Thinking Out Loud

February 15, 2016

The Changing Face of the Global Church

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

I am no doubt a better person for the various books I have reviewed here over the years., but honestly, I’ve probably forgotten some of them. There is however one title that I still find myself quoting in discussions, particularly on the subject of missions, but often about the global church in general. 

Two very different missionaries are presented, one the author calls “Mission Marm,” the other is “Apple Guy.” Two vastly different mindsets having to join together not unlike the branches of the river above referenced in the book’s title. Reading that analogy alone is worth the price of admission.

This was the second half of a two part review I did  — here’s a link to  the original first part — of a 2010 book by Fritz Kling, The Meeting of the Waters: 7 Global Currents That Will Propel the Future Church (David C. Cook, still in print). 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 a 2008 cyclone that hit Burma. As the book was being published a major earthquake struck Haiti.) 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 originally stated, I still 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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March 21, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Click the image above for sourcing; meanwhile, here are the rest of this week’s suggested readings:

  • The Economist catches up to the wind of Evangelical and Charismatic Christianity blowing through the church in the UK.  Yeah, really, The Economist. 
  • I was recently scanning the four youth books that deal with cutting, addiction, abuse and food disorders by Nancy Alcorn, and noticed the books are somewhat of a commercial for something called Mercy Ministries. Then I read this report.
  • Last week while we were linklisting here, Pete Wilson posted an article about all the damage being done by Facebook. Except that Facebook isn’t really the culprit
  • At Internet Monk, Denise Spencer, wife of the late Michael Spencer who founded iMonk, shares some insights she discovered after being lost in a forest.
  • Why do so many Christian blogs have Christian book reviews, and so few have Christian music reviews? Amy Sondova at Backseat Writer is the exception with this in-depth CD review of The Same Love by Paul Baloche.
  • Here’s an intriguing idea: What if we read the directives in Paul’s epistles in the first person? This example from Galatians 3 models what could be an instant small group exercise. B. J. Stockman guest posts at Zach’s. (Chapters one and two are also blogged there.)
  • Here’s an opportunity to wear your Spandex to the Red Sea: Stryper frontman Michael Sweet is leading a Holy Land tour.
  • Why Writers Need Editors: A guy we associate with alternative Christian media doesn’t have much use for mainstream Christian media. Maybe too much so.  He apologizes, sort of.
  • Here’s a short story that will rock your world when it comes to how we tend to view who pays for what when it comes to missions. Not everyone gets a 4-star hotel with M&Ms (red ones removed) either.
  • Texas pastor and blogger Trey Morgan was involved in a house giveaway last week that didn’t involve either Habitat for Humanity or Extreme Makeover Home Edition. It’s the second house they’ve given away. (Here’s more about the first one.)
  • If some are chosen, elect or predestined, why evangelize? Here’s a Calvinist with seven Biblical reasons.
  • Wanna go deep? Here’s an article about the concept that worship is a physical act; there isn’t a higher or purer worship to be experienced; not in this life.
  • Author Linda Mintle talks to CBN News about the “Am I Pretty?” YouTube video disturbing teen trend.
  • And here’s another parenting must-read: Brad Whitt’s 20 Ways To Tell Your Child You Love Them
  • Know someone responsible for worship and/or creative arts ministry in your local church? Tell them about Sunday online magazine.
  • Dave Carrol has a great quotation from Randy Bohlender’s new book, Jesus Killed My Church.
  • Speaking of books, Rick Apperson reviews the new Mike Howerton book Glorious Mess which he found literally too funny.
  • Here’s a blog link just for the sisters; but the guys can read it, too. Sometimes parents exasperate their kids because we think that they have to learn to do a task the way we do it.
  • Hometown (sort of) rapper Chris Greenwood aka Manafest, has a new album, Fighter releasing in April. One of the producers worked with Justin Bieber while another produced for The Newsboys.
  • Don’t forget to have your link suggestions in by Monday night.
  • For our closing picture below, we ask the musical question: Why throw out your old car parts when they can be part of the church stage design on Sunday morning? Click the image for the story link.

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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