I had been looking for the story of the Fishermen who don’t fish, but somehow couldn’t find it. I thought it was a Joseph Bayly story, but I guess not. However, this is a really nice article that includes a video version of the parable. Enjoy!!

Faith In Motion

Over the last few months, our core team has done a lot of training and talking about Missional Communities, Planting a Church, and reaching out to the lost.  Yet there’s a real danger in this, that we might continue simply talking and mistake it as faithfulness.  We need to not only talk about the faith and about mission, but live it as well. 

Watch the following video and consider the questions below:

  1. Have you given into this same theory of the Christian life?
  2. How can we keep ourselves from falling into living as a theorist rather than a practitioner?

Mike Breen and Alex Absalom talk about the process of building a credible gospel witness and growing your MC in their Launching Missional Communities: a field guide.  They speak of five stages of growing an MC, Sowing, Sowing, Sowing, Reaping, Keeping.  Below is an illustration of each stage similar to…

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Quote on “Christian Faith”

Okay, I have to admit it… I have developed a really negative attitude about how people use the term “Faith,” at least in Evangelical circles (not saying that other groups are better at it). Some seem to think that faith is the absence (or negation) of doubt (ridiculous and unbiblical idea). Others seem to think almost that it is a substance that has quantity (yes, I am aware of the words of Jesus such as having faith the size of a mustard seed… but please don’t get lost in the metaphor). The focus shifts from what or who your faith is based on with the “quantity” of your faith. Others seem to look at faith as an emotional element only, or cognitive only. Many seem to want to divorce faith from faithfulness. Faith becomes something you have contained within yourself rather than something you live out. I am comfortable, generally, in describing myself as an Evangelical. Evangelicals like to say that their beliefs are built on Scripture (and Biblical Theology) but the biggest area that Evangelical churches drift into tradition and sloppy hermeneutics appears, to me at least, to be in the area of faith.  So I am hoping to bring up some things in the area of faith in some upcoming posts. These are not, strictly speaking, attempts to “sway the public,” but rather to learn and grow as I work through this complicated theme. Okay, maybe it isn’t complicated, but it sure seems to be as we deal with theses and antitheses on the topic through over 2000 years of history.

So, I am going to start with a quote from Michael Wakely, an OM missionary, from his book, “Can it be true? A personal pilgrimage through faith and doubt”. Quote is from chapter 2 (“Cerebral Faith”)

The Bible has a lot to say about using our minds. Jesus commanded his disciples to “love the Lord your God with all your… mind,” and then “opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” It is stating the obvious to say that the mind is useful, but there are Christians who advise that it is only when we shut down our minds that God will be able to take over. That’s just what the critics of Christianity have been saying for years: Faith is intellectual suicide

John Stott states in his helpful booklet “Your Mind Matters.” “If we do not use the mind which God has given us, we condemn ourselves to spiritual superficiality and cut ourselves off from many of the riches of God’s grace.” I like that. God has given us a mind, and expects us to submit it to Him and then use it. Our minds are there to search for good answers to the hard questions… and if those answers are still not satisfactory, to have the wisdom to submit in faith to the certainty that there is a superior wisdom above.

… The popular conception is that the Christian faith requires closed eyes and closed minds, followed by a surge of comfortable feeling. As long as the feel-good factor is there, the irrational leap is justified. That is a travesty of a faith that is rooted in space, time, and history. I have lived long enough with other great world religions to know that there are other ways of looking at faith, which do not invite close intellectual examination. But it is not so with Christianity.  … The plain fact is that few world religions invite examination under the microscope and prefer, or even claim, to be regarded either as a mythology, because they deal with abstract concepts rather than concrete realities, or as above inspection, because examination is viewed as an insult to the divine.

It is unfortunate when Christianity is judged in the same light and the impression is given that one needs to turn off the mind in order to believe– “Choose faith or brains, you can’t use both together.” Or “Close your eyes, submit yourself to your emotions. God is an experience to make your feelings tingle. Switch off your brain before it gets in the way. ” Sadly, a lot of Christian teaching– and even more Christian experience– would agree with these popular travesties.

“Counter-Cultural Contextualization” Quote

The Church of the Annunciation כנסיית הבשורה ב...
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Short quote from a longer blog post by Simon and Henrietta Cozens

The idea of contextualization is that it is “receptor-oriented”; in other words, it lets the world set the agenda. Of course putting it in those terms is a pretty harsh charge, and it’s usually answered by Hiebert’s concept of “Critical Contextualization.” But this does not go far enough; it is still ultimately positive towards cultural trends. The “critical” dimension extends not simply to merely letting every part of culture into the Church—some things should be rejected.

But the Church is also meant to challenge culture. There is room for another concept beyond contextualization; there should also be counter-contextualization.

