Thursday, July 24, 2014

Real-Time Decisions that Change the Course of History

Real-Time Decisions that Change the Course of History

The most reliable measure of success or progress is not calculated by human tools or statistics. As church missions leaders, we should measure our success by asking the question, "Did I (we) obey the instruction and leadership of the Lord?"  The answer to that question is the measure of our success or failure. As we reflect on God's holy history, we certainly know that obedience to God's will has been extremely costly and often immeasurable for many successful saints who are a part of the Great Cloud of Witnesses.  But if the "yes" or "no" to God's instruction is the measure of our success, the tricky part of this decision point is knowing the will of God and understanding clearly His instruction in real time. This is a spiritual matter and is often more art than science. 

On May 15, 2014, Dr. Mike Stroope reminded the Kinexxus Board of Directors of the importance of spiritual decision-making by reviewing the process of the Apostles, elders and leaders who gathered at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15. Forced by the outpouring of God's Spirit on Gentiles, the Jerusalem Council engaged a history-making decision on the issue of requirements for Gentile converts to Christ. Would these Gentile converts be required to be circumcised and follow the Law of Moses in order to be saved?  After much deliberation and seeking the wisdom of God, Peter's insight was articulated - "God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them [Gentile converts] by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to, then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our father have been able to bear?" In the letter drafted by the council to new Gentile believers, the process of determining God's will on this matter is described - "it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements..."  Seemed good?? Wouldn't we prefer that the Bible tell us that there was a miraculous sign or some writing on the wall to clarify a matter of this magnitude? At this historic moment, the gospel was set free by the apostles and early church leaders because it seemed the right decision to make. The importance of spiritual impressions that lead to decisions in real time to obey or not obey the Spirit of the Lord cannot be measured. 

Dr. Stroope's devotional thoughts were timely. They served as the preface to a day of prayer and conversation during which the Kinexxus Board of Directors made a decision to enter into a unification process with the non-profit organization, PRH Restore Hope, Inc.  As a participant and observer in the room that day, I can say that it seemed right to the Holy Spirit and to us to enter into a process of unification with PRH Restore Hope.

The unified organization that will result from this decision will offer our network churches greater opportunities for holistic gospel ministry and enhance the existing services our central office is able to offer you and your church. We are VERY excited and look forward to sharing more with you about new waysKinexxus can serve your church as your church engages the lost world! 

I am praying for you as you seek to obey God in real time. Only God knows the significance of any single decision you make. 


Cindy Wiles

Friday, November 22, 2013

Customize Your Campaign

Kinexxus Workers Make A Difference!

I love it when God allows me to drop in on the ministries of Kinexxus workers across the world. One of those workers, Rochelle, is a young community development worker sent by a Texas church to live and serve among the people of Sierra Leone.  Although she attended high school and college in the U.S., Rochelle is Zimbabwean by heritage and feels very much “at home” among Sierra Leoneans.  I recently dropped in on a community where Rochelle led a community development project among war widows.  Huddled within small shelters made of mud, tin and tarps, these war widows are among the poorest of the poorest of the poor in Sierra Leone. Makeshift shelters that once comprised a refugee camp have become the permanent homes of these impoverished women. With a long and heavy rainy season, the worn and torn roofs of the little shelters are full of gaping holes that allow water to pour into the dark rooms of their houses.  With no way to protect themselves from the elements, the women and children in these households have suffered for years from sickness, sleep deprivation and the discomfort of being cold and wet for months on end.    Imagine the joyful song and dance that followed the application of sturdy tarps over the roofs of the women.  “I can now sleep!” they sang out as I wandered through the maze of huts, collecting children in train.  Like a joyful parade, the residents of the community expressed their gratitude for all Rochelle had done in working alongside them to utilize tarps and funds donated by a partner organization.  “Our children will be well!” they shouted to me as they rushed to greet me with open arms.

Kinexxus assists churches in placing workers among lost and needy communities across the world. 
This primarily Muslim community has experienced the love of Christ through Rochelle’s life and light among them.  You can make a difference by sending workers to be the hands and feet of Christ across the world.

You can make a difference by becoming a monthly supporter of Kinexxus!  
We serve churches as churches engage the lost world.  Give now to make a difference. 

Click here to make a difference. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Chorus of Witnesses
by Mike Stroope
One of the characteristics of modernity, according to Anthony Giddens (The Consequence of Modernity, p. 27), is the rise of "expert systems" of "technical accomplishments or professional expertise that organize large areas of material and social environments in which we live today."  This phenomenon gives us systems and experts we can trust and benefit from without having intimate understanding of huge areas of knowledge.  So, whether the professional is a lawyer, doctor or counselor, we trust the expert knowledge of that professional and their system.

