4 problems with the idea of the Gospel as a "right", and 1 major problem with spiritual riches

I saw again the now-famous quote:

I can generally applaud the sentiment behind this statement–that there are many who hear the Gospel a lot while many who hear it not at all–and certainly the related need to reach the unreached. But is the Gospel a right?
There’s a few problems with this idea:
1. I can’t make a Biblical case for the idea everyone has a right to hear the Gospel. Everyone has a need, and the Gospel is a gift. But there’s nothing in Scripture that suggests it’s a “right”–at least, not that I can find.
2. Rights are things the rights-owner demands, things that should be provided by default — like the right to freedom of religion or the right to free speech. The responsibility for demanding them is on the user. The onus for providing them is typically on a governing body of some kind. If we view the Gospel as a right, we can fall very easily into the idea that those who are not Christians are not because they have not “claimed the right to hear” or the “governing body” has not provided it. In other words, claiming the Gospel as a right does not imply a responsibility on individuals — like you and me — to provide it.
3. Rights can only be demanded if people know they have them. Half of non-Christians aren’t non-Christians because they chose against Christ. They don’t even know about Christianity. Remember, about 2 billion people have never heard of Christ or Christianity; or if they have, it’s not a real understanding of the Gospel–it’s in propaganda like “those terrible Christians” or the like (Status of Global Christianity, line 71-72). 86% of Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists have no personal contact with a believer (Global Context of Christianity, p. 78). You can hardly choose a right you don’t even know exists.
4. The idea of the Gospel as a right does not convey the idea of the Gospel as a responsibility. Jesus commissioned believers to bring the Gospel to the world – he didn’t commission the non-believers to seek it out.
There’s also a few problems with the idea no one should hear the Gospel more than once before everyone hears it once.
1. It can take multiple hearings of the Gospel before a person decides to follow Christ. If we deny people multiple exposures to the Gospel we might never find the person(s) who will be responsible for all of their friends-family-and-relations coming to Christ. It takes those initial disciples-who-make-disciples to start a movement.
Some people may have to hear the Gospel more than once so that everyone can hear it at all.
2. Most decisions about following Christ have more to do with the relationships we have with other believers than they do with any doctrine that is heard. We don’t argue people into the kingdom; we welcome them into a community and they decide they belong there.
Perhaps the best example of this latter I have found was in ancient Celtic Christianity. The monks moved next to a village and built a monastic community from which they blessed the villages nearby – e.g. blacksmiths, farming, beekeeping, education and the like. In the monastic community they built a visitor’s house. Someone from the villages could come, live in the house, take part in everything the community did. As they did they might come to decide they wanted to be part of the community, and so they joined the monks’ order. It wasn’t an argument but life in the community that brought them to the decision.
3. In a mission context, domestic outreach vs mission outreach is not an either/or, but both/and. “To Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria AND the uttermost parts of the earth.” The problem in most churches is that outreach resources are so scarce that churches have to make the either/or decision. Domestic vs. foreign is forced into competition. The solution to this is discipleship development in the local church so that disciplemaking resources are not so scarce as to force competition.
But these issues are not what the quote is really about. It’s really aimed at this terrible truth:
Most evangelism–most “good news”–is aimed at, consumed by, and enjoyed solely by people who are already Christians. Most Gospel presentation happens in churches, or in crusades, or in small group Bible studies, or in Christian entertainment settings.
Most in those settings are already Christians.
Think about it: if you’re a Christian, how many times did you hear the Gospel this year? If you started counting, you’d find it was a lot. And that’s the reality.
We treat our spiritual riches as our “right.” But the Gospel is not a right at all. To suggest the Gospel is a right is to suggest we have a demand ultimately on God.
Instead, the Gospel is both grace from God and the responsibility of believers to carry. If we lived up to our responsibilities, there would be an enormous overage of Gospel opportunities–everyone would have more than enough, an abundance, a cup running over.
That we can hear the Gospel every Sunday while 2 billion people will never hear it once, on any day, in their entire lives–is our fault, not theirs.
It is our shame that we can blissfully claim our spiritual riches in the midst of such spiritual poverty. Perhaps we should reconsider the parable of the rich man and camels, or that of the Pharisee and the tax collector, or the terrible statement about those who say “Lord, Lord, we have done many great things”–but never knew His him, and His heart of love for the world, and His desire that all might be saved.

