Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Thursday, September 13, 2012
On Training Potential MBB Leaders
by Abu Daoud
A few days I hopped on a morning bus for a neighboring city. I had a meeting there and I figured that afterward I would drop in and see a friend of mine as well. This friend is a local guy (not a foreigner) and in his city/area there is a lot more going on in terms of ministry to Muslims than in my city. Anyway, I asked him how the Muslim-background congregation was doing and he said that he was shifting his focus, and would be meeting with some baptized men to focus on leadership training, rather than helping to run the church meetings. Right away he asked me what I would teach them about.
I get this quite a bit actually. After a few years some of the locals came to the conclusion that I was good guy to consult with in making decisions about local ministry, I guess. I thought about the example of the early church and how and I took a piece of paper and drew a triangle, on each side of the triangle I wrote a word (all in Arabic, but I'll give you the English): ethics, sacraments (in Arabic the word is 'secrets' actually), doctrine. Then under ethics I wrote "Commandments" and "Beatitudes", under sacraments I wrote baptism and Communion, and under doctrine I wrote the two creeds.
I said, "My own opinion on this matter is not very important, but here is a picture of how the early Church handled these things. The idea is that once a person knows about each of these three aspects of the Christian faith, they will have the basics down. Also, back then, people would have to memorize all this stuff (10 Commandments, Beatitudes, etc). All your guys are ex-Muslims so memorizing should be easy for them. Since people didn't normally have books back then, it means that each believer knew from memory all the basics of the Christian faith, including how to baptize new believers. They will also easily learn this triangle here so they will know how to disciple new believers or seekers."
He really liked the overall idea. I challenged him to keep a diary and let me know how it was going.
Please pray for him and his six disciples, that they would mature in strong, faithful, wise leaders for the MBB congregation. And pray for me, that I would be able to give good council to local believers when they ask for advice on ministry. Some day we will leave this land and go back to the West, but most of these local believers will stay here through thick and thin. Until then, thank you for making our ministry possible and investing in the local church through us.
Sunday, September 9, 2012
Missionary Secrets 3: Communicating with supporters sucks...sometimes
By Abu Daoud
So here’s the deal: I spend time writing an e-mail update about some recent encounter with a Muslim here in town, or some other observation about Islam, or something encouraging that happened with one of our Christian friends, or what have you. I send them out to about 400 people on my e-mail account. And a few people…maybe…respond. Who reads these things? I have no idea. Am I wasting half a day in doing this? I often feel like it.
Two or three times a year I Um Daoud and I put a few days into producing a high-quality newsletter, we e-mail it to out agency back in the West, and they distribute it to 500+ post addresses on THAT mailing list. Another business prints them, our mission envelopes them, and posts them. The whole project comes out of our funds to the tune of $400 or so. How many people read these things? We normally see an uptick in contributions after we send it out, so it must mean that someone reads them. But given the expenditure, are we wasting much-needed funds?
And I also keep two blogs—islaomdom.blogspot.com and abudaoud.blogspot.com.
And then, we get an e-mail from one of our churches or supporters saying that they are concerned because we do not keep them up-to-date on our work here. Sometimes this is our fault, but not usually. Also, normally these e-mails come with an apologetic e-mail saying they do not feel called to support our mission anymore. We genuinely respect people’s and churches’ responsibility to discern how they will invest their funds in the Kingdom. We also know that sometimes the Spirit really is telling people not to support our mission anymore.
But these e-mails are difficult to receive. Especially when we have done everything we could to keep in touch. Mr. X didn’t update his post address with us after moving, and then he feels he can no longer support us because we don’t stay in touch? Ouch. But it’s better than a supporter just dropping off your list with no notice. Anyway, support is a sensitive topic.
Some workers send out too many notices and people just delete them. Some workers do need to stay in touch more. In the end, missionaries are trying to balance the needs of a LOT of people. From the personal friend of many years who is fine with getting one update per year, to the church that wants a monthly story for their newsletter. Recently, we were informed by a faithful donor that he would not be supporting us anymore. He was very kind about it, but he said he wanted to support works that were more entrepreneurial (his word). I respect that because I know he is a great Christian, but I thought, in the Middle East that is precisely what we don’t need. The problem here is a lack of seasoned, Arabic-speaking folks who already have a network of relationships. (A good number of missionaries here don’t speak Arabic well at all, believe it or not.)
So with your missionaries, give them input. That’s the takeaway here. Let them know what you want to hear about if their letters are too long, short, frequent, infrequent, and so on. Also, if you don’t get what you want, remember we are generally communicating with hundreds of folks and churches, all with different desires.