How to Miss the Grace of God

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Roots

I didn’t like it

I was standing in our worship service recently singing. I don’t remember the exact song, but it was probably something about how good Jesus is and being thankful for what he has done. As I am singing, someone caught my eye. They were singing the song, too, and I didn’t like it.

How dare they

The thought that ran through my mind was something like, “How dare they sing this song.” I was doubly bitter because this person seemed to be sincerely worshipping. The problem I had was that I was not happy with decisions this person was making with their life. So, I was getting mad that they seemed happy in Jesus.

Missing grace

Hebrews 12:15 says, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” The context is helping others. How can a person miss the grace of God? By receiving it for oneself, but not extending it to others. That was exactly what I was doing.

A seed of bitterness

Only I know the amount of grace God has shown me. Let’s just say it is extensive. My attitude during that worship service was like the unmerciful servant (Matthew 18:23-35). I could feel a seed of bitterness being dropped into the soil of my heart. Fortunately, it was plucked out before it was able to germinate.

Higher standard than Jesus

I was missing the grace of God because I was not willing to pass along what God had graciously given me. Tim Cooper recently said, “If what someone is doing keeps you away from ministering to them, you have a higher standard than Jesus.” I realized I had a higher standard than Jesus did with this person I saw singing. Sure, there is a time for dealing with the poor decisions a person is making, but there is never a time to miss the grace of God.

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Maybe We Are Praying All Wrong

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Fields White Harvest

Jesus Prayer Request

Jesus made a prayer request to his followers. He said, “Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:38) People get this request for more sending all wrong. Jesus did not request prayer for the harvest. The crop is ready. Nor did Jesus say there is a problem with the workers. The problem, in his mind, was that the workers were not in the right place. His request was for workers to be launched into the harvest.

Plenty of Ripe People

There is not a problem with the number of people ready to welcome the good news. People want to hear the gospel. They are harassed and helpless and want leadership. The most successful person you know, has problems. The person you think has it all, is harassed by something and feels helpless about something. There is no lack of people ripe for the help and hope of the gospel.

Plenty of Ready Workers

There is not a problem with the number of workers to help. The workers are few in the harvest field, not that too few exist. They aren’t in the right place. The workers are there, they need to be sent out. The problem is the workers have not been released and launched. Jesus said to, “Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field.” The issue is there are not enough workers sent out.

Compassion Is the Place to Start

For Jesus, it started with compassion. The story is, two verses earlier, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36) Praying that more people come to our services or more people share their faith is not most important. I am not suggesting it is wrong to do that. However, it may not be the place to start. Praying that more people are filled with compassion is the place to start. Could the reason be we are not seeing more workers in the harvest is a lack of love?

No Compassion, No Crop

The Father is in charge of the harvest, according to Jesus. He emphasized the Father is “the Lord of the harvest” and that it is “his harvest field”. So God brings in a crop where he pleases and as he pleases. Perhaps it doesn’t please him to bring the harvest to our ministries because he knows we will not love them well. If our schedules are full of the right programs and our teaching is full of the right doctrine, but our hearts are not full of compassion, why would God direct people our way?

Maybe We’re Praying All Wrong

Maybe we are praying Matthew 9 all wrong. We don’t need to pray for a good crop or more workers. We should be praying that the workers we have are launched.

I thought of 3 ways that can launch more workers into the harvest:

  1. Stir up compassion.
  2. Tell people your vision.
  3. Take more risks with people.

Stir up Compassion

Tell people about the needs around them. We can’t create compassion in people, but we can stir up compassion. I think this is what was meant in the passage, “Let us consider how we might spur one another on to love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24) We are trying to do this in the year-end campaign. We can highlight the reality people are living in. We get shielded from the hurt and pain many face. But, compassion can be stirred as we remind people of the common problems we all face.

Tell People Your Vision

Tell people of the opportunities you see. Four years ago, my pastor, David, mentioned a vacuum he saw in our church. A lot of people between the twenty-somethings and the senior saints were falling through the cracks. He asked if I’d be interested in organizing something for the thirty-somethings. I had no idea this was a need, even though I am a thirty-something. Jamie and I have plenty of friends and are spiritual self-feeders, so we didn’t see the need. That conversation launched a new ministry and for the past four years we’ve organized classes and dinners for this group. I would have never been sent if David had not mentioned the problem that he saw. Don’t assume people see what you see.

Take More Risks

Give people a chance. This is what Jesus did. Jesus had a process of people development. The record we have of his ministry, doesn’t reflect three years of busy meandering, without purpose. He was on a mission and part of that was to develop people to continue that mission in his stead. The only way to do that was to give people a chance. The next passage after this statement of Jesus to send workers, is about the twelve disciples being sent (Mt 10). Were they ready? No way! But Jesus gave them a chance.

The Request Is about Launching

Ask the Lord of the harvest to show you ways to send out more workers into the harvest field. Ask him to show you creative ways to stir up the compassion within people. Ask him to show you specifically whom to talk with about the opportunities you already see. Ask the Lord of the harvest whom you should give a chance, even if you don’t think they are ready.

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Book Summary: What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality?

