A Better Way to Build: Lessons from an Angry Pastor

building house - bricks and project for construction industry

There is an age-old technique pastors have used to give their church a sense of unity and mission. It’s called the building campaign. Trust me. I have heard about it, read about, and have seen it. Now don’t get me wrong. This is not the case with all building campaigns. Even as I write this, my home church is doing a long overdue renovation and is engaging in a long-term building plan. In fact, they put off an expensive building plan for many years in order to support more missionaries on the field.

So What Exactly Does Compulsion Look Like?

We have visited a lot of churches. I will never forget the most awkward church service I have ever attended. It was immediately after we began our journey as missionaries. Up until that time, I only heard about such things, but that Sunday, we actually heard it with our own ears. It was a pastor chastising the congregation for not participating in a capital campaign. To be clear, he wasn’t chastising them for not fulfilling a pledge; he reprimanded all those who chose not to pledge to the campaign. He proceeded to tell his congregation that he was “angry, saddened, and vexed” when he thought of all those who didn’t give. More than that, he told them that he knew the names of everyone who didn’t pledge.

boss scolding his employees and these will run

This particular capital campaign was an effort to pay down the mortgage debt earlier than scheduled. The rationale for the quick retirement of the mortgage was so the church could increase its missions budget. On the face of it, there is nothing wrong with that rationale. The backstory, according to a member, was that the congregation already heard that before while worshiping in their original building. Shortly after that mortgage burning, the decision was made to sell the church and embark on a new building campaign.

If that chastising were not bad enough on that Lord’s Day, the really strange part was that the pastor proceeded to preach on 2 Corinthians 9:7 only hours later at the evening service. Let’s remind ourselves of the passage:

“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”  (ESV)

I don’t know how that preacher handled this passage that evening, I wasn’t there. But I can assure you that what he did that morning was a betrayal of the passage. If that was not compulsion by the pastor, I don’t know what is. Unfortunately this is not an isolated incident in the Lord’s church. As a follow up, I was there the following Sunday evening as he continued his series on 2 Corinthians 9, where he recognized his hearers may have thought he had a harsh tone, only to double down on his statement, without any hint of apology.

WWPD — What Would Peter Do?

Now I agree that pastors must admonish their congregation to give to the work of the kingdom. Of course, someone may call upon Acts 5:1-11 where Peter rebukes Ananias and Sapphira for not giving all they declared to have given. That was a pretty severe situation and ought to put the fear of God in us. But I don’t recall Peter expressing his personal anger to them (not that Peter was incapable of expressing his frustration with people). As far as we can tell from that passage, Peter dealt with them in a straightforward fashion declaring how the Spirit was going to deal with them. Yet even if Peter did indeed express deep vexation towards that lying couple, we have seen enough of Peter to not emulate him during his emotionally extreme moments.

According to studies most Christians don’t give anything that resembles a tithe, while so many give sacrificially. Our requests for support are turned down time and time again because churches have really tight budgets, or even more, they are operating over budget. Let me emphasize my appreciation for the pastors who give their all and encourage their flock to do the same for the kingdom. We know many of them.

Lesson Learned

Mood swings in a girl

This                                                                                        Not This

Like angry pastors, I, too, can get frustrated. I would much rather be serving on the field with all our funds raised right now rather than waiting for folks to cheerfully give to our ministry. But we are on the Lord’s timetable not mine. He moves the hearts of people, not me. And He doesn’t need me scolding His people for not giving to our ministry.

As painful as it was to watch, I am thankful that I was able to be there that particular Sunday. By God’s providence that year, I was able to witness something I wouldn’t have believed if you told me. The Lord used that occasion to remind me how not to raise funds even though that scolding worked–they ended up meeting their goal, and they never did decide to partner with us. All by God’s grace!

Are You a Cheerful Giver?

I don’t know who is reading this post. I don’t know your financial situation. I don’t know your heart condition. I don’t know who you are, and even if I did, I promise I won’t publicly expose you for not giving to our mission.

