The Great Investment


What I’m currently reading


Rooting for rivals: How collaboration and generosity increase the impact of leaders, charities, and churches

by Peter Greer, Chris Horst, and Jill Heisey


Start with why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action

by Simon Sinek


Team of teams: New rules of engagement for a complex world

by Stanley McChrystal

President's Desk

By Marvin Lorenzana

1 John 2:6 says, “Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” If we are to take this Scripture seriously, we better pay attention to how Jesus walked amongst us. Author and Jesus movement practitioner Mike Breen, in his book Building a discipling culture, tells us that Jesus lived His life paying attention to three important dimensions or relationships: up with the Father; in with His own disciples; and out with the world surrounding Him. The “up” relationship is based on the Great Commandment found in Matthew 22:36–40. I call the “in” relationship “the great investment” and is also found in the same passage. Simply put, because we love God we also love our neighbor. We love our neighbor enough to invite him or her to follow Jesus with us (discipleship). The “out” dimension is based on the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:16–20. The following graphic represents how these three dimensions interact with one another in the form of a triangle:

In the Gospel of Luke we find a narrative of a single day in the life of Jesus that clearly illustrates these three dimensions:

One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all. — Luke 6:12–19

We can clearly see the “up,” “in,” and “out” in this single passage taken from Luke. Here we read that “Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray” to the Father — this is His “up” relationship. Then we read, “When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles.” Out of a great crowd waiting for Him, Jesus chose twelve men with whom He was willing to do life. Jesus invested everything he had in them! This is, of course, Jesus’ “in” relationship. Finally, we hear that when they all came down the mountain, “A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people … to hear him and to be healed.” Jesus not only prioritized His “up” time and His “in” time, but He also invited His disciples to go “out” with Him to the mission fields. This is Jesus’ “out” relationship.  

Even when these three relationships are central to what it means to be a faithful, obedient disciple of Jesus in today’s reality, I would like to briefly focus my comments on the “in” relationship. As Breen would say, “Disciples are the only thing that Jesus cares about, and it’s the only number that Jesus is counting. Not our attendance or budgets or buildings. He wants to know if we are ‘making disciples.’” In his book, Oikonomics: How to invest in life’s five capitals the way that Jesus did, Breen and Ben Sternke write about how to invest five capitals into the lives of those we are discipling. These five types of capital are:

Spiritual capital

Relational capital

Physical capital

Intellectual capital

Financial capital

As we follow Jesus in His mission, we notice at least five forms of capital He is willing to invest in others. Capital, of course, refers to the goods or assets we have in our possession that we can invest. These capitals have been listed in order of priority, from most important to least important. This means that money, as necessary as it might be, is not the most important capital we could invest in the people we are discipling.  

I tend to call one-on-one discipleship “the Great Investment” simply because, as we walk with people as part of their spiritual journey, we should be willing to invest everything we have into them (Just like Jesus did with his own disciples!) Beginning with our spiritual capital, we should be willing to invest everything else in those who might, in time, change the world. I strongly believe that Jesus’ whole mission was to help people prosper spiritually in order to also prosper in all other areas of their lives. In fact, if our spirits are in alignment with God’s Spirit, all other areas of our lives should be well.

Finally, the “in” relationship called Jesus to identify, name, and call to Himself those who God had given Him for discipleship purposes. As we read in Mark 3:14, “He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach.”  Therefore, if Jesus is indeed the model to follow — which He is — we also need to identify, name and call those who the Father has put in our way as part of our own discipleship journey. 

One-on-one discipleship is the way of the kingdom and there is no substitute for it. 


Marvin Lorenzana serves as president of EMM.

Finding the truth seekers

by Andre Provost

Resting in bed at my daughter’s house, recuperating from my Urolift procedure, I decided to watch my favorite missionary film, Hudson Taylor. In one scene, a recent Chinese convert addressed Hudson with deep sincerity, “For many years I have sought the truth, as did my fathers before me. But only here, in the words you have spoken, has peace come to my heart. Is the gospel doing well in your country?”

“It is sir,” replied Hudson.

“How long has the gospel been known to the people of your land?”

“Hundreds of years, Mr. Nu.”

“You have had the truth so long, and why only now you come to tell us?” Hudson Taylor felt ashamed and was left speechless.

