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The Approach to The Core

Summary: This article is a companion to the article titled “A History of Our Calling.” Taken together, they tell the story of how we have sought to obey God’s leading through some seventy-five years.

Although the Spirit of God chose to give us The Core in 2002, this article picks up the story in the early 1970s so that we gain a richer understanding of how the substance of The Core took shape.


Early Milestones
Field Developments Prior to the Core
Developments in the 1990s
Developments in the Early 2000s
Cyprus 2001
Niagara 2002
Vancouver 2002
After the Core Was Approved
International Forum 2005


The birth of the Navigator “Core”—the term for our Calling, Values, and Vision—in 2002 was a blessing bestowed upon us by our gracious God.

Although it is possible to show how, especially with hindsight, several trends and developments led up to this (and I’ll do so), we must not presume that our own wisdom brought The Core to fruition. Deuteronomy 8:17-18 is a pertinent warning:

You may say to yourself “my power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me” but remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.

We cannot run the risk of appropriating the work of the Spirit in the purposes of God.

Nevertheless, because the Lord uses “means,” as missionary pioneer William Carey pointed out more than two centuries ago, I propose to outline a sequence of four large developments that were, in various ways, initiatives that we had earlier taken to align and strengthen our service to the Lord, and then to look in more depth at the detailed circumstances in which The Navigators found themselves in the five years before God gave us The Core. Only then will we make sense—with hindsight—of the process by which God favored us with a fresh Calling, Values and International Vision, and a community to carry them forward. As Wendell Berry aptly wrote: “What we owe the future is not a new start, for we can only begin with what has happened. We owe the future the past, the long knowledge that is the potency of time to come.”1

Early Milestones

First, therefore, let’s look at these four earlier milestones in our journey which are explored in more detail in other articles, but show the essence of how we were moving forward in what Eugene Peterson called a “long obedience in the same direction.”2 In sequence, they reveal to us planning, teaching, releasing, empowering.

During this entire period, from the 1970s until the turn of the century, our primary aim had formally stayed steady: to multiply laborers in every nation, thus helping fulfill Christ’s Great Commission. What we called the Three Es (Evangelizing, Establishing, Equipping) were still in play. However, as we shall see, the process of implementing the Scriptural Roots of our Ministry (SRM) caused them to be expressed very differently in various countries.

Our Global Strategy (by Planning)

In 1972-1974, Waldron Scott, a leader who stretched us in pursuit of the nations, helped us address how we could reach the world. His focus was on positioning and production. The central idea of this strategy3 was to position our staff around the world so as to establish self-sustaining disciple-making ministries in every nation by the year 2000. The coverage intended was 6500 staff to reach 6.5 billion people.4

The pulse of the strategy was a heart for the world. Scotty was passionate about this. However, it became clear that his approach was:

  • Too directive, in setting targets for numbers of missionaries and priority countries to be developed, from the center.
  • Too radical, in pushing us toward multinational teams and the sharing or pooling of our income.

Nevertheless, the early 1970s were a period of great dynamism for The Navigators, and remarkable expansion, geographically.

What is still important about that period is that it taught us that, in Lorne Sanny’s words, Navigators are resistant to meeting goals which they have not developed themselves. And so we decided to set the global strategy aside and to ask each of our countries to come up with their own plan. The work had become too diverse for a unified global strategy.

We can celebrate that global strategy because it taught us the sacrifices and the teamwork demanded by our focus on the nations.

The Fundamentals of Our Navigator Ministry, or FOM (by Teaching)

In 1976-1982, Lorne Sanny with Jim Petersen addressed the question “Who are we and what is our aim?” The focus was on identity and effectiveness. Research for this FOM5 began because we saw two problems: The laborers were not laboring and our legitimacy (our right to exist as The Navigators within the family of God) was being challenged. So, Lorne Sanny wanted our contribution to be very clear and motivational.

Jim Petersen conducted many interviews and worked with Lorne and other leaders at sharpening our Aim and ministry essentials.

The resulting FOM was taught by Lorne, yet in a new way. He did this interactively, by seminars in each part of the world, rather than by the preaching of our leaders, and it was then revised as staff responded. This was a more consultative approach.

In addressing vision rather than strategy, the FOM sent a signal: Paternalism is dead; we will exercise faith for how each country develops and how many missionaries it sends. The FOM argued, indeed demonstrated, that our Aim was determined by three things: the Scriptures, the providential leading of God, and the inner conviction of the Holy Spirit.

We celebrate the FOM because it insisted that we have a mandate and a place in God’s purposes.

Our Enabling Global Society: An Architecture of Relationships (by Releasing)

From 1988 onward, Jerry White with Donald McGilchrist addressed the question of how to free ourselves from the restraints of global policies and structures. The focus was on voluntary partnership around a common purpose.

For a dozen years, Lorne and his small team at the center had been delegating and decentralizing. There came a point when there was almost nothing left to delegate! Our enthusiasm for contextualization had led us to assume that everything is local, everything is determined by context. Thus, it was hard to find a majority for anything.

The idea of becoming an enabling Global Society6 was a response to such looseness. It asserted that we are a community of the committed,7 that we have a common vision, shared values and deep relationships, that the parts are all needed for the good of the whole.8 A society is a voluntary association of men and women united in pursuit of a common purpose.

The result of this new concept, which was rare indeed among evangelical agencies, was cumulative and dramatic. During the next ten years, there was an explosion of ministry into the nations. We entered new countries at twice the previous rate. Initiatives no longer required permission from the center. Our global policies were discarded and our system for allocating new missionaries was ended.

Result? A pleasing and spirit-led dynamism, but with some disorder. Example: There were up to five different and separate Nav ministries in Vietnam!

We celebrate our Global Society because it gave us a framework for local initiatives and constructive partnership.

Scriptural Roots of our Ministry, or SRM (by Empowering)

Also from 1988 onward, Jim Petersen and a team addressed the issue of how to strengthen ourselves and our vision in the Scriptures? Their focus was on local spheres of ministry and functions and values.

Why did we need to replace the FOM? Several reasons:

  • Decline of an integrated philosophy of ministry, inadequate foundations.
  • The dead hand of traditionalism.
  • Ministries burdened by westernization and Western scruples.
  • Loss of a vision for the third generation.

The SRM process9 was eventually completed in more than forty countries. As a universal component, it presented six major Bible studies that, with interaction along the way, could well take more than a year. In most places, it was very beneficial. Its value tended to vary with the extent to which the Scriptures were seriously explored by the participants. Benefits, when the SRM was pursued in depth, included:

  • Confidence to initiate and experiment
  • Freedom to go deep into the nations
  • Wider ownership of vision and mission
  • Help in tackling relevant issues
  • Stronger dependence on the Scriptures

We celebrate the SRM because it spread ownership and drew us into the frontiers.

In summary, the Global Society lengthened our cords and the SRM strengthened our stakes (Isaiah 54:2-3).

These four earlier milestones in our journey emerged in sequence, as formative and progressive ways of pursuing our effectiveness in the midst of changing contexts, internationally. Each is expanded in separate articles.

