Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Emerging Church

It's Day 2 at the GCA Church planting conference. (photo left)

I attended 2 sessions on the Emerging Church on Strategies and Structures of church plants.

Emerging Church was another Ed Stetzer session. I had only heard of the term "Emerging" once or twice so I must admit I was trying to figure out what this all meant. In the first 5 minutes of approaching the task of defining "Emerging" I learned that author, Aaron Flores said: "There are no clear, distinct definitions or descriptive labels for the emerging church."

Great! Now what will we do for the rest of the morning?

Never fear, Stetzer is rarely speechless - and seemingly always up for a challenge. He went on to describe "emerging" by comparing it to Post-modern church and showing a variety of streams & categories of churches.

It was a fascinating discussion - basically we were studying the North American Church's attempt to make church relevant to today's culture. Stetzer's article Understanding the Emerging Church by Baptist Press gives you a view of what we touched on today. (Stetzer's blog comments on Piper's sermon on Church planting last night - be sure to read the comments too!)

The afternoon sessions were aimed at helping the participants map out the structure & flow of the specific church plant to which each individual/team is connected. We used various size posted notes and colorful markers to map this out. (The teacher in me was hip hip hurraying for kinesthetic project!) It was an interesting project for me given that I've focused so much on teaching MK's that I haven't focused much on
- how are my teammates on the field doing this thing called church planting?
What model are they following in Japan and how is that working?

It gave me many questions to follow-up with! Learning never ends!

Well, now I'm heading to the evening session called "Peculiar People".
It's a ministry of Charlie & Ruth - who blend spiritual insight with comedy through theater. should be fun! (Ruth and I have attended a few of the same sessions - During the breaks we "bonded" as she has given me crochet advice and I've been admiring her artistry working on a bead necklace.)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Missional Churches

Today was the 1st day of the Global Church Advancement (GCA) Church Planting Seminar.
The opening session was the typical - Introduction to the facilities, the host church, the overview of training sessions, and the manual (it's huge! 614 pages - SERIOUSLY!). The main point of the first speaker - Steve Childers, President of GCA, was to welcome us and warn us of the danger zone that we're entering.
Getting more training often makes us more confident in our own abilities and reduces our reliance on God. We begin to think we can do it on our own. There is a valid need for equipping. But the stewardship of talents and obedience of calling must be in healthy TENSION with radical dependence on God.
(For all you SPLICE - alumni you can insert the "tension tengo" in that sentence.)

In the evening John Piper gave a sermon (via video recording) on Matthew 16:18 "I will build my church"- He reminded us, in true Piper style, that the soverignty of God reigns over all for His Glory. Do not believe we have ever gotten it all figured out and formularized - no matter how many books we read or conference we attend. Its God's work in the hearts and minds of people - which will always be a mystery to us.

A Bold Move -
Today - I decided against attending the "basic training"* - (the 17 seminar track for first time attendees). Instead, I attended 2 session taught by Ed Setzer - called "Missional Code". Ed is a missiologist/church planter and author of "Breaking the Missional Code" and "Planting Missional Churches"- his website is www.newchurches.com. He's also an interactive teacher who has a great sense of humor and great use of sarcasm!

Setzer's Part 1 of the session was focused on understanding what is a "missional church" and Part 2 was more how to apply this in your setting. I appreciated the fact that these seminars were not "North America" centered in application - but could apply to any "field".

Quotes from the seminar:

A "missional church" should be:
  • Biblically faithful
  • Culturally relevant
  • Counter-cultural communities
some churches are missions-minded
(aka- they give money so others can live as missionaries somwhere else)

Some churches are missional
(aka- they act, live and believe as missionaries in everday life where they are)
We should . . .

"look similar to culture and live different."

But research shows most evangelical Christians . . .

"Live similar to culture and look different."

missio Dei
Jesus Christ is the embodiment
of that mission.
The Holy Spirit is the power
of that mission.
The church is the tool
of that mission.
The culture is the context of that mission.


