine,” indicating that we were to stand in honor of the ushers, now coming down to the front like Magi bringing their gifts to baby Jesus.

I thought I’d seen it all, and then I experienced something that took my breath away. I worked in a larger traditional church with a sanctuary that sat over 2000. I instinctively understood that the offering would be a long, drawn out process, as the ushers covered so much real estate. Not so.

Synchronized Ushering – Halfway through the first service, no sign of the ushers. They did an offertory prayer, still no ushers. I thought their union had decided to strike for better wages. No ushers to be seen. And then, halfway through the first verse of the special music, through some type of telekinesis that I still can’t explain, all the ushers magically stood up at the same time, throughout the room, instantly at their post. This was my first experience with synchronized ushering, at it was magnificent to behold.

I watched them for weeks, trying to discern the magic of their timing. Was it morse code? Did the worship leader lift his left pant leg like a quarterback signaling a man-in-motion? Did the light operator flash a stage light to let the ushers know when to rise? I never knew. I simply gazed in wonder at world of synchronized ushering, knowing that these men were a cut above everyone else. Everyone else just played at ushering. These men lived it. They were the Navy Seals of ushers, and I was privileged to be in their presence.

QUESTION: What experiences have you had with the world of ushering?

Big Idea: God owns everything. I’m his money manager.

In the spring of 1994, I held a small piece of paper that would forever change the way I lived. I had just started my first real job, where I was a food service technician (i.e. waiter) at an upscale retirement home. Never changed a bed pan. Just needed to say that. The piece of paper I held was my first paycheck. I had busted my tail for two weeks at $4.50 an hour (whoop whoop) and had received something like $164 for my first paycheck. It was a mythical moment. I’d never before held that much money before.

What made it special was that it was “my” money. I earned it. It was mine. No more freeloading off my dad (okay, I’d waive that rule for a few more years). I was in the big house. I was making it rain. $164 was so much money, I didn’t know how I would spend it all. Guess what? I figured out a way. I actually figured out a way to spend it all before my next paycheck.

My relationship with money began. It’s a relationship that defines all of us. What’s funny is that we love what money does for us, but we hate what it does to us. We love the food, the comforts, the toys that money can buy. But we hate what it does to us. We hate the fights that it causes with those closest to us. We hate how money seems to draw out the worst in us. We hate how we start controlling our money, but before too long, it seems to control us.

Back in February at Mt Vernon Church, we walked through a series called Going Green. Since money’s the elephant in the room, I figured we might as well attack it head on and see what God teaches us about it. The first truth to learn about “your” money is this: God owns everything. I’m his money manager. The truth is, “our” money isn’t really “our” money. It’s God’s. He just lets us play with it for awhile. Don’t believe me? Ask Him.

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” Psalm 24:1

“I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the LORD Almighty.” Haggai 2:7-8

“But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.” Deuteronomy 8:18

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Since “our” money is actually God’s money, that changes everything about how we should handle it. Let me ask it this way: if a financial service treated your money the way you’re treating God’s money, would you fire yourself?

What else does the Bible say about money? A lot, actually. Come back next Wednesday to read part two.

QUESTION: Has there ever been a moment when you realized that “your” money wasn’t really your money?

Books rarely start with a tutorial on how to remove your clothes in a bathroom stall. This book does. The trick apparently, is to start with your shirt. Doing a drop test on a door hook is an absolute must. Trying to balance something on the back of the toilet? Forget about it.

These words of wisdom let you know from that outset that this isn’t going to be like most other books. Jon Acuff was a serial quitter. He held eight jobs in eight years, moving from one to the other, hoping that the next job would be the ‘dream job.’ He wrote advertising and branding for companies such as Bose and Staples before finally landing at his dream job: joining the Dave Ramsey team to be a full-time author and speaker.

This book, written in his irreverent, satirical style, gives us an honest glimpse of how he moved from a day job to his dream job. The glimpse into his process, his journey, is an incredible encouragement (and instruction) for those who feel like they’re trapped in a job that is outside of their true calling and passion. In a potentially dry subject like work, Jon’s witticism comes to the rescue time and time again as his unique way of looking at life keeps the book refreshing and surprising.

If you read this book looking for a quick fix or a magic formula, you’ll walk away disappointed. There are no winning-the-lottery type lucky breaks in here, no leprechauns or unicorns. Just a bunch of hard work and ‘hustling.’ His first piece of advice to the dreamers who want to branch out and follow their passions: don’t quit your day job. Seemingly counterintuitive but incredible advice. When you quit your day job too early, you lock yourself into a prison of financial distress that actually makes it harder for you to pursue your passion. Although we’ve created a culture that celebrates the person who quits their job to follow their passion, that’s usually not the best course of action, at first.

