Engaging with People of Other Faiths

“When I am engaging with people of other religious faiths, I find myself unable to commit to their conclusions or agree with their assessments. Yet at the same time I come away encouraged by the spiritual truths found in their traditions, thrilled by new insights into my own faith, and more passionate than ever about being a disciple of Jesus. The truth is illuminated and elongated in my mind, and my presuppositions and myopic perspectives are challenged and corrected in the process.  Anything less would not be a conversation and would imply that truth is a proposition and not Christ.”

— Leonard Sweet, Nudge, Awakening Each Other to the God Who’s Already There, p.28,

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Attended Yearly Tribal Gathering

Last week I attended my yearly tribal (denominational) gathering.   It culminated Thursday evening with the “reading of assignments” a wonderfully imbedded tradition where pastors and leaders are formally assigned or reassigned to their places of ministry here in the Pacific Northwest and around the world.

The gathering was distinctly different from previous years evidenced and confirmed by many of those in attendance. Something of a new wind blowing, almost bordering on a paradigm shift.  The Spirit has been laying the ground work for what I would describe as something of a “missional thrust” among both conference presenters and participants.

Multiple stories were told of congregations initiating and implementing creative ministries relevant to serving their community and neighborhood needs, such graffiti cleanup, decorating neighborhood streets with flower baskets, feeding the homeless, and providing carnival events for children.  One church in Bend, Oregon closes its service for a Sunday to provide service to the city in various cleaning and renovation projects.  The exciting piece this is; the added stories that accompany these service projects.

The congregations involved in these types of ministry hold a strong “go to them” stance as they relate to their individual places of ministry.  In the past too often its been a “come to us” mentality.  This current stance is just one avenue of many, but one that definitely communicates a posture that embodies the Gospel of Jesus Christ in ways relevant to the postmodern culture.

Historically our tribe has held  a strong missional stance, but in recent years it has displayed itself in more dormant nuancs.  This particular season is one of intentional engagement with the culture and I’m encouraged!!!

Another factor that bodes well for the future of our tribe which seemed in jeopardy not long ago, is that a majority of the stories were told by leadership that is relatively young, those in their twenties and thirties.  In the past, these voices were not regarded as legitimate – now they are and we are the richer for it.   Personally I’m looking forward to hearing new stories currently being written.

Parish Collective 2010: A Roadshow of Local – Mission

George Fox University is hosting

Parish Collective 2010:

A Roadshow of Local Mission

Date: Tuesday  June 8th
Location: George Fox University, Portland Campus
Time:  6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Street:  12753 S.W. 68th Ave.
City:  Portland, OR

For more information see

Help Wiconi International

Pepsi is giving away millions each month to fund refreshing ideas that change the world. The ideas with the most votes will receive grants, so vote for your favorites. My favorite is Wiconi International a ministry focused on Native Americans.  They are trying to raise funds in order to provide families the opportunity to attend Living Waters Family Camp and Pow Wow.  Join me and vote.  You can vote every day.  Just click the top left widget and your vote is registered

14 Reasons to Stop Evangelizing Your Friends

My facebook friend Lyndsie posted this link to blog one another which posted 14 Reasons to Stop Evangelizing Your Friends.  I think these are legitimate reasons.  What do you think?

  1. It makes them uncomfortable.
  2. It makes you uncomfortable.
  3. It makes you think about how to twist every conversation to Jesus rather than seeing how Jesus is already there.
  4. It makes you believe you’re bringing God to them, rather than seeing how the Holy Spirit has already been active in their lives.
  5. It pressures you into showing an unrelatable happy, plastic face rather than letting God’s grace shine through your struggles.
  6. It makes you focus on talking rather than listening.
  7. It leads you to answer questions they aren’t asking.
  8. It makes you think about what to say rather than how to love.
  9. It makes you think faith is a list of statements rather than a different way of living.
  10. It puts you into the role of “teacher,” causing you to miss things your friends can teach you.
  11. It makes them see you as a religious salesman rather than an apprentice of the Master.
  12. It hurts your friendship.
  13. It robs you of a good time.
  14. It makes you think their lack of interest in your evangelism means they are not interested in Jesus or spiritual questions.

History of Christian Pilgrimages

Leonard Sweet writes in this latest book So Beautiful: Divine Design for Life and the Church.

Any brief incursion into the history of Christian pilgrimages, especially in their heyday from around 1050 to 1550 and a recounting of what happened on the most popular pilgrimage routes (Holy Land, Rome, Santiago de Compostela, Canterbury) reveal five common characteristics:

  1. A deep desire for forgiveness of sins, absolution, or “papal indulgence.” There even arose “pilgrim passports” to be stamped at posts en route to prove one had made the “pilgrimage.”
  2. The expectation of healing was not uncommon.  Pilgrims lived under the sign of “Say the Word!”: Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.” (Matt 8:8)
  3. Pilgrims collected sacred relics and souvenirs, which could be anything from mummified fingers, shells, rocks, “virgin’s milk,” anything.
  4. Pilgrims formed a community of fellow travelers, as was memorialized in Chancer’s Canterbury pilgrims.  Social contacts and stories were prominent features of pilgrimages.
  5. A pilgrimage meant a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, a chance to get away, open one’s life to the unexpected. and see “the other side of the hill.”  Danger was everywhere: Moorish pirates lay in wait; some pilgrims were sold into slavery; there was the ever present threat of robbery, murder, vagabonds. pickpockets, false guides., the danger of daggers, etc.

The essence of a theology of journey that incorporates all these features of a pilgrimage can be found in the thee Hs of the Emmaus Road story: hospitality, honesty, and home.  (pages 75-76)

Cultural Critique, A Blind Spot

Tom Sine writes:

Why don’t we discuss the influences of the values of the dominant culture at church? Why don’t we discuss the stories so many of us buy into and their influence on us and our kids?  Why don’t we explore the major role these stories play in defining our notions of the good life to which we aspire to come home?

I think part of the answer is that the Western church has historically taken a limited view of conversion.  In most churches we are taught that following Christ involves transforming our spiritual lives and our moral values and helping us with our relationships.  We rarely hear that God might want to transform our cultural values too.  Part of the reason for this is that too many of us have been conditioned to unconsciously baptize those values instead of question them.

Let me give you onc concrete example.  Christian parents want what’s best for their kids.  No problem there.  However, because of the huge influence on modern culture, most parents tend to define “what’s best” primarily in economic terms.  As we have worked on college campuses, the number one barrier students report that restrains them from going into missions, believe it or not, is their Christian parents. The message is, “I did not spend $80 thousand on your education for you to head off to a refugee project in Ethiopia.  You get your career under way, buy your home, your car, start investing in retirement accounts, and then after you are established, you can visit mission projects in Africa during your vacation.”  The New Conspirators: Creating the Future One Mustard Seed at a Time, p.77.