Re-Thinking Evangelism by Dallas Willard Discussion

An article published 11 years ago stirred some conversation on Twitter that prompted me to share it here in the hopes of continuing an important discussion on relevant evangelism.

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Here are a few poignant quotes from the article:

“Much of evangelism today is rooted in a misunderstanding of salvation. People have been told they are Christians because they have confessed they believe that Jesus died for their sins, but the total package is presented in such a way that it leaves the general life untouched.

“What we want is not just evangelism that makes converts. We want disciples…and if you are intent on making disciples and keep on that track, evangelism will take care of itself.

“Three out of four people who make professions at crusades never show up in any church. That’s partly due to the fact that in our notions of evangelism today, being converted has nothing to do with community; it just has to do with your “personal relationship” with God.”

“How do you do “evangelism-discipleship?” My short answer: You ravish people with the blessings of the Kingdom. You make them hungry for it. That’s why words are so important—we must be wordsmiths. You use words to ravish people with the beauty of the kingdom. It’s the beauty of the kingdom that Jesus said was causing people to climb over each other just to get in. People become excited like the pearl-purchaser—they will give everything to get in.”

“So I think our preparation now makes a lot of difference. Once you get over the idea that you are going to be warehoused for all eternity when you die, lying about on shelves, listening to harp playing on Muzak, you can see how it makes a real difference.”

We have to recognize that most of what we say today does not cut through to real life, and we must find ways to do that. Generally speaking, we have to address the real needs of people—to understand those needs and to devise ways to help people understand that you are talking to them about their needs.”

Our challenge is to get those ideas into language that addresses what people see and experience every day, that helps them separate what is good and what is not good, that helps them understand what redemption from sin means today.”

Read the entire article here.

Share your thoughts in the comments: What did you like/dislike? How does this article speak to the changing realities of sharing the Gospel in today’s culture? 

The Blogference Day 3 Posts!

Welcome to The Blogference Day 3!

Here is the list of today’s posts:

Bridging the Gap Between 50 Year Olds and 20 Year Olds, by Brian Barela, in Leadership

Pursuing the Good in Ethnic Ministry, by Brian Virtue, in Leadership

Surviving vs. Thriving in College: What Do You Think It Takes? By Alex Chediak, in Leadership

Click on the title of each post to read it. To leave a comment, you will need to be logged into Facebook. When you post the comment you can choose whether or not to share your comment on your Facebook profile.

Bridging the Gap Between 50 Year Olds and 20 Year Olds

The ability to translate the meaning and intention of a person above and below is a critical to an organization’s future. Having spent ten years on staff with Cru I have observed that there are a lot of 50 year olds, and a lot of 20 year olds.

As I have sought to pursue change the biggest challenge has been translating my passions and ideas into language that those with decision making power understand. I’ve also learned that’s it not the quality of the idea that primarily causes change–which can be particularly frustrating for younger leaders who do not understand that there is more to making changes than coming up with ideas.

On a day to day basis a huge gap between 50 and 20 year olds is the way each other give and prefer to receive encouragement. 50 year olds often prefer to communicate encouragement as exhortation, which many 20 year olds experience as inauthentic and uncaring. 20 year olds often prefer to communicate encouragement by casual conversation and “hanging out,” which 50 year olds often experience as rude, unprofessional, or inappropriate.

What 20 Year Olds Need to Know About Their Ideas

  • They are not THAT great
  • They are EXTREMELY valuable to explore
  • In a large organization it often takes 10x longer than you think to get a new idea implemented

 

They are not THAT great
Seriously there are people with more experience and wisdom than you. Your idea comes out of a specific and unique context–corporate or organizational decisions are made in light of the whole. An original idea needs to flex and iterate and bend in order to make it to the top. If you are willing to lose all of your idea but the core concept than you stand a great chance of seeing change happen.

 

They are EXTREMELY valuable to exploreEven though your idea is not that great, it’s still extremely valuable to the organization. 20 year olds are usually closest to the target group of any organization–if we are to be relevant in 5, 10, and 20 years than these ideas are critical to understanding what cultural changes are happening and how to potentially solve them at the corporate level. For those in the 50 year old camp, understand that 20 year olds value being heard and would be extremely encouraged to KNOW that you have considered their idea–acknowledging the value of an idea does not obligate you to fund or move forward with it. In fact it would help 20 year olds tremendously to hear critical feedback about their idea so that they can go back to the drawing board and come up with a better iteration of their idea.



