TFI’s Core Values: Diversity and Innovation

November 19, 2013

by Peter Amsterdam

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Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might.[1]

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.[2]

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.[3]

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.[4]

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”[5]

The Family International’s eighth core value is:

Diversity and innovation. In ministry and mission service, creativity and personal initiative are highly valued. When God guides, and we take action to follow Him, anything is possible.

The Family International embraces and makes provision for diversity in ministry and mission service. Rather than instituting a particular model for mission service, TFI encourages members worldwide to exercise their God-given freedom to pursue the opportunities that He makes available to them according to what is most applicable to the culture in which they live.

In today’s multicultural society with global immigration blurring cultural lines, we view diversity as a relevant and fitting approach to meeting the needs of the world; therefore we encourage members to cultivate fertile ground for new ideas and fresh approaches. We applaud all who follow the Lord’s leading and use their individual talents and gifts of the Holy Spirit to accomplish what God has called them to do.

The world is changing quickly and information and knowledge is increasing exponentially. It seems like every time we turn around there’s a new invention, a new product, or some new groundbreaking approach to address the challenges the world faces today. Why should it be different regarding preaching the Gospel and reaching the world for Christ? Why should we who serve the Lord not also be stirring up our creativity and seeking Him for new ideas and cutting-edge approaches that would facilitate greater or faster progress in the mission, or make our message or our approach more relevant to people in today’s world?

We seek to stay in tune with the times. We ask the Lord to lead us to the modern, fresh approaches that will more effectively spread the message and reach the lost in today’s world climate.

It is uplifting to see new methods of spreading the Gospel springing up in many mission fields. When you are face to face with the needs of the people you’re praying for and working hard to reach with God’s love, He is going to send new ideas and inspiration. God is a living, moving God. He is revolutionary and unconventional, and He’s well able to indicate a different tactic when that is what is needed to reach a particular field or culture with the Gospel. Different cultures require different approaches.

As the apostle Paul instructed, we are to “become all things to all men that we might by all means win some.”[6] Our members have a great deal of experience in appreciating the value of integrating into the local culture, being aware of the questions, longings, dreams, and heartaches of the people of the land in which they minister. This makes them more effective in becoming that “Bible bound in shoe leather” for those in need.

Members experiment with a vast array of approaches to spreading God’s message around the world. These approaches include such things as:

  • Online ministries.
  • Radio ministries.
  • YouTube ministries.
  • Life coaching.
  • Counseling troubled teenagers.
  • Caring for the elderly.
  • Working with homeless people.
  • Building orphanages and schools.
  • Therapy programs featuring laughter, sports, and animals.
  • Food kitchens.
  • Coffeehouses and English clubs.
  • Language centers and English libraries.
  • Care for the poor with HIV and other illnesses.
  • Multipurpose community centers.
  • Creation and demonstration of mimes, dramas, and dioramas.
  • Agricultural programs in rural areas.
  • Seminars for parents, children, and businessmen and women.
  • Creation of publications in local languages.
  • Prison, hospital, and orphanage ministries.
  • Local and multilingual websites.
  • Road trips to minister to the poor in remote areas.
  • Ministering spiritually and delivering relief for victims of natural disasters.
  • Bringing aid to refugees.
  • Experiential camps for underprivileged children.
  • Creation of English teaching materials with a spiritual message.
  • Student hostels.
  • Community learning centers.
  • Teaching classes and workshops on volunteerism.
  • Bible classes and spiritual retreats.
  • Mural painting in orphanages and hospitals.
  • Schools and educational programs for underprivileged children in rural areas.
  • Business training programs.
  • Day camps for orphan teenagers.
  • Ministries with the Deaf.
  • Activated magazine distribution.

If the Lord gives you a new idea, we encourage you to embrace it. Try it. See how it works. Maybe it won’t be as fruitful as you expected, but then again, maybe it will be way more fruitful than you expected. You’ll never know if you don’t try.

As David wrote:

Pioneers must have the vision to see what no one else can see; the faith to believe things no one else believes; the initiative to be the first to try it, and the courage and the guts to see it through![7]

God doesn’t lead everyone down the same path, so we also recognize and appreciate God’s anointing and leading for our co-laborers in their innovative ministries. Sometimes an outreach method or approach can seem a little far out there to us—something that perhaps we personally wouldn’t do—but time and again we have seen wonderful fruit borne from unconventional ministries, and we are grateful for the faith and obedience of our co-workers to put into action the things that God shows them.

Of course, “new” is not necessarily always better. Some of TFI’s enduring, time-tested methods of preaching the message continue to be very effective, including distribution of Activated magazines and other products.

The people of this vast world are reached in many different ways. We value the great variety of possible methods and approaches to preaching the Gospel because we value every unique individual who needs to be reached.

