Partnering with Mentorlink Int’l: mentorlink.org                                      David A Toth - Mentoring, Discipleship, Leadership Consultant

IMPORTANT!!!

I now rarely update this page with ministry news. The contact information is correct but now I update my Facebook ministry page. This is what most of the people want, so this is what I do!  

Facebook page:    following2lead

Blessings!

David





Kiev, Ukraine

Doing some individual engagements in the capital city before going to Mykolaev and Dnipro. 

Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016

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Arriving Ukraine

More difficult trip than usual and I am very tired. Will meet tomorrow with 2 key colleagues, not much time for rest.

Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016

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Who Cares?

When viewed impersonally, disciple making can lose the emotional impact and urgency it deserves. Becoming a parent, a grandparent, or even a best friend can resurrect that emotional dynamic. Who will disciple my grandchild? My great grandchild? My friend? What is my part? Do I just hope that he/she will end up impacted by a program? Who Cares?

Making disciples is personal and is passed on from person to person, generation to generation. There are discipleship programs but at the end of the day discipleship is all about people! If we view Jesus as the New Testament disciple making prototype we see a person who cares so much that he gave his life to others, not just at the end of his life upon the cross, but everyday as he made disciples. He cared into his disciples who cared into their disciples who cared into . . . .

Do you have a child? Grandchild? Family member? Spouse? Best friend? Neighbor? Work colleague? Caring now makes all the difference in eternity.

Who cares?

– David


Equipping Disciple Makers

Two weeks from today, Sep. 15, begins a two week ministry trip to Ukraine. Two mentoring/disciple making conferences will take place and several follow up consultations with conference alumni. I am particularly anxious to work with Sasha who is doing such a great ministry among his Ukrainian colleagues.

Prayer Requests:

  • for spiritual insight and wisdom
  • for physical strength and stamina
  • for Marian who will be home
  • for financial help with air tickets (click here to give online now)

(Financial information. We are “faith missionaries” living by faith on the faithful giving of our partners. On a ministry trip, to Ukraine for example, the ministry I serve usually takes care of my lodging and food at the conference. All other costs are mine: air fare to and from Ukraine, food and lodging, and in country travel (train, bus, etc.). All giving through Joy to The World is tax deductible for IRS purposes. Using this next trip to Ukraine for example, air ticket was $1118.80 and food/lodging will be about $800).

Blessings!

David, September 1, 2015

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Fall Schedule

The fall ministry schedule is taking shape:

  • mini disciple making conference at Crossview Church in Waynesville, OH, August 15-16
  • Simple Church conference, Lexington, KY, August 29-30
  • Ukraine, Continuing Mentoring Consultations (several locations), Sep. 15-29
  • Romania, Pass It On mentoring conference, Oct. 20-27
  • Latvia, Disciple Making Seminar, dates to be finalized between Thanksgiving and Christmas
  • Ukraine (soon after the new year, dates to be determined)


Thank you for your faithful prayer and financial support!

David, July 21, 2015

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Back to Hungary

On Tuesday, May 5, I will travel to Hungary for 2 ½ weeks. I am meeting with some leaders in Hungary regarding possible mentoring seminars. I will travel to Romania to do a Passing It On Seminar for some Baptist leaders. I may (not solidified yet) meet with a house church leader in Serbia.

Pray for safe travel and productive ministry engagements.

Blessings and thank you  for your prayer and financial support.

David, April 30


Milestone

Yesterday, February 18, I passed my Dissertation Oral Defense and was then officially awarded the doctoral of ministry degree. It is still setting in that this wonderful journey with many new friends has reached a culmination.

Thanks to all for your help and encouragement!

David, February 19

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March Mission Trip

I am preparing for my upcoming ministry trip to Ukraine. I depart on March 10. Here are prayer requests:

  • For setting up meetings with key leaders
  • For leading mentoring follow up conferences
  • For financial support for the ministry (point of information, though we are C&MA licensed missionaries on special assignment we receive no financial support from the C&MA/great commission fund) We are faith missionaries that rely upon the gifts of supporters who are vested in our ministry.
  • For safe travel in Ukraine (there is much tension due to the Russian fighting)
  • For Marian as she stays at home and deals with issues that inevitably come up in my absence. 

  • Also, note that I regularly update the ministry Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Following2Lead/293102857424465?ref=bookmarks

David A. Toth, Feb. 12, 2015

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Mission Statement

I remember putting much time into constructing a ‘mission statement’ at my first pastorate. I had many conversations with other pastors who had word smithed a mission or purpose statement for their church and I listened intently to their experience and advice. I also was an avid reader of books and articles that offered insights concerning a mission statement. I look back at that time now and I realize that I was trying to reword the statements of Christ that are often referred to as the Great Commission. The most common reference is the one found in Matthew 28:19-20.  Churches are still fine tuning their mission statements and even hiring consultants to guide the process. They too are trying to reword the words of Christ and make them palatable and interesting to those not yet following Christ.

