Human relationships are not negotiated; they are reconciled – Robert Seiple
Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God – Matthew 5:9
Notice it did not say blessed are the peacekeepers. There is a world of a difference between a peacemaker and a peacekeeper. A peacemaker works toward reconciliation instead of tolerance. Its goal is transformation versus co-existence. It deals with the heart and not just the head.
Glocalnet’s vision statement states that we are about reconciliation. The fact that relationships are to be reconciled not negotiated is a profound statement that if properly understood reframes our approach to conflict resolution. This applies to all kinds of relationships and all kinds of conflicts. Only when our goal is reconciliation instead of negotiating a transactional arrangement do we move toward a more sustainable solution. However it does require a different vision, a different set of relational tools and ultimately a desire for transformation; a permanent change of heart not head.
A different vision begins with starting with the end in mind. What is the goal we are looking for? Is it only tolerance or reconciliation; is it to be confined to our church buildings or tribe or are we called to take the message of reconciliation to the hard places of the world? A vision isolated from a hurting world loses its power.
The call of a peacemaker is to take this message of reconciliation into the hardest, darkest, most hurting places and apply the balm of healing to the hearts of people and nations. To disciple the nations it must start with healing. In the book of Luke chapter 10 verse 9 Jesus makes this point when He said, “healing precedes preaching”.
A different set of relational tools. One of the most important relational skills is the discipline of listening to understand before you try to make yourself understood. Stephen Covey in his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People articulated this principle. It’s also called listening with empathy or listening with the heart not the head. When we are in a negotiating mindset our heads lead out with logic and reason. Logic and reason are the wrong tools for emotional pain or past wounds of the heart. Only emotions heal emotions is the rule of the universe. When we sit with others and listen intently to find a way to crawl into their world, they will feel less alone after they’ve met us.
Robert Seiple, a former U.S Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, wrote in his book Ambassadors of Hope “The ultimate sustainable solution to so many of the world’s problem is reconciliation. A permanent change requires a change of heart.”
We are off to a strong start for 2017! We are speaking, training and convening from Washington, D.C., to Hanoi, Vietnam, and even Lahore, Pakistan! We will be all over the U.S. and the world this year. We are training government leaders, imams, pastors, mentoring emerging pastors and connecting with religious leaders of other faiths to build bridges. We are working with governments and government leaders globally defining what it looks like to engage in the public square in a new era. We are deeply involved in religious freedom issues and religious persecution in some of the harder places of the world. We are working on racial reconciliation in some very new ways that we’ll be writing about later.
Last year Bob Roberts spoke at many events from church planting conferences, to being invite to being a part of the Marrakesh Declaration with Shaykh Bin Bayyah that protects the rights of religious minorities in Muslim majority nations. He spoke at churches, mosques, government gatherings, the Newseum and even to 20,000 Muslim young people in Toronto, Canada. Articles about our work were written in many national newspapers, here in the U.S., the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Dallas Morning News, the Christian Science Monitor, The Washington Post, Christianity Today, In-Touch Magazine, Christian Post, Huffington Post, and many others.
Glocalnet’s passion is summed up in it’s vision statement. “We relentlessly pursue peace and reconciliation among all peoples in all places for all things.”
Here is a brief summary of 2016:
Glocalnet Family of Churches
Glocalnet consist of a family of churches that carry the same DNA and vision to be a light in this world and to engage our cities and the world to be peacemakers and reconcilers. We have 7 churches that gather yearly for community, sharing and learning from each other. We also support each other in living out our three most cherished values which are engaging our local communities, especially among the poor and marginalized, engage hard parts of the world together and help each others establish communities of faith that make a difference both locally and globally. Our goal is to keep increasing the family by developing leaders who buy into Glocalnet’s vision and are committed to living out our three main values.
Church Planting & Church Planting Centers
Glocalnet church multiplication is core to our DNA and moves us forward in accomplishing the above vision. It’s going to take a different kind of church to engage the city and world in this 21st century that goes far beyond what the music and worship service is. We train and equip our churches to multiply communities of faith with the same vision and values. We established 2 church planting centers in local churches in 2016. Our Glocalnet family trained over 40 church planters to go and establish communities of faith that bring about peace and reconciliation both locally and globally. The key to creating and sustaining this movement is multiplication, therefore we are intentional about placing the expectation and the training in every leader of Glocalnet.
