Missions

Three Things Christians SHOULD Learn from Mormons!

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I must place a disclaimer here: I do not believe the LDS (i.e. Mormon) Church is a Christian church. Their doctrine differs significantly from historical Christianity to such a degree that they are outside of orthodox faith. For more information on this, I encourage you to watch this video by Ravi Zacharias.


I met with three members from the LDS church (Mormon church) this morning to talk about Jesus. Although I disagree strongly with their doctrine and view of God, there are at least three things we can learn from the Mormon church.

1. We need to emphasize the importance of missions!
Virtually every young man in the Mormon church embarks on a 2-year mission between the ages of 18 – 25. This mission is self-funded and often takes these young adults to different parts of the world. In preparation for the mission field, many of these missionaries learn to speak in a foreign language to effectively witness about their faith.

On the contrary, many Christians this age are content with playing beer-pong and watching pornography. It is an absolute shame that we, who have been entrusted with the message of the Gospel, do not take sharing our faith as seriously as Mormons!

2. We need to seek to do GOOD to our neighbors!
These young men I visited with were well aware I was not going to become a convert. They understood that I am a pastor attending seminary and was interested in simply hearing their stories and challenging them with some thought-provoking questions.

NEVERTHELESS, these young men offered to help me move over the next week. Mormons understand the absolute necessity of serving other people through practical acts of service. As part of their 2-year mission, they devote themselves to community service in order to add value to the city they are called to.

What if we as Christians searched for practical ways to serve our neighbors? What if we offered to help total strangers move? What if we were known by what we were FOR rather than what we were AGAINST?

3. We need to understand WHAT we actually believe!
One of the vital doctrines that puts Mormonism outside of Christianity is their view of the Trinity. Historical Christianity teaches that there is only one God who exists eternally in three distinct persons. Mormonism teaches that there are 3 gods who make up the “Godhead” and if we obey the commands of the church, we can also become gods.

Here’s the thing… these fresh-faced teenagers could actually articulate to me what the Mormon church teaches about God. Although they are wrong, they at least thought through who God is!

The vast majority of Christians’ eyes gloss over when someone mentions the Trinity… or the Atonement… or Propitiation…. or Eschatology… or Ecclesiology… (you get the point!)

DOCTRINE IS IMPORTANT!


I disagree greatly with the Mormon church. I believe Mormons need to turn from their false religion and embrace Biblical Christianity as revealed through Scripture and thousands of years of church history. Nevertheless, there are many things the Mormon church does far greater than our churches… and it’s to our shame!

Toxic Charity

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Thanks to the Kairos Project, I have been profoundly challenged in my views of giving and charity. One of the assignments is to read certain books about the effects of charities on different people groups. The book I am currently reading is – Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help.

To summarize this book, Robert Lupton makes a compelling case that most of our giving to those less fortunate than us is actually hurting them. Instead of seeking time-consuming, holistic transformation of communities from the ground up, we throw a few dollar bills in the direction of those hurting and hope it will provide them with temporary relief.

According to Lupton, this uninformed generosity is far more dangerous than we realize.

I am not saying I am completely on board with Lupton (yet) as I still need to wrestle with the Scriptures in this area. With that being said, Lupton offers an incredibly helpful “Oath for Compassionate Service” inspired by the Hippocratic Oath that doctors affirm. I will try my best to explain each one of the points in a few sentences but I highly recommend reading the entire book.

1. Never do for the poor what they have (or could have) the capacity to do for themselves.
If you do everything for the person you are helping, you are destroying their humanity. This will foster dangerous levels of dependence which will ultimately harm the recipient of your aid. As Lupton says, “The effective helper can be an encourager, a coach, a partner, but never a caretaker.”

2. Limit one-way giving to emergency situations.
In times of disaster, it is necessary to come alongside the poor to offer monetary assistance. Instead of continuing to give in disaster mode, we should begin to empower the poor to change their mindset and circumstances on their own. Offering millions of dollars of aid with no holistic treatment for body, soul, and spirit will result in toxic charity and crush the community we are seeking to help.

