Monday, May 27, 2013

FAQs (or things you might like to know)

As we've been sharing 20schemes with individuals and church groups around Georgia over the past few weeks, we've noticed some common questions. We thought it might be helpful to address a few of those here.

How would you sum up the ministry of 20schemes in just a few sentences?

"Our long term desire is to see Scotland’s housing schemes transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ through the planting of gospel-preaching churches, ultimately led by a future generation of indigenous church leaders. To that end we will initiate a church planting and revitalization effort by recruiting, training, supporting, and sending church planters, female outreach workers,ministry apprentices and short-term interns to work as part of church planting teams within Scotland’s housing schemes. We believe that building healthy, gospel-preaching churches in Scotland’s poorest communities will bring true, sustainable and long-term renewal to Scotland’s schemes." (This was taken directly from the 20schemes website; you can learn more there.)

What will you be doing with 20schemes -- and will you be moving to Scotland?

The leadership of 20schemes has tasked us with developing partnerships with churches (and individuals) over the next two years. These partnerships will help this new ministry to build a financial base to support the work and also to recruit church planting teams. We'll work to this end by networking with pastors, preaching (Jeff) and sharing the ministry with congregations, speaking at conferences and mission fairs, and any other way we can think up! Because the ministry anticipates that the majority of workers and funding for 20schemes will need to come from the U.S., our work will be focused here in the States. Will we ever move to Scotland? From the time we joined the ministry we have been open to what the Lord might have for us, but only He knows the answer to that!

When do you begin work with 20schemes?

We actually began work in February 2013. Jeff participated in a Vision Trip to Scotland early that month, then began meeting with pastors and church leaders in the Kentuckiana area and at conferences around the country.

How is the work of 20schemes funded?

20schemes is funded through the gifts of churches and people like you who desire to join in partnership with us by financially supporting our missionaries, adopting a scheme, or sponsoring an intern. As missionaries-in-residence, we are raising our own monthly support even as we do the work of 20schemes.

Do you have other questions? Let us hear from you!

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Friday, May 24, 2013

Sharing 20schemes with Musella Baptist Church

We had a really rough week last week (we'll probably share more on that later), and this week started off bumpy, as well. But God has a way of bringing encouragement at just the right time.

On Monday, we received an invitation to share the ministry of 20schemes with Musella Baptist Church here in Georgia. The pastor, Joe McDaniel, and his wife, Cynthia, are friends from many years ago and graciously invited us to join their church family for one of the best South-in-your-mouth Wednesday night suppers you've ever seen, followed by a sweet time of prayer and digging into the Word.

Jeff was able to not only share what schemes are and what the goal of 20schemes is, but he also shared about the schemes of Satan to deceive, divide, and dissuade -- as well as the remedies God provides through devotion to Christ, denial of self, and discernment in life. While the work of planting churches in the schemes of Scotland may look a little different from church planting in the states, the message remains the same: Satan is the destroyer, but Jesus is the Savior.

This is one of the best parts of our role with 20schemes -- sharing the gospel of Christ and the ministry of 20schemes with our fellow believers in the local church and seeing them get excited right along with us. May the Lord raise up many partners to invest in His Kingdom work in the schemes of Scotland.

By the way, we are continually updating our schedule; be sure to check it out and contact us about speaking at your church or at an in-home fellowship. And if you'd like to receive our monthly newsletter, you may subscribe here

{Photo credit: AnnaKate Jackson}

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Guest posting at Dogfur and Dandelions

My blogger friend, Elizabeth, invited me to share a bit about our ministry over at DogFur and Dandelions today. I hope you'll drop in over there... and leave a comment letting Elizabeth know we sent you!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Incredible Stories of God's Saving Grace

In a recent post entitled, What a Few Scottish Schemers Did for a Georgia Redneck, I introduced you to Ralphie, Ricky, and Paul, three recent converts from the schemes through the ministry of Niddrie Community Church (NCC).

At NCC, each new convert is given the opportunity to share their story of conversion to Christ at their baptism as part of their public confession of faith. These testimonies are video recorded and Pastor Mez McConnell often includes them as posts on the 20schemes blog. Over the next few weeks, look forward to several posts linked to these powerful testimonies. In addition to these men, we will link to the story of Charlene and how two years of patient love and hard gospel labor led to her conversion.

Here is Ralphie's testimony: subtitles are necessary as his accent is very thick and his slang is hard to follow.

