Thank You for 5 Years and a Future Possibility

written by JD

Missiologically Thinking turns five years old this month. I remember where I was sitting when the first post went live and my first tweet was sent announcing it.

I was a podcaster before I was a blogger.  From 2006-2010, I did a podcast at my resource site NorthAmericanMissions.org. This site is no longer public.

I considered blogging in 2006 but thought that (and especially Twitter) was only for the narcissistic person who wanted to share what he was eating for dinner, the color of his socks, or how hot his wife was at the moment. Blogging was not for me, but I had a vision for podcasting which lasted 4 years.

Gradually, my thoughts changed. I started blogging and using Twitter at the same time in 2010, feeling limited at what my resource site could offer. Eventually, both my resource site and podcast became consumed by Missiologically Thinking.

I am very thankful for you and for everyone who comes to (or subscribes to) this blog.  I consider those who read my blog like honored guests who come to my house.  I am truly blessed with each visit.  You could have been somewhere else, doing something else.  However, you took time out of your busy schedule to give me a few minutes of your time today–time more valuable than gold.  I consider this to be something wonderful and say thank you for your blessing.

Thank you for sharing this site with those in your circles of influence.  Your endorsement of my work is of much value to me.  When you give this site away to others, you are also extending to me an incredible gift as well.  You are allowing me into your inner circle with your recommendation.

I love blogging.  Lord willing, I plan to continue posting frequently here at jdpayne.org and giving away as much as I can.  Stay tuned.

Now, I want to share something else with you. The notion of returning to the mic and podcasting has been on my mind. This is a matter that I’ve committed to prayer.

Part of being a wise Kingdom steward involves making right decisions regarding the use of time and energy. I do not believe in doing something just to do it. If that something wisely meets a need in the Kingdom, then I want to consider it. If my podcasting (and blogging) efforts will be used by others for their leadership development and gospel advancement, then I want to consider spending some energy in this area. If others out there are doing as good of a job, or better, then there is no reason for me to turn on the mic.

As of now, I think there might be a need for what I have in mind.

Please pray for me. Share your comments below or shoot me a message with your thoughts about me returning to the podcasting realm to talk about mission, innovation, and leadership.  My personal email address is jpayne@brookhills.org or find me on Twitter @jd_payne .  There’s also Facebook (I’m a terrible FB friend.). I look forward to hearing from you!


No Time for the 10/10 Rule

written by JD

“In fact, if you look at the entirety of the twentieth century, the most important developments in mass, one-to-many communications clock in at the same social innovation rate with an eerie regularity. Call it the 10/10 rule: a decade to build the new platform, and a decade for it to find a mass audience.”

These words come from Steven Johnson’s Where Good Ideas Come From.  Be it AM radio, Betamax, cell phones, personal computers, or GPS, the average time span (last century) from idea to market was 20 years.  This rule was challenged in the late twentieth century once the web became mainstream. For example, YouTube crushed the 10/10.

10 years to build; 10 years to sell.

The world refuses to go back. Twenty years is a lot of time. She learned her lesson. Only the fool would follow the 10/10 rule if a new rule governs the new marketplace.

The world’s learning shames the Church when it comes to Her mission.  Yes, there is still the top secret, covert business operations alive and well in the world.  However, the world is quickly learning the value of collaboration, trust, and sharing.  I don’t think the Church is there yet.  We love our turf.

Some of us are motivated by:

  • personal claim to fame
  • fear of failure
  • fear of what others will think

The result? We live like the R&D and marketing departments of last century.  We do not share our ideas with others when it comes to gospel advancement.  We fear they will steal them, laugh at us, call us stupid, or think we’re crazy.  We live like we are trying to develop a better hamburger than our competitors.

We try new things in a corner, sit on the findings, tweak them, try again, and sit some more until it is just right to our satisfaction.  We’re okay with the 10/10 rule.  It is safe.  It is comfortable.  We accomplish the task today and fifteen years later publish the story.

