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Posts from February 2010

7 Global Currents That Are Shaping the Future Church

I am featuring this post today because I am in Richmond, VA, and am about to spend an enjoyable day with Fritz Kling, author of "The Meeting of the Waters" and founder of Kling Philanthropy Group.

Original Post: Feb 2010

Fantastic book comes out in a few days called "The Meeting of the Waters: 7 Global Currents that will propel the future church". Author (and friend) Fritz Kling sent me the manuscript last year and I just LOVED the book, and found it hard to wait so long before the release date came around so that I could tell you all about it. But that time is here. The book comes out March 1st but you can order it now.

meeting of the waters cover - book by fritz kling

My official blurb on the book:

"Meeting of the Waters is the most significant book on international mission I have come across in a long time and one that echoes my own observations. Fritz Kling has the skinny on the movements that are impacting the changing landscape of Christian mission. This book is the result of thorough research in a broad sweep of mission situations and the results are both enlightening and challenging. I highly recommend this book for those who want to know what mission in the real world actually looks like."

If I could add to that, I would say that 2010 will be a year of reflection about global mission, its changing landscape and what that means for all of us and I dont know of any better book right now that the Meeting of the Waters. Fritz has traveled to 40 countries to interview key leaders on these changes and the book is a result of those findings. Here's a snapshot of the 7 Global Currents from the book. Click on the icons for more.


Younger people of faith around the world increasingly demonstrate their piety and their love for others by serving–by feeding the hungry, addressing AIDS, rescuing girls sold into slavery, saving the earth, etc.


While Americans and the West had long been the leaders of worldwide “Christendom,” now Christians from countries all around the world have the education, access, resources, and confidence to share leadership with powerful countries like the US.


People everywhere are on the move, to meet economic needs, flee repression or combat, seek freedom or asylum, enjoy tourism, etc. While in the past Christian missionaries reached diverse people groups by ships or planes or trains, now everywhere in the world is more diverse.


Focusing on helping individual people in the unique cultures and countries in which they live, the Christian church has trained and sent missionaries around the world for a long time.


The importance of technology is not news to anyone, but its impact on Christian communities around the world has its surprises. Studies on technology and evangelism abound, so I highlight examples of how technology is radically changing disaster relief efforts.


Many people say that the world is “flattening,” and that we’re all coming closer together. But the internet and available media are actually providing more opportunities, tools, and points for polarization and division. Who will mediate, and how?


In the shadow of so many game-changing trends, every country, region and village has its own “backstory” — those historical features, clues and codes that may be unseen but affect everything in those societies.

You can click on any of those icons to see more resources, videos and blog posts. I would be happy to post them individually if readers wanted to discuss them one by one.

TRIVIA: Fritz Kling and I met at Search Party, 2002, an emerging-missional church event in St Louis that was inspired by Boaz Project's "Epicenter 2001" in Austin.

Becoming carbon neutral and traveling a lot at the same time

dopplrApparently I am carbon neutral, according to Dopplr. They have tracked almost all of my journeys since 2008. I have taken a few journeys recently to sensitive places and I havent told Dopplr but I dont think they would add much to the total.

How did we do it, despite traveling so much? Not sure, really, but heres some factors that might contribute to it.

I sold my car in April last year for a whopping £600 which was fair for a 1997 Peugeot 806 with a few dents. We bought bikes for the family which takes a little longer to get around but its good for fitness and keeps the carbon down. Of course we take the bus most of the time when we are in one place, and that can be very time-consuming, but it seems right for now.


We normally carry 7 bikes on the back but recently, with the extra people, we have carried 2 extra bikes inside.

Our 1987 4x4 Iveco motorhome/overlander gets 14 MPG (about 20 litres/100km) which is a little worse than most motorhomes but better than most overlanders, but we have 7 people in it whenever we drive. Dopplr doesnt take that into consideration but I feel if you are going to drive, load up your vehicle with as many people as you can. And besides that, our total milage is probably much less than for those people who drive daily to work.

Our biggest savings in fuel last year was probably not automotive at all but rather in heating. Having left our apartment in March 2008, we dont have to heat it, or anything. Our motorhome is well insulated and since we have driven south to warmer climes, we havent spent anything at all on heating. Going south for the winter isn't just for the birds. It works for humans also. Although we are looking for a wood stove for our motorhome which is a cheap and efficient way to heat it when its gets cold, which it does occasionally.

