Discussion Topic

What methods are you or your church using to be fair to those you support and yet keep it fresh?

May 4, 2017 0 3 comments
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As a missionary, fundraising has been a wonderful way to connect to churches.  For us, it thankfully has not been too challenging.  But we are also not with RGM and have not needed to raise as much as RGM missionaries have to raise.  

Being supported by God's people, by churches, is such a blessing.  We are so grateful for their interest in our lives, for their faithful prayers for us, and for their generous financial support.  It is amazing.  And it is exciting knowing that they feel part of our ministry overseas.  We are not forcing them to give.  It is their privilege to give as a way for God to use them.  Without this fundraising component, as was mentioned, they might not feel so connected.  And we also might feel much less connected.  It's hard to know because we have never done it any other way.

On the other hand, almost all of my missionary friends who are in one way or another connected to the CRC, or are with RGM, struggle a lot with the fundraising.  It is a constant prayer item and a constant stress.  Given how much stress there already is being a missionary and living in a new culture, this added stress is especially not nice.  Even when they are meeting their fundraising requirements it can still be a constant stress and worry, wondering if they will lose one of their monthly supporters, wondering if they are thanking their supporting churches enough, etc.  

It is interesting that Bernard noted that we just pay people who work as pastors or in the denominational offices.  On the other hand, if they raised support, would anyone give?  We could argue that their positions are just as important as those of missionaries.  But why the difference?  Not as exciting to partner with those people’s ministries?  Just tradition?  For myself, I don’t have any problem actually with missionaries raising support and those people being paid.  I love the relationship we have with churches.  But it does seem very unwise and unfair to put such a huge burden (100%) on missionaries who are already taking up other burdens, and no fundraising burden at all for others.  I guess I would personally love the denomination to go back to funding missionaries like 50% of their need through ministry shares, and just encourage people to give more generously.  Maybe the people in the denominational offices could also raise like 30% of their salary.

Part of the financial problem must be also that churches are not giving to ministry shares as much as they used to in the past.  In addition to that, a lot of churches and individuals in North America today do not necessarily want to give money to church planters or missionaries.  Evangelism has become something offensive.  It’s easier to support let’s say, World Renew, the organization I am with, as they feed the hungry and help people to develop their communities.  It’s harder for many people to support people who are going out and telling people that they are sinful, in danger of God’s judgment, and need to repent in order to be saved.

Also, I think there is one thing could help a lot, which has been noted in other articles and posts.  It won’t solve all the problems but will go a long way.  If our church culture changes, and churches start to support less missionaries and organizations, but instead support one or two missionaries with a huge financial amount, this will decrease the burden on missionaries, make their home services less stressful, and the relationships between missionaries and churches closer.  We only have about 11 supporting churches, and it’s hard enough to keep up on the news from all of them.  But some missionaries have double or triple that amount.  The more churches you have supporting you, and the more missionaries a church supports, the more superficial the relationships.

I appreciate this conversation and the care indicated in not wanting to overburden the missionary.  Reading your response is evidence again of the care for missionaries in this denomination.  This ongoing conversation is a good one to ensure that we are doing the right thing.  It is a fairly standard practice among mission agencies for missionaries to have to fund-raise their wages, which I believe should be looked at critically. What other employment exists that has to justify their work and pay with such scrutiny? However, this is the way it has always been done to some degree, so I invite you to dream with me of other ways to keep our missionaries sufficiently supported.

What I allude to in my story is the heavier burden of going on the mission field without sufficient support.  Having to approach churches and maintain relationships ensures a level of engagement and investment in the people doing the mission work that can easily get forgotten or dismissed when it is not present in need and/or urgency… “out of sight, out of mind”.  Churches want to invest in people and get to know them – to have this support come from personal conviction and connection is what keeps it alive and real.

In some ways, the real issue here is the perception of what the fundraising represents.  I think it does not represent the deficiency of the missionary, but rather the opportunity for church involvement.  Churches and individuals have the opportunity to invest at least 90% (but hopefully 100%) in the work being done around the globe of furthering the hope we find in Jesus!  

Paul, 

Yes - individuals and churches may direct their giving to Domestic or International Ministry. Generally speaking, "where most needed" is always the most beneficial to the organization so ministry staff may allocate funds as necessary. However, It is important for Resonate Global Mission to offer options that include Domestic and/or International choices to align with a church and/or donor's preference. If you would like to specify, we simply ask that you include "General", "Domestic", or "International" on the memo line. 

If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact our Canadian office and speak directly with Trish DeJong @  905.336.2920  ext. 4230.

Thank you for your support.

Bernard,

You are free to disagree with the decisions of Synod and you raise all of the same points that were discussed 4 years ago. For further information, I would direct you to the 2014 Acts of Synod starting at Page 456 and the final decision on page 551.

Thank you.

