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Still Partying

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Continuing with celebration and reflection, here are a few more things from the past and a glimpse from the future.

Many have asked over the past year, “Why almost an M?” This is a question I tried to address in the first post of this blog. Not sure it was adequate, but Shakespeare and Missiology was an attempt.

There are two collective bodies of work associated with this blog which I feel contribute something worthwhile to the conversation. Both remain unfinished, but are nearing their completion. The first of these is a non-book entitled Great to Good. This piece will be finished soon. At that time I plan to put it into a more readable .pdf format possibly with some small expansion of some ideas in order to make it more accessible.

The second body of work that I am thankful to have been a part of making available is a series of interviews with Michael Frost. I always appreciate his thoughts and the challenge and encouragement he offers the western church. There will be another installment in this series coming soon. (As for the quality of production, it is not top shelf. However, for the tech gear used and a whole bunch of filters later, the look is at least interesting. What he shares, though, is very worthwhile.)

In the upcoming year, I plan to finish these two projects and start a new one. I have another non-book outline developing. It will be similar to the Great to Good effort in a number of ways. More on this soon….

Thank you for reading and participating in the conversation!!!

Categories : communication
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Continuing to enjoy being a part of the Upstream Collective JetSet Tour here in London, I hope to offer some aspects to help you be a part. As we are experiencing some of the cultural aspects, I thought it may be of value to share a bit of culture here through first a visual collage and second a literary collage.

London Picture Collage

Literary Collage
Batter my heart, three-person’d God ; for you
As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend…

John Donne, “Holy Sonnet 14”

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world.

Beatles, “Revolution”

Come out upon my seas,
Cursed missed opportunities.
Am I a part of the cure,
Or am I part of the disease?

Coldplay, “Clocks”

Why then ’tis none to you; for there is nothing either good or
bad, but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison.
Shakespeare, “Hamlet,” Act 2, Scene 2

Categories : missiology
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Cross culture through literature

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This week The Upstream Collective is conducting a JetSet Tour spending time in a number of places including Copenhagen, Denmark. Seeking to make a small contribution to this week’s discussion and vision trip, I suggest a little reading…

Learning the literature of another people or country is key for a couple of reasons. First, the process aids the learner in acquiring cultural insight. This, I believe, fits with 2 Timothy 2:15. We are to have some insight into how the Scriptures may be perceived by other cultures. For example, in an animistic culture where people are seeking to understand how things began, the genealogy in Luke has proved powerful in some contexts. When working in a former Communist culture, use of a text that may have been used as a tool to disprove God (e.g. John 3:16) may not be the best place to start explaining the Word.

Little-Mermaid-movie-08Second,  being a student of literature communicates to the nationals that you are entering as a learner wanting to be enriched through their heritage. At some levels, the ethnocentric tendencies are suspended. Many healthy conversations may center around their national heroes. Not only does this firmly place the foreigner in the role of the learner and the national in the role of expert, but this can also  lead to meaningful relationships and opportunities to deal with the big issues. These topics may include wisdom, social justice, love, the meaning of life, God, eternity, existentialism, hope, etc.

Thankfully, there is a rich trove of authors that are Danish and even more that are Scandinavian. Some authors to spend time reading would include:

  • Hans Christian Anderson – a Danish author that is one of the premier children’s story-tellers in all of history. Some of his famous tales include The Ugly Duckling and The Little Mermaid.
  • Søren Kierkegaard – another Dane that was philosopher, theologian, and so much more. Exploring his frustrations with the state church among a host of other ideas may prove helpful for the individual as well as gaining insight and access to future conversations.
  • William Shakespeare – though he is a touch less Danish than the two writers above, the famous tragedy Hamlet occurs in and around the Kronberg Castle.

Happy reading!

Categories : case study, missiology
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What’s in a name?

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iStock_000006851283XSmallIn Shakespeare’s famous balcony scene, Juliet shares that the name of an object is not what’s important, but the object itself.

