Leaders Blog

By All Means

 What does "By All Means" mean? How can you explain the 2016–2018 WMU emphasis theme clearly to church members of all ages? Instead of telling them, why don't you show them? Use the following 5 scenarios to paint a picture of what serving "By All Means" looks like in everyday life. 

Each of the 5 scenarios can be expanded as time allows. The performers remain in place at the end of each scenario. The skit concludes with a responsive reading.

Scenario 1

A man with cancer asks his doctor if they can pray together before his risky surgery. The doctor replies, “By all means, yes,” and the 2 bow their heads to pray.

Scenario 2

A teenage boy asks his dad if he can borrow the car to take his unchurched friend to the evangelistic youth meeting at church. The father says, “By all means, son,” and hands his son the car keys.

Scenario 3

A visitor at church asks to sit next to a church member. The church member says, “By all means,” and the visitor sits down beside him.

Scenario 4

Let the North Light Shine

Crawling over a desk to get to the window cords certainly didn’t look professional, but it was the best I could do. The wide desk impeded my access to the cords.

I’m not a job hopper, but when I do start a new job, my first step is opening the windows. February 8 was no different. To my delight, these windows face north.

Painters love north light because it’s constant. The indirect light allows the artist to judge the values more easily than changing light that tends to come from other directions.

Even educators write about the academic benefits of natural light, but few teachers in my school opened the blinds on their windows. We often know what’s good for us but focus on the negative aspects instead—“the glare on the board gives me problems,” “the room is too hot when I open my windows,” etc.

Still, teachers used to tell me that they would walk in my room when I wasn’t there and just sit and think. “I don’t know what it is about your room,” they said. I wanted to tell them it was the natural light, but I knew they would follow with reasons they couldn’t open their blinds. So, I just smiled and thanked them for the compliment.

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Adults: Prepare to Do Postmodern Missions

We live in a postmodern world. You probably already knew that, but you might be wondering what it has to do with missions.

Postmodernists don’t believe in absolute truths. They believe everything is relative and shaped by the cultural context of a particular time and place. So when you share the gospel with postmodernists, you may get rebuffed, because what is the truth for you is not truth for them.

Don’t give up. Adapt.

First, let go of assumptions you may have about postmodernists:

  • They have a felt need for God. (Many don’t think about Him.)
  • They fear death. (They don’t believe in an afterlife.)
  • They are hopeless. (Most are quite satisfied with life.)
  • They will come to Christ fast once you introduce them to Him. (Most need the environment of a relationship with a Christian to progress toward a relationship with Christ. You must be willing to make a lifetime investment in people.)

Then, remember what Christians are called to do: make disciples. A disciple is a learner, and discipleship is a process of becoming more like Christ. Discipleship has at least four interpenetrating dimensions:

Prepare Students for a Postmodern Culture

As you work with students, you are inevitably facing attitudes and actions from them that are being formed through culture—the shows they watch, the music they listen to, and the people they follow on social media. So how do you equip students to live with a Christian worldview and be the light of Christ in their post-Christian/postmodern lives?

We’ve all heard the popular Christian phrase reminding us that we are to “be in the world, not of the world.” This phrase comes from Jesus’ prayer in John 17, where the night before His crucifixion, He prays for His disciples, sending them out to make disciples and asking God to protect them from the evil one because they “are not of the world.” This is a perfect framework for teaching students to live sent for Christ, helping them see how they can be a part of culture without owning the culture. Here are a few tips to guide you:

TEACHING CHILDREN TO SHARE JESUS IN A POSTMODERN WORLD

“Then the 11 disciples went to Galilee. They went to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  When they saw him, they worshiped him. But some still had their doubts. Then Jesus came to them. He said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. So you must go and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And you can be sure that I am always with you, to the very end’” (Matthew 28:16–20).

The Great Commission. As Christians, this is what we are commanded to do—share the truth of God with the world. But this is not always easy to do in today’s postmodern society, especially for children.

