October 2014

Spring Reading on Social Justice

Posted on

Relevant Magazine just put out a list of 9 Social Justice Books to Read This Fall (or Spring for us). They point out that When we think of social justice, we typically think of action, and action is certainly vital, but we also need study and reflection to help us understand the complexity that surrounds any given issue. If you’re interested you can check out their whole list, but here are the ones that stood out to me.

The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence

by Gary A. Haugen and Victor Boutros (Oxford University Press)

Although we have made great strides in the battle against global poverty over the last three decades, Western generosity alone will not eliminate poverty. This important book looks at various forms of violence—for instance, rape, slavery, land theft—and how they contribute to the cycle of poverty. The authors make a convincing case that efforts to work for a world beyond poverty must include the messy work of resisting violence.

Overrated: Are We More in Love with the Idea of Changing the World Than Actually Changing the World?

by Eugene Cho (David C. Cook)

Never afraid to ask a pointed question, Eugene Cho calls us not just to love and talk about justice, but to be actively engaged in seeking justice. It is not just others who need to be healed and transformed, but we ourselves as well, and Cho maintains that we start to find our own transformation in working for change among others.

The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food

by Dan Barber (The Penguin Press)


This new work by Dan Barber is likely the most important book on food to be published this year. Barber argues that the food produced by neither conventional agriculture (the first plate) nor local and organic agriculture (the second plate), is a sustainable way to farm and eat. Rather, he argues for the third plate, “an integrated system of vegetable, grain and livestock production that is … dictated by what we choose to cook for dinner.”

Red, Brown, Yellow, Black, White—Who’s More Precious In God’s Sight?: A call for Diversity in Christian Missions

by Leroy Barber (Jericho Books)

Rooted in over 20 years of urban ministry, Leroy Barber’s newest book makes the pointed observation that people of color almost never serve in the mission field. Red, Brown, Yellow, Black, White explores the implications of this observation, and argues persuasively that a diversification of both church and mission field is sorely needed.

To read the whole list visit 9 Social Justice Books to Read This Fall

Katie Settles into Life in Spain

Posted on

On the 16th September I arrived in Gijon, Spain and to my new home. I got to settle into my first week of getting to know the team leaders and the family, Gijon and eating a ‘welcome to your new home’ cake. I have loved eating foods like breads, cheeses and chorizo; soaking up new sights like the many Spanish people that stroll in the evenings and finding local places to relax and to exercise.

I am learning language with a Christian lady living in Madrid who I Skype with three days a week. The course is focused on building conversation fast so from the very first lesson I was able to speak simply.

Language and culture learning has been the hardest thing – at times as I want to say so much more than I am able to. Pray for patience in learning and in waiting to speak and pray that I would trust God with the pace of learning he gives to me. I’d also appreciate prayers for continued unity in relationships particularly with my team and host family. Pray that we would continue to love each other as Jesus loves us.

Review: Shaping the Journey of Emerging Adults

Posted on

Scot McKnight shares a friend’s review of a book on discipleship among young adults.

This review is by my colleague, Joel Willitts, who posted this earlier at his blog, Euangelion. Joel teaches Bible at North Park and works with young adult ministries at his church in Geneva IL.

Richard Dunn and Jana Sundene have written an important book about ministry among emerging adults: Shaping the Journey of Emerging Adults: Life-Giving Rhythms for Spiritual Transformation(IVP, 2012).

The term Emerging Adulthood has been coined by sociologists (e.g. Jeffrey Jensen Arnett) and refers to that segment of young adults that largely mystifies most churches, the 19-35 year old crowd. I know of very few established churches that are effectively reaching and discipling adults in this life stage.

If you have a burden for the next generation of the church, this book will not only fire you up but also give you some practical wisdom for shepherding them. This is not a pragmatic ministry strategy book. No ministry models will be found in these pages. If anything, it’s a call for the church to come back, to return to the basics of pastoral ministry. It is a call in fact to relational discipleship – a striped down, decentralized, face to face, authentic living life with young adults approach. Through the ebbs and flows of life, one disciples emerging adults intentionally toward maturity in Christ. In Dunn and Sundene’s words, “[The book] is a call to vision and action”.