The redoubtable Mr. Boesenkool does not need my support for his spot on analysis but here it is anyway.

I have heard from a missionary that I have supported of the heavy burden the 90% rule imposes.  It delayed their entry to the mission field by over a year and continued to drain from their "in-the-field" effectiveness. This despite's the "alternative facts" euphemisms put out.  Consider this thought experiment: how well would denominational headquarters run if every position had to operate under the 90% rule?  It would allow for many more open positions, wouldn't it, to serve many more needs?

Open, meaning the number of positions that we have available. Under previous funding models, we were not able to have as many missionaries on staff. Under the new model, we are able to have more missionaries. 

But you are entitled to your opinion, even if it defers from the decisions of Synod. In the end, our goal is to see people involved in God’s mission in whatever way they feel called.

"This support-raising policy has enabled Resonate to have a historic number of open positions". This is an interesting way of putting this. The policy caused an historic number of open (meaning unfilled) positions? The CRCNA now seems to have three different employment standards depending who the person works for. The Resonate "missionary" in x foreign country is on the 90% standard. The BTGMI person in Russia in on the "try and raise money" but pay is guaranteed standard. The Church Planter in North America is on a strict salary standard.  The latter may work for/be supervised by Resonate, Classis or a local congregation. But they certainly do not have a 90% rule.

IMHO there is something not quite right with this picture.

Harry, 

This is something that Synod upheld 3 years ago, you can see that here:

Synod Upholds Missionary Support-Raising Policy

This support-raising policy has enabled Resonate to have a historic number of open positions, additionally, churches and individuals have been incredibly generous and a number of our missionaries have exceeded their funding goals and the majority are meeting or very close to meeting their goals. 

Church Planters in North America have always had support-raising as part of their ministry and Resonate continues to support their work through grants. 

I would encourage you to read a book that we share with our missionaries when they are first appointed, A Spirituality of Fundraising by Henri Nouwen. 

To quote Nouwen: "Fundraising is proclaiming what we believe in such a way that we offer other people an opportunity to participate with us in our vision and mission. Fundraising is precisely the opposite of begging. When we seek to raise funds we are not saying, “Please, could you help us out because lately it’s been hard.” Rather, we are declaring, “We have a vision that is amazing and exciting. We are inviting you to invest yourself through the resources that God has given you — your energy, your prayers, and your money"

We at Resonate are excited about what God is doing in this world and want all people to become involved, whether it be by serving themselves or supporting those who are serving.

Thank you for your passion for missions.

Appreciate this story and the positive outcome. I do wonder though, with the issue of  World missionaries having to fund themselves for 90%  of their expenses and salary, what your thoughts were about that requirement. You did not mention you are now a foreign (or should we say "World") missionary.  Funding themselves is what missionaries outside North America have to do, so I assume in the new  Resonate World Missions organization that rule would apply to all who call themselves "missionaries".

Thanks for this, Chuck. The question of identity is one that seems to be coming up quite a bit lately. Kristen VanderBerg just shared a post with some feedback on the question "What does it mean to be Christian Reformed?" from CRCers who attended Inspire 2017. Might be interesting to check out. 

Let's set aside for a moment the specific agencies with changed names, because there are some specific factors there that don't necessarily fit in with the big picture that we are really dealing with in these discussions--that being our Christian Reformed identity.

What is that identity? There was a time (in some places in the not very distant past) where the identity was CRC=Dutch. I can tell you that as a child I was thrilled to see the Banner cover with the burning wooden shoes, as I was sick of having to explain why I wasn't Dutch, and why not being Dutch didn't mean that I was not much. I think tossing "Dutch-ness" as an identity (rather than just an item of historical interest), was a good thing. In fact, it is something we need to keep working on. 

But, I do think that in jettisoning our Dutch-ness, we may have thrown out the beautiful baby with that dirty bathwater. Throughout the CRC, we are losing touch with something very unique--our desire to be a "properly confessional community." (I use "properly" because there is a tendency among other Reformed bodies to use the confessions as a weapon or a fence rather than a guide and a teaching tool.) 

Rather than focusing on the words "Christian Reformed," I'd like to see us focus on how we can remain confessional in a proper way, and in the context of community--our local communities, our classes, and throughout North America.

I will say, I don't think we haven't lost this altogether. When my family goes on vacation, we try to attend CRC churches, and I preach in CRC congregations around Wisconsin as a "licensee." In those travels, I still see a sense of CRC confessionalism and community. As an example, my family visited Willowdale CRC in Toronto during a trip we took in the summer of 2016. We ended up staying for over an hour after the service talking about all sorts of CRC community matters (local and binational) with people who clearly understood CRC identity in a way much deeper than ethnicity. It helped that we sang many of the same songs, that the worship leader read from the catechism, that the liturgy was clearly Reformed in its focus on worshipping a God who meets with his people and speaks through the word and then responding in gratitude and service, and that the sermon was eminently Reformed in its content and style. We've had similar experiences in other places, as well.

