Sunday, June 03, 2007

Missional Reflections

Random, possibly related thoughts on PMC and evangelism....

In 1900, 80 percent of the world's Christians lived in Europe and North America. Today, more than 60 percent of the world's Christians live outside those lands. Patrick Mead recently used a hyphothetical illustration of a Yugoslavian goatherd who came across a Bible and read it with no prior exposure to religion of any kind, and asked whether some of the issues that have historically divided us would even occur to the goatherd. As more and more people from other parts of the world, particular the southern hemisphere - Africa, India, Asia - are exposed to the Bible the illustration becomes less hypothetical and more reflective of reality. If we are willing to listen, hearing a fresh perspective can be a healthy thing....

One of the findings from the interview process of the Discovery phase was that among all the churches in our cluster fewer than 5% of the interviewees used God as the subject in a sentance with an active verb. Pat Kiefert described this as functional athieism. While I'm not convinced that description actually applies to 95% of the members of our congregations, I'm also not convinced that it doesn't apply to a sizeable number. To be a Christian means far more than merely to believe in God—as if the Christian faith were reducible to a system of beliefs—it means to be united with Jesus in and through the Holy Spirit, and to live a life that reflects his image....

Speaking of belief, Larry James recounted in a recent post an occasion while he was running with a friend and they encountered a homeless man and stopped to talk with him...

As we finished our run, Dan said, "I've noticed that you never 'hammer' people with the Jesus speech. You don't lead with 'Do you believe in Jesus?'"Reflecting on his comment as we continued our run, it hit me, in spite of my oxygen deprivation, that the most important question is not, "Does John believe in Jesus?" The real question is, "Does Larry believe in Jesus?"

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Last weekend one of the ministers at a congregation in Midland was returning from a wedding in the Dallas area with his family. His 16 year old son was driving and fell asleep; their suburban rolled, their 13 year old son was killed and their 18 year old daughter was seriously injured. In addition to praying for this family, and especially for their 16 year old, read this post by Brian Mashburn.

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