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Fundamentals of the Navigator Ministry

Summary: The Fundamentals of Ministry (FOM) served as the basic guide to the scope and direction of our ministry for a decade, starting in 1978, though changing contexts tended to dilute its influence towards the end of this period. It was and is a remarkably lucid exposition of the particular path along which the Spirit was leading us. Eventually, it was succeeded by the emerging study process which we called the Scriptural Roots of our Ministry.


Context of FOM Development
History of FOM
Origin of FOM
Perspectives of Leading Strategists
Philosophy of Ministry Consultation
Purposes of FOM
FOM and God’s Kingdom
Outline of FOM
Assessments of FOM

Context of FOM Development

Several factors coalesced to persuade Lorne Sanny in the early 1970s of the need to clarify our fundamentals. As regards his own outlook:

  • A strong drive to focus, define, clarify
  • A commitment to rooting our work in the Scriptures and God’s promises
  • Our need for a viable strategy for the nations

It is also true that, in the early 1970s, Sanny struggled to weld together his team. In fact, he felt that he never succeeded in this. Why not? First, the three main field leaders in the US had different philosophies of ministry. In simplistic and perhaps unfair terms, their biases were: Leroy Eims (evangelizing); Skip Gray (recruiting); Jack Mayhall (training). Then, added to the mix was Waldron Scott who saw our progress as lacking in commitment and cross-cultural energy. Also influential was Walt Henrichsen whose loyalty to Sanny was strong but whose theological approach was somewhat fixed. Doug Sparks was at that time the senior overseas leader, based in London.

Most of the emergent “para-church” movements were still led by their founders or, at any rate, personality-driven.1 This was not Sanny’s style.

Jim Petersen had deliberately kept his distance from any potential maneuvering at headquarters, but represented another and very different style of ministry. Jim Downing, meanwhile, was a steadying influence without a body of field staff for whom to advocate.

Ministry momentum had built during the 1960s, so that our staff generally assumed they knew what Navigators do and they were doing it. Yet diversity, or rather divergence, was increasing. This surfaced especially when new missionaries were requested. Were the sending and receiving supervisors compatible? Would they be led by leaders who espoused similar views?

Two other influences fed into the mix: the attractiveness of Management by Objectives (MBO) (at least to Sanny) as a focusing mechanism, and the turbulence created by Waldron Scott’s “Strategy for the 70s.”

Lastly, we were living through the emergence of the community ministry, for which there was as yet no template or settled philosophy.2

Looking back on those years, we might have enjoyed more stability if the FOM had come to birth before the “Strategy for the 70s,” if our aim had been clear before we made plans to implement it. As Jim Petersen said later, “It is difficult to agree on a strategy, that is, how to get from here to there, when one’s understanding of his destination is unclear.”3

In any case, the pressure to align ourselves was becoming intense, at least among our senior leaders. When the divisional directors met with Sanny in April 1975, in England, his primary objective was “to clarify, communicate, and maintain the purpose of the Navigators.” And, during the coming year, he would “review, revise and communicate our philosophy of ministry.” It was to take much longer!

Among the several planning approaches submitted, the premier one was that “you have planned when there exists a clear statement of objectives and a workable program for their accomplishment.” It was gratifying to read that “the top leaders of The Navigators agreed to function as a global team, sharing resources of men and money guided by global priorities and strategic needs . . . and that this required an International HQ as a focal point of global perspective.”4

Considerable attention was given to the process of planning, not least because Sanny had recently profited from participating in sessions of The Presidents Association, whose work he presented.5

History of the Fundamentals of the Navigator Ministry (FOM)

And so, we come to the genesis of what came to be known as the Fundamentals of the Navigator Ministry (FOM). It would prove to be a crucial tool for reviewing, revising and communicating our philosophy of ministry, as intended above.