What would happen if those who do follow Christ were assisted to understand what it means to ‘make disciples?’ During the disciple making days of Jesus Christ people knew what it meant to be a disciple! It was nothing less than absolute commitment to Christ and His Kingdom, covering every aspect of life including issues like stewardship, worship, evangelism, family, marriage, etc., etc., etc. I contend that it would be very helpful to the church to once again clarify what a disciple is (according to the Bible and not someone’s business perspective) and how to make disciples. Allow Jesus’ words to suffice as the mission statement for the church and focus on carrying out that mission! 

We need disciple makers to lead the church! If the church is lead by a non-disciple making person then the church will follow and it will be filled with non-disciple making people. Preaching and teaching are pieces of the disciple making process but preaching and teaching are not equal to disciple making!

Aligning the mission of the church with the Great Commission and assuring that only disciple makers are leading the church is a sure way to glorify God!

David A. Toth, Nov. 17, 2014

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Support Address Change

Joy To The World still processes our finances and they have moved to a new address in Colorado Springs. Please use this new address to send your ministry support:

Joy To The World Foundation 
5550 Tech Center Dr Suite 305
Colorado Springs, CO 80919

Make check payable to "Joy To The World”

*** Write "f’ollowing2lead"  in the memo of your check.  Use  any envelope.

David A. Toth, November 7, 2014

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Kiev, Ukraine

In just a few weeks I will be on my way to Ukraine for a lengthy ministry trip. It is a rather aggressive trip from a goals perspective and I ask for your prayer support. I do ask for prayer that my consultations and equipping and training go well but I especially ask for physical strength and endurance and protection from common cold bugs.

Here is what I have planned:

  • Teaching week at Ternopil Missionary Institute: will teach basic church planting and initial discipleship practices
  • Lviv: continuing follow up with the Cru team (3 days)
  • Kiev: continuing follow up with Cru leadership (3 days)
  • Irpin: mentoring conference (2 ½ days)
  • Kiev: individual mentoring with key leaders

Pray 

  • for physical strength
  • for spiritual sensitivity
  • for sensitivity to the context and challenges that face each person and leader
  • for an enlarged caring heart for this country and leaders whom I have come to love
  • for Marian as she stays at the home front


David A. Toth, Nov. 6, 2014

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Cape Town, South Africa

My doctoral cohort and academic advisors from George Fox University will meet in Cape Town from September 24 through October 2. I will make my project presentation and interact with my doctoral advisor. Pray that I will return with clear guidance for my dissertation writing.

David A. Toth, September 10, 2014

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Nigeria Pastor’s Conference

I have been invited to be the speaker at the upcoming Pastor’s Conference in Nigeria.  I am very encouraged to be offered this opportunity!  I will speak on mentoring and discipleship.

I purchased tickets quickly to get the best possible price ($1609.90).  This ticket will cover my trip to the Mentorlink Round Table Fellowship (Switzerland) and then to the conference in Nigeria.  Please consider giving to this need.  (I do not get paid for speaking, this is missionary service.  They will take care of my lodging and food, travel is my expense.)

You can give now online:  https://joytotheworldfoundation.org/operating-projects/22-dawn-eastern-europe-network/backing

You can give following these directions:  Info & Support

Below is the media release from the leaders of the conference . . . .

Monday, March 17, 2014

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Trending . . . . .


Sunday, March 16, 2014

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Following2Lead  (formerly DEEN)

When I first began overseas ministry I was partnering with Dawn Ministries.  Dawn ceased their ministry in Eastern Europe so I am partnering with Mentorlink, Int’l.  Mentorlink is a global ministry with partners in every region of the world.  This has become a tremendous fit!  Mentoring, discipleship, and leadership development represent the passion of my ministry heart and Mentorlink champions that passion!  The name change is only a title change, the ministry goes on!  Being an intentional follower of Jesus is the basis for leadership!  The name “Following2Lead” just seems to fit my ministry!  If you are a financial partner, please continue to write “DEEN” in the memo section of your check to avoid confusion for the agency that processes the financial support.

David, March 14, 2014

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Pray for Ukraine

Perhaps you remember from my Facebook posts in November that Ukraine was experiencing serious civil unrest.  At that time the Prime Minister rejected the idea of developing an economic partnership with the European Union and instead flew to Moscow to meet with Putin to talk about economic relations with Russia.  These events further exacerbated disenchantment with the Prime Minister and his administration.  The key issue is not whether Ukraine moves toward the West or toward Russia.  The key issue is that 1) the present administration is thoroughly corrupt, and 2) the administration is making moves apart from the will of the people; it is more autocratic than democratic.  Bottom line is this, the people of Ukraine want independence!  

I will travel to Ukraine, Lord willing, in just one week.  Pray for Ukraine!  Pray for the gatherings that I will lead, that not only will we hear from the Lord about discipleship, but also how His Kingdom is penetrating the darkness of political corruption for His glory.

David, January 30, 2014

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Need Prayer Support!

In just 5 weeks I will make my way to Ukraine.  It will be a longer trip than usual, almost 3 weeks long.  I will speak at the Winter Bible Conference in Odessa, then meet with campus leaders in Donetsk, lead a mentor conference in Kiev, and meet with national leaders in Kiev.  I am also in the last full class semester of my doctoral program (there is a short summer session but not too intense).  I also have a mentoring conference that I will lead in April in Lviv, Ukraine.  