Field Developments Prior to the Core

There’s a danger, in my accounts, of giving the impression that meetings at Glen Eyrie were the heart of The Navigators. Not so! Our heroes were and are living for Jesus in a stretching and adventurous variety of circumstances around the world, and those at the center exist to serve their labors. They are, as my pastor tells us every Sunday, “great men and women of God.” So, let me pause to illustrate this dispersion by mentioning a few field developments in the five years leading up to The Core:

February 1997: Disciples for Christ formed in Myanmar
April 1997: Launch of Catholic Countries Network in Europe
April 1997: First Korean couple to Kolkata, India
July 1997: Converging towards a single European region
September 1997: Consultation for our teams living in China
September 1997: Alan Andrews appointed US director
November 1997: More than thirty CoMissioners confirmed as Nav staff
January 1998: Cypress, pure Gospel conference (seventy-six from twenty-one countries)
March 1998: Climax of the Scriptural Roots of Leadership process in Africa
June 1998: Tanko and Phoebe M. launch ministry in Niger
October 1998: First inter-city training program for mainland Chinese nationals
October 1998: Commissioning of rural ministry in Iganga, Uganda
January 1999: Encuentro Panamericano in Monterey, Mexico
January 1999: Launch of LifeNet in New Zealand
February 1999: Gathering on Ecclesia–Oikos in Genting, Malaysia
April 1999: Ron W. and others arrested and imprisoned in Kinshasa, DRC
April 1999: Y.Y.S. chosen as country leader for South Korea
April 1999: T.S.C. chosen as country leader for Malaysia
July 1999: Commissioning of Jeremie A. as country leader for Cote d’Ivoire
August 1999: US staff conference for 1,100 participants, Florida
October 1999: All-India family conference: Bangalore
October 1999: Entry into Togo: Martin Matrevi
November 1999: Wolf Christian Jaeschke becomes country leader for Germany
November 1999: First program in our Arabic radio ministry
November 1999: Operation Starting Line, partnership for prison ministries
February 2000: Consultation 1 on church for Muslims: Indonesia
June 2000: P. M. commissioned as country leader for Tonga
September 2000: First international Edge Corps team: Malaysia
October 2000: Tsigereda Yemane commissioned as country leader for Ethiopia
November 2000: Leader gathering on diversity, 117 Navs in New York City
March 2001: Jean-Marc Gretillat becomes director for Francophone Africa
June 2001: Intercambio, for six months in 2001 (forty-one short-termers, three countries)
July 2001: Entry into Armenia, Gakavian
October 2001: US Hispanic conference: nineteen Latin nationalities, three hundred participants
October 2001: NAVenture 3, San Antonio, Texas
October 2001: InsideWork registered as business stemming from Global Commerce Network

Pre-Core Developments in the 1990s

Our second approach10 is to narrow our focus to the last few years before our first gathering to wait upon God for The Core, namely in Cyprus in the year 2001. What was stirring among Navigators as the end of the century approached?

Recent influences upon us that directly shaped what would become The Core, often widespread within our Global Society, included:

  • The multiple yet usually similar conclusions and stabilizing outcomes, from some forty countries, of their spheres of ministry emerging from the SRM Process.
  • The progressive recovery, from around 1995, of our shrunken collegiate ministries.
  • More frequent turnover of what had been for some years a rather stable cadre of international leaders. The names that follow show those who were appointed to international responsibilities in the decade leading up to 2000. Because of their exceptional missionary impact around the world, South Korea and the USA are included. There was also an influx of new and younger country leaders too numerous to mention here.
    • Doornenbal – Eurasia – September 1992
    • Baljeu & Broad – Western Europe – October 1992
    • Shamy – Commonwealth – December 1992
    • Situmorang – Asia – July 1996
    • Andrews – USA – September 1997
    • Mahiaini – Africa – March 1998
    • Treneer – IET – June 1998
    • Yoon – South Korea – April 1999
    • Payton – Latin America – May 2000
    • Treneer – Europe – April 2002 (temporary)
  • An accelerating grasp of the fullness of the Gospel, displayed in rising enthusiasm for holistic ministry,11 business enterprises,12 and outreach among Muslims and Catholics.13
  • A resurgence of sending to “new” nations, of which example are the pioneering teams of Malaysians entering Bangladesh,14 Koreans entering India,15 Britons entering Portugal,16 and the launch of the US Edge Corps.17
  • The culmination of work by Neil G. and others on Fundamentals of Navigator Missions. This project originated in the difficult days around the birth of The CoMission, and Neil was helped by Donald McGilchrist and Jim Petersen in the development of six FONM Bible studies. The topics of the six studies, which the International Team accepted in 1999, reveal how relevant they were to our work and to some of our tensions among the nations. They were:
    • The Nations
    • The Gospel
    • The Mobile Function of the Church
    • The Place of the Local in Missions
    • Interdependence Between the Mobile and Local Expressions of the Church
    • The Promises of God and Spiritual Generations

Accompanying this was a practical outline of missionary tasks.18 In the sending of missionaries, what were the special responsibilities of international leaders, of senders, of field team leaders, of field teams? These brief notes in the outline proved to be very helpful in the grassroots work of preparing and launching missionary teams.

All these developments were positive, but there were also some challenges which we needed to address, especially in terms of the ongoing relationship between the IET and the International Team. We were also concerned that the benefits of our Global Society, which we now call our Worldwide Partnership, were mixed. Freedom from central direction can sometimes lead to disunity.

I honor and appreciate the IET, but it is time for a graduation ceremony.
Aldo Berndt, December 1997

The context of the above comment, which was pleasingly provocative, was an exploration by our International Team which lasted more than four days and was devoted to the vital topic of leading internationally, guided by Ross Rains.19

The proximate cause for devoting four days to this topic was that the International Team had six months earlier assessed how our Global Society was working, a decade after it was launched. We agreed that it was working well, under most circumstances but that, in times of crisis, we often lacked an agreed procedure or line of authority. Therefore, “we must reduce the level of ambiguity, without formalizing positional authority.”20

We were depending upon spiritual and relational authority. In itself, this was good. However, when our linkages became tenuous,21 we experienced three problems:22

  • Vision/aim/focus were blurred; our basis for unity was unclear.
  • A lack of accountability at many levels; bias towards niceness more than clarity.
  • IET and IT were not functioning as an integrated team; there was a need to share the burden of leadership appropriately.

Paul Stanley had surveyed the members of the International Team and led us through the responses from which it emerged that the challenge that we as an overall team faced most broadly was “to stimulate, communicate, teach, clarify, model, instill, promote, sharpen, maintain and help each person on our staff find his or her place.”

One might conclude from this cascade of verbs that we were doing nothing well, but that was not the atmosphere. The above verbs overlap, and we were speaking of processes that could surface in times of crisis.23

So far, then, we have summarized what was taking place in the second half of the 1990s that either helped us move forward toward The Core or demonstrated the need for The Core.

We should add that Paul Stanley had invited select small groups of leaders to one of a series of six International Leader Gatherings, from New York in April 1997 to Malaysia in November 1998. These certainly helped relationally and strengthened our partnership.

In May 1998, Ross Rains continued to guide the team in their project on leading internationally. His task force had identified four crucial issues, but they did not serve us as much as we had hoped in clarifying what needed to be fixed, although they were accompanied by an overwhelming fifty-six action steps! Thus, after discussion, we concluded that Jerry White take back the leadership of the project and gather our main expectations.

The team next met in May 1999. Jerry took up the four crucial issues that Ross Rains and his task force had distilled about leading internationally and moved us toward a stronger unity, which we expressed in six simple but foundational assumptions.24 Thus:

  • We are committed to staying together as The Navigators.
  • National field leaders are key to the movement of the Gospel.
  • International (or transnational) leaders are key to the ongoing effectiveness and development of our national field leaders.
  • International (or transnational) leaders are also key to the pursuit of our calling into the nations.
  • Global leadership is needed.
  • God has called us to pursue a special task among the nations.

These assumptions appear somewhat obvious, but it was healthy to express and affirm them together. They allowed us to move smoothly through clarifying and shaping more than a dozen statements that specifically addressed such matters as:

  • Who comprises our Global Society
  • Requirements of an international leader
  • Purpose and functions of the IET
  • Purpose and functions of the International Council

Taking advantage of the unity of heart and spirit among the team, despite our diverse ministry contexts, Mike Treneer offered what was to become a very useful proposal that grouped our ministry contexts into four quadrants, expressing the characteristics of contrasting segments of our Global Society.25 Thus:

  • Major Senders: e.g. Canada, South Korea, USA
  • Major Receivers: e.g. Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Nigeria
  • Frontier Receivers: e.g. India, China
  • Internal Frontiers: e.g. Australia, Netherlands, New Zealand

This represented a breakthrough, because we were not merely assigning countries to one of the four above segments, but were clearly recognizing that many of our countries have ministries on multiple tracks in more than one of these four quadrants. This became profoundly helpful in moving us beyond the typical polarities, such as movement versus organization. A sense of renewal accompanied our recognition that each quadrant was not monolithic and gave us a way of discussing and building out from our differences. It helped us “find one another” and adjust our perspectives. For example, the US had ministries in quadrants 1 and 4. This exploration of our quadrants was another building block toward the ability in due course to come together to shape The Core.