We just added two solar panels of 225W each which means can can now fully charge up our leisure batteries every day and not have to use the engine.

We added mostly hand powered appliances to our motorhome - a hand cranking coffee grinder, a mangle for wringing out our clothes (which we hand wash) and even a foot pump for the water rather than electric pump.


Abigail gets cranky doing the washing.

I also reduced a lot of carbon, and saved some money and time, by turning down a number of conferences that had me flying a really long distance to contribute and then flying all the way home. What a waste! Instead, we set up events where we were, or where we were going to be along our travel circuit. That meant that I missed out on a few biggies but I spent more time with the family, and supported events that were more local. And those events that we took part in along the way were generally more relational and low-key rather than flashy, stage-centered and shallow.

As for the rest of 2010, here is the map that we are following. We are hooking up with missional entrepreneurs along the way. Let me know if we are coming through your town. Appreciate your prayers for safety as we travel, and for the other half of our support/sponsorship that we are still hoping for.


My current schedule:

Friday (today) Orkney Islands, UK

Saturday - Aberdeen, Scotland

Sunday - London

Monday - Oxford, with CMS

Tuesday - London

Wednesday - North Africa

Follow me on Dopplr, although take note that my North Africa schedule is not publicized there.

Accounting for Fundamentalisms

Last night this old guy on the train across from me asked me what I was reading. It was a whopping 800+ page door-stopping wheel-chocking ship-anchoring tower of a book and it was hard to hide from view. I replied with the name of the book - "Accounting for Fundamentalisms: The Dynamic Nature of Movements." The book is edited by Martin Marty and R. Scott Appleby and it draws heavily from Robert Wuthnow and other scholars. Our conversation finished right then and there and I went back to reading this fascinating book that I totally SCORED for only 2 pounds at the Christian bookstore in Chichester, which btw was a bookstore in the center of the controversial bankruptcy scandal that I wont go into right here.

The scholarly authors of this book, written last decade but still just as relevant today, if not more so, tackle the subject of fundamentalism as found in Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhisim and the geographical area of South Asia. But what i found most interesting was its treatment of fundamentalism in its Western Protestant form and the similarities between the ideological movement of fundamentalism with that of the emerging church movement.

I said the treatment of the subject, I didn't say the character of the movement, although there are similarities just as there are polar opposites.

5 Tips For Attending a Baptist Church Without Embarrassing Yourself

This morning we are at Bromley Baptist Church in London. Apart from a visit to the Met Tab, the last time I went to a London Baptist church was in 2004 and I wrote up a few guidelines on not getting embarrassed at a Baptist Church. Here are a few of them.

1. Sit in the back. You have no right to be in the front seat unless you are a penitent sinner, the preacher, a deacon getting ready to serve communion, an underground charismatic who is starting a revolution by waving their arms during worship, or a breast-feeding mother. If you are none of these, and if you dont want to be caught out sitting and standing at all the wrong moments, stay in the back where you will avoid embarrassment.

2. Dress smart-casual, even if you usually dont. If you dress too formal, they will assume you are Catholic or a novice, or someone vying for attention. If you dress too shabbily, you will attract the attention of the volunteer outreach program staff who assume you are homeless. If you wear Eastern fabrics, or wear a Marilyn Manson T-shirt, or have any pagan symbols, you will get special attention from the welcome committee and evangelism department who assume you are having your first church experience. However, you might get special treatment and thats not all bad. So do go casual and you will not feel like a dork. Instead, they will assume you are a church goer just like them. Jeans are OK in most baptist churches. So put your piercings back in. Trust me.

3. Be semi-somber when you pray. Unlike emerging or alternative worship churches, you should be happy when you arrive and somber when you pray. Not Anglican hard-core somber. More like a semi-somber, a soft-somber, with no facial contortion, lest you look too spiritual. And if there is an open prayer time during the service, which there sometimes is, don't go King James or retro-Shakespeare on them (novice giveaway) but stay smart casual (like the clothing) and keep it on the healthy somber tone of voice. But don't go too far on the casual side either . . dont start telling God your latest joke . . and don't go asking Him for His.

4. Sing softly and hang back a beat or two. It looks weird if you dont sing but dont worry - its easy - the words are usually projected on the wall and the music is predictable for the most part. No one will notice that you are not familiar with the songs and mouthing the words in time is a cinch. Also, hang back a beat or two on the songs. There are one or two choruses where everyone sings on the off-beat immediately AFTER the beat which is precisely the embarrassing moment newcomers make themselves known by being the only ones not singing on cue. And if you sing softly, you might even get away with botching up the songs. I know I do.

