Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
- The insights into Bill Hybels as a man and a leader. For instance, "I've been put in a position of influence, and reading is one of the most economical ways to get better at it."
- The tensions over Willow's intentional embrace of "secular" wisdom. How would you respond to David Wells critical comment? "Willow Creek has confused what leadership is in a company and what it must be in a church. We're in a very different orbit from the corporate world. Our objective is night-and-day different."
- Common quote attributed to Calvin, "all truth is God's truth." Actual quote from his Institutes, "If we believe the Spirit of God is the only fountain of truth, we shall neither reject nor despise the truth itself where it shall appear, unless we wish to insult the Spirit of God." That, of course, frames the discussion around "truth". But is it better framed around "wisdom", and, if so, what difference does that make?
- Willow's amazing international influence--"some 53% of the Willow Creek Association's nearly 9,000 congregations are now overseas"-- yet recognizing that the model hasn't worked everywhere, "Two years ago, the association quit India; the cost of putting on an event there...was prohibitive." Intriguing, in part, due to the reality that India is both an emerging global influence (especially in business) and home to a significant portion of the remaining "unreached" peoples for the gospel. That is one location I would expect to be a very high priority.
Friday, December 3, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
We must have the compassion to answer the honest questions, which men and women have, and this answering the honest questions is also a part of evangelism. (Francis Schaeffer)
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
1. India - 94,563
2. China - 81,127
3. South Korea - 69,124
4. Japan - 33,974
5. Canada - 29,051
6. Taiwan - 29,001
7. Mexico - 14,837
8. Turkey - 12,030
9. Saudi Arabia - 9,873
10. Thailand - 9,004
India and China have far more graduate students than undergraduates, Korea and Japan more undergraduates than graduates.
BTW - in 2007-08, there were 623,805 International Students in US, amounting to 3.5% of our total 17,958,000 students (according to the National Center for Education Statistics).
Having been to India this fall and contemplating this emerging global power, it is fascinating to consider that we live at a time and in a place where 94,000 of their brightest and best are present in our country, being shaped through our education for positions of influence. Hmm. Imagine if...
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
But we already knew the backstory, because the shirts were part of a gift from CCC in Chile. Here is a fuller picture of how it happened:
Chile Ministry Helps Trapped Miners
Isn’t it amazing how God works?
Friday, October 8, 2010
- 94% of GenY is on Facebook spending 11.4 hours/week there
- 78% prefer connecting to their preferred social network by mobile phone
- 55% prefer texting as their primary means of connecting with friends; Facebook (in second place for primary connecting) comes in at 24%
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
- The move from distrust to trust.
- The move from complacent to curious.
- The move from being closed to change to being open to change.
- The move from meandering to seeking.
- The move across the threshold of the kingdom itself.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
- Did you have any church or religious background growing up? How was that for you?
- What have you tried in your spiritual life or journey?
- Where are you at now spiritually?
- What do you wish were true for you spiritually?
Friday, September 10, 2010
Friday, September 3, 2010
...part of what makes a movement dynamic is a unified vision, and that always requires some codification and control. As time goes on, to maintain the main engine of movement-dynamics - a unified vision - a ministry must adopt some of the aspects of institutions. A strong movement, then, occupies the difficult space between being a free-wheeling organism and a disciplined organization. A movement that refuses to take on some organizational characteristics - authority, tradition, unity of belief, and quality control - will fragment and dissipate. A movement that does not also resist the inevitable tendency toward complete institutionalization will lose its vitality and effectiveness as well. The job of the movement leader is to steer the ship safely between these two opposite perils (emphasis mine).
To begin, we suggest that faith communities would do well to stop accepting and promulgating what may be simplistic generalizations about American youth that originated from various popular book authors, substandard research studies, journalistic coverage of youth, common stereotypes about teens, and so on.
We have observed a noticeable tendency when it comes to youth—including among youth ministry workers—to overgeneralize, overstate issues, frame situations in alarmist or fear-based terms, and latch onto simplistic answers to alleged problems. But the fact is that the lives, including the religious lives, of American youth are diverse and complicated.
