Andrew and Debbie Jones and their family stayed with us for a few days last week. You probably already know how much I've loved his blog over the years - it's the least we could do to host them as payback for all the inspiration and information.
They are entering into a new season of ministry soon, specifically with global nomads who they see hold so much potential for mission. So they've spent a few months recently driving around Europe and North Africa in an overland truck and are now in the States for a few months. They will return to Europe early next year, pick up their truck and continue on to what's next.
Since they are at our house, we've been kind of holding them captive to meeting some of our friends and students in the Ember tribe. That's been so great and there have been so many fabulous conversations with so many great people. One of my favorite parts has been both Andrew and Debbie always asking, "What about your story?" They have a serious learning posture.
Here are a few snippets of some conversations we've had over the past few days. It's been simply awesome.
+ on the future of missions:
the global recession - money has dried up, it might come back again but don't count on it.
more missionaries coming from third world countries, the US is not the biggest sending country anymore.
sustainability is a huge issue for missionaries - full time supported missionaries might be a dying breed - instead go get a degree with some skills and maybe get a job that allows you to go someplace.
lots of value in social enterprises.
we should think about 'character based missions' - the idea of supporting someone because they have great character first versus a strategy or location first.
+ on preparing for the mission field:
ministry skills really aren't that hard to learn. it's harder to learn how to be a good person, to be a person of character, how to be a nice person.
+ on missionary strategies:
unreached people group and 10/40 window focus were/are very helpful paradigms. maybe moving forward, its more helpful to add a few other perspectives to it, rather than throw it all away and start with a new one.
+ on Luke 10, the person of peace and possessions:
the disciples were told to leave their bags at home. instead, when they find the person of peace, that person probably has everything needed. sometimes when we bring our own stuff, it negates really needing that person.
+ on identifying, nurturing emerging talent and leaders:
it might already be in people around you. you can nurture it by encouraging them, helping them see other options for their ideas, coach and mentor them. lots of these people struggle with the institutional church because it wants stability. when these people don’t fly, they die.
find the real needs of a community, the really bad stuff and see who comes out to help. those are the emerging leaders that you want - no budget, no heros, no ego. they are already influencers so it's only a matter of time before they bring other good leaders.
+ one of andrew's favorite sayings:
go start your own damn church.
Not only a ton of stuff in each one of those points, but their whole family made an impact on our whole family. Especially in the areas of living frugally, being flexible to the Spirit moving, and broadening our thinking regarding mission in the world. The fun we had buying a 1987 station wagon at a car auction might be the epitome of some of those ideas. Yeah, long fun story....
Thanks again Andrew and Debbie. Besides grilling a london broil, helping find a leak in my furnace and babystting our kids - and those world famous crepes are really good! - we are most incredibly grateful for the gift of your time sharing your wisdom with us.
Related: Andrew's guest post on mission trip advice from 2006.