5. Follow others and do what they do. If someone sings a solo on stage or does something creative, don't be the first to clap and cheer and wolf-whistle - usually, there is no applause at the end, just a small appreciative smile or nod, You will also notice that people are not tipping the preacher or stage-diving during worship or opening a can of beer. Unless it is an emerging Baptist church but thats another story. Again, watch other people from the back and stay 2-3 seconds behind them, and I give you my word, you will never embarrass yourself in a Baptist church.

London Fashion Week? They LOVE me there!

Back in London again after a good time with friends down south. Highlights included hanging with Greg Valerio (new blog) after his fair trade pilgrimages to Peru and Nepal, and the Carter family. Now we are up in London for a few days to work on visas. We are staying at Manna House in Bromley, London which is run by OM for mission people. This morning we will be at Bromley Baptist.

London Fashion Week in on right now. They LOVE me there! No . . . just kiddin'. Its a family joke because I dress so weird. Everytime someone says "London Fashion Week" I always chime in "London Fashion Week?? They LOVE me there!"

Right now, before we walk off to church, Debbie is reading "The Logos Story" to our kids. Its a book about a mission ship that went down in South America over 20 years ago. We know most of the people in the book, all of who survived btw, because Debbie and I were on that ship a few months before it went down. We were like . . . so almost THERE!


Back in England for 2 weeks

We are flying to London on the ever horrible but cheap Ryan Air. We have some administration regarding our visas that has to be done there and will be around for nearly 2 weeks. We also need a place to stay in London for part of that time so let me know if you have some. It might be a good time to meet some more of you and talk about what we are trying to achieve around the fringe of Europe.

Our Luxury Additions and Lavish Embellishments

Lavish embellishments. Wow! Talkin' bout a second story to our garage and a luxury home addition that will nearly double the square footage. In light of all the blog conversations last week about full disclosure of lifestyle choices and the stuff people buy, esp. ministerial people, I thought it fitting to tell you everything that we are doing to our home. I know we are in recession and money is tight but we have been waiting to splash out for a number of additions to our home, including a second story on our garage to house all the extra vehicles, and a lavish pop-up roof to give us more sleeping space in Africa.


We have been waiting until we got to Africa to open up our roof so that we can sleep on top. Its been a little cramped with 9 people living in this truck and the roof top area will greatly increase the square footage by about two thirds. And not having air conditioning means that any ventilation we can find will make life much more comfortable in hot climates.

9 people? Well, actually, apart from our family of 7 and Donald and Alana who are traveling with us, we keep collecting people and dropping them off. There were 13 of us travelling in our truck when we arrived here and about that many staying with us now.


The fully collapsible pop-up roof will give us plenty more space for everyone to sleep. We are also putting some rails on the roof so people won't fall off and it will be easier to tie some spare wheels and stuff on the roof when we need to.


Another luxury addition I should mention is the second story on our garage. With 9 bikes, we had to get creative and make use of our height. We now have 7 bikes of the back and we keep 2 inside the truck.


We are also getting some rust removed from the truck and some metal things that rusted and fell off are getting wielded back on. While the work is being done, the mechanic is letting us stay in this little shanty-penthouse, along with some other travellers and young hippies who are camping out with us. It doesn't leak very much at all - just in a few places - but nothing that some strategically positioned saucepans dont take care of. The place is buzzing with people. New travellers turn up each day. Yesterday a group of Lithuanians walking across Africa turned up and we all ate together. Very cool.

Thoughts on stuff

Still alive and enjoying Africa. I found a wifi signal so . . . some thoughts on stuff:

Alexander McQueen found dead. He was one of my favourite postmodern fashion designers, although I could never afford any of his pieces. He was also the major inspiration behind some of my Japanese designer friends. I loved the element of playfulness in his work. Great fabrics also. I didn't realize his real name was Lee McQueen.

Church Marketing Sucks offers some good advice on how your church can handle a media attack in light of the Ed Young issues this week.

Apple's iPad seems like a larger iPod but not much better since it depends on the same apps. Why buy it when you can have an iPod touch for a third of the price?

Mountains of North Africa

Wow! Nearly two weeks without blogging. We are fine. We have been part of a convoy of 18 people from all over Europe, traveling through the mountains of Africa with our possessions on donkeys led by Berbers. Stories and photos to come when i find a wifi signal. Until then, prace.