I'd be interested in hearing from others on how we can retain, recover, rediscover, and revitalize an appropriate CRC identity. Perhaps if we do that, we will no longer see the names of our agencies as a key issue, but just a side distraction.

Chuck Adams

Sheboygan, WI

Thanks, Carmen. So true.

And I certainly don't want to minimize or attack the fine work that World Renew and World/Home Missions / Resonate is doing.

 

Why are we hiding our incredible mission focus under a secular 'branding' bushel?  Our focus needs to be on 'ministry'; not fundraising. We seem to be selling off our birthright so that we can appeal to a few more potential shekels from beyond our Reformed world.

The time will come -- probably sooner than we like -- when synod will actually debate a denominational name change, arguing that "Christian Reformed" gets in the way of appealing to a wider donor base. Look at all of our ministries? Which ones are left with an offical CRC tag?

Keith, thank you so much for bringing this up. I have felt the same way. In reading "behind the new name". I feel like we are putting Christian Reformed on at the end because we "have to" not because we "want to." Resonate is moving away from using reference to the CRC as a way to "break down barriers"? We ARE Christian Reformed, that IS our identity. Why are we hiding it? Churches are changing their names and dropping the CRC because they don't want to "offend" people or they want to seem more "inviting". I fear the direction our denomination is heading when we no longer want to identify with who and what we are truly about.

For questions about the reasons behind World Renew's name change, please see this document

Also note that while World Renew is an official agency of the Christian Reformed Church, we do not receive ministry shares and work with many different denominations. Volunteers for World Renew's Disaster Response Services come from over 27 denominations. The Reformed Church of America and ECO --Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians have chosen World Renew as THEIR agency of choice for doing disaster response.  In Canada about half of the funding for World Renew's work comes from outside the CRC, especially through the Canadian Foodgrains Bank where support is generated with 15 member denominations.

I agree, Keith.  At the very least, since "mission" is such a common word in the phrase "Mission Statement", it cannot be assumed to imply a faith based mission... therefore at the very least, it should have been called Global Christian Missions.   I no longer attend the CRC, and I don't have a problem with Christian Community Churches, since they are missional minded, to attract seekers, and not first of all confirmed CRC'rs.  That is a local decision, which does not tarnish or hide the true mission of the church.  But both World Renew and Global Mission are ambiguous terms, like World Vision, which while leaving open the possiblity for Christians to work in them, at the same time hides their origin and purpose, which is deceptive and misleading.   Those who are ashamed of Jesus will find that God is ashamed of them (and will find declining allegiance from Christians around the world).  

I appreciate your admission that this is a very complex issue, Bill.  My irritation with the issue as it relates to the CRCNA is that the CRCNA (via OSJ and otherwise) rather consistently takes a pro-Palestinian, anti-Israeli position.  Its not that I want the CRCNA to be pro-Israeli but rather to stay out of political side-taking and lobbying its members to take sides.

Keith, 

This is a topic that was discussed thoroughly months ago and I would direct your attention to the following links

New Mission Agency - Behind the New Name

New Mission Agency Name Moves on to Synod

Synod 2017 Asked to Approve New Mission Agency Name

Comments from New Mission Agency Board members about the name

A letter from the New Mission Agency Board Presidents addressing the choice of the name (pg 8)

Video coverage of the presentation and discussion of the new name

An edited version of some of the comments at Synod

We recognize that change is something that is difficult, especially with organizations that are over 125 years old. We also know that it is nearly impossible to make everyone happy when choosing names for organizations (World Renew also received criticisms) But we also stand by the decision of our boards and Synod 2017. We are excited about the future of mission for the CRCNA and how God will use us as an agency.

Thank you for pointing out another view of this very complex issue, Bassam.  This is helpful for those who want a fuller picture of the issues.  I think it is important that we make the effort to look at a variety of viewpoints.

I appreciate the author’s point about lost opportunities on the part of Palestinians (and greater Arab world) to accept the division of Palestine and to establish the country of Palestine alongside the country of Israel.  A question I would ask the author, however, is when does grace run out?  Do we say, sorry, you had your chance and you blew it?  Now you have to live with the way it is.  Or, do we look at the current situation and ask, is this situation just right now?  Is the treatment of Palestinians by Israel just?  I appreciate the historical situation and it is very important to look at how a situation developed and what has transpired throughout history.  But I’m not sure the historical situation, or missed opportunities, or mistakes made in the past should prevent us from practicing justice in the present.  I don’t think grace has run out for the Palestinians.

You quoted Father Chacour, a well-known Eastern Christian priest,  who represents one view of a Mideastern problem.  May  I suggest that, for the sake of balance, please read an  article by the late Dr. Shaker al-Nabulsi, a Palestinian scholar, "sixty Years of Lost Opportunity." The Arabic text was published on Elaph, an  Arabic-language online journal.

