By Tobin Perry
ALPHARETTA. Ga. – When it comes to evangelizing today’s global generation, stories matter. Just ask a Korean exchange student who recently committed her life to Christ in Indianapolis. Church planter Brandon Shields says when a young women in his congregation shared Christ with her through narrative, the former atheist responded.
“[The student from my church] dug into her story and dug into the spiritual biography of Jesus in the book of John,” said Shields, whose Soma Church now runs 225 in two services. “She accepted Christ and was baptized on Easter Sunday.”
Shields is sharing some of what he has learned about sharing Christ in narrative manner in an upcoming blog on NAMB’s Send Network website.
“We’ve tried to think about re-casting the story—not changing the story—but re-casting the biblical story in language and forms the younger generation can understand,” said Shields. “We’ve tried to think through the hinge points of the redemption story. I wrote about those in that blog post.”
The newly redesigned Send Network website, which officially launched April 2, helps to prepare missions leaders to fulfill the Great Commission in North America. On the new site church planters, leaders of established churches and lay people committed to living on mission can find practical posts, videos and e-books written by experienced ministry leaders. The website leans heavily on tested, local church leaders with on-the-ground experience on the topics. In its first three days after the re-launch the site averaged 2,000 unique visitors per day.
Ministry leaders can find a variety of free e-books on the site, including J.D. Payne’s “Leading Your Church in Church Planting,” Dhati Lewis’ “In Plain Sight: A Primer for Reclaiming Discipleship in the Local Church” and Aaron Coe’s “Church Plant Growth Projector.”
“We have access to some of the best resources in the world,” said Dustin Willis, NAMB’s coordinator and editor of the Send Network. “We have strong relationships with great church planters, incredible existing churches and passionate people within the church who are living life on mission. We have direct access to them, and they have graciously offered to help lead the way in resourcing churches and individuals.”
For example, in an upcoming blog post, Columbus, Ohio, church planter Jeremy Westbrook shared the need for ministry leaders to develop specific habits to avoid periods of burnout. The post specifically highlights three such patterns: getting alone with God, guarding your heart and gathering a team.
“I hope pastors, planters and followers of Christ who read this will realize that, as leaders, we preach this but we don’t live it well—you’re not called to do the Christian journey alone,” said Westbrook, whose Living Hope Church has grown to more than 400 people in two services since its 2009 launch. “You need people around you who can speak into your life. We can often preach community and accountability from the stage but then not have it for ourselves.”
The website will include training on topics like building teams, empowering teams, how to raise funds, how to be a pastor and lover of your family and how to live out the mission of God in your neighborhood. Willis believes what makes the site unique among ministry-related websites is that each article will lead to a practical next step readers can engage right away.
“We don’t just want to connect you to a blog,” Willis said. “As you read a compelling blog, you can connect with an expanded resource or training on the specific idea you are reading about. It is our desire that the site would not only resource someone for the moment but launch them into applying the content within their own context.”
Willis says that every post on the site will link visitors with a resource, a conference or a person that will take them deeper into the topic or help them take their first step to applying the content to their lives and ministries.
For more information, visit http://sendnetwork.com or follow @sendnetwork on Twitter.
Watch a video overview on the Send Network at http://www.sendnetwork.com/video-intro.
Tobin Perry writes for the North American Mission Board.