relationships

Most of the Rest of the World—MOTROW

©tkbeyond / word-strong.com
©tkbeyond / word-strong.com

Most of the rest of the world is where billions of people live. The majority of the world's population isn't centered in one geographic location but is tied together in some ways.

In some circles, this is called the two-thirds world. In times past, it was termed—underdeveloped, developing, second and third world. World missions organizations now use the term majority world.

I use the acronym MOTROW for Most Of The Rest Of the World. This includes what once were called second and third world nations but also other nations and people groups.

Who is MOTROW?

What nations does MOTROW include? It's easier to say what (or who) MOTROW doesn't include—the USA, Canada, Australia, England. Even that list is too broad for what I mean by MOTROW, so let me narrow it down.

First of all, nations, as the Bible describes them, are called people groups—people with a distinct culture and language (or dialect) regardless of geographic location or politics.

Thousands of people groups are scattered throughout the world, ranging in population from several thousands to a few million people. You can see a list of people groups on the Joshua Project website for a complete index.

Over 40% of all the people groups in the world are considered unreached with the Gospel, having no Christian witness or community among them.

Worldviews

A real distinction of MOTROW is how the rest of the world is seen, called a worldview. That is, how people of MOTROW view the world around them.

MOTROW primarily consists of non-western cultures. By non-western I mean how people think, interact with others, and live out their lives. This has to do with priorities and values, not geography.

Americans and other similar western cultures focus on time and tasks—getting a job done and using time efficiently. As the expression goes, "Time is money!".

©tkbeyond / word-strong.com
©tkbeyond / word-strong.com

MOTROW is focused on people and events. Events are important because of the people involved or celebrated in the events. These can be personalized events like birthdays and anniversaries, or community-wide events like festivals.

For example—in America, a wedding is typically focused on the couple being married, the venue, the style or theme of the wedding, and so on—in MOTROW, the couple is important, but so are family and friends.

My first glimpse of this was in the Philippines after a wedding ceremony I officiated. On the wedding night, following the ceremony and reception, many close friends hung around with the bride and groom in their bridal suite (cottage) till late in the evening.

In America, the newly wedded couple can hardly wait to get away from everyone to go on a honeymoon. Anniversaries, in a similar way, aren't celebrated by the couple alone, but with family and friends. 

Here's an important distinction—MOTROW is more concerned with community than individuality.

Thought processes and values

Another distinction of MOTROW is how thought processes connect to life.

In America, we tend to be more concerned with the destination than the journey itself. We, along with most western-oriented cultures, tend to think in a straight line, with an analytical thought process.

This is both a great strength and weakness. Others from around the world (MOTROW) come to America and enroll in our schools to learn this capacity. It can be quite valuable.

But this linear and analytical process is a weakness when important life realities are neglected. Relationships, quality of life, creativity, inspiration, peace of mind and heart, and spiritual needs often suffer for what is deemed more important.

Once again, other people are elevated over tasks in MOTROW.

Coming to a town near you!

©tkbeyond / word-strong.com
©tkbeyond / word-strong.com

So, how does this relate to anyone, especially in America? A couple things come to mind.

MOTROW has been moving into the good ol' US of A for the past few decades. Many people groups live in communities (usually urban areas) and are often isolated and bewildered by American culture.

Thankfully, some churches and communities reach out to them, but not nearly enough to meet these needs.

Great opportunities

Great opportunities for reaching the world (various people groups) with the gospel exist right here in the US. Many people and ministries are starting to reach out to them.

Another interesting development is how other nations are sending missionaries to reach the unreached in America. Not long ago I reviewed a book that gives some great insight into this.

Secondly, most Americans are oblivious to MOTROW because of ignorance of world geography and other cultures and people groups.

Our news about the outside world is limited, edited, and almost non-existent. The internet has helped, but only if you're looking for world news. Even then, it's still pretty limited.

Reading and hearing the news outside the US is quite different. Political and cultural views of the world and America are from a different worldview, which stands to reason. It gives anyone willing to consider it an opportunity to see things differently.

Connect, engage, change, and expand

So, look around wherever you live. There's likely a people group or two from MOTROW near you.

Have you already recognized people from MOTROW around you?

Have you had any interaction with them?

If you're not ready to reach out or help them in some direct way, start praying for them, learn about them. A couple of places you can look are—the Joshua Project website and People Groups site. Another helpful site is Global Research.

When you engage them, your perspective on life and the world will change and your worldview will expand!


