Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Monday, October 29, 2007

Conference and Islam's Secrets

I spent this past weekend at a beautiful resort in Arizona with some absolutely incredible ministry partners of Campus Crusade for Christ. I had a blast hearing the stories of how God has used them to forward His kingdom around the globe. I also shared our passion to see God transform the world's second largest city and the infrastructure we will implement to help make it happen. I felt a little like Alice in Wonderland, being surrounded by people twice my age who have given much for the kingdom (ministry partners and other staff)...humbling and inspiring.

One evening we heard from Don Richardson (author of Peace Child). He shared some fascinating insights from his new book, Secrets of the Koran. The gloves came off! He opened up the true intentions of Islam.

Here is what's happening in Europe. Statistics show that in order for a country to maintain its population, each family must have 2.1 children. The rate for Europeans is 1.3. They're effectively killing themselves off. Muslims, on the other hand, are growing at a much faster rate. (In the United States, we're barely meeting the mark.)

More and more madrasas are opening up in Europe and around the world. Over 30,000 of these religious schools exist in India where children learn the teachings of the Koran from its original Arabic (often times without an education in other areas, like the sciences, the arts, math, politics, world affairs, etc.). So is this a bad thing? What exactly are these children learning?

In his book, Richardson compiles large amounts of research to reveal the truth about the Koran. Is Islam a religion of peace, like the new Islamic apologists and even our own president will tell us? Or is it in fact, a religion preaching war and hate?

Richardson's book serves as a harbinger for the Western world and for all of those who do not follow the teachings of Muhammad. Compare the six "peace verses" in the Koran (written before Muhammad's rejection as a prophet by the Jews) to the 106 verses preaching war against the infidels. Learn about Muhammad's life as a thief and murderer during his time in Medina. Understand the man who took a six-year-old wife and consummated the marriage when she was nine. Read this book.


Shane Deike posted about the Shapevine a while back. I complained on his blog about the high price of some of their content. When I checked back, one of the Shapevine guys left this comment. Hopefully it rings true.
Hey guys, I'm with Shapevine--someone had mentioned that there was some blogging going on about us ... first of all, thanks for visiting the site and appreciate the comments. Just want to let you know that there will be a lot of free content at Shapevine--podcasts, videoblogging, chat, RSS feeds, etc. We're getting closer to launching these and will be announcing it through a newsletter. We'll just be charging for SV Campus courses and seminars, along with the live events with authors. I think the $29 is on the pricey side, as well. We just have to figure our server costs to put on a live show and be able to pay for production. It's not as expensive for us to do the webcasts, where just the author and the host have a camera, so those should be more affordable. We'll see how it goes. In the end, we really want a community to come together and have an open, rich and rewarding dialogue.

The Scoop on Campus Crusade

From the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, CO. Alright, I thought I'd just give you a little morsel about the future of the campus ministry within Crusade. Without divulging too much info and breaking our new blogging HR policy (heaven forbid), here was the central idea from our latest discussion on direction:
  • Missional Teams: The new "missional" buzzword made the cut. The idea is to send out teams to areas all around the country that will meet our organizational objectives, specifically targeting 6 key US cities and 4 international cities.
"That's it," you say. Well, here is my take. In my mind, this could mean a whole lot of nothing or a radical change in how we do things (let's just say that some staff cried about the new direction and others were jumping for joy - such is change). It's open to interpretation. I know how I'd interpret it...but they don't give me that much power.

Interestingly enough, some of the wording in the document sounds a lot like what I heard a year ago from a friend within Crusade. He's no longer with Crusade, which is why he can actually post the whole document (loophole). If you really want to see it, check it out on his blog.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Rocky Mountain Leadership Conference

On the road in Estes Park, Colorado. We just heard from Doug Pollock today about Gospel conversations and getting to the heart of a person rather than slamming them over the head with the truth.

This evening's meeting will focus on the future direction of Campus Crusade for Christ. I'd love to give you all the juicy details, but our new HR blogging policy won't allow me to do so. Too bad.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Thousands of Street Kids in My City

Mexico City has 1,900,000 underprivileged and street children. 240,000 of these are abandoned children. In 1991, an estimated 11,172 children lived on the streets in the center of Mexico City. We now estimate the number at 30,000 in the metropolitan area. Most of these children live in deplorable conditions and resort to drug use to find an escape.

