Slider

The Impact of Prayer in Ministry Strategy

by Wayne Dinsbeer

No true follower of Christ, especially a leader of a ministry, would ever discount the validity and power of Prayer in the life of a Christian. Great sermons have been preached and Bible Studies taught about the importance and priority of prayer in our lives. We understand the admonition to pray without ceasing and the promise of fervent prayer avails much.

So why is it that most churches fail to have a systematic structure and plan for organized prayer in the church or ministry? It is very common for ministries to have structured, organized strategies for Bible Study, Discipleship, and Outreach. But Prayer is an “On Your Own” thing.

Whenever Here2There is asked to have a part in the work of a church our first order of business is the establishment of a concerted prayer effort for whatever the purpose is for our participation. A church in Nolensville, Tenn. asked us to come help them establish a Missions component in their church. We told the Pastor we would organize a Prayer Team ministry and also a Missions Team to get this path started.

The first visit to this church we met with a few selected leaders the pastor had invited to an introduction of H2T dinner at his home. As we shared our plan to start with the development of a Prayer Team and Missions Team present that night were two members who had a burden, passion, and experience leading both of these areas in previous churches. God immediately began to work as these two took charge with our training, much to the Pastors surprise.

Within 12 months this church took six members to Nicaragua on a Short Term Journey and identified their first mission work to support.

This was not the work of Here2There. It was the work of the Lord as intentional Prayer was organized in this church and as a Missions Team targeted a strategy and path to get started.

At Here2There one of our core values is that “Nothing Happens Without Prayer”. Another small congregation desired a thriving ministry. H2T helped them establish an organized Prayer Team Ministry. Two leaders were trained. A core team of 12 members were recruited and trained. Within a year this grew to 36 trained members of the Prayer Team. Their work has revolutionized this church and added a new spark of God’s presence and power to each service.

Intentional Prayer is so vital to the development, planning, implementation, and function of any and all parts of the ministry of the church or mission. Failing to invite members to systematically lift up to the Father any area of the work is leaving out a most important ingredient to the strategy mix. This week we will focus on this most important part of Strategy – PRAYER.

JOIN THE FIGHT

What Covid-19 taught me about partnerships

I revel in the fact that I go against the flow. Yes, it got me in trouble (a lot), but it also helped me not give in to peer pressure, cultural norms or false expectations put on me by others. One of the biggest challenges, with this independence, has been in marriage. My life was so independent and ‘fine’ that when God handed me this amazing man, I wasn’t quite sure how to handle the teamwork and support system that came along with it. Thankfully this amazing man is much better at ‘go with the flow’ than me, and allows me to work through these moments of struggle by giving me lots of grace. For me there is a constant battle between the independent person and the idea of two becoming one.

Fast forward to the last couple of weeks when my amazing man tested positive for COVID-19. This wonderful man, his generous help (physically and emotionally) have been sick and out of commission. The first couple of days were no big deal, my old nature was ready to take on the world and handle this like a champ. One week in and I am missing my partner. Not just the fact that he is the best dishwasher in the world, but the parts where we take on the world together. The times where he listens to my crazy ideas and last minute planning and says, ‘yes, let’s do it’ and encourages me in my dreams and vision.

Don’t you want someone to take on the world with you? Don’t you want someone to love your cause, and throw all their time and effort into it as much as you do?

That’s how I see the relationship between the church and missionaries. They are no longer two separate forces pulling in the opposite direction asking the other to drop what they are doing and join them. No, they have joined forces, combined visions and resources and expanded their ability to reach more people, with a greater force and a better strategy. Yes, the tension to adapt will be high at times during the learning and growing phase, but it is through those times that the partnerships get solidified and become stronger and more intentional.

I cannot recall the thought, “I can do this all on my own” ever crossing my mind. It wasn’t something I had to think about, it was just second nature to me and naturally embedded in my heart. So, to identify the starting place was nearly impossible. But I knew it was there and I needed to deal with it. So, a few years ago I began each morning by praying Psalms 139:23-24. “Search me God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts, see if there is any offensive way in me and lean me in the way everlasting.” It was then that God began to show me the specific areas of my selfish-independent nature and I was able to confess my sin specifically and ask for forgiveness and healing.