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20 Resources I Regularly Use, updated for 2015

Now, updated for 2015.
0. Gmail: all of my email comes here. Can’t beat its anti-spam and virus protection. After nearly a decade, Gmail is still my go-to spot, and retains the top slot on the 2013 list.
1. Evercontact: This is an indispensable pay service, but it’s pretty cheap. It works with Gmail. It scans incoming email for contact information and automatically updates your Google Contacts list, bringing in things like email addresses, phone numbers, physical addresses, etc. It’s a great time saver. Since my Google Contacts address is automatically synced to my phone, and becomes my phone address list, it’s also helpful for updating the phone book on my phone. Much better and less privacy invading than Plaxo!
3. Dropbox: I abandoned Google Drive because I had so many files that they became problematic to find and organize without folders. (Google Drive’s folders were always problematic for me, and I just didn’t have time to mess around with it.) I tried Sync for a bit, but I’ve run into a lot of people who have problems with Sync, so I have reverted to Dropbox. I have a Pro account and this is where I store most of my files.
4. Twitter. Twitter is the center of my news world. I have several carefully curated lists which cover breaking news, top news sources, global thinkers and influencers, activists, mission agencies, and the like. I use Flipboard on the iPad to access this, as well as Tweetbot (and often Twitter on my desktop Mac).
5. Mailchimp. I am switching to a newsletter only approach, and Mailchimp has been my newsletter-manager of choice.
6. Scrivener. I use Scrivener less right now, but I still recommend it and wouldn’t delete it from my system. I mainly use it for long-form writing. I have used it in the past for Cluster Forecasts, essays and other projects. It’s available in both Mac and Windows editions.
7. Microsoft Excel. I have tried lots and lots of databases – Filemaker Pro, Access, SequelPro, AmazonSQL… I come back to Excel for virtually all my database work. It’s hard to beat its simplicity, if you’re not working with relational databases. Nearly all of my databases are simple flat form tables, and Excel is perfect for these.
8. Adobe Indesign. This is what I use when I’m formatting the Cluster Forecasts for PDF. I ended up getting a copy purchased outright when it became available on nonprofit license through Techsoup.
9. Facebook Messenger. I use Facebook very little. I post maybe once a week, if that. But the tool that is indispensable to me when I’m traveling is FB Messenger. It’s the simplest way for me to communicate with wife & kids. Makes it easy to send pictures, straight text, or short voice messages. Worked great when in low bandwidth situations in Asia.
19. Camtasia Studio. This is what I use for recording videos for the Mission Manual. I got it pretty cheap through a non-profit license via Techsoup. (I haven’t made a video in a very long time, unfortunately.)
11. Tripit maintains my travel calendar automatically. Anytime I purchase a flight, Tripit (which monitors my Gmail account) automatically sucks the flight data in and gives me a nice itinerary. It syncs to the iPhone/iPad app as well, so that’s always up to date, and shares the itinerary with my wife, so she has quick access to my schedule.
12. Siteground: I host my website (justinlong.org) at Siteground now. Moved from Hostgator. I find Siteground to be really supportive, well done, and fine tuned for WordPress.
13. WordPress: for a long time I dropped the blog in favor of the Mailchimp-based Long View newsletter. I’m still doing the newsletter – that’s the weekly “best of” approach – but I found it didn’t quite fit the niche that the blog did. So I revived the blog as the place where I can drop thoughts in formation, daily posts, asides, links, and the like. I have yet to find anything that works better in this regard than WordPress.
14. Kindle: I love Amazon Kindle. I probably have 200 books/files in it. Apple’s iBooks is nice, but at this point I have so much in my Kindle that I would be hard pressed to abandon it. I actually use my Kindle App on iPhone/iPad far more than I do my actual Kindle, at this point. I’m also on a 30-day free trial of Amazon Unlimited.
15. Google Apps for Domains: we use this internally at MUP for email, documents, calendaring and the like. So I include it here just to mention it.
16. Paypal: I use this a lot for donations and small purchases that people make from me. I’m very satisfied with it.
17. Gumroad: this is an excellent and very simple way to offer PDFs and other digital media for sale. I’ve made some very good use of this and anticipate using it more in the future.
18. FileZilla: this is my FTP transfer program of choice. I’ve tried a bunch (including CuteFTP Pro) but this is the one that’s the simplest.
19. iTunes: what I use to play and scan in music. I know, others find it kludgy. It works for me. Besides I pretty much need that because of the iPhone and iPad.
20. LastPass: my password manager on a Windows based box. On the Mac, I use Safari’s built in password manager. I wish the two would sync nicer than they do, but… life is full of challenges. My passwords are typically phrases (not crazy alphanumeric codes) but Lastpass is great for automatically logging me into sites so I don’t have to remember all the passwords I’ve used. (Wish it worked with Safari.)

