Archives July 2018

Native Americans. Misreached?

Reached = Evangelized. Discipled. Equipped. Fully functioning1 indigenous church established.

Unreached = No significant response to the Gospel message either by no exposure or no acceptance.  Also classified as least-reached which means less than or equal to 2% evangelical Christian, less than or equal to 5% professing Christian2.

Unengaged2 = a people group is not engaged when it has been merely adopted, is the object of focused prayer, or is part of an advocacy strategy.” At least four essential elements constitute effective engagement:

  • apostolic effort in residence;
  • commitment to work in the local language and culture;
  • commitment to long-term ministry;
  • sowing in a manner consistent with the goal of seeing a Church Planting Movement (CPM) emerge.

Photo courtesy of Andre James

I recently heard that only 5% of Native Americans (called “First Nations” in Canada) identify as Evangelical Christians.  When one considers that some Native Americans have been exposed to Christianity since the mid 1600’s, that is a startlingly low percentage.  Based upon the common understanding of the terms used in Missiology  (above) the Native American situation may not fit cleanly in any of them. Churches sporadically spot the reservation maps but most of them (so I am told) are not driven by a methodology that is indigenously motivated.  Starting a church on a reservation with the same mindset by which one would start a church in Columbus, Ohio will undoubtedly establish significant barriers before the launching of the initial Sunday service!

The 5% reception rate communicates one thing quite loudly; Whatever has been practiced for 300 years has not worked very well.  Endeavors to “reach” native Americans have failed to accomplish the task.  Well-meaning missionaries have sought to engage Native Americans for three centuries.  All but one of the Native American languages have had at least some Bible translation work done in them yet the conclusion my research is producing is that Indigenous Native American churches are almost unheard of.  My training and experience in working as a church planter to an indigenous people group in Papua New Guinea has caused me to conclude that mission methodology may be the primary culprit.   When missions is driven by assimilation goals that are culturally, linguistically and historically insensitive it is highly unlikely that anything close to an indigenous church will result.  This is why, perhaps, the term mis-reached is the most accurate term to describe the attempts to reach Native Americans.

On another blog I will detail some of the social issues obstacles in Native American societies.  For now, understand that it is a condition that demonstrates the terrible darkness that Satan produces when unimpeded by the Gospel’s presence.  It is a reality that only Jesus can remedy.

Will you pray with me about this?  I desire to help in this dilemma in some way.  Perhaps my training and experience could be of some service.  I will be exploring some options out west in September.  Please pray for the 567 federally recognized Native American Tribes (326 Reservations) that exist in our country.


1Fully functioning based upon the church planting principles of Self-governing, Self-sustaining, Self-propagating.  These three concepts mean the church is not dependent on outside assistance in any way and the initiative and drive to maintain these principles comes from within the people group rather than from outsiders.


Greatness But Not God-ness

I consider myself a student of history.  I enjoy looking through the lens of the past to see the present more clearly.  After all, the human condition has not changed across the epochs of time.  The circumstances around it have, the people in it have and cultural issues take different shapes in history but the struggles of human existence in a sinful world intersect constantly unbound by time.  I especially enjoy the singular glimpses into the lives of people through biographies.  What I learn about their character, their failures, their timely decisions that played into making them noteworthy individuals is interesting and helpful as I journey onward in my life.

Many of these individuals could be classified as great because of their influence on humanity at the given time and place they existed.  There are also great people in the Bible.  Whether prophet, priest, king or common person there are many that we can single out as worthy of the title “great”.  In Luke 9:28-36, while on the “Mount of Transfiguration”, Peter was quick to acknowledge greatness but also got a startling clarification of the difference between greatness and God-ness…

28 Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening. 30 And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 But Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep; and when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men who stood with Him. 33 Then it happened, as they were parting from Him, that Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said.

 In typical Peter fashion, he had to say something!  And in any other circumstance it would have been an honorable suggestion to erect three monument-like structures to honor great men.  But one of those three was far from just great…

 34 While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were fearful as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” 36 When the voice had ceased, Jesus was found alone. But they kept quiet, and told no one in those days any of the things they had seen.