Whether you are church or missionary, the fact is, you need each other.

Yes, you are probably doing ‘fine’ just like you are, but wouldn’t you be better if you had someone to join you in the journey?

Take time to evaluate your current partnerships and see if you are silo’s working independently or a powerhouse working together.

Stefanie Nicholson

Creating A Sending Culture

Ok, so, you’re in a church and want to see people making life changing decisions for God. You want your church to be a place where ordinary people come in and missionaries go out. But how do you create such an environment?

It may not be as hard as you think. Of course, something that I’ve learned throughout my relatively few years is that even though something might be easy, nothing is ever easy. Your church might have a number of “roadblocks” to get to this place but I think a lot of that has to do with the way that we’ve structured our churches these days.

Without further ado, how to create a sending culture in your church. Pat Hood, author of The Sending Church, outlines 6 heartshifts that are critical to becoming a sending church.

  1. Imagine a Jesus Movement-Imagine what God could do if all of our churches thought missionally. More importantly, imagine if all of the sending churches worked together and encouraged, prayed for and learned from each other(this is basically what Here2there has created our H2T Network for).
  2. Start Thinking Upstream-Churches have a responsibility to send people and stay in their lives.
  3. Think And Act Like A Missionary-If you were on the mission field how close would you want your churches to be to your work? The church must be connected to the work being done.
  4. Join What God Is Already Doing-God has a specific, strategic plan for every church and every believer in every church. Seek the Holy Spirit to find out where they are leading.
  5. Discover Your Church DNA-God has filled your church with the people that He intended to be there. Find out who they are, what they do, what they love and what they are good at. There’s a good chance that will lead you to the WHAT of your church’s calling.
  6. Collaborate-Find other churches who are sending and learn from them(again, the H2T Network is designed to help out in this way).

Let’s take a look at the very first sending church. Acts 13:2 says, “As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ 3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.”(NKJV)

Some other versions say the church was worshiping the Lord so I looked up the original language to find out more. The phrase ‘ministered to’ was translated from the original Greek word leitourgeo. It is defined as doing a service or performing a work which apparently has three different possible meanings the most likely of which in this case praying or teaching or aiding other’s with resources.

The way I see it the church in Antioch was doing one of two things or possibly both. Either they were together in prayer to God seeking guidance on what the church should do or they were or they were doing works of service aiding people with what God had given them.

If we look at the prayer option we see that prayer has again and again been the catalyst for the expansion of missions at minimum 3 different times in the history of Christianity. Lifepoint Church in The Sending Church held a sacred gathering that called the church together for specific prayer asking the Holy Spirit for direction and that led to a large number of people feeling the same call that Paul and Barnabas heard.

If we look at the works of service option we see that the church was in the community focusing on their “Jerusalem” so-to-speak.

Either way, the church in Antioch was not focused on just meeting together and being fed spiritually. They were either focused on God in prayer or focused on their neighbors in service.

AND THAT IS WHEN WE SEE THE HOLY SPIRIT CALL PEOPLE OUT.

What is your church doing to point people to the mission of God? Is your church more of a come-and-see or come-and-pray/do?

Outlawed Grief

It’s seems like that is all we have done for the last couple of months. Some have handled it well, yet others are struggling with these new ways of life. We are not sure what to do with all the loss that we have encountered. Do we just accept it and move on, do we spend hours and days wallowing in our sorrow, do we tell everyone we know. Is there a template or protocol we should be using when we incur such tragedy and loss?

Have you ever seen grief outlawed? Have you ever felt like grief was just simply not allowed? Like it was wrong and breaking some unwritten rules?

People outlaw grief through pithy (and useless) sayings: “He’s in a better place,” or, “It will all work out in the end,” or, “At least it wasn’t any worse,” or, “Don’t be sad about what you lost, be grateful for what you had.” Basically, folks communicate to the griever that they should not be sad—that their grief is not right or welcome. 

