Saturday, March 21, 2009

"Round Trip" Missions

A "maturing" perspective on short-term missions...

Round Trip Missions - Trailer from Round Trip on Vimeo.

This is the trailer for a new Christianity Today curriculum.

For the story behind the video, read Andy Crouch's blog,, regarding it.

What do you think of it?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Praying for the Lost

My good friend and co-worker, Gilbert K, has recently posted his "coaching tip" for those in Campus Ministry on "Praying for the Lost." Worth the read!

No, better yet, it worth praying!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

God - There Probably Isn't or There Probably Is

This from the Agape Ministry of UK at Imperial College:
The infamous bus campaign, carrying the slogan "There's probably no God; now stop worrying and enjoy your life" has not escaped the team's innovations. They set up a table with a picture of this slogan and another one with a counter sign saying "There is probably a God. Start worrying and look for him. He is everywhere." Students have been giving feedback to this and the team are hosting a meal shortly, where students will have the chance to discuss both of these ideas.

The Coming Evangelical Collapse - Scenario Planning?

I have begun to lead (in a very limited way) a group of national leaders in scenario planning. It is a fascinating exercise of which I am only beginning to learn the art and science. But I read this morning a fascinating scenario by the Internet Monk, Michael Spencer. Extrapolating from the current drift of Evangelicalism, he predicts its collapse in an article bearing that title, "The Coming Evangelical Collapse".

Spencer lists seven reasons for the collapse (written fuller and better than here), but their essence (for your quick read and reflection) are:
  1. Evangelicals identification with the culture war and with political conservatism.
  2. Failure to pass on to our young people an orthodox form of faith that can take root and survive the secular onslaught.
  3. Current models of the evangelical church.
  4. A self-serving educational system.
  5. The culture’s increased rejection of the “good works” evangelicals seek to do.
  6. A waning vitality of the Bible Belt.
  7. Declining financial resources.
Read his article for yourself.

Suppose he is right. How will this effect witness in the future? How will it effect ministries dedicated to evangelism and gospel ministry? How will it effect you?


Better Answers - Quote of the Day

"Perhaps if we are confronted with better questions about the meaning and value of religion, we will be forced to find better answers."
Maurice O'Sullivan
"How I Learned Not to Fear the Anti-God Squad"
Wall Street Journal On-Line

Monday, March 9, 2009

America's Worldview

New research out from the Barna group on the changes (or lack thereof) of American's worldviews.

As for change, it reports
The results indicate that the percentage of adults with a biblical worldview... has remained unchanged for more than a decade. The numbers show that 7% had such a worldview in 1995, compared to 10% in 2000, 11% in 2005, and 9% now.
But I find it interesting that:
Seven out of ten adults (70%) say that God is the all-powerful, all-knowing creator of the universe who still rules it today.

Half of all adults firmly believe that the Bible is accurate in all the principles it teaches.
Those statistics suggest a fair large segment of the population (perhaps half?) that can still be engaged with a gospel built upon (or assuming) the biblical worldview. (Thus, the Four Spiritual Laws; the Bridge; etc. remains effective for some.)

The flip side is that the other half(?) cannot assume a biblical outlook. For them, Paul's message to the Athenian philosophers (Acts 17) becomes a better model.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Conversational Evangelism

I haven't gotten a chance to see it yet, but a new book I'm looking forward to reviewing soon is Geisler & Geisler's, Conversational Evangelism.

Publisher's description includes:
David and Norman Geisler share an engaging, conversational approach to evangelism as they address:
  • What makes old models of witnessing ineffective in today’s culture
  • Why evangelism must start with relational pre–evangelism
  • How to ask questions, listen attentively, and understand what someone believes
  • Ways to identify the real barriers to belief in order to build a bridge to truth
  • How to keep dialogue going with different personality types
Dave has sharpened his model through the years of ministry with Meekness and Truth Ministries.

Let me know if you get to read it before I do...

An Atheist's Compliment

Twice recently, I have been made aware of Penn Jillette's video compliment of an unknown Christian witness. What makes this refreshing, is Penn (of Penn & Teller fame) is an atheist, expressing appreciation for someone trying to witness to him.

What do you think?

Cardboard Testimonies

For years as I have equipped others in sharing their "life stories" I've used the example of the Samaritan woman who expressed her encounter with Jesus in sixteen words,
"Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?"
Her powerful witness led a whole village to encounter Jesus, with many coming to faith (John 4:28-30, 39).

I recently made aware of a modern expression of this -- Cardboard Testimonies -- from Hillside Christian Church (thanks, Larry, for cluing me in on this) and a Cru version from JMU: JMU Cru Cardboard Testimonies.

So how would you express your "faith story" in a sentence or two?