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8 Startup Myths (or, 8 Church Planting Myths)

In “From Stanford to Startup,” the creators of the iPhone app Instagram discuss 8 startup myths. Instagram is used by 4 million people to share 6 photos per second. Here are the myths and some takeaways for church planting ministries.
Myth #1: You can learn to be an entrepreneur from a blog, book or talk.
Restated: You can learn to be a church planter from a blog, book or talk.
Truth: 1 day on the job is better than a year in a book.
Best thing to learn: how to make decisions in the midst of uncertainty.
Side note: Mission agencies could learn a lot from VC incubators that help startups succeed.
“The only thing users care about is the product you ship–not who your investors are, or whether you are an entrepreneur.”
Myth #2: Startups can only be started by computer science students.
Restated: Church plants can only be started by theology/seminary students.
Truth: Many startups by people who never went to college (or dropouts).
MS, Google dropouts. Twitter team never went to college. “Sink or swim” school of engineering. Generalists are perfect. Build relationships to people with specialized pieces of knowledge.
Myth #3: Finding the solution to the problem is the hardest part.
Truth: Finding the problem to solve is the hardest part.
It’s easy to build solutions to problems no one have. Test to see if people have the problems with rapid iterations & tests.
How do you know if you’re solving the right problems?
It’s okay to solve simple problems. Simple problems often become hard at scale.
Myth #4: Work for months building a robust product in secrecy, then launch to the world.
Stealth startups. How cool they sound.
Truth: You don’t get the feedback you need quickly enough.
Make your product public quickly.
Build the minimum viable product that answers “are we building the right thing”?
Don’t build past what you need to build to prove whether someone will use it.
Fail early and often, make failing as low cost as possible. Must fail to find the right solution. Assume from the start your first answer is not the right one. Fail your way to success. (“We’re failing too much, we need to move a bit to the right.”) Constant refinement of idea.”
See also: Whoever makes the most mistakes wins

Myth #5: Start a bidding war among VCs with a slick pitch deck.
Truth: Don’t go to a bunch of investors. Find the people you want to work with.
Raise only what you need to get off the ground (not that much)
Optimize for people, not valuation. You need people you get along with.
Focus on a prototype and traction, not a fancy pitch deck. Prototypes are more powerful than graphs.
Look at Venture Capital as a part of your team, who you are hiring.
Instagram spent $60,000 to get off the ground. Shoestring budget.
See also: Guy Kawasaki’s 10/20/30 Rule of Powerpoint

Myth #6: Starting a company = Building a product
Truth: Starting a company is 50% building a product, 50% other stuff
Recruiting, building, managing a team, raising capital
Bank accounts, taxes, forms, insurance, office, oh my.
See also: The E-Myth Revisited, which talks about the various aspects of running a business
Myth #7: Successful startups come from a single great idea
Truth: It’s not the epiphany. Entrepreneurship is a build up process.
First idea is likely not the last one
Your job is to explore the solution space
Themes will follow you
Sharing and discussing helps
”Ideas are combinatorial”: take different parts of ideas and put them together
See also: Scott Berkun, The Myths of Innovation, fantastic book on this subject. Worth $10.
Myth #8: Great startups happen overnight.
Truth: “Twitter was an overnight success that took five years.” –Biz Stone
Success comes from the foundations you’ve built along the way
Even with the right idea, you’re fighting to the next hill
Success is obvious in retrospect, but reality it’s never that clear.
”It is a long slog. … it’s like a lifetime commitment in some ways.”
4 people in our office, for 4 million users.