Please pray for me:

•  To hear from God concerning all my messages and presentations
•  For spiritual sensitivity
•  For disciplined focus
•  For my research time and writing time
•  For mental capacity to think clearly and critically
•  For managing my time
•  For physical stamina

I have never sensed the need for prayer support as much as I do now.  Please stand with me in prayer.

David, January 9, 2014

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Online Support Link (to the left)

Joy to The World administers our finances.  They have made it easier to accommodate supporters who wish to send support online.  Just ‘click’ on the first link to the left and you will be redirected to their web site where you can support David and Marian (DAWN/Following2Lead).  Information is also available for support by check.

David, January 3, 2014

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Look back briefly, Look ahead intently!

No good evaluation process ignores history.  Learning from past experiences is invaluable.  After a brief reflection, however, disciplined focus on the future will contribute to action and avoid languishing at the door of broken dreams.  I made a huge mistake some years ago, one that I still learn from.  This year I am only looking back to refresh my resolve to learn from that mistake.  By God’s grace and His power I will not allow the past to shadow my future.


David, January 3, 2014 (can’t believe I got the year right the first time!)

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Growing by Accident

On the way back from Ukraine I was reflecting on my goals for the trip and evaluating my productivity.  I was trying to be objective and strong in my self evaluation.  In doing so, I actually wondered if I should be task/goal oriented and whether or not that is contradictory to allowing the Spirit to lead.  No doubt, one can be ‘performance’ obsessed and, in my opinion, one can be overly ‘laissez-faire’ in the hopes that the Spirit will take the lead.  

Since mentoring, discipleship, and leadership development is my focus, that is the context for my present thoughts.  This caused me to reflect upon the ministry of Jesus Christ as recounted in the Gospels.  I was reminded that everything happened in accordance with God’s planning and His prophecies.  Nothing occurred that was happenstance or unplanned.  Jesus knew what His mission was, how He would accomplish it, and when His own death would take place.  His Father and the Holy Spirit were partnering with Him every step of the way, not by accident!

Bottom line, I was re-encouraged to make sure I was in step with the Spirit as I live out my call in ministry.  And I was re-encouraged to listen to His leading as I plan for ministry.  It is not either/or; it is both/and.  Not a contrast, but a complimentary activity wherein the Spirit leads and prompts me to follow and plan accordingly.  

Growth and ministry do not happen by accident!  Some good things do happen unplanned and that is a wonderful bonus!  But, most of the movements of God throughout man’s history has been marked by people who listen to God’s voice and align their obedience and plans to His will.  Even the closing book of Revelation was written by a man who once leaned on Jesus’ breast and learned from Him to make planned and willful decisions to carry out the mission of God.  John’s ministry was no accident!

David A. Toth, Dec. 11, 1970

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The Time Standard

Economics was never a special interest to me.  Rather than pursue the intricacies of economic theory I have been satisfied to engage the practical realities of economics as they apply to my everyday life.  I do, however, understand the basic idea of the “Gold Standard.”  The Gold Standard as it applies to the economy and currency says the value of the currency in the market place is tied or ‘pegged’ to the amount of gold on hand.  No more currency can be circulated than the amount/value of gold on hand which the currency represents.  

No country in the world as of 2013 uses the gold standard.  The US abandoned it some years ago and a quick glance at the printing presses in Washington D.C. affirm it’s current abandonment!  Our proclivity is to multiply our wealth even if it only ‘appears’ that we are more wealthy!  Gold doesn’t count anymore, image does!  So we print more dollars even though they are worth less.

What can believers learn from the gold standard and current economic practice to print more currency even though we must borrow to do it?  A key analogy is time.  Time cannot be added, deleted, or multiplied.  24 hours per day is the ‘time standard.’  Since we cannot print more time when we run out, the answer is to ‘delete’ certain activities to free up time.  So, instead of cranking up the printing press, we crank up our preference press and add activities to our life by deleting other activities.  The important issue here is simple, what are we deleting?

I have watched time and time again where someone becomes overwhelmed by life's circumstances and deletes spiritual formation activities while maintaining other preferential activities.  What is interesting is that this always, yes always, comes out into the public eye!  Weeks, or even days, after declaring a personal emergency and begging off activities that are intentionally spiritually formational, that person is engaging other preferential activities that take precious time.

Unlike the gold standard, the time standard does not allow us to print out more time, forcing us to delete some use of time to make room for some other endeavor.  What is your 'default’ delete?  Do you automatically delete activities that are spiritually formative in nature?  Or the ones that are preferential in nature?  How do you manage the ‘Time Standard’?  

David A. Toth, Nov. 30, 2013

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Greater Openness Is Inevitable'

I am not a social media guru, not even close!  Just a couple of years ago I would not even have conceived of myself tweeting or posting to Facebook.  I am.  I just read Charlene Li’s book Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform The Way You Lead.  The book is written for the business sector but I found some application to the ministry & non-profit arena.  Particularly in regards to keeping ministry partners up to date.  It used to be common practice to send out annual newsletters, then quarterly, and monthly.  But, with the advent of the new social technology, every action can be shared in real time!  

