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.
Dr. Ted Esler recently became the new President and CEO of MissioNexus. Ted joins me in conversation this week on Strike the Match. We spend time talking about his background as a church planter and an administrator.
MissioNexus is the largest network of evangelical mission agencies and church partners in North America. Ted and I talk about this group of 40,000 field and staff members, where the network has been, and where it is going in days to come. We also take time to discuss future challenges mission agencies are likely to encounter in the next few years.
I read an article today about Arctic environmental changes and how that is affecting the people of Barrow, Alaska. The article is worth reading and the videos are worth watching.
The Native American population is about 5 million in this country. Unfortunately, many of us rarely think about them. Today’s article was a great reminder of the Native peoples in this country and the challenges some are facing.
Over the years, I have written about the 566 tribes in the United States. Sadly, only about 8% of the 5 million are followers of Jesus. The North Slope Borough of Alaska contains the town of Barrow. The population is about 5% evangelical, with 1 evangelical church for every 1,347 people.
In our on-going conversations about the different people groups living in and migrating to this country, we seldom speak of Native Americans. Let’s not forget them.
Little known facts about me: I used to teach the guitar at a local music store in my hometown. I also used to play in a band–but we’ll not talk about that right now.
Over the years, I found myself too busy to play and practice on a regular basis. Yes, I went through seasons. Taking jazz lessons here and playing in praise teams there. I started teaching my kids (13, 11, 9) when they were 5.
A couple of months ago the guitar bug bit me again. I went to a local guitar store, got some strings and a method book, talked shop with a guy, found out he was a believer with some knowledge of the local scene, came home, and dusted off my guitars.
I knew what would come next. Pain. Practice would be necessary to develop callouses on my finger tips. Practice would be needed to strengthen the muscles in my hands and arms. It would take time to redevelop my chops–what little I had years ago.
I am not where I want to be, but getting there. Let’s see if I keep it up for another month.
New things often require new approaches to life and ministry. Sometimes discomfort is found along the journey. And this discomfort is necessary as we move with the Spirit. We know He is leading, but getting to the destination is a challenge. Sometimes it means pain in the fingers and forearm.
Hang in there friends! Keep pressing on! Stay close to the Father! Keep up the great Kingdom work! Remember, “the work of a man’s hand comes back to him” (Prov 14:24, ESV). Praying for you as I write this and expecting the Lord to do great things!
In August, I wrote a post about the rise of poverty in U. S. suburbs. We now live during a time with more people living in poverty in the suburban contexts than the urban contexts. The suburbs were not designed for this standard of living. In fact, they were designed for the opposite. Now, all of those churches that relocated or were planted in the suburbs during the 80s-00s have a wonderful opportunity for ministry. No one could have predicted this socio-economic transition.
An article was released today that notes while poverty has declined in the South, it has increased in the West. In 1960, almost half of the poor in the U. S. lived in the South. This percentage is now at 41%. On the other hand, poverty in the West increased from 11% to 23%. Here is another article on how the geography of poverty has changed in the last fifty years.
Contexts are always changing. Let’s make certain we not only understand our new realities but respond as wise Kingdom stewards.
I am sometimes asked about books on migration and missions. While I reference many excellent works in Strangers Next Door, here are a few that quickly come to mind and in no particular order. I am certain there are others that deserve to be on this list. What I have overlooked, please post in a comment.
These represent different perspectives. Some are practical; some are scholarly. Some are written by believers and some are not (much helpful information). Start here and dig into their references and bibliographies to go deeper into your study.
Stephen Castles and Mark Miller, The Age of Migration
Matthew Soerens and Jenny Hwang Yang, Welcoming the Stranger
Melvin Ember, Carol Ember, and Ian Skoggard, eds., Encyclopedia of Diasporas (vols 1-2)
Matthew Gibney and Randall Hansen, eds., Immigration and Asylum (vols 1-2)
Tom Philipps and W. Terry Whalin, The World at Your Door
Russell King, ed., The History of Human Migration
M. Daniel Carroll, Christians at the Border
Donna Thomas, Faces in the Crowd
World Relief, The Church Leader’s Guide to Immigration
Lawson Lau, The World at Your Doorstep
James Hoffmeier, The Immigration Crisis
Enoch Wan, ed., Diaspora Missiology
Phillip Connor, Immigrant Faith
Chris Clayman and Meredith Lee, ethNYcity
David Boyd, You Don’t Have to Cross the Ocean to Reach the World
Nashville Baptist Association, The Peoples of Nashville
Enoch Wan and Michael Pocock, eds., Missions from the Majority World
Chandler Im and Amos Young, Global Diasporas and Mission
Thorsten Prill, Global Mission on Our Doorstep
Jehu Hanciles, Beyond Christendom
Luis Pantoja, Jr., Sadiri Joy Tira, and Enoch Wan, eds., Scattered
Sadiri Joy Tira, ed., The Human Tidal Wave
Sadiri Tira, Filipino Kingdom Workers
Sam George and T. V. Thomas, eds., Malayali Diaspora
S. Hun Kim and Wonsuk Ma., eds., Korean Diaspora and Christian Missions
Last chance! Monday, September 14, 2015 is the last day to take advantage of the 35% off discount on three of my books. I hope you will add them to your library.
Paul Dzubinski is my guest on this episode. Paul is the Director of Innovation for Frontier Ventures where he provides oversight for Launch Lab. In our conversation, we talk about the place of Spirit-led innovation in missions today and answer question such as:
Why should Kingdom citizens have conversations on innovation and the Church? What is innovation in missions? Why do missions organizations fail to consider innovation? How are Kingdom citizens to think about innovation. Check out our conversation!