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This is from the latest edition of the Leader’s Edge Book Summary of Missio Nexus. These are the best book summaries on the web. Leader’s Edge monthly book summaries and insightful interviews connect you with today’s leading writers in the Great Commission community. You can visit their website here. Access for individuals starts at under $30. The services include:

  • 52 book reviews (electronically delivered – 1 per week)
  • 36 book summaries (electronically delivered – 3 per month)
  • 24 live webinars (average 2 per month)
  • 12 author interviews (monthly mp3 downloads)
  • 6 Global Issues Updates (bi-monthly downloadable webinar)
  • 3 Web Workshops (4-6 week training series)
  • discounted access to the most extensive library of mission-focused webinars in the English language
  • discounted access to three annual live conferences

Accessing their services just for the book summaries is well worth the cost. Below is a sample from the latest edition of Leader’s Edge Book Summary of Kevin DeYoung’s book What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality? Each book summary includes the content of the book by category of:

  • Best chapter
  • Best quotes
  • Best illustration
  • Best idea
  • Best take away
  • Recommendation

Bible-about-homosexuality

 

What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality?

Author: Kevin De Young

Published by Crossway, 2015, 160 pages. (ISBN: 978-1433549373)

Summary

In this timely book, Kevin DeYoung challenges each of us—the skeptic, the seeker, the certain, and the confused—to take a look at God’s Word regarding the issue of homosexuality. After examining key biblical passages in both the Old and New Testaments and the Bible’s overarching teaching regarding sexuality, DeYoung responds to popular objections raised by Christians and non-Christians alike, making this an indispensable resource for thinking through one of the most pressing issues of our day, that is now creeping into the world of missions.

 Best chapter

The book is divided into two sections. Part 1 is a progressive walk through Scripture on the topic of homosexuality. Part 2 contains seven chapters on seven commonly voiced objections to the biblical teaching on homosexuality. Because the topic is dealt with successively and systematically, it is difficult to single out one chapter as better than any other. They all tie together, to make a complete and compelling argument against the practice of homosexuality.

Best quotes

“Along with most Christians around the globe and virtually every Christian in the first nineteen-and-a-half centuries of church history, I believe the Bible places homosexual behavior—no matter the level of commitment or mutual affection—in the category of sexual immorality.” Kindle location 216

“We need to remember that this controversy was not dreamed up by evangelical Christians. If traditionalists are writing blogs and books by the dozens, it’s because revisionist leaders first wanted to have the conversation. The reason there is so much discussion about issues like abortion, euthanasia, and same-sex marriage is because many have sought to legalize and legitimize actions that were until fifty years ago considered immoral and illegal.” Kindle location 917

“The reason the Bible says comparatively little about homosexuality is because it was a comparatively uncontroversial sin among ancient Jews and Christians. There is no evidence that ancient Judaism or early Christianity tolerated any expression of homosexual.” Kindle location 921

“It’s explicitly condemned in the Mosaic law (Leviticus) and used as a vivid example of human rebellion in Paul’s most important letter (Romans). It’s listed among a host of other serious vices in two different epistles (1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy). It’s one of the reasons God destroyed the most infamous cities in the Bible (Sodom and Gomorrah).” Kindle location 928

“Furthermore, there is nothing ambiguous about the biblical witness concerning homosexual behavior. Even many revisionist scholars acknowledge that the Bible is uniformly negative toward same-sex activity.” Kindle location 935

“To insist that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality is not really accurate. Not only did he explicitly reaffirm the creation account of marriage as the one-flesh union of a man and a woman (Matt. 19:4–6; Mark 10:6–9); he condemned the sin of porneia (Mark 7:21), a broad word encompassing every kind of sexual sin.” Kindle location 953

“Let me be blunt: the Bible says nothing good about homosexual practice. That may sound like a harsh conclusion, but it’s not all that controversial. As we have seen, even some revisionist scholars admit that ‘wherever homosexual intercourse is mentioned in Scripture, it is condemned.’ There is simply no positive case to be made from the Bible for homosexual behavior.” Kindle location 1011

“The revisionist case can take many forms, but central to most of them is the ‘not that kind of homosexuality!’ argument. We can safely set aside the scriptural prohibitions against homosexual behavior because we are comparing apples and oranges: we are talking in our day about committed, consensual, lifelong partnerships, something the biblical authors in their day knew nothing about.” Kindle location 1023

“According to Paul, the fundamental problem with homosexual behavior is that men and women exchange sexual intercourse with the opposite sex for unnatural relations with persons of the same sex (Rom. 1:26–27; cf. vv. 22, 25). If the biblical authors meant to frown upon only certain kinds of homosexual arrangements, they wouldn’t have condemned the same-sex act itself in such absolute terms.” Kindle location 1032

“Before I criticize the ‘What about . . .’ arguments, I need to state this as clearly as possible: the church should not overlook its other sins just to make homosexual sin seem worse. Whether it’s gluttony or divorce or greed or gossip or judgmentalism, we need to own up to our failings wherever and whenever we’re sinning.” Kindle location 1147

“Simply put, homosexuality and divorce are not identical because according to the Bible the former is always wrong, while the latter is not. Every divorce is the result of sin, but not every divorce is sinful.” Kindle location 1212

“But—and here’s the rub—the communicant membership of the church, like the membership of heaven, is made up of born again, repentant sinners. If we preach a ‘gospel’ with no call to repentance, we are preaching something other than the apostolic gospel.” Kindle location 1257