It is obvious what this modern mindset has done to church life.  Along with areas such as medicine, law and psychology, ministry and missions have been professionalized.  Christianity has developed special bodies of knowledge that only the initiated and professionally trained can access and utilize.  And thus, ministry and missions are entrusted to the professionals.  The laity, in turn, lives, works and plays in the world, at a distance from the church as experts in their jobs and specialties but not in ministry and missions.  This professionalization impacts the way in which the church interacts with the world in at least three ways.

First, because of the existence of professionalized experts, ministry and missions have become abstract systems to the majority of those in the church.  Theology, missiology and pastoral care are areas of technical and theoretical knowledge only for the few rather than the confessed and practiced conviction of the whole.

Second, lay people in deference to the experts are given tacit permission to disengage.  Because ministry and missions require expert knowledge and special credentials, the laity feels incompetent or unqualified and thus able to defer to the professionals. 

Third, and this is the crucial point, the work of the farmer, teacher and dentist are disconnected from ministry and missions.  The domains of ministry and mission are placed over against, and in some cases above, other domains, and are judged as totally different and in some sense 'special.'  Thus, while one is the work of God, the other is just work.

Instead of perpetuating the mindset of professionalized ministry and missions, we must adamantly proclaim that every follower of Christ is a minister and a witness.  Instead of relegating ministry to a few, each believer must be challenged to see his or her work as ministry and missions.  From the pulpit and in conversations, the gifts, talents and vocational callings of the whole body must be affirmed, formed and encouraged.

In order for the church to present a vibrant, faithful witness to the whole world, men and women in local congregations must find their voice.  They must see their labor, sweat and effort within the marketplace, classroom, field and clinic as the work of God, and not contrary or auxiliary to it.  God's mission is more like a chorus of voices, singing various parts, than a solo performance.

Two questions church leaders must ask the nurses, teachers, clerks and coaches in their congregations: "How has God wired, gifted and placed you for unique witness and service in his mission?" and "How can we assist in your formation toward all that God created you to be and do?"

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Upcoming Facilitator Training in San Antonio!

Are the people in your congregation ready to be trained to take the gospel across cultures? Perhaps you have people in your congregation who are called to serve overseas. Or maybe the opportunity for gospel witness among another ethnic or language group is within your own community. As local church leaders, it is our role to help the people in our congregations be prepared to cross cultures with the gospel. Kinexxus can help. By selecting and sending someone within your church body to be trained as a facilitator,  your church can be a base for the preparation and sending of workers into other cultures both locally and around the world.

Kinexxus is hosting a training for church facilitators to be prepared to form training groups within the local church. In this Facilitator Training event, these leaders from your church can obtain resources and practical knowledge to facilitate small group formation that addresses the issues that matter for every cross-cultural witness. Utilizing PANORAMA: A Broad View of the World and Your Place in It, these trained facilitators can help your people be prepared to live as witnesses within a second culture.

Facilitator Training in San Antonio will be held on Friday, July 12, 2013 at the Baptist University of the Americas. For more information and to register, visit: or contact Remey Terrell at the Kinexxus office at 817-276-6494.

Friday, October 21, 2011

If you are reading this blog post expecting to see the familiar logo of GCPN, you may be wondering, What is Kinexxus and how did I get on this mailing list? It’s a rather long story – much too long to hold your attention in a blog post– so I’ll skip a lot of the nuts and bolts and just give you the brief of it. Do you remember when Henry Blackaby shook your world by highlighting lots of truths from the scripture in Experiencing God back in the 80’s? Among Blackaby’s principles for knowing God’s will was this - watch and see what God the Father is doing and then join God in what He is doing. Jesus said, My Father is always at work to this very day and I too am working…the Son can do nothing by himself; he can only do what he sees his Father doing… (John 5:17-19). So what is the Father doing?

God is working in the Church. He is working in the churches. In the last 10 years we have watched God bring about a revival and commitment of the local church to reclaim her Christ-given role of witnesses to Christ in the lost world. We have watched as some particular denominations struggled to re-embrace the responsibility of the mission’s task after decades of missional atrophy. We have watched churches go through phases of frenzied mission activity that finally matured into a desire to do mission strategically. We are all growing up.

