Friday, January 29, 2010

Short Term Missions - Who Benefits Most?

I was reading an article by Paul Borthwick (among other pursuits, a missions prof at Gordon College) entitled, "In Defense of Short-Term Missions" at Paul shares a cautious defense of short-term missions. I was struck by the following observation:
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.”

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.”)

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.

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

Destino - Gaining Ground

One very encouraging front in campus ministry is seeing the establishment of Destino -- a national ministry to Hispanic students. This young ministry is making progress in reaching this significant and growing segment of the student population. I just read an update from Jim Sautner, the National Director. Here are a couple of highlights:
80 students showed up to (their winter conference); about 65 showed up last year.
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!
Very encouraging indeed!

Next Destino event: Destino Winter Conference - East Coast (another first!)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Student's Media Habits: E-mail Still Happens

A glimpse into research on Gen Y & media:

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

Evangelizing Protestants: Catholics Come Home

Those involved in witness in the US (and many global contexts) often encounter individuals of the Roman Catholic background--at times practicing, more often than not, not. In this context it is helpful to be aware of Roman Catholic efforts to call their lapsed (and other unchurched and underchurched individuals) home.

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.

Question God -- Keller's Site for Exploration

Was just introduced to Tim Keller's website, Question God. (Thanks, Ryan.)

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

Stats Abuse: An Evangelical Tendency

Fascinating article by Stetzer, President of Lifeway Research, entitled, "Curing Christians Stats Abuse." While it doesn't often a "cure", it does provide insight into the state of Evangelical Christianity in the U.S. Stetzer's conclusion:
"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

Mystical America

Pew research report, "Many Americans Mix Multiple Faiths" (Dec 9, 2009)...
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

The Apostolic Church Planter -- Paul's Work

Interesting thought:
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

Short Film - Emerging Strategy 2

As we help create safe relational contexts for significant spiritual conversations, one of emerging outreach resources is short film. A major catalyst in the genre of short film has been the Damah Film Festival.

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.

"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.
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.