Such is not wise Kingdom stewardship.

We don’t have time for 10/10 to govern our efforts.  Tell today’s stories, later today.

Share with us what is working now.  We need to know; we may try it too.

Share with us what is not working now.  We may have something to share with you to overcome your barrier.

There are 4 billion people in the world without Jesus–6,800 unreached people groups (including 360 in the United States, 180 in Canada).

There is no time to follow the 10/10 rule.  There is no time for desires of grandeur, obtaining recognition, fear of man, or receiving the title of being the one who produced the better hamburger than all other churches combined.

Kill the rule.


The Guy Who Plays Chewbacca

written by JD

A desire for recognition is not a bad thing.  We all find encouragement when recognized for an accomplishment. Paul knew this. Just read Romans 16.  He often gave shout-outs on behalf of others.

However, such desire can move from the realm of the healthy into the realm of darkness.  We begin to seek recognition for self-exaltation. Pride drives our desire.  Me first! Me first! Look at me! Look at what I’m doing!

It is not good when the Kingdom is about me.

I read an article from Time with the headline, “The Guy Who Plays Chewbacca in Star Wars has been Hospitalized for Pneumonia.”

While I’m thankful he is expected to make a full recovery, I could not help but wonder about the wording of the headline.

Why not, “Peter Mayhew has been Hospitalized for Pneumonia”?

If I told you about Peter Mayhew, would you have known his claim to fame? Of course not (for most of you).

Now, Chewbacca on the other hand….

I’m guessing since the 70s Mayhew has lived with being known only as the guy who played Chewbacca.  I’m also guessing that such has not been a problem.

He starred in a blockbuster trilogy that made history and broke records on numerous levels.

He became wealthy.

Toys were made in his character’s image.

Chewy will always be an icon.

Star Wars was so much bigger than one person.  Mayhew knew this.

We live in the age of Me–the star.  The star teacher.  The star physician.  The star chef.  The star mechanic. And yes, the star minister.

While Kingdom history is filled with known names such as Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, John, and Peter, it is filled with even more unknown names.

We only know them as:

  • the unknowns who planted the Antioch Church (Acts 11:20-21)
  • the unknowns who wandered in deserts and caves (Heb 11:38)
  • the unknowns who rest under the altar since their martyrdom (Rev 6:9-11)

Just a bunch of unknown people.  A bunch of guys who are unknowns to us, but great in the Kingdom.

Are you okay if no one knows your name, but only your service?

The guy who…taught that class.

The gal who…led that group.

The guy who…pastored that church.

The gal who…served that people group.

If we are unworthy servants (Luke 17:10), then we should not be troubled if no one knows our names.  It’s His Kingdom.  We should be satisfied and thankful with being the guy who played Chewbacca.  Though others may not know us, He knows our names and wrote them in His book before the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8).

He wrote down our names.

He did not write down, “The guy who…” or “The gal that…”

He wrote down our names. Why can’t this be enough for us?


Keep Portland Weird

written by JD

This past weekend I had the delightful experience of spending time in Portland with some amazing brothers and sisters.  I was asked to lead the annual Leadership Connexion and speak that evening at Mission Connexion 2015.

I never would have guessed that 100 church and agency leaders would sit through a 6 hour leadership training and 1000 people would show up on a rainy Friday night for a missions conference in the Pacific Northwest–in Portlandia of all places! Totally weird, in an amazingly good way!

The Lord is doing some amazing things in a corner of our country that few of us probably know about.

If you are in this region and are not connected to Mission Connexion, you should check them out.  In addition to numerous things they do throughout the year, they also host this annual event with four plenary sessions and 120 workshops.

If you are part of a mission agency and did not show up this year, then you missed a wonderful opportunity to connect with others.  I’m estimating 80 organizations had displays set up at this event.  The display hall was a who’s who of agencies with headquarters in North America. Definitely catch them next year.

