What? You haven’t seen the new site? Could be our fault …

October 17, 2008 at 8:37 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

If you’re wondering why we’re being such slackers and haven’t updated this WordPress site in a few months, there’s a pretty good reason – and we’re sorry to just now officially be posting it here!

We have launched our new Web site, TheUpstreamCollective.org. Thanks for your interest, and check our new site for the latest on our quest for missional involvement in Europe.

The Upstream Collective

Room for Improvement

July 16, 2008 at 4:43 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

We’re getting ready for our next round of “About Europe” meetings. The hardest part about making similar presentations to different people in different places is the tendency to fall into a routine. The last thing we want is to just roll into a town and put on a show. If we were going to do that, we’d be better off putting a video on YouTube and calling it good.

So we’re tweaking our presentation. Our next three meetings (Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Nashville) and going to be be better than the last three (if that were possible!) We realize that the democratization of missions is going to begin with dialog, not lecture. We’re looking for ways to keep things interactive while maintaining the flow and direction of the conversation. If you have any ideas (especially those of you who participated in the Florida meetings), please let us know!

“Okay, I get it! I’m ready! Where do I sign up?”

July 1, 2008 at 8:04 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

This morning’s meeting was a smaller one. It was hosted by Robert Beckman, an innovative church planter and house church advocate in Central and South Florida. It was refreshing to compare notes with a fellow practitioner (Robert spent years overseas) and to hear how God is working around the State.

Adam, a church planter who’s seeing great success in church planting, appreciated the opportunity for missions in Europe. In his mind, he had figured that he would get involved in Central America, but the similarities between the European worldview and that of his current mission field really made him wonder how God might use him in Europe.

Guys like Adam and Robert “get it.” They understand the value of the church being an incarnational witness. Halfway through our appeal for direct church involvement in missions, Adam interrupted us. “Okay, I get it! I’m ready! Where do I sign up?” He didn’t need to be convinced.

That’s the question a lot of people are asking us- “where do I sign up?” The thing is, we don’t have anything to sign up for. When we first started this, we didn’t want to do anything more than start a campaign to get churches more directly involved in missions in Europe. Church networks already exist. We just wanted them to add a level of intentionality in missions.

Now Upstream is more than just a campaign. It’s a call to action. It’s us speaking on behalf of professional missionaries around the world, asking the church to step up.

In the coming days, we’re going to start posting some practical ideas for churches to begin their involvement in missions in Europe. Please feel free to share your ideas as well.

Back to Back

July 1, 2008 at 3:44 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Not just one About Europe meeting today, but two back to back. We started this morning with a group of ten church planters at the Palm Coast Baptist Association building. It was a great group; very interactive. They say that Monday morning is the worst time to try to do something with pastors and church planters, but we were really happy with the turnout. The whole thing felt like a big conversation.

We had a colleague in Barcelona participate via Skype video call, which was cool. Our dream is to have an entire conference online, but Shapevine isn’t ready with that yet. We still need to iron out the kinks (three hours’ worth of material in an hour and a half is tough!), but it went really well.

As soon as we were finished, we were whisked away to Cape Christian Fellowship for a second About Europe meeting. This one was a luncheon (what’s the difference between a luncheon and just a plain old lunch?) catered by Eric’s Deli. There were more people at this one, too. Church planters, pastors, some denominational leaders. we really enjoyed hanging around talking with some of the guys afterward. They were really encouraging, and excited about the possibility of getting involved in Europe.

One thing we need to do better is figure out what comes next in our relationship with these churches. We’re praying about the best way for us to continue to walk them through the development of their missions strategies. Do they call us? Do we spam them with more ideas? In end what are we looking for from them?

It’s funny, when we started all of this, we just wanted to launch a campaign. We wanted churches to get more directly involved in missions in Europe. Now it’s taking off, and we’re seeing the need for training, networking, and ongoing encouragement. It’s exciting to see things taking shape before our eyes. We’re thankful for the support we have, and pray that the Kingdom will be built through all of this.

More tomorrow after we speak in Lakeland (Orlando). We’re also going to start posting our material here as well, so be sure to check back!

