The Venezuela Conversation at Menlo Church

I am being asked about Venezuela. Last year we hosted an event at Menlo Church which outlined the historical issues and economic problems with Venezuela. We thought the problems would be somewhat short-lived with the possible and immanent replacement of President Nicolas Maduro with opposition leader Juan Guaido. Then things went south. Guaido has been struggling with a scandal that threatens his political aspirations.

So in the meantime. Nothing much has changed with Venezuela. Every day 5000 Venezuelans leave the country. Those who stay behind struggle with an economy that has seen inflation approach 2 million percent each year . Maduro recently raised the minimum wage 300% to $6.70 per month. The Venezuelan refugee crisis (4.6 million) is about to surpass the Syrian refugee crisis in terms of sheer numbers.

In 2019, Next Step partnered with Menlo Church to host a conversation regarding the problems with Venezuela and possible solutions. Speakers included Professor Diego A. Zambrand (Stanford University), Carlos Suarez (Justice International), Diego Travieso (Operation Blessing) and Wolfgang Fernandez (Next Step). I think we raised $40,000 for Venezuela.

We are thankful to Menlo Church and Senior Pastor John Ortberg for allowing this conversation to take place. And to Missions Director Dave Shields who emceed the meeting.

Next Step is supporting recovery efforts in Venezuela. They have recently sent thousands of dollars worth of medical equipment donated from Bay Area hospitals, and have purchased 10 acres of land in Venezuela for an agricultural project that is currently producing food for a community and extra to help other communities. They are currently purchasing another 4 acres of prime farmland to replicate this successful project. One investor has given $30,000 towards this purchase but the other half of the funds still needs to come from somewhere.

I visited Venezuela in 1986 as part of a mission that involved educational books, children’s ministry, work in prisons and schools. It was a different country back then and I am grieved beyond words. Hoping and praying for real transformational change to happen in this country.

I will be adding podcasts of this event shortly on my main blog.

2015 in Review

It’s been a wonderful and challenging year and I give thanks to God for making it possible. And a SPECIAL THANKS to those of you who supported us financially through our New Zealand supporters and SYRIOUS LOVE (Syrian Refugee Ministry).

Some highlights from 2015

We worked in these countries: Jordan, Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Serbia, Croatia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Hungary, Poland, and Germany.

Jones family 2015

I taught at my favourite European Festivals. At SLOT Festival in Poland I taught for 4 days on “Church Different”, outlining the new reformation of church and tracing the history of how we got here. At Freakstock Festival in Poland I taught on the MainStage about God’s plan for families and raising children. At Meziproster Festival in Czech Republic my title was “Back to the Garden”. I looked at our relationship with creation, what was lost in the fall and how God’s people are repositioning themselves to live sustainably and in harmony with their environment and each other.

We fed the refugees at the borders and along railway tracks. And we did generally did not photograph them. When I saw representatives of one organisation drive up to a squat in Serbia, take photos and video and then drive off to do their fundraising, I decided that we would not abuse the vulnerable people who needed our help rather than their picture on a newsletter. It was a little crazy. We dumpster dived for food. We threw away our refrigerator - one of those crazy moments that symbolised our desperation in finding and storing food in the truck for the refugees at the borders. 

We participated in three Rainbow Festivals, in Serbia, Slovakia and Egypt. It was hard for me and the kids eating vegan food for so long but we had so many rewarding conversations about God and the spiritual life. But they were great times and we were often the only followers of Jesus inside a much bigger world. Debbie did extremely well and found herself become a spiritual “mama” to hundreds of young hippies and spiritual seekers. Debbie also got bitten by a scorpion in the Sinai desert and ended up at a hospital in Cairo.

Truck 2015

We traveled for six months with a LOT of young nomads. At one stage there were 20 of them in our truck. This wasn’t so bad when there were places we could put up tents but when it was raining, or if we were traveling through cities, we all had to sleep in the truck and it was quite cramped. You can imagine.

Debbie and I took an online language learning course through Wheaton College. It was very helpful and empowering. 

