123-Troy and Oggie’s Mexican adventure

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Troy Cooper talks to Steve Addison about his recent mission trip to Mexico. Listen in and it just might revolutionize how you do short term missions.

In the interview Troy mentions his 411Training.

He also refers to the 3Touches.

PART TWO: 124-Growing leaders, building teams for movements


Could the world be getting better?


When asked by pollsters if the world is becoming a better place, only a small minority of us will say yes. But  what does the evidence show?

According to Swedish author Johan Norberg, in almost every way human beings today lead more prosperous, safer and longer lives — and we have all the data we need to prove it.

Poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy, child labour and infant mortality are falling faster than at any other time in human history. The risk of being caught up in a war, subjected to a dictatorship or of dying in a natural disaster is smaller than ever.

Some examples of the evidence:

Karl Marx thought that capitalism inevitably made the rich richer and the poor poorer. By the time Marx died, however, the average Englishman was three times richer than at the time of his birth 65 years earlier — never before had the population experienced anything like it.

Fast forward to 1981. Then, almost nine in ten Chinese lived in extreme poverty; now just one in ten do. Then, just half of the world’s population had access to safe water. Now, 91 per cent do. On average, that means that 285,000 more people have gained access to safe water every day for the past 25 years.

Global trade has led to an expansion of wealth on a magnitude which is hard to comprehend. During the 25 years since the end of the Cold War, global economic wealth — or GDP per capita — has increased almost as much as it did during the preceding 25,000 years. It’s no coincidence that such growth has occurred alongside a massive expansion of rule by the people for the people. A quarter of a century ago, barely half the world’s countries were democracies. Now, almost two thirds are.

 So why don’t we notice the improvement?

Part of our problem is one of success. As we get richer, our tolerance for global poverty diminishes. So we get angrier about injustices. Charities quite rightly wish to raise funds, so they draw our attention to the plight of the world’s poorest. But since the Cold War ended, extreme poverty has decreased from 37 per cent to 9.6 per cent — in single digits for the first time in history.

read on

Origins and Destinations of the World’s Migrants

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How many people born in Bangladesh live in the US or in the UK or Australia? Where you can find North Koreans living overseas? To which countries do Afghanis migrate, and in what numbers?

Pew Research has created a simple tool to that shows the origins and destinations of the worlds migrants over the past 25 years.

Top New Testament survey for 99c/99p

The Lion and the Lamb is a NT survey by  Kostenberger & Vellum is on sale on Kindle for just 99c/99p.

From the Amazon review:

Engaging and accessible, “The Lion and the Lamb” is an ideal resource for college students and others interested in knowing the essentials of each New Testament book.

read on… 

The hardest place on earth is right where you are

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Everywhere I go I hear the soil is hard here. This is the toughest place in which to share the gospel.

Earlier this year I was in Germany. Making disciples is hard in Germany — especially in the former East Germany (GDR). In the East people are five times more likely to be an atheist (52%) than in the West (10%), earning East Germany the title of “the most godless place on earth.”

You might not be in East Germany, but you may be in one of the most godless cities in the US, or in the Czech Republic, Thailand, Japan or Saudi Arabia. What do we do when the soil is hard?

1. Maybe it’s not your fault

A young Chinese professional we led to Christ in Melbourne was deeply discouraged. She’d been sharing her faith at work with her Australian and European colleagues. No one was interested. I had her read Jesus’ parable of the four soils (Mark 4).

Half way through she exclaimed, “It’s not my fault!”

Jesus told this parable our of his own experience. Some people are hard soil. Some people will fall away. Keep looking for fertile soil.

Do we really think Jesus had it easier than we do? Remember what happened when he went to his home town? They tried to kill him.

We think, “If only we were more like Jesus, people would believe.” Maybe if we were more like Jesus people would throw us over a cliff.

Is it a communication problem? Maybe if we communicate better things will get worse. Paul tells us that the message of the Cross is offensive to both strict religious people (Jews) and pagans (Gentiles). It’s a miracle when anyone believes.

2. Do you know what to do on Monday morning?

When the soil is hard ask yourself if you’re doing the right things? Do you know what to do on Monday morning?

Read of Paul’s account of his mission in Ephesus (Acts 20:17-28). Notice how real it is. You can see him fulfilling his mission. He connects, proclaims the gospel, he forms new disciples into churches. He knows what to do.

The main actor is not Paul, it is God. The story of Acts is the story of the spread of the dynamic Word of God resulting in new disciples and churches. This is the fulfilment of Jesus’ mission in the Gospels.

If you don’t know what your mission is, and what to do on Monday morning, what hope you do you have of succeeding? If that describes you, get some training. If you’ve done some training, get connected with other practitioners for accountability and support.