But one of the most encouraging recent observations is that God is leading churches to link with other churches around common affinities. Maybe it’s just the age of networking. Maybe it’s the fact that churches across the world – due to technology and connectivity – can now work effectively together around common affinities. Perhaps the affinity they form around is a common people group. Perhaps they are focusing their mission efforts on a common geographic region. Sometimes the affinity that draws churches together is a common cause such as orphan ministry, water resourcing or human trafficking. Leaders of these affinity networks have begun asking another question – What can we all share that will make the task easier for everyone?

This question is rooted in multiple conclusions:

•We want to be good stewards of Kingdom resources. This conviction is rooted in the desire to reduce duplication and live out authentic Kingdom collaboration. There is much that can be shared among churches and affinity networks – resources, knowledge, information, and practices.

•We are called to Kingdom Community. We simply cannot help ourselves. We authentically love each other and want to be a family. It’s a part of our make-up as relational beings possessing a common Lord and a common faith. We like to share with one another.

•The remaining task is hard. Affinity networks are many times highly dependent on a local church to implement missions and ministry on behalf of an affinity group of churches. The logistical weight of this can be very cumbersome for one local church.

•God is shaping us for missional effectiveness in this kairos. Every age of mission history has possessed unique expressions of order for the sake of effectiveness. In an age in which sweeping movements can be ignited through communities and networks via electronic and wireless technology, God is leading his church to utilize all possible means of igniting movements among unreached peoples of this world.

It is in this medium that Kinexxus has been formed. Affinity network leaders have come together around a common catalytic center. GCPN, the non-profit corporation has been identified as the common center that will be utilized to assist various mission networks in achieving their missional goals. Kinexxus will serve churches and affinity networks by providing the following:

•An Information Gateway - Information is empowerment. Whether your church is seeking
best missional practice or security information on your mission point, having access to the right people with the right information is crucial. Creating forums for communication and sharing of information is the nature of Kinexxus.

•Catalytic Services- Kinexxus offers a broad range of catalytic services to collaborative churches and affiliates.

•Strategic Networking - Churches in the Kinexxus network have access to mission expertise which allows for the formation of healthy mission practices. For those seeking an affinity connection, a resource or strategic guidance, Kinexxus links people and churches to others on the journey.

·A Common Table - Unity is our ethos. Respecting the beauty and strength of diversity, Kinexxus is committed to the autonomy of local churches and affinity networks in Great Commission efforts. Yet we strive for the unity of spirit and collaboration Jesus described in John17 – that all of them may be one…to let the world know that you sent me. We view our global network as our missions home and seek to encourage and strengthen those who sit at our table.

Learn more about Kinexxus and how your church can be a part at

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

PANORAMA - living toward a wider vista

For those of us who are ministers and leaders in the local church, there is a long list of things that we do. Included are activities such as preaching and teaching, praying for the distressed and sick, visiting people in the hospital, providing activities for children and students, planning worship, dealing with personnel matters, creating opportunities for fellowship, managing finances, and the list goes on and on. While good, worthy, and necessary, these 'must do's' can at times become ends in themselves, unless broader and ultimate purposes are kept clearly in view.

All good and worthy activity can lapse into training people in how to exist for the sake of the church. We can subtly communicate that one's highest calling is to support the organizational objectives of the church, to show up at every church event, and to speak and behave in a churchly manner. The objectives can become getting people into the church building and then teaching them our language, disconnecting them from old friends, reconnecting them to us, re-arranging their schedule around church events, and instructing them to give time, money and service to support the church. In so doing, we risk reorienting their lives solely toward church, and thus, making them into churchly Christians. In the end, they become ghettoized.

To ensure that means remains means and not become ends, we must continually ask - Does our activity lead toward the formation of character and the development of competencies that will move people toward faithful presence and clear witness in the world? If we only teach people how to be morally good and to behave in church, then we have failed. They must be formed in such a way that they can live - fully, faithfully live - in the world - at work, school, home, on the road, at the sporting event, on vacation, at the family reunion, at the funeral, in the hospital, during elections, in job loss, at news of cancer, in an earthquake, or in a national disaster.

In Letters and Papers from Prison, Dietrich Bonhoeffer conceives the Christian life as one not lived toward religion but toward the world. "The 'religious act' is always something partial; 'faith' is something whole, involving the whole of one's life. Jesus calls men, not to a new religion, but to life" (362). Christianity for the sake of Christianity, holiness for the sake of holiness, and church for the sake of church are insufficient aims. As Christ came for others, loved others, and suffered and died for others, we are called to do the same. Christians, according to Bonhoeffer, "must live a 'secular' life and thereby share in God's suffering. ... It is not the religious act that makes the Christian, but participation in the sufferings of God in the secular life" (361). To be alive in Christ is to be alive to the world; to give our lives to Christ is to give ourselves to the world.