(Rev) Bassam Michael Madany

http://www.answering-islam.org/authors/thomas/lost_opportunities.html

Thank you for taking the time to do some digging into Father Chacour, Harry.  He really is quite the man.  To have experienced what he went through as a child and the oppression he continues to experience every day as a Palestinian living in Israel and yet remain committed to nonviolence, peace, and reconciliation is an amazing testament to his faith in Christ. 

I’m with you, Michael.  I would not advocate for violence - wearing facemasks or breaking windows – or suicide bombs or home demolitions.  And I don’t believe Father Chacour would either.

What I think he means by raising hell is not settling for the easy way out or giving up in the face of adversity.  He told us a story about trying to get a building permit for a classroom at his school.  The Israeli government had buried the request in the bureaucratic process.  But that didn’t stop Father Chacour.  He flew to the house of the US Secretary of State to ask him to use his influence to get the permit.  The Secretary ended up writing to the Israeli government and a permit was eventually issued.  He didn’t give up or settle for the easy out.   

It’s easy for me to sign a petition or give money or even write a blog.  That doesn’t involve much personal cost or take much effort.  Though it’s a great place to start, and it would be wonderful if you could encourage your church to participate in those things for the cause of justice for the Palestinian people. 

But what’s the next step?  How can we actually make a difference and get things accomplished.  I think raising hell means upsetting the applecart or the status quo or those in power.  When you do that, forces may rally against you. 

In 2014 while on a trip to Israel-Palestine I participated in a Women in Black demonstration at a major intersection in Jerusalem.  Women in Black is an Israeli group advocating for Palestinian rights. The demonstration was approved by the Israeli government.  But just by holding signs advocating for justice for Palestinians, we raised a bit of hell.  Drivers in some of the cars that went by gave us the Israeli equivalent of the finger and swore at us (it was in Hebrew so I didn’t really know what they were saying…but it didn’t sound very welcoming.)  Some of them spit at us.  Some pedestrians were yelling at us and calling us terrorists and trying to stop us from demonstrating.  The police came to tell them that we had a legal right to be there and made them leave us alone.

A great example of raising hell through nonviolence in the U.S. is Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement.  He advocated for justice through nonviolence.  But because he upset the status quo and went against those in power, a lot of hell was raised against him and his movement.

I’m glad you want inform your congregation about advocating for justice.  I encourage you to read Father Chacour’s book Blood Brothers as well as new Calvin Seminary professor Gary Burge’s books Whose Land? Whose Promise? or Jesus and the Land.  Also, check out the CRCNA Office of Social Justice for more information and ways to advocate - http://justice.crcna.org/middle-east-peace.  Download their biblical advocacy guide - http://justice.crcna.org/action-center.

 

I write a lot of letters to radio hosts who continue to use  words " ........." in their programs. Especially words that offend Christians. My standards comments are that people doing that lack the vocabulary to express themselves properly. I have had some success.

Turning to the article itself and main character, it is worthwhile looking him up. Father Chacour is quite the man. If you dig deep enough he does have a tradition. """"The KD (Kairos Document) is a prime example of contextual theology and liberation theology - or "theology from below" - in South Africa, and has served as an example for attempted, similarly critical writing at decisive moments in several other countries and contexts (Latin America, Europe, Zimbabwe, India, Palestine, etc.).""

This is simply to point out a worldview that Father Chacour holds.  How he does things is an example to others.  

It’s probably just me, but I don’t think of peaceful anything when I hear the call to “raise hell.” Could you provide some context – maybe some examples of what Fr. Chacour was organizing and participating in that would be considered “raising hell?” I’m curious how to inform my congregation about organizing to promote justice without wearing facemasks and breaking windows.

You're right, Harry.  Normally, I wouldn't use a foreign word for God in an English language blog.  But the purpose of the blog was to point out that the word Allah in Arabic is used by Christians in the same way that we use the word God in English.  Unfortunately, some people don't realize this and think it is only used by Muslims, and therefore suspect.  

When I was visiting churches on home service as a missionary in Nigeria, I frequently taught people a song in the Hausa language that we used in our worship services in Nigeria.  Because the word for God in Hausa is Allah, some people took offense.  I just want to let people know that they don't have to take offense at using or hearing the word Allah since it has been used by the Arabic speaking church since the time of Pentecost.

Of course, we do use foreign words for God and Jesus in many of our hymns and songs - El Shaddai, Elohim, Jehovah, Yesu, etc.  Maybe when some people use these different words, it helps keep their faith fresh and vital.

We should not use foreign words for God in the English Language.  In  writing in Arabic  and the word for God is Allah no problem.  Most ethnics in Canada changed from their mother tongue to English in their religious observances. We don't use "Deo" for God in the English language either.