No doubt, this dramatic moment would have left any of us speechless!  All human greatness combined could not be compared to the God-ness embodied in Christ!  God the Father spoke authoritatively about God the Son.  And when the cloud cleared the Greatest Human Being to ever set foot on the soil of the earth, Jesus, was standing alone before him.  Singled out in His greatness by a wonderful, approving, act of God the Father, the extreme uniqueness of the Savior was magnified.  He was no mere man!

Let’s contemplate today the great God-ness of our Savior. 

Let’s rejoice in the marvelous redemption plan of the Father.

Let’s be sure that the biographies of The Greatest Human Being of ALL Time recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are read (and reread) by us often.

Is MI$$ION$ Going To The Dogs?

Warning! “Feather ruffling” possibility: HIGH.

I have observed a trend over the last several years.  It seems our society is placing a growing level of importance on dogs.  Don’t get me wrong, I love dogs.  I just think that dogs are what they are…dogs. Nothing more.  Loyal? Yes.  Much more than cats! (My apologies to the all the cat-people out there)  But, still…they are… dogs.

There is a commercial on TV currently that is the latest installment by the ASPCA (American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) designed to pull heavily on your heart strings while reaching deeply into your pockets.  I was perturbed during the holidays at this organization’s hijacking the meaning of Christmas with a donation driven appeal of shivering dogs in the snow while an ethereal version of Silent Night was playing in the background.

Photo courtesy of Charles Deluvio (

However, regarding the present campaign, I am down right irritated!  There is more footage of underfed, mistreated, sad dogs attached to heavy chains in the sweltering heat of summer with no water.  Only now, the ASPCA appeals for funding are using speech phrases that missionaries have used for years regarding the cause of the Great Command of Christ (Matthew 28:18-20).  Here is a sampling;

  • The ASPCA is asking for $19.00 a month to “reach more animals”.
  • “Many of these animals are almost out of time.”
  • “We need 2000 new donors in the next 30 days so that we can rescue more animals who need our help this summer.”
  • “Please help save animals this summer.”

Now, before I go any further, let it be understood I am in no way insensitive to mistreating animals.  I would not treat a dog that way nor do I enjoy seeing dogs treated that way.  My purpose in writing this, though, is to call for a reality check.

Reality check #1:  Human beings are the only feature of creation created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) thus having an eternal being.  God places tremendous value on the life of human beings.  So much so He sent His only Son to die in order to redeem them (John 3:16).  Between 2005-2015  900,000 Persecuted Christians were martyred – an average of 90,000 each year killed1.  Our society in the USA is fine with terminating the lives of over 3000 human beings every day through abortion2.  Thousands upon thousands of indigenous peoples continue to die not knowing that Jesus is the Savior while the ASPCA needs 2000 more financial donors this summer to “reach, rescue and save” … dogs!!!

Reality Check #2:  Jesus’ last command was for His people to be witnesses for His life-giving message to the entire world including every people group (Acts 1:8, Luke 24:45-47).  Yet Americans spend more on Halloween costumes for their pets than they do on missionary endeavors to reach the real unreached!3

 Reality Check #3: As far as I can tell in the Scriptures Jesus never had a pet nor did he ever command anyone to help them. But He did feed 5000 men, healed hundreds of people of diseases, rescued countless human lives from desperate circumstances, and gave His life to give eternal life to the entire population of humanity.  Oh, and by the way, he did command us to go reach people (Matthew 28:19).

 Folks, I am not anti-pets.  They serve many purposes that are good and harmless. They are fun and bring a lot of smiles to life.  I am not even anti-ASPCA. I’m sure there are some wonderful, well-meaning  people associated with that organization.  But, I am for proper balance in the real, Scripturally defined issues of life.  If you give to the ASPCA that is fine, but please consider if that gift is prioritized proportionally with the causes that build the Kingdom of Christ and have eternal benefit.  Shall we “reach, rescue and save” dogs or eternal souls?  Let’s invest time, energy and money into the things we know are in line with the heart of God… helping PEOPLE.

 Action Step: Consider how much money you directly spend on pet related expenses vs. the amount you directly invest in the last, great command of Jesus to reach the world with His Gospel?  Is there a disparity? Do you need to make adjustments?

If so, please do so.  Your dog will be just as devoted to you as ever.  And… your cat will continue to ignore you like always. 😊

Thanks for reading.


1Center for the Study of Global Christianity, via