I cannot tell you that the Lord of the Harvest requires you to give to our mission, but I can tell you that He requires you to give to the Great Commission. We can only hope He moves on your heart to give in our direction.

hand nurturing and watering young baby plants growing in germination sequence on fertile soil with natural green background

We don’t have anything to offer you except our prayers and reports from the field of what Jesus is doing in Indian country. We don’t have any forecasts or projections of how Jesus will give you a really good ROI (return on investment).  But God’s word tells us that we should not despise small beginnings (Zach 4:10). Some plant, some water, but we are assured that it is the Lord who gives the increase (1 Cor 3:7). Our ministry does the watering. Please consider our small beginning and see how the Lord increases the fruit of our labors.

If you would like to talk to us about our ministry and how you can be part of our support team, please contact us. We are always available to talk to you.

Talking Leaves

*Talking leaves is a Cherokee reference to pages of books, newspapers, etc. It was first coined by a Cherokee man named Sequoyah who brought literacy to the Cherokee. Read about his story here.

The following list of books here represent a small sampling of my personal resources that have challenged and shaped my thinking. Essentially they give perspective. They were written by both Christians and non-Christians as well as Native and non-Native alike. Perhaps one day I will provide my reasons why I chose these books.

Bridges to Reconciliation

Bridges of Reconciliation: It’s All About Grace, by Bruce and Linda Farrant. Bruce and Linda have been serving Native America/First Nations peoples for nearly twenty years. This is an essential read for anyone who is interested in serving in Native ministry. Bruce is the NA/FN Ministry Coordinator with Mission to North America (PCA).

Whtiemans Gospel

Whiteman’s Gospel by Craig S. Smith (Ojibwe) is written for both a Native and non-Native audience. As a Native Christian, Craig offers a great apologetic of biblical Christianity to Native American and First Nations people and provides perspective on the difficult issues that have hindered gospel advancement.

One Church Many Tribes

One Church, Many Tribes, by the late Richard Twiss (on the cover)

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Dee Brown

Lies My Teacher Told Me 2

Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, James W. Loewen

Education to Extinction

Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience, 1875-1928, David Wallace Adams.

All the Real Indians Died Off

“All the Real Indians Died Off”: And 20 Other Myths about Native Americans. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio-Whitaker

This Rebelious House

This Rebellious House: American History and the Truth of Christianity, Steven J. Keillor. This is for historians, students, Christians and all citizens of conscience caught in the crossfire of our nation’s current culture wars. Keillor does a brilliant job articulating the difference between biblical Christianity and Western Christendom.

Now You Know: Answering the call to Native America

Not Feeling It?

freedomWhat motivates you to give to a particular missionary or ministry? We continually ask people to pray to see if the Lord is calling them to join our team. The question is, what would it take for the Lord to show you that you should be a part of this effort to reach Native America? What is keeping you from giving?

For some people, it is simply a matter of finances. Money is tight for a lot of folks. We understand that. Really. We’re feeling it, too.

For other folks, it is a matter of simply not feeling it. But what does “feeling it” feel like? Do you give based on a personal benefit or fulfillment that you get from a particular ministry? Do you receive educational/edifying materials and/or a sense of community from that ministry? Simply put, do you get something out of it?

Or do you give based on a sense of urgency about a particular mission field such as feeding the hungry or giving medical attention to the poor? Or is it adventure based? Are you driven to give to a missionary based on an element of danger like venturing into a hostile nation or perhaps going deep into uncharted parts of the world?

The Home Court Disadvantage

I believe the Native American mission field is suffering under a home court disadvantage. For many folks, it just doesn’t seem like a valid mission field anymore. It’s too close to home. For more than ten years, I have heard Christians question the legitimacy of missions to Native America. Much of mainstream Christian America simply doesn’t recognize Native Americans as distinct people groups. Comments like, “They’re Americans, aren’t they?” or “Why don’t they get off the reservations and come to our churches?” or “Make them assimilate?” or “They have their casinos. They’re doing fine,” or perhaps the saddest of  them all, “Do we even have Indians anymore?” The worst part about those comments is that they are uttered in our churches. But I can assure you, there is still a harvest in Indian Country.

forest picture frame on dry ground texture Nature Conservancy co

Greener on the Other Side?

I firmly believe if we were talking about the indigenous people groups in foreign lands like Brazil, Central America, or somewhere in Asia, it would be a different conversation. There would be a greater sense of urgency and adventure. But here at “home,” I truly think there is an apathy and cynicism towards missions to our indigenous neighbors here in the U.S. and Canada. Perhaps Native America is not exotic enough for us. Have our Native neighbors become too familiar? Are they not “indigenous” enough anymore?