To continue reading the rest of the blog click here…

Developing a Missions DNA

by Wayne Dinsbeer

When we think of DNA our mind quickly focuses on the chromosome makeup of our bodies. Science tells us the slightest of alterations in this chemical structure changes our physical and psychological existence in extreme ways.

Have you ever thought about the DNA (chemical makeup) of your church or mission? Some “ministry chromosomes” we may consider vital to this DNA might include Worship, Children’s Ministry, Outreach, Discipleship, just to name a few items. The inclusion of one area of ministry but the lack of another could alter the shape of ministry in your church or mission in a huge way.

The DNA column of chromosomes determines the LIFE that will exist. Comparing this to the church or missions endeavor, the components of the DNA ministry all come together to form “The Mission” of the church or mission. All things done,(Worship, Children’s ministry, Outreach, Discipleship, and more) are all about accomplishing The MISSION.

You see, Missions isn’t just about sending people overseas somewhere, it’s equally about sending our own members across the street to reach the surrounding community.

Someone said, “A Missionary is not someone who crosses the sea, but is anyone who sees the Cross”.  Every aspect of ministry in the church or mission should be viewed and treated with the realization it is All about Missions!

Here2There works with a church that came to this realization about a year ago. The Pastor cast a new vision which set the priority for Missions throughout the entire scope of ministry. They established an Acts 1:8 Vision and defined their goals, plans, and strategy to reach their Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and Uttermost (JJSU). 

Last September this congregation participated in an outreach effort to place the gospel in every home in their city. They were assigned parts of two zip codes in which the church was located. The Prayer Team led the congregation in fervent prayer for this work. Each one in their JJSU Teams came together for what they called “Saturate Saturdays in September” to prepare, train, and distribute the gospel packets. Over 75 people from all ages came out each week. 7,000+ homes were reached in their area.

Did I mention their church attendance was averaging around 100 at the time. They recognized Missions is the DNA of the church.

This week we want to develop further this concept that everything done by the church is a part of the DNA of Missions for the church or mission endeavor.

Jordan vs LeBron – It’s everyone’s game

I am not sure when it happened, but when someone did finally put a basketball in my hands, it never left. And, to make it even better, I grew up in the Jordan – Bird era of good basketball. These players, and others, made it fun to watch and inspiring to play. They had this flow to their game, to their ‘no look passes’, timing it just perfectly.

Fast forward thru Kobe and into LeBron and the game has changed. I feel like I’m watching a bunch of strangers play a game of pick up- street ball. There’s no flow, there’s no system or plan and everyone is out to show off and be the best. It’s no longer enjoyable to watch these one man shows.

For my non-basketball fans, forgive the sports analogy on teamwork. And, no spoiler alerts on “The Last Dance”, I’m waiting to binge it soon!
I look at missions the same way I look at the former basketball era. Smooth flowing plays, with everyone on the same page that lead to national championships. My dream is to see churches with this same smooth flowing system that the entire church is rallying on to the final championship game. It’s everyone’s game, it’s everyone’s win, it’s everyone’s baby!

Don’t get me wrong, LeBron is an amazing player – and off the court seems to have a huge heart – but he doesn’t play well with his team. He fails to use the others on the team to make the team look good and to make the team win, not just him. This is where I see our churches; in this new era of missions. Let the missionary do the work, forget the others in the church and we will call it a win for the whole church.

How do we move back into the team era of missions where the missionary is part of the team, not the only player on the team?

How do we unify the vision of both the church and the missionary to The Church?
How do we rally the entire church to get in the game?

These are the questions we wrestle with when we talk about being a partnership church.
-What type of church are you?
-Do you play well with your missionaries; working together to accomplish the greater – unified vision with the whole team in the game?
-Do you say you are a team but let the missionary do all the work?

A Biblical Basis for Sending

There has been a lot of discussion, possibly arguments, about the definition of a missionary. Are we all called to be missionaries or should that term be reserved only for the ones who dedicate their lives to missions? What is the role and purpose of a missionary? If we look at Paul’s example his primary purpose appeared to be planting churches. We don’t really know a whole lot about Paul’s early companion, Barnabas, as far as his role during his missionary journeys. I think we can safely assume he was involved in church planting though. If we go a bit further back in Acts to the persecution in Jerusalem we see the believers scattered in what could be called the first “sending out” of believers. Acts 8:4 says, “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.” Evangelism seemed to be their primary purpose after they escaped from Saul and the persecution. John the Baptist could easily be considered a missionary and his primary role was to pave the way for Jesus’ coming.