The full blog is at Counter-contextualization: Keeping our saltiness

<Update:  The above article does not appear to be accessible on the Web at the moment. but an article by Sunrise Houston Japanese Network is similarly relevant. You can see it HERE.>

The writer uses the term Counter-Contextualization, but it is the same thing as Counter-cultural contextualization. The article gives some interesting thoughts on this form of contextualization within Japanese society.

Jackson Wu has some nice information on this confusing issue. He describes two terms “Biblical Contextualization” and “Cultural Contextualization.” One describes the activity of viewing the Bible through a cultural lens (actually, we all see the Bible through a cultural lens… some are more cognizant of it than others). The other is viewing culture through a Biblical lens.

Effective contextualization does both simultaneously and in tension with each other. Some might fear that this may lead to syncretism or heresy. In fact, it is a possibility. However, the risk is less than failing to contextualize (or more properly speaking, to contextualize with out realizing it).

A short video (apparently the first of a series) from Jackson Wu is HERE.


Wholistic Ministry and Nehemiah

A paper that looks at some basic community development principles through the lens of the book of Nehemiah. Unlike a lot of other attempts to utilize the book of Nehemiah, this paper doesn’t simply focus on the first 2 – 4 chapters.

<div style=”width:477px” id=”__ss_10450934″> <strong style=”display:block;margin:12px 0 4px”><a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/bmunson3/wholistic-ministry-and-nehemiah&#8221; title=”Wholistic Ministry and Nehemiah” target=”_blank”>Wholistic Ministry and Nehemiah</a></strong> <div style=”padding:5px 0 12px”> View more <a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/&#8221; target=”_blank”>documents</a> from <a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/bmunson3&#8243; target=”_blank”>Bob Munson</a> </div> </div>


Presentation for Wholistic Ministry

I see that the transfer of my diagram to .odt to .pdf to slideshare got a bit “smudgey.” I will try to fix this in the future. However, for now, I think the paper still have value. It is based on a summarization of the literary review portion of my dissertation.

<div style=”width:477px” id=”__ss_11361853″> <strong style=”display:block;margin:12px 0 4px”><a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/bmunson3/visual-model-for-christian-relief-and-development&#8221; title=”Visual Model for Christian Relief and Development” target=”_blank”>Visual Model for Christian Relief and Development</a></strong> <div style=”padding:5px 0 12px”> View more <a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/&#8221; target=”_blank”>documents</a> from <a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/bmunson3&#8243; target=”_blank”>Bob Munson</a> </div> </div>

Hiding in Church

I have been working on CPE (clinical pastoral education) training for the last few months. It is a challenge for me. I enjoy academics, teaching, organizing, strategizing, and blogging. But to walk up to a stranger (in a hospital or anywhere else) really goes against my temperament. But I want to grow in this area. 

So I go to the hospital. Most of the patients there have as their first language Ilocano, Kankana-ey, or Ibaloi. I speak English and some Tagalog. Working in the academic and professional settings of Baguio City, Philippines, English is more than adequate, and any Tagalog I know just adds another dimension. But in the provincial hospital I am at, it is different. In the end, a lot of my conversations with the patients ends up as a mutually uncomfortable “Taglish” (mix of English and Tagalog). I would like to say that my presence is welcome, but I don’t really know. Filipinos are normally exceptionally gracious, so I generally feel welcomed enough.

But as an introverted person feeling inadequate due to my language inadequacies, I have the desire to step away from what I am doing periodically. My way of stepping away has been to go to the hospital chapel and sit down. I am not sure why I chose that spot. I suppose it is because it is quiet. It is also possible that the structure and symbols of the chapel make me feel refreshed… but I doubt that is why. Most of the symbols and images are for a different religious tradition than my own.

I suppose, on further analysis, I would stay at the chapel because I felt I needed a place that was quiet where I felt that I “belonged.” As a foreigner with inadequate language skills working as a chaplain with limited social skills, I feel like I don’t belong in the hospital. Maybe, however, the key point is that as a chaplain, I feel that the chapel is the one place in the hospital that I do belong (there is no chaplain office at this hospital).

Once I came to that realization, I made an adjustment. I moved out of the chapel and into the hallways of the hospital. Unlike many Filipino hospitals, this one has lots of seating. I still recharge my introversion battery, but I do it with the people rather than cloistered away from them.

I feel that I am not alone in this. A lot of Christians have been conditioned to feel uncomfortable anywhere but in church. Some of this was deliberate programming from others. When believers enters a church they are often barraged with all sorts of activities to ensure that they don’t “backslide into the world.” Eventually, many feel out of place anywhere except their own house and church. Their friends are at church, their ministry is at (and in) church. They, obviously, leave church but feel awkward, out of place, strangers. They look forward to minimizing these uncomfortable moments.

I do like the idea of church as a refuge (I have posted on that as well). But I believe it should ideally be a refuge for the hurting soul not from the world. The world CAN be a scary place (sadly, so can church) but hiding in church can make it seem even more scary.