I visited refugee camps and talked to leaders of ministries reaching out to the refugees. I also spoke to many Syrians about their needs and the best way for Westerners to offer help. In Germany I attended a special gathering of leaders involved in refugee ministry. We visited a few camps and discussed the needs around Europe. We also committed to provide resources for volunteers and start an informal network where we can share stories and advice.

A mission in USA set up a fundraiser called Syrious Love and raised almost $3000. This helped our team of 20 volunteers buy food, travel to where the refugees were bottlenecking at the various European borders, and show compassionate care to the refugees where the need was greatest. Others gave through other means and this has helped me travel to the camps and the leaders involved in the relocation and compassion initiatives. We want to raise more money to help create a network of key leaders in each country to coordinate efforts and provide training resources. Will you help me?

I took part in a gathering of veteran fresh expression/church leaders in Prague. We spent three days together talking and praying. A very valuable time that I now refer to as The Nicholas Sessions, named after the Nicholas Hotel where we stayed. I might host another one in the future.

Nicholas sessions 2015

In the Sinai desert of Egypt I enjoyed many discussions about God, Islam and the Sufis. I am learning a lot about Islam and find in the Sufi poetry many potential bridges and connection points for our talks about Isa al-Masih, Jesus the Messiah, and the way of following God.

On the negative side, all my Wordpress sites and blogs were brought down recently by “Muslim” hackers. I have yet to pinpoint who has been paying them to target me but the attacks started around the time I stated that ISIS were not true Muslims. The invasions happened daily, despite my efforts to keep the hackers out. My sites went down one by one. They even invaded my computer. And I am still getting threats that they will continue to [mess] with me in the near future. I have felt quite vulnerable these past few weeks, and bullied. But I will not stop speaking out. I have shifted for the time being to my old blog on Typepad.

We also lost our two churches that gave us much-needed funds for 2015. The senior pastors of both churches, who have been friends of mine for many years, either retired or moved on. This means we enter 2016 without a single church to back us financially. Would you pray that God would raise up two churches who believe in our mission and want to support us with prayer, 

This was our first year representing and being cared for my friends in New Zealand. They have been wonderful support and have partnered with us gently and wisely. They understand us. They provide half our personal support and are helping us to raise the other half. When we joined them last year we asked to be placed on under the poverty level so that we could minister among the poor as one of them. They graciously allowed us to do so but watch carefully to make sure all our needs are met and we are ministering from a healthy base. 

Thomas Merton has been my favourite author in 2015, especially his interactions with other religious leaders. His books have been inspirational. I need to read them with reading glasses which is a first for me.

Debbie has emerged as a spiritual leader in her own right, with an enormous amount of respect and authority in the world of Eastern religion, paganism and earth-based religions. She is often the first representative of Jesus and the Christian tradition that they have encountered who they admire and want to emulate.

Debbie 2015

Our daughters Quill (Hannah) and Bones (TJ) had an eventful year. Spending time in Prague with all the children at an emerging Christian community was a highlight for them. After six months of traveling Europe and the Middle East with hippies, they needed a break (who wouldn’t?) so we retreated to Prague for Christmas, leaving Debbie in Egypt at the Rainbow Festival. TJ is enjoying the company of kids her own age. Quill is volunteering at a hostel in Prague. We hope to catch up with Debbie in Africa soon.

Whats up for 2016?

- The Syrian Refugee Crisis is at the forefront of my mind and has been there since the summer. How the church responds to the Syrian refugees, and the other refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, etc, is one of the most crucial turning points of our current moment. Will we emerge from this new reformation as a church of generosity and compassionate understanding or will retreat back into fear, xenophobia, and insulation? My primary focus in 2016 will be to continue showing the love of Christ to refugees, feeding the hungry, guiding the homeless wanderers, resourcing the leaders, enabling the relocation efforts inside the various countries, and keeping the eyes of the church on this tragedy long enough to allow them to see it as the momentous opportunity that it really is.

- In 2016 we will continue to be a Christian presence inside the new spirituality and the related festivals, eco-communities, and events. 

