How To Be A Team Member

Jesus-disciplesHow An Older Christian Can Be An Effective Member In An Intergenerational Mission Team

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:34-35).

In June 2013, I was blessed to be part of an exploratory team to Northern Canada to explore the feasibility of sending missionaries to the Aboriginal people. There were five of us. Two of the members, the pastor and myself, are in our forties. The other three were in their mid twenties. We were all from the white, middle class suburbia of a Midwest university town nestled in the midst of corn fields. The trip lasted for eight days. We drove together for 15 hours, stayed in hotels, in two cabins, road in a train for 18 hours, and drove home 15 hours. We were in close proximity. We had many things in common, like a common faith in Jesus and a common calling to the North and a desire to serve Christ in the region. But there were differences. There was a generational difference; a difference in our theological training, the pastor has a Phd and heads up a 300 member non-denominational Bible church. I am a lay person in the church having experience in “tent making” and “house church” ministry, and the younger people are Campus Crusade for Christ grads and receiving missionary training at a missions agency. We are different and we would never have to face these differences and grow through them unless we were flung into a mission together, by God. The eight days of being in close proximity was indeed a blessing and a growing experience which I thank God for. I profoundly learned so many lessons about being an older Christian on an intergenerational gospel mission team and I was inspired to share what I learned through my experience. This article will touch upon nine areas that people need to concern about when they become part of such a team. They are:

  1. Realize that there is a generational gap;
  2. Find God’s will;
  3. Be  a team supporter;
  4. Serve others;
  5. Be ready to sacrifice;
  6. Think about the needs of other members in the team;
  7. Have a spiritual relationship;
  8. Build honest and sincere relationships;
  9. Control your sinful nature.

May God establish countless intergenerational Gospel mission teams so that the Gospel of Jesus Christ may spread throughout the world.

Part 1: Biblical Foundation for Operating In an Inter-generational Gospel Team

As a key verse for this article, I chose John 13:34-35. I think this command is the basis for any ongoing team effort to reveal Jesus to an unbelieving world. In this passage, Jesus gave his disciples a new command. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disci­ples, if you love one another.” (ESV) Until now the disciples had concentrated on their personal relationship with Jesus. Each one had formed an intimate relationship with Jesus. But now it was time for them to learn to love one another. It was time for them to care for one another, overcoming any self-cen­ter­edness. Jesus wanted them to love one another as he had loved them. This is the power source of loving other believers that we are called to work with.

It was not easy to love each other. The disciples had come from varied backgrounds. They were from different age groups. They had different preferences and pet peeves. They were living in close proximity for over three years. It might have been very hard to learn to love one another. Peter and John competed with each other to receive Jesus’ love and to be recognized as leaders. They would both have to learn how to humble themselves to love the other person and build him up. Matthew the tax collector and Simon the Zealot were natural adversaries. But Simon would have to learn to curb his patriotism and Matthew would have to learn how to sacrifice for the sake of others. How could they possibly learn to love one another? The key…remembering Jesus and how he had loved each of them.

Jesus’ command to “Love one another” is not an option as a Christian. They had to struggle to love one another as an absolute command of Jesus. In other words, in any circumstance they had to love one another. We live in a generation that is motivated by feelings. Many people are will­ing to love others when they feel love in their hearts. But we cannot obey Jesus’ command only when we feel like it. We must obey this com­mand even when we don’t feel like it.

By loving each other with God’s love, all people will know that they are disciples of Jesus. When the love of Jesus circulated within and among them, they could have Jesus in their midst and thus reveal Jesus’ love to the world. Even though Je­sus would not be with them in the flesh, the Spirit of Jesus, which mani­fests the holy love of God, would be with them. The Spirit of Jesus’ love would mark them as unique among all people in the world and people would take notice. And that is why, loving one another with God’s, unconditional, holy love, is so important. It is the way that God wants to advertise the gospel to those whom we are called to share it with.

Part ll: Learning How To Apply Jesus’ Command In An Inter-generational Team

I thank God for the opportunity to learn some of these principles of living as a team of Jesus’ disciples, when I went on the eight day exploratory journey to Northern Ontario. The nuances of team building became very real to me. I discovered many things about myself and areas that I need to grow in. I want to share the things that I learned, as an older disciple, with you.

1. Realize that there is a generational gap.

To all you older Christians, you are not as “in the know” as you think you are. There have been advances in technology that I am not even aware of. The younger people had constant access to their smart phone. If we were having a conversation, it was a matter of seconds before the correct information was accessed on their phones. When a question came up they reacted quickly with the exact answer backed up by a web site. If directions were needed, the exact directions are summoned within seconds, by the young person. This can be very disconcerting, even threatening, to an older person, who is used to being the expert in knowledge among younger people.

There is also other media. In the truck we were sharing our music. I didn’t know I could hook my iPod up to the stereo system. To the young people, it seemed like second nature. It made the older person feel a little more out of the mix. I need to realize that the young people are more capable than someone twice their age in many areas. Be up on the latest technology. Young people will spend hours to try to find a connection. They will walk in a rain storm to find a connection. Respect that. They will be able to find any street in any town, anywhere on planet earth. They will be able to do things with car stereo or a smart phone that you would never dream could be done. What does this mean practically? Allow yourself to be humbled by their accuracy and quick answers. Just look, listen and learn. Determine to be on a continual, lifelong learning trajectory. Learn to be quiet…listen and learn and realize that you are in need to be taught by young people.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 reads, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:” There are seasons even in your life in ministry. You may not think that you are on the way out…but you are. In one sense we are on the way out in a certain season in our lives, but entering another season. We tend to think that we will always be the leaders blazing the path. But we are being phased out of certain areas of ministry to become engaged in another. That is good news actually. Be aware of what season of life you are in and serve God accordingly. Beware of always remaining in the same season decade after decade. The more mature Christians may be able to offer things like advice, counseling, and wisdom, and serve in supportive functions, that comes from being twenty years or more ahead of others on the journey of life.

There is a certain season that you are in, that God wants to use you in a unique way.  People in the 70’s are now using their connections and relationships they have built over the years to introduce younger people to the mission field.  They are providing the expertise, the recommendations, the education, the cultural sensitivity training. The people in the 40’s to 60’s are forming the new networks. They are supporting the younger missionaries. They are opening up the roads to the mission field and in some cases holding out the vision and providing the support.

I know from my own family, the kids are learning from experiencing life with us. But they are more interested in their parents playing supportive roles and learning from their example. That could be a good way to think about how to mentor a new generation of missionaries. Borrowing an analogy from a friend’s description of Native ministry, mentoring could be like taking off in an airplane. The younger Christian is in the driver’s seat. They take off. They fly the plane and land it. The more mature Christian is in the passenger seat with his hand ready to take control in case of danger or an emergency and to give advice when asked. What do you think of this analogy? Is it appropriate in mentoring this new generation of missionaries?

Being aware of the generation gap, we need to make efforts to bridge that generation gap. Take time out to listen to other peoples’ music and appreciate it. The preferences you have are formed by your experiences. They grew up experiencing other things. They may not feel the same way about Eric Clapton or Keith Green as you do, nor should they. When we were riding we were listening to the Trews. ( The younger people listened to a whole Eric Clapton album.  Be willing to let go of control of the music to the younger people. Don’t impose your preferences too much. Listen to others and respect them their choices. Give honor and deference to those whom God is raising up. And to be certain, that person will be younger than you are.

Don’t just groom a young person so they can be just like you to take your place of leadership in your idea of ministry. They do this in countries like Cuba. Let the young people be who they are. The world is different place than when you were a young Christian leader. The culture is changing. The younger Christian knows how to navigate the culture, without compromising the gospel, better than you can. They are coming onto the scene with a whole bunch of skills that the mission desperately needs. (That you can not even conjure up.)

Accept the fact that there will be different ways to live out a devotional life while on a team. I come from two decades of group, formal, morning, prayer meetings, singing out of a hymnal and praying from lists of prayer topics. My choice in doing devotionals is group oriented and formal. On the exploratory team I brought a hymnal with me. I was expecting to sing with others. But this was not the case. I discovered that young people are not into singing hymns together from a hymn book. And do you know what? That is OK. I need to be broad minded and accept all forms of personal devotion while living as a member of a team. I just took my hymn book, went to the edge of the forest and sang to God, the birds, the insects and the trees. It was very comforting.

Don’t become angry when faced with generational preferences being expressed. I have known a church dividing when the younger generation wanted to express their faith in a new way. The older generation became inflexible and even angry at the prospect of change. This turned off the young people. I think it is because the older peoples’ reaction robbed them of hope. The church lost 40% of their members because of the older generation’s lack of flexibility. In the words of the band REO Speedwagon, “turn the page and roll with the changes.”

2. Find God’s will

We must find the Missio Dei, for each of us, personally, and engage in it. God is growing his church and be content and patient with what God is doing in your life and you ministry. Don’t get ahead of the Spirit. Trust God and pray through each step of the next leg of your journey.

Don’t push your own personal goal and agenda. I mean, don’t project your own dreams for your ministry on others. Accept what God is doing in the hearts of the people who have been brought into your team. Accept what the people are offering. This is a very personal to me. I am a father of five and I was heading up a single family house church ministry for twelve years with my family members being the main players in ministry. I was projecting my own hopes for my ministry on them, with no concern about what God wanted for them. I cared very little about their personal calling. The end result of this venture was constant demands, judgment and criticism. It led to broken relationships with those close to me.
But God came to my rescue. A very wise, senior missionary lady gave me advice. When I was inquiring how to apply basic rules in my home, she told me to let go of my rules. She meant to be graceful, trust God and let people be free to follow the Lord as they have been called. I was so enmeshed in my old way of thinking that it literally took me two years to get out of it. At first I was losing all hope for ministry. But God helped me to stop projecting my hopes and dreams on others. On this last journey I could begin to understand God’s purpose in all of this. By his grace, I could become a more graceful mentor to younger Christians. I could be used by God to nurture what He is doing and not what I want to happen. I can let God be God and let people grow according to his grace. I still have a long way to go, but I praise Jesus for leading me on this path and using this exploratory journey to teach me why all of this was happening to me over the past two years.

3. Be a team supporter

Like I touched up in the previous section, maybe God has been preparing you, as an older Christian, to mentor and support young missionary teams with much prayer, grace, service and support. This is an excellent way to be team supporter. Listen to how Paul and his team supported the new believers in Thessalonica, “You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. 11 For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.” 1 Thess 2:13-14. (ESV) Not that the other members of the team are children, for they are not, but the point is, older Christians are called to certain role within a team.

Older Christians can be good counselors. I saw the importance of this on trip. Young people want someone to talk to. They are searching for their calling. They want to know how and where to devote their energies. They want to bounce their ideas off of someone. They want feedback. Who doesn’t want all of these things? That is why they will benefit from older Christians to talk to. Older Christians need the confidence to be able to talk to the young people, meeting them where they are and helping then to talk through various issues. They must know they have something valuable to share and engage in conversation. After all God didn’t infuse 40 to 50 years of experience into your life for nothing. Share it with others.

If you can not counsel, then you have to make a supportive environment.  Set the example for others. Participate with your whole heart in worship, prayer, evangelism, outreach and giving. The young people are watching and learning from the older Christian.

Find your unique roll in the mission. The older Christian may not be called to go to an inaccessible region (or maybe they are), but they may be very effective in creating a home base for further operations. The years of experience will have made them better diplomats. They may be very effective in networking with area Christians and churches. I could see this as my role as an older Christian.

The older Christian may be used to be a visionary, planting that vision in other peoples’ hearts. Act 2:17-18 read, “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 even on my male servantsand female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.” We can see these verses working out among the members of our team. God’s spirit is being poured out on all. The young members of our team are full of vision to see the Gospel expand to remote places in Northern Canada. The older members of the team also have visions to see a vast network formed and a mission’s movement formed among the members of the local churches. Both groups want the word of God preached to the people of this present generation.

As we follow the Missio Dei, we may frequently ask ourselves, “What next?” The older person may be the one to present informed options and direction as to where to turn next. They have the experience.

4. Serve others

The older Christian has a great opportunity to serve others on the team, learning of Christ. Luke 22:25-27 reads, “And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. 26 But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. 27 For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.” (ESV) It is easy for the older Christian to expect to be served while on a team. After all, they have spent decades being served by their spouses, children and possibly even the church. After a while, serving may not come naturally. They may even feel that serving in certain ways may be beneath them. But Jesus says that the greatest among us is the one who serves, no matter what the age. Being on a team is an excellent opportunity for the older Christian to serve the younger members of the team. One should be ready to serve, taking up the humble role. Here are some examples I learned to serve on our team: make the hotel room a home away from home. Make the whole experience as comfortable as possible. Wash the dishes without being asked. (even the pan nobody wants to touch.) Clean the grill. Cook a meal.  Offer to buy coffee or a doughnut for someone. Pray with other team members. Provide counseling or a listening ear. Carry some bags. There are countless ways to serve others in Jesus’ name.

5. Be ready to sacrifice

John 15:12-13 reads, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Laying down your life for your friends involves denying yourself. There are ample opportunities to practice this while on a team. I am the kind of person that easily goes into sensory overload. When I do, I want to shut down and retreat to a quiet place to recoup. When I am networking with other people, sometimes I feel like I cannot engage in another conversation or visit another person. But that may not be possible on a team. Sometimes I didn’t feel like going to visit another person. I just wanted to do back to my hotel room and rest. But I learned that one way I could lay down my life is to remain engaged when necessary, going that extra mile. What about denying your own ideas and opinion and plans?

Give of your money. It is going to cost you to engage in mission with a team. There is not only providing for your needs, like housing, food and transportation, there are also costs like paying for dinner with someone you hope to network with. When one person is going to pay for the meal, God may be moving your heart to contribute to covering the cost. On one visit, $40 was given to the coffee fund of people whom we visited. There are offerings at the churches we visit. You will need a lot of money. The older Christian usually has more resources and income. The younger members are trying to raise support. Stinginess is not conducive to being an older member on a Gospel mission. Be willing to sacrifice. Give it up older Christians!

6. Think about the needs of other members in the team.

There are intergenerational needs.  If you are older you need to consider yourself like an older brother or sister on the team.  With this in mind, try to relate and talk, engaging individuals in conversation.  Pray for others. Don’t be isolated or individualistic. After all you are part of a team and the greater Christian family.

Keep your shared living space clean. You are not living by yourself. You are living temporarily with someone you barely know. Think about that.

As an older Christian, consider your snoring. If you are older and little over weight the chances are you snore and the other younger people do not. Tell the other person, “It is ok to hit me with a pillow if I snore.”

Be mindful of others family relations. If you are driving by the town of a team member ask them if they want to visit their family member. Take a little time out to think about their social needs.

7. Encourage one another in a spiritual relationship

Team members could encourage one another spiritually. 1 Thessalonians 5:10-11, “who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” and Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (ESV)

A team is a perfect place to encourage one another. We were in close proximity for eight days. Matt, my roommate, prayed together for several nights. We could encourage one another by setting the example for others. Set the example in prayer, in worship and in participation. Get into discussions. Get into the group. An older Christian may provide printed learning material, but don’t push it on others. Develop it and present it and allow people to digest it as they desire.

8. Build honest and sincere relationships

If there is one thing that younger Christians want are open and honest relationships. Older people don’t want to share their struggles with younger people. But especially in regards to a team, they need to.  Share about your personal struggles. Be real. People appreciate authenticity. They may even identify with you in your struggles and your struggles may help to show them the way.  After all you are 20 years plus ahead of them on their journey. I was blessed when one girl asked my “Story” while were eating. It was a way that I could share my life testimony on how I met Jesus. I could also share my feelings. When I felt like “shutting down” I told others how I feel. I think they appreciated that.

Don’t always be so serious. I believe Jesus laughed a lot. Laughing is from God. Laughing is good for you in so many ways. On the team we had a lot of good laughs. We shared about some awkward experiences in ministry. We laughed about mosquitoes. We confessed what was on our I-pods. There were times when we laughed until we were in tears. As an older person on a team, show your humorous side. Cut a few jokes. If you don’t know any equip yourself with an internet search. A little humor goes a long way.

Sometimes we feel awkward communicating. But my advice is keep communicating. God will help you to relate.

9. Control your sinful nature

When we are on a Christian mission, there is always a spiritual battle going on. 1 Peter 5:8 reads, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (ESV) Every team has a prayer and goal to reveal Jesus and to proclaim the kingdom of God. But be aware that there are spiritual forces that want nothing more than to destroy the fledgling work that God has begun to grow through your team. Paul says it well when he states in Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  (ESV)  We need to always be aware where the battle is being fought. The schemes of the devil almost always occur in the battleground of our own hearts and minds. The arena can be within the interpersonal relationships of our own team members. But there are some ways to thwart the devil’s schemes.

Some ways are revealed in Ephesians 6:10-13 which read, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”(ESV)

First, Ephesians 6:10 reads, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” This battle is between powerful spiritual forces. We can never stand our ground without depending in God. We must know the fragility of what you are trying to accomplish through our team. For example, harboring negative emotions like, pride can bring everything down. One moment of expressed anger can ruin decades of future co-working. These are things that we find hard to control and may well up in a moment’s notice. Paul exhorts the Ephesians to be strong in the Lord and the strength of his might. Our God is the Almighty Creator of the heavens and the earth. He is alive and active in his creation. He has a deep concern for his people and listens attentively for their prayers. He is ready, willing and able to help us be spiritually strong. It is his might working in us. May we always depend on the Lord.

Second, we must put on the full armor of God. Look at verse 11, “Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.It would require a whole other article to describe each piece of the armor. But the point I would like to make here is that God provides pieces of spiritual armor that are effective in protecting us from forces of evil. They are put on through faith. The armor that God prescribes is complete and we must don the whole outfit. Again, we must depend on God and what the Lord has provided.

Third, “Having done all”. Look at verse 13, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”  Knowing that God is there to defend us and knowing that the armor he provides is all sufficient in defending us against the devil’s schemes, does not excuse us from engaging ourselves in the spiritual battle. Verses 13b, “…and having done all, to stand firm.”  God does not just want us to lay there like dead fish floating downstream. He wants his people to be like living fish, swimming upstream. We can stand by engaging our faith. This involves many things, but some basics are prayer, which should be like breathing for us, studying the word and putting it into practice, reversing the trend towards isolation by building relationships, loving and serving one another in Christ’s name, trusting in God, seeking his wisdom and so on and so on. We should not do these things sluggishly or casually, but “Having done all”.  Apply your God given passion.

Fourth, be strengthened in the grace of God. Read Paul’s advice to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:1-3, “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful menwho will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” (ESV) Be strengthened in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. We must take deep root in the grace of Jesus. What has Jesus done for each of us? He has granted us the complete forgiveness of sins. He has brought us into his kingdom and with it, eternal life. He is guiding us along the most blessed, fruitful path as we are passing through this world. He floods our hearts with, love, hope, truth, revelation and meaning. He brings convergence in our lives. And this is just the tip of the iceberg! God is good. Knowing the gifts that have literally been poured out on us, though we are undeserving, is pure grace. Being able to be part of an intergenerational team is pure grace. Knowing what we have been saved from, were it not for the grace of God, and being filled with thanksgiving, is part of being strong in the grace of God is all about. This is one way to stand against the devil’s schemes.

When we are on a Christian mission with others we must know ourselves and our sinful tendencies. Know that you have a tendency to be judgmental, competitive, and attention seeking. Here are a few of my spiritual weaknesses that I discovered in myself as I participated on a Christian team.

Don’t compete. I wanted to compete with others in my heart. Don’t do this. Those with 20, 30 or 40 more years more experience with the gospel may be more skilled and have more experience, but you must know that you are not the future of the mission, the younger person is. Anyone with a PhD knows that the more they learn the more aware they are of what they don’t know. Greater learning should make one more humble and dependent on Christ. The younger person’s passion and exuberance, along with their vision and ability to navigate the culture will trump your experience. God will move in the hearts of those we are called to minister to better than you can ever do. For example, I have heard it said that the average age of people in First Nation’s communities is fifteen.  Who are they going to relate to better, the 40-60 year old Christian or the 25 year old Christian couple? The answer is obvious.

Don’t envy. The young person may be more formally trained. They may be getting more attention from the other leaders (for they are the hope of the future), but don’t envy. The older Christian’s role is very important. It most likely will be a “behind the scenes” supportive role. But it is vitally important. Even if you don’t receive the recognition that you think you deserve, you are appreciated and are helping to lay the foundation for future missions. You may be in a different season of life. God wants to use you in different ways. Accept that. Don’t be envious of others whom God is using in different ways. They are in another season of life. They have another calling. Don’t reminisce about the past. Be content with how God is using you now and wants to use you in the future.

Don’t project your own hopes and dreams on others. Here is a big one that has tainted relationships for me in the past. Don’t push your own goal and your own agenda on the younger believer. Accept what God is doing and what people are offering. If you have your own goal and time table, you may find yourself pushing people with unreal expectations and even becoming angry, judgment and disappointed with other people on a daily basis. The younger person will sense this and become resentful or feel pushed into doing something that is not actually from God. They may do things to simply to please the older Christian. That will never be a lasting work of God. It is artificial. You may be projecting your own goals even while losing touch with the culture that is developing around you. Remain humble and keep in step with the Spirit.

Trust God’s Timing, and not ours. Jesus likened the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed. Matthew 13:31-32 reads, “…The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” (NIV) When a farmer plants the seed, he plants in faith. He knows that the seed has such great potential. He trusts God, that when he plants the seed and waters it, it will produce a crop. But time is needed. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.” (1 Cor 15:37) God gives the seed a body as he has determined. It happens in his way and in his time. A few seeds have been planted. Now God is making it grow. We need to just pray and wait in the Lord to unfold things as he has determined. Now is the time to enjoy watching the seeds that were planted as they bear fruit. That is the attitude we must have in regards to our approach to being a member of a Christian team. We must be patient with what God is doing on the mission field and also in peoples’ hearts, especially in the hearts of each team member. Always remember the words of Paul, And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (ESV; Php 1:6)


In conclusion, I want to refer once again to our key verse John 13:34,35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (ESV)  On a Christian mission we are all part of a team. We are disciples of Jesus called to proclaim the kingdom of God together. The best way to do this is to love one another. If we love one another with Christ’s love, then we can have unity and as we serve the mission, the whole world will know that we are disciples of Jesus. We can present the Gospel with a united front and the world will listen. Coming into close proximity, in a Christian team, makes loving one another more difficult. Having people from differing generations adds to that difficulty. But when we come together with faith in our hearts and with a desire to glorify Jesus, God will help us love one another and glorify the name of Jesus together.


  1. Kevin, I really appreciate your article. Your journey mandate was clear about mission to First Nations in Northern Ontario. Your thoughtful reflection and usage of biblical narratives provides us with a “conscience” and “mindfulness” that Jesus must be at the root of everything we do and why we do it.

    It is very important to read (hear) that as we get older we must step back and be a very essential protective aspect of not only the dynamic but also for the environment. The thing is younger people do want to learn from older people, but as you said it must be authentic (sincere). You illustrated well both your struggles throughout the article but more importantly where you were flexible. You wanted to share even though habit may have caused you to retreat to yourself in isolation.