The author writes, "As your customers and employees become more adept at using social and other emerging technologies, they will push you to be more open, urging you to let go in ways in which you may not be comfortable. Your natural inclination may be to fight this trend, to see it as a fad that you hope will fade and simply go away. It won’t. Not only is this trend inevitable, but it also is going to force you and your organization to be more open than you are today."  Li, Charlene (2010-04-16). Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead (Kindle Locations 209-213). Wiley. Kindle Edition. 

I leave for Ukraine on Tuesday.  I will engage three sets of ministry leaders and participants in as many different cities (Kiev, Lviv, and Ternopil).  I am committing to share some ministry in ‘real time’ by way of Facebook and Twitter.  Please let me know how I am doing and do not be afraid to push me further!  I need it!

My Facebook user name:      datmac

My Twitter name is:    datmacman

Please consider liking my following2lead page on Facebook:  

  • Go to Facebook and search for ‘following2lead’
  • Open the result when you see ‘following2lead’
  • Find the like button and click it
  • That is it!

David, Nov. 22, 2013

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Holy Frogs!

George Barna wrote the book The Frog in The Kettle in 1990.  The jist of the book was that the church was like a frog in a kettle of water which acclimates to the ever rising temperature until it is too late.  The book was rather well received but the church has done little to change its precarious state as it sits in a boiling cultural cauldron of godlessness.  

This post is not directed toward the church (local) nor even the Church (global).  Rather, I am thinking about families, families that are professing followers of Jesus, families that are holy frogs!  Like the analogy in Barna’s book, I am in fear for the christian family that is immersed in a culture whose world view is 180 degrees opposite the Biblical world view and is acclimating more to this world's culture than to the Kingdom culture.  These families are pursuing the attractions of this world while sitting in an oppressive mixture of egocentric hedonism, consumerism and materialism, they are frogs in grave danger!

This world’s culture is enticing, exhilarating, and mesmerizing.  But only for the short term.  In the here and now it seems right for families to work hard to live in upscale homes, drive SUVs, and dress in designer clothes.  After all, isn’t this part of the American dream?  Working hard takes many hours of employment and/or business activities; hours away from the family.  Those hours are justified by providing for chic clothing, endless school and extra-curriular activities, and saving for college education.  All this seems right, no reason to jump out of this pot, right?

Wrong!  Here is why:

  • As a matter of priority, the Jesus follower should reflect Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:33 "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (NASB).  The context is meeting daily needs and Jesus clearly encourages his followers not to make the pursuit of one’s daily needs the first, or prominent, pursuit of life.  Our priority must be to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.  Upon examining the average family’s pursuits, it is overwhelmingly obvious that the resources expended in the pursuit of His kingdom and His righteousness are dwarfed by the pursuit of the materialistic and egotistic priorities of our culture.
  • The danger is real!  The frog does not realize the coming disaster!  Neither do families recognize the coming disaster.  All one has to do is look around and assess the catastrophe already in progress.
    - Moral failure is no less common in christian families (abortion, divorce, adultery, etc.) *
    - Financial ruin is no less common in christian families (bankruptcy, repossessions,etc.)
    - No meaningful difference in lifestyle between Jesus followers and non-Jesus followers

Why do families sit in this culture like frogs in the water, seemingly oblivious to the impending disaster in the near term and also for their children and grandchildren in the longer term?

  • The reasons for our ‘frog like perspective’ are nearly as old as our species!
    - The first reason is the strength of temptation and the weakness of our flesh.  Satan tempted Eve and then Adam by appealing to their fleshly appetites, for their want of possessions, and for self aggrandizement.  John gave Satan’s temptation the categories noted in 1 John 2:15-16 "Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.”  I more horrified by my own brokenness in each category!  We must acknowledge our vulnerability and then fight it!
    - The second reason is the lack of spiritual development caused by the lack of time as a result of our fleshly pursuits.  This is a double kick in the butt!  Not only are our fleshly pursuits damaging, but they are double damaging in that they are prohibiting the cure from taking place!  Spiritual formation takes resources and time, just like any family or school activity.  Choices have consequences and a majority of choices in any one direction usually results in wholesale movement if not commitment to that direction.  Even the simple tabulation of time invested in extra-curricular school activities as opposed to intentional discipleship activities should set off alarms!  I am not at all framing extra-curricular activities, for example, to be bad in and of themselves.  I am only making a point about the priority and amount of resources invested in activities of any kind in differentiation from those that are spiritually formative.  

Many christian families are holy frogs.  “Holy” because we profess to be followers to a beat of a different drummer; followers of Jesus Christ, who is holy and who beckons us to pursue his righteousness.  “Frogs” because we are too often oblivious to the cultural influences in which we are drowning and also our children and grandchildren.  Not only oblivious, but impervious, thinking that we and our families will escape the God awful statistics of our society.  And worse, we may even think that God’s grace and mercy will overrule his righteousness and cause him to turn a blind eye to let an unGodly person (someone in our family) enter and dwell in his kingdom for ever.  What has this comfortable warm water done to us?  How has it corrupted our thinking about God?