- If God allows, we will return for some time in North Africa. 

- I have received a lot of requests to train young people in the summer of 2016 in Europe. Most likely I will select a small number of them and set up a one to two month training in June/July.

- Prague will be a base and launching pad for us again in 2106. We want to start a small monastery here. Perhaps we could start with the truck and then take over one of the buildings. There is an old barn that could potentially, and quite possibly, become the training centre we have always imagined. My theological and missiological books are already in the barn, waiting to become the library. Stay tuned.


We are enthusiastic and we are located exactly where we need to be but we are financially under-supported. Pray that God provides some people and some churches to join with us in our mission. Pray for safety in the Middle East and North Africa. I am no longer as anonymous as I intended. But I am not afraid. If God is for us, who can be against us?


Direct gifts to the Syrian refugee crisis can still be received at the Pure Charity campaign called SYRIOUS LOVE

 Personal support? Send me an email at tallskinnykiwi at gmail dot com and lets talk about it.



Feeding Syrian Refugees at the Syrian Border

From the main blog

A little update from me.

We arrived at the Serbian border a few days ago and started cooking immediately, both for the team and for the stream of Syrian refugees. Most of them were in too much of a hurry to stop and chat – they were at the finish line of their long trip to enter Schengan Europe and aware, as we were, that the border could close at any time. Fair enough.

So we decided to go south about 30 kilometers and meet them there. The last few days we have been in a small town, camped out at a lake with about 20 people on the team in two vehicles and lots of tents.

But now the border has closed, as the Hungarians told us it would when we were there last week, and we expect a huge swell of refugees (do we have to call them that? – sounds soooo inhumane when talking about real people who we, as fellow-nomads and travellers, feel a special bond with?) to grow around the border area.

So . . . we are heading back up again today and will set up base at Subotica where there is already a growing presence of refugees. There is an abandoned brick factory called Ciglana (see Sima Diab) which has become a camping ground (reminds me of the tent village we set up in NZ), and we hope to be a presence there.

Many people are on their way to join us right now from all over Europe and our little team of crazy hippies could possibly double in size this week to 40.

The truck is running great and its awesome having a mobile kitchen that can chase down the refugees and set up wherever we need to be at a moments notice. Damn I love my job!!!!!!!

These are our needs right now:

We need this week to learn some Arabic phrases and some Syrian recipes so they can have some good homecooked food. The best food in I ate in Cairo during the Arab Spring was a Syrian dish that I would love to recreate here.

A van has been donated from Austria that we hope to fix up to accommodate and transport team members. Its a bit crap and not licensed but we are happy to receive it. We need someone to pick it up and drive it to us here at the Serbian border.

The Rainbow Snowball Caravan, of which are are a part, has managed to raise 550 Euros and this will really help us with the food costs. Awesome. When we arrived a few days ago, our food was depleted and we didn’t have enough diesel money to drive south. Some of you have sent gifts through SAMS  to our family for expenses and this should be processed in due time and eventually reach us. THANKS!!!

Having said that, our greatest need is not money but rather love and compassion and perspective, wise choices, courage, a good team spirit. And for these things we covet your prayers.

I think we need a few Syrians on our team. Could you pray that we pick the right ones this week?

A friend is setting up another fundraiser for expenses connected to our truck and diesel and other things that will not be covered by the Rainbow Caravan. Thanks. Details here really soon, including the cheesy name that I chose for it.

The team is feeling good. We are in the right place at the right time. Last night we had a talking circle until 11pm. Some of the team want to go to Syria to bring peace and love. All of us are glad to be here, hoping to make a difference, willing to use whatever resources we have.

One of the greatest challenges of ministry, as I shared with the team last night, is just turning up and being present.

Well, we turned up.

Keep praying for us.

 Read more.

Go to The Skinny on the Syrian Refugee Crisis

Help fund our project here.

I support syrious love



Being Human. Being Present

I just submitted an article for a mission publication but its a bit long and boring and probably too academic so I thought I would just post it here, on this old zombie blog, which is right now a holding place while my new blog gets fixed up.