- To overgeneralize
- To overstate issues
- To frame situations in alarmist or fear-based terms
- To latch onto simplistic answers to alleged problems
Thus, religious communities may do well to learn to be more discerning, more skeptical of alarmist claims, less captivated by trendy popular books, and more perceptive about the diversity and complexity of the experience and situation of U.S. teenagers. We suspect that they would likely then be more effective in planning programs, prioritizing initiatives, and working with teens in ways more true to their own traditions and identities and more effective over the long run.
- More discerning
- More skeptical of alarmist claims
- Less captivated by trendy popual books
- More perceptive about the diversity and complexity of the experience and situation
Friday, August 27, 2010
Here is an announcement from our friends at CruPress Green (that is, Rick & Neil).
CruPressGreen.com has launched, offering nearly every chapter of every CruPress resource for free to download. You can instantly download materials like Cru.Comm, The Compass, publicity posters, teaching and training videos, classic Campus Crusade talks, and so much more. It’s easy to use, pretty to look at and just what you need to accelerate Movements Everywhere. Visit CruPressGreen.com and start downloading resources for your ministry.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
It’s simply impossible for me to “belong” to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Friday, July 2, 2010
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
Thursday, June 3, 2010
The phrase "random evangelism" is used to describe the process of approaching strangers for the purpose of witness. But the word "random" means "lacking any definite plan or order or purpose; governed by or depending on chance".
Since "evangelism is first and foremost a work of God" (a phrase I commonly use when teaching our Evangelism Model), it cannot be random unless God is not in it. The phrase "random evangelism" is a very man-centric view of evangelism and leaves one with an entirely wrong impression (or worse, the wrong mindset.)
I doubt this phrase is used broadly in Christian circles. But there is a certain ministry, of whom I am very fond, who has this ingrained in their language. My counsel is, (to quote Bob Newhart) "Stop it!"
I don't mean stop the practice of engaging strangers for the purpose of witness. The Sovereign God, Lord of the Harvest, still delights to work through such conversations when they are guided by his Spirit, motivated by love and practiced with genuine sensitivity and situational appropriateness. My counsel is to stop calling this "random".
Monday, May 17, 2010
Saturday, May 15, 2010
So I take note of things like Fast Company's article: "Atheism Gets a Much Needed Rebranding". The intriguing quote is,
"Atheism is quite often mistakenly seen as a cold and distant world, rather than the beautiful, important, and engaging philosophy that it is," says Matt Luckhurst, a student in the School of Visual Arts Designer as Author MFA program.It intrigues me to consider in what sense does an atheist see their philosophy of "beautiful"? "Important" and "engaging" are easier to understand. But the beauty of atheism? Intriguing.
Fortunately, Matt has provided a glimpse into reality as he perceives it with his website The Illuminated Atheist. It's mission is thus:
Illuminated Atheist is a website dedicated to making stories and writings of non-theism by illuminating them with exceptional artwork, design and photograpchy: subverting the concept of illuminated manuscripts the church once used to socialize its ideas. For those void of religion and full of belief."Void of religion and full of belief". A very winsome description of atheism. I'm looking forward to perusing this site more.
Now that the summer slow-down is beginning (hopefully this is true and not just blind optimism), I intend to return to the things that I have learned, seen and experienced through the spring. I trust that this will have value to those of you who return to this blog.
Thanks for your engagement with me!
As Paul wrote & NIV translated...
"...to win as many as possible...by all possible means..." (1 Cor. 9:19, 22)
Monday, April 5, 2010
- Martin, Roger. The Design of Business (2009).
- Brown, Tim. Change by Design (2009).
- Farson, Richard. The Power of Design (2008).
Friday, March 19, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
- Those who pursue wrong things
- Those who pursue the right thing, but in a wrong way
- Those who pursue the right thing, in the right way
It is these realities that Paul applies in Romans 9:30-10:13.
