Preparing Others for the Death Penalty

written by JD

“If Jesus is the truth and the way, then I want to follow Him,” the Saudi student responded.

“Do you understand what that could mean for you,” Gary asked.

“If Jesus is the truth and the way, then I am willing to die for Him.”

This conversation took place between my friend and a student studying in Birmingham, Alabama.

As we engage the strangers next door–particularly students–and the Spirit brings them into the Kingdom, what will we do next?

What will we do next if they are from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan, Afghanistan, Qatar, or Mauritania where the death penalty could await them after graduation?

What will we do next if it is likely that parents, brothers, and sisters will abandon, threaten, or abuse them as they did to my Indian brother? Tuition, housing, and food costs money, you know.

How much of our teaching (over the past five years) has addressed a theology of persecution and how to live when we are expelled from the synagogues? If we reach the unreached peoples around us, then we need to reconsider what it is we are teaching when it comes to teaching new believers to obey all that Christ commanded.

Besides, this study and revision to our teaching will be good for us too in light of what is coming.


To the Edge: Reflections on Kingdom Leadership, Mission, and Innovation is now available. Check it out. For being on the edge is being at the frontiers of Kingdom expansion.


Make the Application

written by JD

The best way to learn how to share the Word is to share the word. There is a place for classroom space, but do not keep it there.

When I was a doctoral student, few dissertations had been written on the place of application in preaching. I’m guessing there is still a gap in the academic literature.

I sometimes hear, “I want it to be practical, not just theory.” Then I listen to him teach or read her book and I am left saying the same thing.

It is easy for us to be dispensers of knowledge. Give a list here, a principle there. Talk about the gospel. Tell some mission history. Debate homoousios. Parse a verb. Then give the test.

Application is critical to all that we do when it comes to equipping others for the ministry (Eph 4:11-12). The problem is that we have a hard time with application. We know how to give lists. We know lectures. It is what has been modeled before us. We spend too much time justifying approaches to theological education in the name of loving God with our minds as we give a little nod to that part about loving with strength too.

As you equip your people, show the application to the mission of God. Give them some how-tos. Whether you are teaching them diphthongs, Deuteronomy, David Livingstone, or the Diuwe people group, make application a vital part of such teaching.


My latest book, To the Edge: Reflections on Kingdom Leadership, Mission, and Innovation, was released last month and is available for Kindle or in paperback. I hope you get a copy and share it with others.


Normalcy of Persecution

written by JD

We think persecution and suffering for our witness are strange happenings. The New Testament is clear that such should not surprise us.

1 Peter 4:12-19

Our Lord does have a history of sending us to the wolves where religious leaders, political leaders, and even family members come against us and kill us.

Matthew 10:16-25

The judgment will only arrive after the number of deaths reaches the foreordained amount.

Revelation 6:9-11

A good number of people are talking about persecution these days. It is a good thing to have such conversations. And while we should refrain from having a martyr’s complex, we should also refrain from being surprised when people are killed for their witness–across the world and across the street.


The Best Missiological Question I’ve Heard in a Long Time

written by JD

A simple question can take you down new ministry avenues.

I recently received an update from a church planter. This brother is serving among one of the world’s most unreached people groups now in the United States.

After spending almost a year among the people and getting to know business owners, the Spirit led him to ask the question:  “What do you miss the most from your country?”

One of the most common responses was a difficult-to-find food product–rare in the U.S., but prevalent in their country of birth (And, yes, most American palates would find this item to be very odd.).

He did some research and recently started a for-profit business to provide this commodity to this people. He found a niche market, started a niche business, and now has new connections with this people group.

If you are serving among unreached peoples living outside of their countries of birth, consider asking: “What do you miss from your country?”

This simple question blurs the lines between unreached people groups, migration, church planting, and Business as Mission. It pushes the envelope in a healthy direction. It leads us down new ministry avenues.


Dave Datema was last week’s guest on Strike the Match. Check out our conversation about the rebranding of the U. S. Center for World Mission to Frontier Ventures: iTunes | Android | RSS


Dave Datema with Frontier Ventures

written by JD

Strike the MatchChurches and mission agencies have been thankful for the global work of the U. S. Center for World Mission.  For almost four decades, the Center has been involved in Kingdom advancing labors. If you are familiar with the name Ralph Winter, unreached people groups, or the Perspectives course (to mention a few examples), then you have been influenced by the Center.

A few months ago, the U. S. Center for World Mission rebranded itself as Frontier Ventures. In this episode, I speak with Dave Datema, one of Frontier Ventures’ general directors. We talk about the history of the Center, the need for rebranding, and possible future directions.

Dave shares that their purpose has always been and will continue to be about influencing believers for work in frontier missions. They want to continue in mobilization, training, and championing ideas and insights that will catalyze Kingdom breakthrough.