Its called "Being Human, Being Present" and its part of my reflections from The Nicholas Sessions last month in Prague.

Being Human. Being Present.

A priest in a pub discussing work conditions with steel workers. A monk who pitched his tent in the Sahara. A bohemian who started a community where Christians could be honest with each other.

Real stories.

Maybe I am getting older (please disagree) but I find myself increasingly fascinated by history and chasing down the stories behind the stories, the entrepreneurs who inspired the reports, the missionaries who dared to do church different whether they were noticed or not.

Real stories. Stories that made a difference.

We need these stories. We need “hopeful rumours”, a phrase I am taking from the revolutionary book, “The Prodigal Project: Journey into the Emerging Church” (2000) written by two Kiwis and an Aussie who described the new forms of church coming into our horizon at the turn of our century.

I remember seeing The Prodigal Project for the first time at the Greenbelt office in London where the freshly published book arrived in the post, it’s wrapping paper eagerly torn off by Greenbelt director Andy Thornton, a leader in the alternative worship movement. It was then I realised I was inside a story of global and historical importance, and my home country of New Zealand was not left out.

The term “emerging church”, although used for new church forms since the 1930’s, reappeared again in 2000 to capture what we were all seeing and the phrase stayed in our consciousness for almost a decade before others, like “fresh expressions”, supplanted it.

I have noticed that behind the commitment to new mission strategies (and catchy terms) lie numerous examples of creative risk-takers and innovators who tried something different to reach people untouched by existing mission efforts. These creative ventures were usually launched by pioneers, discovered by scouts, analysed by geeks, and articulated by church leaders who affirmed both the validity of the experiments and a daring “unorthodox” way forward for all.

At the Nicholas Sessions last month in Prague, a gathering for mission innovators to which I had the honour of participating, Bob and Mary Hopkins shared about the beginnings of what would later be named Fresh Expressions.

In their retelling of the story, I recognised the same players - the pioneers who created the stories, the number-crunchers who analysed the data (Lings, Wasdell, etc), and the permission-givers (Archbishops Carey and Williams) who put new phrases into currency and pointed ahead to a preferable future.

Another equally influential individual, in my experience, was a missionary statesmen who foresaw and recommended the shifts we now see on the ecclesiastic landscape. Canon Max Warren, General Secretary of CMS (then based in London), gave a deeply prophetic speech in Washington DC at the invitation of Overseas Mission Society of the Episcopal Church. The series of lectures was delivered in 1958 and appear in his book called Challenge and Response.

“The crucial question for the church is whether it is willing to take the risks of life on the frontier. If it does not do so,the time may come when it has nowhere else to live. For the fountains of the great deep are being broken up. We live in a world which is changing so rapidly that the demands on our adaptability, on our capacity for adjustment, are threatening not only to the ecclesiastical structures but also to the very stability of faith itself.” Max Warren, Lecture 4, “Re-minting of the world ‘Missionary’”, Challenge and Response, 1960. 

Warren argued that the “home base is now one of the neediest fields calling for missionary work” and insisted that the inherited church structures were inadequate for ministry in a complex, modern, industrial world, We needed to allow new expressions of church to arise, new models that rise above territorial and diocesan limitations.

“The church anywhere and at every time is a mixed multitude . .. The church cannot be the organ of its own Mission. It must have organs of Mission. I would be ready to argue that a variety of organs are in fact indispensable, and under whatever different names they bear, do in fact exist wherever the Church is taking Mission seriously.”

Canon Warren did not live to see the current movement of “fresh expressions” or “mixed economy” that is now taken for granted in the Anglican world, but his words form a deep well of thought and permission-giving that has allowed his “mixed multitude” of church to become a reality, even in this age of post-modern, post-industrial challenges.

But even Warren needed concrete examples of church done differently. And here I want to point out three creative individuals who inspired Max Warren’s amazing challenge.