- Group 1: The Gentiles did not pursue righteousness (9:30; compare Rom 1:18-32; 3:10-18).
- Group 2: The Jews pursued righteousness as if it were based on works, seeking to establish their own righteousness (9:31-10:3; compare 2:1-3:20).
- Group 3: But righteousness (the right thing) is from God by faith through Christ (9:30, 32-33; 10:3, 4; compare 3:21ff).
How skilled are we at diagnosing a person's condition? At helping them understand their issue? At GUIDING them to faith in Christ?
"How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" (Romans 10:15).
Monday, March 8, 2010
Over the last few days, I have discovered another (previously un-mined by me) aspect of Paul’s writing—his use of the Old Testament. One can’t help but noting how often he quotes OT writers throughout the book. But I hadn’t stopped and focused on this aspect until now.
What have I discovered? Depending on how you count verses and occurrences, the OT is clearing quoted or referenced about 87 times in the letter. Given that there are 433 verses in Romans, that means 20% is OT. Think about it—Paul’s most complete articulation of gospel theology is one-fifth Old Testament.
Imagine sitting down for hours with someone explaining Jesus Christ as Lord, what he has done for us in salvation and why, and one fifth of all you say is drawn from the OT. What a profound understanding of the Law, prophets and Psalms that would require.
A couple of other observations to note: Twenty-four quotations are from Isaiah (the most of any OT book). That is a quarter of all Paul’s numerous references. More than half of those (15) are found in Romans 9-11 where Paul unpacks the implications of God’s sovereign grace and plan for the people of Israel and the Gentile nations. Implication: If you want to understand Romans (and the gospel) more fully, you must understand Isaiah more completely.
The second most quoted book is the Psalms. I count 19 quotations from the Psalms. While I have now examined each of the Isaiah quotes in context, I have yet to do the same for the Psalms. That is next (I assume.) Genesis and Deuteronomy are the next most frequent with (about) nine each.
Given Genesis, Deuteronomy, Psalms and Isaiah, how well (i.e. how complete and clearly) could you communicate the gospel?
Challenging thoughts. Rich reflections. Hope it spurs your thinking, as well.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Three reasons are given: First, the volume of essays submitted for publication has significantly declined. Why? “Essays get published immediately on the internet on websites and blogsites.” Second, they have other projects to pursue. But it is the third that I draw attention to here.
“…that British society (possibly even Western society generally) is becoming semi-literate. The number of people who can be reached by intelligent literature is declining drastically. …we no longer have: a literate society.”Perk relates a couple of examples of this sad reality. One is as follows: “…when I recently tried to organise a non-fiction reading group, I was told by one person whom I approached as a possible member of the group: “I got through college without reading any books, why should I start now?”
As he draws his thoughts to a close, he makes this observation:
“If we do communicate the message of the gospel effectively to our society in a way that most people can understand, and the result is the re-Christianising of the nation, this will eventually produce a literate society, because wherever Christianity has gone this has been the result. Christianity is a religion of the book.”Is he right? Christianity is certainly the religion of the Book. And it is certainly the case since the Reformation, fueled in part by the fruit of Gutenberg’s movable type, that literacy has been tied to Christian education and missions. It is evidenced in the Bible translation work of global missions.
But communication media have changed, and not for the first time. The oral society gave way to the literate. The literate society has given way to the broadcast society. And now the broadcast society is yielding to the rise of the digital. Rex Miller has explored these changes in The Millenial Matrix.
Where will this lead? How will it impact not only the spread of the gospel (in relation to the breadth of its reach) but the embrace of the gospel (the depth of its influence on lives and society)?
