Should we call ourselves "mobilizers" or not?

From David Mays <102100.2020@compuserve.com>`

Mobilization is the process of readying troops or supplies for deployment. A mobilizer is thus one who prepares the troops for deployment. The question that's bugging me is, How do 'mobilizees' feel about having someone mobilize them?" How do people feel about being the target of my mobilization efforts? Do they feel like someone who finds that a Christian is trying to convert them? Like a 'spiritual project' for a religious (missions) enthusiast? Do they feel manipulated? I prefer to think of myself, not as putting my agenda on others, but as helping others do more effectively and wholeheartedly what they are already trying to do. And virtually every Protestant church is trying to do missions - at least to some degree. I expect a barrage of rebuttal on this. Especially if anyone feels threatened by the categorization - but let's have at it.

From: dkrum@conet.ucla.edu (Krum, Drew)`

In all actuality, I happen to be very like-minded of the above. As a Christian brother, I am charged with building up and edifying, not changing or manipulating, other members of our body. I firmly believe that it is my role to facilitate the work God is doing in someone's life rather than introduce my own work. That means, encouraging a brother or sister to examine what God has to offer them. I am confident that when one seriously looks to God for significance and purpose, he/she cannot fail to see God's desire to reach out to the entire planet. After all, they "once [were] lost, but now am found" - God desires to reach everyone.

You see, my mission isn't to make missions everyone's 'thing'. It's to facilitate one's understanding of what God wants to do in their lives and through their life. I believe they shouldn't settle for anything less!

From: Jay Gary <jgary@rmii.com>`

[Mobilization] also refers to the process of restoring movement to ailing limbs of bodies. I prefer this health image over the military one.

> The question that's bugging me is, How do 'mobilizees' feel about > having someone mobilize them?" How do people feel about being > the target of my mobilization efforts?

David, you are right. The term moblization has its down side. I am not working to "mobilize" the church, but help it release its potential in ministry, to the ends of the earth. I think it hinges on helping each other stir up our gifts such that the whole Body is whole it its mission. We need a better articulation of lay ministry, and giftedness. Otherwise we will fall into military images, which fall prey to steering people into the latest culture war battle, which often is no better than shooting ones foot. I take my hat off to you for pointing this out.

From: "DOUG VARDELL" <76504.534@compuserve.com>`

While I appreciate your concern for the feelings of our church members, which I translate as a concern for our ultimate effectiveness, I find myself a loyalist to Dr. Winter's original ideas. He envisions mobilization as necessary within a war context. Because of the real sacrifices required by war, people don't like to think about it, and advocates are required to keep the people focused. Winter recognized that in the past, missionaries on deputation and on furlough were the primary mobilizers, but they can be counterproductive for two reasons: they tend to be need/crisis oriented, which can get depressing, and they therefore tend to be relatively demanding, guilt-inducing, which polarized people into a for/against response. Winter made two primary changes which revolutionized move the task to volunteers in the churches who have no urgent obligation or personal agenda, and give them positive, upbeat, encouraging information to pass on, rather than the traditional crisis-approach.

It is my opinion and experience that a mobilizer who does two things will be appreciated rather than reproached:

1. Focus on Dr. Winter's factual and visionary message: "We are winning!--Help us, and we will win faster!" Tell "winning" stories; share "winning" statistics; explain practical "winning" strategies to achieve closure. There is no manipulation here, only exciting info and exciting opportunities for any whom the Spirit draws.

2. Gently, quietly, joyfully teach "God is a missionary God" from every passage of Scripture in which that is a legitimate part of the text. For decades (centuries?) evangelical believers have supported missions in an intellectual vacuum--a tribute to the Spirit's ability to use a few misunderstood "prooftexts" to persuade people to do right and live by faith even when they don't fully understand. As we complete a generational paradigm shift in biblical worldview over the next decade, I trust this will become easier.

As I enthusiastically teach missions to college students, I find these two approaches productive. As I pastor a church, I find the people receptive. Nonetheless, I'm interested in your suggestions for improvement, your "revisioning" of your ministry. It appears you are saying: focus on the already-mobilized, e.g. those on the church missions committee and those actively giving to missions, to help them be more effective, and maybe help them "mobilize out to the fringes" of their circles of influence. Is this an accurate paraphrase of what you are saying? Maybe you could help us understand by giving two contrasting case studies of how, say, I as a pastor could approach my church: one, the mobilization approach that creates "missions enthusiast-phobia"; and the other, your suggested approach.

From: Greg Fritz <gfritz.@cproject.com>`

I am challenged by David's words. After pondering his article for a week, I agree in principle with what he is saying, though I wonder how much of his argument is against a straw man. How many people have been offended by the term "mobilizer?" I also wonder what David is if he is not a mobilizer.

From: Mark & Gina Fadely <75713.3654@compuserve.com> 1) I think Dave is right in raising the issue of sensitivity towards those we hope to mobilize. However, I believe that the great majority of the time we are safe in calling ourselves mobilizers as long as we don't call ourselves by this term when talking to our prospective "mobilizees" (e.g., "I'm a mobilizer and I hope to mobilize YOU!"). It seems to be an appropriate and descriptive label to use in telling others what kind of work we do.