“If we are to be faithful to Scripture, we must not provide assurance of salvation to those who are habitually, freely, and impenitently engaged in sinful activity. The Bible’s teaching on this matter is as clear as it is unpopular: persistent unrepentant sexual sin leads people to hell (Matt. 5:27–32; Rom. 1:18–2:11; 1 Cor. 6:9–10; Gal. 5:19–21; 1 Thess. 4:3–8; cf. 1 John 3:4.” Kindle location 1283

“Think about the hidden arguments in the phrase ‘wrong side of history.’ The phrase assumes a progressive view of history that is empirically false and as a methodology has been thoroughly discredited.” Kindle location 1331

“The phrase ‘wrong side of history’ also forgets that progressive ideas can prove just as disastrous as traditional ones.” Kindle location 1340

“Desire must never be given the priority over obedience. Intense longing does not turn sinful wrongs into civil rights.” Kindle location 1481

“And it should not be carried alone. Singleness—and that will be the path of obedience for many who experience same-sex attraction—does not mean you must live alone, die alone, never hold a hand, never have a hug, and never know the touch of another human being. If we ask the single Christian to be chaste, we can only ask them to carry that cross in community.” Kindle location 1539

“Only Jesus can save a wretch like me. That’s the storyline of the Bible and the best news you’ll ever hear. Jesus saves sinners—the cowardly and the cantankerous, the loveless and the lawless, the rude and the reckless, the adulterous and the idolatrous, the sexually proud and the sexually impure. Only in Jesus can we be given new birth. Only through Jesus can we be new creations. Only with Jesus can all things be made new.” Kindle location 1783

Best illustration

“Finally, the grand narrative of Scripture is at stake. I’m not sure we’re all telling the same story. A holy God sends his holy Son to die as an atoning sacrifice for unholy people so that by the power of the Holy Spirit they can live holy lives and enjoy God forever in the holy place that is the new heaven and new earth. Is this the story celebrated and sermonized in open and affirming churches?” Kindle location 1751

 Best idea

“Dying to self is the duty of every follower of Christ. I have my own struggles, my own sins, and my own suffering. We all do. We have all been distorted by original sin. We all show signs of ‘not the way things are supposed to be.’ We all groan for the redemption of our bodies (Rom. 8:23). We all long for creation to be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God (v. 21).” Kindle location 1532

 Best take away

“We are all products of nature and nurture. We all struggle with desires that should not be fulfilled and with longings for things illicit. As Christians we know that the heart is desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9). We are fallen people with a propensity for sin and self-deception. We cannot derive oughts from what is.” Kindle location 1440

Recommendation

The mission community needs to be biblically informed about the increasing acceptance of the sin of homosexuality. Its wave, along with related issues, is forcefully flooding our way, and we need to be prepared to assess and address it. This very readable book on the topic would be a good place to start your, and your staff’s positioning on the topic. 

Visit Missio Nexus to learn more about their Leader’s Edge Book Summaries and their other resources.

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Book Summary: Every Square Inch

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This is from this month’s Leader’s Edge Book Summary of Missio Nexus. These are the best book summaries on the web. Leader’s Edge monthly book summaries and insightful interviews connect you with today’s leading writers in the Great Commission community. You can visit their website here. Access for individuals starts at under $30. The services include:

  • 52 book reviews (electronically delivered – 1 per week)
  • 36 book summaries (electronically delivered – 3 per month)
  • 24 live webinars (average 2 per month)
  • 12 author interviews (monthly mp3 downloads)
  • 6 Global Issues Updates (bi-monthly downloadable webinar)
  • 3 Web Workshops (4-6 week training series)
  • discounted access to the most extensive library of mission-focused webinars in the English language
  • discounted access to three annual live conferences

Accessing their services just for the book summaries is well worth the cost. Below is a sample from this month’s edition of Leader’s Edge Book Summary of Bruce Riley Ashford’s book Every Square Inch: An Introduction to Cultural Engagement for Christians. Each book summary includes the content of the book by category of:

  • Best chapter
  • Best quotes
  • Best illustration
  • Best idea
  • Best take away
  • Recommendation

Every-Square-Inch

 

Every Square Inch: An Introduction to Cultural Engagement for Christians

Author: Bruce Riley Ashford

Published by Lexham Press, 2015, 176 pages. (ISBN: 978-1577996200)

Available in Kindle format. (ASIN: B00UIMYIAI)

Summary

How should our faith impact our everyday lives? To what extent should we be involved with the culture? Drawing on such sources as Abraham Kuyper, Francis Schaeffer, and C.S. Lewis, Ashford argues that God wants our whole lives to be shaped by Jesus’ lordship. If Jesus truly is Lord over everything, then our faith is relevant to every dimension (every square inch!) of culture.

Ashford argues that we are to live our lives firmly in the midst of our cultural contexts, proclaiming Jesus with our lips and promoting him with our lives. For those who don’t know, Ashford is Provost and Dean of the Faculty at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he also serves as Professor of Theology and Culture.

 Best chapter

Chapter 3: Culture and Calling

After chapter two deals with a brief theology of culture, this chapter focuses on specific venues where Christians are to live out their calling in culture: family, church, workplace, and community.

