How they did it

Paul Ephesus Eustache Le Sueur
In the first century, if you had a church in your neighbourhood chances are:

  1. You lived in a port city.
  2. You lived in a port city that was Greek in language and culture.
  3. You lived in a port city that was Greek in language and culture and had a Jewish community.

Q. Why a port city?
A. Easy access.

Q. Why Greek?
A. More responsive to the gospel than Roman culture.

Q. Why Jewish?
A. Networks of relationships with existing Christians and more responsive to the gospel.

Paul's mission was to reach the Gentiles. How did he do it? By reaching Jews in Gentile cities.

According to Rodney Stark, nearly all of his efforts took place within Diasporan Jewish communities. Except for Luke most of his entourage was Jewish. He was welcomed by Jews. He preached in Jewish homes and in the synagogues. And most of those greeted in his letters seem to have been Jews.

Hellenist Jews were the most responsive people in the empire to the gospel. They had tenuous ties to their traditional faith and were open to new ideas.

That's why you find Paul in port cities, with a Greek culture, reaching Hellenistic Jews. They became the beachhead through whom the gospel spread in depth the wider population.

What was true for Paul was also true of the great mass of rank-and-file Christians who took the gospel to the empire. Social networks led Christians to missionize the Hellenized Jews of the Diasporia.

Stark again:

For missionaries headed out from Jerusalem, the pressing first questions were, Where should we go? Who would receive us? The answer seemed obvious. All across the Greco-Roman world were relatively well-to-do communities of people to whom the missionaries had ties—people who were relatives (even if very distant), or friends of friends.

Q. So where are the beachheads in the world/s you're trying to reach?
A. [Fill in the blank]

“Cities of God: The Real Story of How Christianity Became an Urban Movement and Conquered Rome” (Rodney Stark). 132-3.

Reaching the world's great cities

1402013-Kids Near Abuja-Nigeriaphoto

This report from the Melbourne Age. . .

TOKYO remains the world's biggest city. But the city that will expand by more than any other in the next 10 years, adding 5 million to its population, is not in Asia, Europe, or the Americas.

Lagos, the capital of Nigeria, in west Africa, will be the world's fastest-growing mega-city over the decade to 2015, United Nations experts estimate.

Thirty years ago, Lagos had 2 million people. By 2015 it will have 16 million inhabitants.

It epitomises the rise of the Third World mega-cities, vast sprawling oceans of people living largely in makeshift shanty towns and slums.

By 2015, the UN estimates, the world will have 22 cities with more than 10 million residents. Of these, 18 will be in developing countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and eastern Europe.

more: Poor mega-cities to topple Rome, Berlin

So what's the plan to reach the world's great cites? We need at least 1.5 million new churches.

Sparking and partnering with indigenous church planting movements is the only way—combined with strategies to fuel indigenous movements for economic development, health care and education.


The birth of a child

navitity We are talking about the birth of a child, Not the revolutionary act of a strong man, Not the breathtaking discovery of a sage, Not the pious act of a saint.

It really passes all understanding.

The birth of a child is to bring the great turning around of all things, is to bring salvation and redemption of the whole human race.

What kings and statesmen, philosophers and artists, founders of religions and moral teachers vainly strive for, now comes about through a newborn child.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

ChristmasDietrich BonhoefferJesusQuotes

My Christmas pressie

Michelle just ordered my Christmas pressie.* “Wodehouse Playhouse - The Complete Collection” (Acorn Media)

We stumbled on this series back in the early 80s. Before we had kids. We were studying for theology exams day and night.

There was an ABC journalist strike and the national news was not going to air. So every night they played a 30 minute episode. We fell in love with Wodehouse and the production.

Twenty years later Michelle is buying me the series for Chrissi.

Tru luv.

*note for international readers: Australians like to put “ie” on whatever word they can—Aussie, Uni, tellie. Thus pressie. Not sure if Kiwis also have this habit. But if they do, we invented it first. Just like the pavlova.

The starfish and the spider

StarfishAnother book I haven't ready yet but it comes highly recommended by Neil Cole, and he should know because Alan Hirsch told him it was great book. Alan didn't tell me because he says I read too much. That's not true. I buy too much but I don't read too much! There is a difference.

This from a review of the book:

After five years of ground-breaking research, Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom share some unexpected answers, gripping stories, and a tapestry of unlikely connections. The Starfish and the Spider argues that organizations fall into two categories: traditional “spiders,” which have a rigid hierarchy and top-down leadership, and revolutionary “starfish,” which rely on the power of peer relationships.

The Starfish and the Spider explores what happens when starfish take on spiders (such as the music industry vs. Napster, Kazaa, and the P2P services that followed). It reveals how established companies and institutions, from IBM to Intuit to the US government, are also learning how to incorporate starfish principles to achieve success.

The book explores: * How the Apaches fended off the powerful Spanish army for 200 years * The power of a simple circle * The importance of catalysts who have an uncanny ability to bring people together * How the Internet has become a breeding ground for leaderless organizations * How Alcoholics Anonymous has reached untold millions with only a shared ideology and without a leader

I've ordered my copy. Might even read it.

“The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations” (Ori Brafman, Rod Beckstrom)