Last week I had the great privilege of visiting a beautiful ministry to these kids. Casa Alianza helps willing kids come off the streets, break their addiction to drugs, reintegrate into the educational system and find a good job at the age of 17. They'll even help the children reintegrate into their families, if they want that.

Part of what they do involves going out into the streets and trying to convince the kids to come into one of the five beautiful homes they have built for the children. This can often turn into a long process. These kids, most of whom are addicted to drugs, like the freedom of a life on the streets, mostly because they don't know any other way.

We have begun a partnership with this Christian-based organization to help, because "the street is no place for a child".

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Live Above YouTube Video

Join the campaign to push this YouTube video to the top, so millions of students will discover the truth of Jesus Christ. The Campus Ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ has partnered with Student Venture, Chi Alpha, Youth for Christ, Campus Ambassadors, Coalition for Christian Outreach, Christian Educators Association, National Network of Youth Ministries, Urbnet and many others to release this video that they hope will connect many students with LiveAbove.com and to campus ministries. Watch it below and then add it to your website.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Discipleship vs. Making Disciples (Part 3 of 3)

Thankfully we have people in Christendom right now that see the dire straits we are in when it comes to making true disciples. Steve Van Diest sent me this recent blog post from Gordon MacDonald. Unfortunately, no one really seems to have an answer to the problem. Here's the kicker...

Those who see the problem and have the authority and platform to speak to it (well-known pastors) can't find an answer because they don't want the answer they need to find. How is that?

In the west we have modeled church after an Old Testament religious structure, the synagogue. We have a high priest (the pastor), a temple (large church building), a rigid structure to enter into worship (Sunday service, and yes, even in contemporary services), and flock of people that look to the high priest for all their instruction.

I feel like I need to say that this system is not all bad. God has used it for centuries to bring millions into a relationship with him. But I think it's time to step into what German church researcher Christian Schwarz calls the third reformation - a reformation of structure, a return to the early church model.

God created us to function at maximum efficiency when we live alongside a group of people that know us inside and out. Sociology will even tell you that. Sociology also tells us that people cannot maintain more than 150 genuine relationships (Dunbar's number). So why do our churches push through the "200 ceiling" in order to continue to grow. Nature show us that nothing grows indefinitely, rather it multiplies. Unfortunately, we have a lot of pastors who want the church to grow and grow and grow and grow until we have a big blog of a whole lot of spiritual bed wetters.

I don't claim to possess the answer to spiritual bed wetting. I wish I could. But I do believe true discipleship happens in community, not in just a one-on-one relationship. It happens when people commit to listening to the Holy Spirit and living in radical obedience to Jesus in community.

What would it look like for churches across the country to form networks of smaller churches that continue to multiply rather than adding a third sanctuary. Keep the big church. Fine. But don't make it the center of everything you do. Make it a resource building for the needs of the church network and the needs of the community/city. Empower people to lead.

Make your church a hybrid model. This doesn't mean that you add more cell groups or make another DVD to help facilitate small groups. This means planting more churches...real, genuine, Jesus-sanctified, fully empowered churches.

The principles apply directly to campus ministries. Just change the word church to movement.

Here in Mexico City, we use a Life Transformation Group model that enables groups of 3 to live in radical obedience to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. I don't think LTG's are the answer, but they help. We need to create communities where the community holds the power, where believers love and challenge one another. We need elders who serve the community and enable it to function in a healthy way.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Discipleship vs. Making Disciples (Part 2 of 3)

In response to some questions about my last post on this subject...

Discipleship in our western mindset has become closely aligned with a one-on-one mentoring relationship. Don't hear me say that this is an all-bad system. But do hear me say that I don't believe this system will allow the church to be all that she can be, nor is it as biblical as so many think.

Some of the problems I see in this programmatic method: codependency, slow growth, slow multiplication (if any), wasted time and resources (limited effectiveness).

