Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize winner, has died. South Africa has lost its greatest son, the people have lost a father. During his long life, Mandela inspired countless individuals. Here is a collection of quotes that personify his spirit from USA Today:

1) "Difficulties break some men but make others. No axe is sharp enough to cut the soul of a sinner who keeps on trying, one armed with the hope that he will rise even in the end."

2) "It always seems impossible until it's done."

3) "If I had my time over I would do the same again. So would any man who dares call himself a man."

4) "I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles."

5) "Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people."

6) "A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of."

7) "Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do."

8) "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."

9) "For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."

10) "Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies."

11) "Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front."

12) "Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again."

13) "I hate race discrimination most intensely and in all its manifestations. I have fought it all during my life; I fight it now, and will do so until the end of my days."

14) "A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination."

10 Simple Discipleship Truths

Hello, the following article is lifted straight off Steve Murrell's blog, found at    Steve is the founding pastor of Victory Church in Manila with 105,000 members and still growing. His blog and regular entries are excellent! I highly recommend them for all pastors, church planters and fellow leaders in the upside-down kingdom.   Warmly,  Floyd McClung 

Posted by:  Posted date: November 20, 2013 | comment : 0 Comments

Last month Deborah and I were in Indonesia, Singapore, and Taiwan teaching Asian pastors, church-planters, and missionaries about discipleship and leadership. Same ole boring strokes, again. After our Sunday night session a young Indonesian leader asked, “how do you define discipleship?” Good question. Here’s my answer, and more.

1. A disciple is a person who follows Jesus.

2. Every Christian should be a disciple.

3. Every disciple should make disciples.

4. Discipleship is the process of helping others follow Jesus.

5. Discipleship is a life-long journey not a six-week class.

6. Discipleship happens best in community (small groups).

7. Men disciple men; women disciple women.

8. Evangelism and discipleship should not be separated.

9. Discipleship is relationship.

10. Jesus wants all nations to be discipled.

Making disciples is the job of every Christian every day.

Cultivating a relational discipleship culture, creating discipleship systems, and over-communicating discipleship principles was the core of my job description for over two decades as the pastor of Victory Manila. And I recommend that all of the above should be in every pastor’s job description.

Discipleship is not supposed to be complicated or confusing. In fact, it is so simple that a fisherman explained it to uneducated fishermen in two words: “Follow me.”

Are you following Him? Are you helping others follow Him? In other words, are you a disciple and are you making disciples?


My top 5 recommended books on discipleship:

Making Disciples by Ralph Moore

The Master Plan of Discipleship by Coleman

The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoffer

The Lego Principle by Joey Bonifacio

WikiChurch by Steve Murrell

5 Ways the Prosperity Gospel Is Hurting Africa

This article is from Charisma Magazine. I did not write this article but I agree with it 100%. I have traveled in Africa for 43 years in 30 countries. I have lived in South Africa since 2006. What is written in this article is one of the most needed messages in Africa Today. 

Sad African Child
The prosperity gospel isn't really helping the people of Africa. (greg westfall/Flickr/Creative Commons)

I’m not an African, but in 2008 some Nigerian friends gave me a Yoruba name (“Akinwale”) because I have been to that country so often. My visits there, along with trips to Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa and Egypt, planted a deep love for Africa in my heart. My first grandson’s arrival this year from Ethiopia made the connection even stronger.

I’m often asked to describe how God is moving in Africa today. Since I’m an optimist, I usually tell of the large churches, the passionate praise and the intense spiritual hunger that characterizes African Christianity. But there is also a dark side, and I think it’s time we addressed one of the most serious threats to faith on the continent.

I’m talking about the prosperity gospel. Of course, I know a slick version of this message is preached in the United States—and I know we are the ones who exported it overseas. I am not minimizing the damage that prosperity preaching has done in my own country. But I have witnessed how some African Christians are taking this money-focused message to new and even more dangerous extremes.

Here are five reasons the prosperity message is damaging the continent of Africa today:

1. It is mixed with occultism. Before Christianity came to Nigeria, people visited witch doctors and sacrificed goats or cows to get prosperity. They poured libations on the ground so the gods would hear their prayers. Today similar practices continue, only the juju priest has been replaced by a pastor who drives a Mercedes-Benz. I am aware of a pastor who buried a live animal under the floor of his church to win God’s favor. Another pastor asked his congregants to bring bottles of sand to church so he could anoint them; he then told the people to sprinkle the sand in their houses to bring blessings. The people who follow these charlatans are reminded that their promised windfall won’t materialize unless they give large donations.

2. It fuels greed. Any person who knows Christ will learn the joy of giving to others. But the prosperity gospel teaches people to focus on getting, not giving. At its core it is a selfish and materialistic faith with a thin Christian veneer. Church members are continually urged to sow financial seeds to reap bigger and bigger rewards. In Africa, entire conferences are dedicated to collecting offerings in order to achieve wealth. Preachers boast about how much they paid for suits, shoes, necklaces and watches. They tell their followers that spirituality is measured by whether they have a big house or a first-class ticket. When greed is preached from the pulpit, it spreads like a cancer in God’s house.

3. It feeds pride. This greedy atmosphere in prosperity churches has produced a warped style of leadership. My Kenyan friend Gideon Thuranira, editor of Christian Professional magazine, calls these men “churchpreneurs.” They plant churches not because they have a burden to reach lost souls but because they see dollar signs when they fill an auditorium with chairs. A selfish message produces bigheadedopportunists who need position, applause and plenty of perks to keep them happy. The most successful prosperity preacher is the most dangerous because he can convince a crowd that Jesus died to give you and me a Lexus.

4. It works against the formation of Christian character. The prosperity message is a poor imitation of the gospel because it leaves no room for brokenness, suffering, humility or delay. It offers an illegal shortcut. Prosperity preachers promise instant results and overnight success; if you don’t get your breakthrough, it’s because you didn’t give enough money in the offering. Jesus calls us to deny ourselves and follow Him; prosperity preaching calls us to deny Jesus and follow our materialistic lusts. There is a leadership crisis in the African church because many pastors are so set on getting rich, they can’t go through the process of discipleship that requires self-denial.

5. It actually keeps people in poverty. The government of Malawi is currently under international scrutiny because of fraud carried out by top leaders. The saddest thing about the so-called “Cashgate” scandal is that professing Christians in the administration of President Joyce Banda have been implicated. One of these people stole millions of kwacha from the government and hid the cash in a teddy bear! Most people today in Malawi live on less than $1 a day, yet their leaders have been known to buy fleets of cars and huge plots of land with money that was not theirs. Sadly, the prosperity gospel preached in Malawi has encouraged pastors and leaders to follow the same corrupt pattern. As a result, God’s people have been financially exploited.

When Jesus described false prophets as wolves in sheep’s clothing, He warned us to examine their fruit. Matthew 7:17 says, “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit” (NASB). What is the fruit of prosperity preaching?

Churches have been growing rapidly in many parts of Africa today, yet sub-Saharan Africa is the only region in the world where poverty has increased in the past 25 years. So according to the statistics, the prosperity gospel is not bringing prosperity! It is a flawed message, but I believe God will use selfless, broken African leaders to correct it.

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma and the director of the Mordecai Project. You can follow him on Twitter at @leegrady. He is preaching in Kenya this week.


Syria Refugee Crisis

More news from Syria refugees crisis. This article is taken from the website of Christian Aid.

You can give to All Nations Serve Syria project:

√ To donate in the USA, send a check made out to All Nations, and send it All Nations Support PO Box 55, Grandview, Missouri, 64030. Please attach a note that says it is for the Serve Syria project. 

√ To donate in South Africa:

Standard Bank Fish Hoek Branch Swift Code: SBZAZA JJ Branch Code: 036009 Account number: 073880310 Ref: Serve Syria

An Insider’s Glimpse into the Syrian Refugee Crisis

October 24, 2013

Many Syrian refugees who escape across the border into Lebanon end up living in ramshackle camps like this one in the Bekaa Valley.

Much has been reported about the plight of Syrian Muslims who are fleeing their country, but how has the war impacted Christian refugees? In an emotional interview with Christian Aid Mission staff, the leader of a Lebanon-based ministry shares refugee accounts that broke his heart—and gave him hope for a brighter future.

Q: How do you minister to the refugees given their very difficult circumstances and challenges?

A: Most of the time we sit and talk and we pray with them. It’s really hard. I know we can’t save the world, but we do as much as we can. We just do whatever we can. People come knocking on the door and say “Please, let us in. It’s okay; we will sit on the floor. Give us just a roof. We don’t want anything else.” Or people will say, “Do you have any clothing for us because we left Syria with nothing.” As we are able to serve meals, we do it. We try to do it weekly. If we are able to offer more food, we do it. We never provide meals according to a schedule. We never store food on the shelf. Whatever we have, we cook, and the refugees help us.

Q: What is the current situation inside Syria and with the refugees in Lebanon?

A: What’s happening now is the persecution that the Christian people are experiencing, especially in the areas of Maaloula and Aleppo. It’s a huge problem now. So they leave Syria with whatever they have on them. They just leave. A country like Lebanon is very small and there’s nothing that the government is doing to help the refugees. Where we work in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, there are no more empty spots available. The fields are full. It’s overwhelming with all the children and families. A huge disaster.

