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Vision Statement

Our desire is to glorify God by participating in the coming reign of Jesus Christ in Phayao. We long for the people of Phayao to experience the love of the Father as they surrender their lives daily to the Lord Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit for the sake of all creation.

Our vision is for communities of disciples—that is, the church—to spread throughout Phayao, northern Thailand, and beyond as they lift up the name of Jesus above all others, practice radical love for each other, their neighbors, strangers, and enemies, and follow the Spirit’s leading in discovering creative ways to proclaim and embody the gospel in their respective contexts.

Our overarching strategy is to invite people into the reconciling work of Jesus Christ and into living out the way of Jesus in loving community(s). We believe strongly that God’s redemptive purposes are most fully expressed and transmitted within communities of disciples following Jesus. Thus, we strive to enable and equip communities of Phayao residents to be the church, God’s people sent into the world. As a team, we seek to model this way of life, provide awareness for how this looks in Scripture and throughout the Christian tradition, and empower Phayao disciples to discern how to carry it out in this particular context.

Leading: Our short-term vision

1. We will seek to radically follow the Way of Jesus in this particular context and model it for others to witness. Our desire is to “be strange in the right ways.” This means that we strive to live within the structures and practices of Phayao culture (“right ways”) in order to reduce unnecessary barriers between our neighbors and ourselves. Yet, we want to live “strangely” in light of the radical call of Jesus’ ethic. Our hope is to live this way faithfully, and, with the grace of God, invite our neighbors into this alternative way of living. We will do this in the following arenas of life and ministry:

  • The Brick Oven – We will run our restaurant as a way to “fit” into the local society and open up opportunities to build relationships. We will manage our employees with love and fairness and seek to build a caring community among us. We will treat all customers with respect. We will make business decisions based upon the integrity of gospel-living above the desire for profit and/or notoriety. We will use all net profit for service to the Phayao community.
  • Family – We will strive to treat our spouses with Ephesians 5:21 as our guide. We will raise our children with love and discipline. Our family life will be a witness to the way of Jesus. We will not let work become a priority over our families.
  • Interpersonal Relationships – We will treat all people, regardless of gender, social class, or ethnicity, with honor and without discrimination. Our desire is to build relationships across demographic boundaries while taking special care to help carry the burdens of those who are marginalized by society-at-large.
  • Service – We will engage in practices that 1) serve the needs of our community, 2) pull us towards the way of humility, and 3) create opportunities for inviting others to join. Our hope is that we can model a way of love and service to those in our community without creating dependency. For example, we will continue to pick up trash around Phayao. This will bless our community by beautifying the city and decreasing health risks. We commit to not just complaining about the authorities but will consistently get our own hands dirty. And since no specific skills are needed, friends, neighbors and strangers can easily join us in this practice.

2. Now that we have developed relationships throughout Phayao and created a sense of trust with friends and neighbors, we will be intentional in deepening those relationships by speaking of things that are of greatest importance. Our desire is never to be motivated by power and manipulation but only by love.

  • Proclaiming the gospel – We will seek out opportunities to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Our primary method will be telling stories in order to encourage dialogue. We are here to proclaim a story that culminates in Jesus being king.
  • Questions – In order to understand our friends and neighbors better, we will ask questions about the things that matter deeply to them. We will strive to understand before trying to be understood. With that perspective, we will speak words of encouragement, hope and blessing, and, with wisdom and discernment, we will also utter words of challenge when necessary. And when it is appropriate, we will confidently speak of how the gospel of Jesus Christ can “make all things new.”
  • Prayers of Intercession – From the standpoint of love, concern and empathy, we will be bold in asking others how we can pray for them. We will strive to be consistent in both following through with praying for them and determining whether we ourselves can be an “answer” to that prayer.
  • Witnessing – We will point others to the love and care of God by witnessing to our friends and neighbors about God’s activity in our lives, both past and present.

3. Our desire is to cultivate a strong sense of community with our friends and neighbors. This community will be a place to receive love, acceptance and healing. We hope it will be a context in which people will both celebrate victories together and carry one another’s burdens.

  • We will experiment with various events and activities that will provide a forum in which new relationships can be established and old relationships can be deepened. Some activities will be focused primarily on having fun and enjoying being together. Other events will be geared towards introducing people to a life of faith in Jesus Christ.

4. In order to genuinely point others to the Triune God, we will be intentional in allowing the Spirit to form us into the image of Jesus Christ.

  • Worship – We will lift up Jesus as THE Lord, King and Savior of the world. We will strive to model worship that is consistent with Scripture and the Christian tradition and creative in how it connects to the symbols and practices in Phayao culture.
  • Spiritual practices – We will pursue practices of prayer and contemplation, confession and repentance, celebration and devotion, service and justice, and study and reflection in order to be formed holistically as the people of God.

Partnering: Our mid-range vision

1. We are committed to joining God in forming a community(s) of disciples. Therefore, as friends and neighbors begin to move towards Christ, our focus will not be on convincing people to change the name of their religion but on calling people to surrender daily to Jesus as Lord and living that out in community. Thus, we will stress the importance of behaving, belonging, and believing as equally critical aspects to the Christian life.

