Posts Tagged ‘INSIGHT’

Missiological Reflections of the Protestant Reformation

February 20, 2010

Considering the breath of Catholic Missions throughout their history, it is astonishing that Protestant Missions took centuries to really take off.  When a new form of religiosity centralized in scripture formed out of the Catholic tradition, why did they not take the desire to spread this new fervency outward?

First lets get a quick recap of the Catholic mission movement.  The outward focus was not pervasive but it was there.  The Celtic Mission Movement is most famous for spreading throughout Northern Europe.  St. Columba especially was fervent in taking the gospel forward.  Raymond Lull centuries later would profess the gospel to the saracens.  The major thrust of Catholic Missions comes through the sodalites of the Franciscans and Dominicans.  The monasteries were often planted in outlying areas of where the churches were and gave access to Christianity to the outside world.

Centuries before Hudson Taylor set said for China, Nestorian missionaries had brought the gospel multiple times.  It seemed like each time a dynasty fell, the rising rulers destroyed the church, often to eventually rebuild.  Throughout Persia, India and Asia tradesmen, monks and others had taken the message of Christ out.

The Catholics sent priests and monks out on explorations once the Americas were discovered.  The Spanish especially sent out Dominicans, Jesuits and others who brought Christ with them.  While many of these efforts were tainted by “Convert or die” political powers, with selfish power motives, the fact is that they put at least put the effort in.

So we get to the Protestant Reformation.  The history of how this movement came about is intriguing and complex, I’ll concentrate on the missiological reflections though.  The efforts of the new movements were abysmal in comparison to the Catholic counterparts.

There are exceptions.  Paul Pierson helps to point out the few successes in the early Protestant Missions Movement in his book “The Dynamics of Christian Mission”.  Check it out for more details.

So after covering the context we come to the main question: why did the Protestants not carry the missions fervor of the Catholics?  Why did it take centuries until Leonard Dober and David Nitschmann first launched their Moravian missions and William Carey popularized the Protestant Missionary Movement?

Theological
The theology of Predestination and election drained the new movement of theological reasons to spread outwards.  The thought pattern was basically, “God will bring to His Kingdom who he chooses and does not need our help.”  William Carey came across this as well.  When appealing to go to India, legend says he was told, “Young man, sit down; when God pleases to convert the heathen, he will do it without your aid and mine.”

The other major theological hindrance was mis-interpreting the Great Commission passages.  Prominent Reformer Martin Luther among others also thought that the Great Commission was only given to the first century apostles.  This view was prevalent then and has lingered since.

Organizational
The primary means through which Catholics did missions was through the missionary orders.  These sodalic structures gave a focus and an avenue for missions to happen.  Most monasteries were not the loner desert retreats but outposts for study and providing for the surrounding community.  They taught agriculture, took care of the orphans and poor and gave religious fervency to the towns that were built up around them.  When the Protestants restructured church, they lumped the monastic orders in with the corruption they were trying to escape.  We know Luther had a real problem with Tetzel the Dominican enforcer of indulgences in his German province.  It is possible that Luther made the mistake of generalizing his opinion on that specific group and threw out the concept of a separate mission structure because of the corruption he witnessed first hand.  The major Protestant Missions Movement started centuries later when sodalities were once again established with the formation of the Baptist Missions Society.

Political
During the times of the Reformation Movement there was much internal struggle.  Different sects were coming out of different areas with often competing goals and theologies.  This added to the struggle with the Roman Catholic Church distracted their attention from the outward.  In a sense, they were distracted and lost focus

Historical
Connected to the political is the historical.  There is a trend for renewal movements and new movements to concentrate on their own concerns.  Another good example of this is the African American Missions Movement.  African Americans have been going since they have come to America (often returning back to Africa with the gospel after being freed).  As a whole though, they have had to battle other issues and properly give priority to overcoming the barriers they faced.  Decades after the Civil Rights Movement, we are now seeing growth in the number of missionaries being sent out, however the percentage of African American missionaries is still relatively low.  I suggest the same trend in the Protestant Missions Movement.  The Reformers were now concerned with running a new religious structure, a task many had not asked for (some wanted church to reform, not start another structure).  This large task focused their attention more locally and did not concentrate on expanding.

