Thursday, February 16, 2012

unqualified? perfect!

As we've begun promoting our upcoming summer mission trip opportunities, I'd like to post two short lists: basically reasons why you should and should not apply to go on one of our short-term international mission trips. A mission trip is an incredible way to experience God's power and allow him to use you to serve others, but we're not always ready to be used by God in that way.

Don't apply for a mission trip if you...

5. Have always wanted to go to Africa/Haiti -- it's not about tourism
4. Want to make up for doing some lousy things in the past -- you can't earn God's favor
3. Feel that you have some great gifts and talents to offer -- it's not about you
2. Want to dig a well -- our mission trips are about building relationships not buildings
1. Can afford it and think it would be fun -- it's about loving God, others and making disciples

Please do apply for a mission trip if you...

5. Feel unqualified -- trust me, I do too
4. Want to connect with others at Nativity -- our teams grow very closely together
3. Have a heart for the people you'll be interacting with -- God designed you that way
2. Are in a Small Group and Ministry and are wondering what's next -- it's your next step
1. Went 5/5 on the "don't apply" list -- God might want to change your life!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

summer trips

Nativity Missions is making Church matter by influencing the world for Christ. We mobilize members to grow in their relationship with God by creating environments where we love others and make disciples through local, national, and international partnerships.

We believe that it’s all about relationships – connecting people in our community with those outside our church. Jesus gave us the ministry of reconciliation and told us to be witnesses to the ends of the earth, starting with our own neighborhood and extending to the ends of the earth. By sending mission teams to build relationships with our international partners, Nativity Missions aims to empower others to glorify God and live with dignity and to embrace the call that God has put on our lives to be witnesses to our faith. We’re all broken, just in different ways. By walking with others in relationship, we believe that God will change our hearts and use us to change the lives of others.

Our upcoming summer mission trips are great opportunities to put your faith into action and get connected to others at our local church. You'll learn more about the vision God has given our church, how he's called us to engage with our partners, and the larger work that he's accomplishing in the world. Our missionaries grow a close connection as a team, praying for and encouraging one another, having fun and facing challenges as well as looking inward and reflecting on topics like grace and brokenness.

As you consider these opportunities, I encourage you to learn more about our strategic partners on our website (churchnativity.tv), pray and ask God what trip he might be calling you to apply for, and attend the Mission Trip Info Sessions where we'll be talking about some specifics and answering questions about the different trips.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

it's not about you

This wraps up the end of the vision and values "blog series." To recap, in no particular order, the values that Nativity Missions hold near and dear to our hearts are
partnership -- relationship -- story -- dependence -- growth
prayer -- life-change -- generosity --  focus
and the last value is...

it's not about you
"It's not about you." is the first line of Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life. And it's true.

"It's not about you." is the introduction to a book all about living out the calling that God has placed on your life. Living out God's purposes is the only real way to experience true and lasting joy and fulfillment, and it begins by realizing that we're not the center of the universe. God is, God was, and God will always be. God is the main character in the story of your life and of life itself. He's the unbegotten begetter. He's upholding and sustaining creation right now. And he's the only one in control of bringing the world to an end.

Nativity Missions begins with realizing it's not about you. It's a little backwards that this is the last value, because it's foundational not just to Missions work but to Christian life. We are participants in God's story -- granted, we're chosen, adopted, and appointed to do God's work, but it all comes from him and ultimately it's all about him. At Nativity, we care more about seeking and living out God's purposes for our church than we do about personalities, opinions, and ideas that come from men.

"But Peter and the apostles said in reply, 'We must obey God rather than men.'" Acts 5:29

All these values are our attempt to stay obedient to the vision God has called us to pursue:  making Church matter by influencing the world for Christ. I do pray that these values will be absorbed into the culture of your teams and visible by the way you interact with one another.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

focus

Here's one of the last posts on the values of Nativity Missions. Have you been following this series? Have you found them to be helpful and informative? Do you agree or disagree with any of the values? You're always invited to leave a comment with your thoughts; we're dedicated to being life-long learners and the best ideas come from conversation -- chime in! Today's value is
focus
We've been commissioned to go, literally, to the ends of the earth with the Gospel message. That gives us a world of possibilities for our work (pun intended). Nativity's strategy of partnership means that we're embracing our limitations, it gives us a system to practice the value of focus. We could do a hundred things, maybe even a thousand things in an effort to serve others locally, nationally, and internationally. We could spread out our resources across initiatives like food drives, clothing drives, and diaper drives, dresses for Haiti and pennies for the poor, serving homeless men and single moms and children and the elderly, and on and on. These things are great, but it's not the best way for our community to engage. Nativity chooses to focus our efforts, to do a few things and to do them really, really well.

Valuing focus gives us direction for our partnerships and it informs the way we operate internally as well. Missions is one of many great environments for growth at Nativity, so we have a focused approach to promotion giving equal footing to each opportunity. Focus also gives us the ability to measure our results. Perhaps you've had experiences like me where you have volunteered to serve a meal at a local soup kitchen, an experience that is almost exactly the same each time you serve, week after week, maybe year after year. We want our partner communities to change as a result of our involvement. Focusing our efforts helps us make the maximum impact, measuring our efforts, being wise stewards of our resources.