I visited one of the families. There were about 25 to 30 people. When I came in the room, I literally thought they were having the Lord’s Supper, the way they were eating. They were handing each other a slice of bread and each one was taking a piece. This is how bad off they are. In Beirut too, any house that already had one or two refugee families living there, now they have more people in the same house.

I have lived through war, I’ve lived with disasters, but I have never seen it this bad. The main thing now is to stand with believers that we know are being persecuted.

Q: How are Christians in Syria coping?

A: The hardest thing is communication. They don’t go out much. There is a big loneliness; they feel that they are alone and nobody thinks of them. They are scared and they think they are alone in this whole situation. One man said, “Someone burned the Koran and they [the media] made a big story out of it. We have people we bury every day who are Christians. Why can’t we do something about that?” It’s true we are not the kind of people who are an "eye for an eye" and a "tooth for a tooth." No. The encouraging thing is we are seeing God working, even though things are hard.

Q: Can you share with us the personal stories of some of the families?

Perhaps the greatest tragedy of the war is its effect on Syria’s children.

A: This is a very conservative number I’m saying, but I met at least 15 to 20 kids with no mom and no dad left for them. Their parents died when they were in Syria, and the children were taken out by others who were fleeing. One Christian brother in Lebanon mentioned his mom didn’t want to leave Syria because she told him, “If we leave, they’re going to take everything.” He tried to convince her and other family members to leave. He couldn’t. By the time they were talking about leaving, men came into the house and killed them all, just because they are Christians. They were wonderful believers, a wonderful family. This man lost his whole family. His mom, his dad, his grandma, and all his brothers. Nine people were killed that day.

They were killed in a part of Syria that was supposed to be safe. Any area where Christians are, they are being targeted. They [rebels] come in, they massacre people, and they leave. The same thing they did in Maaloula. They came in for two days, they massacred people, and then they left. Maaloula is an area where there are Catholic and Orthodox believers. There’s no fighting there. I don’t know. It’s hard to say where there is a safe area for Christians in Syria any more.

Q: Are the rebels targeting Christians differently than they would Alawite or Shiite?

A: Yes, because they slaughter Christians. They don’t shoot them. That’s how you know the difference.

Q: Do you recommend Christians just leave Syria?

A: In situations like this, you cannot recommend anyone leave or stay. For two reasons. When you leave, you lose everything. I remember every time we left our house during the war in Lebanon, it was broken into and people took everything. That’s really what the rebels want people to do. They want to scare people out, and when families are out, the rebels steal. That’s why they kill families, to scare the neighborhood. They want to make people leave. And at the same time if they don’t leave, they are jeopardizing their lives. And what do you do when you have two kids, three kids, babies? You don’t want to go to a place where you can’t find work, where you’re not welcome, where nobody’s doing anything to help you.

Q: What are you and your ministry doing to help the refugees? What are some specific ways that you are providing assistance to them?

A ministry in Lebanon is reaching out to both Muslim and Christian refugees to provide food packages, medicine, bedding materials, and other essentials.

A: We are opening now several camps that I know of but the only thing is we cannot open them too much to the public because we will be suddenly overwhelmed. But some of the places we are keeping for believers. So far we have more than 6,000 people who are Christians that have tents and small places to stay where they are sharing bathrooms and such. This is in the mountains in Lebanon. We are trying to help them as much as possible with food and medical assistance. The other area where we are working is in the Bekaa Valley. We have some Christians there—around 2,000 people. There are no places left in Beirut. It’s horrible there. Refugees that went to Tripoli in northern Lebanon are fleeing now because of what’s happening there between the Sunnis and the Shiites. So they are either going to Beirut or into the mountains.

Q: In your mind, do you see the refugee situation as something that is bringing many thousands, even hundreds of thousands of Muslims to Christ?

A: I wouldn’t say hundreds of thousands, but I have seen thousands personally. On a recent trip I prayed and I cried with so many people—more than in my entire life, my entire ministry. That’s for sure I can tell you. We have meetings in several churches. You see Muslims coming on Wednesdays, on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. They want to be a part of it.

One Sunday when I was there we had 200 people in a room. We said, “Okay, you know that we are Christians and we believe in Jesus and we would like to pray for you.” We shared the gospel with them. I’ve never seen so many people praying at the same time in my life, ever. All of them were Muslims. We said, “Do you want to give your life to Jesus?” They said, "Yes," and they prayed. I don’t know if it’s because we were there, but I know they need Jesus. That’s all I know. That’s the maximum we can give them.

Q: Do they tell other Muslims they are Christians, or do they keep it to themselves?

Christians face intense persecution as the war rages on in Syria.

A: It depends where, with whom. I was in Beirut visiting with one of the Syrian families. There were about 35 to 40 people in that small house. A guy came in and said, “You are the one who is converting them to Christianity.” He was angry with me and he was looking at everybody and shouting at them. That gives you an example of how they share with others what they have seen and what they have prayed. That’s how it is happening. Some people share their faith, some don’t. But a lot of them come back to us and help us out.

Q: How do you share your faith with the refugees?

A: We definitely share the gospel with them. We offer them a New Testament. If they say no, we don’t give it. Some are saying, “We don’t read.” This is when audio materials are useful. Sometimes we visit carrying nothing and say, “Hi, I’m just here to see you.” One Muslim man said to me, “Can you come and pray with my wife. I think she is going into labor.” I didn’t know what to pray for. She was in labor. I said, “We will have to take your wife to the hospital.” Of course they cannot afford it. I said, “No problem, let’s go.” So I was praying with her on the way. We got her to the hospital. She had a boy. Guess what they named him? Yes, my name.

Can you imagine? And this was a Muslim family. (choking back tears) All of this is really too much [to handle]. But God is good. We should focus on that. God is good. We need to stand next to the believers. We are there for them. We are there.

How you can help Syrian refugees:


  • For refugee families, as they have experienced the horrors of war and face immense challenges in the countries where they have relocated. Pray that their hearts will be open to hear and receive the love of Jesus Christ.
  • For encouragement and strength for the Lebanese ministry workers who feel emotionally overwhelmed.
  • For Christians who have chosen to remain in Syria—for their safety, for God’s provision to meet their physical and emotional needs, and that they will be lights for Christ in the midst of the darkness that surrounds them.


Material Needs

  • Food package for one family for a week ($80)
  • Mattress, blanket, pillow ($50)
  • Shoes and clothing ($10)
  • Medicine ($5)


  • Plastic tarp ($300-$500). Families use this covering to waterproof their tents, which are made of wood and scrap metal.
  • Heaters ($30-$40) depending on whether the appliance uses diesel fuel or wood. Cold weather will be setting in soon. The ministry is requesting at least 200 heaters, one per family.

Evangelistic Outreach

  • New Testaments/CDs ($5 each). Believers still living in Syria would like to use these materials for evangelism among the rebels.
  • Monthly living expenses for gospel workers in Syria

One Third of Syrian Christians Gone From Syria

One Third of Syrian Christians are gone, says cleric.

Oct 24 2013Oct 24 2013
Patriarch claims more than 450,000 have fled, but opinions vary
Christians have fled on mass from their homes in places such as the historic city of Maaloula.
Almost a third of Syria’s Christians have left since the start of the civil war, according to one of the country’s senior clerics.
Syria’s most senior Catholic leader Gregorios III Laham, the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch, told the BBC that more than 450,000 of Syria’s estimated 1.75 million Christians have gone.
However, he said he remained sure that Syria’s Christian community would survive. The precise number of Christians in Syria is open to debate, as is the number of those who have left the country.
A spokesperson for Open Doors International, an organisation which supports Christians under pressure for their faith, says he thinks the figure for those who’ve left may be significantly lower.
There is some debate about the number of Christians in Syria at the beginning of the civil war. Suggestions that Christians amounted to around 8 per cent of the population are thought optimistic by some. And of those Syrians known to have left the country – whether to refugee camps in neighbouring countries, or further afield – the percentage of Christians is believed to be lower than 8 per cent.
Patriarch Gregorios spoke at the London launch of a new report on Thursday (October 17), which claimed that the persecution of Christians is worsening globally.
Catholic international aid agency Aid to the Church in Need’s 2013 Persecuted and Forgotten? claims that an exodus of Christians from many countries threatens Christianity’s status as a worldwide religion. The worst problems, according to the report, are found in North Korea and Eritrea.
“The principal finding of the report is that in two-thirds of the countries where persecution of Christians is most severe, the problems have become arguably even worse,” said John Pontifex, one of the report’s authors. “In fact the Church’s very survival in some parts – notably the Middle East – is now at stake.”
The report suggests that the Arab Spring has turned into the ‘Christian Winter’, with political upheavals proving particularly costly for the Christian minority in the Middle East.
“From all accounts, the incidents of persecution are now apparently relentless and worsening; churches being burnt, Christians under pressure to convert, mob violence against Christian homes, abduction and rape of Christian girls, anti-Christian propaganda in the media and from Government, discrimination in schools and the workplace… The list goes on,” said Pontifex.

