May 2017

The backyard farm

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It is not quite June yet but the beginning of the month will be really busy with special visitors, students’ final exams and graduation, seminars and village visits.  Life rolls on, sometimes too fast to keep up with!  I’m sure many of you find it the same.

A big vote of thanks to those who prayed for rain, even though the usual rainy season (that wasn’t) was officially over. We enjoyed a full month, (mid-April – mid-May) of the beautiful stuff, and consequently, crops are thriving around most of Kondoa area. God is amazing!

Bible College, Ordinations & Visits

At Kondoa Bible College (note the updated status!), all is quiet between meals. It is Study Week. The eleven survivors of the three-year Theology certificate course are reading through notes and nervously anticipating questions. Their provincial exam papers in Old Testament, New Testament, Theology, Church History and Pastoralia have come through to Peter via the internet, complete with many mistakes which have had to be rectified. The exams run until June 2. Please pray for the students in this stressful time, and for Bishop Given as he decides on placements for them.

The six 2-year course students are now halfway through! They are a bright, enthusiastic group, even though only one has been to Secondary School. They have completed my course on Teaching Methods. Their final assignment was a 20 min teaching slot and they did really well; most of them included some form of drama which pleased me. My cousin Linley, from Christchurch, NZ, asked if I could make use of flannelgraph pictures to which I responded enthusiastically. She has been sending packages regularly through the post, and I have enjoyed working out ways to use these, especially in teaching children. The students were in awe of it!

July 16 is the date set for the ordination service, at which Peter is due to become a fully-fledged Anglican priest! We had expected that the first woman to be ordained in this Diocese would be included, but it seems that that will have to wait until next year.

As Registrar, I have to oversee all the papers set for the 2 year course and collate all marks for all students, so life is a bit chaotic at present. I have also got involved more with Mothers’ Union things. Last week we went visiting two women who had recently been bereaved, and just as we arrived I was asked to give the “word” of comfort (i.e. a short sermon!). God is proving so good though, in giving me the words to say, and it seemed to hit the spot for many of the women there!

Early this month we welcomed 11 visitors from East Tennessee: lovely people, most of whom had never before set foot in Africa. During July, a large group of secondary school students and teachers from Kent, UK, are due to arrive. And this weekend, Andrew (our vicar from Rangiora), John (a member of the parish and a technical whizz), and Steve, a vicar from the West Coast, are due to fly out to Tanzania. They will have a full-on ten days leading healing and deliverance seminars in different villages in this Diocese, as well as working out the best ways to help with building projects.

We are still waiting for Peter’s book on Grief to be finished at the publishing press. Someone is still “working” on the cover! It’s an exercise in patience.

The Farmyard

We live in a veritable farmyard. Apart from the ever-multiplying chickens and ducks, there are cows and goats, wild dogs and … snakes, two of which hoped to set up shop in our lounge. I’m thankful that Peter was around to dispose of them both times! In our garden mice, frogs, chameleons and snails (one I measured at 21cm) abound, although we haven’t seen many tortoises this year. Our cat, Kelele, spends a lot of time outside, waiting for a feast to appear, for our roof is home to pigeons, bats and lizards.

Unfortunately, a mongoose is also active in our area. It broke into the chicken coop which had housed a small brown hen. We had been gifted with her from a village visit the previous day. We came home from the College to find it hacked to death and gutted. We were quite upset by that.

Peter had an unusual experience the other day. There are nests of swifts in our carport. Peter, just walking through it, realised he had, literally, “a bird in the hand”. It had just flown into his relaxed hand, and almost as suddenly, with a swoosh, flew out again!

We’re all called to Participate (Issue 31)

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In the latest Intermission we’re looking at ways that each of us can get involved in mission, whoever or wherever we are. Here’s the introduction – we’ll post the articles from the magazine over the next few weeks. To receive the Intermission in the post email office@nzcms.org.nz

Maybe you feel like the frog above. He’s a hard worker who’s good with his hands, loves his family, cleans up after his dog on walks, and is an all-round great guy. But for one reason or another, he doesn’t think mission is for him. He knows of the super-stars who have exciting callings to serve God in exotic places or to serve the church as a pastor or priest, but he’s just a ‘normal Christian.’ And he’s content with that.

But he shouldn’t be content, because God isn’t! There’s no classism in God’s Kingdom – each and every one of us is called to participate in mission. God welcomes us all into the playground of his world and has something unique and essential for everyone to contribute. But participation is different for each one of us.

It’s easy to get trapped into thinking that participating in mission looks a particular way. And if we don’t fit our own image of mission, we assume there’s no place for us. You might see mission as going overseas, or constantly preaching the Gospel to friends, or standing up for the oppressed, or spending every evening at a soup kitchen. We need a new paradigm of mission that’s wide enough for us all – with our unique talents, passions and perspectives.

