Evangelize mono-ethnic groups, but plant multi-ethnic churches.
by Mark DeYmaz
Tom Steers, founder and co-director of Asian American Ministries for The Navigators, recently wrote a guest opinion column for Christianity Today (July 7, 2010). The column is entitled, "Needed: More Monocultural Ministries". Mark DeYmaz, founding pastor of Mosaic Church of Central Arkansas, and a leader in the multi-ethnic church movement, has written a response to Steers' article. Read part one of DeYmaz's rebuttal.
In arguing for more monocultural ministries, Tom Steers reveals the all-too-common misunderstanding of generations past committed to the Homogeneous Unit Principle as a pragmatic tool for local church planting, growth, and development. It is long-past time to recognize, however, that there is a significant difference between the need for evangelism focused on specific ethnic groups (more is needed, I agree) and the New Testament’s expectation that following salvation believers are to walk, work, and worship God together as one - in and through the local church - for the sake of the gospel.
Monocultural evangelism then? Absolutely. More monocultural churches? I say, absolutely not. What we really need is more multiethnic churches that understand and practice the HUP in their own context by providing for evangelism and basic discipleship of first generation internationals for precisely the reason the Steers suggests.
Steers believes monocultural churches avoid the problem of unrealistically expecting that “each of these groups assimilate to one another or to multiethnic congregations—at the same time they are trying to assimilate into U.S. culture.” This problem, by the way, is not always rooted in one’s ethnicity; personality is also a factor that plays a role in how soon or slowly 1.0s (a common name for first-generation immigrants) desire to engage the greater body. In fact I address this very thing in my latest book, Ethnic Blends: Mixing Diversity Into Your Local Church. In promoting a model I call, “Graduated Inclusion,” multi-ethnic churches can and will apply the HUP strictly for the purpose of evangelism and initial discipleship while simultaneously providing for the needs of 1.5s, 2.0s and beyond, all from within one local church.
What's the relationship between justice and justification?
Being justified by Christ leads a person to engage acts of justice. And the Christian witness of justice leads more people to be justified. But Wallis and Dever continue to disagree about whether justice is an "implication" of the gospel or "integral" to it.
A multi-ethnic church leader responds to the call for more homogeneous churches.
by Mark DeYmaz
Tom Steers, founder and co-director of Asian American Ministries for The Navigators, recently wrote a guest opinion column for Christianity Today (July 7, 2010). The column is entitled, "Needed: More Monocultural Ministries".
In the opinion piece ("not necessarily representing the opinion of the publication," as CT makes clear in the footer), Steers argues that a multicultural society demands more monocultural ministries. In so doing, however, he does not clearly state what he means by use of the term, “ministry.” Consequently, I believe he a) confuses evangelism with local church development, b) wrongly exegetes Scripture in attempting to support his claim, and otherwise c) speaks from assumption in stating what advocates of the multi-ethnic church truly believe. With this in mind, the following blog entry respectfully, but critically, challenges Steers' thinking.
“Some argue that since we are an increasingly multicultural society, our churches should become more multicultural. There is a certain logic to that. As long as there are people who want to be culturally and socially multicultural, or multiethnic, there also must be structures for them. Such ministries are crucial for healing America's racial and ethnic wounds. They potentially model the unbiased oneness that Jesus prayed for in John 17.”
Theologically informed “advocates” of the multi-ethnic church however (at least, none that I know) are not suggesting, as the author states, “since we are an increasingly multicultural society, (that) our churches should become more multicultural.”
Articles, videos, and resources on the intersection of justice and evangelism.
The latest issue of our digital magazine, Catalyst Leadership, is now live. We going deeper into the controversy and questions surrounding justice and evangelism. It's a strong line-up of contributors from both Leadership journal and recent Catalyst conferences: Andy Stanley, Jim Wallis, Mark Dever, Bethany Hoang, Naomi Zacharias, Jim Belcher, Skye Jethani, Charles Colson, Shane Claiborne, and more.
There’s a difference between speaking about God and speaking for him.
by Christopher Bernard
I love and hate the book of Job. I love it because it poses challenging pastoral questions—like being tested by God or God’s tolerance for the devil—but I hate it because it challenges my understanding of what it means to have a pastoral spirit.