How Not to Respond to the Syrian Crisis

I just returned from a two-week visit to some of the Syrian refugee camps in the Middle East. Before I describe seven ways not to respond to the Syrian crisis, allow me to share a few impressions from my visits with the refugees themselves.   I am working though some deep emotions from the heart-rending stories of tragedy and loss I heard as I met with the refugee families.

I visited refugee camps in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, and home visits in Mafraq and Amman, Jordan, as well as a visit to Zaatari, the second largest refugee camp in the world.

I met men who fought with the Free Syria Army and were recovering from wounds inflicted in the fighting. I "talked" with one man who survived a bullet wound to the head. The bullet entered his forehead and exited the back of his head. He is paralyzed, cannot speak, and yet he can understand everything. His wife sat beside him holding his hand. In that moment I did not see "a Muslim" but another human being, a man with a family he cannot feed and wounds he cannot get medical attention for.

In the same crowded apartment building of 14 flats, all occupied by refugee families, I met two brothers, both of whom had recently escaped from prison in Syria. Both brothers had bullet scars and shrapnel wounds. One of the brothers could not lift his left arm because he was tortured in prison - Syrian soldiers cut the tendons and nerves in his arm and wrist while he was held captive.

I sat with refugee families in tents - they did know where the next meal is coming from. I listened as one man said he wants to work but cannot because of his refugee status. That is true for several hundred thousand Syrian men, many from middle-class backgrounds, who are now refugees in Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.  They are stateless, hopeless, and lost. And it is illegal for them to take a wage-earning job in their host country.

For every refugee the United Nations counts in their official statistics, there is at least one more refugee who is unregistered. Many of the refugees are afraid of registering for fear of spies turning over their identities to the Assad regime in Syria.

It is hard to assimilate all I witnessed and heard in those two weeks. I asked God to allow me to feel what He feels and to see what He sees. Perhaps no one outside Syria can really understand what the Syrian refugees have been through. But still, I asked God to touch my heart in a deep and lasting way. He is still doing that in me.

I am a man of action, so what I saw and felt is meaningless to me if I don't do something with it. I will act. I have come back to Cape Town filled with passion and purpose. I feel called to mobilize as many as I can to get involved, and to give if they cannot go.

What was most striking to me in my talks with the refugees was their spiritual hunger and openness. They longed to know God has not abandoned them. They smiled with sincere appreciation when I spoke to them about His love for them, when I told them He spared their lives, and that He has a purpose for them. I reminded them that He is a creator, and He will create a new life and a new beginning for them. I compared it to being “born again.” No one objected when we spoke of the love of God revealed in Jesus.

Several million Syrian people have been forced from their homes, their land and their families because of the war. Some of the families told me about their houses being struck by bombs while they were in them. They lived to tell their story. Other families described the physical pain and horrible discomfort caused by chemical weapons. One mother asked for prayer for her baby boy named Sultan. Please pray for him, would you? And pray for Jesus to reveal Himself to Sultan's family.

More than one family had TVs on while we sat with them, blaring continually with live news reports from the fighting in Syria. Their TV's are on night and day. They watch as the “rebels" fight against the Syrian army in their home towns. Places that were names on the news to me previously became more real when I met people from places like Homs, Damascus, Aleppo, and Daraa - where the revolution began.

Can you imagine sitting with a family, while in the background a TV showed violent, bloody scenes of gun battles, RPG's being fired from wrecked buildings, and snipers killing unsuspecting enemy soldiers? It was disturbing. It hit me that they were watching news reports about their family members and hometowns.

Most of the refugees grieve without knowing how to grieve. Their culture does not allow them to mourn their losses. Except for the first few hours after death, they cannot acknowledge pain when they lose their fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons to the fighting. When waves of grief overcome them, they can only cry alone with no one to talk to.

The refugees struggle with feelings of abandonment by the rest of the world. They feel alone in their struggle against a ruthless regime. Hopelessness was tangible in every conversation.

At the same time, in every interaction with the refugees, they were incredibly generous and hospitable.

One thing is clear to me above everything else: there is great spiritual hunger and openness to the good news of Jesus. There are several million Syrian people suffering. They experience hunger, hopelessness, and confusion. I was overwhelmed with the desperate longing by the Syrian people I met to be listened to, to be helped, and to hear the good news of God's love for them.

Their hospitality amazed me.

In every home, in every shop, and in every single contact with the refugees, I experienced warm hospitality and generosity. I witnessed amazing grace in the midst of huge tragedy and pain. Everyone we visited served us what food they had. They gave us coffee, tea, cakes, hot meals, and soft drinks - at great sacrifice to themselves. I was humbled and deeply touched by their kindness to me, a stranger.

No one turned down prayer. Everyone listened eagerly to the news that God had not forgotten them. They joined us respectfully as I prayed for them in Jesus name.

We have to respond while there is still time! This moment of opportunity and need will not last for long. When the immediate crisis is past, people will settle in new countries, or return to Syria to rebuild their homes, and then the opportunity to minister the love of Jesus will not be the same. Many of the refugees will melt into the local culture. Already thousands of them are doing their best to move out of the camps and into the towns and cities in their host countries, such as Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq.

We have to respond while the people are open! There are hundreds of thousands of refugee children. The UN is overwhelmed by the crisis. UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) leaders describe the tragedy as beyond any other faced by the United Nations in recent memory.

What can be done? You can give financially to help us send teams and provide food for the refugees. We have more volunteers in All Nations lining up, willing to go. We have teams who already there, working with the refugees.

Short-term teams can go now to the camps. We can play with their children, listen to their stories, start schools, teach English, hire Arabic speaking translators, help them get medical assistance, and pray with them. We can share the good news of Jesus.

Every Syrian refugee has a name, a journey, and a story to tell. If nothing else, we can take a packet of food to a family, then sit and listen, and care for them. We can weep with them. And we can share the love of God with them.

Seven Conclusions: how to respond and how not to respond to the Syrian crisis:

1.    The conflict in Syria has created an urgent, unique moment of opportunity. This crisis has an expiry date!  It is urgent that we respond now, before the window of opportunity closes. Perhaps we only have 6-12 months to respond to the Syrian refugee crisis. Our response must not be a political response, though we all have our political convictions, but a spiritual and practical one. We, as followers of Christ, offer something no government or UN agency can offer. We must provide aid to those suffering, and we must do so in the name of Jesus, with prayer and the good news of Jesus.

2.    Syria as a nation will most likely open to outside help for rebuilding their country once the war ends. We should plan now to be part of that response. There will most likely be ongoing tensions and fighting between various Islamic factions within Syria for many years to come, but the danger involved must not stop us from being involved. Danger is normal for those who get involved in crisis situations.

3.    When we respond to the Syrian refugees, we have accepted an invitation by God to be part of him “shaking all nations, that they might seek after the desire of all nations.” Haggai 2

4.    I learned on this trip that the Arab Spring began in Indonesia in 1996, not two years ago in Tunisia. The Arab Spring is bigger and has been going on longer than I realizedIt began with the fall of Suharto, the world's longest serving dictator in the world's largest Muslim country. It was students demonstrating on the streets of Jakarta in massive numbers that forced his resignation.  The "Arab Spring" continues to break out around the Muslim world. The Arab Spring is a spiritual shaking from God. It has shaken Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Malaysia, Somalia, Lebanon, Jordan, Sudan/South Sudan, Iran, and now Syria. It is as significant as the fall of communism in Eastern Europe.

5.    The Arab Spring is a spiritual movement and radical terrorism is political response to a spiritual phenomenon. If we see the Middle East through the grid of politics, of what America or the United Nations should or should not do, we will miss what God is up to. We must not think in terms of "radical terrorists" or "extremists" or the "threat to the West…" Much of the Islamic terrorism in the world today is a false-spiritual response to a massive turning of millions of Muslims to Jesus. It is Satan’s way of distracting us, of filling our hearts with fear, anger, and unbelief. We are living in the time of the greatest harvest ever among Muslims coming to faith in Jesus. Of course, Satan is not happy about that – so he is stirring up anger and hatred in the hearts of extremists to act violently, and thus to cause a polarization, a temptation to people in the West to respond in the same spirit. Dont fall for it!  This is a moment in history catalyzed by God to create deep hunger and spiritual crisis in the hearts of people in the Muslim world. It represents a historical turning point in the history of Islam. Respond with prayer, love, and faith, not fear, retaliation or suspicion. See and be impressed with what God is up to, not what the enemy is doing.

6.    To be fully understood, the Syrian refugee crisis must be seen in the greater context of the "Arab Spring" and what is happening all over the Muslim world. Though there is a terrible war in Syria with grave injustices on both sides of the conflict, it is happening because God has seen fit to allow the status quo to be unsettled in the Muslim world. Many Muslims are asking why Muslims are killing Muslims? The crisis in Syria is a severe spiritual blow to Islam that represents a split in the heart of Islam, a division between moderate and radical streams of belief. There is a major spiritual conflict/divide taking place within Islam, and this divide represents a unique moment to share the love of Jesus with Muslims.