Ralph from Niddrie Community Church on Vimeo.

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Monday, May 13, 2013

What a few Scottish schemers did for a Georgia redneck

I climbed out of the backseat of a small car into the dark and cold of the evening -- big streeeetch, "man, it feels good to be out...." my eyes were drawn to the large snowflakes floating into and out of the amber glow of the street light. Beautiful!

Whatever complaint I was mumbling left my mind in a hurry. I shivered and marveled and thanked God for allowing me to be in Scotland -- and now it's snowing. Romantical! "Man, I sure miss my wife."

We'd had a full day of visiting several scheme communities/ministries and now we had been driving for about an hour to reach the James Ramsay House, "a Christian family home that offers a safe haven for vulnerable people in need." Mature Christians from Niddrie Community Church come alongside to offer high accountability through intensive investment in the discipleship of these new and undiscerning converts living at James Ramsay House. Wonderful!

We were there at the invitation of the men living in the house, Ricky (age 20) Ralphie (32) and Paul (42). They were tag teaming cooking supper for 10 visitors from America who came to look over the ministry of 20schemes. These three men are what 20schemes is all about, and little did I know that I was in for one of those rare moments when God would so deeply challenge me that He would catapult me rather than creep me forward in terms of my own sanctification. Cool!

Photo source:

The house was beautiful but not ornate. It was modestly and adequately furnished, and thngs were clean and tidy. Obviously, the guys had done some housework and were laboring to make us feel at home. We gathered in the living room after piling our plates high with "bangers and mash" -- sausages and mashed potatoes. Delicious!

After the meal the men began to take turns informally sharing their testimonies. I wasn't prepared for what I heard or for what God did in me. Ralphie first, then Rickie, and finally Paul, and when they were done I was stunned, first by the weight of the hardship and sin these men had lived under and that they survived it, and second by the sheer power of the gospel to save and of the truly amazing grace of God to overcome every obstacle standing in the way of someone's salvation. I love these guys! I love Jesus! "Man, I wish Suzanne could have been here, she'd love these guys too."

I had never really met or talked with anyone like these men, and that was a problem, my problem. All of my adult life I had mingled with my own kind, the middle class. Sure, as a pastor I had dealt with people in crisis and counseled others with all kinds of problems -- some really serious problems. But all of those people pretty much looked and lived like me -- middle class. These men had lived a very different life from me, and yet they were also like me -- sinners in need of a Savior.

Their collective testimonies so inspired me that I was ready for the hymn to be sung so that I could walk the aisle and get saved again. The highlight was when Paul leaned forward on the sofa, and with tears of gratitude he told us of how not long ago he was living in a graveyard, drunk, high, without hope and with feet so badly blistered he could barely walk, and if he had died no one would have cared, and now he had a bed and brothers who loved him and a new life -- all because of Jesus. Powerful!

What did these guys from Scotland do for this Georgia redneck? They humbled me, blessed me, challenged me, served me and loved me as they told me about their Jesus and shared with me from the bounty of His grace in their lives. I love these guys! I love Jesus!

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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Vision Trip: Craigmillar Castle

I went to Scotland in early February and from time to time I would like to share some of my pics with you. I am no photographer, Suzanne and AnnaKate got all of that talent, but at least you'll be able to see a bit of what it's all about.

The pics in this series are from Craigmillar Castle. It lies just outside of Edinburgh. It might well be considered a kind of local secret as far as castles go. Because of the draw of the larger and better preserved Edinburgh castle, not many tourists ever hear of or visit Craigmillar. Too bad, it is really cool. Lots of tunnels, passageways, and winding stair cases to explore. When you visit you are allowed to go in and walk through the entire castle at your leisure, and the views from the top are stellar.

If you take one of the 20schemes five-day vision trips you will be able to spend some time touring Craigmillar. For more info on the different trips 20schemes sponsors please contact Jeff.  For more on the history of Craigmillar castle go here and here. Enjoy!

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Monday, May 6, 2013

3 Ways You Can Help Us Help 20schemes

Yesterday, Jeff and I had a great time catching up with an old friend over lunch. We had a lot of catching up to do on both sides, and we were glad to share with her about 20schemes and our role in helping the ministry. It was so refreshing to see our friend become excited about the ministry and then hear her tell us about people she'd like to tell about this ministry.

Last night, as I reflecting on that sweet time, I thought of three ways you can help us help 20schemes.