Sanny asked Petersen to assist him in researching and preparing such a “philosophy.” Every organization has a philosophy or what might today be called a collective worldview, even though it is usually not articulated. So, Petersen set about interviewing Navigators of every stripe from around the world, in order to distill a list of issues facing us. There were some surprises. For example, “We were suffering from an identity crisis. Some of our staff weren’t sure we were legitimate. We were also unclear on what we meant by multiplication.”6

Waldron Scott was one of those who corresponded at length with Petersen. His critique was two-fold: “We are preoccupied with disciple-making as an activity rather than accomplishing the Great Commission as an objective,” and, “We must make plans and develop strategies in concert with the rest of the Body of Christ.” He also wrote several papers7 of which the most noticed among Nav leaders was entitled “The Navigators and the Church Growth Movement,” starting from his perspective to call the Navs back to some of their earlier commitment.

Although Scott felt that only a few Navigators were eager to receive what he was learning at the SWM, Dr. Ralph Winter was invited to present a seminar at the gathering of our International Leadership Team in December 1975. The team allotted two days for Dr. Winter to cover the following rather heavy portfolio of subjects:8

  • Modalities and Sodalities
  • Use of Money in Business
  • The Concept of the Church
  • Cross-Cultural Missions
  • NT Patterns & Structures
  • The Size of the Task
  • The History of Sodalities
  • Education & Training
  • The Church Growth Emphasis
  • His View of Scripture

Dr. Winter’s analysis “was greatly appreciated, especially in relation to the importance of sodalities—as legitimate and necessary—and to the historical perspective which we gained.” It was agreed that a similar seminar should precede the December 1976 ILT conference.

Original Objective of the FOM

The original objective of the FOM was “to affirm the basic principles or universals which we have used in our ministry, with the view to understanding, teaching and applying them.”

This objective came into focus because, during the preceding years, we had tended to move directly from our Aim to our strategy, without reaching a consensus on the content of our ministry philosophy. Thus, there arose a desire to find the irreducible trans-cultural minima in our grassroots ministry.

Petersen recounts that he learned a lot from working closely with Sanny on the project.9 He first carried out a series of biblical word and concept studies, as the foundation for a number of papers. The research included three field exercises:

  • Study on our Ultimate Character, with c. seventy-five contributors
  • Interviews, with c. seventy-five staff
  • Study on Laboring, with c. three hundred respondents

The study on laboring, carried out by Raja Tanas in 1975, demonstrated that continuing to labor correlated strongly with still participating in a Nav ministry. However, we were measuring a sample that was not random, but skewed to those most likely to be doing what we hoped they were doing! Three hundred names were interviewed out of 2,500 names provided by our regional directors. The conclusion, was that laborers do not continue to labor consistently once they are disconnected from a Nav ministry context.10

At the beginning of 1975, we find Petersen jotting down some assumptions that he saw as faulty, to which many of us had been vulnerable:

  • A Nav-trained man can do almost anything: “a Rep is a Rep is a Rep”
  • In the wake of producing Reps we will have a broader impact
  • Training that produces a good Rep will also produce a good lay laborer
  • The key to movement is the thorough training of those Reps who comprise our
  • Pressure is good

Perspectives of Leading Strategists

In and around this period, three of our leading strategists borrowed the term “syllogism”11 to articulate what we later called our “if–then” statements. Clearly, we used the concept rather loosely. Thus:

Sanny (c. 1962, eight points): “Our goal is to penetrate every layer of society with the Gospel; a team must be developed; an inside man is found; a strategy is planned; the world is eventually penetrated through multiplying bands of dedicated men.”

Sanny (c. 1975, ten points): “Disciples are our business; made by disciple-makers; emerging through multiplication; requires LDMs/movers; some LDMs should be Reps; therefore, the key to wider impact is Rep-making.”

Petersen (1974, ten points): “We are called to disciple the unreconciled; disciples are made in the context of a disciple-making vehicle; the key to this is the lay disciple-maker; disciple-making ministries need apostolic influence; Nav ministry teams should consist basically of apostle-types; in this way, training and organizing Nav staff serves to spawn the movement of disciple-making.