7.    Finally, we must not buy into the dualistic, Western mindset that says we should not "take advantage" of people in crisis situations by offering to pray for them, or sharing the Gospel with them, or inviting them to faith in Jesus. Of course, we should not pressure people or manipulate them into "making decisions" based on what we do for them. But we must follow Jesus' example and obey His command to announce the good news of the kingdom and to heal them. Sharing the love of Jesus, telling the good news of forgiveness and hope in Christ is not manipulation, but providing the spiritual hope people long for. Sadly, I have witnessed relief groups separating their good deeds from the good news of Jesus in my 46 years of serving Jesus among the poor. I am convinced that hopelessness and Christ-less ness go hand in hand, and the core of what we do as followers of Christ is discipling people to faith in Jesus, the hope of the world. There is a great opportunity to disciple people to faith who in turn start simple churches in the camps. The great commission and the great commandment go hand-in-hand - the Syrians are longing for those who can walk a road with them to faith and to reproduce that faith in many others.


Why I am against American intervention in Syria

1. We are not the world's police. America cannot and should not seek to police the world's moral and military problems. There are even more serious cases of oppression and cruelty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Darfur, and North Korean - where does it stop? 2. Jesus' command to be peacemakers applies to governments not just individuals.

3. Many more innocent people will die.

4. It will enlarge the war that is now spreading to other countries in the Middle East. It will draw Iran more deeply into the conflict, and could cause acts of violence against other nations.

5. It will hinder the spread of the good news of Jesus.

6. It will further endanger the lives of indigenous believers in Syria and other Middle Eastern countries.

7. It will disrupt and bring disrepute to thousands of missionaries, Christian aid workers, church planters and pastors who serve in the name of Jesus.

8. It will make America and it's actions "the issue" rather than the atrocities committed by the Syrian government.

9. It will increase hate and fear instead of love and faith for Arabs and Palestinians; people will take sides against those we are called to reach with the good news.

10. Syrian refugees are suffering. The attention of the world should be upon those that can be helped In the refugee camps. There are 1.9 million Syrian refugees, and almost 1,000,000 of them are children!! While we debate about America's actions the poor continue to suffer.

What About Teaching and Preaching in Disciple-Making Movements?

Check out for great resources on making disciples and church planting.


“What about Teaching and Preaching?” is the number one question I receive when talking about Disciple-Making Movements, the Discovery Bible Study and Discovery Groups (which are inductive and self correcting through a coaching process); and to the uninitiated, do not appear to have teachers or preachers. There are several aspects to this question I want to explore with you in this post.

A certain percentage of those who ask this question are really saying, “I feel that teaching and preaching are my gifts, and I see no place for me in the Discovery process.” The problem with this response is that the question is focused on the teaching/preacher, not the students who need to know God. I call this the talking-head syndrome. People who have this syndrome think they are such good orators/teachers/preachers that the sound of their voices and the content of their messages will somehow miraculously become permanently imbedded in the minds of those who listen. They will proof text their position, somehow thinking that modern teaching and preaching were the norm in the First Century.

If they would take even a moment to look at the ministry of Jesus or Paul, they would realize that lecturing was a very small part of their ministries. From Scripture, it seems that they would spend days in direct contact with people making disciples for every few minutes of lecture. It is not that they didn’t lecture; it is that they didn’t just lecture. They prayed together, meet needs together, when on ministry trips together and separately, reported what was accomplished, dialogued with each other and the opposition, taught others what they were learning, and obeyed (put into practice) what they were learning. The idea that teaching and preaching were just talking did not even occur to them and certainly was not their usual practice.

The following diagram is from page 95 of How the Brain Learns by David Sousa, 2001. It is based on research done by the NLT Institute of Alexandria, Virginia.

Note, that if one just lectures, then there is only a 5% retention of information after 24 hours. This goes down even further as more days pass. On the same page, Dr. Sousa also writes, “Lecture continues to be the most prevalent teaching mode in secondary and higher education, despite overwhelming evidence that it produces the lowest degree of retention for most learners.”

Modern teaching and preaching are lecture styles that cannot and do not produce Disciples, regardless of how good the orator feels about his or her skills or content. There is certainly a place for lecture, but it is minor in the overall process of making a disciple.

Disciple-Makers cannot just be teachers and preachers. They must spend significant time with their potential disciples in dialogue, demonstration, encouragement to teach others what they are learning, and exhorting them to obey (do) what they are learning. This is how one effectively moves knowledge and practice from one person to another and one generation to another.

In the typical teaching/preaching setting, listeners are encouraged to do three things.

Listen to the Scripture as it is read, which may or may not be heard Listen to an explanation of the Scripture, which may or may not be understood Listen to how they might apply the Scripture to their own lives or circumstances, which may or may not be obeyed To enhance retention, the teacher/preacher will use lots of examples and stories, and sometimes, guilt. But the reality is that most listeners cannot tell anyone about what they heard, unless they took notes and refer to those notes. Within a few weeks no one remembers anything that was said, unless it was a good joke or story they told to others several times. There is zero accountability for the content or the behavior changes it may require. Even the teacher/preacher is hard pressed to tell us in any detail what they spoke about in the last few weeks.

Modern teaching and preaching has failed to produce obedient Disciples of Jesus.

The methodology of Disciple-Making Movements (DMM) was designed to produce the highest levels of understanding, retention, obedience, and reproduction of the process. It all starts with a committed and obedient Disciple of Jesus who is also a Disciple-maker. By the way, one cannot be a committed and obedient Disciple of Jesus and not make Disciples. A Disciple is one who knows and follows (obeys) the teachings of Jesus, which includes the command to “make Disciples”.

The DMM process is:

A well-trained Disciple is sent to a new area to start work. (Teaching and practice is involved) The Disciple practices his/her life in the new community, being conspicuously spiritual while meeting felt needs in the community. (Felt needs may include business) The spiritual life and ministry of the Disciple attracts those who may be spiritually seeking. Casual Discover Bible Studies are introduced and the seeker is encouraged to share these with family, friends, neighbors, and workmates. For example: I verbally introduce a passage of Scripture and ask the seeker what he/she thinks. Then I ask them to share it with family/friends/neighbors/workmates to see what they think. The person who engages the process and introduces me to their family/friends/neighbors/workmates is called a Person of Peace. (These studies may be on a variety of topics of interest to the audience: family, parenting, debt, wealth, and etc.) As interest in the topics increase, there comes a time when it is appropriate to move from an informal to a formal Discovery Bible Study within the context of a Discovery Group. By this point the Disciple-maker should know who the spiritual leader of the group is. It may or may not be the Person of Peace. The Disciple-maker then approaches the spiritual leader of the family/group/neighbors/workmates, and suggests that he/she should lead the group in discovering more about God. Upon acceptance, the Disciple-maker begins a relationship with the spiritual leader and coaches him/her to lead a Discovery Group. Coaching includes teaching and the practice of skills until they are perfected. At this point you may want to review Small Groups that have the DNA of a Gospel Planting Movement. The Discovery Group takes people from not knowing God to falling in love with Jesus. Later, the same process is used to master any topic in the Bible. It establishes the DNA of the emerging church. Here is an outline with the DNA elements in parenthesis: Ask: What are you thankful for this week? (Prayer/Worship) Ask: What has stressed you out this week? What do you need for things to be better? (Intercession) Ask: What are the needs of the people in your community? (Ministry) Ask: How can we help each other with the needs we expressed? (Ministry) Ask: What did we talk about last week? (Review/Accountability) Ask: Did you change anything in your life as a result of last week’s story? (Accountability/Obedience) Ask: Did you get a chance to share the story with [the person they identified]? (Accountability/Evangelism) Ask: We identified several needs last week and planned to meet those needs. How did it go? (Accountability/Ministry) Say: Let’s see what the Bible teaches us this week. Read this week’s passage. (Scripture) Ask for someone to retell the passage in his or her own words. Like they were telling a friend who wasn’t there. (Understanding/Evangelism) Ask the Group: Do you agree with their retelling? Is there something they added or left out that they shouldn’t have? As long as the group doesn’t miss a key component of the passage, continue. If they miss something, read the passage again. If someone states something that isn’t in the passage, ask, “Where did you find [what they said] in this passage?” Reread the passage, if necessary. (Priesthood of Believers/Group Correction/Understanding) Ask: What does this passage teach us about God? (Discovery/Scripture/Priesthood of Believers) Ask: What does this passage teach us about humanity? (Discovery/Scripture/Priesthood of Believers) Ask: If we believe this passage is from God, how must we change? (Discovery/Scripture/Obedience/Priesthood of Believers) Ask: Who are you going to share this passage with before we meet again? (Evangelism/Replication) Ask: When do you want to meet again? This is a practical question. You will never get someone to commit to a 26-week study. But, you can give them the option to meet again next week. If they are really seeking and if the meeting is filling a need, they will tell you they want to meet again. This process is repeated every week until the group becomes Believers and then Disciples in obedience to the Word, which will include baptism and is when we consider a church to be established. Maturing of the church continues with new Bible studies designed to take the church to reproduction. Now, let’s revisit the learning pyramid.