2) An alternate term that I like and that may appeal to Dave, based on his description of what a mobilizer actually does ("I prefer to think of myself, not as putting my agenda on others, but as helping others do more effectively and wholeheartedly what they are already trying to do."), is "Facilitator". The Spanish word for "easy" is "facil", from which it can be understood that a facilitator is "one who makes easy". Let's make it as easy as possible for others to be involved in the work of extending God's kingdom to the ends of the Earth!

From The Editor <NateWilson@XC.ORG>`

This kind of discussion is great, and I'm so glad this conference exists to provide a forum for it! As I read the responses, it appeared to me that the issue is not so much "whether or not to mobilize people for missions," but "what is our IMAGE before those whom we're trying to mobilize." Part of this is our nomenclature. As ACMC has done so well in pointing out to the mission community with their Change Dynamics seminars, an agent of change (such as a mission mobilizer) will be more effective if he is perceived as "one of us."

I DON'T expect to need to change the name of our conference--we ARE mission mobilizers with an agenda! But I DO expect to see some more discussion on how we can be more effective at our mobilization by avoiding some of the negative image over which David and others are justifiably concerned!

From: crossm_m@aztec.asu.edu (Meg Crossman)`

I see mobilization as a form of servanthood, to the whole body of Christ. I still like the quote (I think from Dr Winter) "God cannot lead me on the basis of facts I do not know." My role as a mobilizer is to expose the Body of Christ to information about all levels of what God is doing, what He tells us in Scripture He desires to do, what He has done magnificently through History, what the current situation is worldwide, what we can learn from the effective and ineffective models from the past, and how we can partner with those who are doing effective work today.

It only becomes manipulation if one tries to FORCE others to respond, which never works more than a short time anyway. It is servanthood to gather this kind of information and share it with others, encouraging them each to find their own place of significant service. ... If we all go a "Learners" in what we teach, we will often find out even more and then be perceived as "belongers" in the group we come to serve. Its so easy and so joyful and so blessed in the Lord. My role as a mobilizer is to fulfill the cry of Jesus in Jn 17 "that we all might be one--that the WORLD might know that Thou has sent ME." What a privilege!

From: <Mikeehc@aol.com> Mike Clinton By using the term "mobilizers" I agree that some could be offended and turned off to missions. However, [with] the younger generation, this term is a benefit, and not a harm. I agree that we do not want to say, "I am a mobilizer and I am trying to mobilize you." We do need to challenge though.

I also strongly disagree that virtually every Protestant church is trying to do missions - ok, maybe to some degree, but it is generally just lipservice. Missions is not just sending out the $$$, but it is prayer, education, and if it is truly being "tried" in every church, we would see many more missionaries being sent. (Jim Engle has just completed a study on the gloomy future of the Church in North America. This study proves that our churches are looking inward rather than outward.)

Finally, I do not feel threatened by being categorized as a mobilizer, rather I embrace it.

For the record, I must also state that I may have a few strikes against me as I am an Xer, focus on Unreached People, a former United States Marine, and a KISS (keep it simple stupid) person... Having read this letter and all of your responses, I felt that I should put in my two cents worth for I know that it represents a growing number of Generation Xers who are mobilizing now.

To begin with, the generation which is going to carry the burden of missions into the next century is this generation called "X." This generation is already labeled and stereotyped by many in the "missions" world. It is true that many of us are seeking for a purpose and by challenging Xers into missions - you can give that to them. Yes, even point out the TRUTH, we are, for the most part, openly disregarding Christ's command to go into all the earth and to make disciples of all the earth...

There is a growing movement among today's youth to seek to know the person of Christ, to have personal holiness, to concentrate on Jesus. We do not care about denominations or mission agencies simply because they are big or old. We only care about what is being done and what needs to be done. We are not interested in diplomacy when it covers the truth, but rather in speaking the truth radically. We are not interested in the empty talk regarding missions which spews forth from most of America's churches, rather we are looking at the fruit of those churches...There are many churches which are actually focusing on unreached peoples...however, most people still do not know what we are talking about when we talk about the unreached.

What I am saying...is this: Let us challenge and motivate people into missions. Let us not use silly or deceptive methods to mobilize.

Tomorrow's mission force needs to be fully aware of what they are getting to. The remaining field is a hard field. The field is made up of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and many small other groups. The "easy" countries seem to be reached now (they were not always easy) and the time has come to target the unreached. I know that many still value missions to areas where the church is strong already (good area for mobilizers), but I firmly believe that we need to focus on those remaining "hard" areas. The 10/40 Window, World A or whatever you want to call these groups -are not an easy group to reach.

In the end, I must say one last thing. If we are not mission mobilizers, then we must be missionaries. There is no excuse.