In a large organization it often takes 10x longer than you think to get an idea implementedJust because you have thought about an idea for a long time does not mean that others have. It takes time for people to absorb new ideas and think about the implications. Realize also that new ideas disrupt other people’s current reality–if you want to get an idea acted on be prepared for resistance, find people who are older than you that believe in the idea, and work with them to educate and demonstrate it’s value in tangible results.

What are some helpful ways you have found to bridge this gap? If you are close to or on the 50 year old side, what do 20 year olds need to know? If you are closer to the 20 year old side, what do 50 year olds need to know to help them understand you better? 

 

Pursuing the Good in Ethnic Ministry

Reaching ethnic minorities has become more important than ever. As we cross cultures it is important for us to reflect on how we relate to the people we are trying to reach.

 

This summer three majority culture ministers working with Impact, Epic, and Destino wrote an article describing some of the various postures we have taken or seen others take in the process. This excerpt from the article, “Five Majority Culture Postures Towards Ethnic Minority Ministry” sums it up well:

“As Caucasians [white, dominant culture ministers], we carry with us the capacity to reinforce much of the pain that ethnic minorities have experienced and absorbed both in their lifetimes and through generations of systemic marginalization. We can’t escape the larger story of which we are all connected. But when we as Caucasians begin to relate to ethnic minority communities in ways that bring honor, rather than take it away (albeit often unknowingly), there are great opportunities to open doors for healing, reconciliation, and empowerment.

We think most ethnic ministry is done with good intentions. But not all seek to partner in ways in which there is mutual blessing and dignity. We cannot partner in ethnic ministry from a position of “above.” We can fight for people and influence them from above, but we can’t really partner with others in a redemptive and honoring way without fostering mutuality and dignity.”

Most people we know would want to be in the fifth posture we cover in the article: advocacy in partnership.  They have good intentions and desires in a lot of ways. But sometimes we don’t understand when our good intentions are mostly “good” when viewed through our own cultural lens.  We (the authors) have had our own journeys of learning what types of efforts and interactions are truly good when stepping into the ethnic minority world.  That’s some of the journey – being willing to move from what seems good to us towards what truly is good for those people we are trying to serve and love well.  Postures 2-4 represent frequent postures that we white, dominant culture ministers often think are serving and helpful, but when examined in light of the big picture they begin to show us something about what God still wants to do in our hearts.

When given status or power, we’re called to steward that power to serve and empower others.  White ministers can play a very redemptive role in shaping the future of North America by embracing what it means to advocate in partnership.

Read the full article here: Five Majority Culture Postures Towards Ethnic Minority Ministry (mobile friendly)
**server issues are affecting the above link so if it’s not working you can view and download at this link.

Consider these questions as you respond and comment.  Share your story! We all need to be learners together.

If you are a white staff person or minister, where are you at in your own journey of learning to cross-cultures? What have you learned?  What have been your own challenges and successes?

If you are a non-white staff, student, or minister and you resonate with the ethnic minority experience, we’d love to invite you to share what you have experienced as being truly GOOD for you in your journey.  What has served you or what has helped empower you as a person and a leader?   And what have been the challenges – whether they are captured in the article or not?

All of us can benefit from reflecting upon this question: Given the capacity I currently have, as I reflect on the idea of advocacy, what might be a good step for me right where I am towards learning to enter into healthy partnerships across majority-minority or ethnic lines?

 

 

Surviving vs. Thriving

College should be a temporary season of academic preparation and personal growth to propel a lifetime of effective service to God and neighbor.

This guest post is written by Alex Chediak, author of Thriving at College.

College should be a temporary season of academic preparation and personal growth to propel a lifetime of effective service to God and neighbor. It should be a launching pad into all that goes with responsible Christian adulthood. Yet for some, it’s a time when they abandon the Christian faith, displaying that they never really belonged to Christ (1 John 2:19). For others, their faith remains intact, but they waste their college lives with video games, partying, and other frivolities—an expensive vacation funded by Mom, Dad, and debilitating student loans.