We must commit to cultural relevance AND biblical authority.
(its not either/ or = it's both/and)

Often people separate Evangelism from Missions as 2 separate disciplines when actually they are 2 parts of the same thing.

Evangelism is telling people about Jesus.

is understanding the people before we tell them.

To read more of Ed Setzers writing online, check out his article: why is cultural relevance a big deal?

*(For those of you worried that I'm not getting the "basic training" - don't fear- I have a mammoth manual covering the basic training information and can get online recordings of any session I miss.)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Super Powers

If I had a super power . . .

I would choose the ability to snap my fingers and be transported from one place to another - that way I could avoid the butt numbing thrill I had this weekend traveling from MN to Iowa on Saturday and back again today. Of the last 30 hours 12 were spent driving. Corn fields in Iowa are only interesting for so long. I'm thankful for books on CD to help break the monotony of the drive and the 'Steen B & B' for a rest stop. (Photo is of the Barn Rest Stop on I-35 just after entering IA from MN)

I had a fun visit with the folks at the River Community Church. Enjoyed finding people who shared my enthusiasm for ministering to missionary Kids. Also enjoyed meeting Jeff Chapman's mom! (Jeff and his wife Barb are fellow BGC missionaries with kids who attend the school at which I'll likely be teaching.)

The other super power I'd love to have would be the ability to be in two places at once. - I was invited to be the VBS 'missionary of the week' at a church on the south side of the Twin Cities. A week hanging out with kids talking about Japan and missions! How cool would that be! Unfortunately, I'm booked for this whole week! Starting Monday at 10am until Friday at 1pm I'll be attending a church planting seminar on the north side of the Twin Cities. I'm sure it'll be informative - and no offense to the organizers - but I'd rather be hanging out with the kids.

Health Updates: (See last post)-
* No baby news (yet)
*My neighbor, Lenny, was reported to be free of wires & ventilators on Wednesday, more alert and even smiling - but Thursday was not a good day for him and he's still in the ICU. Since I don't have super powers that help either of these health concerns - I've been praying a lot and used my baking powers to cook some chocolate chip cookies for both families.

What super power would you choose? and why?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Numb - Excited - Waiting

I'm numb. I'm excited. I'm waiting.

In preparing for departure to Japan - I have a list of "Things to do before Japan".
It may seem pretty random but the variety gives spice to my life. On the list (besides lots of paperwork to complete) is:
  • Visit the dentist*
  • Get a physical
  • Identify a mailing secretary
  • Buy a black dress for wearing to funerals in Japan*
  • Practice Japanese*
  • Visit the eye doctor
  • Spend time with friends and family*
  • Get input on how to complete the Certificate of Eligibility*
  • Get answers to questions re: "Appointee Recommended Equipment List"*
  • Discuss with family what to do with my remains if I die in Japan
  • Attend church planting training
  • Complete various crochet projects*
Those marked with * are items I've done this week.

In the last couple of months I've made great headway on the "visit the dentist" item. Which explains why I'm numb. I try as much as possible to avoid the dentist. After a childhood with no cavities, 2 jaw surgeries and 4 years of braces, I have NOT desired to return to a dentist. The sounds of drilling and screeching so close to one's ear are not my idea of a fun day.

But in May I had new reason to return - a chipped tooth which exposed a nerve and caused some major pain. (x-ray photo not of my teeth). I found a dental care office within walking distance of my house. Through the repair of the chipped tooth and other fillings, I have gotten to know the dental staff and had fun answering their questions . . .
- "So, what do you do for a living?" and
-"Japan - for the rest of your life, really? Wow, you seem so "at peace" with it all!"

This has led to interesting discussions of travel, faith, and memories of their favorite teachers - made even more interesting when I try to say it all before half of my mouth is numb and filled with multiple implements. =0)

Isn't that just like God - to use a painful and typically avoided event - like a trip to the dentist - to provide opportunities to talk about him. And a reminder that caring for our teeth has a spiritual analogy to caring for our souls - sometimes the cavities or sin in our life - are painful to remove and take a master's skill to drill it out. The dentist is only doing what is best for me - yet I often blame him for the pain.