All throughout the Bible God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit send people out many times and their purposes vary in many ways. That is the message that the church needs to hear. We get too caught up, sometimes, in defining things that we miss the point of it all together. When I look back and think of all of the missionaries that I know of it seems like almost all of them, if not all, were there to plant a church, preach the Gospel and minister to the people in that community. In order to do that, you had to be well qualified as a pastor and have “The Call” to missions. If we only allow those people to be missionaries that leaves like 90% at least of the rest of us on the bench and God clearly doesn’t want any of us sitting on the bench just watching the game.

Ephesians 4:11-12 says, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,  to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…” So here we see five specific roles or gifts that Jesus gives to people in the church in order to one thing: prepare the church for works of service in order to build up the church. The part of this that I’d like to focus on is the “works of service” part of the plan.

I believe there are two very important aspects to the works of service that the church is supposed to be equipping us for. The first is that certain people are gifted these abilities to equip the rest of the body and we as the church should be focusing more of our attention on ways to equip those that are in the congregation for works of service. What are “works of service”? I believe that the Jews at that time would have understood that to mean service to the Kingdom of God. And now the church, being built up, can become that beacon of light that shines on the whole earth the Glory of God; and in order to accomplish that the church must be sending people out into the earth.

How are the people in your church being equipped for works of service?

In what ways is your church focused on sending people out to share the gospel?

Here2There loves to see churches focused and sending people out strategically. If you would like more information on accomplishing that with your church don’t hesitate to reach out to us on the network or at information@here2there.org.

Naked in Asia – our need for Missionary Care

Recently on a trip to Southeast Asia, I was having a conversation with a local evangelist there about the persecution they have been experiencing. And he began to tell me about a call he received about a recent family of new believers. The family had been pulled out of their home, stripped down naked and were being forced to walk throughout the community. Naked.

At first I felt embarrassment for them to have to be so exposed to people who at one point were probably close friends of theirs.

I then felt angry that people would respond in this way, when the families decision has nothing to do with them.

Then, I was confused because most of the time when we hear about persecution, it is surrounded by death and physical punishment and abuse. Not necessarily embarrassment like this.

I asked my friend if he was able to help them or what happened. He said, “I joined them. I drove to the village, stripped down naked and walked with them.” And then he used a verse I’ve heard many times but not in this context. 

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” -Matt 10:28

We continued talking about how he had an opportunity to love on this family in a new way and how he got to share sacrifices we as believers often have to make. He got to care for them in unexpected ways and encourage them to continue to be bold and strong and follow in their faith and not turn away from it.

Imagine giving up just about everything to go serve a people that you love, have a burden for, and want to see honoring God. Now, imagine that same group of people abusing you emotionally, spiritually and mentally. People you have a burden for, people you have a passion to reach, people you love.

  • Betrayal
  • Confusion
  • Scars
  • Embarrassment
  • Hurt
  • Wondering what’s coming next
  • Scared
  • Explain this to your kids

The stories are never ending of the ways that believers are treated around the world.

Our missionaries walk into these situations. They see and experience things like this on a normal basis. They try and help others who have been hurt this way. They have to explain to the kids why there are so many idols in the country where they live….

This conversation plays over and over in my head. I ask myself how I would respond, how I would feel, how I would recover.

How can you expect your missionaries an ministry partners to go through transitions and times like these and walk away and be the same, not be traumatized, be normal…???

They aren’t always so drastic like this one…

  • Mom in need of home school help
  • Father dealing with kids who are being kids
  • Pastor who needs someone to feed into him
  • Wife who needs creative ideas for a date night
  • Team leader who needs a safe place to vent 
  • Mental preparation for a new phase of ministry
  • Kids adjusting to new life and new culture

No matter how big or how small the issue may seem, the need for connection and care from our church families back home is imperative.

