The global church struggles with issues and people in the public square like we do. They don’t always get it right, but they seem to be far quicker to addressing the issues and giving grace to others than we are. They have lived in a “migrated” world far longer than we have and as a result has learned better how to maneuver. There are three hot areas that challenge us today in the U.S. that they have been dealing with longer than we have in relating to others. What can we learn from them? Read more
I have been amazed at how similar and at the same time different the conversations are between global pastors and U.S. pastors. These “little” differences I’ve come to believe, make all the difference in the world. I’ll be writing about some of them later but for now, here’s some of the shifts in they talk is what I’ve observed. We long for many of the same things, but our mindset or structures prevent us.
First, we talk a lot about church planting and church planting movements. They talk obsessively about the Kingdom of God and nations a lot. They are like Dallas Willard on steroids but not in a primarily theological sense but a practical sense. Their kingdom view and passion to see their nation and surrounding nations reached, drives all other activities as in church planting, disciple making, leadership development etc.
God has truly blessed my life in so many ways – but one of the greatest is allowing me to get to know global pastors that are movement makers. Eddy Leo, Oscar Muiri, Joseph Maisha, Joshua Vivyakumar, Sean Bau, Jossy Chacko, Terry Virgo, Dion Rober, Robert Lay, and so so many others.
These men are different from most pastors I know here in the U.S., myself included. They embody not just growth in terms of tens and hundreds of thousands if not millions – but they do it not by PR, marketing, business management – but real moves of God. They are not full of themselves, they are humble men. They are not the loud people at a pastors gathering if you didn’t know who they were you might think it’s a lucky global pastor who someone paid their way to come to an event – but you’d be very mistaken. Yet, they struggle – but not like us. Family issues, financial issues, societal issues, war, persecution, hardships that we can’t imagine. Even last week as I was hearing from leaders in Pakistan they were sad but still victorious looking for how God would use the tragedy they were all affected by. I remember one pastor once saying “You guys have great insurance and medical care” we have to learn to “call on the Lord – he’s all we’ve got”.
November 2-3, 2016 the Mosaix Multi-ethnic Conference will be held at Northwood Church in Keller, Texas. This has become the nation’s largest conference where churches and Christians gather on the issue of race, faith, and the church. I can’t wait!!! They are anticipating a record and historic gathering.
They had way over a thousand at the last gathering and are anticipating far more for this. Leaders from the all over the U.S. will be converging.
March 31, Mark DeYmaz who heads up the conference will be having a very special gathering of pastors and faith leaders who want to find out what it’s all about and get on board early. It will be held at NorthWood Church. He will be speaking and answer any questions you might have. There will be a lunch from 11:45 AM to 1:00 PM with a meal provided. You can RSVP for the lunch by Click Here To RSVP For March 31st Luncheon. Read more
I’ve heard it said a couple of times that if it were not for the ethnic and in particular African American churches in the SBC, it would be in decline much more. There was a period when the largest churches of America would be listed showing churches of 2,000 or more or 10,000 or more – but absent from the list were the African American churches, but not anymore. From the East to the West, the North to the South, some of the biggest churches in America now are African American. In Dallas Fort Worth alone there are several led by pastors like T.D. Jakes, Tony Evans, Brian Carter, and the lists go on and on. In Atlanta I know of at least four that have over 5,000 that I know about. I can think of at least 25 pastors I know in that category. Read more
The church in America seems to be running on fear, and that fuel will ruin its engine. It was made to run on love. This morning I was reading 1 Corinthians 8 and I was struck by what it said.
We are afraid of the stock market and the economy.
We are afraid of Muslims.
We are afraid of white people, black people, and police.
We are afraid of Mexicans lest they overrun us.
We are afraid of gays.
We are afraid of the world.
We are afraid . . . of seemingly anything different or anything hard.
Instead of the church being salt and light and pushing back on that, we seem to be the ones most afraid. THIS is not what it means to follow Jesus and to be the church. This is not a message of hope, but one of fear – one that doesn’t come from Jesus. If the Holy Spirit spoke through Peter for him to confess Jesus was the Lord, and then Satan spoke through him to tell him he shouldn’t die on the cross . . . . Why should you or I think that we are always right, that Satan can’t speak through us as well? Satan’s words are so easy to recognize – they instill anxiety, worry, hate, fear, xenophobia. Read more
I just returned from a week in Pakistan hanging out with several friends there and looking at how we can work together. The U.S. and Pakistan frankly have some things in common that if we can work together, helps all of us. In the U.S. we are the majority as Christians and Muslims are the minority – it’s reversed in Pakistan. We are both passionate about our faith and both are concerned about our minorities in the other country. Working together globally and locally is our best bet of bringing understanding to each other and protection for our minority. In the U.S. there is a dangerous and serious disconnect between how we treat Muslims here and the implications it has on Christians globally.
Christians who believe in the Great Commission, and Muslims who believe in Dawa can practice it right at home by how they treat religious minorities from around the world who are around them. Stated another way, it’s in the best interest of our faith to treat religious minorities well around us, if we want our religious minorities treated well globally. It does no good to send people around the world only for our western religious mouths to unnecessarily put them at risk or impede their work by what is seen as religious colonialism and western expansion of culture and ideology.
In previous times speaking in the public square was a choice based on your connections and expertise – not so anymore. Everyone is now in the public square whether you want to be or not. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – all of the ways we communicate now have changed forever. I think it’s for the better – even though there are significant challenges with it. You can wind up with “pop” public square or social “mob intellectual violence” but those that can think will process through all of it and be better for it. In a real way life has become “Wiki Square.” If you tweet, you’re in the public square. Pastor, if your sermons are online – you’re in the public square. You are building an intellectual and social persona and profile promoting various views often without even realizing it. This necessitates knowing how to engage in the public square – more on this later in another blog if not book, but for now how do you speak there. I began to realize this when I started working globally 20 years ago, the net was a reality and people were connecting with me and I realized really quick I had to learn how to communicate what I believed but in a way others could understand clearly without being offensive. Read more
Romans 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. ESV
Transformation is a process. It isn’t the same as “confession” where we make a statement or ask forgiveness and enact an instantaneous state. Paul tells us to be transformed. A butterfly is transformed. It has to go in a cocoon and it takes time. All of us are constantly being transformed; it’s not a static process – for good or bad. Notice he says transformation takes place in the mind. It takes time to see our mind transformed. It has had certain grooves put into it by media, by others, by our experiences. Our mind is not to be merely left to itself to develop but there must be an intentional process of training, formatting, cleaning, creating new ways of thinking. It’s an ongoing process, it’s a daily process. Most of us are involuntarily indoctrinated by what is taking place around us. If we don’t line it up with God’s Word and truth we will wind up “converted” and yet “unchanged.” Yes, I know that isn’t
This past December, Nikki and I along with our daughter Jill and her husband Lee traveled to Hanoi, Vietnam so that I could be awarded the Friendship Medal from the Vietnamese Government. They generally give out one a year – I’m pretty sure I’m the first pastor they gave it to! It’s given to someone who benefits Vietnam, has a history there, and is a “goodwill” Ambassador. This award is given by the President of Vietnam but must be signed off on by the General Secretary and the Prime Minister. It was started by Ho Chi Mihn in the 1960’s. The reality is it wasn’t really for me, but for NorthWood Church for starting the NGO, Glocal Ventures, Inc. Since 1995 close to 3,000 members and volunteers have traveled there using their jobs to serve the people. Millions of dollars have been spent and lose to a hundred different projects have been done.