Thursday, August 6, 2009

Separated Brothers

Separated Brothers is a fascinating article (June 16, 2009, on Latinos and the changing face of religion in America. Here is one of the fascinating quotes regarding the growing 15% who are now "born again":
Gaston Espinosa, a professor of religion at Claremont McKenna College, puts it. He estimates that about 3.9m Latino Catholics have converted, and that “for every one who comes back to the Catholic church, four leave it.” The main reason, he thinks, is ethnic identity. Evangelical services are not only in Spanish, as many Catholic sermons are nowadays, but are performed by Latinos rather than Irish or Polish-American priests, with the cadences, rhythms, innuendos and flow familiar from the mother country. The evangelical services tend to be livelier than Catholic liturgy and to last longer, often turning into an outing lasting the whole day. Women play greater roles, and there are fewer parishioners for each pastor than in the Catholic church.

Fascinating insights, especially for our brothers and sisters in Destino. What do you think?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Evangelism Model: Leading Movements of Evangelism

For the last twelve years, the Campus Ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ has been operating from what has been known internally as "The Evangelism Model". One of the tools based up on it is Getting Biblical About Evangelism. While it has been applied in many different contexts, its principles have helped clarify what is involved in leading movements of evangelism.

Here is a "introduction" I used with team leaders this summer.

Since evangelism always involves:

God - The Master
  • Evangelism is first & foremost a work of God.
  • Therefore, a leader must learn to discern and align to what God is doing in their context.
World - The Masses
  • The audience is the defining context.
  • Therefore, the leader must understand and adapt to the audience in their context.
Believers - The Messengers
  • Believers are the primary initiators in evangelism.
  • Therefore, the leader must empower, equip and engage the labor force in effective outreach.
Gospel - The Message
  • The true gospel is always about Jesus—who he is, what he has done and why.
  • Therefore, the leader must ensure that the unchanging gospel is communicated with life-changing power.
Communication - The Methods
  • Methods will vary according to the context.
  • Therefore, the leader employs methods that bring it all together.
  • Empowering laborers—aligned with God and adapting to the audience—who are communicating the unchanging gospel with life-changing power and relevance.
If we are effective at developing leaders of evangelism with these competencies, how are we doing?

Changing Student Landscape (Part 3)

Pardon the delay, but I am finally completing my series of posts on the "Changing Student Landscape". The last few weeks of conferences and vacation delayed me.

In Changing Student Landscape (Part 1; Part 2), I have been exploring student trends that influence evangelism. I continue here with two final cultural observations.

#7 Disillusioned with Christianity
Christians have a PR problem. There is not only a growing disillusionment with institutional Christianity, but Christians, as a people, are increasingly perceived negatively. Student attitudes have been chronicled in numerous ways, including Dan Kimball’s book, They Like Jesus, But Not the Church, and Jeff Martin’s documentary, “Lord, Save Us From Your Followers". Kinnaman & Lyons’ research, recorded in the book with the descript title, UnChristian suggest six common perceptions of Christians:
  • Hypocritical
  • Too focused on getting converts
  • Anti-homosexual
  • Sheltered
  • Too Political
  • Judgmental
While my experience confirms the research, I have also found that students do not necessarily apply these negative attributes to every believer they meet. Rather, if they perceive you as an open, honest, safe, and caring person, they have the ability to differentiate between you and the general public image. But one thing is for certain, this is a cultural apologetic for why we, as believers must be the primary initiators of significant positive spiritual interactions. When this generation is ready to seek, they are not inclined (given their general view of Christians) to turn to us for answers. We have to engage with them and show them (i.e. genuinely demostrate) that we are different than the perceptions.

#8 Worldview Stew
The final characteristic I’ll mention in this series is the inconsistencies in worldview. While there are exceptions to the norm, most students’ worldviews are a mixture of various beliefs adopted from the media, peers, education, family and other influences. For this reason, many of their views are logically inconsistent. Yet this does not seem to bother them. Their low view of truth (i.e., all truth is relative) eases any angst that might be felt by living with contradictions. Here are a couple of examples from Pew research:
  • 70% of those who claim religious affiliation believe multiple religions can lead to salvation
  • 57% of self-identified evangelicals believe multiple religions can lead to salvation.
  • 21% of self-identified atheists believe that some kind of God exists.
(Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life)

So what are the implications of this changing student landscape? How do these characteristics effect campus ministry and witness? What are your thoughts?