* Note Barna’s research found online as well as the statistics found in his books: Growing True DisciplesFuturecast, and others.  He uses the results of research to substantiate the alarming state of the christian family in the US culture.

P.S.  I do hope that any readers who are offended by the strong assertions in this post take into account that I stand guilty of every line and felt the weight of my own words as I wrote them.  I am a holy frog too.  But I have not fallen asleep yet and I have jumped out of the kettle.  I’m looking for other frogs who are willing to make the effort to jump!

David, Nov. 2, 2013

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Leadership Books

I have just finished reading two very good books on leadership.  The first is The Leadership Mystique: Leading Behavior in the Human Enterprise by Manfred Kets de Vries.  This book is extremely practical and covers almost every aspect of leadership and is filled with several analytic tools to assist personal and corporate leadership.

The second book is Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix by Edwin H. Friedman.  This is the most challenging of the two books.  Friedman suggests some very different ways of developing and expressing leadership, some of those ways are contrary to the current ‘politically correct’ sensibilities.  He makes a strong case for the kind of leader who will make a difference in our present day context.  He calls that leader a ‘self differentiated leader’ and this is his definition of that person:

"Rather, I mean someone who has clarity about his or her own life goals, and, therefore, someone who is less likely to become lost in the anxious emotional processes swirling about. I mean someone who can be separate while still remaining connected, and therefore can maintain a modifying, non-anxious, and sometimes challenging presence. I mean someone who can manage his or her own reactivity to the automatic reactivity of others, and therefore be able to take stands at the risk of displeasing.”

The church, like many institutions in our day, is bereft of quality leadership.  These two books offer some interesting insights that would serve church leadership well.

– David, Oct. 30, 2013

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Where is The church Going?

During the course of conversations lately I have discovered how bereft of leadership some churches are.  Notice in the title of this post the small ‘c’ for church.  I am referring to some local churches.  I have been talking to some about their group ministries and here are some questions:
     What should happen in our group?
     How should our group be structured?
     What is the purpose of our group?

The questions belie the absence of leadership.  The church has not identified what a disciple looks like, what the process of discipleship is in the church, and how the various ministries contribute to the discipleship process.  THE MISSION of the church is making disciples and many churches do not have clarity on these critical questions.  

This is an emergency!  Maybe the board will discuss them at the board meeting sometime during the coming year  :-(

Sorry for the cynicism.  This is just a crying shame.

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Sent

Mentorlink.org Affiliate

In the course of studying the discipleship approach of Jesus in the gospels for my Dmin program, I have been moved to consider how his words to the disciples apply to his followers today.  One statement Jesus made is particularly.  In John 20:21 he said, "Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and *said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained."

Using a bullet list approach with questions, this is how his words impact me.
•  Jesus' statement was directed to his disciples.  Am I a disciple?
•  Jesus sent his disciples.  How am I functioning as a sent one?
•  Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to his disciples.  If I am a disciple, what does my relationship with the Holy Spirit look like?
•  Being a disciple, being sent, and having been given the Holy Spirit, Jesus intended his disciples to minister to sinful people.  What does my ministry to sinful people look like and is it a forgiving ministry?

Being a disciple, a Jesus follower, is both an exhilarating honor and a sobering reality.  I pray for God's empowerment and his grace as I follow 2 lead.  

October 16, 2013
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Very Encouraging Trip!

I just returned from an absolutely wonderful trip to Ukraine.  But before I tell you about the trip I must say a huge THANK YOU for praying and giving to support this ministry.  Many partners responded by praying for our financial needs and many responded by sending support.  Enough came in to pay for the travel expenses and for that I am so grateful.  We still need regular support for daily living expenses.

This past trip went really well!  I led a conference in Poltava, Ukraine.  Campus' church ministry is divided up into regions in Ukraine.  Poltava is the center of a large region and the staff and volunteers from that region convened for the conference.  I presented a "Christ-O-Centric" approach that seemed to resonate with the conferees.  We talked about the major purposes of mentoring and the character aspects that contribute to successful mentoring and discipleship.  I also had many 'side' meetings with individuals and small groups to discuss their particular situations.  

After finishing in Poltava I traveled to Kiev, the capital of Ukraine.  There I was able to meet with a number of campus leaders including the campus ministry arm.  It so happened that the national campus team was meeting when I was in the office.  After the meeting the leader asked to speak with me and he communicated that the team wanted me to be their speaker at their annual winter conference in February!  I was really excited about this opportunity!

I trust that you are also encouraged as I am.  Your support makes this ministry possible.  Many people are being 'infected' with Jesus' approach to discipleship.  This is resulting in more leaders for church planting and for other ministry leadership roles!

October 15, 2013

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Thank You!

Just a few weeks ago our ministry financial account could not fund our income nor our expenses.  I sent an email to all our prayer and financial partners to ask for prayer for this need and specifically to ask prayer partners to consider giving to this ministry.  Our regular financial partners are so incredibly faithful and generous I did not want to press them except to ask for prayer.  Many did respond and our account was able to fund our support this month (September).  Thank you to all who prayed and to all who gave.  

