Saturday, January 31, 2009

Reflections: Psalm 119

While reading Psalm 119 today (always in my devotional reading on the 31st of the month), I celebrated many rich truths. This Psalm is so long as to be read less often by many. You will recall the Psalm is 22 sections each with 8 verses (176 total) with each section and its verses starting with the subsequent letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Were it in English, for instance, all the verses in the first section would start with “A” then all in the second section with “B”. Quite of feat of writing when you consider the form alone, much less the depth of content.

Great Biblical scholar Matthew Henry’s dad recommended to his son reading and meditating on one verse from this Psalm every day. What a great lifetime pursuit. How much might one gain from such a discipline? The reader would read and reflect on each verse in this wonderful Psalm twice per year and in doing so would gain deeper appreciation for the beauty, power and purpose of God’s revelation of Himself…and so, a deeper intimacy with God.

Today, I was taken with Psalm 119: 89-90, “Forever, oh Lord, your word is settled in heaven…” I thought about times when I have tried to take pictures of the moon. My pictures always disappoint because the images are so shaky, movement happens while the picture is exposing. When I try to take its picture, the moon always shakes.

Wrong! I am the one who shakes. The moon and stars remain constant. So is the Word of God in our lives. No matter how shaken we may be in our daily experience, His Word is evidence of the unchanging, constant faithfulness of God who has made us the object of His grace, love, and redeeming hope. He is the unmoving One who invites us to represent Him among the nations; to shine His light into the darkness (Philippians 3:15, Romans 2:19, 2 Peter 1:19).

A final reality hit me today. The faithfulness of our God spans the generations. As long as the earth remains, God's revelation exists as the North Star guiding us in relationship to Him. Remember, the righteous live by faith. That faith is placed in a consistent and eternally reliable object. He is. And we are His. We can rest in the confidence that His purpose will be done. His mission and our witness to Him in it, is fundamentally accomplished. It is a sure as the sun, moon and stars. Forever, oh Lord…settled!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

LN Celebrates 25 years - Honoring Bob and Linda Buford

Last night Pam and I were privileged to participate in the 25th Anniversary of Leadership Network honoring Bob and Linda Buford. A Who’s Who list of business and spiritual leaders expressed appreciation for the influence of the Buford’s; among those were Mr. and Mrs. Ken Blanchard, Jim Collins, Mrs. Peter Drucker, Bill Hybels, Wayne Cordero, and Dr. Kenneth Cooper.

Since Bob founded Leadership Network, dedicating his financial resources to developing church leaders of vision and passion, America has changed. So has the world. In that substantively changed world, Leadership Network and Halftime are making a positive Kingdom influence.

Many of you have been blessed by Leadership Network or Halftime. If you are one of those persons, let me encourage you to send a “thank you” note to Bob and Linda Buford for their investment which has enriched your ministry. Following is a text of my own letter to these dear servants.

Bob and Linda Buford
c/o Leadership Network and Halftime
2626 Cole Avenue, Suite 900
Dallas, Texas 75204

Dear Bob and Linda,

On the celebration of the 25th anniversary of God’s favor upon Leadership Network it is my privilege to say “thank you.” Your willingness to follow after God’s heart through the ministry of Leadership Network and Halftime has enriched a generation of disciples.

I am one who has been blessed by your visionary leadership and selfless contribution to the development of young leaders. In 2004, it was friends at Leadership Network who saw the potential in publishing the results of my research and practical exploration concerning a seminal concept referred to as the missional church. That book, Shaped by God’s Heart: the Passion and Practices of Missional Churches, has changed the direction of our life and ministry. Our ministry among churches today, Missional Church Center, became reality as result of Leadership Network’s confidence in an unpublished author.

Beyond my own personal experience, I count as friends literally hundreds of church leaders and Kingdom professionals for whom LN and Halftime have been catalytic gifts of God in their lives and ministries. Shared learning, excellent resources, and life liberating affirmations have been given to many in the Body of Christ as result of your faith and vision.

As you walk forward, it is with optimism that we await your musings for friends. Together you have become a book written on the lives of countless thousands to the Glory of God. Thank you for being an instrument in the Father’s hand through which He is writing the next chapters for the generations to come.

Until the nations worship Him,

Milfred Minatrea

Monday, January 26, 2009

Let’s Talk About Making Disciples

Since the launch of Missional Church Center two years ago, one reality that has repeatedly surfaced is the church’s struggle to effectively produce authentic disciples. This central command of the Great Commission poses the greatest challenge to the church.

We have described a missional church as a reproducing community of authentic disciples being equipped as missionaries sent by God, to live and proclaim His Kingdom in their world. Asked to simplify the description, we have repeatedly said it can be reduced to two words: Authentic disciples.

If we can effectively produce authentic disciples, they will be His missionaries; they will live and proclaim His Kingdom in their world. Our challenge is essentially this…to produce authentic disciples. That is the subject of our continued research and the current writing project at Missional Church Center.

