Transcript of Episode 22 with Andrew Scott
This transcript has been lightly edited to make it easier to read.
Peter Rowan: “It’s great to have Andrew in the call today, Andrew is the president of OM US. And I’ll let him tell you quite as ministry and his work with over the years. I’ve known Andrew for quite a long time I met Andre when I went on an OM summer campaign back in the 1980s. Although Andrew’s from Northern Ireland, he’s had a ministry travelling around with OM over the years and has been based in the states now for about 10 years. And this team Andrew today is the mobilisation and media team of OMF UK. And we’re just thrilled to have you, Andrew, it’s great. And we’re delighted just to be able to spend some time with you and hear about the book and delve into the book and ask some questions. Because it’s very relevant to the strategic directions that we’re trying to move in with OMF, internationally, particularly from us here in the UK. So let me pray first, and then we’ll make a start. Father, God, thank you so much for what it is that unites us all in this this call today. Thank you for the gospel. And thank you for your work of grace in our lives. And thank you for Andre, and Shawn and their family. And thank you for how you’ve watched over them and guided them through the years. And thank you that we can connect this afternoon, we pray that our connection physically through the internet will work well today that we’ll be able to have a really good discussion that will ultimately lift our eyes to you and spur us on in what you’ve called us to be in to do. So we give this time to you, Lord, and we pray that your holy spirit guide lead and that you would help us to engage really well. In Jesus name, amen. So I’m just going to ask you, first of all, Andre, if you could give us a bit of your own background and journey in admission. And then and talk about your current role, but then lead us into how you came to actually write this book. So tell us about yourself, first of all in your background and your current work bit of the backstory.
Andrew Scott “Thank you, Peter, for this invitation.”
Growing up in Northern Ireland
“I’m from the other end of Northern Ireland to Peter, and also from the country, whereas Peter is one of these slick city boys with the posh accent I grew up with an accent that, if I’d continued to retain, would be completely unintelligible to any somewhat educated person. So, over the years, thankfully, it’s softened up a little bit, although [here in the US] they still struggle sometimes. But I grew up in a little tiny town, in a little Baptist Church, which I continually am thankful for the upbringing in the word and so many of the meetings I had to sit through, that that whether it was on the garments of the high priest or the tabernacle or the End Times. I mean, I was getting dragged to those meetings when I was five or six, seven and eight. I know I hated it back then, but I think that it was very formative. But 19 years old, I went to be part of the Doulos that was on my journey, that I met Peter, and spent two years doing the training program there, and during that time, it was my intent, when I went out there to just keep going, I had a real desire to go to where people had never heard about Jesus. And I didn’t think I needed much else than what I’d been taught in church. Because I had this very naive idea that the little bit I knew was more than the nothing that most people knew about Jesus. So, if I could just go. But it was during my two years aboard the ship through a number of experiences that I was impressed on me that if I wanted to have a little bit more impact, it would be good to get some further training.
Getting More Training
“So, I did that in Belfast, Bible college and then was ready to go back out. And then a church in Northern Ireland asked if I’d come and be the associate pastor of Baptist Church, which was a new thing for Baptist churches. The pastor was a superman figure in the church over there. And he was expected to do everything. But this was big enough church thought, well, maybe we should have two of these guys. And I reluctantly agreed because I sensed God putting me in that direction. And I agreed to do that for about three years. And it was also very formative for me because I got a deeper love for the local church and the critical role it has in equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry. Now, of course, there’s a huge question mark over how well they’re doing it that, but I got a real vision for what that could look like. If we truly as church leaders, if I did that.
Back on the OM Ship
“And then, after those three years, I went back to the ship, they invited me to come back and oversee everything we did for the folks on board. There are about 300, plus young people, on board. And we have, of course, a training program leadership development, ministry skills training, and I oversaw everything we did for the folks onboard the ship, which was another good formative time in my leadership, development, and just pouring into those that would seek to live out the life purpose of God, then my shelf life on the ship, you can last about four or five years and that thing, and then you just start to burn out because you eat, sleep, live, work, and do everything with the people you go to church. So, imagine going to church for five years and never coming home. That’s sort of what it’s like to be on the ship. It just gets a bit old.