So what was the point of using Allah in this article?

Thanks for that explanation Bill.  I suspected that might/could be the answer to what many readers would have as brow furrowing questions.  You explanation makes sense and doesn't conflate Christianity with Islam.  :-)

Doug, thank you for your thought provoking response.  I appreciate your observation that many people in the CRC understand that the word Allah has a different meaning than the word God.  I want to help make people aware that the word Allah had been used by Arabic-speaking Christians for centuries before Muhammad was even born.  And it is being used by millions of Christians all around the world today.  It is not my intention to make any comparison to the use of the word in Islam, or to equate Christianity with Islam.

As a  missionary in Nigeria working in the Hausa language, I worshiped, preached, and taught about Allah for many years.  I hope that we can accept our Arabic-speaking Christian brothers and sisters' use of Allah when speaking of God just as readily as Christians speaking about God in any other language.

Bill. You need to do some explaining, or perhaps more than that.  Your statement literally and precisely says that you worship Allah, and the words you further chose associate that with the CRC missions agency (Resonate). 

The word "Allah" has an understood meaning within the CRC community that is quite different than the word "God."  And it (the word "Allah") is generally understood to refer to the deity as worshipped by those who adhere to the religion we call "Islam."

So please explain?  Or are you actually intending to equate Christianity with Islam?

You are absolutely right to say that I don’t know you or the relationships that you speak of.  It sounds like you may be a great person, as well as your relationships.  That we don’t know each other is typical of websites like this that encourage blogging.

As I listened to your previous comment, it sounded like you are very enthusiastic and passionate about your faith relationship.  In fact you wondered why others weren’t like you in your enthusiasm.  You incessantly talk about Jesus with your atheist friends, and at every opportunity will point to the divinity of Christ with your Muslim family, even though you obviously know that this is a point of contention between Muslims and Christians.

I guess my response was a knee jerk reaction to what I thought might be normal for a non Christian listening to such enthusiasm about Christ.  After all, even Scripture points out that the cross is foolishness to the non Christian.  In part such foolishness is that non Christians know that Christians think of their Christian faith as exclusive of all other religions.  After all, there is no other name than Jesus by which one can be saved.  The message of Christ, or the gospel, devalues all other religions.  Just read the apostle Paul.  Isn’t that the point of the gospel?  If you are not trusting my Savior, Jesus, then you’re not going to make it to heaven or have acceptance with God. So we try to dissuade non Christians from trusting whatever they may have been trusting in, to that of trusting in Jesus Christ.  So it seems perfectly natural for a non Christian to be offended by an overly enthusiastic gospel spreader.  I think Paul warns us that such an offense is normal.

Thanks, Shannon, for the correction to my misunderstand of you, your friends, and family and my knee jerk reaction to your previous response.

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Thanks for your comment, Roger, but you don't know me, nor the relationships that I speak of. My friends and family members who are atheists do share ideas that offend me at times, but that does not mean that we can't be friends. They actually strengthen me as a Christian. Their diversity is not a threat or a barrier to our relationship. It is a gift. As Christians, we are called to testify to our faith in our relationships with others, but that does not mean we need to cut ourselves off from those who we disagree with. Do people prejudge me when they hear I am a pastor? Certainly. Will people occasionally be caught off guard or offended by my Jesus-talk? Yes. But does that mean that I must be offensive because of my faith, or unable to live in relationships with others that are loving and honoring of who they are? No.

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Thanks Shannon for your thoughts on witnessing.  You say, “It is difficult for me to understand the mindset that is not compelled by faith to share our faith.”   You are speaking as an ordained minister of the church who has spent years in formal education preparing for ministry.  What other mindset could fellow Christians expect from you?  But for you to say that of others is a bit surprising.  And it is also surprising, the response that you receive from non Christian friends and family such as atheists and Muslims.  If you are as enthusiastic as you claim for Christ (incessant Jesus talk) it is a wonder that you have friends outside of Christian circles (and maybe even within Christian circles).  Put the shoe on the other foot.  If your Muslim family incessantly talked about their submission to Allah how long would you want to listen?  Or if your strongly committed atheist friends incessantly denied God and spoke often of the foolishness of religion including (especially including) Christianity, how would you feel?  I am guessing that you are so excited about your Christian faith that you lack sensitivity to the religious convictions of others.  And by your enthusiasm you diminish the value of their faith and beliefs.

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Amen, Greg. It is difficult for me to understand the mindset that is not compelled by faith to share our faith. I have so many friends who are not Christian, and it would be difficult for me to hide my faith with them. I know it can lead to uncomfortable moments between us, but because we love and trust each other, my atheist friends "put up" with my incessant Jesus talk, my Muslim family know that I will point to the divinity of Christ at every opportunity in conversation. I seriously have no idea how I could muzzle that kind of talk. Is it a problem of timidity we face, or are people so wrapped up in their Christian communities that they are failing to be in deep relationships of mutuality and trust with people who aren't Christians? I wonder some times. 

