Thursday, January 31, 2008

Everyone Needs to be Cross-cultural

In my short years of life I experience cross-cultural things all the time. I am a Navajo from the Navajo Nation so I am a minority in the United States. Yet as one fellow sojourner in ministry, Brad Griffin, the Assistant Director of the Center for Youth and Family Ministry puts it, "cross-cultural is not an option any longer." In fact, Brad says

"In the past, cross-cultural communication was primarily relegated to the realm of interacting with people outside of your own country. But now, given an increasingly multicultural United States and the globalization of nearly every technology, industry and service—not to mention ministry—our ability to bridge language and other divides has become critically important. So important, in fact, that some argue that youth workers must develop new skills for encountering the multicultural realities of ministry today."

Brad summarizes Cultural Intelligence in a terse manner citing David Livermore and his passion for teaching the emerging generation about leading in a multi-cultural world in a contextual and relevant way. The concepts intrigued me so I checked out the intersectcommunity. I saw that the next cohort/gathering is for the New England region so I will need to wait for a closer venue. But I am interested in finding out more.

Important Issues we face

I read from the Pastor's Weekly Briefing Jan 25, 2008 provided by Focus on the Family Pastoral Resources where a new Barna Group report outlines, "What concerns Christians the most? The following new study from The Barna Group reveals the top 10 perceived important issues in the here and now:
(1-3) Three types of issues are of particular concern, perceived as "major" problems facing the country by three-quarters of the population. These include poverty (78%), the personal debt of individual Americans (78%) and HIV/AIDS (76%).
(4-7) A quartet of issues emerged as moderate concerns, including immigration (60% of adults said this is a major problem facing the country), global warming (57%), abortion (50%) and the content of television and movies (45%)."

I wonder if these are important to those who attend Wooster Grace. If these perceived important issues reflect most Christians then how am I helping to equip believers to address these issues and to teach them what God's word says. We are launching a two-week message series on prayer. I wonder if we could incorporate daily prayer themes through the month of February by taking the top seven issues and praying over them each day. For example on the first I would pray for the poor, on the second i would pray for personal debt, etc. I just might incorporate these requests into my prayer time.

We already offer a money management seminar. We offered a seminar on HIV/AIDS and regarding immigration or ethnic diversity we conduct an Internationals class on Sunday mornings as well as on March 1 we are offering a seminar on how to show Christian love to Muslims. So I believe we are helping to equip God's church to be people fully devoted to Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Culture Matters

In a recent Breakpoint program on January 23, 2008, Chuck Colson offers a good read. He suggests you read Culture Matters by T.M. Moore. I have it marked as a book to-read. In the preview of the book on Amazon, I read about the challenge of engaging culture.

According to Moore, "Culture is inevitable, even essential. But not all culture is edifying, and this is especially so when our objective lifeis the realization of the Kingdom...(Matthew 6:33; Romans 14:17). Some aspects of culture will present obstacles to the pursuit of the Kingdom of God, while other aspects can be useful in expressing and furthering that enterprise. The challenge to those called to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness is to be able to determine which is which, and to evaluate and employ culture in ways consistent with our callings as followers of the Lord (pp.20-21)."

I concur with the challenge of discernment. I look forward to reading how to work hard in the process of evaluating and employing culture in ways consistent with the Bible.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Offsetting guilt

Our world is moving. I wonder if I am moving with it to position myself for the advancement of the Gospel and the broadcasting for seeds for new churches.

TrendCentral offers this insight into today's people. In the January 28, 2008 email newsletter they highlight:
Karma Offsetting--Consumers are increasingly looking for ways to alleviate guilt caused by environmentally harmful actions without necessarily changing their behavior. As a result, carbon offsetting is gaining momentum, with everyone from bands (Rolling Stones, Coldplay) planting trees to counteract the waste created by rock concerts and album production, to airlines (Virgin Atlantic, Air France) offering passengers the option to offset their travel with donations to environmental non-profits. Going forward, consumers will want convenient ways to offset all kinds of guilt-inducing activities with an equivalent good deed in areas such as parenting, diet and work.

If our culture is seeking ways to offset their guilt with good deeds, then how are we as a church offering opportunities to do good deeds with us so that we can interface together and get to know them better. In the long-term, we could build relationships based on their need to offset their guilt by doing good things in the community. I wonder if that would work.

I want it now

"I want it now." That sums up today's generation. I ponder how to communicate God's eternal truth of making disciples of all nations over generations versus instant success expectations from this younger generation.