Exploring today’s missional issues from a variety of angles, each edition of the Intermission magazine will equip you and your group to engage with God in your community and beyond. To signup to receive the Intermission in the post, email office@nzcms.org.nz. Intermission articles can also be found online at nzcms.org.nz/intermission.

How Should Christians Relate to Muslims?

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Developing a Biblical World-view on Islam By Ida Glaser Now that the Islamic holy month of  Ramadan has started, we thought it would be good to highlight some material on Islam. This article originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of the Lausanne Global Analysis and is published here with permission as part of the LGA Media Partnership. Learn more about this flagship publication from the Lausanne Movement at www.lausanne.org/lga.

The UK Times newspaper last autumn introduced its readers to the use of taweez[1] in popular Sufi Sunni Islam. Why? Because it was reporting on the conviction of a Salafi for murdering an imam who practised this form of Islam[2].

 

The variety of Islam

 

Times readers, already familiar with terms like Sunni and Shi’a, Sufi and Salafi, were being introduced to yet another sort of Islam that is practiced by 41% of Pakistanis and 26% of Bangladeshis[3]. How, I wonder, will they integrate this information into the categories of ‘extreme’ and ‘moderate’ Islam that the media have been using hitherto? And how do Christians integrate the variety of Islam into their worldviews?

 

Over the four and a half decades since I perceived God’s concern for Muslims, I have heard many discussions about how Christian mission should be directed. We should focus on ‘folk’ Islam—on the huge percentage of those who use taweez and whose lives are dominated by beliefs in jinn. We should focus on service—to abused women, to minorities suffering from racism and to people in poverty. We should focus on apologetics, on polemics, on dialogue, on co-existence . . . or maybe on political concerns. Perhaps Christians should be at the forefront of countering ISIS-type terrorism.

 

How should we view Islam?

 

Underlying such discussions are questions about how we should view Islam, and these are echoed in the polarized responses to Muslims that are tearing apart today’s evangelical world. I think that the major problem is that we do not know how to fit the variety of Islam into our thought categories. As the secular world struggles to add the world of taweez into its understanding of ‘religion’, so Christians struggle to find room for Islam in their understanding of the world; so we choose existing categories and focus on those Muslims who fit them. Our teachers and preachers urgently need a way of reading the Bible that enables the whole church to relate to the whole variety of Islam and of Muslims.

 

Put this way, we see that the challenge is broader: Islam may be a special case, but we need a biblical worldview that gives a framework for relating to all peoples of all faiths. My book, The Bible and Other Faiths,[4] seeks to provide just that: a way of reading the Bible that so takes into account the religious world ‘behind’ the biblical texts that it helps us to make sense of our own religious world. My recent book, Thinking Biblically about Islam,[5] deals with the special case of Islam.

 

Biblical frameworks

 

Thinking Biblically about Islam develops two biblical frameworks for thought, and applies them in two ways:

 

The biblical frameworks deal, first, with developing a view of humanity that includes Muslims and, second, with developing a way of understanding Islam. The two are related, because ‘Islam’ is practised by human beings—which is, of course, why it displays such variety.

 

The applications ask, first, how we might think about various aspects of Islam—the Qur’an, Muhammad, the Umma, and Shari‘a—and, second, how our biblical studies might transform us in our relationships with Muslim people.

 

The double two-fold analysis reflects a tension that underlies much of the polarization of Christian responses to Islam: that we are trying to understand Islam as a system that post-dates Jesus Christ and sees itself as superseding Christianity, and also trying to relate to the huge proportion of human beings who are Muslims. On the one hand, many Christians feel that Islam should never have come into existence, and that Muslims are intruders in their world. On the other hand, many Christians live in places where they meet Muslims every day, and have Muslims as friends and colleagues and family members whom they love.

 

Here is a ‘taster’ of the two biblical frameworks:

 

The framework for a view of humanity that includes Muslims

 

This is developed from Genesis 4-11. It is a standard analysis of text as a chiasm(the Greek capital chi looks like X)—that is, it has a shape ABCB’A’ or ABA’ or ABCDC’B’A’ etc. The first and last elements ‘match’ as they set themes and subjects, and may repeat words. The central element is the heart of the matter. The intermediate elements ‘match’ (here, they are both genealogies) and tell you how the whole argument sticks together.[6] Hence the analysis matches Genesis 4 and 11, Genesis 5 and 10, and then sees Genesis 6-9 as central.