I thought I would share a few fun pics with you in this post and fulfill a promise to the Leadership Connexion participants.

Yes, this is the carpet in the airport. Did you catch last week’s tweet, or this article?


So, in Birmingham, my favorite doughnut shop is Heavenly Doughnuts. I found out that Portland has Voodoo Doughnuts. #notintheBiblebelt


              Here is a shot of my gracious host, Greg Strannigan, speaking at the Leadership Connexion Training.









Below is founder and Executive Director of Mission Connexion, Bill MacLeod, kicking off Mission Connexion 2015. He’s reading a passage, not checking his email.









This is Don and Carol Richardson.  Don was also one of the speakers this year.  He served in Irian Jaya (Papua New Guinea) and wrote Peace Child and produced a movie by the same title. This was taken in a room with poor lighting. I promise I was not trying to put a halo over his head with the light on the wall.







On a serious note, I promised those attending the leadership training that I would post my slide presentation.

Here it is.  Thank you, brothers and sisters, for your participation and interaction.  It was an honor to be with you.  May the Lord continue to use you in the advancement of the Kingdom!

Guys, if the slogan about keeping Portland weird means standing for Christ in a region of lostness as you did this weekend, then keep it weird!


Of Course, Those Who Can’t, Teach.

written by JD

This is one of the most wonderful statements among our colloquialisms.  Though it is often used by smart alecks who cut down others for their lack of experience, the statement reveals the true and right nature of the teacher.

Who can be an expert in all things?  The teacher is called to prepare a disparate group for disparate contexts.  The same is true for pastors (Eph 4:11-12).

Last year marked my 20th anniversary in vocational ministry.  During this time, I have served as a pastor for 15 years, and 14 years as a professor in the Bible college/seminary classroom.

I have had the incredible honor of shepherding and training men and women to serve in a multitude of local church and missionary roles. Upon commissioning from our church or graduating from school, they scattered across North America and the world to rural, urban, and suburban communities. They went to the wealthy, middle-class, and poor.  While most of them spoke English as their first language, many did not.  They departed to serve in Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, atheistic, and animistic contexts representing numerous countries and scores of people groups.

When it comes to equipping such people, no human being has enough experience to speak from personal experience.  No one can share with all of these brothers and sisters what the future holds.

No one can teach Armstong to walk on the moon.

The practitioner of all things does not exist.

Of course, I had one or two people over the years tell me, “You can’t do this. You can’t do that. You don’t have enough experience.”

What did I do?

I did it anyway. Which was exactly what I believed God wanted me to do and what other believers confirmed in my life.  I taught. I served.

I equipped others with what I had to become more than what I was.  This is a purpose of the pastor.  This is a purpose of the teacher.  This is the only way to train others to reach the 4 billion.

I’ve found that those who make it their habit of telling others “you can’t because you don’t have” are often those set on cloning themselves.  Such people only know one way of doing things–and expect everyone and every context to get in line with themselves.  It’s their way or the highway.  We only need to look at the last 200 years of Protestant missionary history to see where such colonialistic and paternalistic actions got us.

Don’t misunderstand.  There is a place for experience. Experience is extremely important. As a professor, my philosophy was always to walk with a foot in the field and a foot in the classroom. There is no substitute for experience.

When it comes to experience, I’ve learned at least three things after 20 years:

  1. I need more experience.
  2. You need more experience.
  3. We will die before we have enough experience.

Experience can only take the teacher so far. The lack of experience drives one to sellout to the Spirit.  The great pastor/teacher recognizes that no human could ever have enough experience to equip a disparate group of Kingdom citizens for the multiplicity of contexts in which they are called to serve.

One of the most liberating, multiplication-oriented, Kingdom expressions:  Those who can’t, teach!


Sometimes Less is More

written by JD

It is difficult for us to believe this–that less can be more.  Society hypers and supersizes everything. We’ve always been told that bigger is better.  Go big or go home!  If it is not over-the-top, then why bother?