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The dilemma I face is that my evangelical friends (mostly Baptists) have more success motivating people towards personal sharing of their faith through an "it all depends on you" Arminian type of theology. Perhaps it is similar theologically to efforts to lead moral lives among LDS followers - who are motivated by a "works theology." My point I guess is that if we are going to have good theology we still need to be working, serving, sharing, even though God doesn't need us - we have the privilege of being on mission for Him. I hope that makes sense and would love to hear others ideas on motivating people towards verbal witness.

 

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Yes I believe in the sovereignty of God in this process and love Luke 10:9 "Heal the sick who are there and tell them, 'The Kingdom of God has come near to you.'"

 

posted in: We Don't Own Jesus

I should have mentioned that I really appreciated the touching story about your family, and think it's horrible what that guard tried to do. I enjoyed the article generally, it was just the next to last paragraph that seemed to call evangelism into question in a rather general way, so I felt it important to poke a little bit. Blessings.

posted in: We Don't Own Jesus

Sure, Kyle. The thesis would be: God is speaking to the people of the world in many ways, while one of those ways is through Christians called to testify to the hope we have in Christ, God doesn't need us to accomplish his purposes. He chooses us to do that. And he speaks to people in spite of us sometimes.

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Hey, Shannon. I think I am a little bit cloudy in the head this afternoon as I am having a difficult time interpreting your post.  So, if you would not mind helping me out,  I was wondering if you could provide me with a one or two sentence summary of what your main thesis is. For I think if I have a summary of your thesis I will be able to re-read and benefit more clearly from the message you are hoping to relay.

posted in: We Don't Own Jesus

I appreciate your thoughts, and I think you are misunderstanding. When I was in Seminary, I remember one of the professors pointing out how the quote that says "Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet..." from Teresa of Avila wasn't exactly correct. Because God still is at work, around us and at times in spite of us. I think that is the beautiful thing about Reformed theology--that God's salvation is not dependent upon us, but on God, and God's choosing. That is what I hoped to convey in this article, not to take responsibility off of us for living it in word and in deed that the world may know that Christ is Lord. I probably could have conveyed that more clearly. Thanks, again.

posted in: We Don't Own Jesus

This is a great story – but the conclusions drawn from in in the second-to-last paragraph lost me. There seems to be a theologically (and logically) invalid jump from "We don't own Jesus" directly  into "we don't proclaim Jesus" (cf:"it is not our job to offer Jesus to others.") . I’m preaching on Colossians 1:24-2:5 on Sunday where Paul’s point is “We proclaim him [Jesus], admonishing and teaching everyone…to this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me” (Colossians 1:28-29).

I was hoping I was misunderstanding, but that same summary paragraph goes on to suggest that somehow God’s general revelation makes proclamation of His special revelation unnecessary. Specifically, the article moves from God’s work in general revelation (“…revealing himself in and through the world he created”) to the author being called merely to be "reflecting the love and mercy and grace of Jesus in the place where God has planted me" as opposed to naming the source of that grace and mercy and calling for belief in him (cf. "It is not and has never been God’s will that I 'save' [those] who don’t follow Jesus.").

Herman Bavink affirmed general revelation, but he did not do so in opposition to clearly and robustly calling for faith in Jesus.

To put the above in denominational context, I wonder if concerns with the argument put forth by this article were reflected at Synod by those who felt that bald calls to social justice (cf: “reflecting the love and mercy of Jesus”) was indeed being offered as a substitute for Gospel proclamation (cf: “its not our job to offer Jesus to others”).  Personally, I think we need both – and our language honors the Gospel best when we scrupulously avoid suggesting a choice must be made between them.

posted in: We Don't Own Jesus

I agree, Greg. We need to live the gospel, in word and in deed, and trust God to do the work that we cannot, which is changing hearts and minds.

posted in: We Don't Own Jesus

I think you are missing the point of the article, but thanks for your comment, David.

posted in: We Don't Own Jesus

Beautiful article Shannon - thank you for pointing us to the sovereign work of God and away from evangelical individualism that puts the onus on us and then gives us the glory (look at the good work I have done). I would go further though and say while God has revealed himself through general revelation - we still need to present God's special revelation to those who 1.) don't know about it 2.) have greatly misunderstood it. This is our responsibility - verbal witness. It's not about us, it is about God, but we still have to be active. I raise this because there is some concern about our declining numbers - and need for more training in evangelism - and more active evangelism. I think we need to develop in our congregations a culture of evangelism - and that indeed means we don't own Jesus - but we do have a responsibility to not only live in a way that honors Jesus but also points directly to him. In our culture today our passion for Jesus will either be misinterpreted as religious zeal or attempts to gain merit. We will have to verbalize that we are motivated and indeed saved by grace through our Lord and Savior Jesus.

posted in: We Don't Own Jesus

It is true that we don't own Jesus, he owns us. 