 

From Genesis 1-3, we learn that all human beings, including Muslims, are both made in the image of God and fallen. Genesis 4-11 gives an analysis of a religious fallen world that can be read as a chiasm. The beginning and the end deal with individual and societal religion; the centre point is the flood story; and in between come the genealogies that are so important to the whole structure of Genesis:

 

A Chapter 4: Human beings outside Eden seek to approach God through a religious act. It is not clear why one is accepted and another is rejected, but it is clear that this results in violence.

 

B Chapter 5: Humans have a common origin, and all (except Enoch who points to a hope of life) share in the genealogy of death.

 

C Chapters 6-9: God’s response to spreading violence is one of anger and pain (6:6). The flood story is read as offering two possible ways for God to deal with the evil—the judgment of the flood, and the covenant commitment that follows Noah’s sacrifice. The latter indicates God’s preference for the duration of history.

 

B’ Chapter 10: Human societies have a common origin, and are under the providential life-giving hand of God.

 

A’ Chapter 11: There is a human tendency to use religion to propagate a particular people’s power and territory. This is dangerous religion, which God will judge in order to limit the resulting evil.

 

This analysis provides some simple but powerful categories for thinking about Sunniand Shi’a, about Sufi and Salafi, and about users of taweez and ISIS supporters who kill idolaters.

 

A: Individual religion. We can understand all Muslims as people trying to approach God, whether with Abel-like or with Cain-like motivations. We can expect violent religious quarrels to arise over questions of what pleases God.

 

So we can expect schisms like those between the Sunni and the Shi’a. However, we can also expect some of the Sufis, who seek the face of God as a lover seeks the beloved, to be ‘Abel’s’ of the Muslim world. The story makes us ask how far we can judge which of the ISIS supporters who sacrifice their own lives are like Cain, and which are like Abel.

 

A’: Societal religion. We can understand the various political dimensions of Islam as manifestations of a normal human tendency to fuse religion, ethnicity and power.[7]We can be sure that, where this fusion builds exploitative power structures that are against God, he will limit the damage that they do to his good creation.

 

B and B’: Genealogies. All this is the shared human condition. Muslims are not intruders in our world: we are all part of God’s world. One implication is that we can expect the Genesis patterns among Christians as well as among Muslims. Christians, too, can argue over who is acceptable to God. Christians, too, can fight and kill each other. Christians, too, can use religion to build empires.

 

C: At the heart of it all is the problem of evil. I do not mean here the question of the origin of evil, although the book does explore some key differences between Muslim and Christian views on the subject through a study of the Adam stories in the Qur’an and the Bible. Rather, the big question raised by the Genesis Noah story is how God deals with evil, and that has implications for how human beings should deal with evil in themselves and in others.

 

This suggests a key to biblically based thinking about the varieties of Islam: we can ask what these particular Muslims see as evil, and how they are trying to deal with it. Take, for example, the taweezusers’ and ISIS supporters’ polarization. Taweez users focus on evils that affect them and their families in their everyday lives; they deal with this through ritual and, often, through trying to control the jinn whom they see as responsible for their troubles. ISIS supporters focus more on political evils, which they see as caused by wrong worship; they often deal with them by trying to destroy the causes.

 

I hope that the Christian reader is by now sharing something of the pain as well as the anger in the heart of God (Gen 6:6). I hope, too, that, like the One whom we serve, that reader is determined to prefer the way of sacrifice and covenant commitment to the way of judgement in response to evil. That takes us to Jesus and His cross, and to the blood which cries out so much louder than that of the martyr, Abel. Perhaps our biggest pain is that that the cross and the blood is missing from Islamic thinking, and so not considered by either taweez users or ISIS supporters in their struggles with evil. That takes us to the heart of the second analytical framework.

 

The framework for understanding Islam

 

This is developed from the transfiguration. Writing the book has led me to realise the centrality of the transfiguration to the synoptic gospels; and John’s Gospel can be read as an exegesis of the transfiguration.[8]

 

The questions to which the transfiguration is the answer are Islamic questions: How does Jesus relate to the previous prophets? What does it mean that he is Messiah? How do we deal with the scandal of His insistence that he will be shamefully killed?

 

Up to this point, the Gospels have been largely in harmony with the qur’anic view of Jesus; and the Qur’an raises the very questions that the Gospels raise. However, Muslims answer them differently.[9] They deny the crucifixion and put Jesus on the same level as all the other prophets. In effect, they reverse the transfiguration and then develop a prophetic-legal tradition built on a figure who combines the law-giving community-founding paradigm of Moses with the law-enforcing monotheistic zeal of Elijah.

 

Such observations provoke a re-reading of the legal and prophetic paradigms represented by Moses and Elijah, not least as ways of dealing with the evils of human sinfulness. On the one hand, how can the biblical material help us to appreciate the strengths as well as the weaknesses of Islam? On the other hand, why is it that the biblical accounts of these prophets find their fulfilment in the cross of Christ rather than in the Medina of Muhammad?