Lecture (teaching) takes place between the Disciple-maker and the seeker who will lead the group. Reading the Scripture for the next lesson takes place between the Disciple-maker and the seeker who leads the group. Reading to the group/listening to Scripture takes place in the group. Demonstration of the process takes place between the Disciple-maker and the seeker who leads the group, and the group practices it weekly. The group is led in discussion of the Word using the questions given by the Disciple-maker. Note that the group leader does not teach, but simply leads a discussion around the Word of God. The seeker/leader and the group practice the process weekly. They also practice what they have learned with others inside and outside the group. Every week the group members are encouraged to share/teach other what they are learning and to put into immediate practice (obey) what they are learning. I hope you can see how every learning process is taken advantage of in the development of the Disciple-Making Movement methodology.

Now, let’s compare the traditional method of preaching/teaching to discipleship to Disciple-making.


Disciple-Making Movements Scripture Scripture Explanation Understanding Application Obedience

Our purpose is not to just teach or preach. Our purpose is to teach and preach with our words, our lives, and our practices in such a way that others can do the same as they imitate us in their groups and among their family/friends/neighbors/work. More than explanation, we want understanding. More than application, we want obedience.

Teaching and preaching are much more than lectures that exhort people to change their behavior. Real teaching and preaching are part of a Disciple-making process that engages the lives of a community, and bring real hope and change to that community. Success is found when the community does the same thing again with others. The real teacher in this process is the Holy Spirit, as seekers are taught to listen and learn from God as they are guided in exploring Scripture.


David Watson Irving, Texas Be Sociable, Share!


5 Broken Views of Discipleship and How to Fix Them

I'm grateful for the great articles from Terry Moeller at Acts 29.  Terry consistently passes on the most consistently helpful articles on leadership, church and discipleship I have come across. The following article by Ed Stetzer is another winner. See

by Ed Stetzer 

There is a lot of talk about discipleship these days — and it is about time. Jesus seemed to think discipleship was a big deal, putting it as the heart — and the verb — of the Great Commission to "make disciples of all nations." Yet, it seems discipleship has fallen on hard times in many churches in the West — for example, English-speaking places like the U.S., Canada, Australia, and England where there are Christians who are just not as desperate and committed as their sisters and brothers in the Two-Thirds World. I would go so far as to say that our discipleship model is broken. I would like to suggest some areas where we are broken and hopefully provide some solutions about how to fix them.

1. We equate discipleship with religious knowledge.

While I don't think one can appropriately grow without seeking more biblical knowledge, many times believers reduce the discipleship process to, "Read this. Study this. Memorize this. Good to go." This is unfortunate.

"The point is not information, but Christ-like transformation."

Instead, discipleship is to be more like Jesus. Christ-like transformation is the goal, as we are "to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers" (Romans 8:29). The point is not information, but Christ-like transformation. And, that means it is not about knowledge in general, but about knowing Jesus better. Trying to be like Jesus, without the power of Jesus, dishonors Jesus.

2. We try to program discipleship.

Discipleship is not a six-week course. It requires both the pursuit of knowledge and intentional action. Too many offer a book or a class when what is needed is a life.

Instead, when Jesus made disciples, He brought them along as He ministered to people. I'm currently discipling a new believer, and we're actually doing ministry together — instead of me just telling him about it. The good news is that the research tells us people want this. In fact, in a recent LifeWay Research study, we found that a large majority of those who have previously attended a small group of some kind, but who are not attending now, would consider attending a new group, but they want to meet with their group more often than just once a week for bible study. People are looking for meaningful, shared-life relationships, not just a discipleship class.

3. We equate discipleship with our preaching.

I'm just going to say it: Pastors, move beyond your arrogance and stop thinking your preaching is enough to be the church's discipleship strategy. This is not just my opinion. Recent research done by LifeWay Research indicates that 56% of pastors surveyed believe that their weekly sermon, or another one of their teaching times such as Sunday evenings/Wednesday evenings, was the most important discipling ministry in the church. While it is great to see the recent renaissance of Bible-based preaching, along with it we have to jettison the idea that "If people just listen to my sermons, they will grow spiritually."

"Discipleship is not a Sunday event, it is a daily commitment."

Instead, discipleship is a daily process. Pastors, we have to develop more robust discipleship plans than just our weekly messages. Discipleship is not a Sunday event, it is a daily commitment.

4. We think that we will grow without effort.

For many, they think that God saved them and now they should just go to church and maybe stay away from the really big sins. They are unintentional in tending to their spiritual growth. Sadly we have not done much to change this.

Instead, we need to understand that the scripture teaches that each person is to not be a passive spectator, but rather to "work out your own salvation" (Phil. 2:12). Discipleship takes every believer's intentional effort. Yes, effort. Believers must take steps to grow, and that is in line with grace.

Notice that this passage does not say "work on your own salvation" or "work toward" it. You cannot. It is by grace and through faith. However, as a believer, you do take effort to grow—but that does not earn you a relationship with God, it just puts you in the right place where God can grow you as a believer, saved by grace. As Dallas Willard has explained, "Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning."

5. We don't offer practical steps.

Changing a church's consumer culture requires an intentional discipleship plan and strategy. We are often intentional about our preaching schedule; why, then, are we not intentional about a discipleship strategy?

Instead, be unapologetic that you want to encourage people to get 1) grounded in their faith, 2) consistent in the word, 3) in a small group with others, whether that looks like a weekly Bible study group, a missional community, a Sunday School class, or something else altogether. Give people steps and people with whom they can take those steps. Conclusion

Assuming your discipleship plan is biblically grounded, the specifics of your plan are not nearly as important as implementing one and communicating it well. Heralding a strategy as the way to become a disciple would be arrogant, but each church should explain its discipleship strategy as "our church's way of discipleship."

Identifying the challenges of genuine discipleship and committing to a process that works through them are the first and necessary steps to cultivating a church filled with on-mission disciples.

(This article first appeared in the April/May 2013 issue of Outreach Magazine.)

By Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer is President of LifeWay Research and LifeWay’s Missiologist in Residence.

Continual, Vigorous Church Planting

“The vigorous, continual planting of new congregations is the single most crucial strategy for 1) the numerical growth of the Body of Christ in any city, and 2) the continual corporate renewal and revival of the existing churches in a city. Nothing else--not crusades, outreach programs, para-church ministries, growing mega-churches, congregational consulting, nor church renewal processes--will have the consistent impact of dynamic, extensive church planting. This is an eyebrow raising statement. But to those who have done any study at all, it is not even controversial”. (Tim Keller Redeemer Presbyterian Church Feb. 2002 )

The Gift of Rejection

God uses rejection to shape our inner world. John 6:60-71 records a time when some of the disciples of Jesus rejected him: "Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” 61 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. 65 And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father. 66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. 67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?

68 But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” 71 He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve."

Rejection creates two character strengths when we respond correctly:

  1. Toughness
  2. Tenderness

Leaders cannot lead in the fear of the Lord without toughness to keep going when people turn away from them, and tenderness to those who reject them as they leave. Rejection is so important in the development of leader’s lives, that if we do not bring about our own rejection through bad choices and lack of wisdom, God will bring it about for us. Regardless, God uses rejection to shape our character and prepare us to be the men and women He wants us to be.

Has someone important to you rejected or betrayed you? Have you considered the possibility that this is God’s doing? Jesus suffered rejection. Should we expect anything less as his followers?

Why Jesus' followers rejected him – looking deeper in verses 60-71 in John 6:

  1. hard sayings of Jesus - vs 60
  2. they didn't understand him - vs 60
  3. complaining by some infected the hearts of others - vs 61
  4. they took up offenses - vs 61
  5. seeing in the natural what they could not see in the Spirit - vs 62
  6. flesh cannot understand the spirit - vs 62
  7. unbelief - vs 64
  8. betrayal - vs 64
  9. the spirit was not drawing them - vs 65
  10. the devil was at work - vs 70

Fallen, broken human beings reject one another. The pain of rejection goes deep. The lie of rejection is that we have to withdraw from others to protect ourselves. But God has a different purpose for rejection. He uses it. At times he may even cause it. Does this shock you? Do not be surprised that God will orchestrate relationships that are painful in order to test you and teach you and mold your character.


To toughen us. To turn us to himself. To produce godly determination in our character. To teach us not to fear what people say or do, to impart to us a godly backbone of steel. God needs men and women who will not give up when things are hard, who will not sulk and whine and turn back when others do. God uses human rejection to produce divine desire and determination in our character.

To soften us. If we respond right to those who reject us, we do two things at once: we forgive them and we keep going. We learn to forgive as we forge ahead. Toughness without tenderness is rude and uncaring. It is harshness. It is rejection in response to rejection. But those who embrace rejection as the gift of God, learn to forgive those who reject them and to continue to obey God 

One of the greatest pictures of rejection and resulting tenderness and toughness in the Bible is when Joseph forgave his brothers, the very brothers who plotted to kill him, who sold him into slavery, who were jealous of their father's blessing in his life. When Joseph met his brothers again after many years, he was able to forgive them. And lead them without fear or favor – all while maintaining a tender and forgiving spirit.

Are you in the midst of a rejection test orchestrated by God? Have you blamed it on people but failed to see what God was up to? Perhaps your test of rejection took place many years ago – it is not too late to go back to the point of pain, to forgive and to take hold once again of God’s purposes in your life. It is never too hard and never too late with God.