We have designed a retreat that brings together evangelical pastors and muslim Imams together for three days. These retreats are designed to break down walls of fear and suspicions and get to know each other as humans. The essence of these gatherings is to have transparent and honest conversation with each other about difficult issues. However it does not stop there, these leaders make a commitment to build ongoing relationships with each other and their constituencies and to work together in their cities for the common good and to protect each other from religious persecution. Glocalnet gathered for two such retreats in 2016. We did one in Phoenix with 12 pastors and 12 imams and one in Washington DC hosted by the Turkish government. These two groups continue to meet quarterly. We see walls of suspicions come down and new relationships formed after these retreats. Our goal is to build upon these relationships and create a network of religious leaders across cities and the nation who will be there to respond in emergency situations.
Global Collaboration Communities (GCC)
Glocalnet brings together apostolic leaders globally every year to build relationships and to learn from the global church. In 2016 we met in India hosted by an exceptional leader who has a movement in that country. 20 global leaders came together to build relationship and to learn from each other, share best practices in area of engaging the public square, pluralism and church planting. The takeaways were incredible as we leveraged relationships, knowledge and learning from each other. There were visit to sikh temples, meetings with religious and government leaders to learn about religious freedom issues and how the church can play a role in creating better citizens that help build great nations.
Nation & City Engagement
The way churches engage the world is changing radically. It’s a new world, the whole world is connected. In the past global and city engagement was about doing religious stuff in a geographical context. Today, the church must be presently bringing value to a city and nation beyond just a worship service on Sunday. How we make disciples and engage the domains of society are critical. That leads to natural conversations about faith and life. We continue to help churches and people engage through the natural infrastructure of society in places that would be considered difficult for most.
Hosted Mosaic Conference
Glocalnet in partnership with Northwood Church hosted Mosaic’s multi-ethnic conference. About 1200 multi-ethnic leaders from across the nation came to celebrate and champion this vision, and challenge the American Church to get beyond systemic segregation to advance a credible gospel witness in an increasingly diverse and cynical society. To bring peace and reconciliation among the races in our country.
So as you can see these are just small glances at the work Glocalnet did in 2016. We are committed to being relentless peacemakers and work tirelessly to move humanity beyond tolerance to reconciliation and celebration of each other.
(Skip to 16:10 to see the interview with Imam Zia)
The church I pastor, NorthWood, celebrated MLK Day not just last Monday but Sunday as well. We are in a series called ANXIETY in which we are looking at how we deal with it as people. On January 15, we looked at how we deal with anxiety when community issues arise. We had a guest band that was awesome, we had ethnic food tables from all over the world, and we had Muslims, Jews, Buddhist, and even an Atheist who came out of curiosity over an “evangelical church that would invite all those people to come together.”
I preached on standing together out of Romans 12 and in the sermon even brought up a friend from a mosque in Irving, Imam Zia. He shared what Muslims believe and I explained what we believe about the birth, death, burial, resurrection of Jesus, and how to accept him as Lord and Savior. We had hundreds of Muslims with us. I LOVE preaching to people of other religions about Jesus – kinda what Paul did.
Paul would be shocked at what he would find in American Christianity with it’s isolationism and tribalism. Paul was a frequent speaker at synagogues, other religious temples, philosophy gatherings, universities, markets, and countless other public square gatherings. As a matter of fact, all of Paul’s evangelism was in the public square generally being asked to speak at their request. Frankly, I get asked to speak at many non-Christian and other religious events and I’ve come to love it. You’ve not preached until you’ve preached to a packed house of people where you are the only Christian! It’s like skiing on the black slopes. A little scary at first, but then – wow it’s incredible!
The reality is, any evangelical pastor, in any city in America can do what I do. The truth is, it would be easy. The reason is that so few evangelical pastors reach out intentionally to people of other religions, and most of those people of other religions as minorities want a relationship with us. Keep in mind the early church didn’t grow through sheep swapping, better music, celebrity pastors, or backslidden Baptist and Methodist but from people from many other religions who loved the message of Jesus.
How do you do it this? The clip above of the Sunday service illustrates this:
Intentionally be friends with people of other religions. If you’re an American evangelical pastor you are the majority – not the minority. THEY DON’T BITE! I’ve yet to get a bad reception from someone of another religion that you try to just be their friend. Ask to go drink coffee, probably tea is better, or eat a meal or just hang out. ALL THE APOSTLES DID THIS!!! That’s how the Gospel spread to so many nations. My wife is in a cooking club with Muslims and Jews. There are so many ways to build friendships. Zia and I have been friends for years. All good things come out of relationships.
