Category Archives: Main

Are We in Danger of Hoarding?

This article was written for TMS Global’s Activate Post and was published there on March 20, 2019.

If you subscribe to cable or satellite television, I am sure you have come across the television series “Hoarders.” This show depicts the real-life struggles and treatment of people who suffer from a compulsive disorder that drives them to secure and hold on to material things, even though they may never use them.

I know someone who suffers from a compulsive hoarding disorder. Her house is so full of things she has bought or collected over the years that it is difficult to find a place to sit. Entire rooms of her home cannot be utilized because they are so full of possessions. Her response to the dilemma has been to pay monthly rental on storage units to hold her ever-growing collections.

While this is tragic, there is potentially a greater problem of hoarding that exists in far more people than those affected by compulsive hoarding disorder. A recent report by the Barna Group (January 2019) indicated that 51 percent of US churchgoers have not heard of the Great Commission. An additional 25 percent said they had heard of the term but could not recall its meaning.

That means 76 percent of churchgoers have little grasp of the Great Commission. Given that the expression “Great Commission” is so ingrained in the vocabulary of Christian mission, one can only wonder the degree to which the 76 percent engage in any way in reaching the nations with the gospel.

The irony is that all of these churchgoers are recipients of a Great Commission culture. The gospel came to them by those who were moved in response to the Great Commission as described in verses found in Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20, and Acts 1.

The Good News of the gospel was never meant to flow into the life of a believer and remain there for personal security and blessing alone. The thrust of the Great Commission is that we are to pass on what we have received. Thus, we are not to hoard what has been given to us. For, “Freely you have received; freely give.” (Matthew 10:8)

If you feel your church could use some guidance in understanding and engaging in the Great Commission, the TMS Global church culture team offers training and coaching that will move your church to greater mission involvement. Find out more by contacting our church culture department at activate@tms-global.org.

Stan Self is a training consultant for TMS Global.

The Hardest Task

This post first appeared on the TMS Global website as the November Activate Post. It may be seen in its original context here

I was coaching a church missions committee in the northern part of Florida. We were engaged in a discussion of how short-term missions should be conducted for maximum benefit to all involved. One of the attendees interrupted by saying, “How do we discontinue support for some people and groups without hurting feelings and causing havoc?”

Fast forward a few months, and I am meeting with a church mission team in eastern Pennsylvania. To get a feel for where they were and what they were doing, I opened by asking them to tell me about the various ministries they support. One man began to tell me of a missionary couple they supported. He was stopped short by another team member saying that the couple was no longer on the mission field. As another one told me of a ministry, they too were informed that the ministry was now defunct. Before the first hour was up, I heard of five ministries that were no longer viable, yet they were still listed as being supported. In fact, the church was sending financial support, though it was obviously not going where they thought or intended.

A couple of months later, I am meeting once again with a mission committee in North Georgia. The same question came up. How do we stop support of missionaries and mission groups we no longer feel led to support?

This was only the beginning. In varying ways, this issue came up again and again in the ensuing years. So much so that I came to the belief that stopping support must be the hardest task a local church mission team faces. Consequently, far too many choose not to face it at all and just live with the dilemma.

The problem begins rather innocently. Someone in the church knows someone going into missions and it would “be nice” if the church could help them out. A missionary comes in to speak and an emotional decision is made to support them based on a one-time encounter. A ministry seems to be doing “good work and needs our support.” The list goes on.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There is a way to ensure the support list is current and reflects what God desires. And it can be done in a way that is simple, relatively painless, honors God and the ministry, and eliminates this issue for all subsequent missions committees/teams.

The church culture team at TMS Global can begin immediately helping your church deal with this task. Contact us at activate@tms-global.org for more information.

 

Avoiding a Chicken House Approach to Outreach

The gist of this article first appeared as a devotion given to a group of mission administrators and missionaries. It later appeared as an article in Unfinished  magazine (Summer 2008, Issue 41) under the title, No running, please.  It is presented here, in updated form, due to my ongoing work in my own local church in the area of outreach.

As a teenager, I worked for a period of time in my uncle’s chicken house. I recall the preparation for the arrival of the chicks. Workers brought in fresh pine wood shavings to spread over the entire floor of the chicken house. Heaters were lowered from the rafters to keep the chicks warm, and circular tin walls about two feet high were put in place to keep the chicks under the heaters. After they were safely put in these brooders, I took much pleasure in playing with these cuddly, yellow-down chicks.

Continue reading Avoiding a Chicken House Approach to Outreach

Why I Love Small Groups

In a couple of weeks, we will be starting small groups up at St. James UMC here in Athens and I am stoked. I harken back to a time in Clay, AL, when a group of us young marrieds in our late twenties and early thirties formed a small group to gain spiritual maturity and foster community. We named the group, Foundery Fellowship, after the first Methodist meeting place in England. We also patterned the meeting on a blend of the Wesleyan class and band models. Continue reading Why I Love Small Groups

His Name Is (SS Presentation SJUMC 08052018)

Several people have asked if I could share the powerpoint from the Faithbuilders Sunday School class presented at St. James UMC in Athens, GA on August 5, 2018. The purpose of the lesson was to call attention to the large number of people who have yet to hear the good news of Jesus. This in spite of the fact that some 2,000 years ago He gave directions to his followers to go into all the world and make disciples.

I have added two items to the presentation:

  1. A brief description of the three stories I told in movie blurb format to help you recall
  2. A list of sources of the information  I used in the preparation for those who would like to go deeper.

The presentation can be accessed below by clicking on the link. This will lead you to a thumbnail that you can download to your computer or you can click on the thumbnail then start the slideshow to see the presentation online.

CLICK HERE>>>>  https://1drv.ms/f/s!ApRDmPCbOtZ4jV5SMAiZjZn5mPpi

Note: If you were unable to be in class Sunday but would like to know more, please call or text me at 404.538.0628. I genuinely love talking about this topic.

Veterans Day Vignettes

On Veteran’s Day 2017, I wrote a series of eight vignettes of some of my experiences in Vietnam some 50 years ago.  I posted them every two hours or so on Facebook. For posterity, I have compiled them into one document and posted them here. On Memorial Day 2018, I added a ninth vignette to honor those I served with who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country.

 

Veterans Day Vignette #1:
My point of entry into Vietnam was Cam Rahn Bay. Following the evening mess (meal) on that first day, I took a stroll and found myself on the western perimeter where a young private was walking guard. During our conversation, I noticed he didn’t have a magazine in his weapon. Upon closer scrutiny, I discovered he had no ammunition at all. My first thought was, “What kind of war had I gotten myself in?” Continue reading Veterans Day Vignettes

Telling, Teaching, Training: What the Church Needs to Get Right

There is a splendid three-minute scene in the movie Glory, the Oscar-winning film about the all-black, volunteer 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment led by white officers during the Civil War. In the scene, Colonel Shaw walks up on target practice being led by Major Forbes and observes Private Sharts very deliberately and methodically hitting bottles with his rifle shots.

Shaw compliments him to which Sharts ascribes his proficiency to squirrel hunting. Shaw then tells Sharts to reload and as he does Shaw keeps telling him, in ever-increasing volume, to go faster. Finally, a fumbling Sharts gets the shot off, but we see no bottle broken. Again, the Colonel tells him to reload and then asks the Major for his Colt 45. This time, as Continue reading Telling, Teaching, Training: What the Church Needs to Get Right