The Road Trip Begins…

June 29, 2008 at 10:44 pm | Posted in About Europe | Leave a comment
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We are in sunny (and rainy, then sunny again) south Florida for the first of our “About Europe” meetings. This morning, we visited Cape Christian Fellowship and spent time with the pastor, Wes Furlong. He is a dynamic pastor who really “gets it.” His church is active in their community and has some overseas missions experience, but they’re excited about the possibility of getting more directly involved in Europe. We realized right away that Wes is a person of influence; he put together two meetings for us tomorrow, where we’ll talk to local pastors, leaders, and church planters about, well, Europe.

Cape Christian is a diverse church. Being south Florida, of course they have Spanish-speaking people. But we also met Heimo, a German expatriat who moved to Florida seven years ago. Who knew that we’d find Europeans (believers) here? Maybe God will use Heimo to help the church gain a greater understanding of European worldview.

“Pastor Wes,” as his church calls him, is a very articulate guy who knows culture,  philosophy. He’d be right at home in a coffee shop in Spain or a bookstore in Germany talking about secular humanism and the decline of rational modernism.

Right now, we’re working the kinks out of our “presentation.” We’re hoping that these small, informal meetings don’t turn in to lectures or shows. We really want to get to know these people and see if we can’t dream with them about how God might use them in Europe.

We wanted to have some people in Europe participate via webcam, but I’m not sure it’s going to work. Time is going to be short, and technology has a way of sabotaging things.

Please pray that God would give us words and wisdom. We’ll let you know how it goes…

Looking in Right Place

May 21, 2008 at 7:23 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“I’ll tell you what I’m looking for,” said José, as though he doubts such a thing exists.

“At the end of the Gospel of Luke, after Jesus comes back to life, Jesus goes up to heaven, right?” “Yes, of course,” I say, anxiously trying to encourage this stream of thought. This conversation is the first I’ve had with a Spaniard where I wasn’t the one awkwardly bringing up spiritual things.

“So He’s floated up into the clouds. And the disciples, they can’t see Him anymore, but they’re still looking up. It’s like they’re afraid to look at each other because they’re afraid about what might come next.”

I’m still listening intently, unsure of where José might be going with this.

“In that moment, the disciples were at their most vulnerable, yet most committed moment of their lives. That’s what I’m looking for- a group of believers who have had an experience with God Himself, and then are willing to stand together and say, ‘Okay, now what?'”

If you ask José when he became a believer, he’ll tell you that he’s always been one. He grew up in the Catholic church, but dismisses the dwindling (and aging) numbers of mass-goers as “dead people.” He can’t point to a particular point in his life when he “said a prayer” or “got saved,” But there’s no doubt that this man’s life has been touched by the Most High God, and that he has a relationship with Him through Jesus.

My conversation with José was the beginning of our house church in Spain. I didn’t “evangelize” him. I didn’t find him- we really weren’t even looking. No, we were just looking up to the Lord, focused on Him, scared to death of what nigh come next, and God brought him to us.

Welcome to The Upstream Collective

May 12, 2008 at 10:39 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Athens. Paris. Budapest. Frankfurt. Rome. Madrid. Vienna. Stockholm.

The urban centers of Europe are the new frontier of missions.

Stockbroker. Artist. Lawyer. Electrician. Professor. Programmer.

And these are its missionaries.

While Europe doesn’t often spring to Americans’ minds when they hear the word “missions,” the spiritual need in the region is overwhelming. Less than 2 percent of the population of most European countries is known to follow Christ.

In societies so numbed to the institutional church, cultural rituals and historical Christendom, being a “missionary” often calls for something totally different than the traditional face of North American missions.

What if the most effective “missions” meant simply living life with purpose among the peoples of Europe, working in a normal job, building friendships with co-workers and neighbors?

What if churches in the United States actively participated in sending out their best church members, not as missionaries, but simply as themselves? What if churches prayed and dreamed with those workers about how to live their lives as salt and light in their new European hometowns? What if churches took back – and took full advantage of – their role in the Great Commission?

Isn’t that what it’s supposed to be about anyway?

To learn more about the need in Europe and how God is calling out a new breed of missionaries and churches who send them, contact us. Welcome to The Upstream Collective.

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