Henrichsen (1973, eight points): “The goal of The Navigators is to raise up laborers in every nation; we will operate in the most productive manpower pools; such pools will be uniform in each nation so that people can be trained for the job they have to do when they are sent to another nation; we will decide on countries to enter on the basis of maximum production of men and money and the racial-ethnic mix; a world strategy is devised by blending the predictions with the requests; ideally by 1980 our staff will be a microcosm of the world’s population.”

Philosophy of Ministry Consultation

A philosophy of ministry consultation12 lasting twelve days was held in Colorado Springs in August 1975, in order that a diverse group of field leaders who had digested Petersen’s research could explore two major issues: what should be the aim of The Navigators and what are the irreducible minima for this to be accomplished? Clearly, the aim was still evolving. This group, perhaps showing the weakness of a committee draft, expressed it as: “The primary aim of The Navigators is to help fulfill Christ’s Great Commission by multiplying functioning disciples, by developing disciple-making ministries, and training spiritual leadership in all the world.”

These leaders agreed that the focus of the aim is people, not ministries, disciples of Christ who continue to grow in maturity and function in their roles in the Body, as regards disciple-making. This involves being in a disciple-making ministry, be it of only two or three persons who, working together, have the gifts necessary to bring other disciples into being. It is good to see this reference to gifts.

The following month, Sanny told his staff that: “Through fresh studies of the kingship of God and of his agency on earth today – the body of Christ – I am more settled than ever that there is ample biblical precedent for our existence as a fellowship of specialists. This is a work God has raised up, not man.”

After reviewing the several terms that we had used across the years, he added that “the prime contribution of The Navigators is a disciple who is functioning to the limit of his capacity, being the best he can be for Jesus’s sake.”13

This is the period in which the kingdom of God begins to attract more attention. That it had not done so hitherto is shown by Sanny’s advice to the ILT: “If you want a good one-chapter summary on the kingdom, I don’t think you could do better than the first chapter of John Stott’s book, Basic Introduction to the New Testament. For me at least, it says it all and says it succinctly.”14

Purposes of FOM Project

By 1976, the team was eager to push forward into our “philosophy of ministry.”

Several elements of the “Strategy for the 70s” had been eclipsed, either by resistance from some of the divisional directors or because the question of the nature of the Nav ministry was increasingly seen as more urgent than pressure to resource that ministry. Thus, for example, the country rating scale was “fading into the shadows without being formally canceled.”15

The emerging consensus was for a turn to the deeper question of our identity and calling.

Petersen had prepared extensively, at Sanny’s request, for an ILT discussion in March 1976 in Hawaii. As Sanny expressed it:

We need top-level agreement on some very significant issues. First, the position we should take on the Church and The Navigators. Secondly, and even more important, the Aim of The Navigators. Thirdly, goal setting as it relates to our functions, which naturally leads into the fourth, the basis of evaluating our progress.16

The discussion was extensive. At that time, Sanny identified five purposes17 for the FOM project:

1. To re-establish from Scripture the basis for our legitimacy and identity and how we relate to the Body of Christ.
Purpose: To minister to our uncertainties in this area.

2. To redefine our Aim and primary means of accomplishing it.
Purpose: To give a clear trumpet sound as to where we are going, why and how.

3. To identify trans-cultural minima in our grassroots ministry: functions, forms, methods, basic beliefs.
Purpose: To make us more effective.

4. To re-delineate the boundaries or limits of our ministry.
Purpose: To stay within our calling and to allow for maximum creativity.

5. To implement these insights into our P.O.L.E.18 “system.”
Purpose: To smooth out kinks and make our organization a truly “enabling relationship.”

The ILT (Divisional Directors) spent five days working through a first draft of the FOM text which Petersen had structured in eleven broad segments:

  • The Kingdom
  • Our Aim & Means
  • The Church
  • Irreducible Modes
  • Our Legitimacy
  • Our Distinctives
  • Our Identity
  • Our Profiles
  • Options for our Fruit
  • Planning & Evaluation
  • Implementation

We concluded that our aim was to multiply functioning disciples,19 by means of disciple-makers and disciple-making ministries.

