Archive for Upstream
This week I have the privilege of traveling with some of my favorite guys to participate in the regional RCN meetings throughout the sunny peninsula as we talk about what it can look like for the city church to think and participate globally. For those that will be at these gatherings, I look forward to meeting you. For those that will not be able to participate, I ask for your prayer for God to bless these conversations and would encourage you to learn about the city church through an interview at the Upstream site as well as at the Reproducing Churches Network site.
In Lakeland on Monday, we had a great time of prayer, encouragement, and seeking to learn and meet where possible the needs of others. This group, the start of city church as it is being expressed here in Florida at present, was one of the healthiest groups of leaders living out the New Testament that I have seen in the U.S. It was a blessing to hear some of what the church is doing regarding orphans, the homeless, those living in projects and others.
Several shared with me that God is at work in the I-4 corridor which runs across central Florida. This is evident through what was shared and consistent with the reality that some 20 plus guys were meeting together in one group meeting this month and spread out in smaller groups most other months to pray for their city. These leaders have consistently lead their respective gatherings to be in prayer every week for other churches in their community whether or not they are participating as an active part of the city church group.
It is beautiful.
These pictures were taken over a period of a few days in London during the recent Upstream Collective JetSet trip (thanks to Brad Hamilton for the assist with the photos). These represent the mosaic that is modern-day London and so many other global cities.
With the influx of immigrants and cultures, there is, some say, now a trans-national individual. For the individual that is a frequent traveler, student of cultures, in close relationship with non-native nationals, and/or as a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th generation immigrant, there is a stronger connection with a culture that is more diverse than the singular culture of their parents. As a result, it is possible that a resident in a global, urban center may identify with cultures in other large, urban cities around the world more so than with the culture in other smaller cities and towns in his or her native country.
Missiologist and life-long practitioner, SJ expounds on this idea that there is no such thing as a multi-cultural church. Instead, he claims that there is a multi-ethnic church. Though a church may have people from different nations and languages, the reality is that every church has its own culture. For this reason, a city such as London needs thousands of churches and the resulting cultural connections and expressions that come out of this.
After helping host last week’s JetSet trip with The Upstream Collective, I had some additional meetings in Spain before returning back to London for a return flight home. With all of the conversations and things to do while in London last week, I never had a chance to break away and see Buckingham Palace. But today I took that opportunity on the way from the airport to the hotel. And….
Upon arriving there in the constant dreary rain, I walked past the front of Buckingham wanting to take pictures, but not wanting to ruin a SLR camera. Then I decided to come back to the entrance and try to snap a couple quick picks with the iPhone. That’s when the guards moved from inside the fence to the outside and began stopping all passers-by. Then just moments later, out rolled the Queen of England and Prince Philip.
Then I remembered that: He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. (Daniel 2:21)
Note: In the upcoming weeks I plan to spend more time debriefing some aspects of the trip and the conversation. I am still processing, and still trying to get back home. Some themes I am still thinking about and praying through include global cities, contextualization, presence vs. proclamation, working in a post-Christian context, etc.
Reflecting back a bit on the recent JetSet tour, I am posting some of the influences and expressions of the influenced from Paris and France. This post is part of a much larger subset of posts which I will list here soon as well as a smaller follow-on to the London edition of the same.
Paris Picture Collage
- Human beings must be known to be loved; but Divine beings must be loved to be known.
- Imagination decides everything.
- A witty saying proves nothing.
- Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.
- Being is. Being is in-itself. Being is what it is.
- Everything has been figured out except how to live.
- God is absence. God is the solitude of man.
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
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.
Come out upon my seas,
Cursed missed opportunities.
Am I a part of the cure,
Or am I part of the disease?
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
In London, England with The Upstream Collective, we had a stimulating discussion today about issues of contextualization in churches that are unique to London and many other urban, global centers. Questions were raised about whether or not metaphors, music, language, accents, etc. should be adjusted for the target audience. One of the realities dealt with was the presence of trans-nationals in urban, global centers. Additionally, there are nationals and a plethora of other distinct ethnic groups, etc.
To provide one thought on this discussion, I offer Malcolm Gladwell’s 2004 Ted talk where he shares about the market research of Dr. Howard Moskowitz. His findings on product research include the revolutionary findding that there is not a perfect product, but rather there are a number of perfect products. It seems that we have Dr. Moskowitz to thank for the retail dilemma of which of 13 different Crest toothpaste flavors to choose from. And about as many Colgate offerings, etc.
These findings also, I believe, speak to the numbers of and types of churches and church plants that are necessary to reach the transnationals and different people groups of an urban, global city such as London.
By the time this posts, I should be in London. Over the next several days, I will be traveling with The Upstream Collective on their JetSet Tour here in the UK and in Paris. You will be able to find a number of interesting posts, video interviews, photos, etc. from the group that will be going. I will be tweeting and posting some links to other blogs where updates may be found in addition to posting some material here.
Following my time with the UC crew, I will be heading on to Spain to spend time with some old and new friends there. I look forward to bringing you some stories, images, and thoughts from western Europe.
Join us virtually on this trip to get a better understanding of what God is doing in this part of the world.
- According to a 2007 edition of the New York Times, “Nonwhites now make up a majority in almost one-third of the most populous counties in the country and in nearly one in 10 of all 3,100 countries” (Another Man’s Sombrero).
- DHS estimates that the illegal immigrant population grew by 27% between 2000 and 2009 (HS: Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population: January 2009).
- Estimates of permanent expatriates residing in the U.S. legally allow for half of those to have achieved their legal status since 2000 (HS: Estimates of the Legal Permanent Resident Population in 2008).
While a significant percentage of the foreign residents are from Mexico, the reality is that the spectrum of nations are here. Personally, I see them in all my travels in various cities and states. They are patrons at Starbucks coffee and Cici’s pizza.
The significant growth of foreign residents in the U.S. are one significant reason that the U.S. church must begin to “think and act like a missionary.” The implications are mutliple. One major issue the church must address is the issue of how will we choose to pursue or avoid relationship with select ethnic groups that have not assimilated into a more homogenous U.S. culture.
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.
Second, 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.