“Our callings are our primary means to bring God glory, loving him and our neighbor, and the primary ways in which our lives intersect with various cultural arenas. If we are seeking to fulfill these callings faithfully and with excellence, we will find ourselves able to witness to Christ with the whole of our lives in every dimension of society and culture.” Kindle location 557

Best quotes

“Every culture possesses some inherent goodness. God ordered the world in such a way that people spontaneously make culture, and the very existence of music, art, food, housing, and education represent a fundamental human good. Furthermore, God has enabled all people—Christian or not—to make good and valuable contributions in the cultural realm. But under this view, the Christian also recognizes that every culture is corrupted and misdirected.” Kindle location 239

“After the fall, the world remained structurally good but became directionally bad. The world is still good in its design (structure), but human beings use the world in ways that are oriented toward self-worship and the worship of things rather than God (direction).” Kindle location 250

“God gave humans the capacities to create culture and then commanded them to use those capacities. God created humans in his image and likeness, thereby giving them capacities for spirituality, morality, relationality, language, rationality, and creativity. Then he commanded them to use those gifts (e.g., Gen 2:15; Exod 31:1–11).” Kindle location 352

“In our evangelism and church-planting, we must recognize that the gospel is always proclaimed, the church is always planted, and the Christian life is always lived within a cultural context (through human language, oratory, music, categories of thought, etc.).” Kindle location 423

“In the aftermath of the fall, every aspect of creation and culture finds itself corrupted and misdirected by sin. Science is no exception. Scientific investigation is undertaken by fallen human beings who, for example, make an idol out of the sciences by trusting that science can answer life’s deepest questions and fix its most perplexing problems.” Kindle location 961

“Viewed from a Christian perspective, science is the discipline of studying the good world that God has given us. For this reason, we should build into our churches the habit of encouraging those who are gifted to pursue work in the sciences. We should work hard to build world-class research universities that give scientists the freedom to do their work without laying aside their core convictions and the freedom to hypothesize Christianly as they attempt to make sense of the data.” Kindle location 1070

“The majority of Americans no longer consider traditional Christian doctrines (for example, the doctrine of sin) or traditional Christian ethics (for example, biblical sexual morality) to be plausible in the modern world. Christians who do not abandon these beliefs are labeled intolerant and even hateful.” Kindle location 1098

“Materialism is the belief that we will be happier if we acquire more goods and services, while consumerism is our preoccupation with acquiring those goods and services. The materialist-consumerist mindset is idolatrous, because consumption becomes a functional savior offering the sort of redemption that only Christ can offer, and promoting the sort of utopia that will exist only in the new heavens and earth.” Kindle location 1358

“We should work hard to acquire our wealth in a way that is moral, legal, and beneficial to society. We should use the wealth we possess to bless our families, but also to bless our neighbors. We should never lose sight of the fact that God, rather than wealth, is our security and our savior.” Kindle location 1383

“After Adam and Eve’s sin, all human beings have sinned against God. There is not one corner of society or culture that is left untainted by sin and its consequences. All human beings are alienated from God and from each other, and our social and cultural activities are corrupted and misdirected by sin.” Kindle location 1566

In light of the fall and God’s offer to humanity of a great salvation, our mission now takes on added dimensions. Before the fall, our mission was to spread God’s glory across the face of the earth by building societies of worshipers who lived their cultural lives to his glory. After the fall, we retain the original mission, but also have to deal with the ugly fact of sin.” Kindle location 1572

“Secular institutions are liturgical because they provide a matrix of practices and rituals that inculcate a certain (un-Christian) vision of the good life. They misdirect our loves and desires. They skew our basic attunement to this world by pointing us away from Christ and toward a certain idol or cluster of idols.” Kindle location 160

Best illustration

“A core biblical teaching is that all humans are worshipers, either of God or of idols. Our worship is located in the heart, and it radiates outward into all that we do. People who are not Christians are still worshipers, and whatever or whoever they worship radiates outward into all that they do, including their public-square interactions.” Kindle location 1155

 Best idea

“We realize that we will never ‘win’ by transforming our culture in such a way that it glorifies Christ comprehensively or enduringly. God never promises victory until Christ returns and secures the victory for himself. But he does command us to obey him and bear witness to him by doing everything within our powers to direct our cultural activities toward Christ.” Kindle location 266

 Best take away

“The implications of the fall for a discussion of human culture are massive. Sin defiles everything. Spiritually, humans are idolaters, worshiping God’s gifts instead of worshiping God himself (Col 3:5). Rationally, they have difficulty discerning the truth, and they use their capacities to construct vain philosophies (Rom 1:18–21). Creatively, they use their imagination to create and worship idols rather than to worship the living God (Isa 40:18–20). Relationally, they use their power to exploit others and serve themselves (Gen 5:8). As a result, any and all human culture is distorted and defaced by sin. No dimension of culture is left unscathed by sin’s pervasive reach.” Kindle location 367

Recommendation

The book is a fine introduction (as the title suggests) to human culture and contains a strong biblically based Christian response and practical responsibility to it. At the conclusion of each chapter there are action points along with recommended readings that helps the reader dig deeper into the topic presented in the chapter.

Visit Missio Nexus to learn more about their Leader’s Edge Book Summaries and their other resources.