A shift in thinking begins
“So, I came back and I was recruited to come to the US in 2002. Actually, to do mobilisation, to start the mobilisation department, focusing on college students. And again, that was a formative time for me. And I really appreciate those years mobilization, it is really the heart of what who I am, it’s a perspective, by nature, if you know the strengths finders, I’m always wanting to engage people around the things I’m excited by. So, tie that into mission mobilization. That’s something I love to do. But it was during that journey, of course, the two things were happening. One is the goalposts of what they wanted me to do kept shifting. And then I find myself in 2010, becoming the president, or the field leader or the director, whatever the term is in the UK, of OM here in the USA, that journey was happening. But a second journey was happening. I was starting to ask big questions about mission and mobilisation. Part of it was due to my transition to the US, there was a number of options in front of me. And it was one of the most painful experiences of my life as I was trying to determine what I thought was God’s will for my life, what was God’s calling on my life. And I remember going through that process and having this incredible dissonance. What father would ever hold his plan? His desire for my life, from me, that doesn’t speak to me of a loving father, there’s nothing I want more for my kids, then, first of all, to know that I love them. And secondly, to be able to pour into them the direction and the way they live their life, even specifics as I seek to guide them through university, not necessarily being directive, but guiding. And I thought this doesn’t seem right to be there. I’m missing something when it comes to understanding the call of God in my life. And it put me on a bit of a journey.
Rethinking the strategy
“When I came into the role of President here, we’re the largest field in OM, we send out more people and resources than any other field. And so, we’re sort of important. And we would love to share that and see many other fields rise up to that. But we’re sort of important. So, I thought I have no idea how to lead this. This is way beyond me. So, I brought in a consultant, we did a strategic plan. I was really proud of our strategic plan, we were going to double down and say how do we send more of what we’ve been sending? How do we engage more people in this great idea of reaching the least reach for Jesus. We had a clearly articulated mission, we had strategic initiatives. I was pretty proud of what we come up with as a leadership team.
‘Not long after this, about 2012 I think, the leader of our work in the Muslim world, sat in my office. Now this is a guy who in this part of the world, the Arabian Peninsula, he’s seen as one of the leaders for all mission agencies in that part of the world, as a patriarch. He understands the region, he’s connected into the sheikhs. He’s connected to all the agencies. In fact, he convened the agencies in what’s called Arabian Peninsula Partnership. And he sat in my office, and we were just chatting and he at some point in the conversation, he looked at me and he said “you know, Andrew, there’ll be no traditional missionaries in the Muslim world in 10 years.”
And I nearly swallowed my tongue. You’re familiar with that statement? It was like what? Tell me more about this? Because that’s all we have a plan to send you. If you’re telling me that that’s not what you need, or that’s not what’s going to work, we’re in trouble here. Because we’ve spent a lot of time thinking this through.
He went on and he said “Well, first of all, access is going to is a problem. And it’s going to be an increasing problem.” Now that makes total sense to me. I see that happening. We knew it was happening. But I’m thinking, well, we could come up with a few more creative ways to get around the system.
But then he said something that completely rocked my world. I had never heard it before. It wasn’t part of my paradigm of mission. It wasn’t part of my paradigm of gospel proclamation. It was this, he said “secondly we are realising that if somebody’s presence is questionable to the local community in which they’re living, then how do we expect the message they’re wanting to share to be anything other than questionable.”
And I looked at him and I thought, you need to tell me more about this because I sort of thought that we did whatever it took to get the gospel into places. And really the end justifies the means. And he went on. And he said, another statement, he said, “the Filipino maids have done more for the spread of the gospel in the Arabian Peninsula, than all of the full-time missionaries put together.” They’ve done more for the spread of the gospel than all because they’re living in homes, they’ve got a credible presence, and they’re living where the people are. They’re understood by the people, why they’re there, what they’re doing, and every day they’re shining a light through their lives, through their testimony and through the words. And so I thought OK I need to know more. The way I’m wired is, I can’t keep doing something, if I don’t think it’s working. It’s like stop it, but we’re not here to do work. We’re here to see the kingdom of God established. And if it’s not working, we have to stop. And we have to do whatever is working.
Developing thinking on work’s part in proclamation
My journey from that was, originally more of a theological questioning around calling. I was feeling real dissonance of what I had heard. I read once, there are eight different types of calling. And then somebody distilled it down to three: primary calling, secondary calling, tertiary calling. Then somebody said, well, actually, there’s two, there’s a specific will of God and the general will of God.
And I’m thinking, why is that the vast majority of the people of God don’t actually understand or believe they’re living out any clear purpose. And what I realised is that there’s complete fog around this idea. And secondly, while it’s fine to have these categories, what if you put the wrong thing in the wrong category, or the right thing in the wrong category.
