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Hi Karl,
You guessed it. I didn't write this article. I've now added Kate Kooyman's name and organizations to the header. Thanks for proofing me! Steve

Thanks, Bill, for your thoughtful contribution. There certainly are a variety of views within the Christian and the Reformed communities on what sorts of issues the church (as institute) ought to try to speak to. Some would say that it is imperative for Christians to advocate for the cause of justice, but that this activity should always be organized outside the church as an institution (through the Association for Public Justice or similar organizations). Others see a big role for the Church in advocacy because justice is central to the Kingdom and the Church is a Kingdom outpost.

My own sense is that the Church ought to choose its advocacy causes carefully. Both US law and good sense point in the direction of not "advocating" for particular candidates who are always a mix of good and bad character traits and issue positions. Very complex issues create some of the same dynamics. Choosing a relatively small number of relatively clear issues would enable the Church to speak for what we understand as Kingdom values and be heard more clearly. What do others think?

To me this would be a good example of something where congregations can and should get directly involved, as opposed to encouraging their members to be involved.  Increasing high school graduation rates is an obvious good.  Who is against it?  There are other situations where the demands of Biblical justice are so clear and compelling that the church must speak.  My two cents,

Christian Reformed World Missions and Worldwide Christian Schools US are trying something new in order to respond to people's desire to see individual's lives changed while not creating the ill effects mentioned in this article.  Take a look at this article and see if you think it is an effective response. 

Hi Lou,

  We live in a very busy world.  The reports I get sometimes show that an article or blog post has been viewed 200 times without a single comment being left.  So the fact that there aren't a lot of posts doesn't mean that people aren't reading and thinking.  Many prefer to ponder, and we need to leave room for that.  There is more and more contact and cooperation across agency lines, but erasing those lines altogether is not quickly embraced, as you know.  There are a lot of issues.  Thanks for being engaged.  Steve 

Hi Lou,

  Just a quick response to your comment that I "guess that some are reading it."  Actually, in this modern era, the stats are all compiled electronically.  647 views of the page have happened since it was first posted, exactly.  Steve

Hi Dan,

  You mentioned Partners Worldwide very briefly with the comment that it was being run by development people.  But the point if PWW is to engage Christian business people here in North America.  All the people that I know working with Majority world partners are business people.  I'm forwarding the conversation to Greg Elzinga who was in the business world for a number of years before going to world for Partners.  Steve

I emailed the conversation to Greg Elizinga of Partners Worldwide.  He is currently in India, but said he would get in on this conversation ASAP.  Steve

Hi Dan,

I remember you visiting in the World Missions offices a few years ago.  It would be good to talk again, especially given the very significant changes in CRWM in the intervening years.  Some of these can't be trumpeted due to security concerns, but lots of them can be seen on our website. 

I'm thinking of one of our West Africa missionaries, whose work in a Muslim context can't be posted on our website.  He had many of the concerns you have expressed about Land Cruisers, so he adopted a trekking strategy in which he walks to villages, meets with village elders to ask permission to share about Issa and has opportunity then to do pre-evangelism with people who have had no previous exposure to the Gospel.  Like many of our missionaries in Muslim contexts, he avoids the word Christian since it is associated with all the evils of Western culture.  They talk about being a Jesus' follower, instead.

Many people suppose that our agency is primarily involved in church planting in places where there are already lots of Christians, but very little of that is going on.  In addition to those doing pioneer evangelism among unreached peoples, the great majority of our missionaries in the "reached" world are involved in leadership training and resourcing national churches who have asked us for assistance.  One of the great new tools for this is Timothy Leadership Training.  It was developed by Harold Kallemeyn and others to bring just-in-time training to pastors in Africa where extensive in-residence training would be ineffective even if it were possible.  It focuses on an inductive approach and action planning which the participants hold each other accountable for.

We do also provide grants to partner churches to try to jump start new ministries.  At times we have provided as much as 80% of the funding at the beginning.  Going forward, with many mature partners that we work with, we would look for even more local initiative in most cases.  It has been a long and difficult process to shift from "mission driven ministry" to "coming alongside" ministry.  We are not there yet.  However, the focus in areas of the world where there are substantial numbers of Christians is more and more on the local vision.  As Fronse pointed out, that must be central to the conversation.

Now this may sound self-protective to you, and perhaps it is in part.  But the changes are significant, and one of our great challenges is helping the churches understand what is going on and how we are responding to the changing environment.  There are lots of models for how to engage.  I don't think we would want to say that ours is the best, and it certainly isn't the only way.  Mission India, headed by one of our alumni, has a different approach, Gospel for Asia a third.  So, let's keep up the dialogue.  Steve

My service at Lithuania Christian College (now LCC International University) was challenging in many ways. I had been schooled in the concept that a Christian college was one where faculty staff AND STUDENTS were united by a common commitment to Jesus Christ. There I found a school with perhaps 20% committed Christians (and 20% committed atheists). The concept there was and is that the faculty and staff make the college Christian and provide an invitational, not a coercive, environment so that students can consider the claims of Christ as they see the faith lived out. This is a different concept, but also a powerful one.

This video is excellent.  I'll be the first follower and say the Brian has given us a gem. 

I think John's approach to our relationship to the Belhar Confession make a great deal of sense.  I think it is important that we embrace it and best that we do so as a testimony subsidiary to the existing confessions rather than as a fourth document of the same kind. 

The issue of comprehensiveness does seem to weigh against not only the Belhar, but also the Canons.  Actually, Our World Belongs to God is the comprehensive statement of Christian faith that speaks to our environment and issues.  I have sometimes wondered whether we ought to have as our "Three Forms of Unity" the Heidelberg Catechism, The Belgic Confession and Our World Belongs to God.  We could then have issue specific statements on a subsidiary level like The Canons (election) and the Belhar (racial justice).  It seems to me that Our World is more useful, attractive and clearly Biblical than the Canons, which are more theological treatise than statement of faith.

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