Here are a couple other resources that might be of interest regarding world population growth—

World Population

About that Overpopulation Problem

The World Has Changed

©kentoh | 123rf stock photos
©kentoh | 123rf stock photos

Saying the world has changed may seem an understatement, an obvious one. But Paul Borthwick is a world-renown teacher and consultant on world missions, and this statement is the recurring theme of his book.

He isn't referring to technology, nor culture per se. It's a declaration about global missions. And he ought to know, he has much experience to back it up.

While reading through one of his more recent books, Western Christians in Global Mission, I was both challenged and refreshed by his writing, research, and dialogue to western Christians involved in global missions.

As a cross-cultural missionary myself, I had a vested interest in reading this book and was not disappointed.

Western_Mission_cover
Western_Mission_cover

A Big question

I've recommended it to others and wrote a review on Amazon. But I wanted to make a recommendation here on my blog.

The subtitle alone challenges the reader with a question too often unconsidered—

What's the Role of the North American Church (in Global Mission)?

Having been a church planter in the US and trainer of church planters and leaders in SE Asia, this is a vital question to be answered. Mr. Borthwick does this well in several ways.

9 Great Changes and Challenges

He begins with broad views of the church in North America and the Majority World, and how they fit into the state of the world.

He sees Nine Great changes in the world that are Great Challenges for the Church worldwide (pages 33-60).

  • The Great Transition— the worldwide church is primarily non-white, non-Western, and non-wealthy
  • The Great Migration— there are vast movements of people from nation to nation
  • 2 Great Divides— an Economic Divide and a Theological Divide
  • 2 Great Walls— the first being a wall between the gospel "haves" and the gospel "have-nots," the second is the effect of environmental impacts on the poor.
  • The Great Commission— the church has not done a good job making disciples, either in North America or the Majority World (making converts is not the same as making disciples).
  • The Great Compassion— seeing beyond the need of salvation to see people in their need of many things for daily life (yet without causing a dependency).
  • The Great Salvation— a personal worldview that serves as a reminder and motivation for going out into the world with the gospel.
  • The Great Celebration— having a vision for the celebration in heaven of every tribe, tongue, and nation worshipping Jesus.

Two appraisals

The author goes on to give "An Appraisal of the North American Church." It is one I found to be both confirming and challenging. Then "An Appraisal of the Majority World Church."

This was both refreshing and disconcerting, and it confirmed my thoughts that the great need in the Majority World is the need for sound equipping of leaders.

A good portion of the book is dedicated to seeing how to move forward to meet these changes and challenges.

There are plenty of open-ended questions and penetrating insights given by Majority World leaders to foster discussion and consideration. The author adds stories of his own that give vivid insight into the learning curve presented in this book.

His extensive experience in many countries and continents with various leaders and people groups qualifies him to not only make statements but pose important questions. He gets into specifics and provides practical queries and guidance.

A new role

I found myself agreeing over and over again with the points made and the challenges posed. Paul Borthwick makes his case well and in a gracious way.

It lines up with my own observations from experience on the mission field for the past 25+ years, including 15 years as a resident missionary in the Philippines.

The continuing theme throughout the book is, "The world has changed." So has the church worldwide and the world mission movement.

America has a role, but it's not out in front taking charge, directing, and funding everything.

The American church's most valuable role is in a partnership alongside Majority World missionary leaders.

Recommended!

I don't just recommend this book, I believe it is a must read for anyone in North America who wants to keep in step with God's plan for His Great Commission, especially western culture missionaries.

If you're interested in global missions, I hope you'll take the time to read and thoughtfully consider all that's presented in this book.

The world has changed and it's waiting for us to catch up with it!


Next week I'll post a follow-up to this related to the Majority World or what I call MOTROW


This is an edited and revised post previously published a few years ago on another platform.

Talking Into the Air

unsplash.com_JRosewell

unsplash.com_JRosewell

Engaging someone in a conversation can be very satisfying, even when there's a difference of opinion. There's a sense of give-and-take, of listening and responding. This is true dialog.

On the other hand, you've probably experienced a more lop-sided conversation where you're doing all the listening, or perhaps you're doing all the talking. One-sided conversations aren't really conversations, they're monologs and aren't very productive.

What's even less productive than a monolog is when one person talks over another without listening. Even worse is when a person speaks in another language or uses terminology foreign to whoever is listening. This is like talking into the air.

Another language

One day while walking across a small island in the Philippines, I engaged a young man in conversation as we both carried a cooler full of drinks and food. He listened and nodded as I went on and on.

