Thinking Out Loud

February 5, 2019

Don Richardson Wrote the Playbook on Finding Creative Analogies

Filed under: Christianity, evangelism, missions — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:59 am

For anyone studying to prepare for a vocational ministry career in third world missions, Peace Child by Don Richardson (Bethany House) is required reading.

As the publisher explains: “In 1962, Don and Carol Richardson risked their lives to share the gospel with the Sawi people of New Guinea. Peace Child tells their unforgettable story of living among these headhunters and cannibals, who valued treachery through fattening victims with friendship before the slaughter. God gave Don and Carol the key to the Sawi hearts via a redemptive analogy from their own mythology…”

I thought it was interesting that, depending on who you are, you can get into a lot of trouble for introducing analogies that include stories from the lore of other tribes and even other religions; but in missions, sometimes it can almost be a necessity.

His Wikipedia page contains this remembrance by Ruth Tucker:

As he learned the language and lived with the people, he became more aware of the gulf that separated his Christian worldview from the worldview of the Sawi: “In their eyes, Judas, not Jesus, was the hero of the Gospels, Jesus was just the dupe to be laughed at.” Eventually Richardson discovered what he referred to as a Redemptive Analogy that pointed to the Incarnate Christ far more clearly than any biblical passage alone could have done. What he discovered was the Sawi concept of the Peace Child.

In November of 1979, I was in the same room as Don Richardson; a showing of the movie version of Peace Child at the Valley Vineyard Church in Southern California. I was basically just a kid, and had no idea in whose presence I was. I wish I had at least shaken his hand…

…We learned last week that Don had passed away in December. His book Peace Child, originally written in 1975 and revised in 2007, is still in print, as are several others including Eternity in their Hearts, Lords of the Earth, Secrets of the Koran and Heaven Wins

…Some of Don Richardson’s pioneering efforts continue today in a rather different form through Mustard Seed International and coincidentally, one of the directors of that organization moved to our area a couple of years ago, and we got a bit of a refresher about Don and the work of another missionary states-person, Lillian Dickson.

Almost a year ago, I wrote a profile about the organization which you can read at this link.

Also, if you’re interested, Moira Brown of 100 Huntley Street interviews Don Richardson in 2012 at this link. (21 minutes.)

Advertisements

November 24, 2018

When Missionary Zeal Exceeds Common Sense

There are times when you’re thinking something, but you don’t say it. One of those times is immediately following someone’s passing, especially if it was under unusual circumstances. “She shouldn’t have tried to do that electrical repair herself.” “He really shouldn’t have taken off from the airport in that storm.” “He really shouldn’t have always been eating chocolate cake.”

And yet, hours after we learned of his passing, Christian Today asked the questions we were all thinking about the young missionary killed one week ago today (Saturday, Nov.17th) on an island east of India in the Bay of Bengal.

It’s impossible to look at a photograph of John Allen Chau, the young American killed by tribes-people on North Sentinel Island, without sadness. He is in the full glow of youth, with decades of life ahead of him. His friends and family have paid tribute to his gifts and his character: ‘He was a beloved son, brother, uncle and best friend to us. To others he was a Christian missionary, a wilderness EMT [Emergency Medical Technician], an international soccer coach, and a mountaineer’, they wrote on Instagram.

…But this tragedy raises questions that sadness cannot be allowed to silence.

The article goes on to describe the challenges:

North Sentinel Island is inhabited by a few – anything from few dozen to a few hundred – tribes-people who are among the most isolated in the world. Though rules appear to have been confusingly slackened quite recently, they are still out of bounds for tourists. The Indian government believes the best policy for the islanders is to allow them the isolation they clearly desire – they killed two fishermen in 2006 – and operates a ‘hands off, eyes on’ policy, patrolling the coast to deter anyone from landing. A key reason for this is the vulnerability of the tribes-people to modern diseases: their isolation means they lack the antibodies to protect them.