The difference between the people who dream about a dream job and those that achieve their dream job comes down to one word: hustle. As Jon puts it, he felt like “hustle” was a better title for the book than “quitter,” but “hustle” had some negative connotations for those who worked the streets at night. So they went with “quitter.” Here’s what he says, “I don’t think any of the information in this book works without applying hustle to it. That’s the key. To this book and maybe even to your dream” (140).

Hustle is a catchy way to say “work hard.” Jon walks the reader through the normal excuses we use to keep our dreams our dreams and then destroys them. If we simply work hard, we’ll be able to achieve almost anything that we want. It comes down to discipline, hard choices, and lots and lots of work. “That’s one of the simple rules of hustle. Do more of the things you love and less of the things you like. Make your hustle matter” (150). Watching two hours of television a night isn’t something that matters in the long scheme of things, but it’s something most Americans do. If you replace something you like (t.v.) with something that you love (your passion/dream), then you’re hustling.

I appreciate this book because it speaks to a growing number of people who are out of love with their jobs. They don’t find any worth in what they do. They have a dream, a passion, but they don’t have the wherewithal to make that dream a reality. For the dreamers, many of them keep waiting for their dream job to drop out of the sky and fall into their laps, like winning the Mega Powerball of jobs. They want the dream, without the sweat and discipline required to see that dream come into reality. Quitter is a good blueprint to work from. Working your dream takes time, discipline, and more work than most people are willing to put into it. That’s what separates the dreamers from those actually living their dreams. Hustle.

LESSONS LEARNED

1. The principles from this book have been true in my life. I’m currently living my dream. I’m the pastor of a healthy, dynamic, growing church. I love the people I serve, and on most days, I think they love me too. It took me ten years to achieve my dream. I didn’t start out as pastor. I started out as the youth guy, serving in three churches as youth pastor over a period of ten years. I always wanted to be a pastor, but I knew I needed to ‘earn my stripes.’ I had to hustle. I had to prove myself faithful in my current ministry before being offered an opportunity to be a lead pastor. If I didn’t hustle over the past ten years, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

2. Most people are too lazy or undisciplined to see their dreams become reality. When my dad entered ministry three decades ago, he received an incredible piece of advice: “If you work hard, you’ll be ahead of 95% of the other pastors out there, because they’re lazy.” Sounds harsh, but it’s true. Not just for pastors, but for most people. It’s easy to dream. It’s hard to make that dream a reality. Too many people are distracted by secondary amusements. They settle, and sentence their dreams to ‘death by laziness.’

3. Hustle matters. One of the things that gave me a leg up when my current church called me to be a pastor was that I had finished my Doctorate in Ministry. I could have stopped with a Bachelor’s degree. I decided to keep pushing myself, completing a Master’s and ultimately a Doctorate. It was an incredible amount of work, but it paid off in helping me land my dream job. Hustle matters.

 QUESTION: How has ‘hustle’ positively impacted your career?

If you missed church this weekend at Mt Vernon Church, then you missed a faux wedding for the ages! When you walked into our worship center for the services, you encountered ushers wearing tuxedo tshirts, Pachelbel’s Canon in D playing lightly over the speakers, and the stage decked out for a wedding.

After choosing either the bride’s or groom’s side, you watched as the wedding party made it down the aisle, until it was just me (as the minister) and our bride and groom to be. At this point, you didn’t know what to think. “Are they really putting on a wedding during church?” “This is Mt Vernon. What are they up to?” “Will there be punch and cake afterwards?”

Those questions went unanswered, until the vows came. That was the ruse. Instead of the mushy, well-intended but poorly followed through vows we usually hear, we inserted some more realistic vows. This tongue-in-cheek look at wedding vows was a hilarious introduction to our marriage series we’re currently doing at Mt Vernon. Thanks Church on the Move for the incredible idea! Below is the transcript from the wedding. Enjoy the vows!

TWO BECOME ONE

MINISTER The vows you are about to take should be taken with caution and with much consideration of their content. Please turn and face each other. Bryan place the ring on Danielle’s hand and repeat these vows after me. I Bryan take you Danielle.

BRYAN I Bryan, take you Danielle.