Years later, he told me how little he understood of our conversation at that time because he didn't understand much English. I spoke little of his dialect but thought he understood me. In reality, I was just talking into the air while he listened.

Since then, we've known each other for over 20 years and developed a fruitful relationship of mutual respect. I've learned to listen more and he's become more confident in communicating what's in his heart and mind. In the beginning, I was the teacher and he was my student. Now we are friends and partners in ministry.

4 Insights for more effective communication

This story illustrates and provides a few insights for me that I'll share here. These are some basic things to help make communication more effective so we're not just talking into the air.

  • @@Language and wording are important, that is how we convey what we say to someone@@
  • @@We need to know and understand our listeners to whom we're trying to communicate@@
  • @@We need to find a common point of reference or interest with whoever we speak to@@
  • @@Find the most effective means or way to express and convey what you want to say@@

As pointed out last week, effective communication needs to be a dialog, not a monolog, and listening well is essential.

Language

@@Words and phrases are like containers for our thoughts@@. Even with sign language, each gesture expresses some meaning or idea. If we want people to understand what we're saying, we need to make it easy to open these containers that convey our thoughts.

Two simple ways to make them easy to open are—use simple words and translate terms and expressions or idioms into our own words.

Working overseas with students who are non-English speakers I ask them to put answers to my questions in their own words (IYOW–in your own words). This requires them to process what they are learning so they understand it better.

Putting things in simple wording also requires us to process what we're trying to communicate, and helps us to hear things more from the point of view of those who hear us. When we bring things it a simple level, we make it easier for others to understand what we're trying to say.

Understanding

As a pastor or teacher, or with any public speaking opportunity, I observe who I'll be speaking to before I get up to speak. I consider the demographics of the audience. Who are they? Where do they live? What to they do in life?

Basically, I'm looking for the most common factor among those gathered. When working with the division of fractions in arithmetic, we look for the lowest common denominator. That's the idea I have in mind.

I look beyond the better-educated people and those who seem like they'll grasp what I say more easily. I aim for those who might have a harder time understanding what I want to say to the whole group. If it's a church, I look for the younger believers and whoever might be non-believers and aim my message at them. They're my most important listeners.

Common point

@@Part of understanding who I'm speaking to involves finding a common point of reference@@ with them as a group, or maybe a couple different points of interest. If the people are older or younger, I try to relate things so they will receive it best. I tailor illustrations, examples, and stories to fit them. I even try to use idioms and words that are most familiar to them.

Jesus is our prime example for this. It never seemed to matter who was in front of Him, He knew how to communicate so they understood Him. What Jesus said to the woman at the well (John 4:7-26), is different than how He spoke to Nicodemus (John 3:1-12), or how Jesus spoke to Zacchaeus who climbed up in a tree to see Him (Luke 19:1-10). 

I don't speak to young IT students the same away I do to farmers in the mountains of the Philippines. I need to adjust what I'm saying and how I convey it in a way that relates to them best. Believers can quote Paul who said, "I have become all things to all people" (1 Cor 9:22), but do we really do this?

Ways of communicating

All of this leads up to how we communicate to others or the way we convey what we have to say. @@Different situations or circumstances also impact how we communicate@@. I'm not going to preach a sermon to a small, informal gathering. I'd rather engage people in discussions rather than talk at them.

Some of the ways I'll speak and communicate with people is to use stories, questions, or find some way of listening and responding to them. Basically, whether preaching, teaching, or just talking with someone, I want to engage them in dialog in a way that interests them.

Jesus used questions and provocative statements many times with His disciples and even in public gatherings (Matt 16:5-12; John 7:37-39). He used stories (parables) that connected with the people who gathered to hear Him (3 parables in Luke 15). As noted above, sometimes Jesus simply engaged people in conversation.

@@I've found people much more open to hearing God's redemptive story after I engage them in genuine dialog@@ rather than to immediately launch into a presentation of the gospel. I've also used each of these ways to engage people while traveling and while teaching and training leaders.

Final thoughts

These four ways of developing effective communication are useful in whatever role you have in life or in various life situations. They work for pastors, teachers, cross-cultural missionaries, writers, supervisors or staff, coaches or teammates, leaders at any level, or those who listen.

Again, @@listening well is critical to good communication. It shows people we're interested in them@@ rather than our self or our own agenda.

Practical application

@@Discipleship is a long-term investment, not just a training course to equip believers@@. Pastoral care involves understanding, patience, listening, along with a practical application of mercy and grace.