And mission, I believe, got put in the wrong category, it was seen as a specific will of God rather than a general will of God. So, we needed to get create some clarity around that. That’s where it started. Then, if I’m honest, it was very pragmatic, we have a problem, we cannot get people into places, and they’re not credible when they go in there. And I will say right up front, I’ve moved on from that. But that’s where it started, really the journey of the book that this was a: we need to think of more strategic ways to get people into places. Because they’re not going to get in and even if they do get in and the traditional model of raising support, having a cover identity in place, it’s not credible, and it’s not going to be a good way.
How the book came to be written
So in that journey, I started to put some pieces together. And it just so happened, I was in a meeting with Moody [publishers] and they asked me what I was thinking these days. I told them and they said “you need to write a book about that.” I laughed, I could hear my English teacher in the background laughing. And then they came back three times and said “no, we really think that this coming from a mission leader is paradigm shifting, and you need to write about it and invite others into it.”
So anyway, I wrote the book, and I pleaded with them, not to make this about mission because it’s going to be put on the shelf as a mission book. And I truly believe this is a book for every follower of Jesus. Because here’s the basic premise: every person that was ever created was created by God for God, in His image, to be his reflection in the world, to join him as co-creators to govern the world on his behalf to shape his kingdom for him, and with him in the world. Every human that was ever created was created for that.
Therefore, I came to this conclusion that you are not called to the mission of God you were made for the mission of God and so the mission of God is not something you wait around asking “God am I part of what you’re doing? If I am can you please tell me?” And many people either are waiting for that call or are taking the excuse that because they didn’t get that specific call they don’t have to do it. So the book set out to explain first of all this idea that there is this grand narrative that God is at work in in our world and he is establishing his kingdom among us. That’s exciting. And you are a piece of that story. And so, there’s a big story, you’re a piece of it. You’re not the story. That’s one of the big messages we have over here in the US, we have made the narrative of life about us. And we invite God into our story. And God doesn’t want to be part of our story. God is the story. And he’s made us to be part of the story.
So there’s a big story, we’re part of it. And he’s given us his image. he’s given us his identity as his children, so that we can reflect him well in the world. So that’s, that’s critical, our identity is that we are the children of God. But not only do we have that identity, and Ephesians chapter one, is where I take that from. Paul says later in Ephesians that God made us as children, he adopted us in this family, that we would be for the praise of his glory, he wanted us to reflect his glorious being in the world, that our lives and every aspect of our life should be that.
Your purpose is different from your role
We were given the identity as the children of God, made in his image to reflect his glory back to the world. So that’s our identity. And with it comes our purpose. Purpose is not something you decide, or you excavate for yourself. And this is a mistake I believe we’ve made in the world, especially in the church and mission world, we have, we have reduced purpose to what I would call role.
Somebody says, well, my purpose in life is to be a doctor. And I say, No, that’s not your purpose in life. Because your purpose is your highest stand, right? Your purpose is your highest. And that’s what we mean by purpose statements: about what or to what end do we exist. Our purpose is to glorify God in everything we do. That’s our purpose. And from that flows, our role.
And we will have many roles. I’m a father, I’m a husband, I’m a leader and a mission agency. I’m a player on a soccer team, I show and breed dogs. I’m a brother, I’m a friend, I have many roles in life. And in each of those roles, my purpose should be lived out to reflect who God is, and introduce other people to him in that process. Introducing them to the ways of the king and to the king.
So, there’s a big story. We’ve been created to be part of that story. As a child of God, that’s our identity to reflect him and everything we do. That’s our purpose. And then we’ve got roles, we will fulfill multiple roles at a time and in our life, I will not always be the leader. But when you say and if I step out of that my purpose hasn’t changed my simply my role has.