1. The Blue-Collar Priest who took church to the people.

“It is precisely this [pre-industrial church] structure that has come down to us almost without change, that has been left so woefully inadequate by industrialisation . . . Here, wholly new structures of engagement must be devised if there is to be dialog, influence and impact.” E.R. Wickham, Church and People in an Industrial City, 1957.

He dressed shabbily and hung out with factory workers at the pubs which was unusual for a priest back in the 1940’s. He might have been ignored if he didn't later become Bishop. But he did. And the book that Bishop E.R.Wickham wrote, called “Church and People in an Industrial City” (1957), was probably the most influential source for Warren’s Lecture Number 4, not to mention its impact on Lambeth 1958. In his book, Wickham outlines the devastating chasm between the worker-class and those who dress up for Sunday worship and the resultant founding of the Industrial Mission in Sheffield in 1942 as an effort to break that barrier.

Wickham’s concrete examples of “supplementary non-pariochial structures” and social group thinking found a well-respected echo in Max Warren.

2. The Creative who started a community.

“Religion to me really is a song” Florence Allshorn.

Also in 1942, an artist named Florence Allshorn launched a revolutionary community in Sussex called St Julians. She called St Julians a place for all God’s children. It was a multi-national, ecumenical space for honest dialog and integral living.

She had already served a difficult term of mission service in Uganda with CMS in which she saw the danger of unaddressed, dysfunctional relationships among leadership on the field. She returned home bruised and, according to Eleanor Brown, ‘after a year in a curious little colony of “dropouts” in the Sussex countryside - a year of bohemian existence she found fascinating and freeing’ - Florence was ready to work again under CMS in England. She directed a small missionary training centre for women where she effected a “quiet revolution in the whole concept of missionary training,” focusing on in-depth honest relationships, love, and spiritual growth.

Despite having no official “She saw further than most into the meaning of missionary task”, noted missionary statesman J.H. Oldham who wrote a book on Florence and the community at St Julians. Canon Max Warren saw in this community the potential for a new way of doing church that went beyond idealism and conformity to the inherited pattern and towards

3. The Monk who pitched a tent in the Sahara.

“Father de Foucault became a Touareg, to the depths of his soul. I mean that he completely gave himself to these people, not only spiritually but humanly; for he well knew how intimately the Christian life is bound up with the whole context of human life.” Voillaume, Seeds of the Desert.

The desert monk named Charles de Foucauld who went to the Sahara to found a monastic order died alone in 1916. No one joined him. But the spiritual journals he wrote had a profound effect on people as diverse as Dorothy Day (Catholic Workers), Thomas Merton (new monasticism), and even James Baxter (Jerusalem) in New Zealand. Some time after his death, The Little Brothers of Jesus came into being. Even today there are a dozen monastic orders named after him.

At the time of Warren’s lecture, a book called ‘Seeds of the Desert: the Legacy of Charles de Foucauld' by R. Voillaume had been recently published and brought to the attention of clergy everywhere. Warren describes The Little Brothers of Jesus as a “daring new pattern of missionary service”, a way of interacting that was thoughtful, respectful (we might say post-colonial), open to dialogue, a strategy, according to Voillaume, of “being present amongst people, with a presence willed and intended as a witness of the love of Christ.”

Warren sums up, “What was so refreshing about [de Foucauld's] plans, and what was so refreshing about Florence Allshorn, was that in their preoccupation with being present with God they were always so human. There was nothing stereotyped in the lives of either of these missionaries. Because they knew how to live “being present” with God”, they were able to live “being present” quite spontaneously with people of every kind and in every circumstance.”

Here we see the heart of Max Warren’s lecture that takes the challenge beyond the start-up of new church forms and beyond mere strategies into where it all starts: the challenge to live differently. To live more dangerously. To truly live among people, unprivileged people. To be open to openness. To allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the full human experience and to participate fully in it.

This is incarnational missions the way Jesus showed us. “As the Father sent me, so I send you.”

Being human. Being present. 

Enough for All - My Bible Study

If you are in Germany then you might be joining the 100,000+ people in Hamburg for Kirchentag 2013 (Church Day) on May 1-5.

12 04 02 Kirchentag 2013

If you make it to my session, please say hello afterwards.