3. Strive to empower the poor through employment, lending, and investing, using grants sparingly to reinforce achievements.
When you enable the recipient to pay off the aid they have received, it allows them to regain their sense of honor. Lupton makes a powerful case for the use of micro-lending in order to encourage entrepreneurship. This enables those in the community to see past their present poverty into a future full of possibilities.

4. Subordinate self-interests to the needs of those being served.
Lupton treats many short-term mission trips rather harshly. He refers to it as religious tourism – in essence, Christians in the west spend thousands of dollars to go on one-week mission trips in order to serve poverty stricken institutions such as orphanages, churches, and schools. Instead of these mission trips, this money could be funneled back into the economy to hire local painters, carpenters, movers, etc. to provide the service the organization needs at a fraction of a cost of a mission trip. This will provide employment and help stimulate the local economy.

On a side note, Lupton is not entirely against the concept of short term mission trips. He states, “Isn’t it time we admit to ourselves that mission trips are essentially for our benefit? Religious tourism would have much more integrity if we simply admitted that we’re off to explore God’s amazing work in the world.”

5. Listen closely to those you seek to help, especially to what is not being said – unspoken feelings may contain essential clues to effective service.
Many people seeking aid will not want to share their whole story. This is usually not due to them being deceitful, instead they are often ashamed that they need to seek help. To effectively provide aid, you MUST be listening to the Holy Spirit and studying the unspoken sadness and brokenness of the person’s life. The unspoken feelings may provide substantial clues on how you can truly help them succeed.

6. Above all, do no harm.
Lupton describes this far better than I can – “Before we embark on a new service venture, we should conduct an ‘impact study’ to consider how our good deeds might have unintended consequences. Are we luring indigenous ministers away from their pastoral duties to become schedule coordinators for our mission trips? Are we creating dependencies that may ultimately erode self-sufficiency? As Hippocrates admonished: above all, do no harm.”


I do not fully agree with all of Lupton’s conclusions but I do find his arguments surprisingly strong. Ultimately, we need to hold all teaching in light of Scripture. As I continue to wrestle with this issue, I would highly recommend that you purchase Toxic Charity and read it in its entirety, ESPECIALLY if you are involved in any form of charity.

EMTs: Garretson Storm Response

Credit: Garretson Gazette

Credit: Garretson Gazette

As many of you may know, the city of Garretson was severely hit early Monday morning with straight-line winds. There were wind speeds up to 100 mph. As a result, there were many homes that were destroyed by the storm and large trees were completely uprooted. As a church, our vision is to make such an impact in the community that we show the visible love of Jesus Christ to EVERYONE.

Part of this effort is our EMTs (Extreme Ministry Team). The purpose of our EMTs is to serve people in practical ways in order to display the love of Jesus Christ. One of the major functions of our EMTs is to assist in areas that have been crippled by severe weather.

Monday evening, we had a team of over 25 people that came together last minute, equipped with heavy machinery, to serve the community! I was in awe as more and more people, with a strong desire to serve, continued to arrive from The Rescue Church.

Below are a few photos of the work day:


Our Garretson Campus received minor damage from the storm. One of our large windows on the lobby side was blown out as a result of the pressure inside of the building. We also had some tiles and insulation pulled down from the ceiling. There were a few things knocked over inside but nothing major. (You will notice that somehow our yarn design stayed intact but the window busted!)

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Our first stop was at Tucker’s Walk (A vineyard outside of Garretson) that received heavy tree damage. The new tasting room, which was built only recently, had some shattered glass but the structure as a whole was okay. We had a team of people complete with chainsaws, four wheelers, and a skid loader to help with the clean up process. After this, we headed into town and helped a few residents clean their yards.

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If you are interested in helping the clean up process, the City of Garretson will be posting updates on their Facebook page. I will also be in Garretson this evening and tomorrow to help. Feel free to e-mail me (tyler@therescuechurch.com) if you have questions!

