Archive for August, 2005

If you haven’t already, go read Newsweek’s article on “Spirituality in America”. I haven’t gotten all the way through yet, but what I have read is fascinating. Perhaps more amazing is the poll that Newsweek took of various views on spirituality.

How would you communicate the gospel to a person of another faith, no faith, or anti-faith? Let’s hear some evangelistic strategies/techniques you’ve used.

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If you haven’t already, go read Newsweek’s article on “Spirituality in America”. I haven’t gotten all the way through yet, but what I have read is fascinating. Perhaps more amazing is the poll that Newsweek took of various views on spirituality.

How would you communicate the gospel to a person of another faith, no faith, or anti-faith? Let’s hear some evangelistic strategies/techniques you’ve used.

‘Finding People of Peace’ in The Bronx

The following story is from the blog of Jared Looney, who is a part of the Bronx Fellowship, a network of house churches in and around Bronx, New York. They are a part of a larger “Metropolitan Resource Team” for the metro NYC area called MetroSoul. Jared and his wife, Hylma, along with the several others (of Restoration Movement heritage) may be a part of the fastest-growing North American church planting movement with roots in the Churches of Christ. I encourage you to visit Jared’s blog and read the story below, based on Christ’s instructions to the 70 sent ones in Luke 10.

About three weeks ago one of our interns met a Dominican woman on the streetdoing a “prayer station” in the Bronx who expressed feelings of spiritualseeking and wanted to know more about our church. Two weeks ago Sametria and I went and met with this woman in her home. Feeling prompted by theLord in my heart and observing a few key indicators of a potential “person of peace,” I suggested that we begin a gathering in her home.

Last Sunday night I sat in this Bronx apartment in a room full of people. The onlyfamiliar faces were this woman and her 17 yr. daughter. All the others were new — about 20 adults and children. Translation flew back and forth and at least half a dozen small children moved around the room as I spoke withSpanish-only Mexicans, Dominicans, and Ecuardorians, bilingual Dominicans,an English-only African-American, and a Punjabi-Indian (who speaks Hindi,English, and Punjabi). So what do you do in such a situation? Well, Idon’t know either. I just did what my wife suggested after the fact: Pray,talk about Jesus, and let God do the rest. What else? Life in ministry in the Metropolis is diverse, fluid, and alive. The variety of people’s faith journeys are a spectrum of personal, spiritual narratives. All I can do is step into the messiness of it all and watch Goddo what He does. I begin to understand what Paul meant when he said that heplanted, Apollos watered, and that God brings the growth. In the sea of spiritual seeking and complex urban realities, there is a forced recognitionthat we aren’t reallly in control of very much, and to be in completecontrol seems to be the perfect way to keep God from truly opening doors.Rather we speak truth, we relationally live the truth, we pray, and have thecourage to be faithful to the call. If I was “playing it safe” and only doing what I know, I would not be able to share a story like last Sunday night. As we do our part, God shows up. Pray that God advances his Kingdom through these households. Lift up inprayer the multiplication of disciples, workers, and churches among us herein the Bronx. The glory is His alone. Luke 20:2

(Re-printed with permission from Jared Looney.)

What thoughts come to mind when you read Kingdom Life accounts like the one above?

This blows my mind. [shudder] Scary!

This blows my mind. [shudder] Scary!

Taking Notice

I’m not sure about you, but story is one of the easiest ways for me to catch a vision for something. You can keep the facts and statistics about church attendance, conversions, or church planting movements; give me some good narrative about lives being transformed. I hope the stories of the last few weeks have been as encouraging to you as they are to me. I hope they move us past a simple “Oh, that’s nice” to action in our own lives, wherever we are. I look forward to sharing more stories with my “readership” as they become available.

On a related note, some big names in Evangelical Christianity are taking notice of some current American Christian trends, many of which I’ve mentioned on this blog. George Barna, (Barna.org), who in the past has conducted research relating to the practices and beliefs in contemporary Christianity in America, has announced that he will be taking a different approach in the future. Instead of being a “neutral” information-giver, Barna has said he will now begin to provide resources regarding various movements of disciple-making in America — basically, what he sees as “working.” In the same vein, he’s got a book coming out this fall. I’ll let George himself tell you about it:

Picking up where some of our previous efforts left off, we have entered into a strategic partnership with Tyndale House Publishers to launch the BarnaBooks line of publications. Starting in 2005, these branded books will reveal what is happening in the emerging Church — not the postmodern, candles/coffee/couches types of anti-modern ministries, but the Revolutionary ministry that is percolating to the surface of American society through new forms of ministry such as the cyberchurch, house churches, marketplace ministries, and tribal faith experiences. While I will write a few books for the line – the first, Revolution, is scheduled to release in September 2005 – most of the books will be written by the new generation of spiritual leaders who are propelling the Church into the 21st century with an intense passion for God and a commitment to being the Church rather than worrying about protecting the forms and institutions that have been in place.

Leaders like Barna are taking notice of the Ben Cheeks, the Greg Willises, the Columbian marketplace churches of the world, and he’s calling on them to tell their stories. These are everyday people doing extraordinary things for the kingdom in SIMPLE WAYS. I pray that Christendom as a whole will look to these movements and learn from them, constantly remembering that “God uses the weak things of the world to shame the wise.”

May we all commit to playing an active part — not sitting the bench — in the epic story in which we find ourselves. (and go buy Barna’s book in September!)

Andrew Jones wrote a review on the advance copy of Revolution RIGHT HERE.

“Seed Stories: Part VI”

The following was submitted by a friend and fellow tribesman Ben Cheek, who is living incarnationally in New Jersey and started a “Metropolitan Resource Team” for the New York metro area. He wouldn’t tell you this, but his church network, along with the Bronx Fellowship (led by Jared and Hylma Looney, Malissa Endsley and others), and several networks of house churches in NYC neighborhoods, is probably the fastest-growing church planting movement with roots in the churches of Christ. He also has superb Web publishing and writing skills, so go check out his spiritual formation Web site. But first, read his synopsis of just some of what God is doing through a few young, inexperienced, normal followers of the Way in a really, really big city.

MetroSoul: Awaking a Movement in the City that Never Sleeps

How do you reach a city system that covers 10,000 square miles and is home to 25 million people from hundreds of cultures speaking over 150 languages? The answer is you act like Jesus. MetroSoul is a Metropolitan Resource Team (MRT) for the New York metro area. It is our dream to catalyze a movement of church planting in the city, and we plan to do this by being Jesus to each other and our communities.

We do this by investing in people, just like Jesus invested in his disciples. People like Jason: Jason was unchurched when he and his family met people from one of the Bronx churches. It was the only church in their neighborhood, so they thought they’d give it a try. The church, which met in an apartment, provided a place of warmth and acceptance. They shared their lives with Jason’s family which led to growth. Soon, Jason’s marriage was doing better, his kids were healed of some serious health issues, and he became the leader of a church in his apartment so he could reach his friends and family.

Jason’s story was not due to dynamic programming, excellent teaching materials, or a highly professional staff. It was accomplished by the body of Christ behaving like Christ. In this same way our churches are reaching poor and working class people who are overworked and systematically oppressed by the economic engines of the city. We’re healing war refugees who have escaped brutal genocides and recovering addicts who have totally lost themselves. We’re helping immigrants from many ethnicities through culture shock and family decay. In the last year we’ve started six of this type of church in addition to the four already spread throughout the metro, and we’re steadily finding people of peace who help us begin more. We can reach and change the city by the simple yet radical focus of getting so into Jesus that we join him in his identity and mission in both who we are as individuals and as communities of faith.

Source: Ben Cheek, http://metrosoul.org.