One way to change culture is to redefine the meaning of important words and symbols. NT Wright explains how attempts to redefine “marriage” undermine the truth of the gospel.
A map of London according to ethnicity. London, like so many cities around the world has been transformed by immigration. We’re not reaching cities any more, we’re reaching tribes and tribes within tribes.
The old rules don’t apply. You’ve got find insiders (persons of peace – Lk 10) and through them whole relational worlds (the oikos or household).
It has to be viral, reproducible, simple and flexible. A Bangladeshi Muslim from east London has local friends and family. He has friends and family in Bangladesh who are just a Facebook post, a phone call, or flight away.
The gospel can jump from London England to Sylhet Bangladesh in an afternoon. Now you’ve got a church plant happening in a country you’ve never visited.
How big is your vision? How profoundly simple are your methods?
A bad mix. Michelle is out and I just discovered that the NIV Application Commentaries for OT and NT on Kindle have dropped to $4.99 each.
Now I’ve just got to read them and hide my impulse buy from you know who.
Catch the fire in this man.
Michelle and I will be training in Manchester, UK on November 28-29.
I had the honour of interviewing George Patterson. He served for over twenty years in Central America. The simple methods and practices he developed have since spread around the world as best practice for church planting movements.
I’m not sure how long it will last, but the kindle version of Movements that Change the World just dropped to $2.99.
UPDATE: It’s back to $9.
Philip Jenkins reports that for Christians in the Middle East, 2014 has been a catastrophe.
The most wrenching stories have come from Iraq, where the nascent Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL in news reports) has savagely persecuted ancient Christian communities, including Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Syrian Orthodox. Iraqi Christians have declined rapidly in number since the first Gulf War in 1991, but survivors long believed they could maintain a foothold around Mosul.
This past summer, that hope collapsed. In a ghastly reminder of Nazi savagery against Jews, Christian homes were marked with the Arabic letter for Nazarenes—Christ followers.*
Could this get worse?
All local Christians know the answer. They look back at the experience of Jews, who flourished across the region just a century ago but have now vanished from virtually every Mideast nation outside Israel. Since 1950, Egypt’s Jewish population has shrunk from 100,000 to perhaps 50; Iraq’s, from 90,000 to a mere handful. Christian Aleppo or Damascus could easily go the way of Jewish Baghdad.
Jenkins identifies a lesson from history:
However often we talk of churches dying, they rarely do so without extraordinary external intervention. Churches don’t die because their congregations age, their pastors behave scandalously, the range of programs they offer wears thin, or their theology becomes muddled. Churches vanish when they are deliberately and efficiently killed by a determined foe.
He also identifies signs of hope:
Over the past decade, we have heard amazing claims about new Christian evangelization in Muslim countries, usually accompanied by incredible conversion statistics.
Having said that, some specific accounts are much more believable. David Garrison’s recent book, A Wind in the House of Islam, describes the Christian appeal in diverse Muslim societies. Remarkably, Syria offers some of the most convincing examples of this trend. Garrison is a responsible and critical reporter. The problem, though, is that all such activity is clandestine, for fear of arousing persecution.
Philip Jenkins, author of The Lost History of Christianity, is distinguished professor of history at Baylor University.
* (The 14th letter of the Arabic alphabet and the equivalent to the Roman letter N pronounced “noon”. See the image above.)
The breakthroughs in movements always begin on the fringe. Newsweek reports on a move of God among the Roma (Gypsies) of Europe.
God has not finished with Europe.
Background story: Gypsy faith
Robert Woodbury demonstrates the direct link between Evangelical missionary movements and the rise and spread of stable democracy around the world.
His research on nineteen century issionary movements show they were a crucial catalyst initiating the development and spread of religious liberty, mass education, mass printing, newspapers, voluntary organizations, and colonial reforms, thereby creating the conditions that made stable democracy more likely in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania.
Some great insights on how the fruit of the gospel is social transformation. Abandon the gospel and make social transformation the mission and you’ll lose both the gospel and social transformation.