Good teachers build a strong foundation and framework for learning before delving into a deeper understanding of the truth. Cross-cultural missionaries need to find bridges and points of connection between their culture of origin and the culture of the people they want to reach.

Effective leaders need to understand the goals, passions, and struggles of their staff or team members. People in the trenches of life and work need to understand what's expected of them.

All of these life roles and situations work better when communication is done well. Those of us in roles of leadership at any level need to model these ways of making communication more effective.

For example, as a teacher, when my students aren't understanding what I'm trying to teach them, then it's my responsibility to find a way to help them understand. I need to model for them what I want them to learn to do.

When we can connect with people in these ways, we'll communicate better and make the world better around us.

How about you? How can you put these insights into action in your life?


Resources–

  • Here's a simple Glossary for some Christianese terms from the addenda of my book
  • If you'd like to know more about developing questions for an interactive Bible study, check out the Bible studies under Inductive Bible Study on the Resources page.
  • If you'd like to know more about how to tell stories in your own words (IYOW), contact me via email through the Contact form at the bottom of the Resources page.

Getting Personal

James-Sawvee-EJ_Thai
James-Sawvee-EJ_Thai

A drastic difference exists between western and asian culture when it comes to personal interaction. Actually, this difference exists with most of the rest of the world (MOTROW) and western culture. Westerners like plenty of space, whereas much of the world will get right in your face, enough so that you can smell their breath, and they yours.

Time and tasks are the priority of westerners, while most other cultures value people and events. Events are important because people are involved, and events mark important milestones in people's lives. As westerners, we're more about getting the job done, making the most of our time, and putting off vacations and sleep to do so.

In the Philippines, a very social culture, people will sit outside in the evening to greet one another and visit. When's the last time you saw a front porch filled with people sitting, watching, and available for a visit?

Keep it personal

An important element in sharing your faith is to keep it personal. This is contrary to our tendency to not get too personal. But keep in mind, sharing your faith is always about relationship—relationship with God. When it gets focused on theology, the discussion easily turns into a debate rather than knowing the Lord.

Our theology needs to be sound, but this is rarely a good place to start sharing your faith. People who have no background in the Bible won't be able to relate, and those with some background often want to talk about their perception of the truth.

Narratives compose much of the Bible's writings. These stories reveal God's interaction with people, and people's life stories as they intersect with God. It's at this point, this intersection, that we gain insight on sharing our faith with others.

Everyone's got a story

When we engage people by asking them about themselves, we open a door of opportunity. This needs to be done with a genuine interest in people, not just a means to an end. We're not a salesperson hawking our wares.

I like getting to know people. Asking questions is an effective way to find who a person is, but be careful to not make it like an investigation. It's not about rattling off a bunch of questions to get some facts about a person. The goal is to hear their story, and everyone has a story to tell.

People will tell their story to someone interested in hearing it. Think of all the reality-based programs that fill television, YouTube, magazines, and blogs. It's obvious that people want to know the stories of other people. And so, this creates an opportunity to share our faith and our own life story.

Make connection

What interests you? My interests are varied and broad, but there's only a few things I'm passionate about. You'll know what those are when you engage me in them—I'll get animated in my talking.

I'm a fairly public person, but my wife is not. She doesn't feel the need to comment on everything like I do. But when the subject of children or grandchildren comes up, it touches a vital part of her heart. Her life and work has focused on her love of children, not just her own, but children in general. She still works in a preschool with babies and toddlers, and loves it.

So, we want to find a common point of interest or connection when talking with people. But again, it needs to be a genuine interest in them as a person, not just a way for us to talk.

A fitting story

When I engage people in conversation, I try to listen for a common thread in their story. Often I'll get some insight into a person's life, even when it's a light conversation. I make a point to listen carefully. Sometimes this provides a reference point for future conversations. I also look for similarities to my own experience in life.

The more familiar I become with the narratives in the Bible, the more I see how these stories mirror the lives of people around me. These narratives run the gamut of emotions and events people experience in every day life.

As you engage a person in conversation, pay attention to details in their life. If you're open and receptive, God will help you see how that person's life connects with someone in the Bible. When you realize a particular story fits a person, then you can share it with them. After all, it's a story, and we all love stories.

Ayele-story_OmoVillage
Ayele-story_OmoVillage

Keep it simple

On one of my travels in ministry overseas, I was teaching a small church in a remote village in Ethiopia. The fellow believer who was my guide and interpreter would take what I said and put it into their own dialect, which was different than the written materials we used.