At the same meeting, in 1999, we agreed that, as an International Team: “We are international leaders who covenant together to sustain the integrity of our vision and to take initiatives that carry forward our mission, throughout the world.”

At that time, we defined our embryonic Leadership Community as having open boundaries, extending well beyond our international leaders. We would function as a centered set whose participants were those who were paying the cost to drive our Calling and who had a significant influence in their part of the world.

Rinus Baljeu, as a regional leader for Europe,26 supplied a warning perspective:

I find myself thinking these days a lot about the weak position that our Regional Leaders are in. There is a lot expected from us, but it is very difficult to deliver and to follow a line of thinking or a strategy. In principle, any country can decide at any time not to respond and rather relate to you as IET than to their Region. There are already a good number of such cases. My guess is that you wouldn’t encourage this, but ultimately it seems to be in line with your perceptions and thinking. Your responsibility to the countries seems conceptually stronger than to your Regional Leaders. We are the “dotted lines” in the system.27

Developments in the Early 2000s

The International Team next met in May 2000 in Hungary. As we received ministry reports from around the world and reflected on our insights from using the quadrants, a few of the instructive comments that surfaced which again would draw us towards waiting on God for The Core were:

  • Mutua: Our level of trust must exceed our understanding.
  • Ross Raines: We need to find words to express the vision that links the quadrants.
  • Alan: We need to lead our way through and to knock out some boundaries.
  • Mike: We need to articulate our calling in ways that are relevant to each quadrant.
  • Paul: We need to create, process, consolidate, change.
  • John: We have a renewed need to define our core values.
  • Jerry: We have the ability to mediate tension on difficult issues.

We agreed that we had been continuing in the direction of deeper and more vulnerable dialogue, a richer sensitivity to and appreciation of one another and of our contexts. A case study prepared by Mike Treneer on a fictional country called Antipodia was also a powerful door opener, as we explored the swirl of issues and responses that would best serve this imaginary but relevant context.

Jerry then proposed that we give the rest of the International Team an opportunity to evaluate the performance of the IET.28

To keep it simple, he suggested three basic questions:

  • What does the IET do well?
  • What does the IET not do well?
  • What should the IET be doing?

He offered these questions taking into account the current purpose and functions of the IET and his February 2000 letter to our staff family. The IET then withdrew29 and Aldo Berndt led the rest of the team in crystalizing six helpful observations.30

When they returned after several hours, there was one strand of their productive critique which was consistent:

  • We do not perceive a united IET purpose
  • There is a need to present our “center of gravity”
  • The entire IT needs to articulate a compelling vision

It was this aspect of their comments that became part of the impetus that the Spirit used to push us toward what later emerged as The Core. Meanwhile, the IET realized with new urgency that their top priority was to find ways of refreshing and strengthening our Calling and Vision. Mutua Mahiaini clarified that the IT was not asking for stronger leading, but for a concerted approach to leading.

Jerry White accepted the critique that the IET was perceived as functioning “more out of a collection of personal agendas as resources, rather than out of a united team purpose.” He assured the team that our new mission as an IET31 was already bringing focus to our efforts and shaping our schedules. Therefore, he later wrote:

In obedience to Christ and his commission, our (IET) mission is to lead our Navigator Global Society by strengthening our Calling and Vision, developing international leaders and empowering our leadership community.

Our Vision is something that is central to the IET and the whole work, but about which “we need to allow God to refresh our hearts and minds. We feel we, as leaders, need to pray together over our Calling and promises, asking God to speak to us about what this means for us as we head into the next ten years. I am not sure when the last time was when the leaders of our work came together to pray and listen to God concerning his desires for us, but I feel the time has come to do this. Then ‘we’ together can communicate our Vision with deep conviction and commitment. Leaders cannot demand commitment to a vision, but can only inspire it by their lives and actions, and sometimes with words. In light of this need, I would like to propose that we come together for five full days of prayer, worship and seeking the Lord. It would be a time of thinking and sharing about what the Lord has done, is doing and would like to say to us concerning the future. This would be a highly interactive and participative event. We will need a team to facilitate our time to make it a helpful process.32

Cyprus 2001

This was agreed. In November 2000, the IET decided that “Cyprus 2001” was a good title for the gathering of our leadership community in Cyprus, the following November. Our desire was to signal that this would not be a decision-making or strategy-setting event. We chose the Forest Park Hotel in the Troodos.33 We also affirmed John Sipple as a skilled friend and facilitator with whom we had previously worked, and would be our coach.

In December 2000, the IET explored and refined the concept for Cyprus 2001.34 We were determined not to give an impression that we were pushing the work toward a particular outcome. While such an attitude was healthy, we still could not envision the scope of the gift that God might lay on our hearts. For example, concerns included:

  • Even if the leadership community articulates what motivates it, there is no way that this could be adopted for the entirety of The Navigators.
  • The SRM Process has decentralized vision-casting to our countries, so that it is regressive to seek a common vision.

Nevertheless, we sensed God’s leading.35 We agreed that the program should be loose and unstructured, stimulating much interaction and ministry stories and recognizing that some parts of the world such as Latin America, Africa, USA are not waiting for us to articulate with or for them a vision. Treneer added that our follow through on the SRM had been poor. Subsequently, the FONM, while not so intended, had defaulted into a general approach to ministry.

Stanley responded that it had never been our intent to force a vision upon our countries. We have freedom in how we construct the event. He had told John Sipple that we are not concerned to secure a particular outcome. Nor would we aim to come out with a statement. However, as we flavor the atmosphere with worship and prayer, we have to allow God to work.

We agreed that the primary objective for Cyprus 2001 was “to wait on God for a renewed sense of our calling that resonates with and motivates our leaders, around the world.” If God were pleased to give us this, we could look forward to closer alignment and fresh motivation among our leaders, with deeper relationships of trust and mutual support. Stanley added that he hoped that every participant would leave greatly challenged, developed and connected. We wanted all of us to engage one another as a leadership community.

At the beginning of 2001, John Sipple told the IET that he would not call our process strategic planning, but would treat it as developmental for the leadership community. We were unanimous in wanting to stay away from discussion of our organizational structure.36 He posed four basic questions for the process:

  • Who are we?
  • Where are we?
  • What guides us?
  • Where are we going?

We agreed that Jerry would be the overall leader of the consultation, that John Sipple would steer the process, that Paul would lead prayer and worship,37 that John and the IET would act as facilitators. John would join us in May and interview each member of the International Team. Then, we would send out some questions that we had framed with him, one month in advance of the consultation. These questions would be along the lines of what God was placing on your heart for your segment of the world and what few things appear to be breakthrough issues for you.

When the IET met a month later, in February 2001, the four questions at the heart of our Cyprus 2001 program had become:

  • Where have we come from?
  • How is God using us?
  • What does he want to say to us for the future?
  • What principles or shared understandings should we follow?

After our International Team met in May 2001, the IET perceived that there were still unspoken agendas and hesitations among some members of the team. Likely reasons, as diagnosed by the IET, included:

  • Waiting and wanting to know what the IET thinks
  • Assuming that the IET had an agenda
  • The stated purpose of the IT is not compelling
  • Lack of a global mindset
  • Uncertainty as to how to engage deeply, when the team only met once a year

In the sense assumed, the IET did not have an “agenda,” which was hard for some members to comprehend, because they themselves tended to have such agendas.38 Mike Treneer pointed out that the overwhelming priority for IT participants was to discharge their own responsibilities with excellence. This was commendable. However, because they could not evaluate or speak easily to matters outside their own responsibilities, they tended to focus on evaluating the IET!