And then, the central part of the article:

He wrote to his parents: ‘You guys might think I’m crazy in all this, but I think it’s worth it to declare Jesus to these people.

‘Please do not be angry at them or at God if I get killed. Rather, please live your lives in obedience to whatever he has called you to and I’ll see you again when you pass through the veil…’

…One response, then, is to hail Chau as a martyr… But those questions won’t go away.

His landing on the island was illegal. Should his personal convictions allow him to override the rule of law?

Not only did he break the law himself – and there might certainly be cases where Christians would feel free do to that – but he implicated other people in his lawbreaking. Is that justifiable?

He was putting lives at risk – not just his own, but the North Sentinelese themselves, who lacked any immunity to any pathogens he may have been carrying. Suppose the price of his evangelism was the deaths of those he evangelised – would it really have been worth it?

He was going against their clearly expressed wishes and invading their territory. Why should he have thought they would welcome him, when others had been driven away or killed?

Who knew what he was doing, and to whom was he accountable?

How, when he didn’t speak their language, was he going to witness effectively to them?

Continue reading here. (Christian Today is based in London, and is not related to the U.S. Christianity Today.)

Each of the questions they raise could be fleshed out into further detail.

In discussion earlier today at Internet Monk, Robert wrote:

I see John Allen Chau as a victim of disordered Christian ideas of what constitutes evangelism. It is now historically known that Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire by the organic process of relational networks, not the heroic efforts of a few super-evangelists, for all intents and purposes parachuting into completely alien and unknown hostile territories and peoples.

Unfortunately, I think the Church came to glamorize and idealize the super-evangelist along with the martyr at a very early point; the two overlap in significant ways, and many early Christians seem to have intentionally sought martyrdom in an even more reckless manner than Chau’s attempt to evangelize the Indian tribe. Reading some of the accounts of the early martyrs, you get the impression that they are committing suicide by the hand of the pagan government, the way some people commit suicide by cop today. I see John Allen Chau as someone acting very much in line with that psychologically and socially unhealthy tradition and legacy. May he rest in peace.

The writer “Burro” adds something that some will find difficult to read:

The Protestant hagiography surrounding the deaths of the missionaries Jim Elliott, Nate Saint, and their compatriots to the Ecuadorian indigenous people is cut from the same cloth.

Although their mission was more anthropologically informed and ultimately successful, there doesn’t seem to be much difference between Jim Elliott’s mission and that of John Chau, except that Jim Elliott had a whip-smart and eloquent widow as a PR agent, and a less de-Christianized culture to receive the message.

Iain writes,

One more tragic thing about John Allen Chau, and the toxic mindset he was the victim of, is that it doesn’t seem to me to be about actually bringing people to Christ at all. It is all about the act of evangelism as a good in itself for the spiritual benefit (or if I am snarky the acquisition of divine brownie points) by the evangliser himself.

Apparently no-one even knows what language the people he was intruding on speak, and certainly no-one understands it, and from the extracts from his diary published he was attempting in fact to evangelise them in, of all things, English. The people he was interfering with apparently attack outsiders on sight because their last interaction with the outside world had a number of their people kidnapped and killed, and a great proportion of them wiped out by disease. There is no way he could possibly have successfully communicated anything to them, and arriving there could only have potentially done them serious harm. He must have known this, or at the best never bothered to find out but, and here’s the crucial bit, can’t have thought it mattered.

I don’t know if John Allen Chau deliberately wanted to be a martyr, or what he thought would happen, but it seems plain that someone has taught him that this is what he had to do to earn God’s approval, or save himself from wrath, or some such, and he died futilely because of it. Whoever taught him this killed him as surely as the guy with the bow and arrows, and without the justification that the guy who shot him had, that he was simply (and arguably not even misguidedly) defending his family and home.

I feel sorry for John Allen Chau and his family and hope he can find the rest and peace in death he clearly could not find in life, which drove him to this tragic and foolish death.