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Book Summary: Contagious Disciple Making

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This is from last month’s Leader’s Edge Book Summary of Missio Nexus. These are the best book summaries on the web. Leader’s Edge monthly book summaries and insightful interviews connect you with today’s leading writers in the Great Commission community. You can visit their website here. Access for individuals starts at under $30. The services include:

  • 52 book reviews (electronically delivered – 1 per week)
  • 36 book summaries (electronically delivered – 3 per month)
  • 24 live webinars (average 2 per month)
  • 12 author interviews (monthly mp3 downloads)
  • 6 Global Issues Updates (bi-monthly downloadable webinar)
  • 3 Web Workshops (4-6 week training series)
  • discounted access to the most extensive library of mission-focused webinars in the English language
  • discounted access to three annual live conferences

Accessing their services just for the book summaries is well worth the cost. Below is a sample from the April edition of Leader’s Edge Book Summary Paul and David Watson’s book Contagious Disciple Making. Each book summary includes the content of the book by category of:

  • Best chapter
  • Best quotes
  • Best illustration
  • Best idea
  • Best take away
  • Recommendation

Contagious

 

Contagious Disciple Making

Authors: David Watson and Paul Watson

Published by Thomas Nelson, Nashville, 2014, 256 pages. (ISBN: 978-0529112200)

Available in Kindle format. (ASIN: B00KQ2G1T6)

Summary

Authors David and Paul Watson (father-son) map out a simple method that has sparked an explosion of homegrown churches around the world. An update to Miraculous Movements, by Trousdale (our March 2013 summary) Contagious Disciple Making details the method used by Cityteam disciple-makers. This distinctive process focuses on equipping spiritual leaders in communities where churches are planted. Unlike other approaches that focus on quick results, contagious disciple making takes time to cultivate spiritual leadership, resulting in lasting disciple-making movements.

 Best chapter

Chapter 1: Disciple Makers Embrace Lessons Taught by Failure

This chapter is chosen as it lays the foundation for the rest of the book. The following are some selected quotes from this chapter:

“God taught me, through many failures, that I had to focus on making disciples of Christ, not followers of my church or denomination. He also taught me that I needed to teach these disciples to obey the commands of Jesus, not my church/denominational doctrines or traditions. This is what led to the breakthrough that resulted in more than eighty thousand churches among a people considered unreachable.” Kindle location 227

“We defined a Church-Planting Movement as an indigenously led Gospel-planting and obedience-based discipleship process that resulted in a minimum of one hundred new locally initiated and led churches, four generations deep, within three years.” Kindle location 230

“True DMM methodology is about being disciplined in educating, training, and mentoring people to obey all the commands of Jesus, regardless of consequences.” Kindle location 250

“If you really want to start a Disciple-Making Movement anywhere in the world and witness God’s work as He starts a Church-Planting Movement, invest in teaching, training, and mentoring leaders to obey all the commands of Christ.” Kindle location 268

Best quotes

“Our focus in discipleship has become obedience to the Gospel, not adherence to a doctrine. With a doctrine-centered discipleship program, one must teach everything to ensure a person has the knowledge to be obedient. With an obedience-centered discipleship program, the emphasis is on how we can be obedient to Christ in every area of our lives and in every circumstance. When a new disciple asks a question, my answer is always the same: What must you do to be obedient to Christ?” Kindle location 360

“The role of the cross-cultural worker is to deculturalize the Gospel—presenting the Gospel without commentary, but with the question, ‘How will we obey what God has said?’ If it’s not in the Bible, don’t introduce it to the culture.” Kindle location 388

“The role of the cultural worker is also to contextualize the Gospel—presenting the Gospel and asking, ‘What must we change in our lives and culture in order to be obedient to all the commands of Christ?’” Kindle location 390

“The DMM is about doing what was done in the first century—giving the Gospel to a people and teaching them to obey it; seeing them become faithful disciples of Christ; leaving them to struggle in obeying the Word of God in their own context and history; and allowing them to develop their own unique practices for worship, leadership, and governance within the confines of biblical obedience.” Kindle location 498

“A disciple is one who embraces and obeys all the teachings of Christ and endeavors by word and deed to make more disciples. A convert is one who practices a religion into which he or she was not born, and may or may not encourage others to convert.” Kindle location 741

“Disciple-makers first teach people the Word of God so they will know what to obey. Second, they train people in the skill sets necessary to be an obedient follower of Christ so they will know how to obey. And third, disciple-makers equip people to their full capacity to serve God and others so they demonstrate lives of consistent obedience and make more disciples.” Kindle location 760

“As we started looking at Disciple-Making Movements worldwide, we made a critical observation: a prayer movement precedes every Disciple-Making Movement. There are two sides to catalyzing a prayer movement. First, we must become people of prayer. Second, we need to mobilize people to pray.” Kindle location 1134

“The Person of Peace is the one God has prepared to receive the Gospel into a community for the first time. There are two major categories of Persons of Peace—some are Persons of Peace by nature, and some become Persons of Peace as a result of God’s direct intervention in their families or communities.” Kindle location 1752

“Jim, a friend and longtime missionary, told me that Persons of Peace have three primary characteristics: They are open to a relationship with you. They hunger for spiritual answers for their deepest questions. And they will share whatever they learn with others. Jim likes to use the acronym OHS to remember these characteristics: Open, Hungry, Sharing.” Kindle location 1913

