The TEAM Blog

Go to the nations. Be the body of Christ. Blog about it.

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[VIDEO] Rich Church, Poor Church
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Do Western Missionaries Damage Cultures?
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Storytelling and Respecting Subjects
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Monthly Prayer Journal: April 2014
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Opening Our Doors to Brokenness
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Not Just Business
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What is Community Development?
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Mission Trip Fundraising – Treat Your Supporters Like Sharks
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Monthly Prayer Journal: March 2014
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Why Cities Matter (INFOGRAPHIC)

[VIDEO] Rich Church, Poor Church


We recently released this short video by TEAM videographer Cary Brown, a profile of a couple in Peru who live in an impoverished neighborhood and commute to a much nicer part of their city to worship in a relatively wealthy church.

Cary’s excellent work (and this accompanying story) is a glimpse of a fairly rare phenomenon. In many — if not most — parts of the developing world, it’s highly uncommon for people to cross socio-economic divides to attend church. Poorer people tend to worship in “poor” churches, and wealthy people tend to worship in “rich” churches.

You could probably point to evidence that this is also the situation with the church in many North American communities. But the division is even more pronounced in the developing world.

From Mexico City to Mumbai, this is a significant challenge for missions. In many countries with a growing church, statistics for a nation as a whole might lead one to believe that the population of Christ-followers is large enough for missiologists to qualify the nation as “reached.” But segment those numbers by household income or neighborhood income, and entire “unreached” populations will emerge. The gaping income disparity between rich and poor in many of those countries is reflected in the church by equally severe stratification. The gospel may take root and flourish among slum-dwellers — or, less often, among the wealthy — but it rarely jumps to other rungs on the income ladder.

The desire and ability to minister across racial and socio-economic lines is an important sign of a church’s missional health. Missionaries like TEAM’s Craig Querfeld are working hard to get otherwise healthy churches to take the next step and develop a passion for reaching out beyond their own “kind.” This is crucial for successful church reproduction in the long-term.

Often it is easier to travel around the world to minister to people who are socio-economically like us than to befriend the “others” living next door. This goes for churches and believers in the developing world just as much as for those anywhere else.

Do Western Missionaries Damage Cultures?

western-missionaries-southern-africa
Where culture doesn't contradict spiritual truth, western missionaries must take care to leave it unchanged. Photo by Robert Johnson / TEAM

Today, TEAM missionary Brett Miller shares about how missionaries impact cultures in good and bad ways — and how to avoid the latter. Recently, I went pheasant hunting with some friends of my Dad who were kind enough to include me in their circle. It was a special day and, as one of them pointed out, likely my last day of pheasant hunting. There are no pheasants in Swaziland, where my wife and I are going to serve as missionaries. One of the men I was hunting with made a perceptive comment. He told me that missions had done serious…

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Storytelling and Respecting Subjects

storytelling
TEAM videographer Joel Hager builds relationships with children in a neighborhood near Arequipa, Peru, while working on a story about their community. Photo by Andy Olsen / TEAM

Everyone loves a good story. Except, sometimes, when it’s about them. Like most missions agencies, TEAM has a dedicated group of professionals who work to tell the stories of what God is doing around the world. Our storytelling team (in my opinion) has one of the best jobs around, getting to know our amazing workers on the field and inviting people half a world away to experience their work through words, images and videos. Our goal is to tell the most accurate, compelling and authentic stories we can. But that goal sometimes conflicts with the desires of our story subjects,…

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Monthly Prayer Journal: April 2014

Photo by Robert Johnson/TEAM

Thank you for joining us in praying for TEAM’s work around the world. Click here to download a .pdf of the April 2014 prayer journal. 1 UKRAINE Please pray for the people of Ukraine that during this time of unrest, many people will find their rest in Jesus. 2 PERU Kathi Small writes, “The Sharpening Your Interpersonal Skills workshop will be held April 4-12 in Lima. Colombian friends Claudio Ardila and his wife, Elmis, will be handling the workshop. I would ask that you pray for them in their preparation as well as during the workshop. Please, also pray for Dámaris,…