Sunday, I had the honor or speaking at Bethany Baptist Church, my home church. I shared an update on support raising and thanked them for providing funds for my MTI training in Colorado (see my blog posts labeled orientation to learn more). It's so wonderful to go "home" to church and have their strong support in prayers and words of encouragement!

I found out today that Central Baptist Church in St. Paul, MN voted on Wednesday to partner with me. Which now puts me at 80% of my monthly support! It's especially exciting to have them on board with me as they partnered with me in 1998-2000 when I was a short-term missionary. Welcome to the team!

This weekend I travel to Iowa City, to The River Community Church to present a seminar on Caring for Missionary Kids. This church is not a partnering church (yet) but wants to hear more about how they can reach out to the missionary families they currently support. I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to share with them - especially because they support the Chapman's who I'll be working with in Japan and the Copelands - who are dear friends of mine who have been serving in Ethiopia.

Next week (July 23-27) I'm attending the Global Church Advance - church planting Seminar in Minneapolis. I expect it'll be a stretching experience as I - an elementary school teacher - mingle with pastors and theologians in discussing a topic I've had little opportunity to study. But I love to learn and expect this will be useful training for future ministry in Japan.

I'm waiting for the news that my friend has had her baby - the due date is today!
Her past pregnancies have been complicated - so I'd appreciate your prayers for her and a healthy delivery.

I'm waiting for news of my neighbor, Lenny, a dear 88 year old man who calls me "Kiddo" and keeps a protective eye out on all the happenings at my house. He had major surgery on Friday involving his heart, I don't know all the details but have heard updates from other neighbors that he made it through surgery on Friday and is now in the Intensive Care Unit. Please pray for a healthy recovery.

I'm waiting for the day I can post news on my blog saying that all the paperwork is done. Progress is being made - especially with the certificate of eligibility - which is filled out but lacking a few key supporting documents. Please pray for endurance to get it done.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Commercial Break

I've been back in Minnesota now for one week. And I'm finding it difficult to adjust to the change of pace and lack of interaction with people. In Colorado, I lived in a "house" with 38 adults and 20+ kids, there was always something interesting to learn about or conversation to join. The location was filled with adventure and begging for exploration. Now I'm back to living with only one roommate and facing the reality of a large stack of paperwork and a long list of tasks to accomplish. Other than a short holiday break, it seems like I've been thrown full force back into life.
In the last few days besides support raising activities, I've had some exciting discussions via email about language study options, I've received an "Appointee Recommended Equipment List" of things to ship to Japan (item #1 - Stove/Oven ;0), and paperwork for the Certificate of Eligiblity or (COE).

The COE is a 26 page document which, if I understand correctly, is required to receive the Japanese governments official "ok" to proceed with application for a Visa. Once the COE is obtained I've heard getting a missionary visa only takes a day (or less) at the consulate or embassy. But the application process once these documents are submitted takes two to three months to process in

We interrupt our regularly scheduled blogging to complete the required paperwork.

During the intermission the following links for some YouTube videos have been posted for viewing enjoyment on the topic of language study. We discovered these during our PILAT course in Colorado. Click on the underlined words to enjoy!

A fish teaches us the importance of being bilingual (42 sec.)

A funny commercial Why you should learn English (40 sec.)

Joey, from the TV show Friends, tries to learn French (5 min)

A clip from the PinkPanther movie, of a "French" speaker trying to learn English. (2 min)

I'll return to my regular blogging activities after this short commercial break. If you know of any other videos you'd like to share - post a comment and share the link.

Note: While the blog author highly recommends learning another language, the views and opinions expressed herein the commercials may or may not represent those of the blog author.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Support Update

Thank you to my ministry partners!

New church partner
- Country Roads Church, Stacy, MN
Brings the total to 21 (fabulous) partnering church
Individuals - there are now 41 individuals/families partnering with me on a monthly basis and 27 individuals/families who have given special gifts.

So where am I with monthly support?
Drum roll please . . . .