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Sunday, February 14, 2010
I am spending a delightful five day visit with my daughter and her husband. I am a guest in their home and that makes a difference. Now my daughter loves me and is a most gracious host, looking after my needs and pleasures. But it makes a difference that I am here and not in my home. Despite her warm hospitality, making her home and possessions available to me, I observe that I restrict myself from making use of things as if I owned them. I am quite comfortable and happy, but I certainly limit my behavior in ways to be an appropriate guest. If I were in my home, I would exercise much greater freedom. In a context where I own it all, I can (and would) do what I want with whatever I want. You make think me foolish in what I do with my stuff, but you wouldn’t fault me for behaving differently in my home than while a guest at my daughter’s.
What does this have to do with ultimate matters, you ask? Everything, because it makes a difference where you are.
If we find ourselves in a universe that is merely physical, shaped only by forces of cause and effect, it will make a difference how we live. If this world happens to be a home that is deeply spiritually, but in an impersonal sort of way, governed by laws of karma (i.e., beware, its all coming back to you, at least eventually), well that too should make a difference on how you live. But if this cosmos is the possession and dwelling of a supreme being, who has not only created us but invited us to stay within this one’s abode, well, you better believe that would (or should) make a difference in how we live. Especially if this One cares deeply about how we treat other guests and make use of It’s generous provisions.
We live all of life adapting to our context. How I behave at the office is different than how I behave at home. How I behaved at school, is different than how I now behave at work. (Though my former teachers may have wished for a little better adaptation on my part.) It is only reasonable that we adapt. Likewise, it is only reasonable that we adapt life to the ultimate context we find ourselves within. And if we don’t know what context we are in, then it is only reasonable to seek to find out. We certainly wouldn’t want to be a slovenly guest, would we?
Indifference (on ultimate matters) is not only folly, it is highly inappropriate.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
First, I must say I became a bit intrigued by the life journey (or what I have been able to discern of it) of the author, Tom Morris: a philosopher, former Notre Dame professor (and apparently a very popular one at that), now a “public philosopher” (or at least he has his own institute) working with corporations. Hmm… curious, indeed. I think I would like to meet the man, if Providence should ever orchestrate it.
But I have also become more intrigued by Pascal and his insights into life, captured for posterity in the classic collection known as Pensées. My real introduction (at least the one that caught my attention) came from seminary professor and mentor, Dr. Robert Coleman. I now wonder how Dr. Coleman, a man whose life has been defined and shaped by his Lord’s Great Commission, became interested in Pascal. Maybe I shall ask next time I have an opportunity.
But the question, you make ask, is what does all this have with my life and thoughts as a CoJourner? Well, I am growing convinced that Pascal offers us insight for the 21st Century post-postmodern (or whatever it is you’d like to call our world of thought and culture today.) He is a Guide par excellence. So I intend (and you know what often happens with good intentions) to reread this book (something I very rarely do. In fact, truth be told, though I love books and “read” many, I find very few books valuable enough to me to complete the reading the first time. ) I want to “harvest” valuable insights from this work to see if it can help me (a common Guide, in the CoJourner sense) “make sense of it all” for others on the journey of life.
Friday, February 12, 2010
“Are you a minister?” he asked. That started one of the most amazing spiritual conversations I have had in a while. I EXPLORED asking questions and listening: his church connections (limited, but he does like Willowcreek), answers to prayer that he and his mother have seen (amazing), his relationships (feels some guilt over them), his own spiritual journey. He said he didn’t understand Jesus, the Trinity, or why he had to die on the cross. He preferred to go “straight to the source” in prayer.
I asked if I could take a shot at explaining why Jesus had to die. “Sure,” he replied.
So I pulled out my Bible and napkin. I showed him Romans 6:23 and drew the “one-verse” diagram. We talked through it very slowly and clearly, making sure he understood each word and all three phrases. “Does this make sense?”
“Yes, but it brings up a hundred more questions,” he said. “Like what?” I asked.
That launched us into another hour of questions and answers: regarding eternal life and living life to the full in the present; re: self-centered marriages vs. Christ-centered marriage; regarding the sin of those who lived before Jesus died; regarding reading the Bible and the difference between the four gospels.