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Christmas is coming

And The Long View weekly newsletter will return after the first of the year.
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Scope vs Intensity of Persecution

There is an old saying that “more Christians were killed in the 20th century than in all the previous centuries combined” (see herehere, and here for examples of how this statistic is used). This has often been used as a simplistic attention-grabbing headline, but I think it conveys a very bad message. The tonal implication behind this is that the 20th century has a terrible martyrdom problem.
By the measure of the number killed, the 20th Century was clearly the “deadliest” century for Christians.
Yet Christianity has grown remarkably during this century, and is in no danger of being killed off. In fact the 20th century may very well have seen more Christians killed not because of an enormous upsurge in martyrdom but simply because there were more Christians to kill.
When considering martyrdom rates, there are two factors to look at: the scope of martyrdom (that is, the number of people killed) and the intensity of martyrdom (martyrs per Christian, or the % of Christians who were martyred).
The scope can be huge but the intensity low. If there are a million Christians in one place, and 10 are killed, it’s one thing; but if there are only 100 Christians in a place, and 10 are killed, it’s a completely different picture. During the days of the Roman Empire, the organized intentionality and intensity of some of the persecution periods (and there weren’t all that many) was far more intense because the number of Christians martyred as a percentage of all Christians was far higher. And there have been other organized persecutions of the church throughout history – Timur springs to mind, for example.
Last year there was some talk about Nigeria being the deadliest country for Christians. Nigeria may have the greatest scope of killings–yet it in fact has one of the lowest intensities. There were over 1,000 killed in last year in Nigeria–but Nigeria is also home to over 50 million Christians. 1,000 deaths, while horrible, doesn’t signal the overnight end of Christianity in Nigeria. This is a country where the evangelical missionary association (NEMA) wants to see 100,000 missionaries sent out from Nigeria!
Another way to look at this is the probability that any given Christian will face the very real possibility of martyrdom in their lives. Dividing the number of martyrdoms by the number of Christians (who could be martyred) gives us a rough estimate of the odds of martyrdom. Globally, that’s 100,000 out of 2 billion, or 1 in 20,000.
In Nigeria, it’s roughly 1,000 in 50 million (1,000 deaths out of 50 million Christians in Nigeria)–or 1 in 50,000. In other words, Nigeria, on average, is a safer place than most of the world in terms of the odds of someone dying.
The martyrdoms in Nigeria are largely confined to a few provinces in which Boko Haram is active. It’s probably very accurate to say those provinces are one of the deadliest places for Christianity right now–but Nigeria as a whole is a bastion of African Christianity. It’s a very complicated situation.
In places like Somalia, North Korea, or Saudi Arabia, the intensity is far more dramatic. Somalia has less than 60,000 Christians, and killings are common. The ten people killed in 2008, for example, would make the odds of martyrdom in Somalia about 1 in 6,000. The intensity is greater. The fact that the president of Nigeria is a Christian and that it will send the military in to counter Boko Haram is a completely different situation than in Somalia, North Korea or Saudi Arabia.
Another thing to think about: certain professions face far greater risks of martyrdom than others. For example, there are about 1.1 million Christians in Saudi Arabia right now – mostly, expatriate workers. The average expat in Saudi Arabia keeps his head down and the probability of his/her arrest/martyrdom is pretty low. But Saudi Arabia also reportedly offers a bounty of a year’s salary for anyone who turns in a discipleship group or Bible study. So, the number of Bible study leaders is far lower–and the odds of their arrest, imprisonment, torture and death is far higher. Bishops, pastors, missionaries, aid workers–all of these face higher odds of death than the typical lay Christian who never faces any danger for his faith.
Finally, it’s important to remember that a lot of martyrdom in the world goes unreported for a very long time. Much of it doesn’t make the evening news. Jubilee Campaign has said the 1,000 people martyred in Nigeria is 70% of the world total, meaning there were only 1,500 martyrs worldwide last year. The Status of Global Mission computes 100,000 per year on average. There is a huge disconnect between those two numbers, which leads me to wonder about what definition and data set is being used. Sometimes when we only know about a certain number of martyrs but we know historical patterns, we have to assume some “under-the-water” icebergs that we will find out about later, after lots of careful research.