I have received for 77% of my monthly support.
This means I need $1760 per month more.

And Start-up Funds (includes relocation to Japan, vehicle, language study, and other one-time costs) have almost reached the half way mark! I need $43,645. The more donations (monthly or special gifts) people are giving now, the better the balance becomes for start-up funds.
Will I make it to Japan in time for Language school? Have I set a specific date?
I really hope and desire to be in Japan in September - it would be the best fit with the start of language study. BUT I cannot set a date until I have 100% of my monthly support and my start-up funds.

How can you get involved?

*Pray - That God's will is done - That hearts would be stirred up to partner with this ministry.
*Give - Every donation from $10 to $1000, every amount plays an important role in enabling me to start language school, so that I have the foundation necessary to build relationships with the community and local church as I later start teaching Third Culture Kids. If you're interested in making a donation on line you can visit the Baptist General Conference website and click on "Make a Donation" and choose "Lori Harms" from the list.
* Tell others about this ministry in Japan teaching Third Culture Kids. Be an advocate for me, show them my DVD by clicking here. Help connect with them with me and this ministry.

May 15 - Support totals were at 61%, July 6th they are at 77%. I look forward to the next Support Report to tell you how God is providing!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy Birthday America!

To Americans reading this blog - Have a Happy 4th of July,
Celebrating the independence of the United States of America!
Amerika Tanjobi Omedeto Gozaimasu!
To those of you Canadians who are reading this - Happy Belated Canada Day! July 1!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Goodbyes & Hellos

"Why love if losing hurts so much?
Pain is part of the happiness." - Shadowlands

PILAT June 18-29, 2007
Heading out to Indonesia, Albania, Romania, Mexico, Kenya, Uganda, Bulgaria, Germany, Japan, Ethiopia, China, North Africa, Sudan, Nigeria, Vietnam, Paraguay, and Bosnia.

SPLICE - May 29- June 15, 2007
Heading to Austria, Hungary, Romania, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Mexico, Paraguay, Dominican Republic, New Zealand, Peru, Jordan, Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Japan

The 7 to 11 year old Boys with 'Uncle' David, an adult MK from France.
Lori (Japan), Katie (Kenya), Kristina (Romania) & Abby (Austria)
Giving an African Goodbye
Running with the car down the driveway then waving until the car is out of sight.

What is the worst part of being a missionary?
For me - it's the Good-byes.
The word Goodbye = was originally "God-be-with-ye" or "Go-with-God" was a recognition that God was a significant part of the going.

Over the last 5 weeks I've learned that wholesome goodbyes express a desire to bless another in the process of parting and to celebrate what we have come to mean to each other. And Hellos are easier when Goodbyes are done properly. During SPLICE we spent almost 48 hours in a process of saying good-bye. Sharing stories of the "highlights" of our time together, sharing how we saw God work through our new tribe, praying together, writing and/or telling each person in our group what a blessing they were to us, and visiting places that were meaningful to our time together - such as the Rock House- Ice Cream shop. Goodbye can be an event but at this time it was a process visited with both sorrow and joy.

While it was painful I've realized pain is part of the happiness.

For PILAT's final evening - I journeyed with some gals to the "SPEEDTRAP Cafe" in Palmer Lake, enjoying each others company, writing thank you notes, reading, journaling, talking, and listening to live music. Jessica (Sudan), Mary (Nigeria), Vanessa (China), Kristina (Romania)

Example of an UNhealthy - goodbye. - Instead of saying goodbye face to face - simply sign a beach ball and in the middle of the night leave it in the yard of the people you're having trouble parting with then proceed to sneak out of the country unnoticed.After hearing this story the SPLICE tribe signed a beach ball and gave it to our facilitator as a Thank you for the investment he has made in our lives. But we didn't leave without saying a face - to- face goodbye.

Ps. For those of you blog readers from the SPLICE tribe - As of June 29, Robin & Heather had not yet had their baby. Update: Gabriella Ryna Kayin was born July 3. Congratulations to the proud parents!