As I contemplated this scene, tears came to my eyes. Like Mr. Nu, I too do not understand. I ask myself, “Why, within 30 minutes from our home in northeast Thailand are there 227,000 villagers who have never heard the gospel?”

Like Hudson, I encountered a truth seeker 23 years ago. I remember finding Mr. Somjai (Joi). Surprisingly, I did not find him in a city or even a large town. I found him in one of the smallest  and most secluded villages in our area. He was a rice farmer with a fourth-grade education. Now, Joi is the chairman of a fellowship of house churches spreading throughout eight districts covering an area half the size of Connecticut, four percent of northeast Thailand.

I am convinced that there are other Isan truth seekers, like Joi, in other areas of northeast Thailand just waiting to be found. It is for this reason, Karen and I relocated to a new unreached area in 2019. Due to covid restrictions, the work has not moved as fast as we would have liked. Now, we are acutely aware that our candle is getting shorter. We want to leave a legacy of a new generation of missionaries who will find and raise up Isan truth seekers who reproduce and plant churches in the villages around them.

Like Hudson, we too are unsatisfied working where the church is established while knowing that truth seekers in remote villages, where the gospel has not been preached, are waiting to be found. Hudson made a plea for like-minded children of God to come and assist. We too, 150 years later, are making that same plea. We are in search of likeminded Christ-followers who are willing to leave home and security to move and live among the 18 million Isan people of northeast Thailand and join us in the task of finding Isan truth seekers, training them up to carry the message and to plant churches throughout the villages around them. 

The type of Christian workers we want to train need to be like scaffolding. When the truth seeker is found, trained up, and reproducing, the missionary like scaffolding moves to a new location. We are looking for singles, married couples, or families who are willing to be trained and become part of an apostolic team. We will train those who join us in finding truth seekers, leading them to Christ, training them to reach their own, training them to lead a house church, and training them to raise up new leaders. This can take three to five years for each seeker. Then the team is to pick up and move to new unreached areas. If you or someone you know has any interest in this type of mission work, please contact us.

The harvest is ripe and truth seekers are waiting. How long has the gospel been known to the people of your land? How many more generations do these truth seekers have to wait before someone comes to share the gospel with them?

The simple truth is this, life is full of “the unexpected.” Being connected with other people is and always will be inconvenient — and it is precisely this inconvenience that is so critical for our spiritual formation.


Mentoring: concept vs. experience

by Eric*

I get excited when I hear the word “mentoring” in a discipleship context. I desire human relationships that simultaneously empower and encourage both individuals. Mentoring has formation/transformation as its goal, and that is worth being excited about. However, my experiences with mentoring have often left me feeling less than satisfied with what I find conceptually to be such a positive and powerful idea. The disconnect for me between the goals of mentoring and the actual outcomes of mentoring — which can be discouraging — has sometimes left me thinking, “What’s the point?” 

It is clear that mentoring is very much a part of the kingdom of God. There are numerous examples in scripture: Elijah and Elisha, Moses and Joshua, Paul and Timothy, and perhaps the greatest example is Jesus and the Twelve. Jesus speaks directly about the importance of relationships in the kingdom when He answers the question about the greatest commandment. First, love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. And second, love your neighbor as yourself. 

So, if mentoring is something that we see Jesus modeling and indeed prioritizing, then there must be something missing or incomplete in my experience. Maybe it is because mentoring has become a compartmentalized idea with a specific end and parameters: “When my mentoring hour is over for the week, I’ll return to the rest of life.” That understanding of mentoring is too shallow, and can even make everyday relationships feel burdensome or overwhelming. Perhaps “mentoring” is something that is actually supposed to form the foundation of our interactions. Every relationship that we have is both formative and transformative. 

Two years ago, my family and I moved to a city in Germany, where we have been living and working since. As we have settled into our lives here and began the process of learning German, my role in our church community revolved mostly around helping people with physical tasks: moving, airport runs, installing kitchens, fixing toilets, etc. In all honesty, these menial tasks have not always come at convenient times. Even more so, it has been a challenge for me to see these interactions as a form of mentoring. Drinking tea with the people I’ve helped has led to meaningful conversations, but my compartmentalized mind doesn’t count that as “mentoring.”  And yet, those kinds of interactions with mature Christians in my own life have been the most formative.  

My parents modeled this very practical way of mentoring in my early life. They were quick to help others and welcome unexpected visitors into our home. Now, as a father myself, I more clearly realize how much their example of caring for and mentoring others impacted me and my siblings … how much their willingness to be inconvenienced taught us and formed us. 