 

Hence, an understanding of the purpose and nature, riches and limitations of biblical law and prophethood offers some categories for thinking about Islam; and it opens a way of reading the New Testament that sheds light on how and why it holds such good news for Muslims. From cover to cover, the Bible speaks into the world of Islam, and into the bewilderment of secular and Christian people who are struggling to understand it.

 

What is the implication for evangelical leaders? Let us seriously put the Bible ‘in conversation with’ Islamic thinking and with Muslim people, and let us preach the whole counsel of God into our hurting world.

 

Muslims are still waiting for the coming of Jesus and other messianic figures, to deal finally with evil by destroying the wicked and rescuing the good. As Christians, too, wait for the final judgment, what difference does it make to our preaching and to our lives that the Messiah has already come, and has dealt with evil on the cross? The cross is the acceptable sacrifice available for the Cain’s as well as for the Abel’s; it challenges all fusions of religion and power, and it brings together, once and for all, the judgment that cleanses and the pain that forgives. How can we make that cross the basis of all our responses to Islam?

Audrey Neureuter

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Audrey Neureuter, one of NZCMS’ longest serving Mission Partners and an honorary life member, passed away peacefully on Sunday. The funeral will be held this Friday, 11am at St John’s Woolston. The following is a short reflection about Audrey written by Jonathan Carson. 

I first met Audrey as a child living in Pakistan when I was 9. She had just arrived in Karachi in 1956 and came to stay with us for a few days before moving further North. I remember her as someone who laughed a lot and who got on famously with my mother. Years later I joined Audrey in Karachi in 1974 with my young family. By this time she was well established in her Sunday School Publications ministry. She had brought together a team of young men with plenty of talent but who needed a guiding hand. The passing years had not diminished her enjoyment of life and ready humour. She was very highly regarded by the people she worked with and especially the children that she visited in the slums to take her Sunday School programmes to.

However I was engaged in a different programme, so only occasionally got to see her in action. We did see much more of her in the church we both went to where we joined in worship, prayer and Bible studies. In the early 1980’s a renewal movement swept through some of the churches in Karachi and we shared with Audrey in the meetings, seminars and retreats that came out of that movement.

She was diligent and faithful, kind and generous, positive and cheerful. No matter how involved she was in Sunday School Publications and curriculum development, Audrey never lost sight of the fact that people were her primary focus. She left an abiding legacy in the lives of many, many people in Pakistan and New Zealand of self-giving love.

(Picture: Audrey teaching Sunday School many years ago.)

Disciple Making Movements

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By Kent Parks. 

This article originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of the Lausanne Global Analysis and is published here with permission as part of the LGA Media Partnership. Learn more about this flagship publication from the Lausanne Movement at www.lausanne.org/lga.

 

In the mid-1980s, 24% of world’s population (1.8 billion people) had little or no Gospel access. Today, that figure has grown to 29% (2.1 billion people). Two interchangeable terms, while technically different, essentially define this population:

 

Unreached People Groups (UPGs) — less than 2% evangelical Christians (Joshua Project).

 

Least Evangelized Peoples (LEPs) — with little or no Gospel access per a multiple-factor list (World Christian Database).

Tragically, only about 3% of global missionaries serve this 29%. Christ-followers should be outraged by this spiritual injustice. That Jesus’ command to make disciples of all ethne is unfulfilled is disobedience. Doing more of the same activities expecting different results is futile and irresponsible.

 

Mission revolution

A holy urgency has caused many to re-study Scripture as a strategy manual—and has as a result revolutionized results among some UPGs. Sound motives fuel these efforts, including a deep love for Jesus; a joyful desire for all to have the chance to love and serve him; a holy concern to bring spiritual justice; and a commitment to obey Jesus’ command. The resulting radical methodological changes have resulted in amazing results reflected in the quantity and quality of disciples and churches.

 

Church-planting movements

Globally, ‘Book of Acts’-type movements (called ‘Church Planting Movements’ below) have recently emerged, often among the ‘hardest’ peoples to reach. The reality of these movements should not be skeptically or lightly dismissed. These exciting, transformational results—with millions of new believers and churches in hard places—should receive greater emphasis from those committed to bringing Jesus’ gospel to all peoples.

At least 158 Church Planting Movements (CPMs) resulting from a process called Disciple-Making Movements (DMMs) have begun since the mid-1980s, but especially within the last 15-20 years, and largely, but not only, among UPGs.

A movement is defined as when a number of the initial churches each reproduce to fourth generation (great-grandchildren or later) churches. When this ongoing reproduction happens in multiple ‘family-tree branches’, critical mass and ability to reproduce is achieved. This does not seem to be the case if the reproduction stops at only second-generation (children) or third-generation (grandchildren) churches.