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The Long Scale of Missionary Involvement

Because many people seem to have a question about whether they are a missionary or not, I offer the “Long Scale of Missionary Involvement.” Using this scale, you can define precisely just how missionary you are.
L-0: missionary to my family
L-0a: only to my immediate family.
L-0b: only to my immediate & extended family as defined by blood relationships
L-0c: to my immediate & extended family including current active marriages
L-0d: to my immediate & extended family including all marriages past and present.
L-1: missionary to my family (L-0) + friends & work associates (limited to those I have active friendships with)
L-2: missionary to my neighborhood & work environment (including those I don’t necessarily like right now)
L-3: missionary to those who speak my language in my city, who don’t go to my church.
L-4: missionary to all within my city, and especially those separated by barriers of language, culture, and religion.
L-5: missionary to a specific language group within my area.
L-6: missionary to a foreign country.
L-7: missionary to a specific language group in a foreign-country.
L-8: missionary to a specific non-Christian group in a foreign country.
L-9: missionary to a specific non-Christian group, generally with no Christian witness, in a foreign country.

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Mission Force Distribution: Clumping at the Crossroads

Sometimes we get the stereotype that agencies are all about planting “flags” in various countries. However, I’ve gone back through several sources of mission agency deployment statistics: old copies of Operation World, old copies of the MARC Mission Handbook, and the like. I’ve found a different picture.
No one has a complete picture of the deployment of missionaries worldwide. The reasons are fairly obvious: first, they change a lot; second, security. (There are other reasons, too, but these are the two big elephants in the room.) However, you can get a “decent” idea when you think about this: when an agency has been around for a long time, the places where it’s historically invested in the past are the places its interested in – and it is either there now (“under the radar”) or would like to be in the future. So, where agencies were in 2001, 2004, and 2006, are a good indicator of their interests in 2014.
Next: some agencies are pretty widely distributed (e.g. 2 people here, 2 people there, another person somewhere else)–but this is really true of the smaller agencies. As agencies get larger (depending on their organizational structures) they tend to “clump” as do all social networks according to the rule of “those that have, get more” (also called preferential attachment). Any agency will have a few places where it tends to have more resources. You’ll see teams of 1 or 2 or 3 people – and then suddenly you’ll see 15, 20, 30, and even 60 and 200. If you define a “clump” as 5% or 10% of an agency’s total personnel, you will find that many if not most agencies have their “big clumps” well documented. They either give specific statistics, or you can pretty well tell where they are.
By charting these “clumping” countries, you can get a sense of where the largest number of workers are deployed. The biggest “clumping” countries in my database are Australia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Germany, Ecuador, Ethiopia, France, the United Kingdom, Japan, Indonesia, Kenya, Cambodia, Philippines, Thailand and South Africa.
Why would these be the big clumps? They aren’t entirely “Christianized” countries, although some are. You could argue they are all pretty heavily evangelized – but then, most of those on this list are either (a) right next to very unevangelized areas or (b) powerful attractors for migrants, a large number from unevangelized groups
When you think about it, these countries make sense as powerful attractors. They are strategic places to put your people.

  • Australia is a fairly open and strategic spot from which to reach the Pacific. Makes sense as a base, ministry area, and sending center.
  • Brazil is one of the most populous countries in the world, with unreached peoples as well as a large potential missionary pool.
  • China is the world’s #1 population, a burgeoning church, and tons of unevangelized people.
  • Colombia is a convenient center in Central America with a sordid past, a significant need, a large evangelical church, and one plane hop from the United States.
  • Germany is a center in Europe that attracts a lot of migrants, and is a good sending base, as well as having a lot of non-religious.
  • Ecuador: at the moment, I really have no idea why this is “clumping.”
  • Ethiopia is a fairly open and strategic spot from which to reach into the hugely unreached Horn of Africa.
  • France, like Germany, is a migrant-attracting center, as well as having a lot of nominal Catholics.
  • The UK is a migrant-attracting center as well as the base for a lot of European mission agencies (and the European bases of American ones).
  • Japan is an interesting paradox: tremendously unreached, yet open for mission agencies. A large number of bases here.
  • Indonesia is one of the world’s largest Islamic populations, but has a vibrant church, one of the best mission & prayer networks in the world, and a convenient area base.
  • Kenya has a strong Christian base and is a strategic sending center.
  • Cambodia is a smallish population that could be fairly easily reached by a coordinated strategy, and is a good base for the surrounding countries.
  • The Philippines is a widely open country, an easy base from which to operate in the region, has a strong evangelical church and a large mission sending network, a Muslim population in the south, and a lot of nominal Catholics.
  • Thailand is fairly open (despite the odd coup), and lots of agencies base here to reach out to (ahem!) surrounding countries, plus the Thai are unreached and there is a lot of church planting work amongst minorities.
  • South Africa is the obvious choice for a base in southern Africa despite its high crime rates.

