I (Ken) completed my 4-month sabbatical at the end of December, and now I am back at work as SEND U Director. The sabbatical was a wonderfully refreshing time filled with multiple learning opportunities and lots of time for prayer and reflection. I am very thankful to Beth for serving as the SEND U Director during my absence. The sabbatical has renewed and sharpened my vision for SEND U and I look forward to working with Beth and the SEND U team to serve our SEND global community even more effectively.
Much of my sabbatical was focused on learning and reflecting about disciple-making within our organization. I quickly came to the realization that I first needed to understand more clearly what it meant to be a disciple, because it is only disciples that can engage in disciple-making. One of the most rewarding studies I completed was going through the Gospel of Matthew, and cataloging everything the Gospel says about the profile of a disciple of Jesus. I also looked at cross-cultural discipleship, and how this differs from typical mono-cultural disciple-making in Western churches. Here I found Richard & Evelyn Hibberts' book, Walking Together on the Jesus Road: Intercultural Discipling// and Don Little's book, Effective Discipling in Muslim Communities: Scripture, History and Seasoned Practices//to be especially helpful. You can find my review of Hibberts' book on the SEND U blog.
But I was not only interested in the disciple-making we do as missionaries among the people groups to which God has sent us. I also long to see a stronger discipling culture within our organization as a whole, an understanding that we need to be engaged in discipling one another as we walk the Jesus Road together. On this topic, I found Mike Breen's book, Building a Discipling Culture // (3rd edition) to be very helpful, particularly in understanding what could be some talking points in discipleship conversations with fellow missionaries. I was also deeply challenged by one of the last books I read – a secular business book, An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Development Organization//. If a secular organization can become deliberately developmental, how much more should we as disciples of Jesus, equipped by the Spirit and the Word to disciple one another!
Bertha and I are spending January in Saskatchewan, visiting the financial partners and churches we were not able to visit in August before the sabbatical began. But on February 1, we head back to our home in Ukraine, at least for a few months. One of the decisions that we made during our sabbatical is that we want to spend two extended periods (a couple of months each time) in Russia with our Unity team during 2019. This will give us an opportunity to connect more directly with first-term missionaries as well as observe more closely the work of engaging an unreached M people group.
Recently I (Beth) heard someone say “The biggest barriers we experience are inside our own heads.” When it comes to planning for our growth, this couldn't be more true. We tend to experience the reality we expect and these expectations shape what we believe is possible. When we don't intentionally plan for growth, we downgrade our expectations which in turn downgrades what we actually experience.
Where were you disappointed in 2018? What areas of your life didn't meet your expectations? Instead of settling for cynicism and low expectations in 2019, bring these experiences before the Lord and spend a day asking Him where he wants you to grow. Engaging your mind, heart and soul in the process of planning your growth can be a wonderful spiritual discipline as well as a key to achieving your ministry goals this year. Follow this link for a step by step guide to filling out both your Individual Growth Plan and your Annual Ministry Plan. Questions? Don't hesitate to reach out to Beth for practical tips or coaching on how to make this a great year!
We've been hearing good things about this course and want to recommend it again. Sustainable Resilience is a one-week online course designed to give you tools to understand and grow in resilience and to keep your life and ministry true to your calling. The dictionary definition of resilience is “the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape.” For people we define that as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.” Cross-cultural life and ministry entails many constant, chronic stressors, as well as occasional life-crunching events. To recover our footing, maintain our perspective, and stay true to our ministry calling, resilience is critical! Register here for the next Sustainable Resilience Course that will run from February 6-13 or April 24-May 8.
SEND U is still looking for a volunteer to help with our wiki administration. If you like details, a little technology, administration, and have 5-10 hours a month to give, this could be the perfect fit for you! Please email the SEND U Director if you are interested.
We are approaching the end of the calendar year, which means we should all be thinking about our new Individual Growth Plans for 2019. However, it also means we should spend some time reflecting on the learning we've done in 2018. The IGP form asks you to reflect on the following on page 2:
We will be posting a new reflection guide for you to use with your accountability person or whomever you chose to share your IGP with at the beginning of the year. In the meantime, here are some questions you and this person can utilize in your reflection conversation.
· What progress did you make on your IGP this year?
· What other successes did you experience in working towards these goals?
· What challenges did you experience?
· What learning would you like to make sure you capture moving forward?
· What would you like to do differently going forward?
· What goals are you thinking about for your IGP for next year?
· What are some steps you could take towards reaching your IGP Goals for next year?
· What help from me or anyone else might you benefit from in successfully moving