My youth leaders were always willing to welcome me into their home even at inconvenient times. I had many meaningful conversations with them that shaped me in important ways. I’ve experienced countless examples of this form of mentoring at our home church, West End Mennonite Fellowship, from the leadership team to peers who constantly allowed themselves to be inconvenienced for the sake of me and others. For these and countless other examples, both in my present life and throughout my personal history, am I grateful because they remind me that perfection and advanced theological study are not prerequisites for faithfully pursuing the call to “go and make disciples.”

The simple truth is this, life is full of “the unexpected.” Being connected with other people is and always will be inconvenient — and it is precisely this inconvenience that is so critical for our spiritual formation. It reminds us of the truth, that being sons and daughters isn’t actually about doing work, proving our worth, or showing the results of our efforts. Rather, being sons and daughters in Christ is simply a state of being — being in relationship with God, in whose image we’ve been created. However, this state of being does not leave us without responsibility. Being a beloved child of God means that we have a responsibility to relationally invest in others to help them grow and to allow others into our lives to help us grow.

So at the end of all of this, what do I do? How do I reconcile my experience with the concept of mentoring? For me, the best place to start is by naming it. Maybe you’re in a similar place. If so, join me in naming this temptation to view human relationships only as a means to an end, rather than the very thing that perhaps forms the basis of God’s kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven. Then, take it a step further by asking God how he might be calling you to live a life inconvenienced by the call of Christ to transformative, sacrificial love.

It is not my work

by Michael Clancy

A long time ago, while I was still working as the aftercare supervisor for Jubilee Ministries, the Holy Spirit revealed to me that my calling was not going to be easy. It took many years of trial and tribulation to accept that and settle into this calling. 

What does it take to walk side-by-side with so many people who seem to fade away back into addictions? How much can the human heart invest into another’s life before wanting to call it quits? 

In the past, I would wrestle with God. My desire is for people to confess Jesus as Lord and never fall away again. But that just isn’t the case for so many. It seemed like I would invest my time, talent, and resourcing over and over again only to watch someone make another bad decision.

After years of being confused, I became bitter, angry, and resentful toward addictions, God, and systems. I was oppressed on many levels. I remember my counselor at Jubilee Ministries would always find ways to get me to look at my own sinful heart, to see how I am only responsible for my response toward God and others. He reminded me that one of Jesus’s names is “Jehovah Tsidkenu,” which means The Lord, Our Righteousness.”

 It was His righteousness, never my own.

My counselor would ask me if my response demonstrated my trust toward God or myself. Ouch! It was often myself — I needed to repent and believe that God was the one on the Throne. This has become a building block for how I do ministry today, but it came only after years of God teaching me this lesson.

You see, freedom for me came through an ongoing relationship with Jesus through the Word of God. What God showed me was the good news of Jesus.

Jesus ultimately trusted His Father, which caused him to be willing to lay down His life for me, a worthless sinner. If Jesus, the name above all names, the one having all authority, is willing to submit to the Father, who am I not to do the same? Who am I not to trust God solely? Now, I can see opportunities to bless regardless of others, regardless of their responses. It is not about me — it’s about Jesus. That’s the gospel: what I could never do, Jesus did. “The Lord, Our Righteousness.”

As I reflect on the many discipleship relationships that I have had over my 18 years of ministry, I am reminded that it is not my work, but it belongs to God through the Holy Spirit because of His finished work of Christ. 

I am only called to spill water on people’s feet. In this call of walking alongside others, it appeared at times to be fruitless. But like Jesus, I can press onward. When so many fall back into addictions or a lifestyle far removed from God, I can press forward with hope knowing that Christ is at work. The freedom to continue walking  with others regardless of failure is believing that what God has done and is continually doing in my life, He can and will do in others. It’s His will, not mine. And because I believe this, I can move forward! 

So, when a man I have been discipling for some time relapses and calls me to curse me out for trying to help him, I don’t grow bitter, angry, or resentful. It is not my work but God’s work. I know that God has hope and a future for this man. But that hope is not mine to give — it’s God’s hope to give. And it’s His to give when He desires.

Live out your calling

Explore passions and gifts God has given you


Several weeks in the summer
Adults 18+/families

A mission exposure program, with opportunities locally and overseas. Get two weeks of discipleship training in Lancaster, Pa., before heading to an outreach location for six weeks. Finish with a week of re-entry training to process your experience and help you put down roots for a continued deeper life with Jesus. 