3. Look for where God is working and leverage the exceptions

It’s not our job to change people. It’s our job to find God-prepared people (Luke 10). If you’re in a resistant field, where are the exceptions? In some fields it might be one in ten people are ready to respond to Christ, in other fields it might be one in a thousand. Find that person and help them reach the people in their world.

If there’s only one person in your city/region/nation/people group who is seeing fruit — learn from that person. If there’s no one — learn from breakthroughs in similar fields. Don’t attempt this alone.

I have a friend in Germany who is focused on reaching Germans. Recently a million Arabs and Persians suddenly arrived in his country. A door has opened and now he is discipling and planting churches among Afghans and Iranians. He goes where the fish are biting.

When this happens people say but they’re not British or German or Australian so it doesn’t really count. We want to reach our countrymen not immigrants. The apostle Peter had the same problem in Acts 10. Cornelius didn’t count until God got Peter’s attention.

4. Someone has to go first

I like what Steve Smith says,

There was a time when there were no CPMs in China: someone had to be ?rst.

There was a time when there were no CPMs in India: someone had to be ?rst.

There was a time when there were no CPMs in Southeast Asia: someone had to be ?rst.

One hundred years ago Christianity was a white man’s religion. That changed because people who did not know any better laid down their lives for the gospel. History is made by unreasonable people who take God at his Word and turn faith into obedience.

On the lookout for Bangladeshis

 14 Bangladeshi Italian Mazumder family Micha Theiner

The Sundells were in Washington DC recently training church planters to reach immigrant groups. They went out into the harvest looking for people of peace. Jeff reports:

My wife Angie and our daughter Miriam approached a lady in South Asian dress playing with a child in the playground, and they shared creation to Christ with her and had an hour-long conversation with her.  She was from  Bangladesh.  She shared that her husband was a nominal Muslim but she was very interested in meeting weekly to learn more about Jesus.

You can go wandering around Washington DC and find Bangladeshi Muslims who want learn more about Jesus. There are Bangladeshis in major cities all over the world. There are 450,000 Bangladeshis living in Britain, concentrated in East London. There are 100,000 in Italy. One million Bangladeshis live in the USA. They all maintain close ties to home. If they hear the gospel they are just a Skype call or a visit away from their friends and family back home.

Bangladesh has a population of 170 million. The vast majority are Muslim. To reach them you could learn the language and move to Bangladesh. Or you could start by introducing yourself to the family in the park . . . .

How to destroy Christianity in Europe


Looking for an effective way to render the church in Europe impotent? No need for fierce persecution. Here’s the plan — give the church social recognition; turn the clergy into government employees; shower the church with money.

In 2013 the Catholic Church in Germany received almost €5.5 billion ($6.2 billion USD) via taxes levied by the government on the church’s behalf. (The Lutheran and some other Protestant churches benefit from the same arrangement.)

Here’s the result:

An unprecedentedly low number of Catholic priests in Germany are being ordained, new figures show, as a crisis appears to be engulfing the Church in that country.

Only 58 men joined the clergy in 2015….

The number of ordinations has dropped by half in the past decade: In 2005, a total of 122 diocesan priests were ordained, and five decades ago, in 1965, the number was 500. Today, there are 14,000 Catholic priests active in Germany, down from almost 20,000 in 1990.

Meanwhile, only 96 new seminarians – trainee priests – were registered in 2015, the lowest number ever. At the same time, 309 priests died, and 19 left the priesthood.

The new figures for priests being ordained are the latest element of what appears to be a crisis in the German Catholic Church. In July, it emerged that almost 200,000 Catholics left the Church in Germany last year… 

read on

The movement principle — don’t feed the ducks!

Iron on Iron — helping movement pioneers stay encouraged and focused

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This week we’re at the House of Bread in the Cotswolds for a Community of Practice. Practitioners reporting in, identifying where they are stuck, planning what’s next. 

Everyone comes prepared to share their map of generations of disciples and churches. Here’s the process, it’s called an Iron on Iron (Prov 27:17).

1. Prayer

  • Open in prayer for your time 

2. Review action items from the last Iron on Iron

  • Did you do what you said you would, how did it go? 

3. How are you abiding in Christ?

  • Time in the Word, Prayer & Memory [quantity & quality] 
  • Listening & Obedience 
  • Sin to Confess & Surrender [individual or pattern]
  • How are your Key Relationships Is there anywhere where the enemy might be bringing division?

4. What is Jesus doing in your ministry?

  • Draw out your key generations

5. Where are you stuck?

  • What areas are you not sure what to do in right now, or having difficulties moving forward? Your disciples?

6. Questions, Feedback & Encouragement

  • Others turn to ask questions for clarification on anything, give thoughts, advice, encouragement

7. Action items

  • Make two action items that you will accomplish this week based on your iron on iron time [personal & next step for each disciple/church]

8. Prayer

  • Pray over what the person shared and action items

We take an hour per person (or team).