Jean writes,

…Mr. Chau had to hire someone to get him into space he was forbidden to enter, evade Indian patrol boats, risk (and ultimately lose) his own life, in order to reach a people who didn’t want to be reached, whose language he did not know, to “tell them about Christ.” He returned to the island after he had been injured by an arrow the day before. He seems, to me, to have been a man seeking martyrdom for his own reasons. He left behind a grieving family, a people possibly exposed to diseases to which they have no immunity, and seven Indian fishermen arrested for helping him break the law. What good did any of that do?

Lastly, some interesting food for thought from Christiane

…I know Mr. Chau wanted to bring Christ to them, but maybe they are already in His care, unbeknownst to Mr. Chau or to themselves. Such is the lack of humility that many who see such tribes as ‘the lost’ may not realize that our lives exist because of the breath of God in our nostrils. Those primitive people ARE in the hands of the Lord, and to impatiently cause them to wound, injure, or kill out of fearfulness seems more the action of a ‘lost’ person than of someone seeking to bring them salvation…

You can add your thoughts to the discussion at Internet Monk. (There is no specific article there per se; the comments were following a short link which appeared in the Saturday news roundup.)

In the end, I think that Christian Today and those leaving comments today at Internet Monk do need to ask the critical questions; if only so that valuable lessons can be learned and we can avoid repetition of this horrible tragedy.

That may be John Chau’s greatest contribution to world missions.

photo: All Nations (mission agency); map: Wikipedia commons

April 24, 2018

Evangelicals: A Guided World Tour

As Global Ambassador for the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), Brian Stiller has a big-picture perspective unlike anyone else on the planet. His two most recent books have confirmed this: Evangelicals Around the World: A Global Handbook for the 21st Century (Zondervan, 2015) and An Insider’s Guide to Praying for the World (Baker, 2016). Simply put, Brian Stiller is a walking encyclopedia on all things Evangelical and he gains his information not from typical research but through firsthand, on-the-ground observation and involvement. We’re talking both frequent flyer miles, and the recognition of Christian leaders on every continent.

This time around he’s with InterVarsity Press (IVP) for From Jerusalem to Timbuktu: A World Tour of the Spread of Christianity (248 pages, paperback).

So…about that title. Brian Stiller argues that if we see Jerusalem as the birthplace, and thereby global center of Christianity, that center point moved up into Europe and then back down and then, around 1970 that center started shifting to the global south. The impact of this is huge; it means that North American and Western Europe are no longer setting the agenda for Christianity. It also means that one particular nation, rocked by the link between Evangelicalism and the election of a particular leader and now trying to consider if it’s time to rename the group entirely, simply cannot be allowed to dictate that change when one considers all that Evangelicals, quite happy with the term, are doing in the rest of the world.

Disclaimer: I am blessed to know Brian personally. His wealth of knowledge impacted me when I sat in the offices of Faith Today magazine, and Brian rhymed off the names of organizations founded in the years immediately following World War II, and then how, as these maverick, dynamic leaders passed the baton to the next generation, these organizations entered a type of maintenance mode, with lessened radical initiative. As Director of Youth for Christ Canada, President of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (this country’s counterpart to the NAE), President of Tyndale University College and Seminary and now Global World Ambassador for the WEA, he has truly lived four distinct lifetimes.

But that’s not the topic for this book. Rather he looks at five drivers which have characterized the growth of Evangelicalism globally. These are:

  1. An undeniable increase in emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit.
  2. The fruit of years of work by Bible translators.
  3. A shift towards using national (indigenous) workers to lead.
  4. A greater engagement with legislators and governments.
  5. A return to the teachings of Jesus regarding compassion and justice.

Beginning with the first of these, Brian doesn’t hide his own Pentecostal/Charismatic roots, something I haven’t seen as much in his earlier books. A final chapter looks at the influence of prayer movements, the role of women in ministry, the trend in praise and worship music, the challenge of welcoming refugees, and the constant spectre of persecution.

