Houston, TX (ANS) – While living and traveling in several countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, my awareness and learning journey has been greatly expanded. I began discovering more about various customs, cultural value systems and worldviews. It was a season of discovering how much I did not know, and the fact that the rest of the world is very different than North Arkansas, where I grew up. You might say I had tunnel vision, but we all have tunnel vision to some extent. We just need bigger tunnels. Most everyone can benefit from having a broader perspective and seeing the big picture of what God is doing in the world.
A significant part of my spiritual journey was coming to an awareness that the Kingdom of God is much bigger than the Southern Baptist Convention. Having participated in many international and inter-denominational conferences and meetings over the years has been extremely beneficial. It has helped open my eyes to the diversity and vastness of the Body of Christ. Getting to know and spend time with a good number of individuals who have experience and godly wisdom has also been a great blessing. We are often reminded that the Kingdom of God is built on relationships. A friend of mine often says, “Awareness is the first step to change.”
Some Modern Advantages
One of the amazing things about our world today, with all the communications media and modern technological resources, we can be well informed and well connected without going to a lot of meetings. As valuable as personal contacts and relationships are, not everyone has the opportunity to physically engage in those multi-cultural events. Now, we have increasing possibilities of benefiting from virtual meetings, webinars, conference calls and online training resources. In fact, it can become overwhelming to try to keep up with all that God is doing in the world today.
Getting in on what God is up to
The late Manley Beasley, a friend and mentor to me for many years, use to say, “Our big challenge is to find out what God is up to, and get in on it.” Henry Blackaby put it another way, he said, “Identify the activity of God, and join Him.” A big challenge today is knowing what God is up to and what His activities are. However, more than ever before we can be aware of and know what He is doing. There really is no shortage of information these days, we just need to be selective and find reliable sources. So, one of my objectives with this article is to introduce some ways and places to enlarge our tunnel vision and expand our horizons.
Signs of Awakening and Unity
There is a growing need and opportunity to greater awareness of how we can more effectively communicate the gospel, making disciples and fostering unity in the Body of Christ. In many places pastors and ministry leaders don’t even know each other, much less communicate, pray or work together. However, there are many positive changes taking place around the world. In the global context, there are now many ways to learn about and connect with what God is doing. Many movements, networks, alliances and associations of organizations are merging efforts, either informally and some formally. When our networks of relationships are expanded, we can often discover new and different ways of doing ministry and missions. Understanding more about cultural value systems, worldviews, learning and communication preferences are a few important topics to start with.
Mission and Ministry Resources
People are sometimes at a loss as to how to stay informed regarding the work of God around the world. It is almost impossible for any one person to keep up with all that is happening in the Church world today. However, following are a few resources to help us stay informed, have a broader perspective and know more of how to connect with God’s kingdom advancing activities:
Assist News Service — Assist News – Your link to the news you care about around the world.
Mission Network News — Mission Network News – Mission Network News (mnnonline.org)
Missio Nexus — https://missionexus.org/.
Mission Connexion — https://missionconnexion.com/
A Global Alliance for Church Multiplication — https://gacx.io/
Accord Network — https://accordnetwork.org/
Lausanne Movement — https://www.lausanne.org/
Love 2020 — https://www.love2020.com/
Linking Global Voices — https://linkingglobalvoices.com/
Table Coalition — https://thetablecoalition.org/
Frontier Ventures — https://www.frontierventures.org/
24:14 Coalition — https://www.2414now.net/
International Orality Network — https://orality.net/
Artists in Christian Testimony — https://actinternational.org/
Global CHE Network — https://www.chenetwork.org/
Christian Leadership Alliance — https://christianleadershipalliance.org/
National Religious Broadcasters — http://nrb.org/
Christian Community Development Association — https://ccda.org/
International partnering Associates – https://www.ipassociates.org
Networking and Collaboration
Many of these networks, alliances and coalitions represent hundreds, and some thousands, of organizations. In fact, some of them are networks of networks. Of course, many organizations are members of multiple networks. There are numerous others, too many to list here, but perhaps these can give a broader perspective and a bigger picture of God’s global activities. If we are serious about joining God in His redemptive activities, these are a few places to learn more about how to do so. Marvin Newell, with Missio Nexus, in his introduction to the January-March 2020 issue of Evangelical Missions Quarterly, refers to 2020 as the beginning of “The Decade of Collaboration” (https://missionexus.org/emq/). That entire issue is filled with insightful articles about networking and collaboration.