From the friends they interact with at school to the messages constantly bombarding them through various modes of entertainment (TV, movies, radio, social media), children are extremely vulnerable to the postmodern belief that “anything goes.” After all, today’s children are postmoderns living in a post-Christian world. This is all they have ever known.

Prepare Preschoolers for a Postmodern Culture

Our preschool group looked at a photo of the missionary family we studied that month in Mission Friends. We had been learning about this missionary family for a few weeks. I had just finished telling our mission story for the week of how the missionaries tell others about Jesus. One of the 3-year-olds leaned in to look at the picture and asked, “Are they real?” At first, it struck me as an odd question. Of course, they are real. As I thought about it, I realized that this question is indicative of the current times in which photos are altered and what seems to be real may not be the truth.

Searching for reality and truth is part of the postmodern world of which our preschoolers are a part. Preschoolers are growing up with a postmodern worldview that people can determine their own truth. Growing up as postmodernists, preschoolers will also have a much more global worldview than previous generations.

In the Bag

A number of years ago, my husband took a new pastorate. I was quite saddened to learn that there was no missions organization in the church and determined that I would seek to change that.

Shortly after settling in, I mailed a plain brown lunch sack to each woman who actively attended the church. Inside it was an invitation to a women’s get-together at the church with instructions to put something in the bag that represented her and bring it with her to the meeting.

As the women gathered, we shared what was in our bags. Some women brought an item from a favorite collection. Some brought items representing their hobbies. One woman brought a favorite recipe. One woman brought pictures of her grandchildren. Another brought a book she was reading. One after another, the women showed what they’d brought and told their story. We oohed and aahed . . . and had fun learning about each other.

Lead from Your Strengths

Delores does not like being in the limelight and prefers to work behind the scenes. Evelyn delights in speaking from the platform. Donna has never met a stranger and is very outgoing. Kay’s quiet demeanor and gentleness are well respected by those who have been blessed to know her. Sandy is creative and thinks outside the box. Dawn appreciates her strong missions heritage.

What do these women have in common? They are all strong WMU leaders. I have had the privilege of working alongside each of them.

Perhaps the greatest leadership truth I’ve ever learned came from this collective group. They have taught me that there is not just one way to lead. In fact, there are as many different styles of leadership as there are leaders—because no two leaders lead exactly the same way.

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Follow to Lead

While it may be popular to talk about leadership and to dream about being in charge, the Bible paints a different picture of leadership. Christians who lead because a still, small voice* calls them to do so know the difference.

Why follow God’s leadership? Following God’s leadership works differently than planning our own future. It requires us to hear His voice. While some hear His voice daily, others have not positioned themselves to listen. Sometimes God has to get our attention so that we can hear Him. God often uses circumstances to bring us to a position to lead, and getting to that position may require a strange and unexpected journey.

On a journey, we usually experience some discomfort. Our muscles get tired. Our bodies ache. Our habits may change. We may find ourselves sleeping on uncomfortable pillows or eating foods that don’t taste quite the same as our home-cooked meals. These are small discomforts compared to what our Bible heroes experienced.

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Gather around the Campfire

Judy grew up in a large family. Her parents had 7 daughters, adopted 2 sons, and provided a home for 53 foster children over the years, 5 of whom stayed with them until high school graduation. Judy remembers that they all had chores to do and claims she was an amazing dishwasher, partly due to lots of practice since the counters were often full of dirty dishes. She mostly wore hand-me-downs that were often the wrong size or worn out or both. She often felt awkward in group settings, but she also says life was good in that large Christian family where love abounded.

When she was 9 years old, Judy, who by then was a tomboy nicknamed “Bugs” because of her fascination with insects, went to missions camp for the first time. She considered it a great privilege to be there and a life-changing experience. Some of the camp highlights for Judy were singing silly camp songs, learning new ways to pray, developing friendships (some that have lasted a lifetime), growing spiritually, and being enthralled with the missionaries who shared their stories. As a result, Judy developed a love for missions that she now instills in others.

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