One of my central texts is the beginning of the book of Acts. The disciples imagine that now post-cross and post-resurrection the real show is about to begin. "Now will you restore the kingdom to Israel?" and the answer is Ascension and Pentecost. "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses..." This is the thesis statement of the book of Acts. Paul is pretty set upon a clear verbal witness, and the book is pretty honest when in chapter 26 Agrippa basically says to Paul 1. "you're mad" and 2. "Do you really think you can convert me with your little sermon." 

This is bracing honesty in a book which is in many ways a book filled with sermons which are supposed to do just that for the readers. Paul it seems knows what he's doing and is under no illusions (neither is Luke) about how it will be received. What then to make of this enormous Christian tradition of outright conversionism? 

It can't be mere tribalism either given the fracturing of the church and the constant divisions. 

I've also never really gone along with either the evangelical version of "What God is up to" by Blackaby's Experiencing God or the rather progressivist version that tends to see God in alignment with the agenda of Western post-Christendom. I'm rather taken by Tolstoy's observations of the elites of his time and place. 

 

Life in Europe and my acquaintance with leading and learned Europeans [Footnote:  Russians generally make a distinction between Europeans and Russians. -- A.M.] confirmed me yet more in the faith of striving after perfection in which I believed, for I found the same faith among them.  That faith took with me the common form it assumes with the majority of educated people of our day.  It was expressed by the word "progress".  It then appeared to me that this word meant something.  I did not as yet understand that, being tormented (like every vital man) by the question how it is best for me to live, in my answer, "Live in conformity with progress", I was like a man in a boat who when carried along by wind and waves should reply to what for him is the chief and only question. "whither to steer", by saying, "We are being carried somewhere".

Tolstoy, Leo. A Confession (Kindle Locations 175-181). Unknown. Kindle Edition. 

I don't own Jesus, and he need not be faithful to me in the way I must be faithful to him. What he does with others is his business. I need to figure out what being publicly owned by him looks like. 

posted in: We Don't Own Jesus

I feel like some of your statements are half truths that could be misleading. Your next to last paragraph, taken as it is written, would seem to undercut all verbal evangelism. Yes, we shouldn't feel superior to others and see them as problems, but they still have a spiritual problem that we are called on to provide solutions to. Yes, we don't 'own' Jesus, he owns us, but we do have a fellowship with him that is necessary to have if one is to be saved, and so we urge others to have fellowship with him, too, so that our joy may be complete (1 John 1.3-4). And yes, I agree we don't 'save' anyone in and of ourselves, that saving people is the Holy Spirit's work (although, see James 5.20). But our testimony to people who don't believe is a crucial element in their being saved (Romans 10.14), which God does desire (1 Timothy 2.4). And so God does want us to communicate Jesus and his message to people who don't believe, so that they will be saved.

posted in: We Don't Own Jesus

I'd love to hear more about the research conducted with / on your target audiences. This name misses the mark for me entirely and I'm hoping that's because maybe I'm outside your intended audience (although that's discouraging in a whole different way). This article mentions the extensive research conducted on the activities of the organizations, but please share more about the testing of this chosen name outside your internal teams - it will help to remove our (my) subjective biases toward personal preference to resist change ;-) Obviously, the name can always be *different* - what gives you confidence that this one is *right*? I watched the video and it feels very insider-y. I guess I was hoping for a name that would relate to my neighbors - across the street and the ocean - in a very real, tangible way of anticipating God's work through us to restore shalom. Resonate feels too much like noise and not enough like action to accurately reflect the work of the organization in my opinion.   

After hearing the new name I resisted posting a comment because I wanted to wait to see if my initial reaction would last.  After all, I'm sure that much time, thought and prayer went into the process that resulted in the suggested name.  But after two weeks I find the name still fails to resonate with me.  Perhaps it's because I like jazz and appreciate dischords.  Or perhaps it is my limited experience of church always being messy.  We don't always get along but get along anyway because we recognize that our mission is more important than our relatively petty squabbles.  Resonating sounds like something to dream of but I don't think will ever be achieved on this side of life.  

I can see the desire to have some kind of descriptor before "global mission " but personally don't think "resonate" works.  Too bad World Renew is already taken.  

Some of the us and them mentality is also found in scriptures.  "If they are not against us, they are for us."   but also "they went out from us"   "Being in the world, but not of the world."   There is an antithesis between good and evil, between right and wrong, between God and Satan.   In that way, the muslims are an example to Christians.   Even Jesus said, "Love your enemies.", knowing Christians would have enemies, and Jesus did not say, "have no enemies".   Jesus said that daughters would be set against mothers , and sons against fathers.  That he did not come to bring peace, but a sword.  Again, Jesus highlighted the dramatic changes that would occur, which were life changing.  Part of the struggle.  The antithesis.  Not peace at all costs, but surrender to God.  