We recognized that the IET functioned with a shared database, and we could not expect other participants to acquire this, because it would imply at least three meetings per year. Paul Stanley suggested that we help participants by having them write down their issues in advance, even though so few had surfaced.39

We clearly recognized that we would need some coaching in how better to lead the approaching Cyprus 2001. As a skilled facilitator, John Sipple would serve us well.40

Through the subsequent months, as they responded to Jerry’s invitations, the pattern of participants took shape. When they assembled in Cyprus, they were prepared and eager to worship and pray. It is not practicable to reproduce all their summary notes.41 However, they listed a dozen things that the Holy Spirit was teaching us and a valuable list of comments arising from times of prayer. They defined what they meant by Core Values and presented various ways in which they should guide us.

They then fashioned a Calling which in fact differs only from the one created later at Niagara 2002 in speaking of advancing “the Gospel of the Kingdom” instead of “the Gospel of Jesus and His Kingdom.”

In formulating a Vision, which they also described as a snapshot of the future with visible expression in many places, they were attempting to answer the question: What would the Calling look like if faithfully followed over the next twenty-to-thirty years? They structured this Vision though six initial statements:

  1. Insiders living among the lost, carrying the Gospel
  2. The Gospel flowing through persons in family and relational networks
  3. Communities influencing the lost around them
  4. The Gospel spreading from family to family
  5. Multiple generations
  6. Leaders emerging

They then supplied some words which would move us to a more holistic ministry and a more mobile ministry. To some degree, this work overlapped with their preliminary thoughts on Core Values.

Finally, they returned to their draft Calling, listing potential implications and risks for those involved and recognizing what the cost might well be to us as an organization.

The above hardly does justice to the specifics under each aspect. It was a fresh and invigorating interaction.42 Paul Stanley, in our final session in Cyprus, outlined in simple terms the International Team’s guidance for how we should go forward during the coming months. He did not speak to the content that participants had provided43 but to the next steps in the process of introducing and considering it:

  • Jerry would provide a basic report on Cyprus 2001 in his next “Dear Navigator Family” (DNF) letter (see below), and our regional teams would aid their staff in understanding the spirit of the assembly.
  • The IET and a few others would develop an approach toward increasing “the leadership circle of ownership.”
  • The International Team would meet in May 2002 to discuss how to continue the Cyprus process with others around the world.

It is evident from the above that a decision to create Niagara 2002 had not yet been taken.

Jerry’s DNF letter was lengthy, in view of the vital importance of the process of how God was working through us. Some extracts:

About two years ago we began to think about how to involve many of you beyond our central leadership in the future direction of our Navigator work. Clearly, we cannot gather us all together to interact and discuss where God has been leading us in recent years and where we believe He is leading us for the future.

The idea of bringing together various leaders from around the world resulted in a meeting of forty of us in Cyprus for six days in November. Many of you prayed for that meeting. God answered your prayers and spoke to us deeply and profoundly. I would like to share some of what we heard from God. Our goal for Cyprus 2001 was quite simple: To seek God for a renewed sense of our calling that resonates with and motivates our leaders around the world.

There were no speakers. Our time was spent primarily in small-group discussions, surrounded by worship and prayer led by Lee Brase and Martin Cooper. Discussion over the six days centered around six questions:

  1. How has the Lord led and used us?
  2. What is the Holy Spirit teaching us and how is he changing us?
  3. What are our core values and how will they guide us into the future?
  4. What is God calling us to do?
  5. What is God calling us to be?
  6. What will it cost us?

At the beginning, we reflected on our sixty-eight years of history. Donald McGilchrist outlined four key events which had significantly influenced the direction of the Navigator work over the past three decades (the global strategy, the FOM, the Global Society, the SRM) . . . I believe we are now at another crossroads in our work worldwide . . . A small team—Paul Stanley, John Sipple and Ross Rains—guided us through the week, calling on others to refine our small-group findings. Hours of prayer and worship led us to this statement of our core values and the resulting statement of calling:

The Gospel of the Kingdom into the nations.
The passion to know and love Christ.
The Scriptures as foundational for life and ministry.
Expectant faith rooted in the promises of God.
The essential place of the Holy Spirit and prayer in our lives and ministry.
The worth, dignity and potential of all persons.
Spiritual generations of laborers living out Christ among the lost.
Personal transformation into Christlikeness.
Authentic grace-based relationships rooted in love for one another.
Families and relational networks in discipling the nations.

There was an excellent discussion on how these values would guide us and influence our leadership. Most important was that they must be lived out in our hearts and lives, not just be stated on paper. From these values, we unanimously settled on this expression of calling: “To advance the Gospel of the Kingdom into the nations through spiritual generations of laborers living and discipling among the lost.”

I believe we are at the threshold of renewing energy among the nations and a clarified focus on what God has for us. Coming from diverse backgrounds and perspectives of ministry, we found a clear sense of God’s leading in this expression of our calling. As you can see, it contains the major elements in which He has led in our history. Yet it speaks with new freshness, appropriate to what we have been learning and practicing in recent years.

Let me emphasize that there is much more work to do. We realize that others need to take these expressions of core values and calling, to review and develop them. This is part of a process in which we want to involve as many of you as possible. To this end, we plan another meeting in Toronto in March of a different group of leaders, to continue this process. Following that, a smaller work group will bring the combined results into our International Team meeting in May. We will take the result, and input from many of you, to seek God’s direction in application to our work worldwide.

. . . where do we need to go from here? We are not quite sure in that many more of you need to be involved in some similar thinking and processes. I sense God is bringing us to a new level of energy, unity and focus in our work.44

In his letter, Jerry also encouraged all our staff around the world to seek God with us, both for our work throughout the world and the part that they would play in their local contexts. “None of us ministers alone. Although we minister as individuals, we do not pursue our own agendas. We are a partnership, committed to God’s agenda, called to make a specific contribution which we must continue to clarify and pursue. We are engaged in a battle for the souls of men and women. We are only a small part of the entire Body of Christ and the Kingdom of God in this world. Yet we are responsible before Him to pursue our calling with integrity and energy, with focus and freedom, and with responsible planning and alignment together.”

Niagara 2002

Those invited to Niagara 2002 tended to be a somewhat younger group of leaders. Perhaps because of this, there was a more free and energetic atmosphere than in Cyprus. Things went faster. There was more enthusiasm and joy. Participants were more completely engaged in grassroots ministries.45 Deliberately, because Cyprus 2001 had done such good work in drafting proposals, Niagara took place during four rather than the six days of Cyprus.

The only change in the calling, comparing Cyprus with Niagara, is that the latter participants expanded the opening phrase to read: “To advance the Gospel of Jesus and His Kingdom . . .” Both gatherings offered ten Core Values. In general, those at Niagara strengthened some Values by proposing that those from Cyprus become:

Cy 2: The passion to know, love and become like Jesus Christ.
Cy 3: Devotion to the Scriptures as foundational for the whole of life.
Cy 4: Expectant faith, freshly rooted for each generation in the promises of God.
Cy 5: Dependence on the Holy Spirit, primarily expressed in a life of prayer.
Cy 6: The worth, dignity, and contribution of every person.

Several of the Core Values proposed at Niagara found their way, basically, into our Calling or into an expanded description of our International Vision.

The Niagara Core Value that did not survive as such was, “Partnering relationships with the broader Body of Christ.” This generated in Niagara a debate on whether the Values should be describing what we actually value or what we should in future value. It would be more than a year before it was agreed to include this emphasis among our Values, which reveals our continued diversity of opinion on relating to the Church. This had surfaced from time to time ever since Dawson Trotman’s emphasis on other works.46

It is interesting to note that there was little critical thinking on matters such as the Gospel of the kingdom at Niagara, although the consolidation group later spent more time on this important reality.

A central question was what is the Spirit teaching us and how is he changing us?