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Further Reading

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Mission Movements – Reflections from the 1200’s-1400’s

February 5, 2010

Thinking and reading about mission/renewal movements within the Catholic church pre-Reformation (another renewal movement with tremendous success.)

The following is Dr. Paul Pierson (Fuller Theological Seminary) through his book, Dynamics of Christian Mission

“new mission movements are nearly always initiated by key leaders – men or women who have gone dep in thier life iwth God and consequently felt His heartbeat for the world and then have communicated their vision to other” (p.108)

“mission and renewal movements virtually always arise on the periphery of the boarder Church.  Often, but not always, they are lead by laypersons.” (p.109)

“The historical reality is that every movement, no matter how it began, will become institutionalized and fall into the danger of losing its original vision and vitality.  None is exempt from that danger.” (p.109)

“Often a movement of renewal or mission makes theological rediscoveries … and are often accompanied by new patterns of leadership selection and training.” (p.112)

“a missiological entrepreneur is one whose vision goes beyond that of the dominant Church and mission structures of the time, and who consequently creates new movements to implement the vision.” (p.118)

Examples he gives: Peter Waldo, John Wycliffe, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Dominic, Samuel Mills, Hudson Taylor, Cameron Townsend, Ralph Winter.  On top of his preceding list I would add: Donald McGavarn, the reformation leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as well as others.

Good stuff.  Continue the conversation with me.

Reflections from Buddhist Temples

December 7, 2008

Yesterday we went to two different Buddhist temples on an INSIGHT field trip. Since INSIGHT is a one-year global studies program, we really like to get the students interacting with different places of worship as well as real people who hold those beliefs.  Of the 10,000 or so Unreached People Groups in the world, about 1,000 of those are Buddhists, making up roughly 225 million people.  For more research and details, go to the Joshua Project.

We went to a Thai Buddhist temple in N. Hollywood (Theravada Buddhism) and a Chinese Buddhist temple in Hacienda Heights (Mahayana Buddhism).

Both temples were very ornate and beautiful to see.  They were located in neighborhoods just like churches would be, but looked like you were in Asia when you stepped on the campuses.  The first temple we were able to talk directly to a monk there.  They set up a mic for him that drowned him out more than amplified him, we really didn’t hear what he said.  The second temple we were taken on a tour by a volunteer.  This guy was just a volunteer and was Caucasian as well.  It was very interesting hearing from the official monk at one temple and a lay member at the other.

The thing running through my head the most while interacting with these people is the conversation of Grace based religion and Works based religion, as my pastor, JD Greear says, “there are two basic types of religion one is spelled D-O.  Christianity is the only religion spelled D-O-N-E.”  The basic belief system of Buddhism is that this world we live in is full of suffering and the possibility of escaping it (nirvana) is only on us (through enlightenment).  I wondered, at what point does one feel tired of the constant striving only to hope to be reincarnated in a better life next time.  At what point does hopelessness settle in and the felt need of a Saviour become embraced.

Buddhist people are difficult for Westerners to share the gospel because of the stark difference in worldviews.  Westerners (in general) run off logic, which Easterners flip on their heads with their cyclical thinking.  People working in that world must strip themselves of their cultural background and adapt to the host culture’s way of understanding things to have a chance at explaining the gospel in a relevant way.  Christianity has a sustainable answer to the problem of suffering and evil.  Most Buddhists realize they are not good enough to enter into heaven (reach nirvana), they just feel that the responsibility is their own and eventually they will get there.

Let us remember in prayer our brothers and sisters from Buddhist backgrounds.  Let us pray for their ability to sense the hopelessness of doing it on their own.  Pray for missionaries working in those places to show the love of Christ that will draw men and women into a knowledge that He alone can cover their sins.

