Who Can Help Us with This?

Who Can Help Us with This?

Living the mission means being constantly on the edge of chaos and being comfortable functioning that way.  In times past, we never moved forward without an approved plan, an adequate budget, and all of the resources we needed already in place.  That is just not the nature of things in the mission.  The skill needed to be effective in the mission is the ability to develop a situation that is already in motion and gathering the resources needed in the moment as the moment unfolds before us.  It’s more Lewis and Clark than it is Price Waterhouse. Networking is crucial.  Developing relationships and maintaining them with people IS living missionally.  We don’t just develop relationships with people who already have a heart for Jesus.  We develop and maintain relationships with anyone who will relate to us.  Jesus has a way of developing hearts when those hearts are connected to what he is already doing.   We don’t burn bridges…and we don’t burn people, because that web of relationships is how God is using us most effectively right now. Institutional territory protecting is over.  It is now not only annoying, it does damage.  Mission is freely sharing.  Mission is a network of shared knowledge.  I think Paul referred to it as “The Body of Christ”. I recently had someone who I love a lot tell me, “I don’t need to contact you because I KNOW you are on the path leading others toward God.  We can both pray for space to share the journey.” Space.  Distance.  Hmm. Wow. Just not getting it and yet she’s got a title that says she’s teaching it.

The mission and it’s needs change so fast and so often that who we know is far more important than what we know.  Having the humility to ask for needed help is what grows both the mission and the missional community.  I have learned that it is a part of every mission to make ten phone calls a week just to keep in touch with people in my network…to know what to be praying for in their lives, to know their victories, how their kids are doing, what’s getting under their skin.  It is that web of relationships that keeps the mission alive.  In fact, it is living in this network of people that IS the mission.  The single most important question that I have learned to ask is not, “How can I do this?”  It is, “Who can help us with this?”

Who do you know that you haven’t called or e-mailed or Facebooked in a long time?  Who do you know that you haven’t prayed for in longer than you can remember? When was the last time you did something nice for your mechanic or your plumber just because you’re glad that God put them on earth?  Networks.  Sharing. Who can help us with this?

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6 Comments »

  1. Sam Said:

    another wonderful piece!! spoken with a heart for others and Christ, brother, that is the Spirit talking!! Love it and if you don’t mind, gonna share it!!

  2. Sam Said:

    Funny, I think I do need to contact you because I know you are doing it… 🙂 I want to create space for the journey not only with you but with those on the journey with us.

    • Exactly, Sam…but then, I steal ideas from YOU all the time. 🙂 By the way, I have something I need your help with…

  3. Ron Said:

    I have just lifted your statement, “The skill needed to be effective in the mission is the ability to develop a situation that is already in motion and gathering the resources needed in the moment as the moment unfolds before us.” As is most often the case with your posts, this statement bears repeating! Those of us who work in institutions are constantly asked to submit a budget for each and every missional proposal. How refreshing it is to witness Kingdom work which doesn’t start by assessing limitations, but begins by seeing where God is already at work and through whom God is working, and there build the relationships that come with engagement! A difficult paradigm for us old-church systems folk to keep in perspective. As one of those “teachers”, thanks for opening the space in your network that allows us to be “students.”

    • Ron, what you’re saying about having to turn in proposals speaks to a major shift in the way we think now in our community. It isn’t that we don’t plan. We do. But more than “plan”, we “prepare”. We escrow funds for possible contingencies. We get into physical and spiritual condition. We consider what we will need to carry with us and how many people will be needed – bare minimums. We learn everything we can about a context so that once we are in it, we can draw on a pool of knowledge to figure out how to develop a situation. We pray. We prepare.

      Having prepared, we put people we trust on the ground in the context, and we let them develop the situation. We let them develop relationships in the mission field, and then we respond to requests that emerge from the development of those relationships. We don’t second guess the people on the ground. We put people on the ground that we think we can trust, and then we trust them.

      Context is everything. Only the people on the ground and in the moment have the context. No planning team or committee that isn’t hands on in the mission can give a plan context. Al they’re really doing is just making stuff up. Those plans always come apart as soon as the people on the ground encounter resistance anyway.

      If we try to impose a plan on a situation without knowing the context, then we end up either doing damage to the mission field, or we simply fail. Like I said, it is more Lewis and Clark than it is Price-Waterhouse. It is more about picking people well that feel called to go, and that you think are physically and spiritually prepared for the mission, and sending them. It’s not about “strategic planning”.

      You don’t know what’s around the next bend any more than Lewis and Clark did. You trust that the people you send are prepared to adapt and improvise and the emerging situation dictates. You make sure that they are clear on the goals and vision for the mission. Almost every territory we enter is unknown territory. I wonder how long the Lewis and Clark expedition would have lasted if they had been required to turn in a multi-layered plan and then had to follow it. Given the kind of person who thrives in the mission field, they never would have left because they would have told the powers that be to pound sand. Lewis and Clark were told to go a find a passage. They did. And they did it without being told exactly how to do it.

      This post was really about maintaining networks and not screwing people over, not so much about developing the situation as it emerges. But the two are very related. Your network is an extended knowledge base on which you can draw when the situation develops and you know what knowledge you need. If you either fail to maintain your network, or you throw your network under a bus for personal gain, your knowledge base will be pitifully small when you actually need to know something that you don’t already know.

      You can’t go into the mission with a giant footprint (that’s another post in itself – what we used to call in the Special Forces community the “Footprint Paradox”). You have to go in light so that you can respond and innovate quickly. If you don’t have the big footprint with you (footprint – set of tools, people, and resources that you put on the ground in your mission context), you have to know where to go to get what you need when you need it – kind of a “lean” approach (or a “just-in-time” inventory approach) to managing mission, and to planting missions.

      Anyway…in a nutshell: Don’t plan so much as prepare.


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