Visit their place of worship. They will let you. As a matter of fact it shows honor and respect that you would do that. It would be a great education experience for you. Paul did this – don’t let other Christians who live by fear and isolationism leading to judgmentalism keep you away. It gives you chance to speak intelligently to them and to your members about what you believe.
Let them share their view! Paul did this as well. Leave your rhetoric at home, have a conversation with people. If the strength of our faith is keeping other faiths away or not allowing other faiths to speak – we must have a very small view of the power of the Gospel and of the Trinity. Be gracious, listen, ask questions, be kind.
When you’re asked to speak, smile a lot. Take off your preacher face and your oratory. Don’t let others tell you everything you need to say. Let the Spirit guide you. Be kind. Self-depreciating humor helps. Take a long term approach to what you say and do.
State what you believe but be kind about it. Share where you disagree but don’t disparage the other person. Everyone talks about look at all the commonalities, frankly I believe the strength is in how much we disagree but how well as followers of Jesus we can still be friends with others. As a friend of mine says, “Lift up Jesus!” You don’t have to trash others, just tell your story and the story of Jesus.
Eat a meal together and keep hanging out. You don’t know what God might do with building relationships. I’m sorry to say I used to see other religious clerics as obstacles to overcome in order to engage with others – I’ve come to see them as the most important people I should be friends with. We have access to masses that can lead to all kinds of things in terms of standing up for one another, etc.
Work together for religious freedom. The whole world is connected. What you do here affects there. I get to help persecuted Christians around the world, and other religious minorities, because of my credibility with Muslims here in America. Would to God, we American Christians and especially evangelical pastors would realize that when you speak and spout hate, you make it incredibly hard for believers around the world. But, many pastors in America have been told this and still don’t control their tongues. I guess they don’t really care about believers around the world that much as long as things are ok with them.
People talk a lot about going back to the early church – this is how it started. They didn’t have revival meetings, seminars, books, not even a Bible – just a few letters passed around. But they did have the Holy Spirit and Love. The formula has not changed – but we have. It still works.
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
Who could have known, 3 years ago when Northwood began focusing intentionally on becoming a multi-ethnic church that we would be facing the challenges we are today in DFW and our nation? God knew and he has been preparing us for such a moment as this.
Last night, as we all know there was a protest of all races and religions downtown Dallas to speak out for African American lives lost unnecessarily. By all accounts it was peaceful. Pictures were even taken of smiling black and white policemen standing with protesters in support. As the event was ending, snipers deliberately targeted and opened fire on policemen. As the crowd ran from the area where the shots rang out, the courageous Dallas policemen went towards the active rifle shots to protect the protesters. The aftermath saw 12 officers and 2 civilians shot leaving 5 policemen dead. Our hearts are broken over this. I sat up and wept watching on television the reports until late in the night. Read more
How should we engage this world that has lost its moorings? We have departed from the shores of absolute truth and find ourselves in the storms of relativism. These conditions have been at work for decades as absolute truth has been dismantled piece by piece and replaced with what seems right in everyone eyes. We are moving headlong into this squall of chaos and upheaval. What’s the answer? Is it hunkering down within our religious conclaves called church buildings and organizations? Is it sharpening our theological swords to fend off the enemies of truth? Is it to regain political power so as to make America great again? What did Jesus do in the midst of storms.
He slept in the storm. I heard a friend of mine say once “You will never have authority over a storm you can’t sleep in”
We need to stop running around scared and desperate for some quick fix solution. If we believe in the sovereignty of God and are called to be ambassadors of His kingdom, then we need to represent it though a spirit of calmness and self-control. Solomon said that the words of the wise are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that rule among fools.
He spoke with authority over the situation. God has given us spiritual authority to speak calmness into storms. Most Christians stir up more storms that they do calming them. The key is to speak truth in love; not truth with love which is selective. When we speak truth in love; love will always be the first thing people encounter before truth. They will bump into your love before your truth is heard. Let your words be life giving and not death and condemnation.
He spoke harshly to the disciples first. He questioned their faith. Judgment begins in the house of God. We must take a good look inside our temples both physical and spiritual and judge ourselves. Maybe our nation finds itself in this perfect storm because the light of world has been hidden and only used within our lighted cathedrals. Light is for darkness. Let’s stop cursing the darkness and start turning our lights on. Maybe we lost our saltiness when we decided to compromise God’s dream for this world for our American dream of luxury and convenience. Maybe we have been serving Mammon and not God.
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”.
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.