Ordinary Disciples, Extraordinary God

written by JD

I want to share another excerpt from my new book To the EdgeHere is one of my favorites. If you missed yesterday’s excerpt, be sure to check it out. A special thanks to those of you who have shared that you are presently reading through the book! Please send me your feedback and consider posting a review at Amazon.


We want to start with the extraordinary. Iron Man. The
Incredible Hulk.

“We want the high caliber, high capacity-type to lead
this ministry. For apart from these we can do nothing. We
want Superman, not the Greatest American Hero!”

We want to use the extraordinary to reach the world.

“If only our church had some outstanding leaders,
then we would be better poised to reach the four billion.
Unfortunately, global disciple making will have to wait
until we can find just one.”

We want the extraordinary because we think they are
the way to accomplish the extraordinary.

“Kingdom work is a daunting task, please send us some
strong leaders to enable our church to be about such work.”

But . . . what if the way to reach the nations is not
through the extraordinary? What if in our Father’s
Kingdom economy the primary way to accomplish the extraordinary
is through the ordinary?

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John,
and perceived that they were uneducated, common men,
they were astonished. And they recognized that they had
been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).

Do you catch that? The ordinary doing the extraordinary.

Yes, our Father uses the extraordinary to accomplish
the extraordinary but not in the way we have come to believe.
For the extraordinary is found in Jesus and not His
followers’ intellect, leadership capacity, experience, degrees,
or charisma.

What about your church? Do you have any members
who are common, ordinary people? Are you an ordinary
person? If so, then you and your church are in a good position
for the Lord to do the extraordinary through you.

“But ordinary people can’t engage in extraordinary
Kingdom work!”

Really? What is your definition of extraordinary?

“With all that they have going on with work and family,
they can’t organize, administrate, lead, preach, and
conduct church ministries like I do.”

Then maybe you need to revise your understanding of
what is necessary for a healthy local church to exist and be
involved in our Commission?

The way to accomplish the extraordinary is through
the ordinary. The ordinary disciples of Jesus confounded
the religious leaders of the first century. These ordinary
men were accused of turning the world upside down (Acts
17:6). These ordinary people were responsible for the Word
of the Lord going forth everywhere (1 Thessalonians 1:8).

And it was through the service of the ordinary that
you and I eventually came to faith in the Extraordinary.

Stop looking for the extraordinary among people. Look
for the ordinary who are filled with the Extraordinary . . .
if you want to accomplish the extraordinary.


A Humble Missiology

written by JD

To the Edge: Reflections on Kingdom Leadership, Mission, and Innovation was released earlier this month. If you have not purchased a copy, I hope you get one and share it with others. In this post, I want to share with you an excerpt from the book.

Knowledge gained can lead to arrogance. This is true in all areas of life, including missiological thought. A biblical missiology is a humble missiology.


Arrogance is a blight in the Field of the Kingdom. Many
struggle with it. Some of us privately. Some of us publicly.
Unconfessed, it grows and consumes, grieves and quenches,
and it always results in death. The individual may accomplish
many great things while covered with this blight
and gain the praise of many. But the Lord will not tolerate
arrogance because it takes glory away from Him.

Knowledge puffs up. And so does missiology—our study
of mission. Yet, the Lord calls us to walk humbly with Him,
which includes the way we approach Him, His mission, His
Church, and His world. We all have a missiology by which
we live. But is it a humble one?

Among many things, a biblical missiology is humble,
always willing to grow in understanding of God’s truth
and the application of means to the real world for the multiplication
of disciples, leaders, and churches.

A biblical missiology is humble, clinging tenaciously
to a scriptural foundation, holding tightly to principles,
but loosely to strategy, methods, traditions, organization,
and structures.

A biblical missiology is humble, focused and sure before
arriving on the field, but allowing the Spirit and context
to shape the application of never-changing truth.

A biblical missiology is humble, patiently and graciously
bringing brothers and sisters along in the journey who
have not been eating and drinking Kingdom-expanding
concepts for as long as you have.

A biblical missiology is humble, knowing with confidence
what it knows but open to correction and new

I have observed a great deal of arrogance over the years
in both my life and in the lives of many others. And we
evangelicals seem to be okay with it as long as such people
seem to be successful. But what will it ultimately profit
us to make many Great Commission accomplishments in
the name of the King only to have those successes rejected
by the King? Remember, some people will do great things for
the King, but He will deny knowing them (Matthew 7:21-23).

The Farmer is never okay with blight in His Field.

If we truly recognize that we are “unworthy servants”
(Luke 17:10) on this journey, we must run to the Spirit to
enable us to turn from that which so easily entangles us.
We must plead for grace to embrace our great salvation,
commission, other brothers and sisters, and the world with
a contrite and broken spirit and a heart filled with love.
We must move forward, wearing a towel instead of acting
as if we are sporting a kingly robe.