We began to see the birth of The Core as a Spirit-directed process for global alignment that would, we prayed, lead us towards a future International Leadership Community. In concrete terms, The Core came into being through the human agency of those in four meetings. Thus:

  • November 8-13, 2001 – Cyprus 2001 Assembly – forty-one attendees
  • March 14-17, 2002 – Niagara 2002 Assembly – forty-eight attendees
  • April 29 – May 1, 2002 – Consolidation Group from Assemblies – ten attendees
  • May 3-10, 2002 – International Team (expanded) – twenty-one attendees

Because some leaders were present at more than one of these four events, the net participation was seventy-four men and nine women of twenty-two nationalities.47 To these seventy-four, we must add the indispensable John Sipple as facilitator and Lee Brase as prayer leader. The International Team met in Vancouver (as did the consolidation group) and was enriched by seven invited guests (included in the twenty-one) to ensure a wider representation. Note that forty-two days elapsed between the end of the Niagara assembly and the start of the consolidation group. This was deliberate, to allow time for prayer and fasting and to give participants time to consult with the staff in their regions around the world. Those attending each of the four gatherings are listed in attachment B. (See link to attachments at the end of this article).

The IET declared that the segments of our community from both Cyprus and Niagara must be able to look at the eventual outcomes and see their fingerprints. This meant that we must not destroy their ownership by unduly polishing their work.

We should also beware of the danger of anesthetizing ourselves using jargon that is locally appealing. For example, “grace-based relationships.”

What would happen to our existing Primary Aim? We anticipated that it would fade away, in the light of our new Values and Calling. We would not formally cancel the aim, because it had served us well and is an expression of our Calling. However, it had recently been seen as:

  • Too ethereal, lacking in motivational content
  • Tired, worn out, boring
  • Allowing us, in some minds, to work only among the saved

The Consolidation Group, which was charged with drafting a text that embodied the insights given to us in Cyprus and Niagara, was chaired by Neil G. and composed of: Mags Duggan, Cheryl Meredith, Rusty Stephens, Mutua Mahiaini, Ross Rains, T.S.C.,
Donald McGilchrist, John Sipple, and Raul Ortiz.

Our design for this group was that it be a selection of those who would be representative of the two assemblies and have some editorial skills. The group had before them a page of preliminary expressions from Cyprus “containing a solid core of agreement by all of those participating, as a basis for interaction and contribution by others throughout our ministries.” Also, a page in a similar format from Niagara. Neither of the two assemblies had offered an extended Vision. Fleshing out a Vision, using the notes from Cyprus and Niagara, comprised much of the work of the consolidation group.

As anticipated, this Group engaged in vigorous debate and went through quite a few drafts in their three days together. They also wrote a preamble, in part to unwrap what was intended by the terms Calling, Values, and Vision. Intentionally, they had received no guidance or recommendations from the IET.

Vancouver 2002

The International Team met during May 3-10, 2002 in Vancouver. In addition to the usual members of the team, we were joined by seven contributing guests.48

We had positioned the International Team to anticipate change in their composition, by bringing eight additional participants to their sessions in Vancouver. Until then, the team had been mainly positional and geographical. Whereas the IET, after their performance review by the team in 2000, had been stimulated to lead better, we recognized that the team, for reasons given above, was still not functioning well. On the other hand, as Jerry made clear, we do not intend to centralize formal authority in the IET. We were in a process of focusing, clarifying, aligning, as we listened to the promptings of the Spirit. However, we were confident that our future central bodies must be seen to be drawn from our wider International Leadership Community.

While the expanded team was together in Vancouver, from May 3, Paul led us in worship which he described as our response to a revelation of God: We would express this response through prayer, testimony, music, proclamation, quietness, outward expression and the Scriptures.

During these times, the IET offered reflections on various aspects of the Kingdom of God:

  • The supremacy of the Kingdom (Donald)
  • The growth of the Kingdom (Neil)
  • The characteristics of the Kingdom (Mike)
  • The Gospel of the Kingdom (Jerry)
  • Living and leading in the Kingdom (Paul)

Neil, on behalf of the consolidation group, then set Cyprus and Niagara in context for the International Team, recalling that, in terms of human agency, the impetus for this process had emerged from an exhortation by the International Team to the IET in May of 2000, in which they asked the IET to be sharper and more focused in communicating our Vision. Subsequently, the IET had decided that such a focus could best be accomplished through an open process in which a community of our leaders from around the world joined to express our Calling.

Neil then presented the criteria that the consolidation group had used in shaping our Values out of the texts developed in Cyprus and Niagara:

  • Delete values that repeat aspects of our Calling
  • Delete values that are actually strategies
  • Lift up values that reinforce our Calling
  • Focus only on global transcultural values, leaving room for others to be added
  • Treat The Core as a unit, so that some values may instead appear in the Calling or the Vision

Dr. James Houston of Regent College joined us for the morning of the seventh. He proved to be an excellent stimulus to our thinking and our devotion. The burden of his talk was five suggestions on how to live in unity yet be diversified, because we are stewards of the mysteries of God. He urged us not to read the Scriptures merely through the eyes of the Enlightenment: it is a love letter from God to man, yet we have looked for accuracy and control, we’ve used it rationally, we’ve flattened it exegetically.

We proceeded to the heart of the matter, namely the recommendations from our Consolidation Group as regards our Calling, Values, and Vision. In order to emphasize that these three elements should be held and pursued together, we referred to them as a unit under the working title of The Core.

Neil described the approach taken by the group, who had access to quantities of notes from Cyrus and Niagara, as well as various suggestions and responses to what had already been distributed. He presented an illustration in which unity as regards The Core, internationally, would allow us to spread out with diversity in local applications and peripheral extensions. For example, our countries could add other Values. It would be important to leave plenty of space for regional and national and local ministries to find their paths in pursuit of The Core.

For whom had The Core been written? Neil responded that it was first for the team and secondly for the community of eighty who had participated in one of our two assemblies and, through them, for all our ministries. John Sipple added that it is a Calling from God for The Navigators.

Donald observed that the Spirit speaks to individual men and women, not to organizations. Therefore, a calling, like a promise, comes to a person. Abraham received his calling/promise in Genesis 12. It was given to him, not his family or his people. However, it encompassed his descendants and, as the apostle Paul wrote, we are Abraham’s seed. So, a calling comes to a person, but our gracious God has chosen to do two things in our history:

  • He caused our fathers in Christ to claim promises that embrace and empower us.
  • He has moved in similar ways in our own hearts.

Therefore, The Navigators is a partnership of men and women who are the fruit of claimed promises and the carriers of a shared calling. In this sense, there is a Navigator calling. Jerry reminded us that the first objective for this process had been “to wait on God for a renewed sense of our Calling that resonates with and motivates our leaders, around the world.”

We then read aloud The Core as recommended by the consolidation group, and invited some initial responses. A sampling of these:

Alan C.: I like the Vision . . . a picture rather than a plan.
Jim: Love the Vision . . . emphasizes workers first, leaders second.
Badu: Understanding The Core gives freedom for locals to apply . . . very exciting.
Alan A.: Like it a lot . . . glad the Calling is in place and the Core Values are simple.
Mike T.: Really like it . . . combination of clarity and polish . . . motivating Vision.
Rinus: Echo a lot of these thoughts . . . really like calling, the simplicity . . . the Vision has great thoughts, though a little “pumped up.”
Paul: There is power and simplicity . . . we have clarity . . . preamble is excellent . . . definitions will translate across cultures . . . Calling is strategically focused on the Gospel.
John R.: The Calling is exceptional . . . a recovery of fundamental perceptions . . . refreshment of the Gospel . . . has the stamp of God . . . Vision is tremendous for communicating.
Jerry: Greatly encouraged . . . very pleased that the Calling did not change. Great simplicity . . . lack of code and mystery words . . . much power and freedom, yet with focus.
Cheryl: A taste of the heart of God.

After a break, we began a more detailed discussion on aspects that raised questions. This can be briefly summarized as follows:

Grace of God and Community

  • Alan A: These do not show up in the Values, though one sees them in Cyprus 9 and Niagara 8.
  • Bob: We need communities to demonstrate love, vital in light of our history.
  • Consolidation Group response: “Community” is seen as the fruit of these values and is reflected strongly in the Vision.