In my recent perusal of articles, I see students as consumer's first. I wonder how I can devise ways to convince "want-it-now" people that waiting for disciples is worth the wait. I ponder how I can communicate "wait-to-see" investments to individuals who "want-to-see-it-now." May God give us the wisdom to engage this morphing culture and to make disciples of all nations.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Short Term Missions Trip Redefined

I subscribe to an email newsletter, TrendCentral. In the October 3, 2007 issue I came across an emerging trend called vagabonding. TrendCentral is created by the The Intelligence Group which is a trend-forecasting and marketing consultancy focused on Gen X, Gen Y and Tweens (people ages 14-34).

VAGABONDING: This growing trend in travel is changing the way people think about using their vacation days. The concept suggests that long-term travel is more meaningful and memorable than the 1-2 week vacation that’s standard in Western culture. Through taking extended (and often times independent) vacations in out of the way locales, vagabonders can recharge by discovering and experiencing the world on their own time. Apparently it’s not as difficult as it sounds to take a couple months off from one’s normal life. There are books, guides and online communities that offer tips on everything from how to manage travel funds to how to find a safe subletter to help with the rent.
TrendCentral describes a growing trend among these young people about travel which I think may be applied to missions. I could see this becoming another way for short-term teams 2-4 people travel around ministering to our missionaries or even starting new works wherever the Holy Spirit causes them to land. It is a risky option but one to possibly consider after much prayer and input from God's people.
I could see these "teams" going for a summer. They would be teams selected by the participants, not gathered by the mission organization. I could see them vagabonding for Christ starting churches. I wonder what this would look like. I need more time to think and to dream.

Cross-cultural challenges

I ponder my own ethnic background with interesting emotions. I have pride, gratitude, and a sense of obligation. God birthed me into my Native American heritage. I am Navajo. God made me Navajo.

As I seek to lead others to engage in cross-cultural missions I need to consider what I am asking them to do. I need to equip them to engage stepping over boundaries--their own boundaries and leap out of their own comfort zone.

I received a link to a short article which informs me how I can help others engage in cross-cultural ministry. Jeff Yourison shares how to open the door to diversity. He gives some simple things to consider or to answer as each person engages in cross-cultural ministries:
  1. Take stock of your current attitudes.
  2. Be aware of your own ethnicity.
  3. How do you act when you are the minority?
  4. What biblical truths help you engage those of a different culture?

He cites two other articles which you can read for further insight. Both articles take the perspective of college campuses however you can apply them to the city or county at large.

God is prompting me to learn more about diversity and reaching out to the lost and the lonely who need God's love and God's people to make them feel and be included in God's forever family. The lost and lonely only need an invitation. Step out of you comfort zone and minister to those around you.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Try, try again

As I begin this new day, i confess that sharing Christ with new friends is challenging. There is a fear factor involved. At least there is in my life. I marvel at the Apostles who prayed for boldness and courage.

In Acts 4:8, the Bible says that Peter was filled by the Holy Spirit. I too, must be filled with the Holy Spirit. Later, in verse 29 the believers pray together for boldness, for fearless confidence. They asked God to empower them to speak boldly His word. Then God visited them with empowerment from the Holy Spirit and they began to speak the word of God with boldness (verse 31).

I spent an evening with some close friends who don't know God. We enjoyed a meal. We laughed. We shared. But I did not bring God up! Shame on me. Sure, I feel guilty for not speaking up, but I can grow from this. I can continue to build up confidence as I find the opportunity to bring up Jesus and His Good News. My guilt can paralyze me. Or it can motivate me to engage the next opportunity. I pray that God would keep bringing opportunities to share Christ before me so that I can trust Him and can confidently speak the word of Christ into the lives of those around me. I want to get better at this everyday. May God grant me, His bond-servant, all confidence to speak His word. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

New Year Starting

The new year has started and I want to know God better. As I reflect on my personal spiritual goals I desire the following:

As a man of God I will honor God in my life by continuously developing a deepening love for God so that my family remembers me as a fully devoted follower of Jesus and as a patriarch of faith in Christ for positive influcence towards their own salvation and for godly impact towards their own growth in Christ.
My heart is excited for the new ministry opportunities awaiting me this coming new year. I plan to read a chapter of Proverbs each day and five psalms per day. I need input from God's Word to properly focus my life.

I'll keep you up to date on what God is teaching me throughout this transition year.