INSIGHT Fall Retreat

November 2, 2008

What a great time! We had an amazing time in the mountains of California. First off, these are real mountains. Mountains have cliffs, valleys and elevation. North Carolina has large rolling hills. You are driving in the hills, and they just get bigger. In California, you look straight up, make a turn and then you drive up. “Wow, Mountain!” Crazy I know. Also NC is spread out geographically. Where we live in Pasadena is an hour from the beach and two hours from the mountains.

Back to the retreat. We had 3 days and 2 nights with non-stop action with the students. Melissa and I even split up and stayed with the students instead of sleeping in the same bed/house. We had a lot of down time of random deep conversation. We debated the ethics and morality of enjoying food, economic theory, and watched philosophical anime.

The weekend was based off a definition of the “Kingdom of God.” The Kingdom of God is the people of God called to live under the reign of God in order to fulfill the purposes of God. We took the first part of the definition and applied it to this weekend. For our spring retreat, we will talk about fulfilling the purposes of God, strategy and mobilization.

For this retreat, we really focused in on personal discipleship in key college areas: identity, cross-gender relationships, and gender specific issues. These conversations were lead by staff but less program oriented and freer flowing. The students seemed impacted by many of the self-discoveries they had as well as our staff’s past experiences with these issues (the good and the bad).

We spent so much concentrated time together, being a community, cooking and cleaning together, riding in the car. It was a great opportunity for us as staff to get to know the students on a deeper level and build trust with them.

Melissa meets with half the girls and I meet with half the guys once a week as a small group to talk over issues and have prayer and accountability. The weekend brought out some things the students were hiding in the darkness that we as a group can bring to the light to let Christ’s glory deal with.

Overall it was a great weekend. We are looking forward to the spring retreat already.

Our Vision: College Mobilization & INSIGHT

October 8, 2008

Our vision is to open people’s eyes to what God is doing in the World and help them find their strategic part in reaching the Nations with the Gospel. We believe that College Students are the most strategic group of people to mobilize to missions.

Four reasons College Students are the most strategic audience:

College Students are Seeking Answers

College is a time where you seek answers to all of life’s important questions. Most Christian students are specifically wrestling with the question of what to do with their life in light of their faith. Our desire is to build a foundation focused on missions and God’s Glory. We know that if we can instill a desire to see God glorified in students’ lives, then this will guide them as they make these important decisions.

Everyone has a strategic part to play in reaching the nations with the gospel, not only those who decide to serve overseas. No matter what Major students choose, with an understanding of God’s desire to be glorified in all the earth, they will make the most of the talents that God has given them. Lawyers and Doctors will strategically invest in missionaries serving amongst the unreached. Computer engineers will design computer programs to help with bible translation. Entrepreneurs will take their talents into the third-world and teach families how to create a viable business. CEO’s will train missionaries on how to partner with international leaders. There is not limit to the impact college students can have on the world if they understand that they have a strategic part to play.

College Students are Visionaries

Students are visionaries, dreamers, they think big and believe that they can change the world, and by the power of God they can! They are also a little fickle, and if these dreams are not encouraged or guided they will die out. By giving students a foundation of God’s purpose in the world, they will begin to dream of His desires being fulfilled, and these are dreams that make a difference.

We also see power in mentoring college students. Having someone walk beside them, believe in them, and giving them guidance will help them reach their goals. Many students will catch the vision for missions, but few will actually take a strategic role. Students get distracted easily with the next new thing. Mentoring and getting them in contact with other mission minded students is away to keep them on track and fuel their vision.

College Students are Living in a Global Society

Universities pride themselves on cultural diversity, brining in students and professors from all over the world. Most College students are living in a true global society, interacting daily with people outside their own culture. They understand the importance of valuing someone else’s culture and traditions. This atmosphere with out biblical guidance can very easily create universalists, but with the right understanding these global students have a knowledge of the world that is priceless to the mission enterprise.