As If YOU Were Suffering

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You are jolted awake by the muffled scream of your daughter in the other room. As soon as you leave your bed, you hear the cracking sound of an automatic rifle and more screams coming from the village you live in.

Your heart begins to accelerate and the persecution you have been praying for deliverance from begins. You are literally walking through the worst nightmare imaginable.

As you race towards your daughter, a blunt object smashes against your face.

As you begin to regain consciousness, you realize that you have been unresponsive for hours on end. It is a struggle as you try to open your eyes because your face is mutilated and crusted with dry blood.

Suddenly, you remember your family and force yourself to get up to check on your wife, daughter, and son.

They are nowhere to be found. The only signs of them are blood splattered mattresses.

You panic.

In a state of shock, you sprint out of your house while broken shards of glass penetrate through the bottom of your feet. Your worst fears are being realized before your eyes. All around you, dead bodies of both men and women are littered throughout the streets. Friends, relatives, young, and old are lying lifeless around you with various parts of their bodies mutilated.

You begin to feel numb.

As your vision regains focus through the tears filling your eyes, you see the decapitated heads of young boys on poles in the middle of your village.

There’s your son.

His head decapitated and impaled by a stick in the middle of a group of boys who faced the same fate. His glass-like eyes pierce through your entire body. You fall to the ground and cry out to God with groaning; unable to even form words out of extreme distress and shock.

Remember the prisoners, as though you were in prison with them, and the mistreated, as though you yourselves were suffering bodily. – Hebrews 13:3

How would you react if you were in this situation? My guess is you would literally scream out to God with your entire being. We are called to remember our brothers and sisters in the faith around the world AS IF WE WERE SUFFERING WITH THEM!

When was the last time you seriously spent time praying for them? Not just a few emotionless words but actually crying out to God for those who are being brutally murdered, tortured, and humiliated for their faith in Jesus?

Please join with me in praying for our brothers and sisters around the world who are facing extreme persecution. Remember them as if you yourselves were suffering bodily. Cry out to God for deliverance on behalf of the Christians and other persecuted groups around the world.

Pray, Share, and Spread the word. Let’s join together. Prayer is far more powerful than any of us realize.

Kickball and Palm Trees

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(Below is a guest post from Jon Sanders. Jon serves as the Lead Pastor of The RESCUE Church, a multi-site church with a huge vision for reaching rural communities for Jesus Christ.  You can connect with Jon @ jonsanders.org)

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” – Psalm 37:4

I was recently reminded of this verse as I was serving with a team of people from The RESCUE Church on a trip to our campus in Deeside, Jamaica.

Now I’m sure what I’m about to say next will sound very minor and insignificant, but here goes…

  • I LOVE kickball! (It’s ok. You can laugh at me.  I still love playing the game of kickball and I’m not ashamed to say it out loud!)
  • I love palm trees!
  • I love to travel!

So here I was…having TRAVELED to Jamaica…surrounded by PALM TREES…playing KICKBALL with a bunch of great kids…when it dawned on me again that I truly serve a GOOD GOD who rewards those who seek after Him and loves to give us the desires of our hearts!

I think that so often we wrongly believe that if we give full surrender to the Lord that He will make us do the very things we hate the most…that following Christ will mean giving up everything we love.

But over and over again God has proven Himself to be faithful and GOOD to me as I have followed Him.  Sure, there have been times that He has led me way out of my comfort zone and I have given certain things up in order to follow His leading in my life, but what I’m learning is the more I seek Him and truly follow Him, the more my desires align with His desires…and then He gives me the desires of my heart!

So let me encourage you to seek after God with ALL of your heart today…and tomorrow…and the next day…and for the rest of this year…and next year…and the year after that…and watch what happens in your life.  You may just look up one day and realize that you’re playing kickball as palm trees blow in the breeze nearby!

If you want to watch a video recap of our most recent trip to Deeside, Jamaica check this out: