A glimpse into Max’s world- a blond-haired, blue-eyed little boy growing up in Asia

We thought you might enjoy a fun post on what life is like for Max growing up as a missionary kid in Taiwan….

To say Max is quite popular in our neighborhood would be an understatement. For many of our neighbors and people we pass daily on the streets, he is their first glimpse of a ‘white’ child (outside of movies). While pushing him in his stroller we have been repeatedly asked if he is real or a doll. We’ve been asked on numerous occasions if his eyes are the real thing or if he’s wearing contacts, as many have never seen blue eyes before. We have been stopped at intersections for people to come and ‘touch’ his skin or hair, and almost daily have shop owners leave their stores as we pass by in order to get a first-hand look at our ‘doll’, as they call him. We see people trying to ‘secretly’ take his picture on buses, on the streets, at restaurants, and in the park.

While shopping last week for groceries, I heard someone yelling, “Ya Yi!” ,”Ya Yi” (Max’s Chinese name). I didn’t recognize the man, but he said he knew Max from the local breakfast shop. Haha. While we often find it all very humorous, we are also extremely grateful. Because of him, we have opportunities to talk with people that otherwise would probably have no interest in us. We get to invite people over to our apartment so they can play with him. We get invited into street shops and to sit at food vendors while they give him a snack. He is our best little missionary 🙂

Our prayer is that because of standing out in these ways, while people may first be drawn to our family, they will ultimately be drawn to Jesus.

Below are some pictures of Max’s life lately:

 

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Taipei’s pumpkin patch. A bit different than in the USA. The pumpkins were all plastic and flown in from Hong Kong.

 

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The hair salon next door to our apartment recently adopted this dog. Max loves him!

 

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Eating a snack given to him by a lady who lives in our apartment building.

 

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Yes, he fell asleep while riding the scooter coming home the other day. This kid can sleep anywhere!

 

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Max’s fan club!

 

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Max’s favorite seat these days, haha!

 

Our Summer in Review

Here it is early in September – hard to believe June, July, and August have past and summer is coming to a close! We have had a full, fun, busy summer. We did some traveling, we did some celebrating, we gathered often with house church members for services and events, we barbecued Taiwan style, we met weekly with other believers to pray and to explore new ways to reach out to our local community, and as a close to the summer we took a two day trip to the Eastern part of Taiwan, with our good friends (also serving with Shepherd’s Staff Mission Facilitators), where we swam in the ocean, fed little pigs, and had a blast. We also managed to eat a fair share of ice cream and shaved iced to help fight off the Taiwan heat (most days were upper 90’s and low 100’s with high humidity).Here are some pictures highlighting our summer days~enjoy!

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Kelley's birthday get together
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 2014_07_05 BBQ 7
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Visiting with friends
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House church growth

Dear Friends,

We wanted to update you on the progress of our Taipei house church these past few months. If you’ve read our earlier post about how we are intentionally reaching out to our Taiwanese friends, you’ll know that we do this through different weekly gatherings.

As of right now, we have 2 house church groups meeting during the week, with about 15-20 regular attenders altogether. Our weekend family times can get bigger, with many non-Christian Taiwanese friends engaging with us over meals, bowling, night market visits, BBQ, walks, etc… By including our non-Christian friends in the life of the church this way, many of them gradually join our weekly house church times after.

We’re working hard at a pre-baptism discipleship framework, that anyone can use to prepare a new believer for baptism. After baptism, our discipling work continues with weekly meetings for prayer, accountability, sharing God’s word, and encouragement.

As always, thanks to all who pray for us regularly – it’s only through consistent prayer that we will see any spiritual fruit!

Below are some recent pictures that will give you a window into our house church life…

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Article: Reimagining Disciple Making

I (Erich) recently came across an insightful article, which lays out the failure of the Western church to make reproducing disciples. I believe that more than anything in the church (sermons, classes, programs, Bible studies, prayer meetings, etc…), there is a desperate need for men and women of God to invest significant time into the lives of younger / less mature Christians. This idea is fleshed out in the linked article, entitled

 

Reimagining Disciple Making
(click to open in new tab)

 

Here are a few key quotes from the article:

 

[quote]Nondiscipleship is the elephant in the church. It is not the much discussed moral failures, financial abuses, or the amazing general similarity between Christians and non-Christians. These are only effects of the underlying problem. The fundamental negative reality among Christian believers now is their failure to be constantly learning how to live their lives in The Kingdom Among Us.1

~ Dallas Willard[/quote] [quote]Jesus’ words are commissioning his followers not merely to make converts to or to give lectures on a belief system but to do with others what he had done with them, following his pattern and model. There is no substitute for this. [/quote]

 

[quote]C. S. Lewis was on target when he said that the paramount purpose of the church was to create little Christs. He said, “If the Church is not doing this, then all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible, are a waste of time.”2[/quote]

 

The central question every Christian needs to be able to answer is:

 

“Who are you discipling?”

 

If you cannot answer with the name of at least 1 individual, you need to start obeying Jesus.

___

1. Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy (San Francisco: Harper- SanFrancisco, 1997), 301.

2. Will Vaus, Mere Theology: A Guide to the Thought of C. S. Lewis (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 167.

 

Our Taipei House Church Strategy

Dear Friends,

We thought it might be helpful to outline the simple strategy we are using to make disciples among our many unchurched friends in Taipei. This graph makes clear how our house church works:

Taipei House Church Newcomer Flow

 

We have 3 regular gatherings each week. They are:

1. Regular weekend events. Every weekend, our house church family gets together to have fun, and meet each other’s friends. We visit new restaurants or night markets, cook together, go bowling, hang out at the park, etc… This creates a comfortable space for us to get to know new people, and introduce them to our group in a non-threatening way. Once new friends have joined us for several weekend events, it is really easy to invite them to our house church gathering.

2. Thursday night house church. Right now we have one house church group (soon to multiply!), that meets every Thursday night. We share dinner together every week, spend time digging into the Scriptures, and pray for each other. Since there is a mix of Christians and not-yet-Christians attending, we work hard at creating an inclusive atmosphere. This means we avoid “Christian-ese” or theological language, using plain English or Chinese instead. We show respect and listen to people with alternate views, always praying for the Holy Spirit to bring God’s love and truth into their lives.

3. Weekly Life Transformation Groups. Once a new friend is ready to become a true disciple of Jesus, we invite them to join our LTG groups, which meet at various times during the week, usually for 1 hour. These are groups of 2-3 women / men, who commit to meeting for regular peer-discipleship. The format is very simple, in that we only discuss 3 topics together:

  1. What is God speaking to you this week?
  2. What sins do we need to confess to each other?
  3. How are we sharing the Gospel with unsaved friends this week?

Read more about LTGs here.

We thought that sharing our basic house church strategy would be helpful to those blog readers who are currently involved in pioneering new forms of church, or others who have a heart to reach out to their non-Christian friends. If you would like to know more, or have questions, we invite you to leave a comment below. We promise to respond to every comment!

Blessings,
Erich and Kelley

 

 

Erich at the FORGE Scotland Conference

Dear Friends,

Over the past 4 days, I had the great privilege of attending a conference in Glasgow, organized by FORGE Scotland, entitled “Reactivating a Missionary Nation.” For those unfamiliar with FORGE, they are an international missionary training network which exists to “birth and nurture the missional church worldwide.” While the conference was hosted by FORGE Scotland, the topics covered applied to any missionary context. My main reason for joining this conference was to network with the FORGE leaders present, and explore the idea of starting FORGE in Taiwan.

 

What does FORGE do?

FORGE International is an inter-denominational network of leaders who invest their time into encouraging Christians everywhere to see themselves as missionaries who are sent by God to different non-Christian cultural groups. They help accomplish this through:

  • The FORGE Course. This is a 1-year training time to equip and encourage people who are already active in missional church planting. The course is designed for people with regular jobs, and involves extensive reading, regular discussion with other course participants, and 4 weekend intensives. More info here (example from the Dallas Hub; the content of other courses might vary slightly).
  • Hubs. These are networks of missionaries within a certain city. They provide ongoing training and support.
  • Coaching. The FORGE leaders are incredibly generous with their time, and offer regular 1-on-1 coaching in person, or over Skype. Over the past 8 months, I have had several very helpful Skype conversations with FORGE leader Mark Michael.

 

Why FORGE?

Our world is currently undergoing tremendous shifts. One of the major changes is taking place on the level of people’s worldview. Especially in the West, we are moving from a modern way of thinking to a post-modern one. In the modern world, the church had a leading voice in shaping culture. But most would agree that this voice has been lost, and the Christian church moved increasingly to the margins of society. This new cultural environment has been described as Postchristian. FORGE was started by missional church gurus Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost in response to this pressing challenge.

 

People on Mission

If we are serious about fulfilling the Great Commission, we need to change the way we operate, in light of these changes. One major change that we desperate need to make is to start seeing ourselves in a missionary context. Instead of expecting our non-Christian co-workers and neighbors to come to our church buildings, we need to see ourselves as missionaries whom God is sending to them instead.

 

A Missionary God

All throughout the Bible, we see that God is actively on mission to reach humans with His love. He walks with Adam and Eve in the Garden, He seeks out and calls Abraham, Moses, and the prophets. And God’s active engagement with humans culminates in the ultimate missionary act of becoming a human himself in the man Jesus of Nazareth, and living among us. This has been called the Missio Dei, or mission of God.

[quote]If this is the kind of God we follow, how can we not be on active mission ourselves?[/quote]

No longer can we sit in our comfortable churches, and wait for them to show up at the door (which usually doesn’t happen anyway). We need to go to them!

 

But How?

A helpful question to ask yourself is: “If my non-Christian friends never step foot into a church building, how will they ever become disciples of Jesus?” There is really only one answer to this question.

[quote]You must band with other believers to bring the church into their life.[/quote]

The kind of church community which you start will look wildly different depending on who you are sent to. A Jesus community among retirees might gather several times a week at 7am at the local McDonald’s. A missional church among upwardly-mobile urban singles might meet in apartments or trendy cafes. The location, time, and style don’t really matter, because that’s not what defines church. After all, the church is people.

 

Next Steps

If you recognize the need to actively engage with the mission of God to reach your family, friends and co-workers with the Good News of Jesus, I would encourage you along these lines:

  • Pray. All mission should be saturated in prayer. Since we are unable to change anyone’s heart, we desperately need the Holy Spirit to touch those to whom we are sent.
  • Share. Grab some of your friends for coffee, and share your heart with them.
  • Dream. Imagine if God told you: “Whatever mission you choose, I guarantee success.” How would you respond? To whom would you become a missionary?
  • Act. Gather some some like-minded friends, and go for it! Together, start praying regularly for the group you are sent to. Begin spending most of your free time with these non-Christian friends. And watch for ways to partner with whatever the Holy Spirit is already doing among them.
  • Grow. It’s likely you won’t feel up to the task. So start with reading through some of the best missional material out there. Our Resource Page outlines some of the blogs and books we’ve found helpful. If you need more help, get in touch with us, or find out where the next FORGE Course will be held.

2013 Taipei Missional Community Christmas Eve Service

Dear Friends,

We just wanted to let everyone know that our 2013 Taipei Missional Community Christmas Eve Service went really well. Besides our 6 MC team members, about 15 friends from the community showed up, including several people walking in off the street. Our team prepared a delicious Christmas Eve dinner of Beijing Roast Duck, mashed potatoes, salad, shrimp sauce green peppers, fried cabbage, rolls, and fruit salad. After dinner, we spent 30 minutes singing Christmas carols in Chinese and English. Erich shared a short Christmas message in Chinese, with Kelley translating into English for our foreigner friends. This was the first time many of our friends have heard the Christmas story. After a short time of prayer, we had a candle-lighting ceremony, and sang Silent Night. Finally, we handed out gift boxes filled with Christmas cookies, and information about our Taipei Missional Community.

We received great feedback in person and on Facebook after the service. For many of our friends, this was the first Christmas service they had ever experienced. Hearts were touched, and we’d appreciate your continued prayers for our friends to integrate into our regular house church meetings.

 

Click below to read Erich’s Christmas message in English or Chinese.

[learn_more caption=”Click for English”]I’m so pleased that we can all celebrate Christmas Eve together tonight. Christmas Eve is the night before Christmas day. But what’s so special about this day? Well, Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’ birth 2000 years ago. But don’t worry – tonight it doesn’t matter if you know a lot about Jesus, or nothing at all. Because tonight I’ll be sharing about the meaning of Jesus’ birth.

Hundreds of years before he was born, Jesus’ birth was actually foretold by prophets. Let’s listen to the words of a famous prophet in the Bible, called Isaiah.

 

Isaiah 9:2-7

2 Those people lived in darkness, but they will see a great light. They lived in a place as dark as death, but a great light will shine on them.

3 God, you will make the nation grow, and you will make the people happy. They will rejoice in your presence as they do at harvest time. It will be like the joy when people take their share of things they have won in war. 4 That will happen because you will lift the heavy yoke off their shoulders and take away their heavy burden. You will take away the rod that the enemy used to punish your people.

5 Every boot that marched in battle and every uniform stained with blood will be destroyed and thrown into the fire. 6 This will happen when the special child is born. God will give us a son who will be responsible for leading the people. His name will be “Wonderful Counselor, Powerful God, Father Who Lives Forever, Prince of Peace.” 7 His power will continue to grow, and there will be peace without end. This will establish him as the king sitting on David’s throne and ruling his kingdom. He will rule with goodness and justice forever and ever. The strong love that the Lord All-Powerful has for his people will make this happen!

Isaiah is foretelling the coming of a very special child. Did you catch what this child will be like? He will bring light and joy to people living in darkness. He will lift people’s burdens. He will bring an end to bloodshed and war. He will rule, but in a different way than the violent rule of earthly kings. His peaceful kingdom will keep expanding until it fills the whole earth. And people will call him Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

So 800 years after Isaiah’s time, the Jewish people were still expectantly waiting for this king to come and deliver them. But what were the exact circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth? Let’s hear a report from one of his disciples.

 

Luke 2:1-20

1 It was about that same time that Augustus Caesar sent out an order to all people in the countries that were under Roman rule. The order said that everyone’s name must be put on a list. 2 This was the first counting of all the people while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 Everyone traveled to their own hometowns to have their name put on the list. 4 So Joseph left Nazareth, a town in Galilee, and went to the town of Bethlehem in Judea. It was known as the town of David. Joseph went there because he was from the family of David. 5 Joseph registered with Mary because she was engaged to marry him. (She was now pregnant.) 6 While Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to have the baby. 7 She gave birth to her first son. She wrapped him up well and laid him in a box where cattle are fed. She put him there because the guest room was full.

8 That night, some shepherds were out in the fields near Bethlehem watching their sheep. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord was shining around them. The shepherds were very afraid. 10 The angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid. I have some very good news for you—news that will make everyone happy. 11 Today your Savior was born in David’s town. He is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This is how you will know him: You will find a baby wrapped in pieces of cloth and lying in a feeding box.”

13 Then a huge army of angels from heaven joined the first angel, and they were all praising God, saying,

14 “Praise God in heaven, and on earth let there be peace to the people who please him.”

15 The angels left the shepherds and went back to heaven. The shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this great event the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they went running and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the feeding box. 17 When they saw the baby, they told what the angels said about this child. 18 Everyone was surprised when they heard what the shepherds told them. 19 Mary continued to think about these things, trying to understand them. 20 The shepherds went back to their sheep, praising God and thanking him for everything they had seen and heard. It was just as the angel had told them.

Did you catch it? The shepherds are watching their sheep at night-time, when suddenly the night sky is lit up with bright angels. Their message: a child has born who will bring joy and peace to all people. What do you think is the first thing that flashed through the minds of those startled Jewish shepherds? Isaiah’s deliverer is finally here!

When Jesus had grown up, he became a traveling teacher, performing many healings and miracles. His main message was: God’s rule has arrived, so repent of your selfish ways and join Jesus’ new community of love and peace.

2000 years later, he still has the same calling to each of us. Repent of the darkness inside our hearts, and join God’s community on earth.

As the Truth Community Church Network, this is what we’re about. We’re a group of Christians who seek to live in close fellowship with another as we follow Jesus together. If you want to know more about when and where we meet, just talk to any one of us.

Now I’d like to end in prayer, and hope that this prayer can help us experience the true meaning of Christmas. Let’s bow our heads and pray to close. Dear Jesus, thank you for coming to this earth to show us how to live in true fellowship with God and others. And thank you for taking our burdens away and bringing peace and joy into our hearts.

While we keep our heads bowed, I’d like to leave a short time for us all to talk to Jesus. Perhaps you’ve carried a  heavy burden for too long. Give your burden to Jesus. Perhaps you’re full of worry. Give your worries to Jesus. Perhaps you have been hurt by someone, and can’t forgive that person. Give your hurt to Jesus. He will take care of all these things, because he loves each one of us. Let’s spend a minute in quiet prayer with God before I close. [/learn_more]

 

[learn_more caption=”Click for Chinese”]感謝大家來參與我們平安夜的party,首先我先自我介紹,還有我們社區教會組員介紹

我很開心我們今天能夠一起過平安夜。平安夜就是聖誕節的前一個晚上。那麼聖誕日到底為甚麼那麼特別呢?聖誕日就是慶祝「耶穌」這個人在兩千年前的誕生。但不要擔心~若你對耶穌不熟悉沒關係。因為我今天晚上會稍微跟大家分享耶穌誕生的意義。

其實,在耶穌誕生的幾百年前,有不少先知(也就是大家比較白話的說法:預言家)關於他的來臨所說過的預言。其中我們來聽聽聖經裡有一位很有名的先知,名叫「以賽亞」,他對耶穌的談論。

 

以賽亞書9:2-7

2 行在黑暗中的人民,看見了大光;住在死蔭之地的人,有光照耀他們。

3 你使這國之民增多,又加添他們的歡樂;他們在你面前歡樂,

好像收割時的歡樂一樣;又像人在均分戰利品時的快樂一般。

4 因為他們所負的軛和肩頭上的杖,以及欺壓他們的人的棍,你都折斷了。

5 因為戰士在戰爭喧嚷中所穿的靴,和輥在血中的袍,都必燒毀,成了燒火的燃料。

6 因為有一個嬰孩為我們而生,有一個兒子賜給我們;政權必擔在他的肩頭上;

他的名必稱為“奇妙的策士、全能的 神、永恆的父、和平的君”。

7 他的政權與平安必無窮無盡地增加,他在大衛的寶座上治理他的國,

以公平和公義使國堅立穩固,從現在直到永遠。

萬軍之耶和華的熱心必成全這事。

以賽亞預言說,以後會有一個很特別的小孩出生。你聽到這個小孩的特點嗎?他會把光和喜樂帶給住在黑暗的人。他會把人的重擔拿走。他會讓所有喪亂停止。他會做王,但跟地上的霸王很大不同。他和平的國度會一直不斷擴展,直到地級。人人會稱他為「奇妙的策士」、「全能的神」、「永恆的父」、「和平的君」。

所以,以賽亞時代八百年後,猶太人民還是在等待這個國王來拯救他們。但耶穌出生的情況到底如何呢?讓我們先聽一下,耶穌其中一個門徒的記載。

 

路加福音2:1-20

那時,有諭旨從凱撒奧古士督頒發下來,叫普天下r的人登記戶口。 2 這是第一次戶口登記,是在居里紐作敘利亞總督的時候舉行的。 3 眾人各歸各城去登記戶口。 4 約瑟本是大衛家族的人,也從加利利的拿撒勒上猶太去,到了大衛的城伯利恆, 5 與所聘之妻馬利亞一同登記戶口。那時馬利亞的身孕已經重了。 6 他們在那裡的時候,馬利亞的產期到了, 7 生了頭胎兒子,用布包著,放在馬槽裡,因為客店裡沒有地方。

8 在伯利恆的郊外,有一些牧人在夜間看守羊群。 9 主的一位使者站在他們旁邊,主的榮光四面照著他們,他們就非常害怕。 10 天使說:“不要怕!看哪!我報給你們大喜的信息,是關於萬民的: 11 今天在大衛的城裡,為你們生了救主,就是主基督。 12 你們要找到一個嬰孩,包著布,臥在馬槽裡,那就是記號了。” 13 忽然有一大隊天兵,同那天使一起讚美 神說:

14 “在至高之處,榮耀歸與 神!

在地上,平安歸與他所喜悅的人!”

15 眾天使離開他們升天去了,那些牧人彼此說:“我們往伯利恆去,看看主所指示我們已經成就的事。” 16 他們急忙去了,找到馬利亞、約瑟和那臥在馬槽裡的嬰孩。 17 他們見過以後,就把天使對他們論這孩子的話傳開了。 18 聽見的人,都希奇牧人所說的事。 19 馬利亞把這一切放在心裡,反覆思想。 20 牧人因為聽見的和看見的,正像天使對他們所說的一樣,就回去了,把榮耀讚美歸與 神。

你抓到了沒?牧人在夜裡看守羊群時,忽然間整個天空亮了!有一大群天使出現,說:「今天為你們生了救主。而且這個孩子會給萬民帶來大喜樂!」你想一想,那些驚惶的猶太牧人腦袋裡應該馬上想到哪一件事呢?「以賽亞的救屬著終於來到!」

耶穌長大後成為行腳教師(也就是說他各地各國的遊走,藉著徒中來幫助和教導民眾)。他行了很多神蹟,也醫治了許多病人。他主要的訊息是:神國降臨在人間。因此人人都該悔改,並進入神同在的群體,同享神的愛和平安。

兩千年後,耶穌還是一樣呼召著我們。我們都該悔改,遠離我們心中的黑暗,並進入屬神同在的群體。

這也是我們台北真理堂社區教會的主要目標。我們是一個彼此相愛,跟隨耶穌的團契。如果你想知道我們每週的聚會地點和時間,歡迎來問我們任何組員。

我現在想要做個結束禱告,也想藉著禱告把聖誕祝福帶給各位。讓我們低頭禱告。親愛的主耶穌,謝謝你來到這個世界,是為了教導我們怎麼能夠藉著神的愛跟別人活在愛的關係。也謝謝你挪走我們生命中的重擔,將你同在的喜樂和平安來充滿我們。

當我們繼續低頭,我想讓大家有一分鐘的時間,可以試著自己跟耶穌說說話。也許你心中有些重擔,是你已經扛了很久。我鼓勵你,把這些重擔交託給耶穌。也許你今天充滿了焦慮,把你的焦慮交給耶穌。也許你被別人傷害過,到現在還不能饒恕對方。把你受的傷交給耶穌吧。他真得會處理這些事情,因為他愛我們當中的每一個人。在我結束前,讓我們有一分鐘的時間安靜為自己禱告。[/learn_more]

 

And here are some pictures from the event ~ enjoy!

2013 Missional Community Christmas Eve Service Flyer

Hi Everyone,

We wanted to share the exciting news that our Missional Community House Church is organizing a Christmas Eve service for our local neighborhood. Since many of our Taiwanese working-class friends wouldn’t feel too comfortable in a large church gathering, we’ve booked a room in a local community center just a 5-minute walk from our house. The DM for the service is below, and we’ll be sure to post pictures!

Please pray:

  • for many of our unchurched Taiwanese friends to join…
  • …for them to meet Jesus…
  • …and become His followers through our house church network

 

2013 Missional Community Christmas Eve Service DM

2013_12_24 Taipei MC Christmas Eve Service DM_English

2013_12_24 Taipei MC Christmas Eve Service DM_Chinese

Taipei Missional Community Gathering on Nov 14, 2013

Hi Friends,

To give you a practical idea of what goes on in our Taipei Missional Community (house church), we wanted to share with you tonight’s MC schedule. As you read over the outline below, try taking some mental notes on the following points:

  • inclusiveness of non-Christians in our gathering, especially our working-class friends
  • living as a family on mission together
  • how easy / difficult it would be to reproduce such a gathering in other homes

Some possible answers at the end of this post.

 

Taipei Missional Community Gathering on Nov 14, 2013

7:00pm Shared potluck-style dinner

8:00pm Sharing about God and Life

Testimonies: How have we experienced God recently? What are we thankful for?

Introduction to tonight’s Bible text:

  • We are a community of people wanting to become (better) disciples of Jesus.
  • Jesus was a Jewish teacher who lived 2000 years ago in what is now Israel (Middle East).
  • Jesus was a wandering teacher, gathering disciples much like Confucius and other ancient Chinese teachers.
  • Several of Jesus’ disciples later wrote Jesus’ teachings down in what we now call the 4 Gospels. The teachings we want to look at today were written by a disciple called Matthew.
  • Jesus’ mission was setting up an alternate community that lives according to different values than the surrounding society. Listen especially for qualities of this new society that run counter to common values in our society.

Listen to the mp3 versions of Matthew 5:1-12 in English / Chinese / Taiwanese

Listen again, pausing for 10 secs. after each beatitude.

Discussion questions:

  • What social qualities mentioned by Jesus run counter to social values in our society today? Why do you think that? Can you share any examples?
  • If you wanted to try to follow Jesus’ teachings, which quality would you have to work on most?
  • Which quality should we work on as a family? How?

9:00pm Prayer:
How can we pray for each other? (Pray silently for persons next to you; 1 person closes)

 

Possible answers to the question: “How is our Missional Community designed to be inclusive / reproducible?”

  • We allow ample time to be together as family, and get to know newcomers.
  • Sharing regular meals together creates community.
  • The Bible discussion questions are practical and applicable. They are open-ended, with room for anyone to share.
  • We never opened a Bible tonight, as this would intimidate some of our working-class friends with lower reading levels; listening to the audio is more appropriate in an oral culture.
  • Not everyone is called on to pray; this shows sensitivity to our not-yet-Christian friends who might not know how to pray / aren’t comfortable praying in front of a group.
  • The gathering is purposefully kept simple, and thus easy to reproduce by future leaders.

Hopefully this post gave you more insight into what it looks like to live as a family on mission. If you are interested in using the missional community model to begin discipling your non-Christian friends, we invite you to browse the Resources section of this blog. May our Lord give us all much lasting fruit!

 

Back Home and Very Thankful

After many long hours in airplanes and airports we arrived safely at our apartment in Taipei on Saturday. After leaving the States on Monday the 28th, we spent 3 days in Germany with Erich’s parents and then returned to Taiwan from there. We are so thankful for the time we were able to have over the last few months with family, friends, supporters, and churches. We felt loved, cared for, and appreciated by so many of you! We returned to Taiwan refreshed and excited for what God is going to do.

Since we moved to this apartment a little over a year ago, one of our desires has been to reach out to our neighbours and get to know the people living around us. We have gotten to know the boss of a tea shop across the street, a family that owns a small breakfast shop, and another family that owns a noodle shop. But, one neighbour that we had not been able to connect with was the lady who owns a small hair cutting place just 30 seconds down the street. I (Kelley) had felt burdened to get to know her ever since moving here. I would often pass her shop and smile, but she never had any reaction. Twice before leaving for the States I went to her shop to get a hair wash (a common practice for women in Taiwan), but both times she wasn’t in her shop. I continued to pray that God would give me an opportunity to meet her. Well, not 2 days after being back in Taiwan did God answer that prayer. I was out walking with Max and we passed her shop. Upon seeing us (namely a caucasian baby!) she immediately came out of her shop to see Max. I started to talk with her and she surprisingly said, “You have good Chinese!” So, it seems that all along she was just assuming that due to language barriers we couldn’t be friends, hence never giving me any response when I smiled. Since then we have had two more encounters on the street, and each time my heart is happy and thankful to God that, through Max, I finally have gotten to meet my neighbour! 🙂

We have only been back 5 days and already Max is helping us connect with more and more people in our neighborhood. Just another reason we are so thankful for our sweet baby boy!

Meeting the Heavenly Man, Brother Yun

In 2013, Kelley and I read the book “The Heavenly Man,” which is the amazing testimony of Brother Yun, a pastor in China’s underground church. During the past 30 years, Brother Yun has personally experienced terrible persecution, and has spent over 10 years of his life in Communist prisons. But amidst these trials, he has also experienced the wonderful nearness of Jesus, who worked many miracles in his life. These include having his broken legs healed in an instant, being led out of a maximum security prison into freedom, and being kept alive on several occasions when he should have died from the torture. During his time in various prisons, Brother Yun consistently led large groups of fellow inmates to faith in Jesus.

Because of the impact Brother Yun has had on our lives, I was excited to hear that he was speaking a church in Harrisburg, PA. After his powerful message on taking up our cross and following Jesus as everyday disciples, I had the chance to briefly speak with him. He was surprised to hear me address him in Mandarin, and prayed for my language ability to be used with great Kingdom impact in the Chinese church. I was so pleased for this short interchange with one of Jesus’ most devoted followers.

If you haven’t picked up your copy of The Heavenly Man, we encourage you to do so!

Note: Amazon product links used throughout this site may be affiliate links. More information on this here

Missional Resources page updated

With the wealth of books being written on missional communities these days, it is getting hard to keep up with all these great new resources. To help us stay organized, we’ve updated our Missional Resources page with some new books. Each book contains a 1-2 sentence book description. We hope this growing list can assist you in your own growth as a reproducing disciple of Christ!

Sharing at Westbrook Church

During the past three weeks we had the privilege of spending some time at Westbrook church, located in the lake country west of Milwaukee, WI. It was great reconnecting with their pastor Scott Grabendike, other staff members, the Global Missions team, as well as old and new friends from the congregation.

This morning we had the chance to share a ministry update of our work in Taiwan with the congregation during the morning church service. It was an honor to have this opportunity, and we so appreciate the interest and care we are receiving from our friends at Westbrook.

Here is a short video called “Two Minutes in Taiwan” we showed during the worship service, that gives a quick overview of the social and religious climate in the country we serve.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Whb_ws64xE

And here are some more pictures of our time together.

Quotes from “The Tangible Kingdom” by Hugh Halter

Hi Everyone,

We wanted to share some quotes with you from a book that has greatly impacted our day-to-day ministry in Taiwan. The title is: “The Tangible Kingdom: Creating Incarnational Community” by Matt Smay and Hugh Halter. Erich recently referenced it in a sermon he preached at Mt. Calvary church in Elizabethtown, along with its companion resource, the TK Primer. We trust that the following quotes are as inspiring and challenging to you, as they were to us. And feel free to engage on any of the quotes in the comments section (click on Read More at the very bottom).

 

“If Christianity was only about finding a group of people to live life with, who shared openly their search for God and allowed anyone, regardless of behavior, to seek too, and who collectively lived by faith to make the world a little more like Heaven, would you be interested?”

The world around us has changed and we didn’t change fast enough with it. The jump from modern to postmodern caught us on our heels.

Hundreds of thousands of Christians believe you can’t get into heaven without “praying the sinner’s prayer,” even though Jesus granted salvation to many without one reference to a person praying a prayer. Even post resurrection, there’s no precedence for praying a prayer as the ticket to eternity.

The ancient faith communities that set a course to change the history of the world did so without church programs, without paid staff, without Web sites, and without brochures, blogs, or buildings. They were lean! The point of going without all the stuff is simple but profound. When you don’t have all the “stuff,” you’re left with a lot of time to spend with people.

I also believe that the sermon has a role in encouraging our community. I just don’t think it’s any more important than other aspects.

The problem is that our present evangelical “Come to us” paradigm of church has not been an appropriate missiological response to the paradigms that exist in our world.

For the ancients, Christian community was unique, intriguing, and attractive primarily because it called for inclusion of all people.

The incarnational big-story gospel will require a place of discovery, where people will be able to see the truth before they hear about it. This place will not be a location but a community of people who are inclusive of everyone. These people will be making eternity attractive by how they live such selfless lives now, and will be modeling life in a New Kingdom in ways that will make it easy for other people to give it a try. People like this aren’t desperate to convert everyone; they are desperate to be like Christ and to be where Christ is. Their heartbeat to be transformed into the image of Christ, and to pray and work for little specks of transformation in everyone and everything they touch. Success is faithfulness. The rest is up to God.

When Jesus sent his disciples out to minister—whether it was casting out demons, going two by two into houses to give blessings, or feeding large groups—they still didn’t have clear or full faith.

Listen to Erich’s sermon at Mt. Calvary Church

Erich recently had the privilege of preaching a sermon at our sending church, Mt. Calvary Church in Elizabethtown, PA. The sermon was titled “Following Jesus’ Missionary Example” and centered around Jesus’ encounter with Zacchaeus from Luke 19:1-10. The sermon thesis was: “We need to recover the missionary values of Jesus in order to engage those outside the church.” You can listen to the message by clicking on this link, then selecting the 7/14/2013 sermon. Before the sermon starts, you can enjoy hearing Kelley share a brief update on our ministry in Taiwan. The sermon then begins 8 minutes into the recording. Feel free to leave any feedback on the message in the comments section of this blog post!

Our month in Germany

Our apologies for the silence on our blog over the last month! We left Taipei on June 5th, and landed in Frankfurt, Germany, early on the morning of June 6th. We were welcomed by Erich’s parents (missionaries to Germany) and it was wonderful watching them meet their first grandchild. For most of this month we have just enjoyed time together with them, and the chance to rest!

We did a little traveling and spent one week in England seeing our former housemates in Taiwan, along with other friends. It has been a good month, and now we are getting ready to fly to the States on Monday, where we will be on Home Assignment through the end of October. We are thankful for this low-key month, as our time in the States will be busy visiting and speaking in various churches, as well as reconnecting with family and supporters.

We look forward to seeing many of you very soon!

Resources for starting Missional Communities

We just wanted to remind everyone that we’re constantly adding to a growing list of Missional Resources on this website. Whether you’re a pastor wanting to take your church cell group to the next level, or a regular Christian wanting to impact your community, we’d encourage you to check out the articles and videos we’ve posted.

We especially wanted to highlight the most recent article we’ve added, entitled Small Groups that have the DNA of a Gospel Planting Movement.” It’s a very practical case study of how church planters Paul and David Watson used the Discovery Bible Study (i.e. group inductive Bible study) method to catalyze church planting movements around the world. The harvest has been incredible, with over 80,000 churches started in North India, with over 2 million new believers in 18 years. Over 8000 churches have been started in Africa, with over 200,000 new believers, in the last 5 years.

When it comes to our mission of transforming Taipei city, the old additional model of church planting simply won’t do the job. Even if the combined number of new Christians grew at the same rate as Taipei’s overall population growth, the overall Gospel impact would still remain a low 7%. To really infiltrate the culture and bring about systemic change, we need exponential approaches like the ones described in Paul and David’s article above.

Please pray for us as we explore new approaches to Reach Taiwan!

Missional Community Update

Hi Everyone,

We just wanted to update you on the progress of our Missional Community (MC for short). Here are some quick figures:

MC started: February, 2013

Focus: our un-churched friends, which includes foreigners, and virtually all of the Taiwanese working class

Starter Team members: Erich & Kelley, Dillon & Caty (US couple), Joe & Momo (Joe is an American, married to Momo, a Taiwanese), Isaac (single Taiwanese guy), and Beatrice (single Taiwanese girl) – 8 total

Unchurched friends attending our gatherings: 3 Taiwanese, and 2 Western; 5 total

Gatherings: twice a week; we meet every Thursday night for church in various team members’ homes, and gather every weekend for different events, such as group dinners, karaoke, outings, etc…

preserved egg tofuMethod: Our MC tries to follow Jesus’ example of spending lots of time with our unreached friends, which is why we place such an emphasis on gathering weekly for ‘fun’ times. This allows us to meet each other’s non-Christian friends in a neutral setting (restaurants or homes). Once our new friends feel comfortable with the group, it’s easy to invite them to our Thursday night cell group time. This gathering is also in homes, and always involves dinner. We try hard to lead this time in a way that even people with no Christian background can participate. We also try to avoid ‘insider’ language and spiritual vocabulary, instead expressing our walk with Christ in plain Chinese / English.

Vision: To infect our Taiwanese church (Taipei Truth Church) and other Taipei churches with the ‘missional virus’ and help them flip their existing cell groups into Missional Communities. Please pray that we succeed in releasing a network of MCs around Taipei city, and bring God’s love into every community!

For more information on our vision to reach out to our unchurched Taiwanese friends, please visit our Church Planting page – thanks!

Thankfulness #41-50

We apologize for the silence on the blogging during the recent weeks. Most of our time has been occupied by a precious baby boy, whom we are enjoying very, very much. But, as he is currently taking an afternoon nap on Grandma’s lap, we thought we’d use this time to write a post. It’s been awhile since we’ve done one on ‘Thankfulness”, so here it goes:

Cindy with Kel and Max#41. Friends. With our little guy having arrived two weeks early, our friends here have come together to provide meals and help on quite short notice. They go above and beyond in wanting to serve us. They are truly gifts from God.

#42. Answers to prayer. Just this week the Lord has provided financially towards our Home Assignment travel expenses later this year, as well as a car to use while we are Stateside. Praise God for His provision.

#43. Neighbors. Since moving into this neighborhood a little over half a year ago, we’ve been getting to know the people that live around us. It’s been fun introducing them to our little guy and deepening relationships with them.

Grandma with Max#44. Family. We are so thankful that Connie, Kelley’s mom, is able to be here with us for 3 weeks. She’s been a tremendous help around the apartment cooking and cleaning, and it’s been fun watching her interact with her newest grandson. We are just as thankful for all our family scattered around the globe who have sent cards, gifts, and taken time to Skype with Max. We are blessed.

#45. Great medical care. We had a terrific experience giving birth at a local hospital here in Taipei. The nurses were all very helpful and friendly, the environment was clean and calming, and our doctor was fantastic. And, due to being covered by National Health Care, it was all very affordable.

#46. Exciting ministry.  Our house church plant project is going very well. We’ve been meeting regularly for over a month now, and have one stable non-Christian, Joanne, that meets with us.

#47. Vegetable market. Not too far away from our apartment is a great vegetable market. We frequent it weekly, buying a wide assortment of fresh veggies each time. The ladies that work there are very friendly and are always able to talk us into buying something else we “need.” Haha.

#48. Parks. Three bus stops away from our apartment is a big park called Youth Park. We enjoyed an outing there last week and, with the weather getting nicer, we look forward to spending more time there in the days to come.

#49. New opportunities. Last Saturday morning Erich had the opportunity to hand out over 100 lunch boxes to homeless men and women around the largest temple in Taipei, not far from our home. It was exciting for him to be able and bless them this way, and we hope to have similar chances in the future.

Max#50. Max Thomas. It goes without saying, we are completely in love with our new little bundle. He’s been great baby so far- very chilled out and easy-going and loves to cuddle!

Meet Max

We’re so pleased to announce the birth of our first son, Max Thomas Schindler! Max was born on April 7, 2013, weighing in at 5.6 lbs, and 18 inches long. Although he’s just a few days old, he’s a real joy, especially because he already sleeps for regular 3+ hour stretches, usually breastfeeds for over 1/2 hour, and hardly ever cries! Mommy and daddy have been getting enough sleep, despite feeding Max 2-3 times during the night.

Here are some more pictures of Max – enjoy!

[scrollGallery id=3 autoScroll=false]

The Monthly Rhythm in our Missional Community

We wanted to share some more details on the life of our new Missional Community. Basically we follow the model laid out by missional leader Hugh Halter in his excellent book, The Tangible Kingdom. Here’s what our group’s missional rhythm looks like each month:

Week 1: Communion – Cell group, focused on the needs of our not-yet-Christian friends)

Week 2: Community – A party, such as cooking together, going bowling, singing Karaoke, etc… This is an excellent environment to get to know each other’s unchurched friends)

Week 3: Communion – Every month has 2 cell group style meetings. They’re always in a home or public place, and should definitely involve eating together! That’s a tradition passed on straight from the Master Himself!)

Week 4: Service – The group serves the local community through practical ways. This might mean de-trashing a park, cleaning an orphanage, or visiting a shut-in.

Last Saturday was our “Community” day, on which we want bowling together. It was a great time for our team to form deeper relationships with each other, and welcome some some unchurched friends. Check out the happy crowd below 🙂

bowling

Easy Recipes for cooking Taiwanese Food

Hi everyone,

We thought it would be fun to share some easy recipes for some Taiwanese dishes with you. We made sure each recipe is easy to prepare. If your local grocery store doesn’t have some of the ingredients, you can check an Asian / international foods market. Enjoy!

 

  1. Taiwanese Sesame Paste Noodles (one of our favorites)
  2. Taiwanese Fried Cabbage (a staple food in Taiwanese homes)
  3. Taiwanese Fried Tofu (also a staple)
  4. Green Bean Soup (sweet dessert)

Now that you can cook some simple Taiwanese dishes, you might wondering about Taiwanese eating customs. Here are a few:

  • spoonWe eat with chopsticks and spoons, mostly using small bowls. This is handy because the same bowl can be used to drink soup after a meal.
  • One might eat 2-4 bowls of rice, with various toppings, in one meal, depending on how hungry one is.
  • Staple foods include rice, noodles, many different kinds of tofu, fried / boiled / steamed green vegetables, with small portions of fish or meat.
  • It is expected that one hold one’s bowl in one hand, while holding one’s chopsticks in the other hand. The bowl is often brought directly to one’s mouth, so one can scoop hard-to-get bits of rice into one’s mouth. Not considered rude at all 🙂
  • Feel free to slurp your noodles as loudly as you please. This is also considered normal. Actually the slurping helps cool down hot soup noodles.
  • Especially when eating out with larger groups (6+ people), Taiwanese like to eat family-style at round tables, in which every person uses their own bowl of rice, but helps themselves to different dishes of food on a large lazy susan in the middle of the table, like in this picture.
  • When out with a couple of friends, Taiwan’s busy night markets are a popular destination. More info on night markets on our blog, here, and here. Because Taiwan’s high population density, people often sit crammed together, and even end up eating with complete strangers. No one seems to mind though 🙂
  • Taiwanese have traditionally considered soup a kind of drink, and have not drank tea or other beverages with meals. This has changed in recent generations, and now you will often drink green / jasmine tea, or soft drinks with meals.
  • When eating at restaurants, the dishes are served whenever they’re ready, as opposed to the whole table at once.
  • Restaurants and dining tables in homes rarely ever have tablecloths. Most restaurants have sparse decoration.
  • Tips and taxes are already factored into meal prices, through expensive restaurants will commonly add a 10% service charge to the check.
  • Many Taiwanese are vegetarians, especially if they are strict Buddhists.