“As far as we know, Disciple-Making Movements are the only modern example of the Gospel spreading rapidly throughout decentralized systems. All leaders of active Disciple-Making Movements around the world lead by influence rather than position. This is a strong indicator of the leadership style necessary for catalyzing Disciple-Making Movements in the United States and other locations around the world. People who want to catalyze Disciple-Making Movements must become master influencers of multiple systems to achieve the end goal of reaching their family, community, silo, city, and nation.” Kindle location 2538

“In Contagious Disciple-Making that results in self-replicating disciples, leaders, groups, and churches that take seriously the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, these strategic or critical elements fall into three groups: Kingdom elements, tactical elements, and leadership elements.” Kindle location 2725

“Kingdom metrics are what we use to measure our work by God’s expectations, as He revealed them in Scripture. Kingdom metrics help us understand how God measures what we do, which allows us to develop strategies and plans focused on fulfilling God’s expectations for what we do and how we do it.” Kindle location 2799

Best illustration

“In many ways our churches are becoming jails. Jails are designed to isolate from society those who would harm it. Many churches now seem to be designed to isolate Christians from society so they cannot transform it.” Kindle location 821

 Best idea

“Identifying our personal cultures—including our religious and nationalistic traditions—and keeping them from permeating new work is the single biggest hurdle we face. Our Christian culture can have an extremely negative impact on disciple-making.” Kindle location 413

 Best take away

“If we are mindful of Kingdom metrics, we recognize that: Kingdom metrics are about Kingdom purposes (doing God’s will). Kingdom metrics are about measuring our work by what God uses to measure us. Kingdom metrics are about obeying “God’s Word and teaching others to obey God’s Word regardless of theological, doctrinal, denominational, church, or cultural bias. Kingdom metrics are about putting the Great Commandment and the Great Commission ahead of personal, denominational, church, or organizational objectives/goals. Kingdom metrics are transformational, which can only be accomplished by God working through all His people.” Kindle location 2806

Recommendation

Take your concept of Church Planting Movements (CPM) to the next level – incorporate Disciple-making Movement (DMM) principles into it. There are also helpful summaries of leadership, management, and mentoring in the practical section of the book many will find useful.

 

Visit Missio Nexus to learn more about their Leader’s Edge Book Summaries and their other resources.

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Book Summary| Indispensable: When Leaders Really Matter

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This is from last month’s Leader’s Edge Book Summary of Missio Nexus. These are the best book summaries on the web. Leader’s Edge monthly book summaries and insightful interviews connect you with today’s leading writers in the Great Commission community. You can visit their website here. Access for individuals starts at under $30. The services include:

  • 52 book reviews (electronically delivered – 1 per week)
  • 36 book summaries (electronically delivered – 3 per month)
  • 24 live webinars (average 2 per month)
  • 12 author interviews (monthly mp3 downloads)
  • 6 Global Issues Updates (bi-monthly downloadable webinar)
  • 3 Web Workshops (4-6 week training series)
  • discounted access to the most extensive library of mission-focused webinars in the English language
  • discounted access to three annual live conferences

Accessing their services just for the book summaries is well worth the cost. Below is a sample from the April edition of Leader’s Edge Book Summary of Gautam Mukunda’s book Indispensable: When Leaders Really Matter. Each book summary includes the content of the book by category of:

  • Best chapter
  • Best quotes
  • Best illustration
  • Best idea
  • Best take away
  • Recommendation

Indispensable

 

Indispensable: When Leaders Really Matter

Author: Gautam Mukunda

Published by Harvard Business Review Press, 2012, Hardcover 320 pages. (ISBN-10: 1422186709)

Available in Kindle format. (ASIN: B008Z1Q7N0)

Summary

Leadership matters. But how important are individual leaders? That’s the question Gautam Mukunda raises in this fascinating book. Indispensable is about how and when leaders really make a difference. Mukunda introduces the idea of Leadership Filtration Process (LFP), the forces at work to filter candidates for a given leadership opportunity. He suggests leadership impact should be evaluated on a distribution curve and thought of as the marginal difference between what actually happened and what would have happened if the most likely alternative leader had been selected. A tight LFP tends to weed out candidates that deviate from the norms and result in a choice between a homogenous group.

“Sometimes, however, a leader from the tails of the distribution can win due to some rare combination of events…These extremes are likely to be high-impact leaders—for better or worse.” Page 6

 Best chapter

Chapters: 1–Hunting the High-Impact Leader and 9–The Tragedy and Potential Triumph of Leadership

Note: We normally highlight the single best chapter of a book but this title introduces fresh content you will not find in other sources and warranted two “best” chapters.

In chapter 1, Hunting the High-Impact Leader, the idea of a Leadership Filtration Process (LFP) is introduced and explained. Social scientists have posited that while leadership is important, individual leaders are not because of three factors: 1) external environment, which forces whoever is in power to respond and leaves little room for control, 2) internal organizational dynamics, which force leaders to respond to bureaucracy and influence from constituents, and 3) leadership selection systems, which homogenizes the pool of potential leaders, making it unlikely if not impossible for those who might have acted differently from coming to power in the first place.

LFP has two components, evaluation and decision. To be Filtered, a candidate must first be evaluated so that LFP can discern what he or she is really like. Then the results of that evaluation must be used to decide if he or she will become the leader. Evaluation is necessary but not sufficient to make a candidate a Filtered leader. For a leader to be Filtered the evaluation must be connected with the decision, which may not be the case in a monarchy or following the death of a sitting president where the transition of power is established independent of the evaluation.