What We Thought We Knew

hollywood-staaapPart of the problem is that most Americans believe they have a real working knowledge of Native Americans and have relegated them to the past. I can assure you that if your knowledge of our Native neighbors comes mostly from a high school text book (Christian or public), news media outlets (conservative or liberal), and movies (Hollywood or otherwise), then you have an impoverished understanding of your Native American neighbors. And that was no accident.

I am certainly no expert on Native America. Even with my intentional studies over the last few years, annual trips to Cherokee, NC since 2006 (and other reservations), friendships with members from many tribes, I remain simply an informed novice. The real history of Native Americans and their continuing story is much more than what we can passively glean from our cultural sources.

What We Do Know

We already know that Jesus wants to make disciples from among Native American and First Nations peoples. He said “Go, therefore to all nations…” (Matt 28:19). There are 567 in the United States and another 634 in Canada. So there is no shortage of harvest. But there is a shortage of workers. They are few, so we are told by the Lord of the Harvest to pray for workers (Luke 10:2).

Here is a thought: Perhaps when you first began hearing us talk about our mission to Native America, you didn’t think the Lord was calling you to support this ministry. But let me challenge you a bit with our original question: What would it take for the Lord to show you that you should be a part of this effort to reach Native America?

Consider this:

  • Have you been awakened to the need for missions to Native America in a way that you didn’t know before?
  • Have you been convinced that Jesus’ name was mis-represented in some very significant ways in Native America?
  • Are you convinced Jesus wants to do great things among the Indigenous peoples of North America unlike any other time in history?
  • Do you actually believe that the Lord wants to build up His church and expand it in Native America?

How much of your knowledge of Native American providentially came from reading our posts? Whenever we speak to people whether in churches or privately, we hear the same response, “I just didn’t know.” If you have been reading just a fraction of what we have posted on our blog, LennoxLetters.com (which itself is very little), you most likely have learned more about Native American/First Nations peoples than most people you know.

Now You Know

Perhaps before you didn’t know, but now you turn knowledge into actionknow. What will you do with this knowledge? There is a ripe harvest out there in Indian Country and there are Native Christians who are being raised up at the Mokahum Ministry Center. We have received a call to lock arms with Christian Native leaders to make disciples and raise up leaders from among the 1,201 federally recognized nations on the North American continent.

Billy Graham said it years ago that he believed that Native America is a sleeping giant. There is good reason to believe the awakening has begun. The Lord is doing it, and he has given us the call to join him. Now you know. What will you do with that knowledge?

If you have obeyed Jesus by “earnestly praying that the Lord of the Harvest would send laborers into His harvest” (Lk 10:2), then rejoice! We are a partial fulfillment to that prayer. Now that He has answered your prayer, please consider joining us as we answer the call to Native America as we prepare more laborers for the harvest.

Please Let Us Know

If you believe the Lord is calling you to join our support team, please let us know. If you have read this entire post, congratulations, you have endured more than most readers. This proves your concern. We need your support.You can contact us anytime. Call, text, email, Skype, FB Message, however. Let’s talk about you coming aboard our support team and be part of the harvest in Native America.

To Contact Us, click here.

To Give, click here.

All for the Kingdom!

Patrick & Regina

 

*For more about cynicism and apathy towards missions to Native America, read my post Who Needs Fixing?: A New Perspective on Native American Missions.

*To learn more about Hollywood’s portrayal of Native Americans and its affect on American culture, watch the documentary Reel Injun.

Whoever Watches the Wind

“Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.”

– Ecclesiastes 11:4, NIV

Thunderstorm

The end of the year is upon us, and we need to finish strong. ‘Strong’ for us means that we have a sharp increase on the pledge side of our ledger. Our barns are not yet full. From our vantage point of life under the sun, we don’t see hope for our mission. That’s why we need faith. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen (Heb 11:1).

Looking at the economy over the last few years and reflecting on the many trials we have endured on this long winding road to the mission field, things don’t look good. Winds of change have prevailed against us numerous times over the last couple years, yet hundreds of people persist in praying for us. But we are still waiting for the answer to those prayers. We don’t know when the Lord will allow us to reap what we’ve sown, so we continue to plant.

