The twentieth century has been called the Age of the Refugee. And today, we continue to hear of the flight of the peoples of the world. At the time of this recording, the refugee crisis continues to grow in Europe. The United States is planning to increase her cap on the number of refugees allowed into her borders.
Stephan Bauman is my guest on this episode. Stephan is the president and CEO of World Relief, an international relief and development organization that serves 5 million people each year through 100,000 church-based volunteers.
Check out our conversation on the refugee crisis today and World Relief’s global efforts to partner with churches and church planters. You may find out more information about Stephan on the World Relief site, Twitter, or his personal site.
There is now a day for anything you can imagine: pet day, gardening day, chocolate day, pirate day, doughnut day, coffee day. And since there are only 365.25 days in a year, it is common to find multiple recognitions on any given day.
So, this morning I was on Twitter and noticed it was International Podcast Day. And since Twitter knows best and somehow only the important things in the world trend on Twitter, I knew this was something legit.
In all seriousness, given the fact that many people are talking about podcasts, I thought I would take a moment to share my podcasting experience.
The first season of Strike the Match ends in about two weeks, three episodes remain (#30, #31, #32). I launched this resource in March and have been very pleased with the feedback I’ve received. While most of my listeners are from the U. S., listeners from India, U.K., Canada, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Thailand, and Malaysia round out the top nine locations.
Podcasting is a great way to extend your ministry to others. A simple Google search on the “how-tos” will reveal several excellent articles. Some people invest large amounts of money into podcasting, but it does not have to be expensive and complicated to be good. When I was podcasting from 2006-2010, I used a $15 microphone, Audacity (free recording/mixing software), and the annual charge for my host site and domain name. I now use a Blue Yeti microphone ($100 when I bought it), Garage Band (free), Blubrry Hosting site (different rates), and this WordPress site. I see these costs as an investment in the Kingdom.
You can put an enormous amount of time into a single episode, but such is not necessary. If you are busy, keep it simple; it is a more reproducible model.
I do all of my recording, editing, mixing, and posting. I can usually do this in about 2-3 hours. I want my episodes to be raw, conversational, and not well polished. I do very little editing. What you hear is what I usually hear when recording. When you are a one-man-band, simple is key. Complexity? Slick? Ain’t nobody got time for that! If someone can do the work for you, then go for it.
I want to encourage you to ask if the Lord would have you to begin a podcast. Give it some prayer and thought. Do some on-line searching and reading. Listen to a variety of examples to get a vision of the possible.
The Canadian government has an excellent grasp on the country’s demographics. Today, Statistics Canada released the latest estimates on age and sex (HT: Mel Cruikshank). If you are concerned about North American missions, then you need to be a regular visitor to the Statistics Canada website.
Here are some of the highlights from the report today:
- population: 35,851,774
- median age: 40.5 years
- portion of population 0-14 years: 16%
- portion of population 65 years and older: 16.1%
- first time population 65 years and older has exceeded population 0-14 years
- immigrant growth in past year: 239,800
- 60.8% of population growth came from immigration
- population growth rate highest among G7 countries
- highest population growth rates in Nunavut and Western Canada
- population declined in Newfoundland/Labrador and New Brunswick
- population is concentrated in four provinces
- population is older in the Atlantic provinces
Pew Research released an extensive report today on US immigration. The foreign-born percentage is near a record high. There are many important findings in this study.
If you do not have time to read everything at once, then look over the chapters that immediately appeal to you and come back later. And rather than keeping you here with a lengthy blog post, I’ll direct your time and attention to the report.
I have been thinking about the relationship between eschatology, history, and unreached people groups. And I want to share a thought with you–one that I’m not hearing elsewhere (However, I’m sure someone out there has been thinking this as well.).
We know that representatives of all peoples will be around the throne (Rev 7:9-10). However, today’s estimate is that 3100 people groups in the world are unengaged and unreached. While it is obviously right and good to engage these peoples, I want to ask an important first question:
Are we able to identify which–if any–of these 3100 people groups have had disciples among them over the last 2000 years?
If the historical materials exist, and we identify such believers, then I would suggest that priority be given to those unengaged-unreached people groups known to have never had Christ followers.
We wrongly make the assumption that if a people received the gospel years ago, then there should be some known believers and churches around in 2015. Such is not always the case. Just because the gospel and churches existed yesteryear is no guarantee that a future generation from that people will be walking with the Lord.
The world is a big place with 7 billion people. We have limited resources and must be faithful Kingdom citizens with what is entrusted to our care (which includes historical records). As we look at the contemporary numbers on lostness, let’s also look at the historic records. Unless the Spirit leads in a different direction, God may provide strategic clarity through our findings. If we discover that representatives from an unreached people group came into the Kingdom 800 years ago, then such knowledge may help us serve as better stewards in 2015.
While I recognize there are many challenges to such research, we must start somewhere. Eschatology shapes missiology and guides strategy. As we look at the 3100 groups, we should ask if the Spirit did any regenerative work among them over the last 2000 years.
My guess is that the number of groups we should give priority to is much less than 3100.
Dr. Travis Kerns is one of the leading evangelical scholars in the area of Mormon history and theology. He is also a missionary with the North American Mission Board and serves in Salt Lake City.
The state of Utah is the least-reached state in the United States, comprised of a 2% evangelical population. And within this state, an urban context such as Provo-Orem is only 0.5% evangelical.
Check out our conversation. We discuss Mormon beliefs and the Mormon Church’s desire to become recognized as part of mainstream Christianity. Travis also shares about his forthcoming book: The Saints of Zion.
Our church’s property sits beside a road that has been under construction for at least a year. Construction teams have been working to widen this already congested thoroughfare. For the past year, we have been subjected to even more slowdowns and congestion as the road’s structure has been dismantled and redesigned. I drove home tonight past the flashing lights of police cars and a night crew laboring on the road.
While I am not delighted with this process, I am expecting a day to come when the new structure will be much smoother, more efficient, safer, and faster. Until then, I try to avoid this road during rush hours.
Transitions are rarely without frustration. Delightful is not often used to describe everything that comes with a transition. Transitions are often times of slowdowns, evaluations, and restructurings. However, what follows is often an excellent way–one that is delightful.
In the Shepherd’s Psalm, the sheep is led through an uncomfortable place to then be found at a place of honor around a table (Psalm 23:4-5). No matter what comes, goodness and mercy follow this sheep throughout life (v. 6).
During the transitions of life and ministry that we encounter, let’s keep walking with the Shepherd and hang in there! He makes known the path of life; and in His presence there is fulness of joy and pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11). . . even when things are not delightful.
MissioNexus is the largest network of North American evangelical mission agencies. Ted Esler recently stepped into the role of the network’s president and CEO. Check out our conversation on Strike the Match. iTunes | Android | RSS
The most critical issue in church planting circles today is an ecclesiological issue. How you answer the question, “What is a church?” will affect everything you do on the field. It will shape your methods, strategy, team, leaders, goals, and how you measure effectiveness–to mention a few matters. It was out of this conviction that I wrote Discovering Church Planting and the forthcoming Apostolic Church Planting.
That said, ecclesiology is to be contextualized to a degree. Culture and context will shape the understanding of the church that is birthed from the harvest.
Some church planters want to overlook the contextualization part, believing they can simply plant the biblical non-negotiables removed from a culture.
Other church planters want to write off biblical prescriptions and try to hold to culturally defined manifestations of church. This is more like a post-modern hermeneutic applied to missionary practice–a post-modern contextualization, if you will.
We must begin to speak in terms of:
- ecclesiological foundations (biblical non-negotiables)
- ecclesiological flexibles (biblical allowances)
We must have both on the field.
The conversation from two weeks ago was about the United States admitting 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016.
The annual cap on the number of refugees accepted into this country is 70,000. The conversation today is that the U. S. will receive 85,000 refugees in 2016 and 100,000 refugees in 2017.
Lord willing, there is still time for our churches to prepare.
But will we?
Followers of Jesus are regularly called hypocrites in the States. Look at your life, attitudes, and words. I don’t see any of this in the Jesus you claim to follow.
Followers of Jesus are regularly faulted for living according to the way of Jesus. Look at your life, attitudes, and words. You are a judgmental bigot. Filled with hatred and narrow-minded.
We can’t win either way. There is no way to win their game. The world calls us to live according to the Bible and then to not live according to the Bible. That sounds very judgmental, bigoted, and hypocritical.
And it is okay that we can’t win the game. We are not called to play.
Follow Jesus. Love. Pray. Preach his Word in the highways and hedges. Make disciples. Let that convince a hostile world. If this doesn’t work, then nothing will–including them having a visit from a resurrected dead man (Luke 16:31).
A big shout-out to the folks at the Arkansas Reverb Conference last week! It was great being with you. Here are the promised slides from my presentations: Biblical Church Planting: Reflections and Realities in the 21st Century and Reaching the Strangers Next Door.