As I taught, I realized that some of it was too western and unknown for them to understand, or even be interpreted in a clear way. So, I began to use stories in the Bible as a means of instruction. They engaged well with these stories, and conceptual truth became real to them.

Christians often speak in a foreign language when we share our faith. This is referred to as Christianese. When we use Bible wording and theological terms, people don't understand it. I make a point of saying things in non-Christianese. In other words, I use plain and simple words, and avoid quoting Bible verses to people.

More and more people have little to no knowledge of what the Bible says, and don't see it as more authoritative than any other book. This is the reality of our times and if we ignore it, people will ignore us and what we want to share with them. So, ditch the Bible-talk and use other words for Christian terms. Connect with people and share your faith in words and ways they will hear.

Next week I plan to complete this series of posts on sharing our faith. Until then, share your thoughts with me...

How have you connected with other people and their life stories?

Discipleship—How Did Jesus Do It?

Discipleship...How-Did-Jesus-Do-It--e1407699856186.png

Has someone ever laughed at you, yet you're clueless as to why?

When I was a young pastor grappling with the responsibility of shepherding God's people, I knew discipleship was key to doing it well. But I had no plan or program to do so.

I told a good friend who assisted me in the church that I needed to find out how to disciple people. His response? He laughed at me!

Discipleship as a way of life

Why did my friend laugh at me? He told me I was already discipling people. Because I was discipled, I naturally discipled others. It was how I came to follow Jesus.

Because I was discipled, I naturally discipled others

I can trace it back to one of my good friends in high school who became a believer ahead of me. He was young in the faith, but he shared about his life since following Jesus. Since I knew him from before  ("BC"), I could see the change in his life.

He was gracious to me as I touted my own spirituality. I was caught up in the philosophy and morality, or lack thereof, of the times (the late 60's/early 70's), but he shared his faith in Jesus along with the love of Jesus. It was simple, relational, and intentional.

My friend was not a pastor, nor is he today. He was a follower of Jesus. He has remained faithful and still follows Jesus. Though we are separated by a few thousand miles and time, we're fellow disciples of Jesus who disciple others.

All believers are to be fellow disciples of Jesus who disciple others

Everybody's got an opinion

Recently, I read and reposted an article written by Seth Barnes. I saw it on a leaders blog I'm subscribed to and went to his site. I'm funny that way, I like to know something about the person writing the article.

I read and liked the post (appreciated, not just social media "liked" it), so I reposted it. I also read some of the comments. Several people also appreciated his article, but quite a few took exception to it. They thought he should include their view of discipleship.

Here's the thing. It's easy to have an opinion, but opinions are cheap and not always true. The question is— If you think discipleship is important, are you doing it?

From what I see of Seth, whom I don't know personally, he's doing it and doing it well. He has what Jesus says is important in John 15:16 NIV—fruit that will last.

The question is— If you think discipleship is important, are you doing it?

Discipleship is something you do

I'm not a program type of guy. I don't have a grid for discipleship that people need to fit into. I am committed to discipleship. In 1995, I started up a Bible college in the Philippines. The crazy thing is, I never finished Bible college myself.

I developed a curriculum of study through the Bible that was inductive and text-based. It was simple. I realized a few years later that the key ingredient wasn't the curriculum, although important, it was the personal involvement with students as they studied.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I learned how to teach while in the Philippines. Of course, as a church planter and pastor, I thought I knew how to teach. I'm still learning today, as I disciple and mentor others.

Discipleship is done, not taught, per se. Yes, it can be studied, written about, and curriculum can be developed for it, but it must be done to bear fruit—lasting fruit. This is what Jesus did and we cannot improve upon it.

Discipleship is something that needs to be done, not talked about or studied

Here are some more questions and thoughts to consider

  • Do you talk about discipleship, or do it?
  • Do you intentionally and relationally disciple others?
  • Discipleship is more about life example than doctrine or theology.
  • Jesus discipled in a very personal and intentional way.
If you are a follower of Jesus, who is following you as you follow Jesus?

I'm not a well-known expert on the subject of discipleship, but here are some thoughts I have on it— Thoughts on the Essence of Discipleship [Download it by clicking on the link]

Here is what's more important than my thoughts—

  • Learn about Jesus and follow Him (Matt 11:29; 16:24)
  • As you follow Him, be mindful of your example and influence on others, and... 
  • Develop gracious relationships with people who need and want to follow Jesus

This is what my friend did for me, and what Jesus did with His first followers.