You Were Made for More

Matt Shiles

A lifetime of engaging with Perspectives on the World Christian Movement

This fall I will participate in a 15-week Perspectives on the World Christian Movement class at University Presbyterian Church. Over the last five months, I’ve heard Pastor Gus Davies talk about this class over and over with passion. Recently I sat down with our local missions pastor and asked him what’s so compelling about this course and why you should join.

Matt: Why are you passionate about Perspectives on the World Christian Movement?

Pastor Gus: Great question, Matt, and thank you. Let me start by saying that the Perspectives course aligns with the Scripture verse that my wife and I have anchored on for over 36 years now, Colossians 1:28-29: “He [Jesus] is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.”
I am passionate because Perspectives helps us to apply that Bible verse. Perspectives is a tool and a resource for fulfilling the Great Commission, Matthew 28:19-20. Over the last 40 years of this course, it has been very reliable, relevant and readable. Reliable because it hasn’t shifted with time and culture. It is based on Scripture, history of the church and people of the nations. Relevant since it is used to train people in churches, colleges and mission organizations. And it’s readable because the content is accessible to everyone regardless of personal and professional calling and season of life.

Matt: You have a fascinating history of taking and teaching this class. Would you share with us some of that journey?

Pastor Gus: My first experience with Perspectives was in the ’80s at African Bible College in Liberia. I was doing my undergrad studies, and it was a requirement. My goal at that time was to focus on the anthropology culture aspect of the material. This is where I was first introduced to the writings of Steve Hawthorne, John Stott, Ralph Winter and Peter Wagner, to name a few in the world of mission. They were on the cutting edge of missions at the time. Reading their writings brought change in my perspective for God and the world. Ultimately I did it for the grade, but it changed me.
The next encounter was a few years later at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi. During seminary, reading materials from Perspectives was an elective for missions class. My advisor and mentor, Dr. Paul Long, encouraged me to take it because of the in-depth cross-cultural aspect of this material. For me, cross-cultural studies was an important focus since I was an African living in the United States.
Then, during my early days at Northland, in the late 1990s, I participated and helped facilitate the course over several years as part of the local and global missions team.
From around 2004 until last year I was in a season of putting it into practice. I was at a point where I wasn’t sure I needed more. But in 2016, I was invited to reengage in the process once again by a longtime pastor friend. Over the last year, my passion for this material, paired with my long history with it, has been reignited. Involvement this time looks like me leading and reproducing this for the next generation. This has included participating in a weeklong intensive to become a certified teacher and one that has committed to advancing it further. Involvement also looks like being part of the Central Florida coordinating team. This coordinating team has allowed me to move my focus from one local church to a stronger connection with other Central Florida churches and the amazing parachurch organizations headquartered in the area.

Matt: That’s an amazing history. Thank you for walking us through the last 30-plus years. It’s clear that God has used Perspectives to speak to you in unique ways at different periods of your spiritual growth and development. Can you describe three compelling truths you have learned from the material?

Pastor Gus: How to make disciples is the first compelling truth [and it] continues to be resonant. The material and curriculum is structured in a way that teaches disciple making in a comprehensive way. It covers biblical, historical, cultural and strategic aspects. The class framework of having 15 instructors over 15 weeks gives a rich model for students to learn firsthand how discipleship can be modeled. Including amazing interaction, engaging moments and deep exploration in learning.
The second compelling truth is that this is fruit-bearing material. Over the last 40 years, there has been a rich history of a wide-ranging audience being influenced and changing the world for God. This includes people from every age and season of life. Church workers, mission agencies, college students, professionals and retirees have all seen life transformations from this class.
The third compelling truth is the way leadership is taught and valued. The class equips and empowers leaders in all areas of ministry. To develop leaders, you need to give them content they can learn and apply. I see this applied to three different buckets of leaders. For new leaders, this material is for learning and application. For existing leaders, this is a tremendous tool for continuing education. And for those longtime leaders, it’s a tool to help reproduce yourself by creating more leaders.

Matt: How has Perspectives been a catalyst for transformation in your life?

Pastor Gus: My growth continues to grow deeper and to go wider as a follower of the King, rather than being a kingdom worker. I have this relationship with Jesus and huge responsibility from the King. I have to be doing something to reproduce my life in Christ. I think about knowledge in three areas: knowledge that is reproducible, transferable and sustainable. Looking back, the Lord has shown me again that for so long my discipleship and leadership development was focused on connecting, transferring and sustaining this knowledge to others. That served a purpose for that time. It is now important that I transition to much reproducing this knowledge. Leaving a legacy of leaders that continue to reproduce is honoring to the King and His mission.
Through this class I have also seen the power of invitation. An invitation by my advisor in seminary showed me the importance of cross-cultural communication to all peoples. And again, the power of invitation by a longtime pastor friend has brought me back to engage with Perspectives. I’m committed to inviting and reproducing myself so that others around me are able to grasp the truth that we were made for more.

Matt: Thank you for your faithfulness to accepting those invitations through the years. So many have benefited directly, and many more indirectly, from you answering the call. Now the invitation to come and experience Perspectives is extended to us.

Will you come and discover that you were made for more? Join Pastor Gus, me and other Northlanders as we journey through this material together August 21 through December 15 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at University Presbyterian Church, 2562 Rouse Road, Orlando. For more information and to sign up, go to perspectives.org/orlandofl or contact Pastor Gus at gus.davies@northlandchurch.net or 321-377-9213.