1. Support. Currently, our biggest need is to raise our monthly support so that we can commit our time fully to developing partnerships with 20schemes. We're told that it often takes a minimum of 12-18 months to get this base of support; we hope to do this much sooner than that, by God's grace! Please partner with us in prayer to this end -- and if you'd like to partner financially, as well, you can learn how to do that here.

2. Subscribe. We love telling folks about the work of 20schemes, and two ways we do that include this blog and our e-newsletter. We hope to post here several times a week, and our e-newsletter will go out about once a month. To be sure you receive each update, we'd love for you to subscribe to both the blog and the e-newsletter. And we have a subscribe page to help you subscribe to either or both. And follow our Facebook page for frequent ministry updates.

3. Share. Can you help us get the word out? Here are a few easy ways to share:
  • Share our blog posts on Facebook, or email the link to a few of your friends with a personal note.
  • Share our Facebook updates with your Facebook friends.
  • When you receive your e-newsletter, share it with folks and ask them to subscribe (it's free)
  • If you see we'll be in your area, consider hosting a missions fellowship in your home or at your church. We'd love to meet your friends and share our ministry with them, too.
  • Tell your pastor about our ministry. And let us know if your church might be interested in hosting us to come and share, whether it's as part of a missions conference, for Jeff to preach in a Sunday service or lead a men's conference, for Suzanne to speak to a women's group, or simply to share the vision of 20schemes in a worship service. You can see our current schedule here, and learn how to contact us here.
Will you help us help 20schemes? It's easy, and we can't do it without you!

Friday, May 3, 2013

5 Reasons You'll Like 20schemes (part 2)

(If you missed the first two reasons you'll like 20schemes, be sure to check out part 1)

3. We answer to our local church elders for our life and work in the gospel.

What we don't mean: we are not primarily accountable to an organization, denomination, or any other entity outside the local church.

What we do mean: we gladly submit to the spiritual oversight of godly men who provide watchcare for our souls and our work in face-to-face relationships with them. These are godly men who know us, invest in our lives and ministry, and edify us in our progress in Christlikeness as we seek to honor the Lord, His Word, and His Church. In Scotland, these men are the pastors/elders of Niddrie Community Church.

4. We are local church centered in our philosophy of ministry.

What we don't mean: we are not parachurch focused and we are not promoting or seeking to build a parachurch organization to supplant the local church.

What we do mean: by God's grace we are building the Kingdom of God on earth, and we understand that the local church is God's blessed and purposed means for His gospel to go out and to be lived out. 20schemes is a conduit for this work and exists to build up and further the work of local church ministry.

5. We are fully committed to raising up indigenous leaders who will shepherd the flock of God as a plurality of godly men.

What we don't mean: we are not looking to create ministry jobs in Scotland for American pastors, church workers, and church planters who are discontent or disenfranchised and looking to escape something in their current situation.

What we do mean: we understand that long-term health in gospel churches means investing in leaders who come up through the ranks of discipleship over time. People brought to Christ out of scheme life will grow in grace and reinvest themselves in others who are being won to Christ. The pool of future leaders will come from within this discipling culture over the course of many years of concentrated spiritual investment.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

5 Reasons You'll Like 20schemes (part 1)

1. We are squarely grounded in the gospel of God's grace.

What we don't mean: we don't use "bait and switch" techniques to lure and trick people into conversations with us. And we don't water down the message of Christ's death and resurrection by dumbing down the truth about Jesus. He told us we must deny ourselves, take up our cross (die to self and to the world) and follow Him (Mark 8:34).

What we do mean: we lead out with the gospel of grace by telling people that their greatest need is forgiveness of sins by grace alone, in Christ alone, through faith alone. We do this one relationship at a time and one encounter at a time over the long haul.

2. We are committed to the long haul as we live alongside those we are attempting to reach.

What we don't mean: we are not thinking short-term about our church planting work, and we are not planning or working from models of ministry which envision a new church plant being self-sustaining in a prescribed number of years.

What we do mean: we plan and plant with a marathon mentality aimed at sustained, growing, gospel relationships. We are planting and revitalizing in and among the people we hope to reach with the gospel. We live and interact with many of the things they have to face in the daily routines of scheme life. Our message and our life combine to display the power of God's grace to define, give meaning to, and overcome the experiences they see us sharing in.

Continue to Part 2 of  5 Reasons You'll Like 20schemes.