Emerging adulthood is now widely recognized as a “new and unique” phase of life. Jeffrey Arnett provided five distinguishing marks of emerging adulthood (Emerging Adulthood: The Winding Road from the Late Teens Through the Twenties, p. 8):

1. It is the age of identity exploration. 2. It is the age of instability. 3. It is the most self-focused age of life. 4. It is the age of feeling in-between, in transition. 5. It is the age of possibilities, when hope flourished, when people have an unparalleled opportunity to transform their lives.

The content of the book was borne out of a question: What can we do in this generation to empower and equip emerging young adults to reach their God-designed potential for spiritual transformation?

Dunn and Sundene put forward to potential disicplemakers the central task of a disciplemaker of these young adults: to empower them to discover their adult identity and their present purpose in the midst of God’s larger story (40).

 

Emerging adults need spiritual caregivers who will prayerfully engage the disciple’s maturation, steering them away from navigating these life-shaping years primarily based on their own personal or experiential truth. To reach full maturity and maximize potential impact, the emerging adult needs to be challenged and supported as they are awakened to the way, the truth and the life offered by the Father, discovered by the Son and imparted through the Spirit . . . As disciplemakers of emerging adults, God has given us a stable “geographic center” based on the reality reflected in God’s Word and represented by his Son (41).

 The book is divided into three parts after an introduction. Part one addresses the art of disciplemaking. Among the notable elements of this first part is this quote:

 

Let’s face reality: There are no programmatic shortcuts to effective disciplemaking. There is no “easy button”. Disciplemaking is about relationships. Relationships are inefficient. Disciplemaking is about life change. Life change is messy. Disciplemaking is centered in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ allows no pretense. Disciplemaking is unpredictable. Unpredictability requires risk. Disciplemaking is unique to each person, each generation, each cultural context. Uniqueness eliminates the possibility of universally applied “paint by the numbers” disciplemaking relationships (58-59).

So, what is the essence of disciplemaking according to Dunn and Sundene? Two things: (1) a simple vision of what a mature disciple of Jesus looks like, and (2) an authentic understanding of relationships that will facilitate, encourage, challenge, support and lead young adults in this generation to become mature disciples of Jesus. A more concise and useful answer you’ll have a hard time finding.

 

No mechanical five-step strategies for life change, clever methodologies to mimic or ultra-cool programs to apply. Just inefficient, messy, unpretentious, unpredictable, risky relationships with no “paint by the numbers” answers on how to proceed. Just you, the young adults you are investing in and Jesus. Nothing more—but so much more than enough (59)

One expression of the vision of a mature disciple is with the three irrefutable essentials provided by Dunn and Sundene: Trust, Submission and Love. They discuss what these look like in the life of Jesus and in his disciples. They point out that these are things that must be true of the disciplemaker first.

But the next question, and perhaps the most crucial, is what is the core capacity a disciplemaker needs to foster these qualities in the lives of emerging adults?

The answer: The ability to build authentic, naturing discipling relationships. They state it so clearly:

 

A person’s unwavering trust in God’s wisdom, humble submission in embracing God’s heart, and love that pursues God and others with selfless generosity can all be rendered ineffective and unproductive by relational incompetence in the disciplemaking journey (74)

There is real advice here. Not models, but good advice. We must raise up adults who have an aptitude for developing discipleship relationships. The three skills of discernment, intentionality and reflection provide the foundational skill set of a disciplemaker. The first deals with attention, the second, with direction, and the third, with evaluation.

The second part of the book is dedicated to exploring five issues that are particularly complicated or confusing in the phase of emerging adulthood: (1) identity and purpose, (2) spirituality, (3) relationships, (4) sexuality, and (5) daily life. And the third part consists of three chapters focused on the disciplemaker.