Most know Job’s story. Satan approaches God for permission to test Job. God says, “Fine, just don’t kill him.” Job loses everything, including his wealth and his children. His wife tells him to curse God and die. And then, as if that weren’t enough, he gets this weird skin disease and tries to scrape it off with broken pieces of a clay jar.
It is in this moment that his friends decide to pay him a visit. They spend a week with him, just being present with him, mourning with him, and providing for his needs—a great example of pastoral care. But after the week has passed, the real reason for their visit becomes apparent. They are there to help Job discover what he did wrong.
The audience knows Job hasn’t done anything wrong. God actually considers Job to be blameless, righteous. But in chapter after chapter, Job goes back and forth with Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. He adamantly argues that he did nothing wrong. And while Job’s anger is expressed in truly poetic ways, he never curses God. Job’s commitment to God does not change.
Then in chapter 32 a young, overly zealous Elihu enters the story and takes on the mantel to verbally assault Job into submission. He uses phrases like “I want to vindicate you” and “I will teach you wisdom.” He accuses Job of being more interested in making a profit than pleasing God, among other things. It is only after Elihu stops talking that God finally says something—and what God says breaks my heart.
Is he a universalist and does he still affirm the classic creeds of the faith?
At the Q Conference last April in Chicago, Scot McKnight interviewed Brian McLaren about the "provocative ambiguity" in many of his writings. Does McLaren still affirm the classic creeds of the church as he stated in A Generous Orthodoxy, and why doesn't he plainly state whether or not he is a universalist?
Check out the video from the conference. Did McLaren put the questions about his beliefs to rest?
If the gospel is not verbally proclaimed are we doing gospel work?
Is feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the sick, and welcoming the stranger "gospel ministry"? In part 3 of the conversation about justice and the gospel, Mark Dever and Jim Wallis disagree about what can and cannot be legitimately called a gospel ministry. What do you think? If the gospel is not verbally proclaimed are we doing gospel work?
Pick up the Summer issue of Leadership Journal to read more from Dever, Wallis, and others on the intersection of justice and evangelism.
Best selling author Anne Rice has quit Christianity. She is not quitting on Jesus Christ or the Bible, she says, but she is quitting organized Christianity.
Ms. Rice announced her quit-decision not through a resignation letter (where would one send it?) but through her website and TV interviews.
Anne Rice’s decision to go public with her decision is not the only way people quit Christianity. Some do it quietly, gradually dropping out of the programmatic activities of religious institutions and out of personal contact with people whose devotion to the faith seems solid. One day someone notices an empty seat in the sanctuary and says, “I haven’t seen Bob (or Jennifer) around for a while. Wonder what’s happened to him (or her)?”
Sometimes people quit the faith entirely.
The first time I heard of anyone quitting Christianity I was incredulous. The quitter was a boy in my prep school class, and as long as I had known him he’d been the model Christian in our student body. He arose every morning at 5 a.m. for his quiet time. He knew the Bible from beginning to end. He was the first to call for prayer meetings in the dorm about this issue or that. And he was always active in chapel leadership.
Then on the first day of my senior year, we had a class meeting. The model Christian made an announcement. “This summer I gave up my faith in Jesus,” he said. And he formally disassociated himself from all Christian activity on campus.
Since then I have seen more than a few men and woman do the Anne Rice thing.
When you get so fed up you don't know what you'll say ...
reprinted from PreacherMike.com
Every once in a while, a post on a blog that I read elsewhere is so irresistible, I have to share it with you. This one comes from Mike Cope, one of my favorite minister-writers, from his PreacherMike.com blog. He riffs on the recent news story of the flight attendant who lost his cool with a couple of, uh, demanding passengers. And some of the comments on Mike's blog are priceless. We'll share one just to whet your appetite and encourage you to visit Mike's site. But let us read your comments here, too.
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Come on — tell me you haven’t fantasized about this before. You’ve preached one last sermon . . . or seen one last patient . . . or attended one last sales meeting . . . or held one more parent conference — and something sent you over the line. You snapped. What do you do?
Here’s one possibility:
On Monday, a JetBlue attendant named Steven Slater snapped on the tarmac at Kennedy International Airport, the authorities said.