Emergencies may de-link evaluation and decision, allowing candidates who have flunked evaluation to gain power anyway because crisis suspends normal decision-making or eliminates all the other available candidates. (Page 13) Unfiltered leaders are referred to as Extremes. Filtered leaders are described as Modal (near the mode of the distribution curve). If there’s a watchword for Extremes, it’s innovation. Most innovations fail. Extreme leaders are important because they make choices most leaders would not make. Those who make such choices and are right are remembered as geniuses. Those who fail are often not remembered at all. Page 16

In chapter 9, The Tragedy and Potential Triumph of Leadership, the author suggests six guidelines from Leadership Filtration Theory to inform leadership selection, advice on how selectors can use these guidelines and finally, suggestions for leaders regarding how their status as Filtered or Unfiltered leaders should influence their decision making.

Best quotes

“From psychology to political science to management to economics, researchers who study leadership argue or assume that individual leaders are surprisingly unimportant.” Page 3

“Organizations tend to select their leaders carefully, so managers become “more and more homogenous” the higher you go.” Page 4

“Leader impact can best be thought of as the marginal difference between what actually happened and what would have happened if the most likely alternative leader had come to power.” Page 5

“Thoroughly Filtered winners of the LFP will almost always be Modal. Leaders who have, somehow, bypassed filtration are far more likely to be Extremes. This means that it should be possible to identify high-impact leaders based solely on the extent to which their lives before taking power exposed them to filtration.” Page 9

“Emergencies may de-link evaluation and decision, allowing candidates who have flunked evaluation to gain power anyway because the crisis suspends normal decision-making or eliminates all the other available candidates.” Page 13

“Despite the positive connotations of the word innovation, most innovations fail. Extreme leaders are important because they make choices most leaders would not make. If most people would choose to do one thing and one person chooses to do something else, that person might be right—but probably not. Those who make such choices and succeed are remembered as geniuses. Those who fail are often not remembered at all, a selection bias that makes deviation from the norm seem a considerably better strategy than it usually is.” Page 16

“If an innovation were obviously superior, after all, then it would not be an innovation. For an innovation not to have already been adopted, it must be nonobvious that it will succeed. If an innovator waits until it is certain that his or her idea will work, others will have already adopted it. Although there may be some candidates so gifted that their judgment is consistently superior to that of their rivals, such people must be rare. If they are not, then much of the population of people they are competing with will have the same superior judgment, rendering it merely average once again.” Page 17

“Churchill was not discredited because of his prescient stand against Nazi Germany. Instead, his warnings about Nazi Germany were ignored because he had thoroughly discredited himself on a variety of issues long before Hitler arrived on the scene.” Page 155

“Churchill’s career shows that the same qualities that impeded his rise were crucial to his success under extraordinary circumstances while he was prime minister.” Page 156

“Filtered Modal leaders are most likely to fail not when they have defective personalities or are simply incapable but when the situation has changed to something completely different from what it was when they were passing through the LFP…Filtered leaders are well-adapted to the situation as it was, not necessarily to the situation as it is or will be.” Page 222

“The Extreme leader does what others would not do, even when others advise him or her against it. To make this sort of choice when the stakes are high takes enormous confidence. Sometimes, however, the Extreme’s advisers will be right. When that is true, the great Extreme leader will have the humility to defer to their judgment. It is this almost paradoxical combination of self-confidence and humility that marks the transcendently great leader.” Page 236

“F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said, ‘The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.’ Roger L. Martin suggested that the best leaders are those who have this capacity and who, because they do, are able to reject a false choice and create a new option.” Page 238

Best illustration

Note: There are dozens of powerful illustrations in this book from the lives of leaders whose experience is used to test Leadership Filtration Theory.

“If you’re a grant-making foundation, for example, you have limited potential losses but unlimited potential gains. The worst case scenario for any individual grant is that it fails. The maximum possible loss is the amount granted. Gains, however, can be nearly infinite. The more unexpected the result from a scientific experiment is, the larger its implications. Only a surprising result can overturn accepted theories, but it is when accepted theories are replaced that science moves forward fastest.” Page 225

File under: innovation, risk

 Best idea

LFT suggests a variety of steps you can take that can help you pick positive Extremes and block negative ones: (1) avoiding deceptive signals, (2) matching leaders to situations and removing them from power when the situation changes, (3) taking seriously statements made by Unfiltered leaders before they take power, (4) choosing Unfiltered leaders who have been successful Filtered leaders in other contexts, and (5) shaping the position to the leader you choose. Page 227

 Best take away

If you only use one insight from LFT when you are choosing a leader, the one you should take away is this—trying to pick “the best leader” is the wrong way of thinking about the problem…You can improve the average quality of leaders by filtering them, but, as philosopher Karl Popper pointed out, filtration “is bound to select mediocrities.” You should think about choosing a leader the way you think about investing. When you are investing you can decrease your risk by diversifying. But you can only pick one person to lead your organization, so you can’t diversify your leadership. LFT shows that choosing a leader is about balancing risk and reward. You’ll want to risk in two major situations. The first is when only the best possible leadership can bring your organization success, and the second is when the purpose of your organization is such that it prefers short-term dominance to long-term survival.” Page 224

Recommendation

If you are going to use a search firm to select a new leader, insist they read this book and explain how LFT will play out in their process. Remember, search firms will almost always default toward risk aversion and therefore direct you toward a filtered leader.

