The national election has a tendency to bury other issues that have incredible effect. Continue Reading …
In the latest When Heaven and Earth Collide podcast interview, Ed Stetzer and I talk about the changing ethnic landscape of America with the presence of immigrants and refugees and how the church can respond to what is happening demographically – but more importantly, respond to what God is doing in all of this and to the opportunities that are before us. We talk about the mission of the church and even a little about how the church can respond to our current political situation. Ed is the former president of Lifeway Research and the brand new Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College. I interviewed Ed at the Evangelical Immigration Table booth at the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis in June.
The podcast clocks in at just a little over 13 minutes, so this one is a bit shorter, but it is still full of great insight.
Some highlights from Ed:
We have to acknowledge that we believe in the providence of God. If people are here, then God has allowed them to come here. Our call is to share the gospel with all kinds of peoples – ethne – from around the world
There is more ethnic diversity in the United States than in any country in the world. More ethnolinguistic people groups inside the borders of the U.S. than in any nation in the world.
God has given us a chance to reach nations who have come here. Southern Baptists are in rapid decline, the Assemblies of God are growing. What is the difference? One is reaching immigrants and the other largely is not.
God has allowed there to be people here who need Jesus. We can debate and argue and be frustrated with the politics, but the response of the church is to go to people with the gospel.
What can the church do specifically?
When you offer ESL classes, lend your facility to other groups, become partners with immigrant groups, start a new church and share your facility – Everyone will be happy with that – or they should be.
Begin with ESL classes in the basement of the church. People who would not normally engage will engage.
If a church can engage with refugees and immigrants, it will change the mindset of the church toward them – we must show and share the love of Jesus with these people.
What can the church say to our nation?
First, you have to correct some things that are wrong, like when some say that Syrian refugees are terrorists and Mexicans are rapists and murderers. Those are false statements and we should correct them. The Mexican immigrant in your community is more likely to be a pastor than he is to be a criminal.
If the Evangelical church were just white people, Evangelicalism would have been in decline for decades. Immigrant Christians from around the world are strengthening the church in America in powerful ways.
We might have to develop some pathways to citizenship for people to solve this problem. Immigrants are not the problem. People are afraid. Americans are really kind people except when we are afraid. What I am most afraid of, however, is missing out on what God is doing.
This was a really great conversation and I hope that it will help us think through immigrant and refugee ministry from more of a missiological perspective than from a place of fear or from a place of political controversy.
Also, the When Heaven and Earth Collide podcast was featured in the North Carolina Biblical Recorder, which is the state paper for Southern Baptists there! The article gives a preview of upcoming podcasts. Check it out and make sure the you subscribe to future podcasts by going to iTunes in the sidebar!
For more information about immigrant and refugee ministry and advocacy, make sure that you check out the Evangelical Immigration Table and follow me on Twitter at @AlanLCross.
The breaking news of Alton Sterling has compelled Ryan and Phillip to respond. The time for the Church to comfort the mourning and to stand for justice is here. Continue Reading …
There once were churches. Then Denominational Churches. Mainline Churches. Traditional Churches. Evangelical Churches. House Churches. After that Seeker-Sensitive Churches. Traditional Churches. Mainline Churches. Seeker-Friendly Churches. Purpose-Driven Churches. Emerging Churches. Missional Churches. Gospel-Centered Churches.Continue Reading …
Ryan and Phillip post a special edition of Conversation Rules where we discuss the events in Orlando, and the way forward as we continue to minister to a community that is hurting.
Ryan and Phillip discuss George Zimmerman selling his gun on an auction site. Continue Reading …
Are Millennials the worst generation in history? Is the future of the country and the church in capable hands?Continue Reading …
This discussion with Reggie McNeal, missional leadership specialist for Leadership Network and author of numerous books on church leadership, focuses on perhaps the most fundamental issue facing the church today:Continue Reading …
Is it true the frog does not discern the temperature in the kettle until it is too late? Years ago the answer was, Yes. Today, the answer is No.
Despite the corrective science, the metaphor continues provide a way of explaining the dangers of gradual changes. For instance, if the container allows the frog to escape the water, it will. If not, it is not the acclimation of the frog to its surroundings but instead the reality there is no way out.
Is There a Way Out?
Many contend there is no way out for the dislocation of the Church in modern culture. I use modern in the sense of contemporary not as modernity, though most acknowledge we are still stuck with modernity like it or not.
It could be true there is no way out of we could agree the container, the world/culture, offers no escape. But, that may even stretch the analogy too thin. Culture is continually morphing so it may not be viewed as a static container able to keep the Church in check. But, if the Church fails to understand the changing container then it may be more Pavlovian. Conditioned by culture warring, there is a patterned response that when the call to arms is heard, Christians despair the loss of its once lofty status.
Maybe we need to diagnose the Church and not culture.
Diagnostic Neurophysiologists to the Rescue?
Tom Ingram is on the podcast today. He is the author of the book, The New Normal: A Diagnosis the Church Can Live With. In the book Tom takes the diagnostic approach of a neurophysiologist and discerns the current normal of the Church. He then proposes a way forward. The obstacle, Tom says, is out big buts. Not bad for a play on words!
Here is a blurb about Tom,
After many years in the creative and business sides of television and music production, Dr. Ingram now divides his time between research/writing and mentoring/coaching/encouraging others in their efforts to pursue God purpose for their lives. He holds a Master of Business Administration in Leadership and a Doctor of Ministry in Semiotics and Future Studies.
Signs and Meaning
Some of you may have googled semiotics. Think of it as signs and meaning. Yes, this is overly simplistic, but it gets you on the road. Listen to the podcast and you will hear Tom provide a great illustration to help see the value in semiotics.
My friend David Phillips also received his D.Min. studying under Leonard Sweet. David told me that Len believes the church needs an increase in semioticians in our ever changing culture. He may well be right.
Tom suggested the book, I Is an Other: The Secret Life of Metaphor and How It Shapes the Way We See the World, as an entry point for semiotics and metaphor. Check it out.
If you find the podcast helpful, share it with your friends. Share it with your pastor friends as well as folks you know involved in leadership that touches on the pastoral. Also, consider heading over to iTunes, login, search for pathological and give us a five star rating and a kind review.
There was a time when I would talk about a difference between “makers” and “takers” in our country, referring to people who accepted government benefits. Continue Reading …