In order to assist us in better understanding how churches are making disciples, please take a few minutes and complete our Effective Disciple Making Survey. The compilation of your responses together with those of other colleagues in ministry will help us to better understand what churches are doing, as well as the gaps that remain, in fulfilling this important task.

Please click here to participate in the brief survey.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary

While teaching Missional Church in a Postmodern Context at Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary last week, I was privileged to interact with wonderful young developing leaders as well as current church pastoral staff members. Staying on campus allowed me to watch student families interacting in the courtyard of the apartments. Their international diversity provides a microcosm of the global church. Their passion for God’s purpose reflects His heart.

Our discussions in class were rich with varied denominational traditions bringing doctrinal differences of interpretation. A common theme was the overarching hunger that the whole world might experience the whole Gospel as truly Good News. Using Christopher J.H. Wright’s, The Mission of God together with my book Shaped by God’s Heart as texts (both available at, we considered how the Gospel transcends cultures, addressing spiritual and global issues that are of vital concern to many in a postmodern and post-Christian environment.

It was exciting to be with those who hungered to imagine and experience the narrative of the Gospel as Good News for the nations: the alien, the impoverished, the sick, the lonely, the lost. I was reminded again that the two great epic narratives of the Old Testament have become our narratives as followers of Jesus, the seed of Abraham, through whom God is blessing the world. In the exodus we remember our redemption from that which enslaved. In the exile, we recall our dispersion among the nations for whom He commands our intercession and blessing. He is on mission through His church.

Watch the video segment and join us in the practice of reading scripture through a missional lens. Write the insights you glean from your own missional reflections on scripture, sharing those with us via email to I look forward to learning with you!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Recent Updates

Thanks to those of you who were praying last week for our class at Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary in Fresno, California. I enjoyed the time on the campus with students and administrative faculty. MMBS celebrates its heritage as “anabaptist and evangelical;” a good place to be.

Today, I was surprised when a friend called to say that one of our Missional Church Center video segments had been placed on the home page of the Baptist Standard website. The segment tells the story of the Pit Stop Ministry of Mimosa Lane Church in Mesquite, Texas (Click Here to view the video). While we did not know the video had been picked up and posted there, we rejoice as God broadens the audience of those who share our passion for a missional lifestyle.

Being His missional church is the focus of the current sermon series I am preaching at Northway Church in Dallas. We are calling the series, Jesus on Northway, and are currently focusing on ourPassion. (I figure if Apple can create words like iPod, then the church can certainly express itself with ourPassion.) That passion is manifest as we worship and obey God; serve and share His Good News with others; embrace and invite them to follow Christ; and equip and empower disciples to live His mission. To be candid, we are still learners on this journey, but our community is blessed as God faithfully directs us toward His heart.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Pit Stop Ministry

Karl Bozeman has been a part of my life since I was in elementary school. He and his wife showed me God’s love before I had any concept of God’s mission. Their influence began about fifty years ago…and it still continues today. Karl directs men’s ministries at Mimosa Lane Baptist Church; he mobilizes men. Karl equips and empowers men to give their skills and talents to God, using them to minister to people.

In the ongoing dialogue about whether churches should seek to be attractional or incarnational, Mimosa Lane Church has decided not to split hairs trying to decide. Instead they simply invite people to come to be served in very tangible ways. That is what Pit Stop Ministry is about.

Senior adults, single moms, and those living on limited incomes drive to the parking lot of Mimosa Lane’s Pit Stop ministry, often in cars that would not pass inspection and consequently could not continue to be driven. During their visit, men and women of the ministry team will do a vehicle inspection and correct most problems. Additionally, they will perform routine maintenance on the vehicles to keep them operational. And for many of those serving, it is the first time they have found something they feel competent to do in ministry.

What is the cost? Nothing. These services are provided without cost as a ministry to bless recipients much like Jesus did when He walked the Judean hillsides. As I listened to men and women talk of how God has blessed them through Pit Stop ministry, I was convinced that this ministry attracts people not just because it is free, but because it expresses Christ’s compassion in very real ways. And that is incarnational!

I hope that you will be blessed as you watch the brief video that Karl Bozeman and the Pit Stop Ministry team allowed us to produce. Perhaps God will use their story as a catalyst for your own church in finding a creative expression through which Jesus-in-you can bless the people in your community.

This Missional Church Center video can be viewed by clicking here.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Meeting with Ellen Livingood

Recently I enjoyed a couple of hour’s one-on-one dialogue with Ellen Livingood, founding Director of Catalyst Services and mission mobilizer par excellence. Ellen has a passion to help mission agencies turn the corner in enhancing collaboration with churches in the global setting. One only has to listen to Ellen for a few minutes to discern her deep love for Christ and His church. Ellen is in the Dallas area to lead a Mobilization Training workshop, Developing and Presenting Partnership Opportunities, for mission agency personnel.

While Ellen’s primary mission assists mission agencies, local church mission teams can benefit greatly from resources archived from previous Catalyst Postings available at For instance, check out the June 2008 post on Short-Term Ministry Ideas. Let me know if you cannot find at least one new idea there!