Is it possible that David Mays represents more the middle-aged generation (Boomers) and that Mike Clinton is saying that the generation now in their 20's (Busters or Xers) should be aproached differently? I think so. In a sense, I think both David and Mike are correct when you take this generational difference into account. Here is a list of some of the differences in approaching these generations--but keep in mind, a list like this has intrinsic faults in that it cannot accurately portray everybody entirely, so use discression and don't form stereotypes off this list!(Thanks to Michael Schwartz, X Factor, for helping form the list)--NW

Generation X

Baby Boomers

Must own vision themselves

Willing to trust leader's vision

Community involvement

Individual responsibility





Concrete, small-scale change

"Let's change the world"



Ask “Why?”

Ask “How ?”

Take technology for granted

Technology is a big deal,
and it may need explaining


From: Chuck Jackson <cjackson@uif.uif.uiuc.edu>`

..Historically, large numbers of people have not responded to the call to reach out to others because of mobilizers. In my own tradition, The Christian and Missionary Alliance, Dr. A.B. Simpson started by preaching what he called the "Deeper Life". What became and is now a strong mission-focused denomination was at its beginning a desire to know God better and to obey Him more completely--to withhold nothing from the Master in service and love to Him. I think we are cheating ourselves, not only of results but also of seeing God's glory if what we focus on is missions only. Missions is God's heart, so if we want to see people reach out, show them God's heart. No one can fail to respond if they see God as He truly is. It seems like programs and motivational speeches and all the other tools that the Lord has provided (and which can be rightly used) get in the way if we fail to see the God whom we all serve. Personal holiness-- devoted obedience to the Loving Master--is the only way that the job will ever get done!

From: <Sisterluke@aol.com> Deb Sanders`

I'd like to take issue with Chuck here. I wholeheartedly agree that Lordship issues ought to be at the heart of our call to obedience. But, I don't think Chuck can make such a blatant statement -- Historically, large numbers of people have not responded to the call to reach out to others because of mobilizers. -- without some attempt to back it up. He gave no historical basis for this.

>From the reading I've done, I would say that some of the greatest mobilizers in history were successful *because* they used the approach Chuck is advocating. Pierson, Mott and othes associated with the Student Volunteer Movement wrote often about devotion to Christ. Or what about Frank Laubach, who sparked a worldwide literacy movement, but whose bestselling books were about prayer?

I'm not sure where Chuck gets the data to back up his claim that people don't respond to a call (to missions? or to Lordship? or both?) *because of* mobilizers? It's not their own lack of knowledge, or their own sin, but the fault of mobilizers? I've never heard anyone make this claim, and would really like to see some substantiation.

Again, I'm not arguing at all with the main thrust of the paragraph above. Only with the premise of the lead sentence in it.

From: Chuck Jackson <cjackson@uif.uif.uiuc.edu>`

I think we agree - my point, regardless of whether I communicated it effectively is in agreement with what you said about the "methods" those mobilizers you mentioned use. I don't think they saw themselves as mobilizers and that is my real concern. If we trust in methods, program, motivation, or even person-to-person relationships, we will fail utterly. It is only as we obey the personal voice of God that we can even hope to accomplish the task. And it is our best technique to point people to the character of God, and it is as they discover that God is a god who goes looking for the one even as the 99 are already in the pen, that people will really respond to missions. And for the best possible reasons, because they know their God better and He calls them to it. My point isn't news to anyone. It is merely meant as a reminder to use the techniques as tools and put our trust in God.

From: SBMCAL1@aol.com`

..We live in a world that engages in manipulation of meanings so that one can use nice words to say terrible things or perjurative terms to describe acts of righteousness. Thus, we engage in politicizing the content of language. Jesus is described as the Word of God...

Consider, in the context of missions, a reversion to simple words with simple meanings. Stripped of our image building, what difference does it really make if we are "Mission Mobilizers" ? It is clear that the curse of Babel continues. We do not even have a common sense of what that term means. But, if we simplify the issues, we can see Truth much more clearly. Does God have a plan to let every Nation hear the gospel? Does Jesus ordain men and women to specific ministries in the implementation of that Plan? Does the Holy Spirit reveal in the hearts of individual men and women the things known to God ? Are individuals thus able to hear the call of God and empowered to walk worthy of that calling? Are we willing to trust and obey God?

If our answers to these questions are "YES!", then what is the significance of our word works. I suggest that for many of us we struggle to find words that imply significance and importance for what we are doing. We are often looking for recognition and acceptance of our accomplishments and thus of ourselves. In many cases, we justify these things by believing that we are educating other believers.

We seek to educate, it appears for two major reasons. First, we educate because this imparts vision for becoming supporters of our missionary effort. Or stated in more perjurative terms, by telling others how important and significant we are we are better able to con them out of their money. Second, we educate because this imparts vision for men and women to become missionaries themselves. Or, the other version, because we do not believe that the Lord of the harvest will send workers, we are going to do it ourselves.

Here then is my question: Recognizing that all our hearts are, according to Scripture, deceptive; knowing that whatever is not of faith is sin; how do we best keep ourselves operating on the basis of the simplicity, purity and integrity of faith? Do our words distract from the simple demand of the gospel that we die daily? The Wisdom of Proverbs says that where there is an abundance of words transgression is sure to follow.