Community worker | Queens, N.Y.
Assist and/or direct community summer programs at Immanuel Community Church (ICC) and Murray Hill Neighborhood Association (MHNA) in New York City, including VBS, daily enrichment, and tutoring programs for children. Disciple youth and expand/develop a computer lab and ESL programs. Assist with a food pantry, clothing ministry, and prayer station outreaches.

Kingdom Team summer staff | Lancaster, Pa.
Disciple youth groups by leading one-week Kingdom Teams. Assist in leading sessions and service opportunities; engage meaningfully with both youth groups and at-risk children. Assignment lasts two months.

Kingdom Teams

One week in the summer
Middle and high school youth groups

Kingdom Teams pair church youth groups with children, youth, and families. Serve and begin building cross-cultural relationships!

Lancaster, Pa.
Serve refugees and immigrants in Lancaster alongside local community partners involved with the large refugee population. In collaboration with various community groups, work with newly arrived refugee youth in a summer school program, helping them practice their English skills and gain confidence in relating to others.

Lebanon, Pa.
Serve community children in Lebanon alongside local churches and community partners involved with providing community children with fun, enrichment activities throughout the summer.  In collaboration with various community groups, share the love of Christ with children in the city of Lebanon by helping to plan and lead activities at a summer day camp in a local park.

Phenix City, Ala.
Serve low income families in Phenix City’s Five Points community alongside Village Church, who is immersed and active in reviving this low income population. In collaboration with Village Church members and local community development groups, work with at risk children and youth in a summer feeding and education program by providing meals, mentoring, and activities to help them find hope in their present circumstances and for their futures. 


2 to 18 months | Adults 18+ 

Enter a cross-cultural environment and serve alongside a long-term missionary. Gain skills that will launch you into a lifetime of ministry, wherever God calls you!

Going Public internship | Wales, U.K.
Participate in a Going Public internship, in partnership with Glenwood Church, for up to 10 months in the multicultural Welsh capital city of Cardiff. Areas of service include youth or children’s work, community work, social action, teaching and facilitating, sports ministry, or creative arts. Preferred deadline for applications is March 1 each year.

Child care assistant | Thailand
Assist with home schooling and have a front-seat experience of a pioneering cross-cultural mission.

Discipleship intern with VidaNet | Heredia, Costa Rica
Join a 10-month international discipleship school called Vida220 that challenges young adults to experience growth as disciples of Jesus as well as servanthood in the church and beyond. Engage in intense training, practical ministry experiences, and leadership opportunities.


9 months | Young adults 18–35

Advance offers an opportunity to connect and grow with other young adults in a learning cohort while participating in cross-cultural community outreach in one of five U.S. cities in the Northeast.

Baltimore, Md. | Lancaster City, Pa. | Lebanon City, Pa. | New York City | Washington, D.C.
Advance runs from September through May. It begins with a week of discipleship training in a community setting with other young adults. Each individual will be connected to a ministry or non-profit that fits their personal interests and gifts in which they will serve in an intern-like capacity to engage and learn through practical, hands-on experience, as well as receiving one-on-one mentoring and discipleship. Each month, participants will regroup for a day of discipleship training and community building, to discuss learnings and how to put things into practice in outreach. The program concludes with an extended time of debriefing for the cohort.


2 years or more | Adults 20+/families

Long-term international workers engage with and witness to new groups of people, equip those people to disciple others, and mobilize partners for the mission of spreading God’s kingdom.

Church planter/discipleship |
Asia, Europe, and West Africa

Do you love the adventure of sharing Christ cross-culturally? Long to make disciples among the least-reached peoples of the world? Want a front row seat to the Holy Spirit igniting a people movement that is contextualized, sustainable, and empowers local leadership?

Executive director of operations | Southeast Asia
Seeking an executive director of operations for a B4T (Business for Transformation) that is fully integrated in manufacturing, production, quality, sales and marketing. The director has direct reports who are managers from all the departments of a diverse and dynamic staff.

Camp developer | Chile
You could work with the EMM team and a local Chilean couple to develop a Christian retreat center/camp on a beautiful island property near Puerto Montt. This position is ideal for those with skills in design and creativity, construction, and/or gardening, and upkeep.

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