What, we asked one another, might our draft conclusions imply? We could at least foresee the following tendencies in the years ahead:

  • More continuity and permanence in ministry
  • Less mobile . . . fewer available missionaries
  • Stronger bias to community ministries
  • Stress on performing (function) as against qualifying
  • Need for leaders capable of multi-faceted operations
  • Restructuring of requisites for Reps—mobile vs. local
  • Positive effect on raising finances

The first three of the above tendencies were underlined in US Director Skip Gray’s concerns expressed after the meeting:

By the beginning of the 1980s, the most preponderant single phase of the US work will be the community ministry. By definition, this is essentially modal. Our newly revised Aim is specifically designed to accommodate and minister to the body . . . (thus) the modal mindset of the next generation of US staff is virtually assured . . . since ‘money follows ministry,’ the more money we need, the more quickly we will continue to align our aim and practices to interface . . . to the modal structures now in existence, that is, local churches.

This trend, Gray foresaw, would bring us to a modally-oriented reappraisal of our identity.20

Sanny explained to our staff that “by multiplying, we mean increasing greatly the number of Christ’s disciples.” What about the word “function”? By this, he wrote, “we mean followers of Jesus Christ who are identified with Him, continuing in His Word, manifesting the fruit of the Spirit, actively seeking to influence others for Christ and who are fulfilling their particular service in His Body.” He added:

To function means to be doing that for which one exists and is specially fitted. That is why we included the phrase ‘fulfill their particular service in His Body.’” Functioning disciples, in this sense, are essentially what I have visualized for many years as the primary contribution of The Navigators. I have usually said, ‘Laborers of many kinds,’ but the term functioning disciples expresses what I had in mind, so I like it.

Functioning disciples are the end product of our specialized work of equipping the saints for the work of the ministry. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines equipping as ‘to make one what he ought to be.’

A functioning disciple is a basic disciple who is also functioning—somewhere in the Body—according to his special interests and his possible or known spiritual gift.

This is in line with God’s purposes for specialized ministries such as ours, to equip the saints for their ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12). It also lines up so well with the promises God has given me over the years, so I like it. It also commits us to help a person find his place of service so he is ‘plugged in’ somewhere in the Body, whether that is with The Navigators or elsewhere.

The means by which we trust to accomplish this Aim is that of ‘disciple-makers and disciple making ministries.’

The ILT in Hawaii had also included discussion of the rationale for evaluation. Some points:

  • Activity is no substitute for action.
  • Major on (generate) causes but measure (report) consequences.
  • Emphasize trends after the event, not targets.
  • Evaluation can best be done face-to-face.
  • Comparisons, in order to build, are not necessarily bad: 2 Corinthians 8:8.
  • Train leaders to evaluate more comprehensively.

There are some opposing currents of opinion visible in the above. The consensus, however, was that ministry items that are globally evaluated by the ILT should be few, transcultural and strategically related to our Aim. We had concerns about the misuse of evaluation.21 So, we agreed to guard against sacrificing our long-range aims for visible short-term successes: an investment stage precedes the production stage. Leaders must serve and be involved in the ministry, not merely visit to check out performance.22

Sanny commented in November 1976 that three hundred reps—called, trained, dedicated, disciplined—could well be the future foundations of our ministry. Doubtless, he was influenced by the story of Gideon’s three hundred warriors (Judges 7). At that time, in speaking of an elite corps, some of us were also influenced by the Jesuit model.

During the ensuing months, the debate over what and how to evaluate heated up. When we next gathered, in December 1976, a selection of the points made included:

  • The almost universal tendency for forecasts built up from grassroots sources to be unduly optimistic.
  • Measurable objectives are needed, in spite of an increasing disrespect for anything concrete.
  • We must call our staff to account: multiplying is a tangible process.
  • We were concerned by the marked slackening of disciple-maker production since 1973.

At the time, one of the variables we were collecting annually was the Basic Work Force (BWF) defined as the sum of “all disciple-makers, including staff, actively involved in the Navigator disciple-making ministry.” The divisional directors admitted that our true BWF included certain disciples and excluded certain staff—and often operated in the context of a group. The absence of projections and names, as well as growing complexity and internal tensions in our work, made the BWF a slippery concept. By the time that the second edition of the FOM was distributed, in 1982, the concept had been dropped.