I gave him a copy of Backstory and explained the story behind it, walking him through the 7 themes. As I focused on the response pages, I asked, “Is this true?” “Wow, I don’t know. Maybe I am just afraid of commitment,” he answered.
As we were landing, I gave him my e-mail and said we would be praying for him. I asked if he did make the decision to trust Christ as his Savior and Lord, would he write me and let me know? “Oh, I am sure you will be hearing from me. You will be the second to know” (i.e. after his mother).
“I think this is why I chose to sit here,” he said as he was getting up. Indeed, I am sure it was!
Ten years ago we made our first attempt at telling the storyline of the gospel (creation to return) using seven themes. It was published as Life@Large. (This is an early flash version of it. Click on the yellow arrows for navigation. Notice there is both a conversational view - upper - and storyline - lower). It was featured in a chapter I wrote entitled "The Gospel for a New Generation" in D.A. Carson's book, Telling the Truth: Evangelizing Postmoderns. It was fashioned using the best thinking we could assemble at the time, though much of that thinking was "theory", not "proven wisdom". Through the intervening decade, we saw it used in a variety of settings (including over a million copies distributed as part of the Fallen, Not Forgotten remembrance booklet in NYC following 9-11.) It was also translated in a handful of languages (including Italian) and used in a variety of global contexts.
But in the ten years since we have learned a lot about communicating the gospel storyline. Those lessons have helped shape Backstory. You can download a pdf to view it. But let me give you a quick idea of how to use it.
The backbone of the presentation is found the black, photo pages (left-side). These walk you through the seven themes, with brief explanation and a Bible verse.
- Intimacy (Creation)
- Betrayal (Fall)
- Anticipation (OT promise of a Savior)
- Pursuit (life of Christ)
- Sacrifice (death and resurrection)
- Invitation (the present age of salvation)
- Reunion (the age to come)
The corresponding white pages (right side) provide conversational questions for exploring the thoughts and experience of each other, or questions to help bring greater understanding. There are also points explanation (such as, "Crosswords" based on Romans 3:23-25) and apologetic touch points (such as, prophecies of a Messiah in Micah 5:2 and Isaiah 7:14). You use these as needed or appropriate.
If you read aloud the intro, the black theme (photo) pages, "Your Thoughts" and "Turning Point" page, there is seven and a half minutes of content. By adding the questions and explanations on the white (additional info) pages, the conversation can become as long and deep as you both desire. (My amazing plane conversation with "J." was a couple of hours.)
Hope you enjoy exploring Backstory. Hope even more that you have the privilege of helping others discover the story that makes sense their stories.
Friday, February 5, 2010
Friday, January 29, 2010
When speaking to a group of short-term mission leaders about my concerns regarding the short-term mission trend, I commented that the short-term mission movement was “arguably the first time in Christian mission history where the mission is being is being done for the benefit of the missionary.”I don't remember ever making the connection with Peter and Cornelius before. But it is worth pondering. Did you notice that statement "is arguably more life-changing for Peter"? Though I appreciate his insight and intent (and article in general), I wonder if Mr. Borthwick isn't wrong again in his conclusion at this point. It seemed profoundly life-changing for both -- Peter's world-view and ministry philosophy shattered; Cornelius's life (and household) transformed for now and eternity.
After my observation, I re-read the encounter of Peter with Cornelius in Acts 10. For the first time I realized that my comment was wrong. Peter's “short-term mission” to Cornelius is arguably more life-changing for Peter than it was for Cornelius. (Will Willimon calls this Peter’s “second conversion.”)
It reminds of my youngest son's experience on the Hungarian Speak Out '07 project. The experience was profound in his life--stepping out in faith and seeing God use him. And yet, by the grace of God, he was also used profoundly in the lives of some Hungarian youth--so much so that I heard unsolicited stories of his impact again last month.
Who benefits most in short-term missions? My genuine hope and prayer is that the answer is "both...and", not "either...or". That is the end we should seek.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
80 students showed up to (their winter conference); about 65 showed up last year.Very encouraging indeed!