The Kirchentag folk do an absolutely incredible job of organizing and hosting a massive scale festival  - the best organized I have ever seen - and they invited me to teach over a year ago. Here is the info they sent me.

Information about your Bible study at the 34th German Protestant Kirchentag from 1st to 5th May 2013 in Hamburg

Dear Mr. Jones,

"As much as you need” – is the theme for the 34th German Protestant Kirchentag. Meanwhile there are tens of thousands of people who have received a program booklet and discovered that you are holding a Bible study.
Your Bible study will take place at the St. Pauluskirche (Heimfeld), Petersweg 1, Hamburg (758 / AA1)on Saturday the 4th of May 2013, from 9.30 to 10.30 am.
You will be welcomed and introduced. Furthermore, your Bible study will be accompanied by the gospel choir Schacht-Audorf.

The topic of Kirchentag 2013 is "As much as you need", with reference to the manna from heaven that sustained God's people in the desert. My teaching will add the miracle of the Feeding of the Five Thousand (John 6) to the mix and will focus on abundance and poverty,  generosity and equitable distribution, sustainability, God's provision and His plan to use his people to solve the global challenge of hunger. Hope you can make it. 

 T 7f360c06ae

Reflections on Kirchentag 2011.

12 Resources for Christian Generosity

My friend Sas Conradie from the Global Generosity Movement has just released 12 Resources for Christian Generosity:

E.G. “Jay” Link’s latest book ‘Who’s In Charge Here?’ is now available. The pdf and Kindle versions of the book are free - just go to this webpage


 The Money Revolution is a website linked to a book that helps Christians apply Christian principles to handling money. The book is one of the best practical books on how Christians should engage with money.

The Generous Business is an electronic booklet with stories of companies leading the way in giving. It also includes practical suggestions on why and how to become a Generous Business. 

Spanish articles on generosity related issues and on mission resource mobilisation.

Brian Kluth’s sermon ‘Journey to Generosity: Why Become a Generous Christian?’ gives reasons to become a generous Christian

‘Biblical Principles of Financial Giving’ is a Bible study outline from Xenos Christian Fellowship in the US that explores how to cultivate a godly manner of dealing with money and material possessions.

The journey from an emerging giver who gives primarily because of relationships, tax savings, public recognition, or a feeling of obligation to a giving champion is explained in Journey of Generosity: Emergent to Generous Giving’ 

The MBA in Biblical Stewardship and Christian Management has information on the MBA in Christian Management and other courses taught through the Center for Biblical Stewardship at the Asian Theological seminary in the Philippines. The goal of this program is to equip leaders and managers of Christian non-profit organizations in the areas of strategic thinking, good governance, management and effective resource development.


The Future World Giving report examines the potential for emerging economies to transform their societies through philanthropic action. I also posted an article on the report and a progress report on the international Giving Pledge. 

How America Gives’ has a link to a fascinating report on giving in America. One of the most interesting tables is a generosity ranking of US cities. If you are living in the US, see where your city is ranked. How encouraging would it be to see the percentages increase as you encourage generosity in your community!"

The UK Giving 2012 report is not as extensive as the ‘How America Gives’ report but provides a picture on giving in the UK.

The Generosity Spiral of Giving and Receiving is an illustration of the growing interaction between giving and receiving - starting with giving to impose (values, ideas and beliefs) and receiving to manipulate through various phases to ultimate giving (giving of your life) and spiritual receiving.

Why I decided to become a follower of CHRISLAM

You know when a word has real scare potential when Hal Lindsay starts using it on TV. Like the word "CHRISLAM".

insider movements, mission, chrislam

Last year, televangelist Jack Van Impe got kicked off TBN for calling Rick Warren a 'Chrislam' promoter. Rick Warren says the newspaper reports were false and he does not promote Chrislam, but the damage had already been done: Van Impe still hasn't got his job back on Christian television which is a shame for all his TV-watching fans and for the hair-spray company that has lost a loyal customer.

It's a silly word. Can we please stop using it?


