A Letter from Neil Cole
Dear friends,


For the past 20 years God has given me the task of prophetically calling His church back to her original DNA. During those years we have seen the conversation about the church change dramatically on a global scale. We have also seen the planting of tens of thousands of new churches. What an honor this journey has been.


Two years ago, God launched me unsuspecting into a new transition phase of life. While I continue to train people in organic expressions of the church and movemental ways of expanding God's kingdom, it is time for me to start a new endeavor. At 53 years old (today) I am pioneering again. Needless to say it is thrilling, scary and rewarding all at the same time. I love the new learning. I love the rising levels of creativity involved with starting new things. I love the reward of taking huge risks and seeing God work in unbelievable ways.


At first I was not sure what it was that I am being called to do. As I continued to listen and learn it has become clear. It is time to bring the global mission enterprise back to a place of health and fruitfulness. I have found that simply having a lot more churches everywhere is not enough to change the world, it's a start, but more is needed. Nothing shy of global transformation is in our sight. I truly believe that this is possible. Jesus would not have given us so great a commission (Matt. 28:18-20) and such incredible spiritual empowerment (Acts 1:8) at such a steep price (Romans 5:8; 2 Cor. 5:21) if it were not His authentic desire. But this is only possible if the kingdom expresses itself in indigenous, reproductive ways and is manifesting in all the spheres of society.


Starling Initiatives I am calling this new enterprise Starling Initiatives. I will be informing you more and more of this new venture as it unfolds, but for now let me just say that we will be a small, mobile, rapid response team that is uniquely experienced and built to catalyze many transformative works all over the world.


I am excited about this, and if you are too, here is how you can help:


You can pray for us. Prayer accesses and releases the power of God's kingdom. It removes obstacles and opens doors that no strategy or method can do. It is, without doubt, the most impactful work any of us endeavor to do. Each of you can play that important part in this global work and you can do so right where God planted you. Even if you are not on our equipping team you can be a part of the most important team: our intercessor team.


You can financially support us. It will cost us a fraction of the amount that a typical mission agency costs, and it our hope that it will produce ten times as much fruit, making this a worthy and intelligent investment. All on the team have already proven that they can do this individually, and now we want to see what can happen collectively, and you can be a part of it. We can accelerate the global kingdom expansion and better prepare us all for Christ's return.


Many are surprised to hear that until this time I have never raised personal support for ministry. I haven't spoken against it (though I have against some of the abuses) and I understand Biblically how it is at times necessary, but I haven't been lead to do so myself until now. In the last year, the Lord has not only released me to raise support, but clearly directed me to. So if you are so led please feel welcome to join my support team.


CMA as a movement will continue. Greenhouse training and the resources we have created will all continue to be developed and deployed. But now we will expand the focus of what we do to encompass a much larger goal, hopefully one fit for the Savior we have.


If you would like to contribute to my support here is where you can do it. I will send out regular prayer updates. For now, pray that God would bring together the best team possible for this and that He would free all of them up for this grand opportunity.


Pressing on,


Neil Cole


P.S. We are taking this year to form our own independent non-profit. Josiah Venture is a very able mission agency and they have graciously invited us to run our initial support through them until we are able to stand on our own.


Why Call it Starling Initiatives?


A starling is a hearty bird that seems to prosper in any part of the world where it is introduced. Starlings can be very diverse in color and appearance, but pretty much they are the same kind of bird.


They are a smart bird, in fact they can even be taught to mimic sounds and human speech (a Myna bird is a type of Starling).


What is most remarkable about the starling is when they fly together in what appears like a well-coordinated swarm of birds. This is called murmuration. Scientists cannot explain how so many birds can all move at once, varying angles and velocity, as though they were all hearing from the same source. In such cases each small bird becomes part of a much larger organic thing that seems to act as one. They do this to resist predators. Alone, a starling is a small and weak little bird. Together a murmuration is powerful. I believe this is a picture of the kingdom of God as it is meant to thrive all over the world.


