Thinking Out Loud

February 19, 2010

Seven Currents Affecting The Global Church

"The Meeting of the Waters" in Manaus, Brazil: Two visually distinct rivers converge to form the Amazon River

This is part two of a review begun on Sunday of a new book by Fritz Kling, The Meeting of the Waters:  7 Global Currents That Will Propel the Future Church (David C. Cook, publishing March 2010).   The book is based on what the author calls “The Global Church Listening Tour;” one-hour interviews with 151 church leaders in nineteen countries.

As Canadians, we often find ourselves despairing over the USA-centric approach of many popular Christian books.   So one expects a book with a ‘global’ perspective to transcend any particular nation.   However, in some chapters more than others, Kling would relate his findings to the church in America.   In this case that’s a good thing.   If the book were just theoretical it would not accomplish much.   Some of the real value here — although it’s never truly spelled out in ‘macro versus micro’ terms — is the application of what’s happening globally to the local church; the church you and I attend on weekends.  But then again, this is a very, very ‘macro’ kind of book.

So what are the seven currents?   There’s a great economy of language in Fritz Kling’s writing style, so I can’t do this adequately, but here’s a few things that stood out:

  1. Mercy — Kling uses an anecdotal approach in this social justice section: a young woman who gives up a promising law career to work with oppressed people in India; a young man who is a native of India who operates a technology firm guided by Sermon-on-the-Mount principles.
  2. Mutuality — It’s hard to function in the global church if you think you or the country you come from has all the answers; and that bias leads to further believing that you (or we) should be the ones in charge.  He also suggests that people in other parts of the world don’t understand our various debates about practices or behaviors or doctrines, since they simply take the Bible at literal face value.
  3. Migration — There are three issues here:   Worldwide migration patterns in general; the migration taking place from rural areas to cities at a time when churches are fleeing the urban core for the suburbs; and the ministry opportunities that exist when you have displaced, and therefore lonely people all around.
  4. Monoculture — This chapter looks at the dominance of the English language as a symptom of the much larger, accelerating spread of Western culture, and in particular, Western youth culture.
  5. Machines — Kling begins with a look at technology as a tool in disaster relief.  (He mentions the cyclone in May, 2008 that hit Burma.   One wonders if delaying the book to include mention of Haiti might have made it more pertinent.)   He moves on to discuss the role of technology in evangelism, and backtracks to show how that motive led to some other technological applications now enjoyed worldwide.
  6. Mediation — Kling delineates several areas where there is a need for reconciliation and mediation.   He notes this will be a challenge for Westerners to function in a world that has become, in particular, very anti-American.   He speaks in detail of the conflicts that exist, “not between Muslims and Christians, but between Muslims and other [more militant] Muslims.”   Kling believes Christians should be leading the way toward reconciliation on all fronts.
  7. Memory — Knowing the past can be a blessing and a curse, but in many places, Kling sees more downside than upside, with entire cultures having a depreciated view of themselves.   Still, Christians need to fully enter into, understand and even embrace the history of the place where they serve, and from there aim to bring hope and wholeness.

As I stated in part one, I truly hope this book finds the wider audience it is deserving of.   This is a book for pastors and missiologists for sure, but I think it’s also a title that business leaders, church board members and people who simply care about the future of the church should want to study.

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4 Comments »

  1. [...] To read part two of this review, click here. Comments [...]

    Pingback by Currently Reading: The Meeting of the Waters « Thinking Out Loud — February 19, 2010 @ 9:26 am

  2. Paul, thanks for the great comments in Part 1 and Part 2 of your review.

    I especially liked your comment: “This is a book for pastors and missiologists for sure, but I think it’s also a title that business leaders, church board members and people who simply care about the future of the church should want to study.” That was my intention in writing the book- to share my great enthusiasm and love for the global church (meaning the body of believers around the world), and to help people know it’s also downright interesting and fun. In my mind, the people I’ve met are rock stars. But, through all the stories, I hope there are many lessons about missiology (not a very friendly or accessible word, so I don’t like to use it).

    I’m glad it served you, and I pray that believers around the world will be encouraged and mobilized by the book.

    Fritz Kling

    Comment by fritzkling — February 20, 2010 @ 8:17 am

  3. [...] website — which contains many more sections I would like to reprint here reminded me of the book review I did two weeks ago, in which author Fritz Kling says that mutuality is one of the seven currents [...]

    Pingback by Abilities Church: A Ministry Role Model « Thinking Out Loud — March 1, 2010 @ 9:29 am

  4. [...] book, worthy of being carried in even smaller stores.   Read part one of the review, and then read part two.    I truly hope this book finds the wider audience it is deserving of. This is a book for [...]

    Pingback by Seven Currents Affecting the Global Church « Christian Book Shop Talk — March 3, 2010 @ 9:34 am


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