The Multi-faceted Gospel

I recently introduced the article by Tim Keller, The Gospel in All Its Forms. Here is another article: The Multi-faceted Gospel.

We strive the get the gospel right!

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Gospel in All Its Forms - Tim Keller

Having posted my own thoughts related to the gospel's essence and fullness, I have recently been introduced to Tim Keller's article on The Gospel in All Its Forms. It complements quite well my conclusions.

Excellent article. Your thoughts?

The Gospel - Essence & Fullness

I have often explained the gospel in this way…

There is generally agreement that there is only one gospel and that is very important to “get it right” (Galatians 1:6-9.) But what is it?

It is helpful to think in terms of the both the gospel essence and the gospel fullness.

On one hand, there is an essential core that the gospel can be distilled to include. We may not say it exactly the same (every time), but the essential elements would always be there. What is that essence? I suggest you compare Jesus’ summary statement in Luke 24:45-49 with Paul’s in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8. There are common elements in both:
• Who is Jesus: The Christ
• What has he done: Died and rose again.
• Why: Forgiveness of sins
• How do we know: OT Scriptures and resurrection appearances
• How are we to respond: Repentance (so Jesus, in Luke) and Faith/belief (Paul)

Test those. Do we find these same essential elements in our Four Gospels? Certainly. Think of Mark, for example. The first eight chapters move thematically toward the answer of “who is Jesus.” As Peter said, “You are the Christ” (8:27-30). From that point, Mark moves toward the cross and his resurrection (three predictions of his death and resurrection in chapters 8-10, followed by their fulfillment in the remaining chapters.) Mark is a narrative of who Jesus is, what has done and why – the essence of the gospel. So also, Matthew, Luke or John. Or “gospel messages” of Acts – whether to Jews (say in Acts 2) or Gentiles (like Acts 17:22-32), they declare who is Jesus, what has he done and why. It is at its core a message about Jesus. Even Romans begins with Paul declaring "the gospel of our God...concerning his Son who..." (Romans 1:1-6).

But to speak of the “essence” of the gospel, is not to say everything about the gospel. We may also speak of the fullness of the gospel. Its truths, themes and implications are so vast that it will take a lifetime to explore and experience. Indeed, we never master the gospel and move on (to some other truth). It is not the initial message for the follower of Christ, it is the only message. We are gospel people. And so, we dig deeper and deeper and become richer and richer (for an analogy, think a vein of gold), always growing in our understanding. So Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are full (narrative) presentations of the same gospel truth as Paul proclaimed. Romans is all gospel truth, unpacked in its theological implications (as also Galatians and the other epistles.) Jesus enabled the disciples to see that the Law of Moses, the prophets and the Psalms (the OT Scriptures) all spoke of him (gospel truth), as in Luke 24:44-49. It is all gospel truth!

While I don’t want to press this too far, I would suggest that it is our mastery of the essence of the gospel that enables us to communicate accurately and it is our growing understanding of the fullness of the gospel that enables us to communicate relevantly. We get the message right if we understand the essence, but we can share that in a wide array of effective ways (as many of you suggested) because of its fullness. Thus you can tell the story of redemption (the biblical storyline), or you can explain the gospel thematically (perhaps the theme of the promise of the Spirit – Acts 2 – or perhaps Steps to Peace with God – Billy Graham). You may share it in a testimony (even the Samaritan woman pointed to Jesus as the Christ) or theologically (as Paul does in Romans. Think of how many have come to faith simply reading the truths of Romans.) You may declare the good news of the Kingdom with the same essence within the context of God's glorious reign! It always the same in essence and but the audience and context determines what form of presentation is most appropriate (thus achieving relevance.)

If this is accurate, then our witness is always who is Jesus, what he has done and why. But we have an unending array of possibilities as to how we can accurately and relevantly communicate and apply this one gospel.

The Overflow Show

The Overflow Show now has 25 episodes -- five-minute podcasts, featuring great books on evangelism. Check them out.

What are your favorite books on evangelism?

Listening: An Explorer's Key

One of the four roles in the CoJourner paradigm is Explorer--discovering where people are in their spiritual journey. Listening is a key for Explorers.

I recently read this quote from Henri Nouwen:
"Why is listening is so difficult? I'll tell you why. It's because you move away from being the center of attention and you inviting someone else into that space. When some one listens to us with real concentration and expresses sincere care for our struggles and our pains, we feel that something very deep is happening to us. Slowly our fears melt away, our tensions dissolve and anxieties retreat. Listening is so simple to do and it's a gift with tremendous healing power that we can offer to others."

From the book Compassion: A Reflection on the Christian Life by Henri J.M. Nouwen.

Imagine the power in our witness when we listen before we speak...