What does the Bible have to say about discipleship? I will have great rewards for the first person who can show me one verse clearly portraying a one-on-one discipleship relationship. The closest I've come is 1 Thessalonians 2:13 - "imploring each one of you as a father would his own children," which reveals a deep and authentic mentoring relationship among the members of the church but doesn't really build the case for an ongoing one-on-one relationship. Paul makes a similar statement in Colossians, where he says, "We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ."

The most common apologetic comes from 2 Timothy 2:2 - "And the things you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also." To me, this verse seems to develop a case against it. If Paul had an extensive developmental program designed for Timothy, might he have said, "What I have taught you, entrust to faithful men"? His comment more readily suggests a form of experiential modeling, similar to the verses above.

How about Jesus? The Master Plan of Evangelism, first published in 1963, took Jesus' model of the 12 disciples and made it the model of discipleship for our era. If every believer would have 12 disciples, we'd reach the world in just a few years. This model did great things to forward the development of believers worldwide (and is still used in strict fashion today by the G12 church birthed out of Columbia, of which I am a part of in Mexico).

What's really cool about Jesus is that...well, He's Jesus. He knew the hearts of men and chose the right 12 for the mission. You and I, unfortunately, do not have the same ability. I can't tell you how many times I've adopted a disciple, developed him and sent him out only to regret investing so much in someone not up to the task of multiplication.

Jesus had His 12 (none of which I see him meeting with one-on-one), but he also sent out hundreds more. He sent out the 70 to minister in Luke 10. Not too bad after a short period of ministry.

So what might effective discipleship look like? I don't have the exact answer, but I'll share some insights soon...

Read Part 3.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A little office humor

Michael Scott on diversity in the office:
"Abraham Lincoln once said, 'If you are a racist, I will attack you with the North,' and those are the principles I carry with me into the workplace."

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Discipleship vs. Making Disciples (Part 1 of 3)

Why does the word discipleship make me cringe? Every time I hear it I picture two people sitting at Starbucks sipping a latte and talking about religious things for two hours. I don't think Jesus pictured the same when He commanded us to make disciples of all nations just before lift off into heaven. Therein lies the rub.

Whenever we have people work with us here in Mexico City, we have to do a little Western world detox. I sure didn't see Jesus doing any one-on-one discipleship in the Gospels, and Paul never practiced it either. Someone could probably tell me when the church began to employ this strategy. I'd prefer to unemploy it. In fact, our work in Mexico depends upon it.

What was Jesus' command? Did he ask us to disciple or to make disciples? This isn't just an issue of semantics. If He calls us to make disciples, that begs the question, "How does one make disciples?" Follow me here. The Western view of "discipleship" places a great amount of influence on the person discipling. We see a linear relationship between the disciple and the teacher. When I read my Bible, I can't find that same manner of thinking.

When Paul went to a city, he would spend anywhere from a few days to several months there. Yet he left disciples wherever he went. How did he do it? First of all, he relied heavily upon the Holy Spirit - the Teacher and Counselor. We can expect to fail miserably if we assume the role of the Holy Spirit in someone's life. Secondly, he helped them experience community (planted churches). Yes, he did teach, and through some basic teaching he trained them to live as a disciple of Christ.

Let me wrap up before I ramble much longer. The early Christians knew how to make disciples. They taught one another in community and authentic relationships. I think our view of discipleship is kind of like the Catholics' method of confession. What once started as a really good thing, became a cumbersome system that now misses the mark.

Read Part 2.

Read Part 3.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Just the Right Time

I really don't think we could be down here at a better time. Just the other day I met with a youth pastor at one of the few megachurches here in town. After presenting the vision of Enfoque México, I waited for his response. In the U.S. it would probably sound like, "Thanks, but we have something going already and don't really need any help." Here it went like, "We have tried for several years to start something for college students and haven't been able to do it. We need help."

The funny thing is, that's a typical response here. . . or just the fact that they don't have anything directed toward college students. God brought us here to do only what we can do: Connect the body of Christ to the most strategic sector of society in order to give every student an opportunity to be part of a missional Christ-centered movement and sow the seeds of citywide transformation. Could there really be anything more exciting (aside from seeing the same happen in the world's LARGEST city)? (Mexico City is only the world's second largest city.)