Planting with Pledges

With the end of the year approaching, we anticipate a certain amount of people will give us financial gifts of all sizes. End-of-the-year gifts are needed because of either regular or extra expenses. During our team-building phase of ministry, we need money to cover traveling, communication, training, and our stipend. BUT the journey to the mission field would be a whole lot shorter if people would commit to a pledge.

A pledge is the actual stepping stone that paves the way to the field. If all those year-end gifts were actually pledges for the next four years, we would probably be on our way to the field.

Missionaries never know what will come in at the end of the year. That’s why we can’t really budget according to one-time/special gifts. We need people to commit to a pledge for at least four years. So much of the end-of-the-year giving ends up being used for more travel, more communication, more newsletters asking for pledges. Again, all financial gifts are used for ministry, but we are hoping and praying that we would move to the next phase of our ministry on the field at the Mokahum Ministry Center. But we can’t do that without … you guessed it … pledges.

Regina, Patric, Huron Claus (CHIEF Ministries), Richard Pratt (Third Millennium Ministries)

Regina, Patrick, Huron Claus (CHIEF Ministries), Richard Pratt (Third Millennium Ministries)

Planting with New Partnerships

In the meantime, we are currently working with CHIEF Ministries and Third Millennium Ministries as they coordinate a special project together involving 500 Native pastors and leaders. There will be a conference for Native American/First Nations pastors and Christian leaders July 2017. Five hundred Native Christian leaders will be given an introductory thumb drive that contains nearly half of the Third Mill curriculum. That’s about one-year of seminary education for FREE with more online. Imagine the potential!

Please pray for us. We do not have a team of marketing campaigners, development officers, or callers. It’s just us. We are striving as hard as we can to reach the field, but it’s not enough. We need the Lord to move on our behalf. We need more support. We need a bigger team. We are depending on our support team to introduce us to more people who may want to join us. Please pray about that and contact us.

Just give us a call. Text us. Email us. Skype with us. Go online to MTW.org and search out our name under the Give page. On the back of this page, there are all the various ways to contact us and different ways to give. Let’s talk. Let’s get together. Consider having a home gathering with friends.

By faith we are going into another year of the unknown, yet we are confident the Lord is with us and has already gone before us. So we plod on. We pray that He is calling you to join us on our journey to Indian Country through the Mokahum Ministry Center on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation near Bemidji, MN. The King awaits our arrival. Will you join us?

To GIVE, click here.

To CONTACT us, click here.

 

 

 

Confessions of a Materialist Book Junkie

books-2

A few of the keepers

Yes, that’s me. I admit it. I am now a recovering materialistic book junkie. Knowledge puffs up, and no better way to get a fix than reading the latest book on a profound theological issue or movement.

As we are preparing to move to the field, I have been going through all the books I have purchased over the years – all of them good, and easily “justified” purchases for a seminarian, writer, ministry director,  and now missionary – but in the end, I will never read most of those impulse purchases at the seminary book store and national conferences. I could add up hundreds – yea, thousands – of dollars that could have helped a missionary or two on the field or fed a child somewhere in the world. And that is only books! What else have I wasted my money on?  

Regrets and Redemption

There is an unforgettable movie scene that ever haunts me. It’s the one at the end of the movie Schindler’s List where Schindler learns that the war is over. In that moment, the bottom falls out from under him when he realizes that he could have done more, but he didn’t. He realized that the ring on his finger or his expensive car could have bought back so many more Jews from the death camps. That scene comes back to me again and again when I consider my own efforts for the kingdom throughout the years. But it is not over. Jesus has already won the war for us, but unlike Oskar Schindler, we still have time and more resources than most people in world history. Great is His faithfulness. His mercies are new every morning (Lam 3:23). Let’s live in mercy and not regret.

Warning:  At this point, someone may be tempted to think I hate books, and that  I am trying to guilt people out of buying books and giving all the money to missions instead. Resist that temptation. This is not either/or. Christians need to study more, and they need to give more to missions. Based on my own personal sin of literary gluttony and from observing other personal libraries, my argument is that we are way too quick to buy books we will never read, or, even worse, we will buy books that are redundant. Let’s be honest. Many of us collect books like baseball trading cards.