 

Biblical model

Jesus launched a movement in three years, with disciples learning to love him and obey all his commands. The numerical growth of disciples in these three years is clear: twelve, 72 others (Luke 10), 500 (1 Cor 15:6), more than 3,000 at Pentecost and then at least 5,000 (Acts 4:4). The belief that God uses people to start movements today is based on Jesus’ promise that His disciples would do greater things (John 14:12-14).

Every segment. Jesus went to every town and village (Matt 9:35-38). He sent the twelve to a specific population segment (Luke 9:1-6). He sent 72 others, but now to all the places to which he was about to go (Luke 10:1-23). Thus, when Jesus expanded their scope to make disciples of all population segments globally, his disciples were already experienced in the pattern.

Jesus’ pattern. His pattern was simple but deep. He modeled it regularly (eg Luke 4 and 8) and sent them to do the same (Matt 10, Luke 9 and 10). He focused on discipling whole groups (oikos—households), such as one of his first households of peace (Mark 1—Simon and Andrew’s household) and the Samaritan village (John 4). Sent workers were to pray for local workers to be found within the harvest. The welcoming person of peace (one spiritually hungry and God-prepared) is the focus. The person of peace opens his/her social unit/group to hear the message. Focusing on discipling whole groups makes great sociological, numerical, and practical sense, which results in sustainable growth.

Holistic role. The disciples’ role is holistic—both to tell the good news of the Kingdom and to heal the sick and cast out demons. They are to depend on the receiving household rather than providing all the resources or answers. They must focus on discipling the household of peace rather than going from household to household. This new group will be better able to disciple and influence their community than the outsider can.

Discipling groups. This focus on discipling groups continues in the Book of Acts, as all but three people (Saul, the Ethiopian eunuch and Sergius Paulus) came to faith in groups. Paul and his teams, following Jesus’ model, started movements among population segments, which were multi-cultural, multi-religious, and often hostile. These movements ensured that all in each area had a chance to hear of Jesus:

 

Jerusalem: ‘numbers of disciples increased rapidly’ (Acts 6:1, 7).

 

 Cyprus: ‘. . . the whole island’ (Acts 13:6). 

 

Phrygia: ‘The word of the Lord spread through the whole region (Acts 13:49).

 

 Galatia: In Iconium ‘a great number of Jews and Greeks believed’ (Acts 14:1); in Lystra . . . ‘some disciples’ (Acts 14:22); and in Derbe . . . ‘won a large number of disciples’ (Acts 14:21).

 

Macedonia: In Philippi, the families of Lydia and the jailer (Acts 16); in Thessalonica ‘some Jews and a large number of God-fearing Greeks and many prominent women’ (Acts 17:4); and in Berea many Jews believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men (Acts 17:12).

Achaia: In Athens ‘some believed’ (Acts 17:34); and in Corinth the family of Crispus and many Corinthians believed (Acts 18:8).

Ephesus: Within ‘two years, . . . all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord’ (Acts 19:10). Some 15 million people (Roman census) in much of the area of modern Turkey could only have had access within two years if obedient disciples were reproducing.

Paul’s missions: Only the use of several disciple-making movements with multiple branches can explain Paul’s following statement: ‘. . . from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum [the Balkans], I [Paul] have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ’ (Rom 15: 19). Within the 15 or so years represented in this statement, Paul and his small teams would not have had the time or physical ability to ‘fully proclaim’ Jesus in this whole area. The only way this scriptural statement could be accurate is if they served as catalysts to raise up reproducing disciples and groups who reproduced all across this region.

 

Some key principles

God through his Holy Spirit is the teacher. The outsider helps new disciples to learn directly from the Father and to obey everything Jesus commanded. (Isa 54:13; Jer 31:33-34; Matt 23:8; John 6:45; 14:25).

Obedience-based group discipleship is an essential factor. Without it DMMs do not happen. The group members hear the Scripture, retell it to each other, discuss God-given insight and the obedience God is asking from the passage. People are to obey what is learned each week. Each person is to share the passage with another. At the next meeting, each shares what they obeyed (or did not) and who they told. Group accountability is built into the process. Their theology is strong. ‘Accurate obedience’ leads to ‘accurate belief’.