May the Savior empower us and show us the way to
live with a humble missiology in light of the four billion
souls who do not know the Lord!


Ministry of Redundancy

written by JD

Donald McGavran was one of the most influential missiologists of the twentieth century. He was a paradigm breaker and a paradigm shaper. He called the Church from one model to a new way of thinking about making disciples of all nations. While a doctoral student, I read most of his books and many of his articles.

McGavran often repeated himself in his writings. This practice was frustrating. For me, once was enough. I would read one article and then another, only to encounter similar concepts, definitions, and phrases. He was redundant.

I would eventually come to understand that his redundancy was both intentional and necessary. If you are attempting to lead people away from one way of thinking and into a new direction, then repetition is a must. One saying or writing is not sufficient for systemic change. People usually do not give up a long-standing, familiar paradigm upon reading of a new one.

A difference is often made over time and through repeating yourself. This is not fun. One time should be enough, right? I do not like the ministry of redundancy, but we need to embrace it over and over again.


Check out my book that was published earlier this month: To the Edge: Reflections on Kingdom Leadership, Mission, and Innovation.


Tentmaking: A More Expected Way

written by JD

Tentmaking.  This paradigm of missions is often traced back to Acts 18:3 where it is noted that Paul’s trade was making tents.  Tentmaking has often been discussed in missionary circles, with the early Moravians frequently looked to as an incredible example.  I often receive invitations to conferences related to tentmaking.  And just recently, a mission agency made an announcement that they were placing an increased emphasis on marketplace endeavors.  As long as the Church has a mission in this world, tentmaking will be a significant part of Kingdom advancement.

In this post, I want to encourage you to challenge your people to be church planters and in the marketplace–in other countries and the United States.

The Church has failed to develop a robust theology of work and the people of God. We continue to keep the secular-sacred dichotomy.  Sure, we often recognize the stewardship of having good employment, but such recognition usually does not take into consideration the stewardship of being in the marketplace and engaged in church planting activities.

As church leaders, we have failed to raise up generations with the perspective that they should prayerfully consider how to obtain marketable skills and degrees that would best position them as missionaries in North America and throughout the world.  Rather, upon hearing of someone’s call to such missionary service, we have quickly isolated them from the marketplace and encouraged them to pursue degrees for established church ministries, not missionary activities.

We send them to the fields with skills and degrees based on centuries-old traditions for well-established churches; however, they are called to serve where churches do not exist.  It is no wonder many church planters do not embrace a definition of church planting being evangelism that results in new churches birthed from the harvest fields.  They must have financial support.  And a quick way to obtain financial support is by starting churches with long-term Kingdom citizens who already have the Christian worldview of giving money to support their leaders.

We often turn to tentmaking because of pragmatism. Churches are giving less to missions. Where will we get the money?  Special offerings are down. Where will we get the money?  Well, what about tentmaking? Yes! Tentmaking! That’s it!  And when the economy turns around and offerings are back up, we can return to our original plan!

Pragmatism and Kingdom stewardship are not friends.

Someone may note:  But there is no way a tentmaker could do what I’ve done in planting this church. Probably true. It is very likely the methods used and the church expressions that manifest themselves will be very different from what we are used to experiencing whenever we think of our culturally defined expressions of church planters and local churches.

Pastors, how are you encouraging children, youth, and college students to get marketable degrees and skills that would best position them as missionaries in view of our global realities? Is tentmaking a significant part of the culture of your faith family? If not, what can you do to create such an atmosphere? Here are five suggestions for shepherding your people to the marketplace.

Pastors, we must remember the paths for education and training that we received might not be necessary or helpful for present and future generations. Just because we’ve always done it this way for 500 years does not mean we have to continue the present trajectory. Maybe our model needs to be the exception and not the expectation?

Tentmaking is not the only way; but it needs to become a more expected way.


My recently published book, To the Edge: Reflections on Kingdom Leadership, Mission, and Innovation is available for Kindle or in paperback.


5 Suggestions for Shepherding Your People to the Marketplace

written by JD

Strike the MatchThe decision to select a major and/or vocation is one of the most important decisions a person will make. This decision sets life on a specific course. This decision is often left up to the whims of youth, family tradition, and secular guidance counselors. The church is usually divorced from this decision. Personal comfort and the ability to make a decent living, rather than the mission of God, are often given priority.

In this episode, I address this problem with five suggestions to help church leaders shepherd their people to the marketplace. With billions of people in the world without Christ, evangelicals need to embrace a stewardship of vocation. Leading people to obtain marketable skills and degrees is a must for today’s pastor.

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