Today, seven out of ten high school graduates immediately go on to college, but about 30% will never become sophomores, and about 50% will not have graduated even six years later. Many who do graduate move right back home with their parents, assuming little responsibility and armed with little ambition for Christ.

Thrive at College

I’m convinced that you should not just survive college but thrive at college. Don’t just maintain your faith, but really come to own it — growing thick, strong roots (1 Timothy 4:12). Don’t just squeak by classes with as little effort as possible, but strive to discover your calling — what God uniquely wired you to do — and to love God with all your mind by giving it your very best (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

Socially, college is a season for making life-long friendships — not just the kind you have a great time with (good as that is) but the kind that spur you on to love, trust, and follow God. Pursue relationships that help you put away childishness, grow in maturity, increasingly make wise choices, and “expect great things from God and attempt great things for God.” And who knows? Maybe one of these friends will become a fabulous husband or wife.

College is a time for assuming responsibility, for becoming a disciplined steward of time and money, for recognizing that recreation is a gift of God to be enjoyed in measure but never to dominate our lives. Rather, when properly pursued, recreation empowers us for our work rather than distracting us from our work.

Be Trained to Make a Difference

College is an opportunity to get the training you need to make a difference in the world — by becoming a business person, an engineer, a doctor, a teacher, a historian, a physical therapist, a husband, a wife, a parent, who sees God’s lordship extending to every area of life and every corner of the globe.

It’s a time to take the gifts God has given you and develop them into finely-tuned skills — the kind that can really serve and benefit other people (some of whom may even pay you). It’s a time to become a man or woman with unshakable character and faithfulness — the kind that can be given increasing areas of responsibility, and who can eventually rise to leadership. It’s a time to honor all that your parents did for you by learning to own your decisions, even your mistakes, as you embrace a full-orbed, God-dependent adulthood.

As you look out over your local campus, what trends are you seeing? Are you noticing more or less freshmen finishing their first year? How are this year’s freshmen similar or different than this year’s seniors? What do other ministryleaders need to know? 

 

Alex Chediak is an associate professor of engineering and physics at California Baptist University and the author of Thriving at College: Make Great Friends, Keep Your Faith, and Get Ready for the Real World! (Tyndale House Publishers, April 2011). Learn more about Alex on his site, and follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

The Blogference Day 2 Posts!

Welcome to The Blogference Day 2!

Here is the list of today’s posts:

Are We Really Doing Great Co-Missional Campus Ministry?–By Daniel Curran, in Evangelism

Is it worth the trade?–By Karin Tome, in Leadership

12 Ways to Strengthen & Grow a Mobile Ministry Team–By Dana Byers, in Social Media

Sunday is Dying and That’s Fine With Me–By Vince Marrotte, in Leadership, Social Media

Click on the title of each post to read it. To leave a comment, you will need to be logged into Facebook. When you post the comment you can choose whether or not to share your comment on your Facebook profile.

Are We Really Doing Great Co-Missional Campus Ministry?

One of the most important Kingdom movements the Holy Spirit is birthing forth today is the missional church movement I’m enthusiastic about it because it holds so much promise for introducing sweeping revival, evangelical renewal, and ecclesiastical reformation in the Body of Christ worldwide.  The missional church movement I think can also serve as a sorely needed catalyst amongst the proliferating number of evangelical campus missions ie. ministries like CRU , InterVarsity, YoungLife, RUF, Chi Alpha, BCM, etc. and with the myriads of new church planting efforts that are popping up all over in university towns.  My theory is that God in our day is sovereignly (re)stirring a missional church movement in response to a wide variety of massive culture-shifts the American and Western world have been seeing.  The Holy Spirit has strategically been raising up missional leadership for all aspects of the Universal Church for over 60+ years through campus missions.  For a variety of reasons myself and many others think we are at a pivotal moment in church history that needs much reflection and prayer.