Results transform. Testimonies from several movements indicate that alcoholism diminishes in their area. For example, a drunken colonel in South Asia fired his rifle point blank at his newly believing wife—and miraculously missed. He then broke her legs with the rifle. Through her continued witness, he quit drinking and became a believer and reproducing church-starter. In other movements, husbands learn from God to stop beating their wives.[1]

Churches seek God’s provision together to help the poor and widows and orphans in their communities, such as a South Asian movement where whole communities quit selling their daughters into sexual slavery. In another South Asian movement, one church branch hired a Hindu seamstress to train young women to earn a living. They only asked that this training group read each week’s Bible story and ask the simple questions. Soon, the Hindu seamstress, five Hindu girls, and three Muslim girls came to faith and were baptized—along with the Hindu and Muslim families, because they saw the change in their daughters.[2]

 

Movements today

Researchers are tracking over 150 church planting movements, and more are being added every year. There is at least one per continent. Disciples reproduce. Leaders reproduce. Churches reproduce and love and obey him by helping the widow and orphan, healing the sick, stop selling children into slavery, casting out demons, and sharing the good news of the Kingdom:

A movement born four years ago in India has over 7,000 congregations including some eighteenth generation churches.[3] One of the earliest movements began about 25 years ago in another part of India among the Bhojpuri language group. It has been audited several times by researchers. The latest audit shows at least 8 million baptized believers and approximately 200,000 congregations, which serve their community through literacy efforts, health education, etc. Movements of several thousand congregations are growing in several continents in areas hostile to the news of Jesus. A movement has emerged in the US among groups often ignored by existing churches. Exponential growth necessity

Churches must reproduce obedient churches more quickly than traditional expectations because it is the only way to exceed population growth and give all peoples access to the gospel. If it takes five years for a church to reproduce, it will require 30 years for one church to become 64 churches. On the other hand, if each church starts a church every twelve months, 32,000 churches could start (and sometimes have started) within 15 years.

 

Concerns addressed

Does this kind of rapid growth result in heresy? Less heresy is evident in these movements than is often seen in more traditional approaches. Most heresies historically have been fostered by a key leader/s (eg Judaizers), not groups. The group process of obeying God’s Word together reduces this possibility.

Are movement proponents diminishing or insulting existing churches? This is not the case. These proven and biblical strategies to disciple many people groups should excite the church, even if these approaches cause re-examination, discomfort, and change in order to achieve greater impact.

Is not a formally trained human leader required for accurate teaching / prevention of heresy? Might this be an arrogant lack of faith that God is really the best, most able teacher?

Might movement success hurt feelings of traditional workers? The more important concern should be how the Least Evangelized Peoples feel without Christ.

 

Implications

Many missiological theories promote strategies that should reproduce. Church planting movements are based on strategies which have reproduced.

The existence and legitimacy of church planting movements should not be skeptically dismissed, as is the tendency among some in Christian mission circles. The comment that UPGs have been over-emphasized needs to be disputed. The call to have a ‘balanced’ mission emphasis should be affirmed.

It is indeed time to bring balance. At least 30% (not the current paltry 3%) of global missionaries should be assigned to serve the 30% of the world’s population (UPGs) who have never enjoyed gospel witness of any kind, using proven best practices.

Jesus’ simple but deep strategies (rather than our often complex but non-reproducible efforts) need to be used to change whole people groups. These proven, biblical, multiplicative, and transformative discipling methods should be used rather than theoretical, unproven, and unscalable approaches. Church planting movements which transform societies represent the only strategy which brings the scalable growth needed to exceed population growth and to finish the task.

30 Days of Prayer

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If you receive our mailings you will have received a flier about the ‘30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World.’ For over two decades Christians around the world have been praying for Muslims throughout Ramadan – their special month of focused prayer and fasting. It’s a time Muslims are seeking an encounter with Allah, and since the 30 Days of Prayer movement started, many Muslims have encountered the living Christ during this season. Prayer really does change things.

During my time with an Australian mission training centre, Ramadan was set aside to pray for the Muslim world. Once a day a call to prayer in Arabic was blasted through the sound system across our centre. Up to 100 of us would drop whatever we were doing to gather in the courtyard so that we could pray for a specific location or people group. I’m sure it confused our neighbours to no end, hearing a Muslim-sounding call to prayer coming from a Christian centre during Ramadan. But in those moments we took our attention off ourselves and paused long enough to get a glimpse into God’s heart for this group which makes up almost a quarter of the world’s inhabitants.

The question is: what will you be doing this Ramadan (27 May – 25 June)? Copies of the prayer booklet can be purchased from marn.org.nz

Mission with Migrants Conference

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For some time churches and mission societies have been faced with the challenge of reaching migrant communities in New Zealand with the Gospel. The Outside In Conference is an opportunity to focus attention on the growing number of newcomers to our shores and how ordinary Christians can be mobilised and equipped to welcome them and share the good news. The goal of the weekend is to see the church in NZ motivated, equipped and networked to welcome and reach diaspora communities.