The book compresses decades of modern church history into a concise collection of data and analysis.  It is an answer to the question, “What in the world is God doing?”

I know of no better title on the subject simply because I know of no one more qualified to write it. This is an excellent overview for the person wanting to see the arc of Evangelicalism since its inception or the person who is new to this aspect of faith and wants to catch up on what they’ve missed.

For both types of people, this is a great book to own.

► See the book’s page at the IVP website.

January 27, 2017

Contextualizing Your Message for Different Worldviews

GoodseedMany years ago at the MissionFest event in Toronto — a sort of trade fair for domestic and foreign mission agencies — we encountered representatives from GoodSeed Canada’s Quebec branch, who introduced us to four rather unique products. They were essentially the same book but each edition was tailored to a particular audience: People who grew up aware of traditional Christianity; people whose influences were largely Eastern; people whose background was more atheist, agnostic, pantheist or New Age; and children. As a lover of apologetics, I probably would have bought just about anything they offered, but the shared characteristics of all four books intrigued me.

the-stranger-from-goodseedThe Stranger on the Road to Emmaus is aimed at adults and teens who have been primarily influenced by Christianity, whether Protestant, Catholic or Orthodox, but are not necessarily believers. It’s published in ten languages, with optional workbooks available in six languages. There’s also an audio book available in English and Spanish, and an interactive DVD curriculum.

All That the Prophets Have Spoken is aimed at adults and teens who have been primarily influenced by Islam, but are not necessarily Muslim in belief.  It has 25% different content than The Stranger and is available in five languages with workbooks in two.

By The Name is aimed at adults and teens who have been primarily influenced by polytheism, pantheism, atheism, agnosticism or animism; or see themselves as a post-modern, post-Christian or secularist.  It is available in English and French.

The Lamb Story is a picture book hardcover is aimed at children age four and up from different backgrounds. It is available seven languages, with PowerPoint and DVD, CD audio, and DVD versions in English.

These aren’t new titles. So why share them here today? I think the idea behind this set of books is exactly what’s missing right now in Christian publishing. We generally publish books for Christians. The already on-side. Preaching to the choir. Imagine having a resource that you could place in the hands of two vastly different acquaintances which was written specifically for each of them. Consider the idea that instead of publishers establishing a brand through doing regular, large print, student versions and study guides, they pursue the title along the lines of different worldviews. Everybody in Christian publishing should be copying this concept to some degree.

Check out the graphic image below which also lists the various languages in which each is published. GoodSeed has branches in Canada, Australia, Scotland, Germany and the U.S.  You can learn more at the ministry headquarters home page, or link to find the store in the country nearest you. Even if you’re not in the market for this right now, take a look at the concept and remember these the next time you encounter that person for whom the existing catalog of Christian products is insufficient.

good-seed-titles

 

February 26, 2016

Book Makes Praying for the World More Intimate, More Personal

Today I want to recommend a book to you that was not given to me for review nor do I have a copy in front of me as I write this; but it’s one in a book genre that I feel is essential reading for any individual or family who wants to expand their prayer focus farther than their own immediate family and friends; beyond their own city or town.

Brian StillerBrian Stiller is what I would call a Christian statesman, a phrase which I take to mean a person who is both well-versed and widely-traveled and thereby is unusually forthright when it comes to the political,  economic and spiritual conditions and issues in various parts of the world. As Global Ambassador with the World Evangelical Alliance he is also the former President of Youth for Christ Canada, former President of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (the Canadian equivalent of NAE) and former President of Tyndale College and Seminary in Toronto.

I’ve had the privilege of meeting with Brian at each of these stages and he was gracious enough to allow me to interview him for a magazine when he was at EFC, and there were things he said that day which I can still quote verbatim.

His book, An Insider’s Guide to Praying for the World (Bethany House, 2016, paper) would fall into the same category as the popular Operation World which is an exhaustive index of the countries of the world and the particular challenges each presents in terms of the spread of the gospel.

However, where Operation World is exhaustive, Praying for the World is personal. Brian Stiller shares from his own experiences, having visited the various countries covered in the book. The book is thereby somewhat autobiographical, but I would argue that Stiller’s write-ups for each are both subjective and objective at the same time.

Of the 52 chapters, not every one is about a unique nation:

  • 3 deal with prison ministries
  • 1 is a general perspective
  • 1 is about global prayer initiatives
  • 1 looks at The Pope
  • 1 looks at a religion rather than a nation, in this case Islam
  • 2 repeat a country; Vietnam and Rwanda each have two chapters

By my calculations, that means 43 countries remain; countries that most of us will never visit at all, but in this one book we’re afforded the opportunity to see these nations and their needs through Brian Stiller’s eyes. The 52 chapters may be read in any order, or consulted for reference. 

Each section contains:

  • an overview of that country
  • Brian’s ‘dispatch’ from that nation; the main essay
  • a key Bible verse
  • specific items for prayer
  • a suggested guided prayer

The potential uses for Praying for the World are many, but would include everything from your family prayer time, to giving to your missions committee, to having a copy in your church library.

Brian C Stiller - An Insider's Guide to Praying for the World

 

 

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.

February 27, 2013

Wednesday Link List

Bart Simpson - Love Wins

Link and the world links with you…  The cartoon? See item 4 below:

For Heaven's Sake - Feb 4 2013

June 13, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Did you catch the weekend link list? Lots of good stuff there, and here, too.

  • First link today is long — I didn’t get through all five pages — but it’s interesting: When we think of unreached people groups, we tend to think of groups that are marginalized, but Eric Metaxas says we should also consider reaching the elites. (Hey, that’s easy for him now that he’s preached the Presidential Prayer Breakfast…)
  • Brad Lomenick Skypes with worship songwriter Tim Hughes in London. Tim serves on staff at HTB, the birthplace of The Alpha Course.
  • Really enjoying the Phil Vischer podcast with Skye Jethani.  Episode two is now available to download or stream live.
  • Shai Linne is a Christian rap artist who, “eloquently explains the trinitarian nature of salvation with poetic clarity.”  Check out the video for Triune Praise.
  • Revell Publishing will issue a biography from Patty Mallette, aka Justin Bieber’s mom. “…a teen mom who had to overcome a drug and alcohol addiction; she now believes God gives second chances. The book is titled Nowhere But Up.
  • The SCL’s keep on coming: Here’s 12 Signs You Attend a Suburban Church.
  • When Jared Wilson left Nashville for rural Vermont, he was told the move was a real career killer.  But, reminded by Tim Keller, we need to jettison the mindset that small(er) town ministry is second rate.
  • InterVarsity Press’ Andy LePeau cites a study that shows enhanced (interactive) ebooks actually yield lower comprehension.
  • Truthinator posted a “parody of Emergent Church Planting” at Xtra Normal a few years too late, but we through it in here anyway.
  • Dan Gouge points out that for some people, the final takeaway from the tsunami in Japan is that Maru the cat survived.
  • Marriage Corner: Some people feel that patriarchy is based on pragmatics: “Somebody has to make the final decision. Somebody has to break the tie.” Richard Beck thinks there are not that many tie votes. (See all submissions — pun accidental — in this synchroblog series here.)
  • Should you date a non-Christian? I think you know where this is going. “Don’t misunderstand me here. You’re not looking for a saint, but you are looking for someone with a hungry heart for Jesus. If that’s present, Jesus will take care of the rest.”  The reasons are practical.
  • Looking for a smile today? Here’s a video and some analysis of what could be the worst eschatological song ever.
  • Gotta go…time for some food:

August 17, 2011

Wednesday Link List

Time for another episode of Link-O-Rama…

  • Our opening graphic is a t-shirt from Café Press which can be yours for only $27.00 U.S.  It’s called “The lamest sin.”
  • In a single-shot sermon from a guy who always preaches in series, Andy Stanley delivers the strongest-ever apologetic for small group ministry in a message titled Stumbling Along.
  • Bill Hybels addresses delegates to this year’s Leadership Summit as to why Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, was pressured by the gay community into cancelling his signed contract to be a speaker at the event.
  • In this week’s chapter of Schullergate, the big glass church gets told they can’t decide not to sell, but need  to accept one of the bid offers.  Details at Orange County Register, but follow the Register for updates on this as the story changes regularly.    This just in: The Roman Catholic diocese has raised its bid.
  • CBN News reports an affiliate of a well-known terror organization is using four animated cartoons to recruit children.
  • Kanon Tipton - Pint Sized Preacher

    A kids story of another kind: Kanon Tipton, the 4-year old “pint-sized preacher” gets interviewed on NBC’s Today Show.

  • Here’s another one of those online prayer request sites.  I’m not sure about all this.  I still think your best bet is to be involved with a group of brothers and sisters who will come alongside to pray with you when you need them.  Fall is a good time to join a small group.  If your church doesn’t have them, find one that does which allows outsiders to join.
  • Fall kickoff got you bewildered?  Here are ten reason to under program your church from Jared Wilson.  Sample: “If a church looks like it’s doing lots of things, we tend to think it’s doing great things for God. When really it may just be providing lots of religious goods and services. “
  • The boomers aren’t going to accept being called “seniors” which raises other questions about how we do “seniors’ ministry.”  Start at Trey Morgan’s blog and then link through for more from Thom Rainer.
  • It’s not just hell and heaven.  Some Evangelical scholars are questioning the whole “Adam and Eve” thing.  Start at Tony Jones’ blog and the click through for the full NPR story.
  • The current Miss Canada, Tara Teng, kicked of the Ignite the Road to Justice Tour on Monday, traveling from Vancouver to Ottawa thru September 4th to raise awareness of human trafficking.  More in this story at B.C. Province.
  • Speaking of which, Dr. Robert Peterson of Covenant Theological Seminary offers a video response to Rob Bell’s Love Wins.
  • Pete Wilson gets embedded deep behind the lines at Saddleback Church and does some serious Megachurch myth-busting.
  • Indie music link of the week: Toronto-based Every Spare Second — click the titles in the left margin to play full songs.  Similar to Owl City and To Tell.
  • Greg Laurie says that casual, consensual sex is hurting America.
  • Christianity Today talks to the cast and director of the movie, The Help.
  • Pastor Michael Minor decided the best way to fight the obesity epidemic was to begin in the church fellowship hall.  Might not be a lot finger-lickin’ going on at his Tampa church.
  • On Thursday, Regent Radio, the internet broadcast arm of Regent College, begins an 11-lecture series by historian and missiologist Andrew Walls.  The lecture series “From Tertullian to Tutu: 2,000 Years of christian History in Africa…” was delivered live at Regent. One free lecture per day at Regent Radio; click the play arrow in the middle of the page.
  • “People can’t worship while bats rain droppings and urine over them. Services have had to be cancelled.”  That’s the complaint over at St. Hilda’s Church in Ellerburn, somewhere in the UK; but an environmental group is preventing the church from evicting the bats.
  • A gay website — no I’m not a regular reader, thanks for asking — is reporting a Princeton Review study saying that Wheaton College is the least LGBT-friendly school in the U.S.  Gee, ya think?
  • Here’s a break from all the seriousness with Beaker from Sesame Street performing Ode to Joy. Join the fifteen million viewers to date.
  • Our Christian-flavored cartoon discovery of the week was Cake or Death by Alex Baker, and I hope to soon go through the archives and read every single one of them.  Here are some recent entries:

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.

Blog at WordPress.com.