There are tears and laughter. Obstacles are identified. Insight comes. Pioneers discover they are not alone. Everyone walks out the door with an action plan.



Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?

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James Kushiner and Patrick Reardon reflection on whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

A Matter of Identity

… for modern students of religion—generally speaking—monotheism involves a fundamentally mathematical thesis, “There is one God,” as distinct from “more or fewer” than one God; start counting gods, and when you get to one, stop counting. Consequently, all those who believe in one God must logically believe in the same God.

This approach to monotheism is what allows our contemporaries to speak of “the monotheistic religions.” Their thesis is simple: “Since there is only one God, all those who believe in one God believe in the same God. Their differences are those of development and/or expression.”

This thesis is not only simple; it is simply absurd. Biblical monotheism is not about mathematics; it is about God’s identity: Who is this one God? Who he is, is the essential question. We may cite a noted authority on the point, “If the Lord is God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him” (1 Kings 18:21).

Elijah knew, of course, that Baal belonged to a pantheon, but this consideration was not to the point. Baal was not a false god because he had relatives; he was a false god because he was not “the Lord, our God—Adonai Eloheinu.” Elijah’s monotheism was not a matter of counting but of identifying. The question was not, How many gods? but Who is God?

And this is the reason the confession of Jesus never became, in the eyes of the Church, a challenge to biblical monotheism. In the Christian faith, Jesus is divine because he pertains to—is included in—the identity of God. Gradually this truth became perfectly clear to certain fishermen, an improbable tax collector, and some women of their company. Their conviction on the point was a big and difficult step, but it wasn’t complicated.

Impossible Identification

What does seem complicated to many today, even to some Christians, is the question of whether Muslims and Christians adhere to the same God. Quite a number of our contemporaries simply assume that the God of “the Abrahamic faiths” must be somehow “shared” by all. This identification is far from obvious.

First and foremost, if we have in mind what Islam and Christianity formally hold as articles of faith, then this identification is difficult to sustain. Islam explicitly teaches—as a fundamental thesis—that Allah has no son. The Christian faith explicitly teaches that we only know the One True God through “the Only Begotten, himself being God (Theos ho on) in the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18). When a Muslim looks at Jesus Christ, he is supposed to see a prophet, second only to Mohammed.

And the Jesus of the Koran was not crucified. When a Christian looks upon Jesus Christ, he sees the revelation of the glory of the only true God in the Crucified Christ. We worship Jesus Christ as God. Islam does not. We assert that there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved, than that of Jesus Christ. There is no other salvation except through his Cross; there is no mediator between God and man other than Jesus Christ.

Individual Intimations

It seems important to recognize, however, that the incompatibility of the Islamic doctrine of God with the Christian revelation of God in Christ does not imply that a specific individual Muslim can never be on the path to the same God as confessed by the Christian. Paul preached to the Athenians that God had determined that all men “should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after him and find him” (Acts 17:27). This implies that there is some possibility of men experiencing intimations—personal revelations of the one true God. Scripture records the experiences of gentiles receiving revelations from God—see the gentile centurion Cornelius in Acts 10. The mysterious figure of Melchizedek, priest of “God Most High” without benefit of the revelation to Abraham, is cited as a foreshadowing of Christ the High Priest.

In modern times, there are numerous reliable reports and testimonies of Muslims converting to faith in Christ because of dreams, visions, and revelations of Christ. What can we say of their experience of God and relationship to Christ beforehand? Not much, surely; whatever light from God they experienced and were faithful to, at some point it blazed forth and revealed the full identity of Christ to them. It may even come to them as a revealing of what they have already begun to know in some measure.

While we rightly judge between Islam and the Christian faith, we are less equipped or licensed to judge individuals. Many consciences, we suspect, may be honestly desiring or seeking something that only Christ can give. But one thing would seem reasonable to hold: any Muslim who believes that Christians must be subjugated and convert to Islam cannot be worshiping the same God as the Christians. Such a god demands that Christians contradict the confession of the Apostle Thomas, and deny that Jesus is Lord and God.

Further, our God does not coerce, and Jesus, the Son of God, did not coerce his own followers, but allowed them to see with their own eyes, touch with their own hands, and experience in their own burning hearts that he has the words and power of eternal life. The doubt of Thomas was not erased by logic, but by a personal invitation to place his hands in the marks of the nails. For in the end, there is no true worship of God without “Christ and him crucified.” •

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We’re off


Michelle and I are heading out for a UK Community of Practice led by Ray Vaughn and Erik Fish. Looking forward to meeting Erik for the first time.

Then it’s a weekend off wandering around Snowdonia with Ray and Sara Vaughn.

An update on the appeal for redesigning and rebuilding the blog and podcast — we’re at $5,600 and creeping up.

More about that when I’m back next week. . .