  • Behaving – Our desire is to urge people, both before and after they are baptized, to begin conforming their behavior to the way of Jesus. This will happen explicitly in three ways.
    • We will encourage them to join us in cultivating regular practices in life that form us into the image of Jesus Christ. This might include such practices as regular prayer, acts of kindness, Sabbath, caring for creation, generosity and others. Our hope is that our community will engage in practices that are particularly pertinent for the Phayao culture. Thus, as people begin to join us in following Jesus, we are committed to listening to our friends and neighbors about how embodying the gospel might intersect with social dynamics such as face, tradition, family life, work ethic, and others.
    • We will cultivate a strong desire in people to engage in bringing mercy and justice to systemic issues and problems (i.e., trafficking, people with AIDS, sanitation, etc.) This will involve opportunities for both inviting others to join our efforts and us participating in the work of others. And, ultimately, we hope to encourage our friends and neighbors to be the primary agents of discernment for how the church can best influence systemic change.
    • We will invite others to both join in acts of communal worship and discern how that worship might be more richly expressed in our local context. This will involve calling people to worship and offer themselves exclusively to the Creator God and to engage in rituals, acts, and practices that express that allegiance before God and the world.
  • Belonging – We will strive to cultivate a communal life that encourages people to see the church as a community of acceptance, love, reciprocity, and faithfulness. This community(s) will portray a constant open invitation to people across the entire social spectrum. It will be a group of people who strive to care for each other’s material, relational, and emotional needs. It will be a context for sharing in each other’s joys and sorrows. It will be a collection of people who have fun together. And, most significantly, it will be a community that recognizes its call to be God’s people sent into the world.
  • Believing – We will endeavor to move people towards a greater understanding of who God is and how God works in the world, particularly as revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. Our desire is for this to be in the form of a conversation, or dialogue, as opposed to the transference of information. For newcomers, this will primarily entail sharing stories of Jesus and moving towards the telling of the overarching story in Scripture and its culmination in the gospel of Jesus Christ. For new disciples, this will include greater explanation of Scripture and more in-depth examination of issues such as prayer, the work of the Spirit, sin, and many others. This will happen in the context of personal conversations, communal worship, special events, and designated gatherings for study. As missionaries, our aim is to help provide access to Christian teaching found in Scripture and tradition while encouraging local Christians to formulate local expressions of Christian belief and doctrine. We will strive to be less of a teacher and more of a guide.

2. A primary question during this phase will be how we, as a team, are connected to the growing church(es). We will be faced with two basic choices: 1) Do we remain a part of one church and seek to develop that community as it grows in number? 2) Or do we maintain the structure of small communities and divide our team up as increasing numbers call for new churches to be born? As we face this situation, we will empower local Christians to determine the best model for optimizing church growth and use our collective wisdom to discern how best to proceed as missionaries to fulfill our long-term vision.

3. We will continue to operate The Brick Oven in a way that demonstrates a work ethic and business model consistent with the way of Jesus. Our hope is that we will find intentional ways to invite other people to engage in alternative, life-giving business practices. And we will strive to use The Brick Oven as an asset to the church without dominating its agenda.

Following: Our long-term vision

We are ultimately concerned with joining God in calling out and forming communities of local disciples who are sent out into the world to bear witness to the reign of Jesus Christ with the hope of multiple churches emerging throughout Phayao and beyond. Our role as missionaries will gravitate towards that of a theological resource to the local community(s) as it discerns how best to be the church in its own context. We will seek to be faithful supporters and encouragers of local disciples while providing access to the wisdom found throughout the worldwide Christian tradition. In that regard, the following are some of the questions and issues that we will advise the local community(s) about as it grows and matures.

  • What is the best model for church in regards to the maturing of the local community and its ability to generate new communities of faith?
  • How should the church interact and engage with societal and political structures surrounding it?
  • What practices can be developed and deepened for the sake of spiritual formation?
  • How might the church consistently and emphatically be for the “least of these”?
  • What are creative ways to incorporate local and foreign symbols and practices into the worshipping life of the church? How might the local community develop and/or incorporate rituals and liturgies into its identity?
  • How does the church respond to issues of ethical behavior and sin, particularly as new issues and problems arise?
  • How does the church formulate its understanding of doctrine in a healthy manner?
  • How can the local community become more aware of and connected to other Christians throughout Thailand and the world?
  • We will strive to keep the gospel at the center of the church’s identity and trust, with open hands, that God’s Spirit will bring about the maturation and sanctification of the local community(s).

Finally, we will, as individual families, determine, while seeking the wisdom of the rest of the team, whether we should return to the States or move to begin a new work in Thailand once it is evident that the local community(s) is thriving on its own.

In conclusion, we recognize this vision is far grander than anything we could actually attain. Yet, it is our vision because we choose to have a vision that demands the miraculous work of God’s Spirit for it to be possible. Anything less would not be the kingdom of God coming on earth.

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