What does Missionary Care look like in your church right now?

How Vision Drives Strategy

Vision Defined:

One of the most important ingredients in the life of a Church or Mission is Vision. Simply put, it is what God has put in the Pastor/ Missionary/ Leader’s heart for the work He has called them to lead. It is the “Big Picture” of what ministry could and should look like when Goals, Direction, Purpose, and Plans are put in place, fully developed, and implemented.

It is like the architect’s rendering of a building showing what it will look like after the construction takes place.  Vision shows the picture of what Could and Should be as God gives the leader His will for that work.

Just like the rendering, Vision is just the “Picture” not the plans. A set of plans to build out what the architect draws often takes page after page of detailed drawings and instructions to be followed by construction workers to accomplish the building visioned by the rendering.

Likewise, it will take a great deal of planning and strategy development to come up with a MAP (Ministry Action Plan) to be used in the accomplishment of the Vision for the ministry. This falls into the category of “Mission” – how the vision will be accomplished.

Vision Birthed:

Before an architect or artist can draw or paint the picture on the canvas, they must first see it in their mind’s eye. The print does not just jump onto the paper or canvas on it’s own. The same is with Vision. The leader must first see it in their heart before they can bring it to reality. 

This is not a difficult concept to grasp. We employ it in any walks of life. A coach sees his team having the ability to win the game or conference title and lays out their “Game Plan” to victory. A business person envisions their company’s success and sees the results and steps needing to be taken to accomplish this success.

So it is with the ministry leader. God puts in his heart a picture of what and how ministry could and should be. The leader ponders and meditates on what God has placed in his heart. He or she may share that with a few others asking them to pray with him about this direction. A Vision for the success of the ministry and work is birthed as a result and then used to develop a MAP to proceed and implement.

Vision Impact:

Most Christ Followers are familiar with the scripture in Proverbs 29:18 which declares the impact a lack of vision has on others – they perish. Maintaining a thriving business or ministry is difficult and probably impossible without a Clear Vision being cast and developed into a Mission plan of action for all engaged to follow. I am not discounting the ability of God to intervene in His divine way. I am just saying without the leader having a defined vision which leads to a developed strategy, which impacts the function and work of everyone involved – it is highly likely all will be completely frustrated by the process and lack of goals and objectives to be attained.

Yet, in many churches, missions, and ministries this is what we see. There is no clear vision being shared which defines paths and plans to be followed by staff, members, and others. The result is a total lack of a developed strategy and ministry plan and negative consequences rather than blessings.

Vision Cast:

We have noted the results of a lack of Vision. Things change when the leader does capture God’s desire for His ministry and work in that place. Now he is able to share this with staff and others who join him in bringing this Vision to pass. Now there is a clearly defined path that is the main consideration for Strategy Development. Now there can be a MAP developed and plans put in place to accomplish the Vision.

Once Vision leads to the development of strategy things begin to happen. What it will take to accomplish the vision can be assessed. Starting with where you are at present, and comparing that with where the Vision leads you, steps can be determined and ordered to embark on the path to painting that picture.

Strategy Development:

As mentioned at the start, Vision drives the development of Strategy and Ministry results. Once cast, Vision begins to shape a working strategy which includes:

  • Personnel required (Paid or Volunteer)
    • The Recruiting and Training of the personnel
  • A determination of “Next Steps” and the order and schedule to be taken
  • Resources required which includes budget, facilities, as well as personnel
  • A Plan for Vision Sharing and Buy In
  • A means for Measuring Progress
  • A plan for Mobilizing needed people
  • An Implementation Plan

Within each of these bullet points can be an entire set of developed points to make these happen.

An Acts 1:8 Vision & Strategy:

We often ask ministry leaders about their vision and hear a response that is very vague like, “ we want to reach a lot of people for the Lord”. That is certainly the point of all ministry, but leaders need to cast a more specific and defined vision which addresses:

  • Who will we reach?
  • Where will we reach them?
  • How will we reach them?
  • Who will do the work to reach others?
  • How will this be a part of our Vision Strategy?
  • What resources will it take to reach others?

All these things need to be considered in the development of Vision & Strategy.