After a dispute with a passenger who stood to fetch his luggage too soon on a full flight just in from Pittsburgh, Mr. Slater, a career flight attendant, had had enough.
He got on the intercom, let loose a string of invective, pulled the lever that activates the emergency-evacuation chute and slid down, making a dramatic exit not only from the plane but, one imagines, also his airline career.
On his way out the door, he paused to grab a beer from the beverage cart. Then he ran to the employee parking lot and drove off, the authorities said.
Ed Stetzer interviews Brandon O'Brien about his book, "The Strategically Small Church"
Brandon O'Brien, associate editor for Leadership Journal, has written a new book, The Strategically Small Church. In this work, he seeks to demonstrate how small churches are uniquely equipped for success in today's culture. Ed Stetzer interviewed O'Brien about his book and why being small may be more missionally strategic.
Ed: What do you mean by "strategically small church"? Is this a new church model, like "simple" or "organic" church?
Brandon: A "strategically small" church is one that has learned to recognize and leverage the inherent strengths of being small. Being strategically small means that instead of trying to overcome your congregation's size, you have learned to use it to strategic ministry advantage.
In other words, I'm not advocating a new model of doing church. Instead I'm hoping that by telling the stories of some truly innovative and effective small churches, other small congregations will stop viewing their size and limited resources as liabilities and begin thinking about them as advantages.
Ed: What keeps small churches from becoming "strategically small?"
Brandon: Many small churches try to operate like big churches. The idea seems to be that if we imitate what the megachurches are doing--if we do ministry like them--then we'll grow like them. The trouble is, operating like a big church can undermine the inherent strengths of being small.
What does it say when those at the center of the church are the least healthy?
by Url Scaramanga
The New York Times is reporting on new research that shows pastors appear to be struggling with health issues--both physical and psychological--more than other Americans. The article reports:
"Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen. Many would change jobs if they could."
The article goes on to speculate on causes for the decline in clergy health. A key culprit: lack of boundaries. Pastors have an increasing number of expectations. Not only are they expected to function as CEOs for complex organizations, but also spiritual shepherds, teachers, and care-givers for large numbers of people.
One researcher from Duke University sums it up well: "These people tend to be driven by a sense of a duty to God to answer every call for help from anybody, and they are virtually called upon all the time, 24/7.”
What did Jesus mean in Matthew 25 about judgment and compassion toward the poor?
In part two of the conversation between Mark Dever, Jim Wallis, and Skye Jethani, they talk about the judgment passage in Matthew 25. Was Jesus saying that our just and compassionate actions toward "the least of these" is central to our faith, or are they evidence of our faith? Is justice a gospel imperative or a gospel implication?
Pick up the Summer issue of Leadership Journal to read more from Dever, Wallis, and others on the intersection of justice and evangelism.
Can we call our church model “biblical” if we’re not reaching out to everyone?
by David Swanson
Ninety-five percent African American, five percent other. These are the demographics of the Chicago neighborhood where our three-month-old church has been planted. I am “other.” White. One hundred percent white. As the pastor of this young church plant, I have lost sleep over these percentages.
Most of the church planting models and examples I’ve been exposed to are very different from my current cross-cultural experience. In the recent past, the Homogeneous Unit Principle (HUP) was viewed positively as the rationale for starting churches of demographically similar people. This principle states that it is easier for people to become Christians when they must cross few or no racial, linguistic, or class barriers. Ideally, then, these new churches were led by pastors whose culture, class, and skin color closely matched those of their flocks.
The HUP is seen less favorably these days, but it remains common for church planters to target culturally similar people. Categories such as cultural elites, the creative class, or young professionals may sound exotic but are often used to describe people most like the church planter.
Take the recent urban church-planting trend. Like me, many of these church-planters are not native to the city. So why are they leaving suburbia to start urban churches? In a recent blog post, Tim Keller identifies what I think is the primary motivation for many of these church plants:
“For the last twenty years, since 1990, American cities have experienced an amazing renaissance. People began moving back into cities in droves, and downtown/center cities began to regenerate at their cores.”
In other words, the children who grew up in homogeneous suburban churches are moving into America’s cities, followed closely by the next generation of church planters. The result? Young, urban, and homogeneous churches.