Steve's Blog

Cultures and Missions

When we talk about missions, one of the key catch phrases is ministering to the cultures.  Most often we think of culture as referring to people in a different land who speak a different language or to subsets of different people who may live in the same country.  We are taught to “learn the culture,” to “understand the culture,” etc., so that we can be effective in reaching those who are part of a particular culture. 

We also are prone to let ourselves develop the idea that missions is something we do “somewhere else.”  But what about those “cultures” right around us?  One might say, “What cultures?”

I am so glad you asked.  What cultures exist around us in our association?  Well, there are:

-those in jail

-homeless

-shift workers

- up and out

-down and out

-truckers

-seafarers

-addicts

-tourists

-Casino workers

All just to name a few.  Then we can talk about:

-Hispanics (and to be helpful here, not all Hispanics are Mexicans.  There are Guatemalans, Puerto Ricans, Hondurans, El Salvadorans, etc, and not all of them actually work well together. Can you believe that?)

-Koreans

-Vietnamese

-Pacific islanders

-American Indians

-Haitians

-Filipinos

Again, just to name a few.

Now, read carefully what comes next.  There are folks who will spend a thousand…. two thousand dollars or more to go to a foreign country to engage people group (AND I AM NOT SAYING THIS IS BAD!), but who never think about engaging people groups or cultures locally. 

Think about this.  If a church sends 10 people to a foreign culture on a short term mission trip for two weeks at a cost of $1,500.00 each, even I can figure that is $15,000.00.  The work they do will be good for the Kingdom, no doubt about it.  What if for one year that one trip was not taken and that same amount of money was invested in ministering to one or more local “cultures” like those listed above?  Those same dollars could conceivably last for a couple of years or more.  Can you imagine the impact this could make on a local church to have their people engaged in the local community?  Potentially enormous, right?

This leads me to another question.  Is the reason more folks are not involved in local missions that we are more infatuated with the “romance” of missions than the “work” of missions?

Just a thought…..

 

 

 

 

SBC is NOT building mosques!!

In a news story that has the potential to rival that of the Proctor and Gamble and the Madeline Murray O'Hare stories, news has been circulating recently saying that the SBC is supporting (and according to some folks is funding) the building of mosques.  I first heard of this earlier this week and today received my first phone call asking about this.

So, this morning I reached out to Dr. Russell Moore's Executive Assistant, Sam Dahl.  I have copied his reply below.


"Thank you for reaching out. The reports of funding Mosques actually [came] from a fake news outlet, which describes itself as "a news satire and parody site." The story is not true, the quotes in the article are not real, and its contents should not be taken seriously. I'm sorry for any confusion this may have caused. 

 

The ERLC did join an amicus brief (along with the IMB) protesting an abuse of government power that has implications far beyond the particular case in New Jersey. Governing authorities have a responsibility, given by God, to protect the population from violence, and to punish the evildoers who perpetrate such violence (Rom. 13:1-7). That said, the governing powers, as with every earthly power, have a limited authority, and as the Baptist Faith & Message argues, "the state has no right to impose penalties for religious opinions of any kind." We believe that a government powerful enough to coerce a religious body can do anything, and in the fullness of time, will do just that. We believe salvation comes through the open proclamation of the truth of the gospel and not through government coercion, and that religious freedom is a right bestowed by God, not a "benefit" dispensed by the government. 

 

Dr. Moore also wrote about the issue of religious freedom for non-Christians on his blog yesterday: http://www.russellmoore.com/2016/06/08/religious-freedom-non-christians/

 

Thanks for coming to us for clarification!

Sam Dahl,
 Executive Assistant to the President Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention"

615-782-8405

6-8-16

 

Dealing with a Hostile Culture

The most recent edition of On Mission magazine (yep, the one from IMB) came in the mail a day or two ago.  Skimming through it, I came upon an article written by Karen Pearce who is an IMB missionary serving in Europe.  The focus of her article was the culture war we find ourselves immersed in.  She set her comments against the backdrop of her service in Romania and how many in that nation “lived through years of repression and persecution because of their faith.”   Then she shared some things she said she learned from their experiences and related them to what we deal with today.  Here they are:

1.        “This is not a battle for America, nor is it a battle over Israel, defeating Islam or wiping out homosexuality—it’s a battle for God’s glory as revealed in Jesus.

2.       Don’t live in fear.  Focus on God’s sovereignty.

3.       Seek intimacy with God over comfort.

4.       Be bold about the whole gospel.  Don’t be afraid to share the gospel in its entirety—that’s the only gospel that matters.”

 

The paragraph that follows gets more directly to the point.  “Does all this mean you should not bake a wedding cake for a homosexual couple?   I have no idea.  Should we have the right to refuse?  Yes, I think so.  But as believers, our rights as American citizens are not the point.  Glorifying God in this world is.  Do you bake the cake and share the gospel?  Maybe.  Do you deny the request and share the gospel?  Maybe.  Do you listen to the Holy Spirit at work in you and follow His lead?  Absolutely.”

The truth is that we live in a different world these days.  The culture surrounding us has changed with lightning speed.  Often we are left wondering what to do and how to do it.  What should our response be to a society that wants to marginalize Christianity on the one hand and trivialize us, or worse, on the other?

Perhaps Jesus says it best in Matthew 5:10-12, “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me.  Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (NASV)

Jesus tells us to “Rejoice!”  We find ourselves in good company. 

Listen to the Holy Spirit.

Follow what He says in the power He provides.

Give God glory.