In Acts 1:8 there are four clearly defined areas which it speaks to for Vision and Strategy development. At Here2There we refer to it as your JJSU – Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and Uttermost. This is a great verse to use as a guide for making sure all ministry areas are covered.

Have you ever thought about your vision and strategy in light of your JJSU? To do so you must first define what these areas are for your ministry. As an example one church with which we work defined their JJSU as follows:

  • Jerusalem is the congregation which needs to be fed and edified
  • Judea is the surrounding community they seek to reach
  • Samaria is anyone in emergency life status – homeless, jobless, etc.
  • Uttermost is the Foreign Missions Outreach 

Here are the steps which followed after this church took this Vision step:

  • In creating these defined parts of their Vision the Pastor was able to cast some more specific ministry goals to impact these areas. 
  • Strategy for each of these vision areas was established beginning with the selection of Leaders for each area. 
  • The Pastor shared his Vision Plan with the congregation asking each one to pray about becoming a part of one of these Vision Teams
  • These Vision Teams meet monthly to discuss ways to accomplish the Vision for their area.
  • Members of each team share how God is working as ministry is accomplished 
  • The Pastor has been able to maintain his Vision Casting with each of these Vision Leaders and Members of these Vision Teams 

Since addressing Vision and Strategy in this way, this church has renewed excitement as they pray, plan, participate, and celebrate what God is doing in their midst.

It started with the development of a Clearly Defined Vision.

Vision Engagement:

Consider the following questions regarding your Churches, Missions, and Ministry’s Vision and Strategy for accomplishing it.

  1. What is the Vision of your work?
  1. How does Vision impact the Ministry Strategy in your work?
  1. How is Vision & Strategy Shared in your work?

Partnerships, Have You Considered Them?

I was much older than most by the time I met my husband, Bryan. I had been in full-time ministry for nearly 10 years and was perfectly fine doing it ‘on my own’. Sure, I had my days where having a partner seemed like a nice idea, but this is what I had. Here2There was well on it’s way to being established, we were making plans, we were serving churches and missionaries and working on our vision and goals. Well, along came Bryan.  It was the best-worst thing ever. I was truly enjoying having this new relationship in my life, but it was literally ruining everything about my current plans and situation in ministry. I can remember leaving Bryan’s house one night and he handed me a paper bag for my mental hyperventilation I had going on. At the time I was so stuck on my plans, my vision, my ways that I didn’t have room in my life for anything new that didn’t fit that perfect mental mold I had.


FAST FORWARD – We have been married for over 6 years and I am so glad that God has other plans, and was persistent to help me see His goodness in this relationship. Here2There just celebrated 10 years of ministry and Bryan has been a huge and important part of the work. Bryan’s presence has added to our vision and filled in holes of need just to start. For me personally, I am learning to be gentle in my responses, see life with a new perspective and be genuine in my relationships.


ALL THINGS I THOUGHT I HAD A HANDLE ON


Yes, I would have been fine on the previous path I was traveling. But, my journey improved, my opportunities increased, my love expanded because of my new partnership with Bryan. Something I hadn’t really considered became a huge blessing to me and asset to our ministry and team.


Partnership is kinda the same way.


We have a good path and plan that we are one with the way we look at and do missions in our churches. Yet, if we considered what this new idea and concept was it could expand our capacity to care, prepare and send like we never thought or imagined.


Ephesians 3:20 is ‘our’ verse for our marriage. “Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us.” It was the best change of plans I’ve experience outside of salvation.

Throughout Paul’s writings (Philippians 4, Ephesians 4) there is the ongoing theme of ‘togetherness’ of ‘teamwork’ of ‘sharing’ and ‘exchange’. He exemplifies the quintessential partnership style for the church. Doing it together, sharing our team members and gifts, stepping up in times of need and challenging the church to live out it’s true purpose.

We want to hear from you, comment below. Have you truly considered if you have partnerships in your church and what would happen if you initiated them?

Everything starts with prayer. So, spend time reading through Acts and the Epistles, examining your style of missions partnership with what you are reading. Ask God to clearly give you a vision for your church’s mission vision and focus.