Truth be told, the missional church movement isn’t really new.  It’s merely a fresh expression of the Gospel of Jesus in our time that the Holy Spirit is doing to lead Christ’s Church into new territory.  But, are we as campus ministry leaders aware of our God’s mssiological impulses and radical ways?  On many fronts there are reports of campus ministries bogging down like mainline evangelical churches have been, too much pastoral control, bored attenders, loss of vision and fruitfulness.  Are we in a good position to get in step with the missional directions the Spirit of God is moving us in?  A big question I’m asking myself and campus ministry leaders everywhere ie. CRU/IV/YL staff, campus missionary, undergrad, grad, professor, chaplain, campus pastor, etc. is this: “Are We Really Doing Great Co-Missional Campus Ministry?”

Whatever the case, I hope to stir campus ministry leaders everywhere by inviting them to answer this question, talk about the implications of what you discover, and be willing to make changes accordingly.  Click the above hyperlinks to learn more about what’s being said nowdays about being “missional”, and skim my below terminology that I’m choosing to use for our question:

  • Are we “DOING“? — As campus ministry leaders, are we personally doing and modeling for others “Great Co-Missional Campus Ministry”?  Are we worshipping, praying, listening, going, preaching, baptizing, teaching, and equipping others in Jesus’ commandments in the power of the Holy Spirit as our core work? (see Matthew 28:16-20).  Or, are we finding ourselves engaged, distracted, overwhelmed, seduced by other involvements?

 

  • Is what we are doing “GREAT?” — As campus ministry leaders, does what you are doing smack of The Kingdom of God (ie. the grand historic movement of God that calls for repentance and brings redemption to the world in Jesus Christ)?  Or, are we more about our personal, organizational, or evangelical tribal agendas?

 

  • Is what we are doing “CO-MISSIONAL?” — As campus ministry leaders are we truly “being and making disciples” OF Jesus WITH Jesus?  Or, are we making disciples out of legalistic obedience, or impure motives for ourselves, or for (shudder) for the perpetuation of our campus church or campus mission organizations?

 

  • “Is what we are doing “CAMPUS”?” — As campus ministry leaders are we physically and virtually present in the nexus of the land, buildings, institutional programs, and subcultures that comprise the core culture of the high school and university students you’ve been called to “disciple”?  Note: It is a huge missiological problem if you are primarily making students “come” to you; and, if you are not primarily “going” to where students are. If you are not going to students, …you are not doing “campus” ministry”!  ie. are we finding ourselves primarily absent from the various cultural contexts where our students live, eat, sleep, study, play, walk, and worship (physical & virtual)?

 

  • “Is what we are doing “MINISTRY?” = As campus ministry leaders are we really doing the good works of God and reaching out to the specific student groups that the Holy Spirit has tasked us with (Hebrews 10:25)?  Or, are we neglecting our “good works” as campus ministers due to physical distance, cultural fears, busyness, or organizational sacred-cows?

 

As for myself, I’m at a personal crossroads.  I’ve served for over 25 good years in Ohio, Idaho, Seattle, and Berkeley as a campus minister and have made every mistake in the book imaginable.  And, also seen spiritual fruit beyond my wildest dreams.  At the moment God has called me to make disciples amongst two of the busiest (most unavailable) student groups at UC Berkeley: athletes and grad students.  I’m two years into this endeavor and it’s by far the hardest mission assignment I’ve ever had.  I’m scared because it looks like it might cost me more blood, sweat, and tears than I ever imagined to see Christ formed amongst these student groups.  I’m tempted to waiver because it’s not as easy nor as “fun” as traditional undergrad ministry or church-planting.  I’m in a tough spot this fall and need courage to keep pressing in on going and preaching the Gospel into places on campus I’ve never have before.  As for me, I’ve shrunk back from preaching the Gospel these past two years and I feel sick about it and want to confess that to you.

Whatever the case, looking forward to hearing whatever you are thinking about anything I’ve said here and/or to hear where you are at.  I looking forward to meeting you and learning from you through your comments below.  Feel free to steal my “missional question”.  Use it with your staff teams, student leaders, and church planting elders.  If it helps your ministry grow, give God the glory; if it causes a lot of messiness, you can blame me.

Bottom Line:  If we are not involved in doing campus ministry that is Kingdom-inspired, Biblical, and goes to where today’s students are, …we are probably not involved in campus ministry that is obedient to the Great Commission, nor worthy of our Lord.  So, “Are We Really Doing Great Co-Missional Campus Ministry?”  This is our question.  What do you think?  