Our Relationship to Other Believers

  • Jerry, Y.S. and others: The Core does not refer to the Body of Christ, though the Vision does mention the family of God. Our identity as part of the body may not be clear enough.
  • Donald: Body is only a metaphor, albeit much used by the apostle Paul. Some in the group felt that it is “tired” within Nav circles and that “family” better captures the participation that we seek. As Wency had expressed, we need to keep love central.
  • Paul: Need to emphasize love.

The Vision

  • Esther W.: Need an introduction on “desired outcomes” to explain or interpret the note of high optimism.
  • Mike T: Need to recognize the places where progress is slow and our struggles are great.
  • Alan C: The upbeat tone is good, but perhaps we should remove the timeframe of a decade.
  • Esther W.: Add “compassion for the lost” and affirm proclamation as well as relationships in passing on the Gospel.
  • Rinus B.: Some triumphalism; phrases such as “strongly believe” do not seem necessary.

Rinus cautioned us not to place pressure on people by repetitive assertions along the lines that “God was in this.” To what extent has our process been dominated by quadrant 1 in that, for example, the Values have a very evangelical flavor?

We ended our first day with prayer around our proposed Calling and focused on three questions:

  • What does it mean to me?
  • What will it take from us?
  • What will it cost us?

On our second day, we divided into three small groups in order to explore proposals for adjusting and strengthening The Core. This input was then processed later by five persons from the consolidation group, who reported back at the end of the afternoon.

In discussion, Donald referred to the group’s view that the Values should not include reasons (for they are many) or results (for they are diverse).

On the third day, we continued to work on implementation. We worked in three groups,49 each with one of the following topics:

  • What might the results of our alignment process look like?
  • How should we introduce this process regionally or nationally?
  • What practical steps should we take to move the process forward?

Neil then presented an improved version of The Core and conducted what we called “a structured go-around.” Responses:

  • Rusty R.: This is great . . . something for us to move toward and band around.
  • Martin C: Very positive.
  • Roberto B.: God has given us something that is very precious.
  • Rinus B.: Sharing and participating in this discussion and wrestling together lifts my burdens . . . in every way, a very motivating piece of paper.
  • John R: It thrills me to see this coming from a wonderful process of some eighty leaders.
  • Y.S.: I agree with my brothers.
  • Mike T: Really excited, especially as regards the Calling.
  • Alan C: Exciting to receive a fresh word from God.
  • Badu S.: It gives harmony and partnership with the wider Body; several ministry approaches can find themselves in this.
  • Ross R.: Motivated by the integrity of the process and by the clarity that The Core offers.
  • Donald M.: Very excited by the Calling; especially welcomes the Values on the Gospel and the Spirit.
  • Paul S.: Blessed and encouraged, a thing from God, all the community of eighty own this; I’m praying that it will help thousands.
  • Neil G.: Thrilled by getting the Gospel in the front of our Calling; very pleased that we entered this together.
  • Jerry W.: As encouraged as I have been in the last fifteen years; spirit of unity; I especially like the Calling, as it embodies who we are and where we are going; a lot of confidence that this will be well received.
  • Jim P.: Particularly encouraged by the Calling which resonates with what is already going on in many places; like any other work of God, it will cost us everything.
  • Mike S: Encouraged by the Calling and Values; it will help us embrace our diversity; it gives us guidance for the future yet enables us to honor the past without getting stuck in it.
  • Mutua M.: Very encouraged; this process has accomplished something which we might not have expected; Isaiah 49:6; I feel a sense of hope for The Navigators.
  • Alan A: It is hard to believe that God has given us something that is so attractive; only the Spirit could do this.
  • Bob V.: This will greatly encourage those who work among the major unreached peoples; the process has been a blessing; I am very grateful.
  • Esther W.: Really thrilled with the statement, especially the Calling; we are “coming of age,” moving into the wider purposes of God.

We then unanimously affirmed The Core at 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 5. It can be found in attachment C (see the link below). As proposed by Jerry, we agreed that it replaces the Primary Aim that we have used since the 1970s.

On the following morning, Jerry distributed a draft of his letter to the Nav family enclosing The Core. This was well received, with a few suggestions. It is provided as attachment D (see the link below).

Later, toward the end of May 8, we paused to examine again our Value on the Scriptures. Are we expressing a low view of the Scriptures? Why would we not use the word “authority?” We examined various references to the Word of God. After discussion, we reached a consensus that the Value would remain as stated and that some additional comments will be added to the Vision.

After The Core Was Approved

The IET identified in the following three months some emphases that they shared in explaining and lifting up The Core and that would demonstrate the alignment that had originally been sought:50

  • The Core is a unit: Calling, Values, International Vision
  • The Core builds upon what is rooted in our history
  • A collective expression, not an amalgam of personal views
  • Developed by more than eighty Nav leaders
  • We use the term Calling
    • Knowing that this sense is not the principal NT usage
    • Deliberately choosing to highlight God’s heart and God’s part
    • We felt called in Cyprus and Niagara to this obedience
  • In the Calling, note:
    • The Gospel is placed foremost
    • Laborers are to live and disciple among the lost
    • Penetrating prepositions: into, through, among
  • The Core Values should not be changed, but others may be added locally
  • The Core Values are our central motivations, not a creed or doctrinal statement
  • The Vision is international: you can develop your own vision contextually.
  • The Vision guides and motivates but does not control

We recognized that wider ownership will come gradually through personal interaction, a sense of being included, participating in the journey, study of what this implies in the grassroots.

The IET were also concerned to avoid three disabling expressions:

  • “Our past is outmoded or irrelevant.”
  • “I disagreed with this or that part.”
  • “This is our aim or mission or strategic direction.”

To help us stay on track, we should encourage our staff to remember and use the introduction which offers our understanding of each of the three elements in The Core.

Much work remained. In fact, it was generally assumed that it might take up to ten years to see The Core deeply rooted and applied in practice in some of our countries. In a Worldwide Partnership of seventy nationalities ministering in one hundred countries, given our modus operandi, change percolates gradually as fresh approaches are internalized.

The first normal meeting of our expanded International Team (twenty participants) took place in May 2003, a year after the birth of The Core. The new purpose for the team was, “To serve in covenantal relationship as international leaders who work together in guiding the implementation of The Core, throughout The Navigators.”

Donald presented a diagram that summarized the flow of our Global Alignment Process (GAP) and a schedule of the numerous meetings and presentations that had already taken place during the year to May 2003 as regards communicating and implementing GAP. See attachments E and F.

The International Council met one week before the team in May 2003.51 For each of the then eight Core Values, summary notes were provided for discussing, largely addressing the meaning and the implications of each Value.

Participants in the two assemblies at Cyprus and Niagara had already been invited to supply one or more Bible studies on the Core Value of their choice, so that we might all have access to the stimulus of their insights. Most of these were ready for this final International Council in May 2003, but other studies were gradually offered, until seventy were assembled.52 See attachment G.

An important unfinished question in 2003 was whether we should add a ninth Core Value to address our interdependence with other believers . . .

In addition to the Global Alignment Process for The Core, the team spent considerable time on:

  • Partnering between men and women
  • Resource and reference standards
  • Process for selecting a general director
  • The extent of the need for a Core Value 9
  • Project on money and The Navigators

We also held a ceremony of blessing for Bob and Marilyn V., as Bob transitioned off his long and outstanding service as our Middle East director.

During the ensuing council (May 2003), ten groups explored every one of our Core Values. By far the most extensive discussions were on the degree to which we value the rest of the Body of Christ and, assuming we do, whether we should add a ninth Value. Here are a few of the points made in various groups which, together, occupied ten pages!

More positive:

  • G1: We need a statement on the Body to complete the big themes in the Christian life: Christ, Holy Spirit, Scriptures, Body.
  • G2: Would it be a bad Value if inserted to give us legitimacy?
  • G2: We value the wider Body: the question is how to cooperate.
  • G4: To devalue the Body is to devalue ourselves: it is his bride.
  • G4: Linked to all of history. We must be secure in our Calling but vitally linked.
  • G6: There are different levels such as appreciating, relating, networking, partnering—this last not actively embraced in many of our ministries. However, we value the spirit of unity.
  • G7: Concerned about our arrogance: no burden beyond our boundaries.
  • G9: We should humbly learn from godly leaders such as Hendricks, Thrall, Willard.
  • G10: We are richer for the interconnectedness (Acts 15).