Starling Initiatives will remain small and highly mobile. Our aim is not to grow a large lumbering organization that costs more and more and increases its own need for self-preservation. Instead, we choose to remain small, reproductive and highly responsive. And we intend to birth many more of the same all over the world. Our most essential value is to remain small, healthy, quick and always respond to the voice of our Father. As the flock grows the murmuration can become more and more complex and beautiful and yet never be a large corporation.


Ted If you would like to understand more about murmuration here is a link to a TED talk presented by Don Tapscott that is very helpful in presenting a global context for such thinking and using starlings to picture a way of working better in today's rapidly changing world.


Starling Initiatives
Developing a  
Starling Initiatives  Team

I set out a few months ago to recruit the very best leaders I could find to join me in a new enterprise. These people are not necessarily most famous thinkers and speakers of the missional church (though some truly are that); they are all practitioners that have done the work in challenging environments and in remarkable ways. Honestly, they are all thriving leaders who have busy lives with their own work to attend to; so I fully expected them all to decline politely. To my shock almost all have responded affirmatively believing that God is saying the same thing to them at this time. Wow, what confirmation.


Each one is not just experienced, but their experience was fruitful at empowering others to reproduce. Each member is mature enough that they now find their sense of importance in the fruitfulness of others. They are more concerned with others success than their own. In a sense, our fruit grows on other people's trees now. This is important when you want to ignite movements in other cultures and languages and do not want to create unhealthy dependence upon expert leaders with US models and dollars.


None of us are out to prove ourselves, in a sense we've already done that (and bought the t-shirt). We want to help others to become change agents in their own environment and release kingdom movement into all the spheres of society...and to every nation. We never plan to become a large corporation. We have no plans for a large offices and an expensive staff to administer it. Our movement will be decentralized and our resources and power will be distributed rather than held onto and protected by a board of directors or corporate headquarters.






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Missions is broken and needs to change


As I have traveled all over the world equipping the church to do mission I have discovered that the way missions has been done for the past 100+ years is broken.


For two decades we helped to get the missional church on track but we found the avenues for international missions were not suitable for this new breed of kingdom minded missionaries. There was a breakdown in the mission. Those trained in organic church struggled in suffocating organizational structures. At the same time, the mission organizations that have been in place were often threatened by the emerging new forms of church and leadership and were also incapable of initiating works with this new paradigm. In fact, their livelihood depended upon them not understanding and accepting the new paradigm.


In just ten years time (ca 47-57 AD) the apostle Paul was able to establish a thriving expression of the kingdom of God in five different provinces of the Roman Empire: Galatia, Macedonia, Achaia, Asia Minor and Illyricum. After that he had nothing more to do there and was off to other places further west. Today we do not see even one people group reached in the same amount of time. We have air travel, mobile phones, the internet, rapid transit, computers, Bible aids, mass communication and a an abundance of publications, none of which was available to Paul. At the same time, we also have the same God, the same empowering presence of the Holy Spirit and the same powerful good news that he had. Nevertheless we are struggling to see even a fraction of the fruitfulness he saw and it is taking us a whole lot longer for what little fruit we see. Surely we are doing something wrong.


I am convinced that we can save billions of dollars and accomplish 10 times the results if we have the courage to do missions differently. Mission agency dysfunction has been a well-known secret that can no longer be denied or contained, yet is unpopular to speak about. We are sending too many people, the wrong kind of people, who are staying too long, costing too much, and not leaving behind a healthy, well-rounded and indigenous movement that is strong enough to endure let alone send missionaries to other places. This must change. The past 20 years God called me to give mission back to the church. Now God is calling me to bring the healthy church back into missions.


We simply cannot expect current mission agencies to correct a problem that they are contributing to and not designed to fix...and one that they actually benefit from maintaining. More of the same will only produce more of the same. So I, and a few others, feel called to start something new, something more organic, movemental and indigenously empowering. And we need to start something that does not produce a dependence upon US dollars, leadership and models of ministry. This is why we are starting Starling Initiatives.