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sw
Romeo and Juliet Act II, Scene II

This is evident in Antioch where the people of the church were first called Christians. Today, these people refer to themselves by another name. This name, not stated here for security reasons, also identifies them with Christ. Why the change? The connotation for the word Christian has morphed into representing religion or an assortment of religions that have Christ as part of the story. In the view of the believers there, this is not representative of identifying with Christ as Savior and Lord in their culture. Being called by a name that represents religion as an activity is not, based on their actions, worthy of living for. While identifying with Christ as their Lord is worth dying for.

Similar in some ways, re-naming is  occurring across the U.S. Some existing churches that have a long history continue to hold onto the existing name. Others have re-branded themselves. New church plants are discontinuing the use of “First (denominational name) Church of (city)” or “(community description) (denominational name) Church.” Whether or not this shift in names is made depends on a few key aspects including the church members’ cultural understanding of their community. Does the current name identify the church in a way that allows the community to relate well with them? Or by changing the name would more goodwill result among the unchurched in the area?

In a previous post, Non Sequitur, I posed the question: “Is the church name to be: 1) descriptive of the sending of God; 2) a tool to bring people to God; or 3) nomenclature of the people that are being sent out that bear the image of God?” I believe that selecting a name that is well-received by the community is important and worthwhile. However, I firmly believe that the name by which a group of believers identify their local meeting of church cannot replace the Missio Dei and what he calls his disciples to be about. To choose a name that is not offensive is a good thing. If it appeals, even better. The stumbling block to which we point, however, must be the cross of Christ, not a name that we select and promote.

Name changes can be good. Selecting a good name for future church plants is a good thing as well. But embracing the idea that we can be attractive enough for people to want to come to us so they can pick up their cross daily to follow Christ is a bit optimistic at best. The majority of our time and energies will be well-spent in prayer as well as encouraging and challenging each other to be about making disciples as we go. Having relationship with the lost so that they can see the glory of Christ in how he has transformed our lives, our families, our relationships is of far greater worth than working with consultants to re-brand a building or location.

One final note is that this post is an elaboration of some ideas from two previous posts: Sequitur and Non Sequitur. Based on these and a post on Erik Reed’s Savage Generation, I hope that this is helpful to clarify some thoughts. It is my intent that this post not reflect negatively on either the Relevants or Reconstructionists, but would instead place emphasis on the focus that is to be the passion and call of every disciple and every church.

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Shakespeare and Missiology

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ShakespeareThe universal question remains valid: “To be or not to be?” Many aspire to take on the responsibility of missionary, but when they are faced with an aversion toward both the title and position from those needing to encounter the truth of the gospel, Shakespeare’s question becomes more than relevant. (Who knew that William was a missiologist?) Should I be Missionary? Should I not? Personally, I am almost an M. Seeking to be fully missional, completely on mission, unwaveringly committed to Christ and His commission to us…almost an M.

Years ago I heard Neil Cole share about Paul’s four missionary journeys and how his strategy changed along with the impact of each. Cole’s advice was to wait until the third or fourth journey to start sharing lessons learned. This seemed wise. Time has passed. In different contexts including the U.S. and Europe at times as a supported M and others as tentmaker, I have arrived at the requisite number of prolonged journeys and feel that I have learned some of the questions to ask and have formed some working hypotheses and theories. It is my intention and hope that a tribe may form to share, question, refine, and where necessary, replace these thoughts with ideas that are Christ-centered, biblically-based, and pragmatic. A tribe…almost an M.

In my life and mission experience I have seen some things related to mission that should have been celebrated for the Kingdom which were not. On the other hand I have seen things that should not, in my opinion, have been celebrated as being mission that were. My working conclusion was and remains…I am almost an M.

My past includes maintaining a non-M identity for some of the above reasons as well as maintaining access to a country. The nameless, faceless blog is not my preference, but as I expect to be almost an M in similar situations in the future, this format fits the pragmatic side. Still I hope to interact personally with you that are living the mission in person some time on this side of heaven. Until then, I hope to mutually encourage and challenge one another. Let’s walk together being intentional, being missional, being almost an M. Hamlet would be paralyzed. Shakespeare would, I think, consider it worthy. I am on the advance. What about you?

Categories : missiology
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