Less positive:

  • G1: Yes, but let’s stay neutral for a year or two so as to better understand how it will work out. Wait!
  • G?: I don’t sense a freedom of the Spirit or the heart resonance that the other Core Values create.
  • G2: Is it a high value for our Calling? Is it crucial for our Calling?
  • G2: Does everything we value have to be a Core Value? No. Only the handful that enable our Calling.
  • G2: Let local Navs add it if they need it. G1 and G9 agreed.
  • G5: There are qualifications if we support this. It does not have the same intensity as the other Values.
  • G7: Not another Value but in some way incorporate examples in the Vision.
  • G9: A dilemma: in many contexts, our identity can be jeopardized and our time and energy can be absorbed by the greater Body.
  • G10: In some areas, our vision is not to plant Nav ministries, but full expressions of the Body, e.g. among Indonesian Muslims.
  • G10: If we see ourselves as only Navs, we have become a cult.
  • G10: Remember the four quadrants. This Value could become a club!
  • G10: It’s in the Vision statement: that’s enough.
  • G10: Already, too many Values. What about needs such as leadership? Is the Vision less significant?

Clearly, the council was not ready to affirm a Value. Nor, significantly, was it among the thirteen topics for discussion which the International Team was unable to reach the previous year in Vancouver yet listed as needing attention.53 In general, Navs working in churches were not encouraged by our Core Values.

The IET realized that the question of a ninth Value must be settled by the end of their next meeting, in January 2004. Therefore, Neil had written to our “core friends,” presumably at least eighty. Then, twenty-six responded. Extracts from his letter:

At the International Council meeting in May last year we had a couple of sessions on this topic. We secured the input of participants and took the results to the International Team which met the following week.

After an invigorating discussion, the IET decided that we indeed want to strengthen The Core regarding the family of God. However, we did not reach consensus on how to express what we felt. We made progress but were not yet ready to be conclusive.

Later the IET obtained good input from some of our Navigator elders, e.g. Lorne Sanny, Jim Downing, Jim Petersen, etc. Along with them, the IET feels that we should not add a ninth Core Value, but that we should incorporate a statement regarding the family of God into an existing Core Value and also include something in the statement of vision.

Following is a draft that Mike Treneer and I have developed incorporating input from these previous discussions. Core Value 7: ‘Love and grace expressed among us in community and throughout the family of God.’ And I suggested also that the last paragraph of the Vision should include the sentence, ‘They value the family of God in its varied forms, partnering in many ways.’

Donald had written an exegesis of five ways in which the family of God is used or implied in the New Testament, namely adoption language, filial language, familial language, domestic language, and heavenly language.54

He also offered an essay on the many ways in which the family of God is presented and represented in the Scriptures.55

Neil invited Darrell Sanders, our US Church Discipleship leader, to supply his thoughts and then join us when the team met, in January 2004. His letter56 to Neil made the following points, in summary:

  • To not highly value our missional relationship with the rest of the body seems both narrow and arrogant. How can we expect the Body to value us (pray for us, invest in us, work with us) if we do not value our co-laborship with others in helping fulfill the Great Commission?
  • No Navigator leader who is primarily investing in the Body/Church ministry has been involved in this decision-making process concerning our Core Values. Is this not similar to the kinds of situations we have had regarding decisions about the responsibilities of “women” in our ministry when almost no women have been present?
  • To value our relationship and missional partnership with other members of the Church is absolutely crucial to our calling; crucial in the development of lifetime laborers, most of whom will serve and make their contributions through a local church.
  • God has gifted and “called” us to minister to and with his Body. We are not called to do everything. We need to value the contributions of the rest of the Body.
  • Jesus places absolute value upon the Church, his Body. How can it not be one of our greatest Values? Building the Church is his mission.
  • We need strategic relationships and partnerships. The US Navigators are not equipped, structured or called to retain all (or even most) lifetime laborers under our organizational or ministry umbrella.
  • As Warren Myers pointed out, it is tremendously inconsistent to value the “groom” but not his “bride.” We need to value both highly.

To many, the term “family of God” has no missional motivation. I don’t believe it calls out to us to advance the Gospel in the nations. Personally, I believe we should attempt to say something such as “We value our missional relationship with others in the Body of Christ.”

Darrell went on to emphasize that this is not an “identity” issue for those involved in working with the Body/Church. Instead, it is really a missional issue, a key to our long-range strategies and Vision. The Lord wants this vision to serve the “many” as well as the “few.”

Neil kept the discussion open. He reported to the eighty recipients mentioned above that twenty-one (out of the responding twenty-six) were positive. Strengthening our Vision was widely supported, and we received several suggestions of alternative wordings. Only one expressed reservations about the phrase “family of God” and preferred Body of Christ, but several expressed a liking for “family of God.”

When we met in January 2004, Darrell graciously joined us. There was general sentiment for adding a reference to the family of God or the Body of Christ. As was expected, Darrell and Donald were vigorous in debate, and Esther Waruiru contributed some helpful comments. Eventually, in view of Darrell’s strong belief that the churches understood the phrase Body of Christ but quite a few of them would be surprised by family of God, the team chose wisely to adopt Core Value 9 as “Interdependent relationships in the Body of Christ in advancing the Gospel.” No change was made to the final paragraph of our Vision, bearing in mind that we had referred to “the wider family of God” earlier in the Vision. This met with approval.57

By day 7, we returned to our discussion of alternatives. We took a vote on each of four options, as regards language:

  • Body in the Values and Vision (one vote)
  • Family in the Values and the Vision (two votes)
  • Body in the Values, family in the Vision (eight votes)
  • Family in the Values, Body in the Vision (four votes)

Thus, after prayer, the matter was satisfactorily settled. The Core now stands as in attachment H.

International Forum 2005

Mike Treneer took over as International President in January 200558 and the IT and the Council were replaced, at first with an International Forum in November 2005 which largely focused on the evolving history of our Global Society (Worldwide Partnership) and the increasingly important project, led by David Lyons, on “Money and The Navigators.” Instead of the Council, as Mike wrote to those participating in the Forum, the IET now preferred to gather smaller groups of people to focus on particular issues and to ensure strong continuity in building an international community of leaders to carry forward together the implementation of The Core. The purpose of the forum was “to begin a review of our international arrangements and to consider how we can best work together in our global partnership to serve one another in working out The Core that the Lord has given us.”

To bring this to a conclusion, attachment I shows a perception of eight phases in our International evolution since the death of Dawson Trotman and attachment E shows progress towards our Vision during the last decade.

Lord, when thou givest to thy servants to attempt any great work, grant us to know that it is not the beginning but the continuing of the same, until it be finished which yieldeth the true glory.
Sir Francis Drake

Article by Donald McGilchrist

13,406 words

See also articles on:

A History of Our Calling
Fundamentals of the Nav Ministry
Our Enabling Global Society
The Scriptural Roots of our Ministry
Fundamentals of Navigator Missions
Ethos and Values

Link to Attachments:

A. The Four Quadrants
B. Four Assemblies
C. Calling, Core Values, Vision
D. Jerry White’s Letter of May 20, 2002
E. Global Alignment Process, Flow Chart
F. Global Alignment Process: Communicating and Implementing
G. Core Values, Bible Studies
I. Phases in Our International Evolution


