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Posts Tagged ‘Christianity Today’

SikhsIn an article that appeared in August web-only edition of Christianity Today, Abby Stocker wrote about “The Craziest Statistic You’ll Read About North American Missions.”  Her article opens with this paragraph:

One out of five non-Christians in North America doesn’t know any Christians. That’s not in the fake-Gandhi-quote “I would become a Christian, if I ever met one” sense. It’s new research in Gordon-Conwell’s Center for the Study of Global Christianity’s Christianity in its Global Context, 1970-2020. Missiologist Todd M. Johnson and his team found that 20 percent of non-Christians in North America really do not “personally know” any Christians. That’s 13,447,000 people—about the population of metropolitan Los Angeles or Istanbul—most of them in the United States.

The study shows that it is not the atheists and agnostics clustered together in academia or Hollywood or the liberal unbelieving media whom evangelicals love to hate that make up the majority of those who do not know a Christian.

No, mostly it is the immigrants and those they live among.  Here is the chart that was published with the study:

stats

And although Christians make up one-third of the world’s population, eight out of 10 people in the world do not know a Christian.

Sherrylee and I just went to a wonderful Journey to Generosity retreat and in the opening session, we were confronted with the fact that Americans hoard much of the world’s wealth.

So is it worse to be poor because we hoard our wealth—or to be LOST because we hoard Jesus??  I’m not so sure it is not the same thing if looked at from our side of the equation.

So why do you think that 79% of the Sikhs in North America don’t know any Christians?  It’s not because of a scarcity of Christians; it’s not for lack of churches they could visit?

Well, how many Sikhs do you know?  How many Buddhists from Asia live in your community?  How many Chinese?

Just last week there was a Chinese couple in Wal-mart and I could tell they were searching for something that they couldn’t find, so I asked them if I could help.   They were looking for that kind of ice cream with many flavors in it, so I found the Neapolitan and they were quite pleased.  I wish I had been even friendlier and asked about them and . . . .who knows what might have come from a little conversation about ice cream.

They might already be Christians!!  But I don’t know because I didn’t take the time to even offer to get to know them.  And because of that they may still be one of the many Chinese in our country who don’t know any Christians.

I’ve quoted this verse before in describing the reason for the FriendSpeak program, that we offer churches through the Let’s Start Talking Ministry.  But surely the convicting results of this study should make us question whether we truly believe the verse to be inspired by God—or not!

26 God began by making one man, and from him he made all the different people who live everywhere in the world. He decided exactly when and where they would liveActs 17:26 (ERV)

Immigrants are in North America for the same reason you are—because God decided exactly when and where they would live.  And Paul says the reason that he put people in the same place was so that they could find Him!

It’s not just “foreigners”  who cluster in ghettos.  Christians do too!

What could you do to reduce the number of people who don’t know a Christian?

  • Make a point to speak to people of other origins in public places.
  • Find meaningful service projects to join or to launch in ethnic ghettos.
  • Adopt an international student from a local university!
  • Host a Thanksgiving meal at your church and invite the immigrant community nearest you, specifically!
  • Inquire about beginning a FriendSpeak ministry at your church (www.friendspeak.org)  and volunteer to be a part of it.

What can you add to this list?

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baby with glassesWhich sites do you read regularly on the web?  I read the headlines from many sites, but I rarely slow down long enough to actually read a whole post or article unless there is something really special or interesting that turns me around!

I thought I would share with you today some of the sites that I often (not always) make it a point to read, ones that you may or may not already be reading as well.

Let’s start with the bigger, better known sites. I read Belief Blog on the CNN site quite often, especially for current issues, but also to read intelligent counterpoint to what I believe to be true.  Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi are co-editors of the sight. Stephen Prothero, professor of religion at Boston University and author of numerous books, is a frequent contributor.  Some recent titles are “Satanists Square Off on Abortion. (Yes, really!), “The Belief Blog guide to Ramadan,” and “Behold, the Six Types of Atheists.”  I do want to warn you that the comments to each post can be addictive, but they also are often egregiously sarcastic or cynical.

By the way, I did search Fox News for a religiously oriented blog and did not find anything. Just for those of you who think CNN is from the devil.

Staying in the commercial arena, I receive and read parts of Christianity Today Direct almost every day, Not only is one exposed to the best of the articles from the monthly magazine version, but since, it seems most denominations are moving toward the center, that is, neither extremely liberal theologically and certainly not extremely fundamental, Christianity Today and its writers find themselves writing to and for many readers other than their traditional evangelical audience. In these daily gleanings, one gets a little news, reviews of pop culture, as well as a daily article that addresses either a current event or a current religious issue.  You will not often be offended, though you will be challenged—not a bad combination.

Now to a couple of blogs from the private sphere which you probably are not reading, but that I find engaging, notwithstanding that the two are very different.

Accompanying the current trending toward The Book of Revelation, 7 Subversive Letters, a blog by Dr. Richard Oster, is scholarly, thoughtful, and insightful—and absolutely accessible. Dr. Oster is a New Testament professor at Harding School of Theology in Memphis. What I especially enjoy are the enlightening glimpses of historical artifacts that Dr. Oster uses to expand one’s understanding of the already challenging book.  He is also not afraid to challenge popularly held ideas. I suspect this particular blog grew out of his readings and writings for his latest book Seven Congregations In a Roman Crucible. (I like the title of the blog better!)  If you try this blog, try more than one before you decide to subscribe regularly.

And, finally, I want to risk all kinds of hoots and hollers by recommending to you New Vintage Leadership, an excellent blog by my son-in-law Dr. Tim Spivey, senior minister of New Vintage Church in Escondido, California.  Of course I’m biased, but I’m not the only one because his blog on church leadership is very popular. As you could find out yourself with a little research, his early blogging was more personal. A couple of years ago, in conjunction with the launch of a new church planting in Escondido, he decided to focus his writing on church leadership.  Tim is especially good with practical advice in areas of administration and organization. Since such topics rarely surface in seminary courses, ministers find his writing especially helpful. As a ministry leader myself, I think the same would be true for anyone in a leadership position.

On Fridays, Tim treats his readers to “Friday Stream of Consciousness,” a panoply of thoughts that give you an insight into his person. These little snatches of thought I find a bit unique and quite beneficial to this kind of focused blog which otherwise could have been just as impersonal as many other blogs.

Well, try some of these—and if you like them, tell them that Mark sent you!

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