It has to be said that, because of the differing strands of opinion among the divisional directors and especially because of Sanny’s meticulous reworking of the Aim, the FOM had not yet arrived at the simplicity which is said to lie beyond complexity! For example, the December 1976 Aim23 became:

“To Help Fulfill Christ’s Great Commission by Means of Multiplying Disciple-Makers and Disciple-Making Ministries Resulting in Disciples in Every Nation.”

Sanny declared to his divisional directors in December 197624 that:

I cannot myself be responsible for the tone, image, and forms of the Navigator ministry. . . . It is impossible to be a global team without something similar to an ILT. If we continue as a global team, the ILT needs to be strengthened significantly. . . . We are being forced to decentralize. What does the ILT lead? Answer: the Nav organization. We can hold together the three hundred Reps, but we cannot hold the thirty countries. I want gifted, called, dedicated, disciplined, trained conceptual men who can see the difference between modal and sodal, who know how to relate to the church, who must be mobile. They are my prime target. How should they lead? By prayer, teaching, example, and discipline.

In the same discussion, the divisional directors agreed that the ILT should contain our chief influencers who would “agree together and teach separately” (Sanny), and “evaluate as a body and act individually” (Mayhall).

Though the divisional directors were better aligned, challenges persisted. As Sanny then said, “Recently we have gone a long way towards letting the three hundred influence everything, such as the FOM. How can one give a clear trumpet sound when you allow everybody to influence it?”25

The Primary Aim and Benefits of the FOM Project

In fact, the FOM project was the most extensive exercise in ongoing staff involvement that we had ever attempted. Opinions were many and vigorous. Four months later, when the ILT met in Germany, we had reverted from “multiplying disciple-makers” to “the reproducing of disciple-makers,” an echo of the early 1960s. Still in the notes we also introduced the concept of a serving disciple! We ended our April 1977 deliberations with definitions of basic disciple, disciple-maker, reproducer, disciple-making ministry and with the concept that serving disciples are the key to equipping. More integration was needed! The draft definitions and profiles would not yet be distributed to our staff.

The above paragraphs convey a sense that we were evolving in our approach to management—shifting towards leadership, yet still committed to annual statistical reviews26 as a vital means (not necessarily the best) of comprehending our progress in each country. At the same time, we were steering a complex process called the Framework for Allocations27 which focused on where to send new missionaries, and were seeing the start of a decline in our net missionary sending.28 Sanny decided that we would not enter any more countries until we had largely resolved our current leadership shortage.

When the ILT next met, in December 1977, Petersen and Sanny had “tamed” the FOM and put forward our primary Aim as, “To help fulfill Christ’s great commission by multiplying laborers in every nation.” This was well received. It was welcomed to such an extent that the residual steps in finalizing the text were largely editorial. We agreed that we wanted to keep the material in the form of a seminar, which would be taught interactively by Sanny. At last we could come together in the expectation of a “final” seminar for approval at the April 1978 ILT conference. This took place and some 550 typeset copies were distributed to our staff during the year.

Sanny made it clear that, as he traveled to teach the seminar, he wanted to be alert to the views of our field staff29 and he did anticipate that a second and final edition would be produced in the early 1980s. Sanny, for the benefit of those on his team, shared his perception of what we had learned from the construction and eventual acceptance of the FOM.30 What were some of the benefits:

  • Defining the term “community,” thus setting some guidelines and boundaries for this ministry.
  • Growing into the community ministry in a planned and orderly manner, rather than by gradual “drift.”
  • A fresh emphasis, especially in the US, on the necessity of relating our fruit effectively into local congregations.
  • Our future leadership needs, implying effective training of the coming generations.
  • Distinguishing principles that transfer cross-culturally from methods which usually do not,
  • Challenging our staff to think deeply and biblically about the future of our calling.
  • The concept of a disciple-making ministry requires the pooling of gifts and abilities.