I don't talk about our mission finances very often but perhaps this is a good time to share some information about our finances:

  • our income is $27,600 annual, we also receive a housing allowance which covers our utilities and home ownership expenses; our income is lower than it has been in over 25 years!
  • we do not have a retirement plan funded by any organization or agency
  • we have never asked for an "outfit" project to purchase any mission related expenses (this is very common, especially among some denominational agencies)
  • we have never asked for a car project (we save and make do within our budget)
  • we have never asked for moving expenses (two international moves)
  • we have had one special project request in 15 years: projector project for $1500
  • we have never asked for money to build a building of any sort (and I promise I never will!)
  • we live frugally and happily!  Marian is an excellent housewife who can stretch a dollar!  She cans most of our veggies from a local farmer!
  • if you have any other questions, you are free to ask, just email me
  • bottom line: we do our best to handle carefully your giving which supports our living and ministry expenses
  • again, and again, thank you!

– David & Marian, September 18, 2013

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Social Media

There is so much power for good in social media venues.  Connecting with friends, sharing information and pictures, and overcoming distance through technology are but a few of the positives.  But there are disappointments as well.

In just the past few weeks I have noticed some posts made by people I know that claim to follow Jesus.  The posts do not reflect the values or attitudes of the Jesus they claim to follow.  My heart sank on more than one occasion when reading text that indicates a mind set that is not focused on a Godly lifestyle.  Some verbiage was vulgar and profane.  Some of these people are engaged in ministry and are attempting to parent children!  

Social media provides a window into the lives of participants.  An important point to remember, it is impossible to separate or categorize one's life so that what happens in one sector of life (entertainment, hobbies, work, etc.) does not impact or influence other sectors (one's faith, morality, relationships, etc.).  That window is open to all and can be a powerful tool to communicate the good news.  It can also communicate bad news.  I think Jesus would use the social media.  I think his posts would always glorify and please his Father.  May our posts do the same.

– David, September 6, 2013

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Second Choice?

Posted: August 27, 2013

A.B. Simpson wrote,

"God has his best things for the few
That dare to stand the test.
He has his second choice for those
Who will not have his best.

It is not always open ill
That risks the promised rest.
The better often is the foe
That keeps us from the best.

Give me, O Lord, thy highest choice;
Let others take the rest.
Their good things have no charm for me
For I have got thy best."

My prayer, "Lord, I pray that you will transform my heart that so often charms me towards the rest."  – David


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Church Transfusion

Posted: August 26, 2013

In his latest book Church Transfusion, Neil Cole writes, "For decades the church in America and many other parts of the world has been treated like a business. Principles of business management have been used to help the church grow and accomplish its mission. Pastors have been transformed into CEOs and church members into spiritual consumers. We sincerely believe that many churches are more concerned about market share than they are about bringing light and life to a dark and dying world. Think about the focus of the average church. For most, it’s all about Sunday services. Regardless of which day or days you meet or how many times you meet per week, the same issue remains. The time and energies of church leaders are consumed by the need to produce some sort of event that will appeal to a certain constituency. In other words, they spend their time creating spiritual goods and services to be provided to and consumed by a spiritual marketplace."*

Neil goes right to the core of the cause of so much church dysfunction.  Regardless the model church, this book is spiritual wind to mobilize the church to great commission ministry.  Get the book, read it, apply it!

* Cole, Neil; Helfer, Phil (2012-08-07). Church Transfusion: Changing Your Church Organically--From the Inside Out (Jossey-Bass Leadership Network Series) (pp. 16-17). Wiley. Kindle Edition. 


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Super Ministry Trip

Posted: August 8, 2013

17 days was a long trip!  I try to keep my commitment to Marian not be gone more than two weeks and I knew this trip would go a bit beyond that.  I had three specific goals to accomplish and they were all accomplished successfully!  

The first goal was to conduct a discipleship / mentoring clinic for a group of Campus Crusade leaders and students serving in a summer outreach project.  The project was centered in a key village which is a hub to several villages.  During the day a number of activities were engaged to present the gospel to children and adults in the village.  Each day I had the opportunity to equip the leaders.  I did this by providing them information designed to challenge their established ideas about discipleship.  After creating some intellectual discontent I provided an alternative approach that is absolutely Christ-o-centric.  The participants responded with interest and questions.  They were motivated to apply and implement what they heard!

conference


The second goal was to conduct a discipleship / mentoring conference for the local church leaders of Campus Crusade.  This took place at a conference venue and about 40 participants were present.  The conference was 3 days long and the evenings were filled with a question & answer session.  The feedback was very positive.  Several participant leaders have invited me to return for personal followup with their teams.  I am already scheduling trips to do the follow up.

The third goal was to meet with a few key Campus leaders for personal mentoring and strategy planning to continue the enculturation of a mentoring mindset in their ministry.  These meetings went very well with all the leaders desiring to proceed with next steps.

