Three Tasks of a Good Missionary

Whether you cross the street or cross the ocean, here are three challenges that all of us face if we want to live for Christ and share his message with our world.

  1. Learn the language: educate yourself on how to talk in a way that people can understand and to which they can relate and eventually respond
  2. Study the culture: become so sensitized to that culture that you can operate effectively within it
  3. Translate the gospel: translate it into its own cultural context so that it can be heard, understood, and appropriated

Cited in The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated, by James Emery White

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Posted by on October 25, 2014 in Books, Evangelism, Ministry, Missions, Quotes


Returning to Russia in March 2015

Mark Wheeler's Russia 2015 letter 10-21-14-1

Mark Wheeler's Russia 2015 letter 10-21-14-2

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Posted by on October 24, 2014 in House of Grace, Russia


How times have changed

10-22 Rainer

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Posted by on October 23, 2014 in Evangelism, Tim Challies


How can a dying church become healthy again?

challies-sidebarOn October 20, Tim Challies had a post from Thom Rainer entitled, “7 Reasons Some Churches Experience Revitalization (While Others Don’t).” In the post, Rainer says,

I recently categorized those reasons some churches experience revitalization. I then compared them to churches that have not been revitalized. I found seven differences between the two sets of churches. These are the seven traits unique to the revitalized churches:

  1. The leaders and members faced reality. One of the reasons most churches don’t experience revitalization is their unwillingness to “look in the mirror.” Denial leads to decline which leads to death.
  2. Many in the church began explicitly praying for God to revitalize the church. I know of a leadership group in one church that prayed every week for over two years. The church is now in true revitalization.
  3. The churches had an explicit and clear focus on the gospel. Preaching became clearly gospel-centered. Ministries became gospel-centered. And many members began intentionally sharing the gospel, which brings me to the next reason.
  4. Members did not just talk evangelism; they did evangelism. I did not see a specific approach or methodology to share the gospel in these congregations. It was clear, however, that there was a more focused intentionality on sharing Christ than in many previous years.
  5. Many members in these churches began focusing on serving Christ through the church rather than seeking their own preferences. Another way of stating it is that these members became other-focused rather than self-focused. This attitude seemed to be directly connected to their prayers for revitalization.
  6. These churches raised the bar of expectations. Thus membership in these congregations became meaningful. Members moved from spectators to participants.
  7. The churches developed a clear process of discipleship. The members became more immersed in the Word. There was a clear and cogent plan to help members grow in their walk with Christ.

I found Rainer’s list interesting because I recently read his book, Autopsy of a Deceased Church: 12 Ways to Keep Yours Alive. The book portrays 12 negative characteristics of a dying church while his list gives 7 characteristics of how a church can become healthy.

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Posted by on October 22, 2014 in Books, Church, Tim Challies


The Shifting Currents of Culture

I’m working my way through a thought provoking book by James Emery White, The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated. In chapter 4, “A Post‑Christian World,” the author explores the impact of culture on Christianity. He identifies and explains “Three Moving Cultural Currents”:

  • Secularization: The church is losing its influence as a shaper of life and thought in the wider social order, and Christianity is losing its place as the dominant worldview.
  • Privatization: A chasm is created between the public and the private spheres of life, and spiritual things are increasingly placed with the private arena.
  • Pluralization: Individuals are confronted with a staggering number of ideologies and faith options competing for their attention.

Regarding secularization, I found the following illustration particularly insightful.

In his Guide for the Perplexed, author E. F. Schumacher relates his experience of getting lost during a sightseeing trip to Moscow during the Stalinist era. Trying to get his bearings, he found himself standing with several large churches within his line of sight. Yet none of these churches were found on his map. An interpreter came to assist him and explained, “We don’t show churches on our maps.”

Schumacher contradicted the interpreter by quickly pointing out a church that was clearly on his map.

“That is a museum,” the interpreter said, “not what we call a ‘living church.’ It is only the ‘living churches’ we don’t show.”

That, Schumacher goes on to conclude, was the cultural point. Those things that mankind has most believed in are no longer on the map of reality, or if they are, they are relegated to a museum. In reflecting on Schumacher’s story, Huston Smith notes that our world “has erased transcendence from our reality map.” Or as C. S. Lewis observes, “Almost all our modern philosophies have been devised to convince us that the good of man is to be found on this earth.”

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Posted by on October 21, 2014 in Books, Church, Culture, Quotes


Global Outreach Sunday

This weekend at First Central Baptist Church, we focused our attention on global outreach, taking the gospel to the ends of the world. Our guest speaker was Woody Wooldridge with Bridging the World. We also heard from Sue Ann & Janet about their ministry in Ghana. It was an encouraging, challenging, and motivating day.

Woody Wooldridge

Sue Ann & Janet

Matthew 28:17–20     17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”


A journey of faith

Book Review: Abraham: One Nomad’s Amazing Journey of Faith, by Charles R. Swindoll

abraham-bookI have long appreciated Chuck Swindoll’s ministry of preaching and writing. I admire people who can teach the word of God clearly and balance explanation with application. He makes the Scriptures come alive and you walk away knowing how to put the principles in practice in daily life. Pastor Chuck’s latest book, Abraham: One Nomad’s Amazing Journey of Faith, follows in the same pattern and does not disappoint.

In the book, the author traces the story of Abraham from Genesis 12-24. Rather than provide a whitewashed version of an unblemished hero, he paints him as the Scriptures reveal do, a man with a mixture of strengths and weaknesses, high points and failures, beauty and warts, and everything.

As Swindoll points out, the story of Abraham is a story of real life, showing a real person going through real experiences in a real world. He is a man that all of us can relate to. Abraham walked with God and yet stumbled on occasion. But he always got up and started walking again. By the end of his life, Abraham was known as the friend of God. The book portrays the growth of Abraham’s faith from his initial call to follow God to his final breath.

Swindoll blends biblical teaching with practical application. He weaves in personal stories, historical examples, and contemporary illustrations. The book is insightful and encouraging, filled with humor, sobering truth, and thought provoking principles. My only regret is that I didn’t have it when I preached through Abraham’s life last year.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Tyndale Blog Network book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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Posted by on October 18, 2014 in Abraham, Books, Scripture


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