Shaping The Journey of Emerging Adults will be an excellent resource for ministry teams in the present committed to a vital church in the mid-twenty-first century.

 

Re-blogged from www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed with permission.

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author or editor of forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL. He’s also a veteran blogger. Scot’s passion is to see the church embrace the mission of God in the 21st century. For more from Scot visit www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed

Broken people

Posted on

I used to think that missionaries were people who had to have it all together. People who had their life intact, had sorted out all of their issues (if they even had any to begin with), and could successfully navigate their way through the difficulties of life with ease. All while remaining thankful and joyous and always having love in their hearts for everyone… Wow. Now as I write this I’m realising what high standards I had put on those who are agents of God’s mission.

But isn’t that often our excuse for not wanting to get involved? I’m not a good enough Christian. I have lots of problems. I don’t love people enough… The list goes on.

But really, is there anyone who lives up to the standard of that perfect missionary?

Last year as a Haerenga intern in Fiji I became very aware of how I don’t and never will match up to the standards I had for what a missionary should be. It quickly became obvious that I am a messed up individual. I soon began to see myself as the least qualified person there was to be showing God’s love to these Fijian people.

The more time I spent with God and learnt about him, the more I became aware of my brokenness. My insecurities, my failings, my fears, my lack of trust… Who was I to share God’s precious Word with his people?

But that’s just it. We are all broken. Who is more qualified to reach out to broken people than broken people?!

Like Scott Boren says, “The Spirit of God is playing a rhythm through community where the personal weaknesses, brokenness, and pain are not things that have to be fixed in order for the community to work but instead are the very things the Spirit redeems and uses to impact our world.”

As Christians, we are no higher than anyone else. We join all humanity in our sin and incompleteness. But the difference is that in Jesus we are made whole. He fills in all our imperfections, flaws and struggles. We are scarred but complete in him. In reaching out to others as broken people we are admitting that we can’t do it alone but only by the strength of Jesus within us.

Our brokenness shows others how much we need God in order to be made whole. “Here we stare fully at the incredible, wonderful mystery of God: he can use what the world sees as weakness for the salvation of creation.”

 

THE MUSE

Have feelings of not being qualified enough ever stopped you from joining in on God’s mission?

 

(For more see M Scott Boren, Missional Small Groups: Becoming a Community That Makes a Difference in the World.)

 

THE MOVE

Take note of all the times this week when you ‘unqualify’ yourself to be a part of God’s mission. In these times remind yourself of your qualification as a broken person reaching out to broken people and of your completeness in Jesus.

 

Alicia is currently a student at Laidlaw College who is passionate about finding God in the simple things. She loves worship and Fiji and has a wonderful mother who has helped her every step of the way. This year she is doing a ministry internship with NZCMS.

 

 

 

 

Update from Iri and Kate

Posted on

News and prayer update from the Matos:

NZCMS Mission Partner Iri Mato will travel to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for the Faith2Share Leadership Consultation this week. Iri leaves Kondoa on Friday 3 October and returns on Friday 10 October, so there is a lot of travel involved. Please pray for safe travel and good connections.

A Kenyan, Dr Peter Okaalet will be the keynote speaker. The conference will be a focal point for 65-70 visitors plus many local church leaders. It will be an opportunity for Iri to meet with overseas CMS representatives and to renew friendships with Ethiopian Christian friends from the days when he and Kate served in Gambella, Ethiopia on the border of Southern Sudan. During the consultation Iri will be sharing in leading worship.

Please join us in praying for Iri as he travels and connects with members of our global CMS family.

Adventure on the Bamboo Railway

Featured Video Play Icon
Posted on

Last week the NZCMS Kiwis in Cambodia have been hanging out together. They enjoyed a few days sharing experience and encouragement on retreat with their wider ‘umbrella’ team in Siem Reap. On the way home the Sussex family stopped to check out Battambang, where the McCormicks are based. Anne and Anthony took them to experience the legendary Bamboo Railway – what a blast!