I was honored when Ellen asked me to write an article for an upcoming issue of Catalyst postings but delighted when she did not give me a deadline!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Re-thinking “Incarnational”

Continuing our focus on Attractional and Incarnational, it is clear that there are those who use the word “incarnational” to identify any congregational ministry that focuses beyond itself. For example, a clothes closet in which members gather, sort and distribute used clothing to persons in need may be identified as a “missional ministry” because the target recipients of the ministry are persons who are not part of the congregation providing the ministry.

However, it is possible for a group to provide such “ministry” without ever intending to really connect with ministry recipients. I see this fashion of ministry provided routinely by churches who feel they must “do something” for those who are less fortunate. But, truly incarnational ministry never sees people as objects that need ministry, rather as people to be loved.

If I do all ministries possible and have not authentic love for those who are receiving the benefits of ministry, I may be doing good deeds, but I am not incarnating Christ. While others saw crowds of people, masses of humanity with overwhelming needs, He saw individuals for whom He came seeking relationship – people whom He would love, at whatever the cost that was required. True ministry always has a cost associated with it. When touching Jesus robe, the woman of Mark 5 was healed. And the text says, “Jesus felt the power going forth from Him.” While I do not understand the depth of that statement, I understand enough to know that ministry did not come without a price.

Sometimes ministry is offered as a salve, not to eliminate the pain of the other, but to soothe our own conscience. We feel better because we have done something for “those poor people.” But unless we long to become real friends with those people, to journey with them through the challenges of everyday life, we are a long way from the incarnation of Jesus. He did not say “I have called you recipients of ministry,” He said, “I have called you friends.”

Authentic incarnation means investing in relationships with people, not just giving them a hand-out. Incarnational mission joins Jesus in seeking those upon whom He can lavish His love. Who are the people Jesus is giving you to love in your sphere of influence? Where will incarnational mission carry you today?

View the second Attractional or Incarnational ministry focus video by clicking the picture above or following this Missional Church Center Video link.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Continuing the Journey in 2009

The wonderful holiday season is officially over and the New Year has arrived. I am looking forward to meeting new friends in 2009 and to reconnecting with many with whom we have already begun a shared journey in pursuit of God’s purpose.

In order to gain insights into the book I am currently working on, I have prepared a very simple survey regarding disciple-making in the local church that will allow me to gather information from many churches rapidly. Without doubt, churches around the world struggle to be effective in making disciples. Last year I spoke with key leaders from five continents and found they share a common concern in this central task of the church. We will never experience congregations living the purposes of God until those in our churches have learned to walk as authentic disciples. This is prerequisite number one to any life whose course is set for God’s mission.

If you would be willing to invest a quarter of an hour in responding to the survey, please drop me a line at and let me know. The on-line instrument will go out later this week. In advance, let me say “thank you” for joining with me in this important information gathering process. And please pray that I may effectively hear God as I wait before Him with pen in hand (actually keyboard at ready).

Next week I will be at Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary in San Jose, California teaching an intensive course, The Church in God’s Mission. I am looking forward to interaction with students and congregational leaders during the classroom sessions. So that you can be better informed as you journey with us in prayer, we will post a video update from San Jose so you can learn about the students and our class experience.

In dialogue with acting President Dr. Lynn Jost, I have become aware of concerns expressed by some leaders regarding the term “missional.” In the ever changing dialogue and interaction regarding the church’s relevance in society, new terms may be perceived as dismissal of that which has been, in favor of that which is new. Pray that we can allay misunderstandings regarding the missional posture, that it may be perceived as a totally Biblical application of truth in contexts where the church finds itself, valuing the faith legacy of the past while seeking God’s direction for today.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Attractional and Incarnational

Yesterday I was overwhelmed as I read and reflected on Psalm 87. There God speaks his pleasure that once enemy nations are now “born in Zion.” His mention of Jacob and Zion reminds us that while he loves individual families who worship and follow Him (Jacob), His supreme love is for Zion (the assemblies of the faithful). While the church may have many weaknesses, it is still the object of His supreme love – His bride.

David Clarkson wrote, “Prayer and devotion sanctify every family, and diffuse a spirit of piety through all avocations of life, so that we need not retire from the world, but rather are called to show forth the virtues of the Christian life in it.”

In one sense, Psalm 87 reveals the emotion of God while Matthew 28:18-20 reflect the purpose of God for His church. We are called to be the incarnate presence of Christ in the world and to live in such way that the nations seek to become part of this Body. In terms used in contemporary dialogue, we are to be both incarnational and attractional. Not one or the other, His mission encompasses connecting with people where they are and bringing them into the community of faith. Both/and … not either/or – attractional and incarnational.

As we conclude 2008, I am grateful for each person who has journeyed with us this year. I never cease to be amazed at the opportunities that God opens inviting us to share with fellow believers what He is teaching us about His heart for neighbors and nations.