 

On the other hand, Jesus did say, "Love your enemies."  Go the extra mile.  Give the extra cloak.  Forgive seventy times ( or more).  Follow the example of the Good Samaritan.  The sword Jesus talked about was not a sword of steel, but the sword of the word of God, the sword of the spirit working in men's hearts.   The armor was the breastplate of righteousness and the helmet of salvation.  

 

Muslim book, muslim faith, and muslim practice does not follow Jesus, but follows the sword carrying Mohammed, who has only one book, Quran, and did nothing more than many other leaders did who merely attempt to gain a following and gain earthly territory.  At most, he was a king like Alexander the Great, or Julius Ceasar of Rome.  At worst, he was a fraud and a charlatan, like the emperor Nero, or the leader of the Moonies, Sun Myung Moon.   In no way could he be shown to have a legitimate revelation from God, or to be a true prophet in the order of Elijah, Elisha, Nathan, Moses, Isaiah, Nehemiah, Jeremiah, the apostle John.   By neglecting the writings of these prophets, and the writings of the gospels, and of history, he has even lost the title of scholar or preacher or teacher of God's truth.  

That does not mean that everything that Mohammed has written or spoken is false.  Some things are true no matter who says them.  There are some truths in every faith and in every culture, and in every religion.   But these truths should not obscure the fact that the underlying basis is shaky, unstable, or false.  The bible clearly says that in the last days there will be false prophets and anti-christs.   

It is no good to merely say that Jesus was a prophet, and then ignore the most credible witness accounts of what Jesus said.  Ignoring those accounts (the gospels) is merely a way of making Jesus into the image of man, into a follower of other men such as Mohammed, rather than actually treating Jesus like a prophet.   It would be more honest for Moslems to say that Jesus was not a prophet at all, than to give him a superficial lip service.  It would be more honest to say that Jesus was not a prophet at all than to ignore the witness and testimony of those who lived with him for three years before his death, and talked with him for forty days after his resurrection.   Those followers followed Jesus teachings, and followed Jesus example.  Mohammed did not do so, and thus in practice disregards Jesus as a true prophet.  

 

Just as many atheists attempt to discredit the scriptures (unsuccessfully), by attributing human failings to writing, transcribing and translating, so Muslims put themselves into the same camp as atheists by using the same reasons for discrediting scripture.  So how are Muslims and atheists then different in this regard?   Do they not both attempt to impose their own wishes and desires on who Jesus should be, and on what Jesus can do?   Would this not be like attempting to say that Mohammed was actually Chinese, or Norweigan, instead of an Arab?   It would be false, just as the Moslem portrayal of Jesus is entirely false. 

The irony is that it is harder to love your enemies than it is to hate them.  It is harder to surrender to God, than it is to commit suicide.  It is harder to give your life for others, than it is to take the life of others.  Unless you have the spirit of God in your heart.  Unless you really know the Lord Jesus.  

Greetings all:

   Global Mission. Amen to that.

Resonate. For all the nice talk given above and in the video, a few vital items are missing:

a. The whole counsel of God, proclaimed in power, can cause a resonance which is nothing less than open hostility. Think of the sneers and jeers received by Jesus and the Apostle Paul. If one delivers a message that tickles the ears of its auditors, yes, it will resonate, but not in the right way.

b. It is possible to resonate with the values of secular culture more than with the Gospel proclaimed in power. That is why the Apostle Paul said that he would not employ "plausible words of human wisdom." The mission might respond that it has built in safeguards, but if a survey of 15 local CRCNA churches is done in the area where I live, the influences of the culture are strong, if not growing stronger.

c. What about the word, 'resolute' ?Sure it is not as soft and cuddly as resonate, but it implies direction, conviction, being constrained---all which are pregnant with theological value. Is resonate pregnant with Reformed theological value? To this reader, not at all on a first reading, and perhaps not at 5th reading.

I can't escape the force of 'resolute' on a first reading.

Resolute:  marked by firm determination

"The love of Christ constrains me" (2 Cor. 5:14) =being marked by firm determination.

 

Blessings

John Span

Global Missions Capacity Builder

Serving in a partnership between CRWM and Interserve

 

Sorry about that. It should have ended by saying "how it translates into all the language BTGMI uses". I stopped because I translated "resonate" in to those languages and it was interesting the words that came up. Of course I am not familiar with the Chinese, Arabic etc. that use other lettering forms. 

Some of the board members of the NMA shared why they were excited to bring the name Resonate Global Mission for approval to Synod 2017.

Why Resonate Global Mission? (https://vimeo.com/216665966)

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