Among actions that ghettoize Christians, two are probably most common. First, we demonize culture, and thereby, encourage Christians to withdraw from the world. When culture is named as the enemy, we explicitly communicate that people should oppose or fear 'the culture'. The truth is that the gospel cannot be separated from 'the culture', as it is always clothed in culture of some sort - language, technology, structures, music, processes, forms, etc. Thus, the gospel happens in the stream of life, and must continually intersect with culture, speak into it, and become party to it (contextualization). This is not the weakness of the gospel but its power. The gospel must dress itself in 'the culture', or it is not present and at work. And by being present and at work in the culture, gospel mends and restores culture to its higher purposes. But by naming 'the culture' as the enemy, we merely urge people to join a ghettoized religious culture and rob the wider culture of the salt and light of the gospel.

Second, we segregate mission from evangelism. We have made mission what groups of specialized, highly trained professionals do in Japan, Cambodia, or Peru (the world). On the other hand, evangelism is what the rest of us do occasionally as part of our church obligation. Thus, missionaries go to the world and become like the world to which they are called. Church members go to church and go out from the church now and then to evangelize people into the church.

Divides between church and world, mission and evangelism are artificial and unfortunate. There should not be two opposing cultures - church and world, two activities - mission and evangelism, or two kinds of people - missionaries and church members. The church exists in and for the world. Every Christ follower is meant to participate in God's mission in and to the world. Whenever the church exists for its own growth, its programs, and its success, the church looses sight of its essential purpose of forming and equipping Christ followers to be a faithful presence in and a clear witness to the world.

The aim of forming people toward the world has caused a group of pastors, missionaries, and educators to create a unique, church-based, world-focused learning experience called Panorama. Panorama is forty plus web-based lessons designed to be facilitated in a local church setting. The lessons address issues related to faithful presence and clear witness, such as approaching people of other faiths, cross-cultural living, contextualization of the gospel, language learning, teamwork, etc. We believe these approaches and skills, once thought to be only necessary for missionaries in international settings, are essential for the formation of believers who live in such places as Waco, Tulsa, and Little Rock.

Panorama has been developed with three premises in mind: life transformation is the goal, facilitated group learning is the means, and reflective practice is the dynamic. Therefore, those who facilitate Panorama in their local church must understand these aims and processes. Thus far, approximately seventy people from twenty churches have participated in seven Facilitators Workshops. I invite you to join us for the next workshop on August 5-6, 2011 or September 9-10, 2011. To learn more about Panorama and to register for one of the upcoming workshops, go to, or contact Remey Terrell at

The presence of the church in the world must be more than its facilities or programs, and the witness of the church must be more than what is spoken from the pulpit or in a Sunday School class. The church is those of us who have been captured by Jesus Christ and are continually being formed to live and speak in such a way that those with whom we work, play, eat, weep, celebrate, listen to music, view movies, drink coffee, and live life may see truth and experience love. In this manner, we - the church - live toward a wider vista, join a greater mission.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Which Mission? Whose Mission?

by Mike Stroope
The world as we know it is rapidly changing. Current economic, demographic, technological, and political changes can cause our heads to spin. Yet, one change that may not be as obvious is that the American context is becoming less and less Christian, especially in the way Christianity has been traditionally understood and followed. People are asking such questions as “Why bother with church?” “What has the Christian faith to do with the real problems of life?” In some quarters, the questions are not as benign. These people aggressively ask, "Why are Christians so bigoted, narrow-minded, and anti-everything?" Studies show that while there is a growing interest in matters spiritual, Christianity and the church are increasingly viewed as irrelevant or passé, especially when it comes to our collective lives as Americans.

So, how are Christians to respond to this new reality? The response of some is to do whatever they can to mimic their surroundings. Thus, they feel they must forgo distinctions that are out of step with the wider culture in order for Christianity to remain viable and relevant. So, in speech and action, they seek to excise exclusive language and to avoid an uncomfortable stance on issues related to morality, gender, and eternal destiny. Their mission, they say, is to accompany society in such a way that they have a voice in the national/cultural conversation.

Fear is one of the motivators for these Christians. They fear being marginalized by society, so they carefully measure their words and actions in order not to alienate. The result is that society determines what the concerns, priorities, and sensibilities of the church are to look and sound like. And while this is in many ways appropriate and healthy, a line can easily be crossed and the church loose its distinct voice and its agenda begin looking no different than any other club or cause. An indication that this line has been crossed is when the standards for the kind of music used in worship, the way the church markets itself, the services it offers, the subject matter of sermons, and the causes that the church undertakes are set chiefly by external forces rather than internal convictions.