Chrislam is a tiny religion in Nigeria that happily mixes Islam and Christianity and counts about 1500 people in two churches in Lagos. I really don't think this group is any more a threat to American Protestantism than my daughter's dough recipe is a threat to Pizza Hut.

Today a conference is happening in Asia which tackles the "insider movements". One of the lectures scheduled for this afternoon is entitled "The Whoredom of so-called Contextualization: 'Spreading our Legs' for the Latest Religious Ideas." The book under discussion is called "Chrislam: How MIssionaries are Promoting a Islamicized Gospel" and it is published by the same people that are hosting the conference. I really hope its a balanced discussion today and not a one-sided witch hunt. Is anyone blogging it???

HEY - Lets talk about the controversial issues in missions, including contextualization and insider movements, but let's also try NOT to use scary words that freak out elderly evangelical ladies and drive extremists into tight corners. Like the word "Chrislam".

So why am I following CHRISLAM?

Because I was thinking that the blame for the end-times deception and the horrendous deviation of the past three decades of Christian mission should not be shouldered by a Vancouver based graphic designer named Chris Lam. Or a British breakdancer named Chris Lam, who I emailed this morning and apologized if people were blaming him for the destruction of the world as we know it.

So I am now following both Chris Lams. But I chose not to follow Chris Lam the MMA boxing/judo enthusiast as @cagedocbecause he looks as though he could kick my ass.

chrislam, insider, chris lam

Related: Emerging Muslim Followers of Jesus, Christianity's Next Challenge, Insider Movements and Wycliffe's Translation

Coming up soon: Is the Insider Movement the new Emergent Church Controversy of this decade?

BEST THING I saw recently on the Insider Movement was Cody Lorance's response to John Piper, summarized here by Warren Farah.

Global Church Forum

A really important missions gathering is happening from Tuesday to Thursday in Chicago and is being streamed. I was invited to be there and blog the conference but I am still in the southern hemisphere and couldn't make it. But I hope it goes well.

Global church forum

A lot of my friends are speaking there and I think this would be a conference thats worth following the streams and conversation.

Global:Church Forum for the live stream.

Twitter: #gcf12

The world's fastest multiplying CPMs and a dead Kiwi theologian

I am talking about church planting movements that go viral and out of control, producing hundreds and thousands of lean startup churches and communities in a very short amount of time. Does that get your blood pumping? 

Last year was my first time in China, as well as my first time in Indonesia and a few other South East Asian countries. I learned a hecka lot. I met young people starting movements that have grown huge and expanded way beyond what anyone expected. I spent time with a movement that is seeing their hundreds of simple spiritual communities reproduce themselves into the fourth generation. One movement in a country I visited has tens of thousands of new communities all started quickly and with little resources.

In looking at movements like these, it is clear they have a simple pattern for ministry that is reproducible, even in an oral society. Perhaps it is because of the emphasis on oral communication that such success has occurred.

3 interesting things emerge:

1. Church planting movements that kick ass tend to have a simple oral pattern of teaching that is passed on from new believers to new believers and so on.

2. It is possible, and even probable, that a recognizable pattern of discipleship is recorded in the Scriptures and was utilized by the early church, enabling new believers to learn, remember, apply, and efficiently pass onto others the essential of the faith.

3. If such a pattern in the Scriptures exists, a New Zealand theologian wrote about it in the 1940's 

This is where I introduce you to the Most Rev. Philip Carrington (6 July 1892 - 3 October 1975). 

Philip carrington

Philip became Rector of Lincoln, on the South Island of New Zealand. His father, who was Dean of Christchurch Cathedral, must have been proud. Philip later moved to Canada, unfortunately ;-) where he slipped off the NZ radar but managed to do alright for himself, becoming Archbishop of Quebec, Metropolitan of Canada and the guy who renovated the Canadian Anglican lectionary. 

[Renovated is NOT the right word - no offense to Anglicans.]

During those years, he was gripped with the idea that the early church had a pattern of discipleship and teaching. 

