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Seven lessons I learned in Abu Dhabi

30 Leaders from 10 different cities gathered together in Abu Dhabi early May 2017 for a Multi-Faith event. Every city leadership had representations of the three Abrahamic faith; Christians, Muslim, and Rabbis. The goal is to build bridges of relationships, develop trust and work towards a strategic plan that would bring peace and reconciliation to their cities. They created plans to eat meals together as families; to bring their constituencies together to break down the walls of separation and work together to see the prosperity of their city. They committed to standing up for each other in the face of religious persecution and get involved in global affairs in promoting peace among religions and to speak up against religious persecution worldwide.

This event was a collaborative effort between three organizations; Glocalnet, International Interfaith Peace Corp and the Forum for Peace. Glocalnet led by Dr. Bob Roberts and IIPC led by Imam Magid Mohamed, have been working together for years bringing Pastors and Imams together on a retreat called “Building Bridges of Faith”. This retreat has been designed to break down walls of suspicion, build a foundation of trust and create a pathway to peace and reconciliation in their cities. Forum of Peace led by Sheikh Bin Bayyah a world-renowned Muslim scholar and the United Arab Emirates sponsored this retreat in Abu Dhabi in May 2017 and invited Rabbis to join for the first time. It was a historic event; the first of it’s kind.

The leadership of each city returned with a strategic plan to execute the vision to promote peace and to work together to build stronger and more resilient communities of faith.

These are some lessons I walked away with.

 

  1. Every Religion has peacemakers. Find them and work with them for the common good. These are people of peace who wield massive influence. Influence many times is greater than power, for influence has the ability to move the masses as it frequently affects the heart not only the head.
  2. Love is stronger than hate. The force of love is much more powerful than hate. When religious leaders decide to love all people regardless of their differences and choose love over hate, it changes the environments of our cities and communities.
  3. Generosity is a powerful force. It is not a passive sentiment but a powerful action that moves the heart of others. It puts pressure on the soul of others for good. The leader of this region led by Sheikh Bin Bayyah showed great generosity toward the strangers and visitors and it warmed the heart of all who attended.
  4. If not us, then who? Just because we do not share common beliefs does not mean we do not share a common humanity. Religions of all people carry an ethos of what Rabbi Sacks calls “ethics of responsibility”. We of all people should be the first to put into action love and care for people. The best of our faiths should always move us to love and harmony not hate and wars.
  5. We are all truly created in the image of God. We are all children of Adam and Eve. Our journey through life and religions shapes us. However, if you look beneath the layers of beliefs and philosophies we developed as we have grown from childhood to adulthood, you will find a common humanity. A desire for family, peace, friendship and community. We all desire to be known and loved. We were not created to be alone therefore God made us to remove the aloneness of each other.
  6. Hospitality is a powerful practice. Eating meals together and listening to each other’s story breaks down the walls of suspicion and separation. Eating meals together is not some flippant thing we do. It is the core of what we do. Food creates an environment like no other. It values the other at its very essence as we share each other’s culture.
  7. Laughter brings people together like nothing else. When people laugh with each other it creates a bond. It speaks of a God who has given to us such a precious gift that allows us to forget for a moment, all of our differences and troubles and elevates us to a place that is transcendent. Rabbi Noach Wienbergs says, “Laughter is an opportunity to transcend limitations that bind us to see God more clearly.”

 

There is a need for a grassroots movement that will create friendship among religious leaders of all different faiths. “Dealing with religious actors is the major missing ingredient,” says Pastor Bob Roberts, President of Glocalnet and one of the leading Christian leaders promoting peace among all religions. It is time to capitalize on the extensive ties of faith leaders and develop a grassroots movement that is built on trust and respect for each other and seek to collaborate with our academic, political, and institutional efforts to bring positive change to this world.