And of top of that, there are students from unreached people groups and closed countries studying on American Campuses. If we can mobilize Christian students to reach out to internationals on their campus, teach them to follow Christ and pass on their vision to see their people and all nations glorifying God, they would be sending missionaries into some of the darkest parts of the world, where they themselves may never be allowed to go. Praise God this is a need and an opportunity to make a major impact on the world!

College Students are Transients

The point of focusing on college mobilization is to get people strategically involved with what God is doing in the world as early as possible. Everyone needs this vital information, but most of us have already made patterns in our lives that make it hard to change our lifestyles. College Students are just forming those patterns. By sharing with them God’s ultimate desire to see people from every nation come to know Him and how they can have a strategic part in making that happen, the patterns they form will lead them to a life strategically involved in God’s global purposes.

Students are on their way to somewhere else. They are uncommitted and not tied down to a family, bills, career, etc. They have entire summers off, this is the perfect time for them to go overseas and gain exposure to the world of missions. Not all of them will go to the field full-time, but the experience will give them power. They will set patterns now in finances, ethics, relationships, that will stay with them for a lifetime. We want students to make these decisions based on their strategic involvement in God’s global purposes. So wherever they go after college they are focused on seeing God’s glory in all the earth. The greatest part of working with college students is that Universities are a revolving door, you get to send Global Christians out into the world every year, and then they are replaced by a whole new group ready to learn.

So how does INSIGHT fit in to this vision?


“It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.” Proverbs 19:2

INSIGHT is a one-year college program developed to give students an understanding of God’s Glory and His purposes throughout history. Throughout the unfolding of the curriculum, topics in anthropology, comparative religions, philosophy, theology, the Bible, politics, and developments in church, mission, and world history are purposefully interwoven to give students a broad, integrated understanding of the interrelatedness of subjects. After taking INSIGHT, students have a mental filing system for how their future college classes fit together, and how it is all part of the larger story of God and man.

The heartbeat of INSIGHT is unmistakably mission. The themes of the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course run throughout the curriculum and are revisited and reinforced at multiple levels. Students are exposed to the Biblical basis for mission, mission history, principles of anthropology and cross-cultural communication, and current issues in mission strategy. Students leave INSIGHT with the Bible and mission academic background of a missionary candidate, an intellectual foundation for their faith, and with a year of college credit. This program is an amazing tool for mobilizing college students to missions. With this foundation these students will know the importance and urgency of reaching the nations with the Gospel and how they have a strategic part to play.

Our time with the U.S Center for World Mission in Pasadena will be spent investing in the INSIGHT program and more importantly the students. We are excited to get to know this small group of students and see how God is going to work in their lives. With the strategic nature of this course in mind, we are also working to expand this program to other locations across the country and around the world. Students need this information and INSIGHT is a great tool that any church or NGO could use to impact college students in their area. We are excited to learn and grow in this program and see how God is going to use it to mobilize an entire generation to see his glory throughout the earth!

To put it all together…

We are looking for the most strategic ways to fulfill the vision God has given us. We have found the audience, some great tools, now for the location.

We do not believe in coincidence, but it the great work of our Lord. Before moving to California we had been living in the Raleigh Durham area of North Carolina. There could not be a more strategic place to do college ministry. Within a 30-mile radius of the Southeast office of the USCWM there are 11 colleges/universities totaling at over 75,000 undergraduate students! These schools have vibrant campus ministries and there are several large churches focusing on college students. By partnering with these ministries and churches we can equip college students to get strategically involved in reaching the nations with the Gospel.

INSIGHT will be one of many tools that we will bring back to the Raleigh Durham area. Our hope is to run INSIGHT at a local church as well as spend as much time as possible on campuses networking with college pastors, and hanging out with students. There are so many dreams and ideas running in our heads, we cannot wait to see what God is going to do on these campuses for His Glory.