Here are some comments from various people during the trip:

  • Leader of one of the teams: This week has been living water to me.
  • Student leader:  We have never heard such practical teaching about discipleship before, can you return and help us more?
  • Student leader:  Our team is in Donetsk.  Will you come to help us there?
  • Student leader:  You have pushed us to brainstorm in ways we never imagined. 
  • discipleship should be lifestyle
  • nothing more important that Great Commission!
  • die to oneself for God to live in me
  • think big, start small, go deep
  • find mentor, become mentor
  • not just talk about christian life, but be a mentor (lifestyle, not agenda)
  • quantity is not as important as quality, quality will produce quantity
  • Paul's example of brokenness is powerful: process of brokenness and attitude
  • in 2 weeks there will be another training, each is useful, this material must be integrated into all other courses
  • relationship is most important
  • be 'going' people to expand network of relationship for mentoring and disciple making


I am already scheduling two follow up trips, one in November and another in late January / early February.  In the mean time I am developing follow up strategies, interacting with the leaders by phone and email, and developing resource packages specially designed for specific people and teams.  

I am very encouraged!  I am also very busy!  But good busy!  

Thank you, supporters, for your continued prayer and financial support.  This ministry is making a difference in exactly the way Jesus commanded: Go and make disciples!

– David


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My "Why" Video

Posted July 18, 2013

Video that attempts to present my "Why."




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Why?

Posted July 16, 2013

Some questions are trite.  Some are overly intrusive.  Asking "why" is almost always appropriate given the right attitude.  A good question to answer is, "Why do you look forward to tomorrow?"  The question "what" refers to the actions to accomplish the "why" and "how" is the way the actions are implemented.


I recently reviewed my "why," "what," and "how."

Why:  I am most fulfilled to help people align their lives with Christ; to assist them to achieve confidence and joy in being and doing all that God desires.

What:  I mentor willing people to make disciples and leaders like Jesus made disciples and leaders.

How:  Personal and Group Mentoring, Conference Equipping, Corporate and Individual Consultation


Answering these questions puts the "Golden Circle" in balance.  "The Golden Circle" provides compelling evidence of how much more we can achieve if we remind ourselves to start everything we do by first asking why." *

What is your "why?"


* Sinek, Simon (2009-09-23). Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (p. 38). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition. 

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Budapest Trip

I had three goals to accomplish on this trip and all of them have been realized.  The first goal was to drive to Serbia and engage a church planting network that is emerging.  The network is not as developed as I had been lead to believe but there is definitely potential.  The leader is sincere about establishing and expanding a house church network in the rural region just north and east of Novi Sad.  I meet with some of his key people and a couple of them show leadership promise.

The second goal was to talk to a denominational leader responsible for Eastern Europe about their leadership development.  I explained how I could assist their ministry by helping them to establish a 'mentoring culture' which would far out perform a programmatic approach.  

The third goal was to reconnect with a number of people  are valuable ministry networkers.  This is key to maintaining and developing partnerships for Kingdom ministry projects.  This is always a meaningful and fun task, one that is not really a task at all, but very energizing.

I return to the states on Friday.  I look forward to being with Marian and sharing with her more about the trip and also hearing about her time during my absence.  

Thank you all for giving and praying!

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Charlie Brown Syndrome?

The book To Change the World by J. D. Hunter is an interesting and challenging read.  He posits that the church's methodology to change the world one person at a time has failed, is failing, and will continue to fail.  The reason is, he argues, is because the church is not intentional about its discipleship ministry; it does not pursue key societal arenas.  He does not suggest that the church not meet the needs whenever and wherever they are present but he does argue that the church should be apostolic in impacting societal arenas like the political, educational, and entertainment sectors.

Charlie Brown was shooting his new bow and arrow.  Each time he shot it; he would run to the fence and draw a bull’s eye around the arrow.  Lucy saw what he was doing and informed him that he was not doing it correctly.  His reply to her was, “It works.  I always hit the target.”  Too often, this is the story of the church as it attempts to carry out the Great Commission.

It certainly seems the case with making disciples.  Most churches argue vehemently that they are a great commission church and that they are indeed making disciples.  But very few could point to any intentional, consistent, inclusive ministry where even 80% of "attenders" are involved either formally or informally.

Wake up church!  Do not be like Charlie Brown!

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Super Time in Kiev

I just returned from leading a Mentorlink "Passing It On" conference in Kiev, Ukraine.  The conference was hosted by Ukraine for Christ (the Ukrainian Campus Crusade for Christ ministry in Ukraine).  It went very well!

The conferees consisted of the various campus team leaders from all over the country as well as the church ministry leaders.  They are very motivated to see more new believers grow in Christ (discipleship) as well as to grow in their ministry with the teams (leadership).  The mentoring conference specifically focused on how to engage people in a very Christ-O-Centric fashion for the purpose of discipleship and leadership.  

Many very common organizational dynamics were cited as opportunities to influence.  Positional leadership, turf protection, and legalism were some of the attitudes addressed.  In addition to theoretical values, practical behaviors were presented and role played.  It was meaningful and also great fun!

The conference laid the foundation for an ongoing relationship with key leaders.  Several trips will take place in the coming months to follow up and assist the development of a 'mentoring movement' within their operational culture!  Pray for Ukraine for Christ!  

March 5, 2013


Where are the Disciple Makers?