 

For A Time, Such As This

by Kevin C. Brown
Founder, Lead Pastor of The Perfecting Church, Sewell, NJ

Guest Blogger

The Glocal Family of Churches is comprised of churches from as far North as Toronto and as far South as Houston, TX.  Our churches are as different as these two cities themselves, led by pastors from different ethnic, cultural, socio-economic and denominational backgrounds.  But each of us have attended a church planting cohort created by Bob Roberts, the founder of Glocal.net, and we have embraced the commitment to relate together as family; establish church planting centers in our churches; mobilize our members to use their jobs and passions to serve the most vulnerable in our cities; and to mobilize our members to make a long-term commitment to serve as a church in a challenging part of the world.  These commitments, along with a commitment to see the Kingdom of God become a tangible reality in the domains of society in our respective cities, have given very different churches, led by very different pastors, in very different parts of the country — the same spiritual DNA. Read more

MORE INFORMATION & LESS KNOWLEDGE

I was at a meeting in Doha a while back on things that are happening globally with world leaders from many domains and disciplines.  It was truly an incredible meeting.  It wasn’t a huge conference, a couple of hundred people and was kept small on purpose.  I’ve actually come to love gatherings like this more than speaking to thousands of people.  Most of the time those big gatherings are pep rallies or marketing in disguise!  Smaller groups of thinkers and practitioners gathering and learning from one another is always more impactful.  There were some panels in 3 or 4 main sessions then we would break into groups and ask questions, challenge each other & debate.  It would get tense but it was really a lot of fun – you could pretty much share whatever you wanted – it was a safe place.  I was one of only about 3 evangelicals there so man were we bombarded trying to explain all of the “nuts” in our movement.  Funny how we want to define an entire group of people by a few nuts no matter what tribe! Read more

CHURCH PLANTING AT THE CROSSROADS

Knowledge is doubling faster than ever.  I can remember 30 years ago Tom Wolfe telling a group of us that knowledge doubles every 6 years, and it was projected it would do so every four, and the latest number is that it’s now doubling every 18 months.  In the past you could read where the changes were coming and plot your coarse somewhat.  Now, you have to think on the run, in the moment, realizing there are variables at work driving sub-categories of culture and knowledge that impact everything the church does.

The world is changing like never before.  Migration – a context for God’s greatest moves throughout history – is happening on a scale like never before because communications, the internet, and travel.  All things, all people, all religions are all places, no longer held within specific national borders and tribes. Do you know how to plant a church beyond your tribe?  Tribes aren’t so good at welcoming strangers.  Calling it a success because we grow a big church but basically our same tribe just makes us more of a shrinking sub-culture than a transcultural movement.  The early church and growing church knew how to relate to other cultures and religions – we can’t keep eating our own body and expect growth.  Read more

Three Keys in Creating and Sustaining a Leadership Culture

By: Omar Reyes

Here are a few lessons I learned about leadership culture and movements while reflecting on my six years in United States Marine Corp (USMC). They are an incredible leader-producing organization. If we are going to have church planting movements, the preparation and multiplication of leaders is the main task at hand. If we fail at this we fail at the whole. Church planting movements are carried on the shoulders of Spirit-led leadership, men and women that are full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. Here are a few lessons I learned from the USMC that applies to church planting and movements. Read more

DFW Pastor Gathering For National Mosaix Conference March 31st at Northwood Church

By: Bob Roberts

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 LuncheonRead more

MULTI-ETHNIC & AFRICAN AMERICAN CHURCH PLANTING?

By Bob Roberts

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

LESSONS FROM PAKISTAN

 

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.

Read more

HOW TO SPEAK IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE & BE A BLESSING

 

 

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

LIVING WITH MUSLIMS IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

I need to blog. I don’t know how to find the time. I’m learning so much, experiencing so much, seeing so much change take place right before my eyes. I feel like I’m caught up in a whirlwind of change processing it all as fast as I can. I’ll be blogging soon about it – maybe. The past three months have been some of the greatest learning and events of my life. From being in Vietnam and receiving the Friendship Metal and being asked to do some things to having been in Morocco last week at the “Marrakech Declaration” and being asked to address the room of 300 world leaders. Now packing my bags to head to another part of the world to speak in mosques, churches, and other places. Read more