"The history of my own country (New Zealand) up to about eight centuries ago depends upon the organized oral tradition of the Maori race, who had no writing at all. The Jewish Mishnah, as its name implies (it means 'repetition'), consists of such oral tradition; it was arranged and edited and written down a century or more after Mark wrote his Gospel. It is fortunate that the tradition of Jesus and his apostles was written down at once." Carrington, According to Mark, Introduction.

Carrington suggested that the oral tradition of Paul was something handed over to him and contained "rules or precepts for life, or walking (halakah) as the Rabbi's called it, as well as narrative (haggadah).

Continue reading "The world's fastest multiplying CPMs and a dead Kiwi theologian" »

Mission of God Study Bible and Itinerant Ministry

The Mission of God Study Bible has just been released. It carries the missional theme and  . .  what I really love about it . .  it honors the memory of the Baptist missiologist Dr Francis DuBose who brought the word "missional" back into play with his 1983 book God Who Sends. [see the video I recorded of Dr DuBose shortly before his death] The Study Bible also has contributions from so many of my friends that I won't even start to name them. 

I was asked to contribute something on itinerancy that might share some light on Acts 12, when Saul and Barnabas are sent out.


Here's my bit which now appears on page 1153

Itinerant Ministry (Acts 12:2-3)


Maybe it’s not right, but I feel a slight pang of grief when I read the fate of Saul and Barnabas. Despite having a secure future as church leaders, they are sentenced by the church in Antioch to the downwardly mobile status of itinerant ministry. Doomed to wander the earth like Cain through places always foreign and rarely familiar, they will limp forward as borrowers and beggars, as strangers and sojourners, but never settlers.


MissionOfGod FNL CVR

An itinerant is a wanderer who travels from place to place without a home. Stereotypes are demeaning: drifters, hobos, vagrants, bums, squatters, tramps, and carnies. Some are neutral but few are positive. And yet there are people who have voluntarily embraced itinerancy for the purpose of the gospel, including circuit riders, pilgrims, mendicants and wandering monks. The worst examples of the latter were frowned on. Benedict called them ‘gyrovagues’ (lit. “those that wander in a circle) and Augustine called them ‘circumcelliones’ (lit. “those that prowl around the barns”).


However, despite the stigma of being homeless ragamuffins, it was often the wandering missionaries who enabled the church to accelerate its mission into new spheres: extraordinary itinerants including Jesuits, Franciscans, Methodist circuit-riders, tent-revivalists and the Celtic peregrine, who one writer described as “intrepid Irish adventurers”.


As an itinerant for most of my twenty-five years in mission service, I share both in the shame of this lowly disposition and the joy of freedom to travel wherever God is shining his light. I also have some perspective on why the Holy Spirit might have set such a precedent in Antioch.


Practically speaking, itinerancy is more effective in both cost and time, having no house to maintain or return to. Our apostolic efforts are not tempted by the idolatry of building our own empire because next week we will be somewhere else, serving another ministry project. But it’s more than that. 


As itinerants, our dependence on others for their participation with us in the gospel becomes a filter that leads us to the right people at the right time, as Jesus outlined in Luke 10.


We depend on God. We depend on God’s family. We even depend on the people we are sent to.


Like Abraham, we are told to go but not given a destination. We find ourselves in intimate company with the people of faith, who viewed the heavenly city as their real home. We have no house but we enjoy a hundred houses in this life and the benefits of a large and diverse spiritual family. 


We drink deeply of the sufferings of Christ who, having no place to lay his head, walked the same path we tread.


Strangely enough, recent years have seen a more positive spin added to the mobile lifestyle. Partly in response to globalization, and the necessity of competence in foreign cultures, many are eager to embrace new itinerant identities such as global nomads, couch surfers, existential migrants, and even families on the road.


Likewise, interest in itinerant ministry has intensified as a new generation discover a spirituality of the road and new forms of missional pilgrimage. 


Like Antioch, there are still young spiritual leaders of export quality being sent out on itinerant journeys that are initiated by God, modelled by Christ, led by the Spirit and given an enthusiastic thumbs-up by the church.