Side note: There are a few places that I think are also “clumps” even though they aren’t showing up in the preliminary list I’ve compiled (partly because I haven’t dove too deep into the “sensitive” agencies yet.) Also, one big one isn’t on the list: India. That’s because in the list of data I’m going through, I’m primarily working through Western agencies, and surprisingly or unsurprisingly I haven’t encountered many agencies who have better than 5% of their mission force in India. There are many that have a few teams or even 1 or 2% but not across the 5% threshold I’m using.
Even if you were going to shift to focus exclusively on unreached places, most of these countries make sense as bases for people. I thought this might reassure you: this isn’t the kind of pattern you’d see (at least, in my opinion) if most people were about flag planting. I think most people are going where they are called by God to go. The big problem with the unreached not being reached is that some who are called to the unreached (a) don’t know what to do with their calling or (b) are ignoring or disobeying their calling.

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18 things that kill Pioneer Missions

Adapted from “Startup mistakes,” cross-pollinated and applied to mission.
“one mistake that kills startups: not making something users want.” We all need the Gospel. We don’t all want the Gospel. We therefore have to present the Gospel in a way that is spiritually attractive – in a way that is a blessing – (without watering it down.)
The 18 mistakes:
1. Single Founder. Missions send people out in teams, generally speaking. YWAM always requires new bases have a team. We at MUP recruit to teams (even if the team is a broader affinity block or cluster facilitator team). To have one founder “is a vote of no confidence; it means the founder couldn’t talk any of his friends into starting the company with him… Starting a startup is too hard for one person.” Need people to generate ideas, “talk you out of stupid decisions, cheer you up when things go wrong.”
2. Bad location. Startup “hubs” are better for startups than other locations. “Standards are higher; people are more sympathetic to what you’re doing; the kind of people you want to hire want to live there; supporting industries are there; the people you run into in chance meetings are in the same business.” The same is true of pioneer mission: some places are better than others, because there is a greater likelihood of running into a Person of Peace.
3. Marginal niche. “Choosing a small, obscure niche in the hope of avoiding competition… if you make anything good, you’re going to have competition.” Do we go to places where it is “easier” in order to avoid competition/persecution? Are we “shrinking from big problems”? (Why are more people working among minorities in Thailand than among the Thai, for example?)
4. Derivative Idea. “Many of the applications we get are imitations of some existing company.” The principles of a pioneer mission & CPM are universally applicable, but the individual tactics have to change from situation to situation. Just because an all-night prayer meeting or 24-hour prayer house worked in one spot doesn’t mean it will work somewhere else.
5. Obstinancy. “Startups are more like science, where you need to follow the trail wherever it leads. So don’t get too attached to your original plan, because it’s probably wrong… but openness to new ideas has to be tuned just right. Switching to a new idea every week will be equally fatal.” Seth Godin’s written an excellent little book on this subject called “The Dip.” Jesus spoke to this when he talked about leaving a town that was not responsive.
6. Hiring Bad Programmers. Or Bad Disciple-makers.
7. Choosing the wrong platform. “How do you pick the right platform? The usual way is to hire good programmers and let them choose.”
8. Slowness in launching. “Startups make all kinds of excuses for delaying their launch.” Missions do too.
9. Launching too early. “The danger here is that you ruin your reputation.” In a pioneer context, probably the equivalent here is launching before you have adequate language/cultural acquisition – or perhaps launching too big. (“Go slow to go fast.”)
10. Having no specific user in mind. Which sociopolitical grouping are you trying to reach as a start? You can’t reach all 100 million of group X – you’re going to start somewhere. The approach and platform has to be tailored to the sub-group.
11. Raising too little money. A pioneer mission is a significant enterprise and should be treated as such, in my view. The average strategic missionary unit probably needs a budget of about $100,000 per year for most places (when you consider programs, travel, plus personal expenses etc).
12. Spending too much. “Burning through too much money is not as common as it used to be. Founders seem to have learned that lesson. Plus it keeps getting cheaper to start a startup… classic way to burn through cash is by hiring a lot of people.” You don’t need a big team to effect change.
13. Raising too much money. “Once you take a lot of money it gets harder to change direction…”
14. Poor investor management. “You shouldn’t ignore them, because they may have useful insights. But neither should you let them run the company. That’s supposed to be your job. If investors had sufficient vision to run the companies they fund, why didn’t they start them?”
15. Sacrificing users to (supposed) profit. Or, building a large congregation or denomination at the expense of empowering individual believers to make disciples. You get a huge first generation – but that’s it. Multi generational growth is difficult if not impossible.
16. Not wanting to get your hands dirty. “Nearly all programmers would rather spend their time writing code and have someone else handle the messy business of extracting money from it.” Most evangelists would rather evangelize themselves than teach others to evangelize. Ditto for any missionary gift. “If you’re going to attract users, you’ll probably have to get up from your computer and go find some.”
17. Fights between founders. “Surprisingly common… about 20% of the startups we’ve funded have had a founder leave… A founder leaving doesn’t necessarily kill a startup, though… Most of the disputes I’ve seen could have been avoided if they’d been more careful about who they started a company with.”
18. A half-hearted effort. “The most common type of failure is not one that makes spectacular mistakes, but the one that doesn’t do much of anything–the one we never even hear about, because it was some project a couple guys started on the side while working their day jobs, but which never got anywhere and was gradually abandoned… Statistically, if you want to avoid failure, it would seem like the most important thing is to quit your day job.” How does this translate to bi-vocational pastors? Do bi-vocationals start movements?