The tendency of other Christians in the face of the new reality is to mount a vigorous defense of the church, to reiterate its rightful place within American society, or to redouble efforts to bolster it’s reputation and profile. The shift underway threatens the existence of the church, and thus, these Christian feel compelled do whatever they can to secure the church's place, protect its interests, and ensure that Christians get what they need. The end result is that much of the church’s mission becomes the garnering of resources necessary to perpetuate who it is and to protect its interests.

Fear is likewise a motivator for these Christians. Specifically they fear being taken advantage of by the wider society or losing what they feel rightfully belongs to them. These fears also impact their speech and action. They employ insider language in order to create a sense of belonging for those on the inside and exclude those on the outside. And while this language provides a secure connection and identity for brothers and sisters on the inside, it also categorically defines the outsider.

As a result, these Christians act out their faith in sacred rather than public space. They travel to a specific building called church to do Christian kinds of things. They gather within havens of agreed beliefs about morality, politics, and gender. The safety of these havens protects them from threatening, worldly influences and forces. And while they must make necessary forays into the world to work, shop, and attend public events, it is in the sacred space that life makes sense. Thus, mission for these Christians means attracting those on the outside to the sacred space and then convincing them to defect.

In both cases, response is not a matter of conservative versus liberal, mega versus small, rural versus urban, or Baptists versus Methodists. Rather, in both we find two ways in which Christians of all theological persuasions and denominational affiliations and churches of all sizes and locations deal with the changing context. At one extreme, the mission of the church is to accommodate. On the other side, mission is to attract.

There is a third response. Rather than being for or against society, Christians set themselves toward the mission of God. Orientation and response are not ultimately determined by changes in society but by the unchanging and relentless purposes of God. The mission of God rises above mere accommodation and attraction to a way of being in and for the world defined by who God is and how God acts toward the world.
Mission and missional are used by both those who accommodate and those who attract in order to describe and justify what they do. And yet, before describing mission as what we do, mission must be understood as divine being and action. Mission does not belong to us, rather it originates from and is defined by who God is and what God does. Rather than accommodating the spirit and patterns of society, God is distinctively other. Rather than submitting to a temporal, local agenda, God's ways are higher than any person or society's ways. Rather than seeking to be relevant or current, God makes all things new. Rather than protecting what is his, God gives. Rather than looking out for his own interests, God loves. Rather than pulling everything to himself, God sends. God, who creates and sustains all things, so loves the world, that He gives his only begotten Son. This is mission; this is the mission of God.

For our response to the current shift in American society to be faithful and true, it must begin with an acknowledgment of God's mission and an alignment of our minds and hearts, words and actions with this mission. Christopher Wright says, "it is not so much the case that God has a mission for his church in the world, as that God has a church for his mission in the world. Mission was not made for the church; the church was made for mission--God's mission" (The Mission of God, 62). Missions goes awry when the church acts as though mission begins and ends with it.
The mission of God encompasses more than a few verses in the New Testament and includes more than missionaries who live and work in cross-cultural settings. How it impacts the whole of the church is a longer conversation than this article, but I will suggest four ways in which we might acknowledge and align our lives with it.

•Interpretation. The mission of God should guide the way in which we read and interpret scripture. Reading the Bible, both Old and New Testament, as a missionary text about a missionary God changes everything - the way we view our purpose, God's action in history, the end of all creation, etc.

•Inversion. The mission of God should critique the manner in which we speak, act, and love. If we allow it, the mission of God provides a lens through which everything is turned upside down - is inverted.

•Imagination. The mission of God should frame the way we imagine the world - economics, race, politics, relationships, vocation - and only then will it affect our actions. As a missional reading of scripture inverts our way of seeing reality, we can begin imagining what could be, what should be.

•Implementation. The mission of God calls us to action. If acknowledged and understood, the mission of God will not allow us to passively acquiesce to or quietly retreat from our culture but will demand that we respond as Christ did - with our lives.

We do not live above God's mission, as if it is ours to control and manage. His mission is not a program to run or resources to manage. Mission is his words and actions of love and grace toward the world. And while we are always the object of this mission and never the subject of its design and intent, we can become participants through God’s gracious invitation and by his empowerment. But in order to do so, we must set aside our fears and re-read scripture, re-think our lives, re-imagine the world, and re-enact God's glory, passion and love, in light of the mission of God.

Two defining questions ...
Which mission guides my response to the changing society around me?
Whose mission gives definition to who I am and how I act?