The Curse of Bachelor Missions

Yesterday serious preparations began for my parents visit in three-weeks on August 10th.  This involves things you would expect like giving the house a thorough cleaning and stocking my fridge, but it also involves things you wouldn’t expect like fixing the AC in my car.

Since I bought my car last summer the air-conditioning would only work in the morning and evening when the weather was cooler.  So most of the day I just drive with the windows down.

The truth is I needed to get the AC fixed, but it’s a lot easier to “put up with things” as a bachelor missionary.


Being a bachelor missionary (single adult male in missions work) is I believe a specific call from God which has special blessings.

  1. It gives more freedom (lots easier for a single man to pack a bag and go alone than organizing travel plans for a family)
  2. All energy is focused on ministry
  3. And more time can be used to reach others for Christ

Bachelor missions can become a curse however because it’s easier to put up with daily frustrations (like having no air-conditioning) when it’s just you.  If I had a wife or children the AC would be fixed for their comfort, but being a single man made it a lot easier to “put up with” the lack of comfort.

Actually the curse of bachelor missions has nothing to do with AC (having my window down makes things cool enough) but about making the denial of comfort a badge of honor.

Being on the mission field makes very clear most things we look upon as necessities are actually luxuries. Of course, this means most things on the “luxury list” you live without, but it’s not a bad thing experiencing a luxury from time to time.

In other words….just because I CAN “put up with” no AC in my car doesn’t mean God WANTS me to.

Monday morning I will leave my car with the local auto mechanic and Lord willing by Wednesday have the air-conditioning fixed.  I’m grateful that mom and dad will enjoy the cool air as we drive through Saint Vincent, but also thankful for God’s reminder that enjoying a luxury isn’t a sin.

Reading for Understanding not Entertainment

“The Majority of us are addicted to non-active reading” Mortimer Adler

Last week I felt pretty  good about myself after creating a reading list with thirteen books, only to find out I didn’t really know how to read.

In 1940 Mortimer Adler wrote “How to Read A Book” and it’s still a classic textbook on literature  seventy-six later.  The strength of the book is his description of the four different kinds of readings we should be capable of.

Adler’s first level of reading (called the Elementary Level) refers to being literate and able to read almost anything.  There is nothing wrong with this of course…but his issue is most of us (myself included) stop at the elementary level.

“However he is no yet a ‘mature’ reader in the sense in which we want to employ in the terms of this book.  He has mastered the first level of reading that is all.  He does not know how to read beyond the elementary level.”  

Moving past the elementary reading involves:

  1. Inspecting the book to see if it deserves to be read
  2. Categorizing the book before reading it
  3. Creating a two-sentence summary of the books goal
  4. Outlining the book
  5. And stating the main question the book attempts to answer

In other words this kind of reading (what Adler calls active reading) is very hard work

Active reading  is actually founded on the principle that reading instead of being for entertainment is for a deeper understanding of the subject.

See my goal when reading on the porch most evenings isn’t to study the authors motives, but relax after dinner, and do some “fun reading.”  In other words reading is a form of entertainment

Of course there’s nothing wrong with reading a book for fun  however when 85% to 90% of my reading is on the elementary level, I’ll be totally unprepared when it needs to be for a deeper understanding.  

What Would You Add to my 2017 Reading Challenge?

Like many of you reading more is a new-years resolution every January, and like most of you I almost never follow-up. So I’m incredibly excited by the 2017 reading challenge created by Tim Challies.

The beautiful thing about this challenge is Challies has created a chart with book recommendations that eliminate three of the most common problems with reading.


  • Not knowing what books to read
  • And only reading a certain kind of book
  • And different stages of reading for different people-his chart goes from Light Reader (a book a month) to the Obsessed Reader (two books a week)

Armed with this chart (I’m starting as an Avid Reader suggestions underneath Light Reader) in less than 30 minutes I had 11 books set aside in an Amazon wish list!

  1. A book by a puritan:  Overcoming Sin and Temptation (John Owen)
  2. A book about a missionary:  Through Gates of Splendor (Elizabeth Elliot)
  3. A book about Christian Living: The Pursuit of God (AW Tozer)
  4. A book about the Reformation:  Here I Stand:  A Life of Martin Luther (Roland Baiton)
  5. A Book about Theology:  An Infinite Journey (Andrew Davis) (Second Reading)
  6. Book Recommended by a Family Member:  _______________
  7. Book Recommended by a Friend:  _____________________
  8. A New York Times Bestseller:  Hillbilly Elegy (JD Vance)
  9. A Book about Church History:  Church History in Plain Language (Dr. Bruce Shelley)
  10. Book that is less than 100 pages:  Animal Farm (Goerge Orwell)
  11. Book of your choice:  Living God’s Word:  Discovering your place in the Great Story of Scripture (Scott Duvall, Daniel Hays)
  12. A Biography :  Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy  (Eric Metaxas)

I’m incredibly grateful for this tool that helps me pursue reading in a purposefully organized way…but it also allows my friends to have input in my reading

So what would you add for number seven on my list?  The answer should fit nicely into the following blank:  Every Christian in the world should read __________________ before they die.

Never Have Another Boring Bible Club

Yesterday afternoon while I was getting ready for Bible Club a girl came by and jokingly told me “Mr. John I’m sorry but your Bible Club is so boring!”  Though she was kiddding it still felt like somebody had punched me in the stomach.  She was probably a little serious because I have a teaching Bible Club (emphasizes explaining Scripture) instead of a fun Bible Club (that emphasizes giving things away).

My first Bible Club in Saint Vincent was a fun one because I needed to develop relationships with children…the result was seventeen kids on my front porch.  However 85% of them were just there for free things, and they weren’t listening to the lesson, so I changed to a teaching Bible Club philosophy.

The thing is a Teaching Bible Club doesn’t have to be boring.  You just need to have a schedule in place that moves very quickly

I’ve learned to make my teaching Bible Club move quickly by instituting the three to five rule:  Other than the beginning game and Bible lesson, everything should be less than five-minutes.  We often don’t meet this rule exactly but having it in my mind makes me move quickly from one part of Bible Club to the next, proving that it won’t be boring.

For instance take my normal schedule:

  1. Children who come early are given one life on a tablet game
  2. If there is still time before Bible Club starts they can look through a teaching book, or story cards
  3. Every child is told the amount of good marks they have on the “tick sheet” when they enter and can check other peoples names
  4. Bible Club begins with prayer and a brief game (nothing too active)
  5. Everyone is reminded of the Bible Club rules (Sit Up, Listen Up, Hand Up, Look Up) and told two people will be given extra tablet time
  6. We follow with a Bible-Based song the kids like (they seem to prefer “Countdown”)
  7. Next we sing a fun song like “read your Bible pray every day”
  8. Review that weeks memory verse-first three children to say it get good ticks
  9. Read the Bible Story (I always use the “Jesus Storybook Bible” making sure to hold the book in front of me so kids can see the pictures, and read the words upside down)
  10. Review Questions asked directly to children who have been listening and obeying
  11. Closing Song
  12. Tablet time given out to two children, and giving of ticks to best behaved kids

If we don’t experience many interruptions or “drama” it’s possible to finish Bible Club in about twenty-minutes, definitely not boring!

I’m always looking for more tools so what games, songs, books, or websites have you found that helps teach children the Gospel?