We swim in a sea of gluttony.

There is an out-of-this-world economy to live by.  Its policy manual reminds us:

  • You see that widow there dropping in those two copper coins? Yeah, she put in more than the others (Luke 21:3).
  • You mean to tell us that it is not like a sequoia, or an oak, or even a pine, but a mustard seed! (Matt 13:31).
  • This is amazing! How can these uneducated commoners be doing what they do? All they know is what that false teacher taught them! (Acts 4:13).
  • I would like to write a book about the men who planted the Church in Antioch. What an amazing Church! What were their names again? (Acts 11:20).
  • Not many of you were…not many of you were…not many of you were (1 Cor 1:26-28).

Yes, sometimes less is more.


If You’re Gonna Play in Texas, You Gotta have a Fiddle in the Band

written by JD

Do you really? 

That’s what these guys say.

Understanding context is important to our labors. Peoples are shaped and defined by cultures.  While biblical prescriptions are ultimate, contextualization is crucial to what we do.

When the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us (John 1:14), God contextualized Himself as never before among a fallen people.  This missionary God revealed Himself full of grace and truth in a shockingly clear manner.

Though we’ll never be able to contextualize our efforts as perfect as the Son (Gal 4:4), contextualization should guide our efforts as best as possible.  By God’s grace, the Church should strive to make sure the only stumbling block is the cross of Christ (1 Cor 1:23).

Not our cultural expectations.

Not our traditions.

Not our preferences.

Until Jesus returns, we will need to continue our conversations about contextualization matters.  Why? Because contextualization matters!

As long as there are unengaged-unreached peoples, migration, globalization, urbanization, rural communities, living world religions, different languages, and the rise and passing of generations, we are to be about the business of understanding how best to make disciples and teach them to observe all that Jesus commanded (Matt 28:19-20).  I address how to understand a people in Discovering Church Planting and Developing a Strategy for Missions.  Until you can check out those resources, teach your people to understand the following about those they serve:

Where do they live? How does their geography influence their lives?

What do I know about their demographics?

What do they believe (and practice) about spiritual matters?

What do I know about their history?

What do I know about their culture (in general)?

How well do I know their language?

What are their political views (including views from birth country if they’ve recently migrated)?

Now that you know. Roll on!


How Far Will We Go to Learn Ongota?

written by JD

Ongota is one of the world’s rarest languages. Only twelve people speak it.  I doubt you will ever need to learn it.

But if you needed to for gospel advancement, would you?  Would you truly put out the effort and make the sacrifice–for only twelve people?

Last October, Mark Zuckerburg addressed an audience at Tsinghua University in Beijing.  He spoke for thirty minutes and answered questions–in Mandarin.  He’s been studying it for four years, and admitted that his language level is “really terrible.”  He said he wanted to learn the language because his wife is from a Chinese family.  Some folks said such learning also involved a marketing strategy.

Watch a couple of minutes of his talk here. See the response of the audience when a foreigner speaks their language in a “terrible” fashion.  Yes, I’m sure some of the reaction had to do with his reputation and the setting.  However, much is communicated when we attempt to communicate in someone’s heart language.

If Zuckerburg can get to where he is in four years with his motivation, what will you do to learn the language of the people to whom you are called?  What are you willing to put off and put out to speak to their hearts?

But I’m staying here, in this English-speaking country.

Great! There are at least 360 unreached people groups in the United States, 180 in Canada, 73 in the United Kingdom, 43 in Australia, and 21 in New Zealand (Strangers Next Door).  Pick one.  Just one.

Connect with them.  At least learn some greetings. A few sentences.

Yes, they need to learn English.  But, wow! What does it reveal to them about your love and care, and the Jesus you serve, when they hear you speak to their hearts?

How far are we willing to go to learn Ongota?

Zuckerburg says he did it for his family.