    When we are “stuck” in one type of mission, how can we remain graceful when things do not go our own way (or lead to our vision)? You articulated well about personal experience. It is one of my dilemmas with my present situation. I am not graceful because I am tired of the predictable routine and expectation. I just can’t get excited anymore. One big reason has been all the crisis’ in my life to this day – they have in themselves caused me to grow in so many ways and just simply trust in God. It is impossible to become excited about an inflexible mandate for mission that has scripted when to cough and sneeze.

    You enjoyed the grace of a journey with people from different callings and I doubt that anything was predictable about the experience. I believe that you took away fresh and new feelings and insights about others, mission, yourself and God…maybe more.

    Thank you very much for this refreshing read. I am speaking honestly from my heart. I do miss seeing you – even though it has been a rare opportunity anyway!

  2. Kevin Jesmer

    gc about being excited about mission…I am getting excited about mission lately by God’s grace. A good book to read is “Faith of Leap” by Alan Hirsch. It talks about the terms like luminality and communista. Communista is the fellowship that our hearts crave for. It is linked the mission born out of uncertainty. It is not easy to get excited about something that may not be “yours” and what is predictable all the time.

  3. Joe Schafer

    Kevin, thanks for this article. Many aspects of your experience resonate with me. After many years of trying to act as a leader (and projecting my own expectations on others) I too am in the process of learning how to step back and play a supporting role in our local ministry, allowing other to lead. My main jobs in the ministry now are groundskeeper, vacuum cleaner and cook. The hardest thing is learning to genuinely appreciate others’ gifts instead of thinking “I could do it better.” Appreciating others’ gifts is a mark of maturity that I want to attain.

    • Mark Mederich

      sad that so much of last 2000 yrs has been lost in hierarchy/upmanship; but hey now is the time for believers to rise up TOGETHER sharing Spirit gifts & finally/really letting Christ lead..

  4. Hi Kevin,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I am glad to hear that you and your family are engaging the broader Christian community around you without any sense of elitism. You once told me “The calvary ain’t coming” to ubf house churches. So I am excited about how God is using you in contexts never before imagined or even possible.

    On an admin note, I corrected the picture and settings for the article so that it shows up as “featured”.

    At first I was put off from your article by your plethora of demands and excessive use of imperatives. But as I took time to process your thoughts, I see much that I can connect with. Especially:

    “To all you older Christians, you are not as “in the know” as you think you are. There have been advances in technology that I am not even aware of. The younger people had constant access to their smart phone. If we were having a conversation, it was a matter of seconds before the correct information was accessed on their phones.”

    Your point here resonates with me in many ways. Indeed, all leaders must eventually step back or else they will be put back or overthrown if they hold onto power and authority too long. I was once told it was a sin to use a computer to look up bible verses and print out bible study notes. It was apparently more spiritual to use a typewriter, glue and scissors to construct “holy” notes stored in white 3 ring binders!

    “There are seasons even in your life in ministry. You may not think that you are on the way out…but you are. In one sense we are on the way out in a certain season in our lives, but entering another season. We tend to think that we will always be the leaders blazing the path. But we are being phased out of certain areas of ministry to become engaged in another. That is good news actually. Be aware of what season of life you are in and serve God accordingly.”

    Yes indeed! We cannot deny the seasons of our life in general, nor can we deny the mini seasons that we go through month to month. Not all people are in the same season all at once. The roles of leaders anywhere changes as time passes.

    “Don’t just groom a young person so they can be just like you to take your place of leadership in your idea of ministry. They do this in countries like Cuba. Let the young people be who they are. The world is different place than when you were a young Christian leader. The culture is changing. The younger Christian knows how to navigate the culture, without compromising the gospel, better than you can. They are coming onto the scene with a whole bunch of skills that the mission desperately needs. (That you can not even conjure up.)”

    One of many questions every leader must ask himself or herself is this: Am I a multiplier or a diminisher? Am I an accidental diminisher of the intelligence, faith and hope of those around me? How might my good, noble intentions be harmful? Is it possible that we do our most harm with our most glorious intentions?

    Thanks for sharing Kevin. Your article gives us much to process, and I would hope ministry leaders in numerous contexts would take the time to process your thoughts here.