TFI is eager to encourage members trying new methods, even if it might be a bit of a stretch or something you’ve never done before. You never know how a venture will turn out unless you experiment. And if we squelch the leading of the Lord, it’s possible we’ll miss some very fruitful methods to preach the Gospel.

Consider these two scenarios: In the first, we see little fires springing up around us. They’re barely getting started; they’re just tiny flickering coals. But because these fires aren’t what we’re accustomed to, they’re not in our fireplaces or little hibachis, we run over to those tiny coals and quickly douse them with water. The fires are all quickly put out, and we’re glad we got that taken care of and under control, and we go back to our activities. Everything continues as usual.

Then there’s the other picture. We see teams moving about, starting little fires here and there. These fires also start out as tiny flickering coals. But these little fires are tended and stoked, and with time they grow into brilliant bonfires scattered throughout the countryside, where groups of people are gathered around the blaze enjoying the warmth, singing songs, praising the Lord, and enjoying the bonds of brotherhood. Gradually, more and more people come around to enjoy the scene, to get to know the others in the group, to warm themselves by the fire and to feast on the meal that has been prepared in the giant barbeque pit.

The moral of this little word picture about firefighters and fire lighters is pretty obvious, right? Let’s not be afraid of the fire of new ideas and tactics just because we or others have not tried them before. Let’s follow the Lord and see what light, warmth, and nourishment we can bring to the lost in our part of the world.

2 Timothy 1:6 says: “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you.” So let’s not put God in a box. We have natural boundaries and limitations, but God will go to great lengths to reach souls, and He never runs out of new ideas or methods. God is magnificent, and His thoughts are above ours, so serving Him in the mission is a continual adventure, if we’re willing to follow where He leads.

When God leads you to try something new and you make a commitment and take action, you are in line to receive God’s promises, one of which is “with God all things are possible.” Being attuned to God’s voice and following His instructions places you in that realm where “anything is possible.” It may take crazy faith at times to step out and obey God, but God honors faith.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the German writer, artist, and politician, said: "Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back…. [But] the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now."[8]

Of course, we acknowledge that the Lord may not be leading you to full-time ministry, which will likely place limits [on] your availability. Possibly you feel called right now to study, or possibly you’re caring for an aging parent, or you have a number of small children. These are important responsibilities as well, and raising a family provides the opportunity to guide hearts and young lives to God.

If you find that you have very little time right now for mission work and you can’t get into it like you want to, stay patient, have faith, stay open to the Lord’s voice, and be willing to follow, even if He leads you to small steps. And if God has shown you to do something and you don’t have the qualities or knowledge or time needed, bring others in to help. Build a team. This provides opportunities for others who want to contribute. Or you can participate in a project that is already underway. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians that there is a variety of gifts, service, and activities, but we’re all one body in Christ.

Some ministries might have more evident fruit and statistics of progress, other ministries less so, and they may grow slowly. But it’s one thing just to stick to what God has called you to do. It takes time to pioneer, develop, and establish a work; there are no overnight successes, and the fruit that remains that He has called and ordained us to bear takes time. But if you work faithfully and have patience, it is possible that the method or idea that God has given you or the door He has opened for you might blossom into a beautiful work for Him.

The core value we are addressing says: “When God guides, and we take action to follow Him, anything is possible.”

To believe that anything is possible, we need to have faith, the kind of faith Maria called “Jesus-In-Me Faith.” She described it like this:

Having faith in yourself means having faith in the Lord in you. That requires humility to acknowledge your inability, and at the same time to acknowledge the Lord's ability to do anything through you.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”[9] That kind of faith is allowing the Lord's strength to be perfect in your weakness.[10] It's about setting no limitations on God’s power, because nothing is impossible to Him.

It's appropriating faith. It's letting the Lord use you however He sees fit. It's faith that is confidence in Jesus. It's a combination of confidence in the Lord and His infallibility, and your faith to act on that confidence.[11]

Faith is a genuine spiritual power. If you're in God's will, if you have strong faith, you will be able to do anything that He calls you to do. So let’s follow God and do great things together!


Unless otherwise indicated, all scriptures are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

[1] Ecclesiastes 9:10 ESV.

[2] 1 Corinthians 12:4–7, 11–12 ESV.

[3] Ephesians 3:20–21 ESV.

[4] 2 Timothy 1:6 ESV.

[5] Matthew 19:26 ESV.

[6] 1 Corinthians 9:22.

[7] David Brandt Berg, “Mountain Men,” December 1969.

[8] Attributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, among several others. The Goethe Society of North America says that research indicates that part of the quote is from W. H. Murray, printed in The Scottish Himalaya Expedition, 1951, based on a translation of Goethe's work.

[9] Philippians 4:13 NKJV.

[10] 2 Corinthians 12:9.

[11] Maria Fontaine, HIM site post, August 2008.