——
Daniel Curran serves on staff with Cru as a Campus Minister @ UC Berkeley, Leadership Developer, LeadCatalyst of GradCru Networks. Follow him on Twitter. Check out his blog.

Is it worth the trade?

Esau swore an oath to Jacob, selling his birthright to him. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and lentil stew. He ate and drank and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright. Genesis 25:33-34

beef stew“Who would trade their birthright for a bowl of stew?
You would.
I would.
If it was the right bowl of stew.”

A bowl of stew for a birthright? Are you kidding? Who would do that?
Who would trade their future for something as temporary as a bowl of stew?
Who would throw away their ministry? Their marriage? The respect of their children? Their reputation? Their influence?

It happens all the time. Do you know who would trade their future for a bowl of stew? You would. I would. If it was the right bowl of stew.

These words from Andy Stanley, senior pastor of North Point Community Church, have haunted me ever since I heard this message at the Catalyst ’10 Leadership conference:

“As leaders, we have a heightened appetite for more. More progress. More responsibility. More growth. More respect. More achievement. The internal tension we all face is that these appetites are never fully and finally satisfied. We celebrate the growth of our student ministry, but next semester we want more students. As soon as one project is going well, we want to take on more responsibility. We get into trouble when we think there is something or somebody or a broad enough responsibility that is going to fully and finally satisfy. And we spend our lives, and in some cases make really poor leadership decisions, trying to find that golden ring.”

These appetites aren’t bad–in fact, they made us leaders in the first place. But to lead with all diligence–to be a leader worth following–you must carefully look at the future you are trading for the decisions you make today.

If we don’t get this right, it doesn’t really matter if we get everything else right. If we are ruled and controlled and deceived by the little voice that says a little more, a little more, a little more-if we live and lead that way, we ultimately lose the thing we once considered most valuable.

Leadership is inherently future focused. You lead. If Esau had paused for a minute to consider his birthright, to consider what would have been his future, there is no way he would have traded it for a measly bowl of stew. We would have referred to Jehovah as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Esau. We would have seen Esau’s name in the genealogy in Matthew. Instead, Jacob received the birthright. Jacob received the blessing. And Esau despised what God had given.

What’s your bowl of stew?

_________________________________________________________________

Karin serves on staff with Cru on the Global Technology Team. Follow her on Twitter. Read her blog. 

These are a summary of notes taken from the opening session of Catalyst ’10 in a message given by Andy Stanley. He has written numerous books on Leadership and I have been heavily influenced by his thinking. 

12 Ways to Strengthen & Grow a Mobile Ministry Team

Many ministry teams now function in a distributed context and use social media as a primary tool for starting and growing their ministries. Here are 12 ways to strengthen and grow those teams:

new york city

SUGGESTIONS:

1–Unite dispersed teams via private Facebook groups to discuss issues, share questions and life experiences, and create camaraderie prior to meeting face to face.

2–Host ongoing quarterly meet-ups with an open invitation to all members (both staff and volunteers) who are able to travel to the location.  Alter the site, time of day and day of the week on occasion to accommodate others.

3–Start a hangout within your Google plus circles to provide a casual chat environment that is similar to an open house where people come and go.  No need to force a topic of discussion – anyone can ask a question or share an idea, and the team will gather around to learn, share and grow together.

4–Go to a favorite hangout in your city and invite Twitter friends who happen to be in the area at the moment to join you for a meal or cup of coffee.

5–Send an email out to your volunteer team or staff and ask them which local needs they’re aware of that your team could meet.  Schedule the time and place to meet up and make a difference together.

6–Do you have a group member who is geographically distant from the rest of you?  Surprise him or her by sending an airline or rail ticket to spend a weekend with you.

7–Attend the same film as your friends (who are dispersed in various cities, states, or countries) at the same time.  Live tweet your thoughts as it happens and invite your social network connections to chime in with their opinions, too.

8–Agree on a day each of you will perform a random act of service where you live or work.  Report back to each other via Skype call or Google+ hangout to share your experiences.

9–Create a group list of phone numbers on your mobile phone so that you can send out a mass text to them if you find yourself in an emergency situation and need prayer or help.  Encourage them to do the same.

10–Host a Prayer Event on Facebook.  (Details in my ebook.)