The keynote speaker is Dr. David Cashin who has wide experience in living and serving cross culturally. Kiwis will tell the stories of how they are learning to relate to new migrant communities who are now their neighbours. There will also be opportunities during the conference to attend workshops and seminars designed to increase the skills of participants in cross cultural ministry. Find out more at www.outsideinnz.org/events

 

Date: 21-23 July

Time: 7-9pm Friday; 9am-5:30pm followed by dinner Saturday

Location: Baptist Tabernacle, Queen Street, Auckland

Cost: Early Bird $45 non-salaried/$75 salaried before 1 July, Regular $60 non-salaried/$90 salaried after 1 July

Register by emailing office@eastwest.ac.nz

 

Outside In is a community of churches, colleges, and missions committed to welcoming and supporting migrants to New Zealand. We promote events that train and equip New Zealanders in their efforts to be better hosts to diaspora people who now call New Zealand home. We welcome all followers of Jesus who live by his words, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me,” (Matthew 25:40) to join us in our journey in mission.

NGO part 2 – Why all the trainings?

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Three of our staff came into our office after a week long Malaria training. After they raved about how wonderful the training was, I asked them a question. “What is one thing you are going to change, or improve at your Health Center after the training?” Even after prompting and trying to give them ideas, we couldn’t come up with anything. Not one thing. Eight of our staff were there for a week. 320 working hours. Our staff already treat malaria really well. They didn’t need a training on malaria.

The problem

Of all the issues I’ve had with NGOs, meetings and ‘trainings’ is the issue which which has driven me the most crazy, and provided the most hilarity. Don’t get me wrong – trainings can be a core part of NGO work, I run them myself! Just last week Marie Stopes needed to teach our staff how to insert family planning methods, and it worked really well. Often though trainings are a colossal waste of money and time, and more importantly devalue learning by putting barriers, or distractions in the way. I think this is so important, I’ve created my own ridiculous jargon phrase ‘learning distraction’ to emphasise the point. Maybe it can be new NGO speak!

I have so many problems with trainings and meetings, but I’ll limit myself to 7, no… 8.

1) Allowances for participants. Allowances for transport, accommodation, day allowances. ‘Big men’ turn up for 30 minutes to get a wad of cash, reinforcing harmful cultural stereotypes. As well as wasted money, it’s a learning distraction. How can you concentrate on learning when you are waiting for more money than you have seen in weeks? Friends have told me that they sit there all day planning how to spend their 50,000. At one meeting there was nearly a riot when allowances were less than expected. 30 minutes was spent discussing the situation. It was telling when a participant said “this training will be useless if we are not facilitated properly.” In the minds of the participants, I think he was right. At another one day meeting, I was handed 150,000 in allowances, plus a 8 gig pen drive “from the American People.” All 40 of us were. You do the math.

2) Lack of important and practical material taught in effective ways. Material should be evidenced based, with experts, or at least people knowledgeable in their field teaching new information or skills. Models and frameworks are tossed into the ether, never to be used again. Material is often not taught in effective ways that will be practically useful. Much time is also wasted on inefficient group work, which is often a mix of sharing good ideas which most people already know, and reinforcement of bad ones. I’m all for participation, but it needs to be well thought through.

3) General Opulence. Meetings are held in the fanciest hotels. Food is fancier than local wedding food. Everyone is given wee books and pens (and sometimes pen drives!). Bottled water is given on demand. This makes trainings and meetings into a status symbol and I think contributes to a space where people are trying to impress each other, rather than learn together. A huge learning distraction.

4) Meaninglessness of resolutions and action points made. Of the 10 or so meetings/trainings I’ve been to, almost none of the resolutions made have been carried out. So far I’ve been elected onto 3 follow up ‘committees’ that have never met, and never will.

5) Paying the people organising the meeting extra money on top of their salary. Why do you pay staff extra to do something that should be part of their regular job? This just encourages NGO staff to hold unnecessary trainings to fill out their wallets as well as their time.

6) Wasted person hours. Half a days material covered in 2 days. Two days material covered in a week. For our malaria meeting 320 hours of quality patient care were taken from us, for next to nothing gained.

7) Unnecessary attendees. People who only speak Acholi at English meetings (happens at most meetings I’ve been to). Random local government officials who have nothing to do with what’s being discussed. ‘Big Men/Women’ who hijack the meeting with speeches and other agendas.  Having unnecessary attendees present causes random off-topic discussions bringing yet another learning distraction.

8) Use of unhelpful NGO jargon, which muddy the waters and provide yet another learning distraction. Much NGO speak has become a quagmire. People all know vaguely what the word means without being able to pin it down. There is also straight confusion, where the speaker means one thing, and the listener hears another. ‘Volunteer’ for example to the western ear means working for no pay out of the goodness of you heart, while to a local listener can mean quite a well paid job! Here’s my NGO-Speak Bingo game I use at meetings to entertain myself. I’ll generally win within the first 30 minutes of the meeting.  I’m not the only one who thinks this is ridiculous.