Underlying these particulars were some foundational markers that the FOM as a whole laid down:

  • The kingdom of God is our context.
  • We are legitimate and have been given a clear spiritual calling within the family of God.
  • Communicating concepts transculturally demands very careful preparation and ample interaction.

It had become clear that our middle leaders were mostly not used to the mode of dialogue: many preferred the simpler process of “passing down the orders.” It had added to the time required, but was to be of much future benefit. Indeed, it reminded us that, because successfully modifying patterns of thought and action internationally is a multi-year process, such changes should be few, tested, and of major importance.

FOM and God’s Kingdom

What distinguished edition 2 in 1982, the final form of the text, from edition 1 in 1978? Again, Sanny’s Introduction puts it best. The FOM “was assembled out of input from the staff and then resubmitted to them for revision. It has been dismantled and rebuilt block by block as it has been taken around the world. It remains a document under revision, subject to the modifications that will inevitably be made as we gain new insights into how to more effectively fulfill God’s purposes for us.” Nevertheless, it is reassuring that there were no philosophical changes of great importance between the two editions.

The text of the FOM starts with an exposition of the kingdom of God. This, in itself, sets us firmly in the overall flow of God’s reign and purposes. It drew attention to the kingdom as the starting point for our journey. Within the kingdom, the text then looks at churches and what it calls “specialized functions” such as The Navigators, within the family of God. Although the terms “modality” and “sodality” were in free circulation amongst many of our staff, we chose rather to illuminate how we differ from local churches as regards intent, function and form. We are a “specialized society,”31 existing as part of the whole and committed to building up the whole.

Outline of FOM Sections

The following provides a skeletal outline of the eight sections of the FOM:32

I. Our Identity: Our ministry begins with God – and we serve the king of an unshakable kingdom. The Body of Christ contains local congregations and specialized groups: the two differ in intent, function, and form. There is biblical precedent for both, as parts of the Church. The Navigators are part of God’s redemptive structure: a legitimate group with a limited function.

II. Our Calling: We are called both to be and to do, in a ministry of spiritual reproduction. Our aim is to help fulfill Christ’s Great Commission by multiplying laborers in every nation. Thus, our ministry is not simply disciple-making: it is multiplying the number of those who do the disciple-making.

III. Essentials of the Ministry: Three things are essential in pursuit of our Aim: evangelizing, establishing, and equipping.

IV. Basic Beliefs: Jesus Christ is the son of God and the Bible is the Word of God. From that foundation have grown four other basic beliefs to which also we assent as Navigators.

V. Forms: Our three essentials imply activity, and activity gives rise to forms. In our ministry, three forms of communication are large groups, small groups and one-to-one. Each has advantages. We seek forms and methods that are culturally relevant and spiritually functional. The disciple-making team is an important form.

VI. Application: The process of our ministry is of great importance, but the results of our ministry are also valuable. In this ministry, there are three general result areas: disciples, laborers and equippers.

VII. Relating: We are part of the Body of Christ . . . specialized but interdependent. We must work in concert with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Because of this, we have guidelines for how our staff and our fruit should relate to the rest of the Body.

VIII. Strategic Guidelines: Our Calling is limited, and we know what we will and will not do in pursuit of it.

Some noteworthy aspects of the text were:

  • Settling on the simple activity of multiplying laborers.33
  • Our intent was to greatly increase the number of those who disciple others, not merely those who are disciples (Section II).
  • The “Six Basic Beliefs”: These functioned as an updating of the Big Dipper illustration that Daws identified in 1948. More importantly, however, they stated our commitment to the deity of Christ and the authority of the Scriptures in a way which avoided drawing us into the arguments then raging among evangelicals around the term inerrancy.34 We were not theologians, but we depended absolutely on God and his Word (section IV).
  • We made clear that functions, such as evangelizing, always require forms . . . but that forms vary and develop according to cultures and circumstances. They can deteriorate. Freedom of form was liberating (section V).
  • We presented Navigator definitions of disciples, laborers, equippers with profiles of the flexible intermediate stages or progress indicators within each definition.