‘In the book, I use SHAPE. It’s Eric Reese’s acronym, that we’ve all been uniquely shaped as masterpieces made by God for the purpose to which he created us. So that we could be brilliant reflections of him on the planet as his children. And so, we have Spiritual gifts, Heart or passions, Abilities, Personality and Experience. And in the book, I lay this out, I think in the mission world, in the church world, we have done a horrible job at stewarding the masterpieces of God. Because what we’ve basically said is, if you want to do what we’re doing in mission, you give up you let go of what you’re doing. And come do this thing we call ministry, which looks like coffee shops, street clubs in the evenings, and different creative ways of getting engaged in a community. Instead of understanding that there are things that God has inserted in our life, abilities and personalities, that are seen in our vocation, through our work, as an engineer, a doctor, a nurse, a teacher, a hairdresser. Things that God has put inside them for the purpose to which he created them. therefore, they should be used for that purpose and not taken from them. And I had to reflect on our mission model. And I realised that we were really guilty of trying to put ‘the armour of Saul on the people of God’. We were saying, if you want to be part of ministry, let go of all of those things. They’re of you they’re not of God. It was like they’re the things you use for your own purpose. Now, let those go and come and let us tell you how to do the real stuff. And then we have stripped people of dignity. Of what God has given them as tools to live out who he has made them to be, and caused them to live in a certain way. And you know what happens when that happens? We slowly die inside because we’re not being who we were created to be. We could go off on one but I believe this might be one of the unspoken biggest contributors to attrition in the mission field. And we become grumpy and we fallout with teammates and we fallout with our spouse, and we’re just not a nice person to be around.
‘Versus living out all of who God has made us to be being the best version of us. Not for our own purpose not for our own glory, not because we want to feel good about ourselves because but because God made us a certain way. And when we live in the fullness of that, then we can be fully alive and fully alive for the purpose of God’s big story we were made for it, we were given an identity as the children of God, a purpose with that, to live out everything, all of our lives, for the glory of God uniquely shaped to do it, in many different ways in the world. So let’s embrace those things.
‘And then the final point I would say is that in the midst of that, these are the things that Paul tells us in Ephesians one and two, that God decided before time and his sovereign will. So, calling has roots in eternity, not in time. Then if Genesis one, he creates the world, and gives the mandate to humanity, who he had already conceived in his mind, to be made in His image, for His glory uniquely shaped to do it. He said, “now go be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and govern it.” He was giving them this cultural mandate, I’ve made you in my image. Now go make more of who I’ve made you to be, until the whole earth is filled with my image bearers.
‘And if you look throughout biblical history, that constantly happened, and when people stepped outside of their identity and chased a different identity, of the nations they lived among, or if they chased a different purpose, God scattered them. And as he scattered them, they took with them his image, because that was still there. Even if we’re outside of Christ, we still retain the image of God, right? It’s only fully restored in Christ, of course, but Joseph in Egypt, Daniel in Babylon and Persia and Esther in Persia, all of these are stories of Gods scattered people, influencing nations.
“Then, as we look over into the New Testament, we see Jesus now mandating his disciples and saying the same thing as we hear in Genesis one “would you now, go be fruitful, and multiply and fill the earth until everywhere in the whole earth is filled with people who are just like you, who are following the my ways and are in relationship with me.”
“And again, we see that happening in the New Testament, where they didn’t necessarily go, but they were scattered. And everywhere they went, they preached the gospel. And I’ll finish with this thought and it links in with Michael Stroope’s book, which I only read quite recently, I was really excited to hear that you’d read it, because it’s although it’s one of the hardest, probably the hardest book I’ve ever had to work through in my life. It’s amended some of these thoughts in my mind that we have infused a mission story into the Bible that has caused us to take a certain pathway. But when we look at the ancient Near East history in the early church period, the ones who did more for the spread of the gospel, now this is critical and key for me, the ones that did more for the spread of the gospel, in those 300 years, were the ordinary Christians who, though they didn’t know much, they probably didn’t have a copy of the scriptures in their home. They didn’t have the Trinity, and all of these things sorted out. But what they did know was that Jesus was the Messiah, he’d risen from the dead. And he told them to go love their neighbour as themselves and some simple principles around how they would live their life. And off they went. And the gospel spreads through the lives of these ordinary believers, so much so that Paul, when he went to Antioch, the church was already there, in Malta and Miletus. And Rome, the church was already there, and then it spread even faster after that. And so how do we get away from this idea that mission is for a select few, specially called highly trained individuals who step out of what they have been doing into this full-time category? That they go and do mission and ministry on behalf of the rest of us? How do we get away from that and actually say “no, if you’re a follower of Jesus, there’s only one reason for your existence. And that is to be in relationship with the king and to reflect the Kings ways in the world inviting people into the kingdom.” And if that’s true, then a lot has to change. And what Hi, we’re doing mission in the world today. Peter, I’ll stop there.”
Peter Rowan: “Thank you so much, Andrew. That was brilliant.”
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