Last year, we had 10 Destino staff. This year we have 21 Destino staff. And in the last 3 weeks, a couple from St. Louis committed to joining Destino staff, I’ve had conversations with 7 others who are seriously considering joining Destino staff full-time, and (another) just crossed-over from Field Strategies to Destino staff at Texas A&M!
Last year, we had 239 students involved in 21 Destino movements. This year, we have 415 students involved in 40 movements. Last year we had 1 Destino summer project and this year we have 3 Destino summer projects. There is movement in the Destino movement!
Next Destino event: Destino Winter Conference - East Coast (another first!)
Monday, January 25, 2010
The Fluid Nature Of Gen Y's Media Habits
The two paragraph summary of college students' habits is clear and concise. But nothing too surprising. Just confirms what we already see.
Perhaps most helpful is the explanation of students' use of e-mail:
College students' email use also spikes during this time. This is driven by multiple life stage events ranging from the need to manage bank and credit card accounts, which deliver paperless statements via email, to interacting with professors and prospective employers, to getting coupons and offers (critical for survival on a limited budget). It is also driven by a recent surge in smartphone adoption among college students that correlates with increased email use.Perhaps e-mail isn't as dead as some have suggested.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Chris Castaldo, Pastor of Outreach at College Church, Wheaton, has written a Speaking Out column for Christianity Today entitled, "Catholics Come Home?" If you are unfamiliar with these efforts, it may be a quick introduction for you.
Haven't had a chance to do more than glance over it. But it looks like a valuable repository of talks (and thus insights and wisdom) from a gifted communicator of the gospel.
Perhaps I'll post more later. But for now, what do you think?
Friday, January 15, 2010
"Reports of Christianity's demise in America have been greatly exaggerated."The article begins debunking a couple of the popular abuses of statistics found among Evangelicals with a cause to promote. Is the abuse intentional or just misguided? I trust the later.
Two thirds of the way through the article, Stetzer has a section entitled (and summarizing) "What does the Good Research say?" It is worth taking a moment and skimming down there, even if you don't have time for the whole article.
The insights of the article are not only valuable in better understanding the use of stats, but this section on "Good Research" compiles a helpful glimpse of the state of religion in our culture. Implications for evangelism?
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Nearly half of the public (49%) says they have had a religious or mystical experience, defined as a "moment of sudden religious insight or awakening." This is similar to a survey conducted in 2006 but much higher than in surveys conducted in 1976 and 1994 and more than twice as high as a 1962 Gallup survey (22%).More evidence of the spiritual orientation of (post-)postmodern America.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
We are wise to observe that Paul planted approximately 13 churches in his lifetime. The apostle was far more concerned with building quality—"gold, silver, and precious stone"—than he was with amassing big numbers (see 1 Cor. 3).Except from Why Organic Church Is Not Exactly a Movement
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Our efforts to tap into this growing genre of short film have coalesced with the Global Short Film Network. Over fifteen short films are available there for viewing and for download (for nominal fee) to use in conversational witness. I first blogged about this emerging strategy back in the summer of '08.
The growth and impact of these short film was recently displayed at Urbana '09. The California Chronicle has just published an article regarding this entitled, "Young Evangelicals Embrace Film as a New Missionary Tool". From the article:
...this was the first year that Urbana organizers decided to tap into the younger generation's interest in film in a big way.While requiring a bit of "art" (more than science) in using conversationally, it is encouraging to see believers increasingly engaged in this form of "art" and using it to engage the culture. Check out the training for using these conversationally at GSFN's site.
"At Urbana '03, there wasn't a peep about film or filmmaking, and in '06 there were two discussions that brought in about 50 people," said Nathan Clarke, 34, a documentary filmmaker with Fourth Line Films who organized this year's Urbana Film Festival and Forum.
This year, organizers devoted three formal sessions to the subject, screening six films. The festival drew more than 1,000 students to the sessions, and also to smaller workshops, round tables, lectures and one-on-one meetings in which students could get critiques on their film pitches.