For a short list of books I recommend to those are interested in learning more about our Native neighbors, see my post Talking Leaves.

The End is Near!

Actually the end of our fundraising season is near.  We need to be on the field by July 2017. If you are looking for place to invest in the kingdom of God with your year-end giving, we implore you to consider us. In fact, would you consider us for the next four years? That would be considered a pledge that would move us to the mission field. Learn what a pledge is here.

Like most missionary efforts, our ministry, is focused on smaller segments of societies that are not noticed by most people. But I believe that the Lord takes pleasure in small beginnings (Zach 4:10). Unlike the big ministries, we have nothing to offer our supporters as far as goods and services are concerned, no books, no DVDs, no conferences. All you receive are reports from the field, gratitude from the missionaries, and a benediction from the Lord “well done thou a good and faithful servant” (Matt 25:21). Will you dare to join us? 

Be Bold in Your Prayers – Our God owns “the cattle on a thousand hills” (Ps 50:10)

If you have prayed for us but have not yet pledged, include yourself in that prayer. Ask the Lord if He wants you to be on our team. Have you prayed that way yet? Go for it. No, really. Pray that right now. He just may surprise you with the funds to fulfill your desire to pledge.

We need you to join our team and send us to serve the Lord in Indian Country at the Mokahum Ministry Center. We have received the call. They are waiting for us. The Lord has cleared a pathway for us. Will you put down a paving stone with a pledge?

The learn more about the best ways to give, click here.

To give right now, click here.

To contact us, click here.

All for the kingdom,

A Blessed Burden

New Opportunities
Years ago I was given an open invitation to speak at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS, by my former professor, Dr. Elias Medeiros. While teaching in Orlando one summer, the Lord used him in a big way to get me onto the mission field. This past October, I took him up on his offer to teach in his missions class. What a privilege to teach in his class on a subject we love so much! We also were able to speak at a lunch the next day on campus. [excerpt from Lennox Letters Fall Report 2016 newsletter. Click here to read the full newsletter.]

I remember my first day of Missions class in seminary. It was one of those week-intensive courses during the summer with a visiting professor. That year RTS Orlando invited Dr. Elias Medeiros from the Jackson campus to teach us everything we needed to know in five fast days. For many of us, this class was the most memorable, and for me in particular, the most life-changing.

On the first day I realized that I couldn’t enjoy this class without Regina. I told Regina that she would have break from the kids at home and sit in on the class for at least one session. Regina and I met in Bible college, and missions was the original passion that drove us there, but it seemed like a distant memory at this stage in our lives.

Dr. Medeiros gave us four eight-hour days of preaching through missional passages of Scripture (I was not exaggerating about being taught everything we needed to know). On the fifth day we took a field trip to the largest mosque in Orlando. By the time we got to the mosque and parked the cars, Dr. Medeiros was already making friends and giving out gospel tracts in the parking lot. He is the real deal.

During that unforgettable week, the Lord reminded me of why I started out in went to Bible college in the first place. I wanted to be a missionary. Serving on church staff was a good experience in many ways, but my heart was always longing to serve as a missionary. There was a reason I kept bringing my youth group to Cherokee, NC every year. The Lord blessed me with that burden to serve among Native American/First Nations peoples. He has been faithful to give us the desires of our hearts, and he will do the same for you.

To help us serve among Native American/First Nations people, click here to GIVE.

To talk with or contact Patrick and Regina, click here.

Ten Days in the North Woods

Ten Days in the North Woods

We recently returned from a ten-day visit to our mission field at the Mokahum Ministry Center. Although it was a short trip, the Lord used it in many big ways. The trip was three-fold. First, our children got a site visit to see their future home. Secondly, the MMC needed someone to teach a writing class, so they asked me. And thirdly, we were able to attend an important seminar by Craig Smith, author of Whiteman’s Gospel, an important book for Natives and non-Natives about the gospel and Native ministry. Craig is the brother-in-law of MMC director, Zane Williams. Zane’s sister and faithful kingdom servant, LaDonna, is on the right.

(excerpt from Lennox Letters Fall Special Report 2016, to read the full newsletter, click here)