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Opening Our Doors to Brokenness

ministering to the marginalized
In Europe, as in most of the world, street life takes its toll on those who spend their nights working or losing themselves in it. Sometimes the best healing is an open home. Photo by Robert Johnson / TEAM

We asked Rachel Zuch, a TEAM worker in Austria, to share about some of the greatest challenges in ministering to the marginalized members of our communities. This morning, a young man is sitting across the kitchen table from me, sipping his coffee and talking about his dreams and fears. We’ll call him Sam. The first time I saw Sam was four years ago on the street. He was dressed like a woman, selling his body. Born into a Gypsy family in Romania, Sam had never gone to school before he met my husband and me. Soon after that, he made…

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Not Just Business

business as mission Tokyo
Business builds community at TEAM's SonRise Café in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Robert Johnson / TEAM

We asked Doug Witzig, one of TEAM’s business-as-mission experts, to share his thoughts on current trends and challenges in the BAM movement. This column appears in the spring 2014 issue of Horizons magazine. By Doug Witzig “To do business in this country, you have to be like a wolf! But you are a missionary, a pastor, so you act like a sheep!” My friend and business partner was right to warn me before we launched a factory project using business-as-mission (BAM) strategies. I was a shepherd by training, concerned about the souls of the people I meet and wanting their…

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What is Community Development?

community development Guatemala
Staff at Potter’s House, a TEAM-partnered ministry in Guatemala City, work to empower families in a community near a massive garbage dump. Improving life for such communities is a long-term process. Photo by Robert Johnson / TEAM

“Development” is a word thrown around a lot these days: international development, economic development, community development, sustainable development, etc. Years ago, it was a concept often seen as separate from missions work, safely contained on one side of the wall that divided ministries of “word” and ministries of “deed.” But today, the church is a lot more comfortable knocking down that wall and allowing those ministries to commingle into a more holistic approach. At TEAM, community development is one of our core ministry focus areas (we have 24 of them in total). Because this is a broad term that’s sometimes…

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Mission Trip Fundraising – Treat Your Supporters Like Sharks

mission-trip-fundraising photo
It may be that what you do before (and after) your mission trip matters even more than what you do during your trip. Photo by TEAM

Spring is just around the corner, which means we are well into the season for summer mission trip fundraising. Many of the questions we get asked at TEAM are about raising support, and there are lots of great fundraising resources out there. But if you’re planning on raising funds for a short-term trip — whether for two weeks or a year — here’s a big idea that many people overlook in their support-raising approach: Your potential supporters are investors. Treat them that way. We need to learn from the sharks. If you’ve never seen the popular show Shark Tank on…

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Monthly Prayer Journal: March 2014

Photo by TEAM

Thank you for joining us in praying for TEAM’s work around the world. Click here to download a .pdf of the March 2014 prayer journal. 1 SPAIN Workers write, “The youth group of Santa Ursula Church continues to be a blessing! Please pray that these young hearts hunger and thirst for the absolute truth of God’s Word and can see and understand the futility of sin! They love being together! We are having a retreat March 1-3, so please pray that their hearts would be molded, impacted, transformed, challenged, and led by God, and that they would see His might,…

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Why Cities Matter (INFOGRAPHIC)

urban missions
China is a quickly urbanizing country where, by some estimates, more than 20,000 new skyscrapers will be built in the next two decades. Robert Johnson / TEAM

You may have heard it, the saying often attributed to pastor and author Tim Keller, about why God loves the city more than he does the country. The country has more trees than people. The city has more people than trees. Because God loves people more than he loves trees, he loves the city more than he loves the country. This bit of tongue-in-cheek probably strikes you differently depending on whether you live among the trees or the concrete. But at least as it relates to global missions strategy, there is much truth in it. Urban mission is one of…

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