Ten Functions of an Apostolic Team

Apostolic team defined: “a band of men and women called together by God to advance the kingdom and glorify God by making disciples of lost people and planting and multiplying churches”. Romans 15:7-20

The primary difference between elders serving in a local church and an apostolic team is vision and function. Elders serve by equipping, discipling and overseeing the members of a local church. Apostolic teams focus on pioneering amongst those who have not yet heard the good news. Apostolic teams give oversight to pioneering movements; they cultivate a set of core values that empower such a movement.

Local church elders care for the flock under their charge; an apostolic team does the same thing but also cultivates a church planting culture of faith and vision to reach those who have never heard the good news. A local church eldership can grow into an apostolic team in time if they cultivate apostolic values and vision, and recognize and affirm apostles and prophets to lead the team and lay foundations in their movement.

Apostolic teams give oversight to pioneering church planting movements; they cultivate a set of core values that empower such a movement.

Apostolic teams are focused. They are not satisfied with just overseeing the affairs of a local church. They burn with a desire to plant churches and reach those outside the influence of the gospel, especially those who have never heard of God’s love in Christ.

Apostolic teams are not apostolic because the team members are prophets or apostles. They are apostolic because they have a vision to plant churches where the gospel has not yet been proclaimed. You can be an apostle by gifting and fail to fulfill the purpose of your gift. Apostles are pioneers by calling, but they start new churches to fulfill their calling.

I have a very simple way of defining apostolic teams: they do what apostles did in the book of Acts. They preach the gospel, make disciples for Christ, plant churches and appoint and oversee elders of local churches. They believe God for the impossible and pull down Satan’s strongholds amongst the unreached and the unchurched. They suffer and sacrifice for what they believe. In short, they win, gather, and multiply disciples and churches for Jesus – especially where people are unchurched and unreached.

Ten functions of an apostolic team:

• Impart core values to empower the movement – Acts 2-:17-32 

• Inspire a common vision - 1 Corinthians 3:5-17 

• Model what they believe – 1 Thessalonians 1:5-16, 1 Corinthians 4:16

• Equip & empower others for ministry – 2 Timothy 2:2, Ephesians 4 

• Guard against compromise – 1 Timothy 6:20

• Strengthen people’s hearts as they live radically for God – Philippians 4:2, 6-7

• Cultivate a culture transparency and accountability – Philippians 2:1-11

• Facilitate hearing God in His word – 2 Timothy 3:16

• Listen to the spirit together – Acts 13:1-3

• Learn & grow together – Luke 10:17-20




Spiritual Fathers and Mothers in the Lord

There is a cry in many people’s hearts for someone to father or mother them. There are many spiritual orphans who have never had the opportunity to be loved into wholeness. Fatherlessness is a curse on a nation, and the result of that curse is wounded people carrying an orphan spirit.

The pain in the lives of spiritual orphans empowers five lies:

• The Rejection Lie – I must protect myself from others

• The Fear Lie – I must hide myself from others

• The Performance Lie – I must prove myself to others

• The Blame Lie – I must defend myself from others

• The Control Lie – I must manage myself and others

Spiritual fathers and mothers are mature fathers and mothers because they are not controlled by these lies, nor do they fall into the trap of modifying the behavior of those who believe these lies. They go for the heart. They know that lies are empowered by pain and that Jesus is the truth to heal the pain and dispel the lies.

Fathers and mothers in the Lord do five things well*:

• Spiritual Fathers and Mothers Enable Others to Act – They foster collaboration and build life-giving teams. They actively involve others. They understand that mutual respect is what sustains extraordinary efforts; they strive to create an atmosphere of trust and dignity, of faith and vision. They strengthen others by sharing information and providing choice. Their give their own power away, making each person feel capable and powerful.

• Spiritual Mothers and Fathers Inspire a Common Vision – They inspire people to believe they can make a difference. They envision the future, creating an ideal and unique image of what their spiritual family can become. Through their passionate appeals and quiet persuasion, they enlist others in the dream. They breathe life into the shared vision and get people to see the exciting future possibilities.

• Fathers and Mothers Challenge the Status Quo – They search for opportunities to change the status quo. They look for innovative was to improve their church. They are learners and they encourage others to ask questions and think for themselves. They are always looking for what God wants to teach them. They experiment and take risks. And since risk taking involves mistakes and failure, they accept the inevitable disappointments as learning opportunities. They believe there are no failures, just learning.

• Spiritual Fathers and Mothers Model the Way – They create standards of common values and then set an example for others to follow. They establish values about how members of the community and staff should be treated. Because complex change can overwhelm and stifle action, they celebrate small wins. They unravel or remove bureaucracy, put up signposts for the way forward, and create opportunities for victory. They celebrate failure if people try, and rejoice in little obediences as the way to get to big obediences.

• Spiritual Mothers and Fathers Encourage the Heart – They provide opportunities for healing wounded hearts. They get extraordinary things done in their church or movement by doing lots of hard work based on grace, not performance. They keep hope and determination alive. They honor contributions that individuals make. And because every spiritual family needs to share in the rewards of their efforts, they celebrate accomplishments. They make everyone feel like a hero.

There are seven reflection questions that allow us to assess our level of maturity as spiritual fathers and mothers:

• Does our leadership and discipleship restrict or liberate people?

• Does it lead to conformity or does it promote creativity?

• Does it bring dependence on us or on God?

• Does it produce servility or servanthood?

• Does it build on rules or grace?

• Does it undermine or build a person's confidence?

• Does it produce fear or faith?

In closing, consider Paul’s message to the Corinthians about being a spiritual father or mother:

“I'm not writing all this as a neighborhood scold just to make you feel rotten. I'm writing as a father to you, my children. I love you and want you to grow up well, not spoiled. There are a lot of people around who can't wait to tell you what you've done wrong, but there aren't many fathers willing to take the time and effort to help you grow up. It was as Jesus helped me proclaim God's Message to you that I became your father. I'm not, you know, asking you to do anything I'm not already doing myself.” 1 Corinthians 4:14-16 The Message

In the NKJV translation of verse 15 it says, “...though you have ten thousand instructors in Christ...”

The Greek word used for instructor is a word used for those who supervise children until they reach adulthood. Paul is saying the Corinthians have had a lot of baby sitters but it’s time for them to grow up, and the key to that is having a spiritual father or mother in their lives.

Spiritual fathers and mothers are not instructors for spiritual babies. They are fathers and mothers in the Lord who know God.

*NOTE FROM FLOYD: I am indebted to Larry Kreider for his book, The Cry for Spiritual Mothers and Fathers. I have adapted the five characteristics of spiritual mothers and fathers from the book, The Leadership Challenge, by Posner and Kouzes. I have written more extensively on spiritual fathering and mothering in my book, The Father Heart of God, and in You See Bones – I See an Army.

Working With a "Second"

A few thoughts...about working with "seconds" - number two leaders: - choose seconds to start with who share the same vision and values - share your big dreams and ideas with him/her and ask them how to see dreams happen, ask for advise for next steps, then don't pull sudden changes once you've done that - "blow a steady note on the trumpet of vision" - stay steady and stable... no sudden outbursts or radical shifts; to do that damages trust - you lean into their strengths - take the "strength finders" test together - with your wives...very important to hear objectively what each others strengths are, gives you common language to talk about yourselves - you ask for their help in how to work as a team - what would they like as a team? what are their dreams for a team? - commit to serve their growth to the next level - ask and find out how to serve them, on their terms not yours - honor them publicly - acknowledge your weaknesses - you don't do all the talking - don't use anger to get your way - don't attack them or put them down when they hurt you or let you down - they're not perfect - "fellowship" your problems, i.e., have a cup of coffee weekly to chat things through. that also prevents problems happening - pursue him/her when there is conflict: don't bury it and move on, don't withdraw - don't use "blame" as a coping tactic when you are frustrated with their weaknesses - don't spiritualize conflicts on the team: learn good, honest communication skills but don't blame the devil - talk about what he/she can do to appeal to a higher authority if you sin and don't repent - celebrate victories together!

Facts About Syria

(CNN) -- Syria is a Middle Eastern country sharing a border with Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey. The Syrian uprising began in March 2011. As of June 2013, more than 90,000 Syrians have been killed, according to the United Nations. About Syria: (from the CIA World Factbook) Land Area: 185,180 sq km, slightly larger than North Dakota Population: 22,457,336 (2013 est.) Median age: 22.7 years old (2013 est.) Capital: Damascus (2.5 million) Ethnic Groups: Arab 90.3%, Kurds, Armenians, and other 9.7% Religion: Sunni Muslim 74%, other Muslim (includes Alawite, Druze) 16% Christian (various denominations) 10% GDP: $107.6 billion (2011 est.- most current, as of 5/13) GDP per capita: $5,100 (2011 est.- most current, as of 5/13) Unemployment: 18% (2012 est. - most current, as of 5/13)

Timeline: 1517-1918 - Part of the Ottoman Empire.

1920 - The League of Nations puts Syria under French control.

April 17, 1946 - Independence is declared after French troops leave the country.

1949-1958 - A series of coups leads to instability in the country.

February 1, 1958 - Syria and Egypt merge, creating the United Arab Republic.

September 28, 1961 - Syria secedes from the United Arab Republic.