I am in Eastern Europe working with a wonderful group of national leaders.  They committed to their ministry which is founded in the Great Commission.  They have heart for their country and are working tirelessly to help their countrymen engage Jesus Christ and walk with Him.  They want to make disciples.  However, they have some challenges.  They have cried out that they have no positive models of disciple makers.  Many have not been personally discipled.  They are busy with organizational activities and duties.  

One of the purposes for the portrayal of the life of Christ in the gospels is to give us a picture of how He made disciples so that we could see Him model His disciple making.  We must look to His model and seriously wrestle with how we will implement His lifestyle disciple making  into our personal lives.  For the good of our families, our ministries, our own growth.  Follow Him!  Disciple like Him!  Mentor others like Jesus!  Develop leaders like Jesus developed leaders!  

Jesus is our model!


What are You Passionate about These Days?

A recurring thought has been nibbling at me for some time.  I have interaction with people locally and globally and while paying attention to people I notice: their activities, conversations, interests, hopes, and regular choices over the course of days, weeks, months, and years.  It is easy to pick up on their passion for some interest or activity.  And, strong emotion is expressed regarding an event, whether it be a family, social, or sports event.  It is easily recognizable as to what is most pressing or energizing, and also obvious as to what they are planning for in the future.  Choices are made, even with sacrifice, to accomplish some special activity.  However, it is rare to hear the same kind of heart felt expression and passion concerning their life in Christ.  

Jesus spoke to the issue of emotion and passion as it relates to our life in Him.  He said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the great and foremost commandment.  The second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself."  Mat. 22:37-39.  Even the original text uses the word "all" three times!  "All" your heart, "all" your soul, and "all" your mind!  Jesus' words make it clear that our walk with Him should be a matter of heartfelt concern, impact all of one's life, and be of intense focus.

Jesus also said, "I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other.  But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!" Rev. 3:15-16.  Jesus makes it clear that He wants us to be hot in our life journey with Him.  If we are hot, should that not be easily recognizable?  Should not our hearts, minds, lives, and actions be charged with emotion and passion that comes from serving the Lord God Almighty?

The word "enthusiasm" has an interesting etymology.  En (in) thus (God from the word theos) iasm.  Literally, it means in God!  Being in God should elicit the most powerful passion!  Being with Him, engaging activities with Him, serving Him, growing in Him should make the super bowl a boring event by comparison.  I think many may indeed be enthusiastic about their walk with Him, but may hold back talking about it out of fear of being labelled an extremist.  Let's not be afraid of that!  Let's encourage one another to engage activities and conversations that reflect a passionate life in Christ!  Let there be no doubt about what fuels our passion!


Intense or Intentional?

When does a believer 'take things too seriously?'  When is a believer so intense that he/she has gone too far?  When does that happen?  How can one identify that the line has been crossed?  I have some thoughts and perhaps you have some thoughts as well.  Send them to me.

The first thought that comes to my mind is that there are very few in danger of crossing that line!  Their concern is crossing a line at the other end of the spectrum, a line that is truly dangerous!

It is also possible that those judging a believer as intense may not understand or exhibit concern for living a strong christian lifestyle and therefore their judgement is severely skewed by their personal spiritual condition.  

Another thought is that what may be intentional is mistaken for intensity.  If one gives disciplined, or intentional, thought to being a strong disciple it could be mistaken as intensity.  Intentional in this context means choosing carefully to steward one's time for discipling self, family, and others and could easily be mistaken for being consumed or obsessed with that lifestyle.

The line is crossed when one's lifestyle is out of spiritual and/or emotional balance where balance is the capacity to conduct constructive relational activities.  One must be able to worship, serve others, have fun, perform at work, and be able to converse meaningfully with others.

What other ways are there to determine when one is too serious about their faith?  What does that look like?


Discipleship: Ministry or Lifestyle?

Jesus' great commission command was not to make worshippers, though we should be worshippers!  He did not command us to feed the hungry, though we should feed the hungry!  He did not command us to help the broken, though we should help the broken!  He did command us to make disciples.  It seems that the issue of making disciples was of primary importance to Jesus Christ.  Perhaps, when understood correctly, it is of more importance than most anything else we should be or do for the cause of the Kingdom of God.  

Question, "is making disciples a ministry that one should engage or is it a lifestyle that should define who we are as believers?"  Another way of putting the question would be, "am I an engineer who makes disciples or am I a disciple maker who happens to be an engineer?"  How did Jesus live His life and how would He have answered the question?  

When we read the words of Christ known as the Great Commission, what sense of urgency do we detect?  How does that impact our lifestyle?  How does it impact the lives of those we are discipling?


how make sure there are not enough leaders

How does a ministry insure that leaders do not reproduce?

  • Choose training times that eliminate people
  • Choose training venues that cannot be replicated
  • Use training methods that require resources difficult to obtain
  • Teach, train, and treat adults like children
  • Qualify potential leaders with non-biblical criteria
  • Focus on organizational leadership rather than on transformational leadership
  • Emphasize positional authority over spiritual authority
  • Impart a policy attitude rather than a grace attitude
  • Present a top-down hierarchical paradigm emphasizing top leadership
  • Talk about plurality of leadership while protecting singular authority
  • Promote only successful business people into spiritual leadership
  • others?s
© David A Toth 2006 - 2014