I have been an avid reader and lover of history since college. And I have learned a lot from Scott Sunquist, a close friend for the past 34 years since our days in seminary together. Scott went on to get his PhD in Asian Church history and missiology, and is now a Professor of World Christianity and a Dean at Fuller Theological Seminary. I recently sat down with him around the question: What are lessons we need to learn today on how the Holy Spirit has expanded God’s kingdom these last 2,000 years? Here are a few of his insights: Look for the life of Jesus on the margins. From Jesus and the 12 in Galilee, to the surprising growth of Christianity among slaves in North America and the Caribbean, to the church explosion among farmers in northern Korea in the early 20th century, to the launch of the Pentecostal movement at Azusa Street. Read more.
Geri and I just returned, this past Tuesday, from an eventful, seven-day trip with our ministry partners (Ministerio Espiritualidad Emocionalmente Saudavel or MEES for short) in Brazil. I always journal after a trip around the question: “God, how did You come to me, and what did You say?” The following are the top four things I heard: 1. Gift. Every culture and country in the world reflects aspects of the beauty of God (see Revelation 21:24). Brazilians offer a joy, a warmth, an optimism, and a passion for life that is a wonder to behold. I heard God’s invitation afresh to marvel and worship Him for such creativity to place such amazing gifts in so many cultures around the world. 2. Global Church Shift. We experienced first-hand, once again, the shift of the church from Europe and North America to the global South (Africa, Latin America, Asia). The church in Brazil continues to grow. Read more.
The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, by Rod Dreher is an important book. It serves as a prophetic wake up call to the church, challenging us to take a fresh look at what is happening around us: We must “make a decisive leap into a truly countercultural way of living Christianity, or we doom our children and our children’s children to assimilation.” “The spiritual crisis overtaking the West is the most serious since the fall of the Roman Empire near the end of the fifth century. The light of Christianity is flickering out all over the West.” “If believers don’t come out of Babylon and be separate, their faith will not survive for another generation or two in this culture of death.” “Too many of our churches function as secular entertainment centers with religious morals slapped on top, when they should be functioning as the living, breathing Body of. Read more.
Thomas L. Friedman released an important book a few months ago called Thank You For Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations. I usually take notes on the blank white pages in the back of a book. For a few seminal books, however, I actually type out key things God might be saying to me personally and as a leader. Thank You for Being Late was one of those books. My goal here is not to do a book review, but to share with you my top applications: We must be self-motivated, life-long learners. The world is changing at a pace so fast it has risen above the rate at which most people can absorb all the changes. Ray Kurzweil, director of engineering at Google, says it best: “The 21st century will be equivalent to 20,000 years of progress at today’s rate of progress; organizations have to be able. Read more.
I have loved studying church history and global Christianity for well over 30 years. This passion has been fed by my thirty-year friendship with Scott W. Sunquist, a gifted scholar who now serves as a Dean at Fuller Theological Seminary. While God led Scott into PhD work and seminary teaching, God led me to pastor a local church. Yet our different paths, along with our common passion for Christ and His mission, have served as an “iron sharpening iron” experience over the years for us. Scott recently released an important book entitled – The Unexpected Christian Century – that captures some important insights as we consider the work of God today. Consider the following image: The graphic illustrates the following: Christian faith has deep roots going back to Creation and the work of God in Israel over the centuries. What holds The Church together is Jesus (God incarnate who has entered our world as. Read more.
In this month’s podcast, Pete and Rich offer a unique, historical, and theological perspective on the critically important issue of singleness and leadership. Enjoy this challenging podcast on one of the most important topics for the global church today. (A previous podcast treats the theme “Leading Out of Your Marriage“).