1967 - Syria loses the Golan Heights to Israel during the Six Day War.

November 13, 1970 - Minister of Defense Hafez al-Assad stages a bloodless coup.

1976-2005 - Approximately 17,000 Syrian troops are stationed in neighboring Lebanon.

1979-present - Syria is placed on the U.S. State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism.

June 10, 2000 - Hafez al Assad dies.

July 10, 2000 - Bashar al-Assad is elected president by referendum, winning 97% of the vote. He is re-elected in 2007.

March 2011 - Violence flares in Daraa after a group of teens and children are arrested for writing political graffiti. Dozens of people are killed when security forces crack down on demonstrations.


The article below from The Guardian newspaper in England is a deeply disturbing reflection on the war in Syria. It details the INABILITY of world bodies to solve the Syrian crisis. What I find most disturbing is the probability the Syrian civil war will become a regional war. Already it has spilled over into Lebanon and is flooding Jordan with waring factions of divided Muslims. Millions more people could become refugees and hundreds of thousands more will die if the war escalates. Many followers of Jesus are responding to the crisis, but many more of will need to give, go and pray. All Nations is involved and will send more workers over the next few months...I will be visiting the camps September of this year. 

Floyd McClung


The Guardian

By Martin Chulov


Half of Syrian population 'will need aid by end of year'

UN high commissioner for refugees says crisis may be worst humanitarian disaster it has dealt with


The UN high commissioner for refugees, António Guterres, said there had been 'not been an inch of progress towards a political solution' on Syria. Photograph: Junior Kannah/AFP/Getty Images

Martin Chulov


More than half the population of Syria is likely to be in need of aid by the end of the year, the UN high commissioner for refugees has warned, while labelling the ever-worsening crisis as the most serious the global body has dealt with.


António Guterres, who has led the UNHCR through the worst of the refugee crises in Afghanistan and Iraq, said the Syrian civil war was more brutal and destructive than both and was already the worst humanitarian disaster since the end of the cold war.


His assessment came as the UN released new data on the numbers of refugees, which revealed that 6.8 million Syrians need aid. That figure is likely to reach at least 10 million, more than half the pre-war population of the country.


Another UN body, Unicef, says half of those in need are children.


"I don't remember any other crisis where we are having 8,000 per day [fleeing across borders], every day since February," Guterres said in an interview with the Guardian. "There will very likely be 3.5 million by the end of the year. We will have half the population of Syria in dire need of assistance and this is incomprehensible."


With the civil war now into its third year and increasingly taking the shape of a proxy regional war fought across a sectarian faultline, aid groups are making ever more strident predictions of a catastrophic funding shortfall.


Guterres goes further, warning that the modern boundaries of the Middle East and the post-Ottoman agreements that underpin them may unravel if the crisis is not brought to an end.


"The political geography of the modern Middle East emerged from the Sykes-Picot agreement with the exception of the never-resolved Israeli-Palestinian situation," he said of the Anglo-French deal at the end of the first world war that eventually formed the nation states of Syria and Lebanon. "The conflict in Syria might for the first time put that political geography into question."


The US secretary of state, John Kerry, and Syrian leader, Bashar al-Assad, this week both warned of a partition of the country that would inevitably cause grave ramifications in neighbouring Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan and beyond. Kerry appeared to advance the US position on Syria by suggesting an "enclave break-up" could only be prevented by getting "everybody on the same page with respect to what post-Assad Syria will look like".


Assad, meanwhile, reiterated his earlier warning that no country in the region would be safe if the Syrian war, in which a majority Sunni opposition is fighting a minority Alawite regime aligned to Shia Islam, led to the collapse of the embattled state's borders.


UNHCR figures show that close to 1.3 million Syrians have fled the country in the past two years. The figure is markedly lower than the numbers that have left Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade, but is increasing at a faster rate than at any point in either country.


In addition, there are thought to be at least 3 million internally displaced Syrian refugees, many of whom have limited means to provide for themselves or their families. Communities in Syria's war-ravaged north, west and south are largely without electricity and low on food and running water.


Refugee camps in northern Jordan, southern Turkey and Lebanon's Bekaa valley are overwhelmed with daily arrivals of refugees who have often made precarious journeys to escape nearby battlefields.


"This is the most brutal [conflict], even with very brutal conflicts elsewhere," said Guterres. "If one looks at the impact on the population, or the percentage of the total population in need, I have no doubt that since the end of the cold war it is the worst. And it will become even worse still if there is no solution.


"My belief is that if we take all of these elements, then this is the most dramatic humanitarian crisis that we have ever faced. Then if we look at the geopolitical implications, I have no doubt that this is the most serious that we have ever dealt with."


Lebanon and Iraq are increasingly unable to deal with the Syrian spillover, which is disturbing already fraught sectarian power bases and straining meagre resources during an economic downturn brought on by the crisis.


"There is a real threat to Lebanon and Iraq," said Guterres. "Jordan is under serious economic stress. We have the Palestinian/Israeli question and the fact that the Syrian army has withdrawn from the Golan Heights. In the context of the Sunni-Shia divide, all the key actors are involved. Even compared to Afghanistan, the geopolitical implications and the threat to global stability are profound. It's the most dangerous of all crises."


In an address to the United Nations security council on Thursday, Guterres said there had "not been an inch of progress towards a political solution".


Expanding on that to the Guardian, he said: "It is of enormous frustration that we have come to such a situation in global governance that nobody can address it."


Diplomacy on Syria has failed to bridge a yawning divide in views on what has fuelled the crisis and how best to deal with it. Russia and China, two permanent members of the security council, have blocked moves towards more robust support of the opposition in Syria. The US and Europe have attempted to impose ever tougher sanctions on the Assad regime, but have balked at arming the opposition because of concerns about the influence of al-Qaida groups.


"I lived in a bipolar world," said Guterres. "Until the war in Iraq, I witnessed a unipolar world with one single superpower. Now we are in a clearly established multi-polar world. New actors have emerged – the Brics: China, Russia, Brazil, India. There is no longer a clear set of power relations. There is no way to bring about consensus among global players, or to bring about common action. There is no capacity to produce any solution."


UN appeals for aid to Syria remain desperately under-funded with some agencies, including Unicef, reporting a shortfall of more than 70%. The crisis was eased somewhat on Thursday when Kuwait transferred $300m (£196m) to the UN for Syrian relief. "[It] will be distributed across all of our institutions," said Guterres. Kuwait is the only Gulf country that has honoured its promise through the multilateral aid organisations.


"We can now put some money up front in Syria, but we are all in big trouble. Most of the western countries have huge budget difficulties. Moving towards 3 million refugees, there is no way that this can be dealt with.


"The system is at breaking point. There is limited capacity to take many more. Where are the people going to flee? Into the sea?"


Syrian refugees

1.35m: the number of refugees fleeing Syria who have sought protection in neighbouring countries, according to the UNHCR


48%: the percentage – at least – of the refugee population who are under 18. Some 77% are women and children


$162.4m: the amount pledged by 4 April to Syria's Regional Response Plan by international donors – just 33% of UNHCR's requirements


10%: the increase in Lebanon's population due to refugee movements. Jordan's is up 6%


Friday 19 April 2013 13.43 BST


The Principle of Saying Hard Things

John 6:22-71, especially verses 30-34 (The Message): "They waffled: "Why don't you give us a clue about who you are, just a hint of what's going on? When we see what's up, we'll commit ourselves. Show us what you can do. Moses fed our ancestors with bread in the desert. It says so in the Scriptures: 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.' 

 "Show us what you can do", they said. When the crowd that was fed the loaves and fishes could not find Jesus, they went searching for Him. When they found him, they asked him what sign he would perform for them. Their demand demonstrated their obtuseness. They were shallow, filled with selfish curiosity. The feeding of the multitude was sign enough if they were willing to obey Jesus. The issue was not belief, it was obedience. They had to act on what they already knew to be true if Jesus was going to teach them more truth. 

If people fail to act on what they already know to be true, then giving them more knowledge only serves to harden their hearts and deepen their deception. Spiritual leaders have to be willing to say hard things to their people.

 True shepherds must be willing to lose sheep. Many of Jesus' disciples turned away from him (John 6:60-66). It is sad to see people leave us. It is disheartening to lose good people. But if we speak the truth in love, and people will not receive it, what happened to Jesus may happen to us as well. 

"From that time many of his disciples went back and walked with him no more". John 6:66 (NKJV)

Never bind people to you. What Jesus did next was astounding: he gave those who were closest to him opportunity to leave as well:

"After this a lot of his disciples left. They no longer wanted to be associated with him. Then Jesus gave the Twelve their chance: "Do you also want to leave?" John 6:66-67 The Message

Your disciples must always have the freedom to leave. Obedience is voluntary. It has to come from the heart, not because we demand it or coerce it from people.

 Disobedient people want to hear words that please them. They want signs to tickle their fancy and they want pastors who don't confront their unbelief. Don't fall into that trap. You must remain free to disciple for obedience. 


The Principle of Leadership Connection

   "A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink". 


The lady described in this story from John 4 is unknown to us. We don't know her name. We only know that she was of a snubbed gender and a despised race. Yet Jesus connected with her. As we read the entire story, something remarkable transpires between Jesus and this unknown woman. Through Jesus interaction with the woman at the well we learn about the value of "connection", what some people call emotional intelligence. 

