culture

The Multicultural Face of Mission

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How do we reach an increasingly multicultural society with the Gospel?

More than 25% of New Zealander’s were born overseas. Last year 60,000 permanent and long term migrants made NZ their home and this is projected to increase. In God’s great kindness the nations are coming to us – how can we hold out the gospel of life to our increasingly multicultural society?

On Wednesday June 15 at 7pm, our very own Steve Maina will be speaking on this topic at a Multiply gathering. He’ll shave about his experience of seeing the Gospel proclaimed in different cultural contexts all around the world and will be joined by a panel of local church leaders to dig into how their churches are working to engage the nations that have come to our doorstep with the Gospel.

What are the opportunities we have for reaching the nations that have come to NZ? Where are our cultural blind spots that inhibit gospel growth? How can we change anything apart from the gospel to remove and stumbling blocks for people from other cultures?

The event will be held at Lone Star, 364 Riccarton Road in Christchurch. The bar is open for you to grab a drink, and we will kick off with some nibbles. See you there!

Sending Mail to the Wrong Address

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You can’t ‘do mission’ without knowing your context. And unfortunately we Christians don’t always understand our own culture very well. It’s been hard for us to keep up in the “post age”: post-modern, post-Christian, post-colonial, post-postal service (almost!). Bishop Justin Duckworth recently said that the church is “sending mail to the wrong address”; the culture has moved on, but we still talk, act and do-church in ways relevant to a past era.

Justin has a gift of being able to name where New Zealand is at, and in this recent video at Laidlaw that’s precisely what he does. It’s long, we thoroughly encourage you to crack out the popcorn and give it a watch!

Myths about Language Learning

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Katie is currently in Spain, learning the language and culture to get ready to be part of a church-planting team. Here’s some reflections she’s put together about the process of learning a new language.

My myths about Language learning that got squashed quickly.

1. You learn by listening and absorbing. It’s true that you learn a lot by listening but also there has to be some hours at the desk too. Spanish seems to have a huge number of tenses and lots of irregular verbs to try and get your head around and remember.

2. Translating what I want to say directly from English to Spanish always works. My mind is a translating factory right now. The sentence goes in in English and attempts to come out my mouth in Spanish. One day I wanted to pay for a Coke in a Café and so I told the Waitress “I had had a Coke”. The literal translation of this into Spanish sounded like I was announcing to the Waitress that I had just given birth to a glass of Coke. She looked at me in an amused way.

3. Language learning is a 9-5 job. Not true most of my life now involves reading, speaking or listening to Spanish.

4. I’ll be fluent in a year. It’s amazing that your brain adapts and changes and I know I understand and can say so much more now than the few words I had when I first arrived. I still have a way to go but I am so often thankful I can focus just on this work of Language and Culture learning in order to better equipped for being here for the long term.

 

For a list of seven common language-learning myths (and how to fix them) click here.

Katie Settles into Life in Spain

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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.

Missional Spirituality – Seven Habits of a Lifeless Church

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Let us say that a church alive is marked by Christlikeness among the people, worship of God, love and compassion and mission toward others … and other such marks. Let us also say it is marked by the church’s classic marks: one, holy, catholic and apostolic. And we must root this all in gospel and Trinity. Our culture works against a church alive and if we let culture shape us we can create a lifeless church, though any church that is lifeless is a sick contradiction. The themes of our culture, however, work against the life of God in a church.

What are they? What cultural trends challenge the church/faith? What trends intrude on missional spirituality?

In their new book, Missional Spirituality, Roger Holland and Len Hjalmarson, sketch seven cultural habits that grow in Westerners naturally and which, at the same time, counter what the gospel aims to do in our midst.

1. Disenchantment: borrowing from Charles Taylor and others, the argument is that prior to the Enlightenment (at least) it was difficult not to believe in God, while in the modern world it is difficult to believe in God. The world prior to the Reformation and especially before the Enlightenment was enchanted — alive with the presence of God and signs of his presence. The Enlightenment’s rationality and empiricism and dualism created a world in which it was easy/ier not to believe in God. Christians who buy into the Enlightenment project counter the gospel’s world of enchantment with God.

2. Excarnation. They speak here of disembodiment or the diminishment of embodied spirituality. It’s about ideas, not rituals and acts and form.

3. Abstraction. We separate ideas from objects and subjects and rationalize and theorize. The faith becomes a system of beliefs instead of a Person in whom we trust and in whom we hope.

4. Consumerism. I don’t think they get to the bottom of this one, though they touch on themes and symptoms of consumerism. Ownership is normal; obsession with ownership, status, and the dopamine rush of purchasing … these are at work in consumerism, as is a culture in which everything is comodified. Consumerist Christianity, at the ecclesial level, is about attending a church because of what you can get from it instead of worshiping God and serving our brothers and sisters. With consumerism, I think of Clement, of St Anthony, of Augustine, of St Francis, of some in the monastic tradition… of Ron Sider … of the neo-Monastics, etc..

5. Entitlement. A society marked by consumerism and self-image education feels entitled to a church meeting needs and to what it offers and to participating in decisions and authority etc..

6. Extraction. Their point is a simple one: we too often draw non-Christians out of their culture into a church culture in order to Christianize them. We plug them into a pre-set forms and roles and routines and deprive some of their natural giftedness.

7. Mutant Pietism and Programism. They will look at Pietism later, but pietism has been diminished and it has been connected to easily to church programs. Mutant pietism is inner world individualism and insufficiently missionally-shaped piety. The original pietism, esp that of Francke, was missionally minded.

 

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