  1. From Berry’s poem “A Country Funeral,” quoted in The Art of the Commonplace, edited by Norman Wirzba, Counterpoint, 2002, p. xix.
  2. A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society by Eugene Peterson, IVP Books, 2000, p. 1; also by Friedrich Nietzsche in Beyond Good and Evil, CreateSpace, 2014, p. 40.
  3. Presented to the divisional directors in December 1972. Derived from some basic assumptions that they developed in May 1970, 153 pages.
  4. The actual number of staff that we had at the end of the year 2000 was 3792.
  5. Edition 1, May 1976; Edition 2, April 1982, fifty-eight pages.
  6. We had occasionally questioned whether we were a society or fellowship or movement or organization (Sanny, 1966). As pressure mounted during the early 1980s, a task force was recommended in January 1984 and finally met in November 1987, led by Jerry White: The enabling Global Society was adopted by our council in January 1988.
  7. This had echoes of Committed Communities (William Carey, 1976) by Charles Mellis, in which his survey of church history concluded that, “The reconciling ministry has never in history been carried out by the whole people of God, but by the committed few on behalf of the many. This committed minority has been most effective in its reconciling ministry when banded together in committed communities. . . . These sodalities must live in creative tension with the nurture structures of the Church, maintaining a life of their own with the freedom to exercise initiative for their evangelistic task” (page 122).
  8. Our Global Society was an architecture of relationships rather than a fixed structure. In some ways, it resembled a federal organization in which only a few things are held tightly at the center, and in which subsidiarity is practiced. “Global Society” was always intended only as internal shorthand for the Copernican Revolution we had launched in 1988, in which “the center” was seen as a point of integration for God’s purposes rather than a group of leaders. Field leadership at the periphery was emphasized.
  9. Task Force 1 met in September 1988 and the final edition of the SRM was published in January 1990. Such scriptural roots were developed in some forty countries.
  10. Our first approach comprised the four earlier milestones in our journey.
  11. REI launched in March 1990.
  12. Global Commerce Network: December 1992.
  13. International Working Group from September 1995 (Emmaus Journey from July 1993).
  14. Koay Chee Hoe & Alice and others: September 1995.
  15. First Korean couple to Kolkata, April 1997.
  16. Derek & Eva Leaf, May 1996.
  17. Launched in December 1994, first missionary team in October 1999 to Malaysia.
  18. This was distributed in November 1998 and had a bias towards helping Nav teams pioneering ministries in new contexts.
  19. December 1997 IT, note 4.1-36.
  20. May 1997 IT, note 4.7.
  21. Foreseeing this, Gert Doornenbal wrote for the council an excellent paper on The Linkage Leader in December 1988, ten pages.
  22. May 1997 IT, note 4.12.
  23. May 1997 IT, note 5.2. Significantly, in terms of the Myers-Briggs temperament analysis, twelve out of fifteen of us on the team had NT as our core function, which caused us to focus on broad global issues, yet most of us led staff whose preference was ST. At this point, Mike Shamy was coaching us as an international team in understanding the principles and practice of working together. He presented an extensive resource manual on Learning and Working Together with emphasis on how adults learn, prepared for the IT in 1997 (115 pages).
  24. May 1998 IT, appendix B.
  25. These quadrants were discussed and welcomed in 2000 (see also attachment A for a diagram of the emphases and contexts in each of the Four Quadrants (November 2000 IET note 12 for a discussion of the benefits of the quadrants).
  26. Europe Leaders: from July 1997 Baljeu, Broad, Fischer; July 1999 IET meets Baljeu and Broad near London; October 1999 Guenzel added to leaders; September 2001 Broad steps down as co-leader; April 2002 Treneer becomes Europe leader for two years while serving on the IET.
  27. Rinus Baljeu to Jerry White, February 9, 2001.
  28. This flowed out of an IT discussion the previous year which had surfaced the idea of a formal triennial review. However, he now recommended a lighter exploration.
  29. The IET at this time was White, McGilchrist, Stanley, Treneer, and Petersen, for whom this was his farewell meeting. In August 2000, Petersen left the IET and became an associate to the general director.
  30. May 2000 IT, Szentendre, note 3.2 and Appendix C. This was the first such organized evaluation of the IET in our history. “The rest of the team” at this time were Andrews, Baljeu, Berndt, Doornebal, Neil G., Mahiaini, Rains, John R., Badu S., Bob V.
  31. This refers to the revised purpose and functions of the IET which the International Team had accepted in May 1999.
  32. Extracted from Jerry’s letter of November 22, 2000 to the International Team.
  33. Until the above point, we had spoken of the event as “Direction 2010,” to be held in Edinburgh or Cyprus. We also briefly considered Vision 2010. The Forest Hotel was sheltered in a small mountain village; we had previously used it for our Country Leaders’ Conference in 1990.
  34. December 2000 IET, note 6 and appendix A1.
  35. As Mike Treneer recalled recently (June 2016): “We had found it very hard to get beyond the horizontal, given so many different abilities and contexts.”
  36. During 2001, the IET were also occupied in organizing the first meeting of the chairmen of our boards (held at Glen Eyrie in March 2002) to which chairmen from fifteen countries were invited, and with changes in their own composition. Neil G. joined the IET in July 2001, Jim Petersen having left it in August 2000 to become an associate to the general director. March 2002 also featured our first East Africa missions conference with almost five hundred participants, in the same month as Niagara 2002. The European Board Chairmen’s Network followed in September 2002.
  37. Lee Brase and Martin Cooper assisted.
  38. May 2001 IET note 3.
  39. It seemed that Ross Rains and Rinus Baljeu were those with the deepest lack of satisfaction although, paradoxically, their solutions were opposite: maximalist and minimalist. We would pull Ross into the planning of Cyprus 2001 to take advantage of his unusual lines of thought.
  40. The on-site guiding group for Cyprus 2001 was Sipple, Stanley, Mahiaini, Rains. Source: Stanley to Mahiaini of July 2, 2001.
  41. Their summary notes were a “working document” dated November 13, 2001.
  42. Symbolically, those on the IET sat at the back of the room and said very little. No directional comments!
  43. As Jerry White recalled recently (June 2016): “I needed faith to sit at the back and not lead.”
  44. Extracts from Jerry’s DNF Letter dated December 14, 2001. “Meeting in Toronto in March” soon evolved into meeting in Niagara during March 14-17, 2002. Then, after a small consolidation group on our Calling, an expanded International Team would meet in Vancouver in early May 2002. As Jerry recalled (June 2016), we were led to let the process evolve rather than cutting it off as Niagara approached, but we would start with the results from Cyprus. Thus, we did not try to pretend that we came into Niagara with an empty cup.
  45. Looking back on Niagara 2002, the IET noted that, “Day 1 had been excellent, the history being powerful as a reminder that the Lord had been with us. Day 2 was slow and tough. Day 3 was bursting with creativity and enthusiasm.”
  46. However, this debate was resolved by the team’s decision to add a ninth Core Value in January 2004.
  47. Dave Grissen and M.Y. were also invited, but were unable to attend.
  48. Guests: Roberto Blauth, Alan Ch’ng, Martin Cooper, Mike Shamy, Rusty Stephens, Esther Waruiru, Y.Y.S. This was the twelfth meeting of the team in the series which began in 1992 in Boca Raton. Total: twenty-one participants of ten nationalities.
  49. In the notes of the International Team meeting that were later distributed, the recommendations of these groups are in appendix F and the additional comments and suggestions that came after these reports are in appendix G.
  50. Source: IET Discussion on July 31, 2002.
  51. Actually, the International Team met on May 4, 14-17 and the International Council met on May 5-12, 2003.
  52. These seventy Bible studies (updated to February 2007) were made available by McGilchrist in a binder entitled “Bible Studies on our Core Values: 2003.”
  53. Topics for discussion: Generated on May 10, 2002 by International Team, edited by McGilchrist on March 15, 2003.
  54. This paper was intended as a general resource and written a year earlier in January 2003.
  55. Paper of January 8 and 12, 2004, followed by a succinct summary of the reasons why he felt we should avoid “the Body of Christ,” although it had become popular among evangelicals.
  56. Memo from Sanders to Neil G. of December 16, 2003.
  57. One other slight change to our Vision was the earlier removal, in July 2003, of the phrase “. . . and beyond” at the end of the penultimate paragraph. This was uniformly acceptable.
  58. Jerry White moved off the IET in December 2004; Mike Shamy joined the IET in December 2004; Esther Waruiru joined the IET in July 2005; Donald McGilchrist moved off the IET in December 2005; Paul Stanley moved off the IET in August 2006.
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