We also, for the first time, laid out what we would and would not do in pursuit of our Aim. Our Calling was limited, and as the apostle Paul wrote, we would not go beyond the limits of God’s calling to us (2 Corinthians 10:3). The most notable of the sphere of activities we affirmed was to major on young adults. These spheres were balanced by six practices that, as a society, we would not normally do: notably, plant churches, baptize, serve the Lord’s Supper, become a relief agency, take a political stand, speak in tongues at our meetings (section VIII).

Outcomes of the FOM

The FOM is written succinctly and with much clarity. It could be used—and often was—as an outline of notes for an expansive message or presentation.

It has been called an organizational manual. This is not strictly true. For example, it contains no organizational requisites such as those for Representatives. In fact, the term “staff” is almost only visible in section VII on relating, where it is usually balanced by the phrase “and the fruit of our ministry,” nor is there any structural or positional material.

Nevertheless, the FOM was designed as a direction-setter for our staff. As Sanny wrote in his Introduction, the FOM is the distilled essence of the Nav philosophy in seminar form.

The section on relating (for staff and the fruit of our ministry) had probably occasioned the most debate. It is an open issue to which we return, when the FOM has long been set aside. What kinds of communities should we develop, what should be our role in them, how can they best relate to what God has already planted in an area?

Some Assessments35 of the FOM

1. Jerry White makes the point that, though the FOM was not organizational, it did organize us in pursuit of ministry. No longer was it sufficient to tell our people, “just do what Navigators do.” The FOM presented a high view of the church which was not typical of our posture at that time.
2. The FOM addressed the process of ministry, which was good, However, the separate consequence was that there were added outcomes, measured by country, which were requested by the center.
3. Terry Taylor adds that in the US, the FOM gave us the freedom to debate issues, such as the role of women in ministry. It gave “everybody” a basic biblical training, and it brought Petersen’s influence to bear widely, as he worked on and taught the FOM alongside Sanny. All this was to the good.
4. Mutua Mahiaini comments that it gave us a common language and made our task clear. Later, one could say that we regressed, and we are now trying to work our way back into the full-orbed Nav ministry without being directive.
5. Jack Mayhall, on the other hand, recalls that he was never overly excited about the FOM. He did not feel we needed it and “I was so engrossed in other things that I didn’t quite understand it.” One should bear in mind, I suggest, that Jack was a skilled and organized trainer, so that his northern division was already running on straight tracks.
6. The FOM was most positively received in the UK. A side benefit is that such countries came to know Sanny better as he traveled and to sense a stronger partnership with the rest of The Navigators.
7. Mike Treneer also saw Sanny as a definer and clarifier. This was a major part of his legacy: laborers for the nations, rooted strongly in the Scriptures.

By Donald McGilchrist

6342 words

See also articles on:
Cross-cultural Missions
Scriptural Roots of Our Ministry
Global Planning: 1966 – 1975