People don't connect well to frowning, intense, defensive leaders. A leader can only lead to the degree they can emotionally connect with people. A leader who is "out of touch" with how they come across to people, who lacks what is called "EQ", emotional intelligence, is limited in their effectiveness.

What is the biblical basis of the leadership principle of “connection”? We see it at work in how Jesus related to a broad spectrum of people. He connected to ordinary fisherman, tax collectors, religious officials, Roman officers, women caught in adultery, Mary and Martha when they blamed Jesus for the death of Lazarus, and his own very diverse team of apostles.

In the conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well, we see the principles of "connection" in action. We see in Jesus the ultimate example of emotional intelligence. Jesus reached over the walls of gender separation, racial prejudice, immoral behavior, theological difference, and initial personal rejection. Jesus did not rely on policies or religious practices to relate to her. He connected to her through wise and discerning personal interaction.

Jesus is our example in each of the following qualities of leadership connection. He connected with the woman at the well in order to minister to her. He was not being deceitful or manipulative; he was wise and patient, reaching out to her across the very real divide that separated them. Wise leaders today will learn to do the same.

Five components of leadership "connection" we can see in Jesus interaction with the woman at the well:

• Self-awareness. Jesus was fully aware of who he was and what he had to offer. He offered “living water”. He demonstrated the ability to recognize and understand his own drives and emotions and how they affect other people. Self-awareness involves self-confidence, realistic self-awareness, and a self-deprecating sense of humor. Can you picture a warm and wry smile on Jesus’ face as he tells this woman to go and call her “husband” and come back to him, knowing full well she had five husbands? Leaders with self-awareness are aware of their own moods but don’t allow those moods to disrupt relationships or control their attitudes or actions. 

• Self-regulation. Jesus had the ability to recognize and control his impulses. It says in John 4:4 says, “Jesus had to pass through Samaria”. It was the impulse of the Spirit that led him to pass through Samaria. Normally, Jews avoided Samaria. Jesus knew the difference between an impulse of the Spirit and an impulse of the flesh. Leaders with high levels of emotional intelligence don’t allow their moods to disrupt their speech or actions, but rather they allow the Spirit to lead them. Self-aware and self-controlled leaders are not prisoners of their own personalities. Self-regulated leaders have the ability to suspend judgment before acting or speaking. This includes openness to change and comfort with ambiguity. As uncomfortable as it can be, it includes welcoming responses to constructive criticism and assessment of our leadership effectiveness. 

• Self-motivation. Self-motivated leaders are not dependent on church structures or other leaders to motivate them. Like Jesus, they are passionate about ministry and work for it's own value. They are filled with the Spirit and call daily upon the Spirit’s help to recharge and re-energize them. Jesus demonstrated self-initiative and the ability to pursue ministry goals he set for himself with great energy and persistence (he was not in competition with others – see John 4:1-3). Self-motivated leaders feed themselves spiritually from the Word and with prayer. They have to – they are pioneers. They cannot be dependent on others to prop them up or get them going each day.

• Healthy empathy. Jesus understood the emotional makeup of people. He was a student of human nature. He was highly empathetic with the woman at the well without losing objectivity. Emotionally intelligent people show empathy but they are not governed by it. Jesus demonstrated the ability to understand the emotional makeup of the woman at the well. He had compassion on her, but he didn’t allow that to keep him from confronting her sin and holding her responsible for her actions and choices. He acted responsibly to the woman, but he did not take responsibility for the woman. Healthy empathy is the skill of adjusting one’s responses according to people’s emotional reactions. If they over react, we don’t. If they leave us, we don’t attack them. If they rebel, we bless them. We respond in the opposite spirit. Healthy empathy involves the ability to attract and retain talented people in our endeavors, and to reach across cultural walls and barriers to build our teams and churches.

• Social-skill. Jesus demonstrated a unique ability to find common ground with people. He had not committed adultery. He was not a Samaritan. Yet he reached out to the Samaritan woman with grace. Social-skill is the ability to hear and not react to people with differing views or opinions. Leaders with social skill are proficient at building and maintaining networks of relationships beyond a cadre of close friends with similar backgrounds. Just as Jesus found common ground with the woman at the well by talking about water and asking for a drink, so leaders with social-skill have the ability to find common ground and build rapport with those they lead and work with. This skill includes efficiency in leading change, persuasiveness, and efficiency in building and leading teams. Those with social skill don’t lead with policies or procedures but with vision and biblical values.

From these five components flow such qualities as emotional warmth, listening attentively, smiling, encouragement and affirmation, genuine interest, faith in people, non-defensiveness, openness to new ideas and non-reactiveness. These are the qualities that enable a bridge of understanding and trust to be built from leaders to those they lead. It’s the leadership principle of connection at work. 

Why is the leadership principle of connection so important? You can't lead people you can't connect to. The five components of connection, when genuine, allow us to build a bridge of trust and understanding to people. That is the heart of “emotional intelligence”.

Great “connectors” have mentored me in my life. One of the greatest were the co-founders of Youth with a Mission, Loren and Darlene Cunningham. Again and again I was struck by how Loren and Darlene connected with people. In big crowds or small, they would focus on one individual at a time, smile warmly, ask them questions, hear their vision, and then challenge and encourage them to do something great for God. Loren and Darlene were both connectors.

When people felt led to leave YWAM, they blessed them. When young leaders came up with new and sometimes crazy visions for ministry, they listened with an open heart. Those strengths allowed Loren Darlene to build one of the largest missionary movements in the history of the church. It is no accident that YWAM is made up of leaders that are both young and old, men and women, and people of all cultures.

That is connecting at it’s best! I rarely saw Loren or Darlene react to people when they were disappointed in a decision a person made. They were masters at team building and retaining their teams. They showed great empathy no matter the situation. They both demonstrated exceptional emotional intelligence.

Loren and Darlene planted the seeds of greatness and great achievement in the hearts of many young leaders by challenging them to go beyond what they had dreamed or thought of doing before that time...then they would give them an opportunity to do what they encouraged them to dream about. Even if it didn’t fit in with how they thought it should be done.

Great connectors are great opportunity providers! When people working with Loren and Darlene sought other avenues of Christian service, they didn't react or condemn them... they cheered them on in their dreams. They didn’t demand or manipulate people to join them, but inspired them with vision by "connecting" to their dreams. Many leaders today in business, government, church denominations, missionary organizations, and local churches can point to their experience in Youth With a Mission as life changing. Loren and Darlene set a DNA of connection that has built bridges to people in all walks of life.

I have reflected many times on the leadership skill of connection. I have assessed my own strengths and weaknesses in this regard, and asked others to help me do that. Why? I don’t want to close doors to those God wants me to lead. I want to grow in my skills as a connector to people.

I have concluded that “EQ” is not another worldly management fad, but a learned ability to connect wisely. It is a God-given ability that we can develop to serve God’s people effectively.









Ten C’s of Leadership Team Building



One of the privileges of leadership is choosing your own leadership team. In principle, you should not work with people on your team you did not choose. Though we must be open to accept those God sends us, and though others may expect us to “inherit” team members by virtue of the fact that they were there before us, in the end, a pastor or movement leader should carefully choose their own team.

You have the final say in who joins your leadership team, and you should exercise that God given responsibility with care, courage and wisdom.

We all want to work with great people. But how do we go about selecting a leadership team? Far too many of us accept the first person that is eager to join us, without taking time to probe deeper. Don’t let desperation for help drive your team building!

Effective team leaders define the key roles they need to be filled on their team, but more importantly, they have a clearly thought through set of qualifications in mind for team members.

Courtesy – Does the prospective team member know how to respect other team members? Can they listen, learn and adjust their convictions? Do they have emotional intelligence (healthy self-awareness, self-control, self-initiative, social skills, healthy empathy)? Are they collaborative in their approach to decision making?

Chemistry – Do they have good chemistry with the team leader and other team members? Are they likeable and can have a good time with those they work with?

Competence – Do they have the skills necessary to add strength to the team? If they don’t, are they willing to learn the skills needed? Do they demonstrate the communication skills necessary to carry out their assignments?

Character – Are they a servant? Do they show integrity? Are they reliable and do they keep their word? Team members have to be responsible and show initiative.

Core Values – Are they aligned in their core values with the rest of the team and the church/organization/movement? Have they demonstrated their core values by the fruit of the life?

Courage – Are they willing to take risks? Are they a person of faith who is willing to take on new challenges, should they be called for? Are they creative and innovative?

Capacity – Do they have the emotional capacity for the responsibility? Can they handle stress and pressure? Can they handle the load of added work that serving on a team requires?

Culture – Do they work well with people of other cultures? Are they sensitive and adaptive to different cultural contexts?

Calling/Commitment – What are their spiritual gifts and do they complement the team? Do they have a call from God to serve in this regard? Does this role match their leadership gifts? Do they demonstrate commitment to the vision of the church/organization/movement? 

• Clear Expectations – Have you discussed your expectations and theirs? Do they understand the role of the team and are they clear about what is expected of them in terms of time, resources, and responsibilities?