MINISTER To be my lawfully wedded starter wife. (repeat) For better and better.(Repeat) For richer as we go into debt.(repeat) As long as you stay skinny. (repeat) I promise to yell at you. (repeat) To ignore and neglect you. (repeat) to compare you to other women.(repeat) From this day forward. (repeat) I promise to be faithful to you. (repeat) Until I convince the girl at work to get with me. (repeat) Til’ divorce do us part.(repeat) Now Danielle place the ring on Bryan’s hand and repeat after me. I Danielle take you Bryan.

DANIELLE I Danielle take you Bryan.

MINISTER To be my starter husband.(repeat) From this day forward. As we try this out for a while. (repeat) To join with you as long as I can manipulate you.(repeat)  To demean you.(repeat) and tear you down in front of my friends.(repeat) To despise you. (repeat)I promise to be faithful to you.(repeat) As long as you make a ton of money. (repeat) I am completely yours (repeat) most of the time. (repeat) Til’ divorce do us part. (repeat)

You have made this commitment hoping that you would be one of the lucky couples in which their marriage  would actually work. That you would be able to tolerate each other for a lifetime, and I admire your ambition. As witnesses we are honored to share this moment with you  and we wish you the best of luck even though the chances are really only 50/50. Because of the promise you have made to each other today I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride.

Five for Friday

October 19, 2012 — 3 Comments

Have a great weekend! Thanks for reading this week. If there are any topics in particular you’d like me to write on in the future, email me at josh@mtvchurch.com

Will Someone Please Lead Us? – Frustrated by the political climate in Washington? You’re not alone. One Christian leader’s angst expressed for all of us.

Three Ways to Nourish and Cherish Your Wife – Great advice that CJ Maheny would give you if he were sitting down with you at Starbucks.

If You Want to Succeed in Business, Read More Novels – A Great Forbes magazine article on the positive benefits of reading novels. Break out the Hunger Games!

Dear Mom. Jesus Wants You to Chill Out - Great encouragement for stressed out moms. Must read!

Eight Terrible Church Visits – Please make sure your church never does this!

In a dusty village in the middle of the African bush, my American arrogance was destroyed forever. While living in Africa over a decade ago, I worked in the country of Botswana with college students. While there, I had several opportunities to take excursions into the bush. For one week, I had the opportunity to be a part of an advance scouting mission to the remote village of Diphuduhudu. (It’s fun to say, try it: ‘Di-poo-doo-hoo-doo.’ See, wasn’t that fun?)

I was asked to go by another missionary who wanted to scout that remote village for the possibility of future gospel work. This village was in the ‘bush,’ well off the beaten path, populated by Xhosa people, a prehistoric culture that hadn’t changed in thousands of years. For me, it was incredibly exciting. We were going to be on the cutting edge of missions. To our knowledge, there were no known Christians or churches in this village. We would be the first.

Now, to back up, I have to let you know how my American arrogance created a false sense of superiority in me. As Americans, we’re taught that we’re the best, at everything. We drive the world economy, we are the smartest, most educated, and best funded. Some of that American pride bled over into my role as a missionary. I grew up thinking that the weight of global missions fell to America. If we didn’t fund the global missions movement, if we didn’t go, nothing would happen. In my mind, we were pivotal to the success of global missions. We were, after all, Americans. So our foray into the village of Diphuduhudu (go ahead, say it again) would be conquering Americans blazing in and blessing a lowly village with the gospel. I could see my rewards stacking up in heaven already!

The trip to the village was the longest six hours of my life. We drove two hours on a two-lane road to the edge of the bush. After that, we left a paved road and went on a gravel road that couldn’t even be considered one-lane for another two hours. Finally, we reached the edge of civilization: no more roads. But our journey wasn’t done. We drove another two hours in the sand before we got to the village. No electricity, no running water, a village forgotten by time.

We entered the village and set up camp. We began to explore the village and look for people of peace, people who might be open and receptive to the gospel. What I found dropped me to my knees in humility. Low and behold, missionary work was already going on, and not by Americans. Six months prior, a South Korean Christian couple moved to the village from Asia to reach that village for Christ.

I learned an important lesson that day: America is no longer the driving force behind the global missions movement. South America and Asia are sending out far more missionaries than North America is. For some reason, we’re too caught up playing church and enjoying our toys here at home.

If American churches don’t get involved with the global missions movement, the loss won’t be on the missions movement. God’s reaching the nations without us. The loss will be ours, as we will be passed by as the world comes to a close.

QUESTION: How does American pride seep into our approach to missions?

image courtesy of: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net