  1. Jim Rayburn (Young Life), Bill Bright (Campus Crusade), John Alexander (IVF), Cameron Townsend (Wycliffe), Wess Stafford (Compassion).
  2. However, we should note that Skip Gray wrote an article on “Principles and Philosophy of the Ministry” (April 1971, eighteen pages) which is an excellent description of our US modus operandi before the emergence of the FOM. He outlines nine foundational aspects of our ministries in addition to the inheritance of all true believers through the centuries. He provides a flow chart of our “product-oriented” approach.
  3. Source: Petersen’s remarks at June 1986 installation of Jerry White.
  4. In this paragraph, quote 1 is from Sanny, April 1, 1975; quotes 2 and 3 from Mayhall, April 2, 1975.
  5. Planning by David Jaquith, eleven pages, included in the agenda papers for our April 1975 DDC.
  6. Petersen, loc cit.
  7. Scott had enrolled at Fuller Seminary’s School of World Mission in January 1974 as a “research associate” commuting from Colorado Springs. Source: Double Helix, page 629.
  8. Source: Minute 1.1 of December 1975 ILT conference.
  9. Petersen, loc cit. “The greatest benefit to me was in what I learned from Lorne about how to think. I learned the value of thoroughness in study and research. And I learned that . . . truth has a beautiful simplicity.”
  10. Of those interviewed, 61 percent had participated in a Nav ministry for at least five years, and 70 percent were still attending Nav functions regularly. However, 50 percent felt that they did not need to be close to a Nav ministry in order to minister effectively to others. Overall, 67 percent of the sample described themselves as laboring, using a definition that had eight ingredients. Source: “Laboring and Factors Associated with It” by Raja S. Tanas, August 1975, seventy pages.
  11. Merriam-Webster defines syllogism as “an argument consisting of two propositions (major and minor premises) and a conclusion deduced from them.” What we see here is our determined efforts to map the “fundamentals” required for pursuing our Aim. See McGilchrists archives, box 9.
  12. Participants: Sanny, Petersen, North, Chew, Doornenbal, Smith, Andrews, Singletary, plus Mayhall and Hensley in week two.
  13. Source: DS Letter 1975-5.
  14. Sanny’s letter of February 25, 1976 to the ILT.
  15. McGilchrist to Henrichsen, February 24, 1976. He felt that we should “articulate our problems with the Scale rather than leaving it in limbo. . . . We must have the courage to put down as well as to take up.”
  16. Sanny’s letter of February 25, 1976 to the ILT.
  17. Source: DS Letter 1976-3.
  18. Plan, Organize, Lead, Evaluate.
  19. DS Letter 1976-3.
  20. Some preliminary reflections on the Honolulu ILT; Gray to Sanny, April 20, 1976. The modal/sodal distinction was becoming popular among us, with modal basically meaning local congregations. He saw our diagnosis that “the laborers are not laboring” as leading to three solutions: further training for our alumni/graduates; beginning of church-centered ministries; leadership more by influence than by decision-making. Though he told Sanny that he had “scrupulously avoided . . . value judgements,” it is clear that these tendencies concerned him. Also known as local and mobile.
  21. See especially Walt Henrichsen’s trenchant observations in my article on our “History of Counting.”
  22. The above notes are taken from the minutes of the ILT conference in March 1976 in Oahu: Sanny, Downing, Gray, Mayhall, Petersen, Simmons, Sparks, McGilchrist.
  23. In April 1976, we wanted to bring into clear focus the importance of functioning disciples to our Calling.
  24. During the previous month, he had written to them that “it may be possible to get through an ILT Conference without being “wiped out.” I hope so, let’s try.” He chose the theme “Let this mind be in you which is also in Christ Jesus.” On a practical note, evening sessions were still scheduled to run as late as 9:00 p.m.!
  25. Taken from working notes of discussion during the December 1976 ILT Meeting.
  26. These were collated and summarized by McGilchrist, in a run of years to 1985-86 known as the “Historical Series.”
  27. See my article on “The Allocation of Cross-cultural Missionaries.”
  28. See my article on “Cross-cultural Missions.”
  29. During these seminars, Sanny’s attitude was open-handed with the material. Rather than defending the FOM, he would put it on trial for its life. If something in it was found not to be biblically sound, it was either thrown out or changed. “Thus the staff, feeling free to reject the material of they wished, found the freedom to accept it. And their revisions stripped it of cultural distinctives” (Petersen, loc cit).
  30. By Lauren Libby, July 1977.
  31. Our leaders had spent time with Dr. Ralph Winter and were familiar with the modality/sodality distinction that he convincingly presents in The Two Structures of God’s Redeeming Mission, William Carey Library, 1974; and the FOM refers to this booklet in a note. However, using the terms modality and sodality was still felt to be somewhat esoteric for a transnational seminar such as the FOM. See also Local and Mobile: A Study of Two Functions by Craig van Gelder February 1975, fifty-five pages.
  32. Transcribed from pages 57-58 of edition 2.
  33. This term laborer (ergates) occurs fourteen times in the NT, giving us a solid biblical basis for our terminology.
  34. See, for example, Harold Lindsell’s The Battle for the Bible, Zondervan, 1978.
  35. Extracted from transcribed Interviews with McGilchrist.
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