 

Visit Missio Nexus to learn more about their Leader’s Edge Book Summaries and their other resources.

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Book Summary: Pray for the World

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This is from last month’s Leader’s Edge Book Summary of Missio Nexus. These are the best book summaries on the web. Leader’s Edge monthly book summaries and insightful interviews connect you with today’s leading writers in the Great Commission community. You can visit their website here. Access for individuals starts at under $30. The services include:

  • 52 book reviews (electronically delivered – 1 per week)
  • 36 book summaries (electronically delivered – 3 per month)
  • 24 live webinars (average 2 per month)
  • 12 author interviews (monthly mp3 downloads)
  • 6 Global Issues Updates (bi-monthly downloadable webinar)
  • 3 Web Workshops (4-6 week training series)
  • discounted access to the most extensive library of mission-focused webinars in the English language
  • discounted access to three annual live conferences

Accessing their services just for the book summaries is well worth the cost. Below is a sample from the April edition of Leader’s Edge Book Summary of Pray for the World published by IVP. Each book summary includes the content of the book by category of:

  • Best chapter
  • Best quotes
  • Best illustration
  • Best idea
  • Best take away
  • Recommendation

Pray-for-the-World

 

Pray for the World

Editorial advisor: Molly Wall

Published by IVP Books, Downers Grove, 2015, 331 pages. (ISBN: 978-0-8308-3686-4)

Available in Kindle format. (ASIN: B00VEMNO6K)

Summary

Pray for the World is an abridged and simplified paperback version of the 2010 edition of Operation World. The maps and key data are still there, but this streamlined volume is only 300 pages long and more easily used as a resource for prayer and mobilization. It is chock full of facts and figures making it an excellent reference book. But its main intent is to get Christians to pray for the world in an informed way. Thus the reason we put the book in the spiritual formation category.

 Best chapter

As a country-by-country resource, there is no best chapter. Best chapter would be determined by the personal interest of the reader.

Best quotes

“The amazing harvest of new believers continues across Africa, Asia and Latin America. By contrast the Church grows very slowly or even declines in the rest of the world. Although sometimes small in number, or away from public view, Christians now live and fellowship inside every country. World missions, migration, and globalization all spread the church. It is not a European ‘white man’s religion,’ but a global faith for all peoples. The majority of Christians today are Africans, Asians, and Latin Americans.” Page 2

“Evangelical Christianity grew faster than any other world religion or global religious movement. Most of this growth happened through local movements, in places where the evangelical church was new. Evangelicals numbered 89 million (2.5% of the world’s population) in 1960, but by 2010 they were 546 million (7.9%)! Much of this growth was by conversion, not just by birth rates. The Church grows in lands where past or present persecution of Christians is quite strong.” Page 2

“Pentecostals and other charismatic movements grew beyond expectation… The charismatic renewal movement has touched many parts of the church, in thousands of denominations, in nearly every country! Every movement has flaws, but charismatic renewal has revived or renewed the faith of almost half a billion people.” Page 2

Many of the world’s least-reached peoples received the good news! In many cases, peoples with no known believers 10 or 20 years ago now have church that grow and thrive!… Praise God that doors opened and people responded to the gospel within hundreds of people groups–even some groups once considered impossible to reach!” Page 2

“God’s people joined to pray in greater numbers, with greater focus, than ever before! Grassroots movements on the local, national, and international levels pray for their communities, for countries and people groups, and for important global issues.” Page 2

“Aid, development, and charity work increased around the globe through the 1980’s and 1990’s and into this decade… Ministries that care for the needy, and that brings justice for the oppressed, reflects both the heart of God and the commands of Scripture. It also opens many doors to the gospel message.” Page 3

“The globalization of the Great Commission movement changed the face of missions. Many nations in Asia, Africa, and Latin America have mission-sending movements. The Majority World nations together already send more missionaries than Western countries. This exciting 21st century reality also introduces unique challenges… Praise God for a global mission force that is more multi-cultural and multi-national than ever before!” Page 3

“The Church must find new ways of training, sending, and supporting missionaries, especially non-Western workers. Traditional Protestant mission agencies will continue to serve the global movement, but changes in global politics and economics require new models and patterns of mission work.” Page 3

“Areas that appear in the news because of tragedies or conflict often become the focus of intense prayer and related mission efforts. In the past 20 years, more Muslims than ever before came to Christ, and more workers serve in Muslim heartlands.” Page 3

“God uses many tools to minister to both believers and non-believers (personal witness, literature, Scripture translation, Christian audio resources, TV, internet and many more). Pray that the new combined ministry efforts…might greatly increase the opportunity for non-Christians to hear the gospel and respond! Yet, even with all this activity, probably 24-27% of the world’s population have not had the good news presented to them in a way they could understand and receive.” Page 3

Due to the nature of the book, Best Illustration, Idea and Take Away was not used for this summary.

Recommendation

The book is highly recommended for personal or group prayer and reflection times. It can serve as a quick reference for country-by-country state of world evangelism. Consider using it to enhance your mission agency or local church prayer times.

Visit Missio Nexus to learn more about their Leader’s Edge Book Summaries and their other resources.

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