For whom are we willing to learn it?  For the One Who revealed His Word in our heart language?


Conjuring the What If Monster

written by JD

What if.

Two of the most powerful words in the universe. We can use them to strike fear in people’s hearts.  We can paralyze thousands–maybe millions.

These two words have hindered the advancement of the gospel numerous times over the centuries.

What if we do this and something unpleasant happens?

What if we do this and that occurs?

Though these two words only have the power to conjure up unknown monsters in our imaginations, we certainly believe those creatures exist in reality.  Though we know nothing about them, we know they are scary–they just have to be.  So…we stop in our tracks.

No movement.  No expansion.  No multiplication.

What if our church makes such sacrifices for the gospel and that happens to us?

What if we go to the unengaged unreached peoples and that happens to us?

What if I try this and that does not work?

Let’s stop practicing the sorcery that conjures this beast.

Yes, but what if God takes us into the valley of the shadow of death and a real monster shows up? You know He has before!

Yes. He may.  He sent the seventy-two to the wolves (Luke 10:3). But real monsters are different from imaginary monsters.  Imaginary monsters are omnipotent.

If for some reason a monster does show up as the Spirit leads, He will be with you.  He created Behemoth (Job 40:15) and Leviathan (Psalm 104:26).  He is bigger than any monster.  He is our Good Shepherd.  He keeps us from fear and provides comfort (Psalm 23:4).  He loves us.

What if we believed this?  What if we used what if differently?

How about:

We know the Spirit is leading us in this direction.  What if we do this and God does that!


Don’t Be Like Mike

written by JD

As a late Gen Xer, my formative years were the late 70s through the early 90s. Yes, I owned parachute pants, a TRS-80 computer, and carried a ghetto blaster on my shoulder. Atari, Commodore 64, and Nintendo were kings when it came to home video games.  Michael Jordan was the man on the court.

Some of you remember this Gatorade commercial from 92. Oh, if “I could be like Mike!” Everyone wanted to be him.

Yes, you can learn from his playing style, attitude, and leadership skills. But you can’t be like him. I can’t be like him. He is unique.

Though society may say that we can be like him:

Sometimes I dream.

That he is me.

Got to see that’s how I dream to be….If I could be like Mike.

We know such is impossible. Such is designed to sell salt water with electrolytes.

We know this about the world.

However, even in the Kingdom, we often misplace our focus and start having distracting dreams.

Oh, if I could just teach like him, then everything would be okay.

Wow, I wish I could be like her. That would clarify the matter.

I want his ministry! If I just had his opportunities, then I could make an impact for the Kingdom!

We misplace our focus and lose our faithfulness.  We look at others and covet.

Don’t misunderstand.  Heroes are not bad, even in the Kingdom.  They are good as they point to The Hero (see Heb 11).  We should respect, honor, and admire individual saints for what the Spirit is doing through them. There is much wisdom in looking to other believers for examples regarding life and doctrine (1 Tim 4:12).  Scripture is filled with words and passages exhorting us to find a model to imitate (2 Thes 3:7,9; Heb 13:7). We should even be willing to tell one another to “be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1, ESV).  Yet, this is completely different when we begin to covet the opportunities, abilities, and ministries of others.

While I do not think Peter had an issue of covetousness, he did have a misplaced focus:

When Peter saw Him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” (John 21:21-22, ESV).

Don’t be concerned about what others have–and what you think you lack for Kingdom impact.

Our supposed inadequacies are God’s opportunities.

Be who God has called you to be.  You are wonderfully, fearfully-made, unique, and placed in the Body in such a way that brings the most delight to your Father.  Be original.

Observe others.  Learn from others.  Follow Jesus.  Yes, He has a plan for your hero in reaching the four billion, but what is that to you? You are not him or her.

He has a plan for you in reaching the four billion, too.  Stop trying to be like Mike.  Don’t worry about John.  Follow Him with what He has given to you!

Look for It