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Can we, should we, worship alone?

I ran across this interesting infographic and blog post today. (source link):

The post suggests that these ideas are bad, and representative of a rugged individualism that ignores community. Ignoring community isn’t good, I agree. But are the principles highlighted on this graphic actually representative of that?
Let’s spend a moment thinking deeply about this. Here are four nuances I see that could be explored:
1. Worshiping with one’s family vs worshipping with the church: oikos or household worship vs “forsake not assembling together.” Is one a replacement for the other? Are they equally valuable? Is it both/and? Either/or? One over the other?
2. Who has the authority to declare whether or not I am a “Christian”? A believer? A Christ-follower?
3. Who has authority in my life – my pastor’s sermons? or the Scripture they are based on? What if, when reading the Scripture, I disagree with my pastor’s interpretation?
4. What is the value of a creed? Is it important that we use creeds in personal discipleship? What would be lost if we no longer used them?
Clearly, there is value in the church, etc. But once we start discussing issues of authority, then we get into interesting areas. What do you think?

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Inherit the Nations: a year of united prayer for 50 unreached people groups

A new prayer campaign: for one year, prayer communities and intercessors are asked to adopt a specific unreached people group for weekly prayer. Through a partnership with the US Center for World Mission, you’ll receive a special Christmas Package that contains your adopted unreached people group and resources that you can use in praying for them.  You won’t self-select a people group, you’ll receive them as a gift!  We’re hoping in 2015 even on short notice to see 50 prayer communities adopt 50 unreached people groups.  As part of this initiative, you’ll:

  • Receive a Christmas package with your adopted people group around Christmas time.
  • Agree to pray at least once weekly as a community for your adopted people group for one year (2015 starting on January 1)
  • Keep a journal of prayer and words from the Lord for your adopted nation
  • Receive research information where available that will measure results of this year of prayer
  • Get connected to front-line missionaries in these nations when they’re available
  • Have opportunities to connect with Prayer communities around the nation

Sign-Up and Find Out More: Prayer Community leaders can sign-up here to be part of this initiative.  Click hereto read more in depth about Inherit the Nations.  Web presence will be forthcoming as the initiative rolls out.
Inherit the Nations is a collaborative effort of the Transform USA network which involves many organizations and a PRIME initiative of the US Center for World Mission and the Ethne prayer workgroup.

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