NGO Bingo Facilitation Mobilisation Implementation Empowerment/Empowering Sensitisation Capacity Building Stakeholders Governance Girl Child Scaling Or Scale up ‘Volunteer’ Accountability ‘The field’ Gender Balance Resilience High-Impact or Impact

 

Solutions

Lacor Hospital (the biggest mission hospital in Uganda) has a great solution. They don’t let any staff go to trainings and meetings unless they absolutely have to. And it works really well. When I asked a hospital boss why they don’t allow their staff to go, he said. “Trainings are usually 100% useless and they waste time. Why should our staff go?”

When we do hold trainings, here’s 8 ways to make them better

Don’t give allowances. The exception perhaps, is an actual refund of public transport costs for people who don’t live in town. If you’re doing a training in the village, people already live there. If you are training educated people, most of them live in town so no transport is needed Hold a lot less trainings. Many don’t need to happen. A classic category which are often unnecessary are “stakeholder” meetings, where the NGO invites government officials, religious leaders, community members etc. to tell them about the project in their neighbourhood. They achieve very little and can even add barriers when officials inevitably suggest more meetings, or use the opportunity to add unnecessary bureaucracy to the project. I was really impressed that a hundred-million dollar maternity project we’re working with had zero stakeholder meetings. They talked with us, trained our nurses and then started. Invite only people that are going to benefit directly. Target carefully. Don’t invite people who only speak Acholi if you are going to hold the training in English. Don’t invite big people just for the sake of it. Invite people who will be keen to learn, and have a lot to gain. Get Experts and top quality presenters to take sessions where you don’t have the expertise. Spend your money here, rather than on other areas of the training. Don’t just get your NGO staff to cover topics that they are not experts in. If you’re going to do it, do it properly. Hold meetings and trainings in more austere locations. The District Council hall in Gulu costs only 10,000 to hire. Many trainings and meetings could be squeezed into NGO offices. Hold shorter trainings. Can you do this in one day rather than two? What material is less important that you can cut? Can you remove the morning or afternoon tea break? Serve Beans and Greens with Posho and Rice for lunch. Why should every meeting have 2 kinds of meat? Make the thing less about the lunch and more about the learning. People will still appreciate a free lunch (eventually, after they get over the meatless disappointment J). Ban the Jargon words (start with the bingo table) which can’t be used by trainers or participants. Be specific, use real life examples. Give people a list of words at the start of the training that they aren’t allowed to use. Make it fun by rewarding people who notice when the banned words are used.

Missional Songs for God’s People

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Songs have power. Their music resonates through our being and when sung with others songs bind us as one. Their words become the story we live, melodious lyrics lingering long after all else is forgotten. So what story do we want to be living?

‘Moving Together’ is a resource full of songs, poems and artwork produced from people within Aotearoa and the Pacific. The songs in this book offer a story that is the size of God’s dreams for our world and for us. Bound together, this book invites you into noticing goodness and possibility, grieving, rejoicing, responding to and moving with the Spirit of God in our world.

Copies of this book are available for $20  and can be ordered through the website tekareongawai.org/movingtogether or by contacting the General Synod office of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (+64 9 521 4439, gensec@anglicanchurch.org.nz). 

Thy Kingdom Come

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Archbishop Justin Welby is calling the global church to a season of prayer for more people to come to know Jesus. This season of prayer, happening over the 10 days between Ascension day (May 25) and Pentecost (June 4), is aptly called ‘Thy Kingdom Come’.

Archbishop Justin has said this about Thy Kingdom Come: “After Jesus ascended into heaven, the disciples went to Jerusalem and prayed for the coming of the Holy Spirit. The vision behind Thy Kingdom Come is to do just what these first Christians did – to pray, in faith, that the Holy Spirit would come and lead the way in witness and evangelism.”

Few things are more important to followers of Jesus than prayer. It’s been a core principle of CMS since our very beginning in 1799, and we’ve recently re-emphasised it as one of the five missional postures we as the NZCMS family share. 

We encourage people to #Pledge2Pray through the Thy Kingdom Come website to show that you’re joining in the global wave of prayer and to inspire others to join in! Over the next few weeks the Thy Kingdom Come team will keep in touch, and send you videos and resources to encourage and inspire you. The Thy Kingdom Come website has a wealth of prayer resources for churches, individuals, families and children. There are all sorts of creative ideas to help you pray in new ways.

If you want to know more about Thy Kingdom Come, to get prayer resources or to commit to participating in the event, visit thykingdomcome.global

CMS UK has interviewed Archbishop Justin about this event, offering more insights into his take on mission, prayer and the world church. You can read the interview by clicking here.