From the Inside Out: Reimagining Missions, Recreating the World by Ryan Kuja
Ryan Kuja grew up watching cartoons interrupted by commercials from the Christian Children’s Fund. I remember those commercials from my childhood as well. Young children, starving to death with distended bellies, surrounded by flies and narrated by compassionate voices designed to elicit a donation. Some organizations asked for a donation, others wanted you to join the organization, make a monthly pledge, sometimes in exchange for pictures or letters from a child you would personally sponsor. As a 7-year-old watching cartoons, Ryan Kuja wanted to do something. Adults either look away, change the channel, or do the good Christian thing and write a check (or today use their credit/debit card or PayPal from their phones). Continue reading →
A friend in-real-life was listening to one of my sermons recently and had a question. He wanted to make it clear that I was not going over his head but wondered if everyone in my congregation was always able to follow. I told him that some of points in the case I was making were repeated from things we had either studied or I had preached before. I kind of figured they would remember some of it. The other thing I pointed out was that my particular audience had a lifetime of experience; some of those church members had been at that church since before I was born. I would tailor my presentation for a youth group or a congregation with many new believers. You gotta know your audience.
That conversation got me thinking. A speaker should know their audience but at the same time a church congregation, men’s meeting, conference organizers or Sunday School class should know what to expect from a speaker. Here is what to expect from me personally. Continue reading →
I sometimes make reference to things like Daylight Savings Time, the Super Bowl and the fact that for the past five or six months it never quits raining. Most of my readers are in the United States and these cultural references are obvious to them. Since I only write in English that narrows down the number of people in the world that can read it at all.
Having said that, I realize there are other readers from all over the world on a daily basis. Just like most readers are American it makes sense that Canada and United Kingdom are next in terms of numbers. In other nations around the world there are people who are multilingual, missionaries, American business people and military personnel serving abroad. There are Christians around the world as well, some in places friendly to them and others in the underground church movement. I just want to say that I know you’re out there. Continue reading →
In my own denomination 75 churches each week close for good. The attrition rate among pastors is staggering. According to LifeWay research (link) it may not be 1,500 a month walking away from the ministry but on average 250 each month do. The culture we live in has changed. Just a generation or two ago a local politician, think city council or school board member, was expected to be active in a local church in order to be considered a member of the community. Church attendance is no longer looked to as a metric and being outspoken about one’s faith may be a strike against a candidate. The rights to religious expression are challenged with increasing frequency, not just in the public arena but in homes and other private property.
There is a misunderstanding among some Christians of exactly what the Gospel is. I’ve read lengthy rants explaining that the Gospel is a presentation given to non-Christians: Our natural state is lostness, Jesus died to save sinners, hear the Gospel and repent. To them there is no such thing as living out the Gospel in front of others, sharing the Gospel without using words, etc. Because the Gospel is the words “Jesus died to save you from your sins” and nothing else beyond that. I call that a misunderstanding because repenting of sins and asking forgiveness is merely the beginning. Continue reading →
We are sent to share the Gospel. In a statement known as the Great Commision (Matthew 28:16-20) Jesus told his followers to go to all nations. They were sent to proclaim the Gospel message and to make disciples; teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Evangelism is more than having an audience raise their hands, repeat a prayer or sign a card. Making disciples goes beyond baptism. It’s an investment into people’s lives that involves building relationships and working together in ministry. Followers of Jesus are not to just promote him but to lead others into a life of following. To teach others all that Jesus has command we must first learn and understand ourselves. The two processes actually happen simultaneously. We continue on the journey of learning and being conformed to the image of Christ while recruiting others to walk with us. Go to all the world, preach/teach/share the Gospel, make disciples. To this task we are called. Continue reading →
I saw a blog post for the 25th anniversary of Bible Gateway yesterday and gave them a shout out. I’m celebrating an anniversary of sorts myself this month. In January 1993 I announced a call to preach. I’m not sure of the exact date and taking a look at a January ’93 calendar didn’t help. That doesn’t really matter though. 25 years ago I told our church family that God was calling me into ministry and I was ready to answer that call. So here’s a brief recap of what God has done in my life since then. Continue reading →
I remember listening to missionaries tell stories and share slide shows – not Power Point projections, actual slides on carousels. They were from “the mission field” a place with terrible roads, lack of electricity and unsafe drinking water. They worked with people that looked, dressed and spoke differently than we did. What I knew about missions as a child is that they were far away, in difficult to reach places, and we needed to fund missionaries to print Bibles and build churches. I also hoped, at a young age mind you, that God didn’t call me to the mission field because I didn’t want to go. Continue reading →
John the Baptist sent his own disciples to Jesus, asking if he was the one promised or should they wait for another. Jesus responded “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them.” (Luke 7:22) Have you heard the Good News? And if so, who told you? Continue reading →
Fred Luter is the first African-American to serve as SBC president. But of the 4,900 missionaries serving the International Mission Board, only 27 are African-American. That’s only 1/2 of 1%, despite the fact that 1 million of the SBC’s 16 million members are African-American. There are far more Hispanic and Asian missionaries in the field, and Luter would like to promote change.
“A lot of our African American churches are in the ‘hood,” said Luter, who pastors Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, La. “It’s a daily fight every day. [People ask me], ‘Why do I need to go to Africa, Asia or Europe? We need to get people saved in this community.'” “It’s a both/and approach,” Luter said. “We need to reach the people in our neighborhoods and get African Americans out on the foreign field.”