11–Locate the connectors in your group and send them out to pockets of the city, state, or world where you have momentum building in your  ministry.  Ask the connectors to listen to the local groups’ stories and then make the intentional effort of introducing like-minded people from the various territories who’d never otherwise meet.  When people with similar stories, gifts, and passions are united, an organization accelerates its growth.

12–Create a master Google document of links, resources, videos, and more your team can add to every time they come across a blog post, article, tech tool and more that would help your team connect online and relate better locally.

DON’T FORGET:

* Many of the public interactions your team members have online are being observed by their social networks.  Over time you will find your team growing as a result of others wanting in on your vibrant community’s approach to serving together.
* Keep around 70% or more of your team’s public online interactions secular in nature, thereby allowing members’ social network connections of different faiths to participate in the conversation and gain exposure to your community.  1 to 2 of every 6 online interactions is enough to share one’s beliefs without coming on too strong.
* Prayerfully identify those on your team who are best suited to trying 3-5 of the suggestions above and see what happens!

Dana Byers is the President of BlueDoor.tv, which she co-founded with her husband in Europe in 2007. Her dream is to help teams form online churches in every country by 2020.  Download Dana’s free ebook “The Art of Online Ministry”. Follow her on Twitter.

 

Sunday is Dying and That’s Fine With Me

One hundred years ago the local church was the centerpiece of many communities which meant that the gathering on Sunday morning was one of the most revered hours (or 3 for Pentecostals) of the week. It inherently had a very high value in people’s lives. Fast forward to today and we can see that the Sunday morning “Time & Place Gathering” is quickly losing value in people’s lives.

abandoned churchThe industrialization of the world has been reflected in the church with a highly scaleable and repeatable experience that is today’s church service: Some songs, maybe a video clip, someone talks and we drop a few bucks in the plate. Rinse. Repeat.

People have hired a hit and run experience to augment life with a low grade spiritual experience that is convenient first and foremost. Our idea of what is convenient has significantly changed has it not? All of a sudden driving the mile and a half to church to sit through boring songs and 40 minutes of a talking head is less than convenient…it’s downright hard.

The Church started out as a tight knit community that was all up in each other’s lives on a daily basis and relationships, based around Christ, were the centerpiece of the community not a pulpit.

We’ve lost the plot and we are only now just seeing it. When the church was the main, if not only, place to get spiritual content then it garnered enough energy that relationships and spiritual growth could happen. We have always said that this is the main thing but in reality our actions have been saying that the Sunday morning gathering is the main thing, community and spiritual growth were just a side effect. Now that the “Time and Place Gathering” is losing it’s value, the side effects it was creating are falling off considerably.

All this has me excited!

The tools of the web, new media and social media have given us the opportunity to transition from churches that control content and deliver it on narrow channels (Sunday morning); to vibrant community where everyone has a voice and relationships and spiritual growth can become the centerpiece once again.

The first step in this journey is to embrace this reality and stop wasting resources on trying to save the “Time and Place Gathering”, it’s not going away any time soon, it simply has less value.

The next step is rethink the priorities of your church and consider how you create content and experiences. Every team I consult with is stuck in a rut that puts too high of a value on Sunday morning and too high of a value on the current components of Sunday morning: Talking head teaching, musical corporate worship etc. Think of the last time your team created a gathering that wasn’t on Sunday morning; how quickly did musical worship get wedged into the equation? We have a hard time fathoming getting together as a Christian community without singing songs and listening to a talking head.

Lastly, engage your people with the tools that are at your finger tips. The tools of social media have very little ROI when the point of measure is attendance and giving, but what’s the ROI on a real relationship?  If you approach new media with the intent of getting more people to your “Time and Place Gathering” then you will quickly begin to see it’s not strategic. However, if you learn to meet the needs that used to be met by that gathering, using new media as part of that plan, you will quickly see life change and vibrant community develop.

We are in the very early years of this new reality, but the time is now to get in the game.

——–

Vince Marrotte is a Christ Follower, Husband and Father. He serves as the Internet Pastor at Gateway Church in Austin Texas. He recently released an ebook, Context and Voice, that is available for download here. Click here to follow him on Twitter. Or here to read his blog.