It is always a rich privilege to step outside one’s context and world. This trip was no exception. The following are a few additional learnings I noted on the way home yesterday: 1. God is moving all over the world. God reminded me of this text often during this trip – “the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world – just as it has been doing among you” (Colossians 1:6). 2. The impact of China. With 1.3 billion people and a church about 100 million strong, the economic, spiritual, cultural, and political influence of China is staggering. Few of us in the USA or the West, I think, appreciate this reality. 3. South Africa. One church we visited had about 400 white South Africans. Perth, Australia has over 100,000 more. Why? Violence and racial tensions. Having spent a most of my adult life wrestling with racial tensions here in the USA,. Read more.
What is the churches’ task in the world? What does it look like to bring Jesus Christ to a community? A city? I received a glimpse of that through what turned out to be my favorite book of the year — Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity. She reports on three years of her life lived in Annawadi, a slum 200 yards from Mumbai’s Airport in India. 3000 people from different castes, cultures, regions of India, and religions live there. Most go through rich people’s garbage to make a living. It is a true “undercity” as most do not have the language skills, education, social connections or caste privileges to find stable work in the “overcity” of Mumbai. By focusing on this relatively “undercity,” Boo provides a brilliant look at the complexities of poverty in global cities by examining just one small enclave. New York too. Read more.
If you ask 10 different leaders what they had learned over a long period of time, you will receive 10 different lists. It is determined by your unique journey and your strengths and weaknesses. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list of what a leader needs to learn. Rather it is what I wish a mentor had helped me understand from the beginning. I wish some kind mentor might have said the following words to me: 1. Be Yourself Pete, calmly differentiate your “true self” from the demands and voices around you. Discern the desires, vision, pace, and mission the Father has give you as you lead. Take off Saul’s armor. Be clear about yourself. Learn to control your reactivity. And remember, “to live unfaithfully to yourself is to cause others great damage.” Rumi 2. Your First Work is to be a Contemplative before God. (i.e. to be with Him) You are not. Read more.
The Holy Spirit has created, I believe, a holy discontent with our contemporary spiritual formation models that are not changing lives deeply. Without genuine, authentic testimonies of people profoundly transformed by Jesus Christ, our mission, strategies and plans will ultimately fall short. Let me begin by affirming: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst (1 Tim.1:15). This being said, I remain passionate as you might be, that the church be transformed into all Jesus Christ has called her to be. In the past few years, a growing number of pastors, leaders and others have reached out to us in their efforts to live out a radical discipleship paradigm that remains solidly evangelical and missional, while at the same time, integrates the riches of contemplative spirituality and emotional health. I seek to do this in my context at New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, NYC with people from. Read more.
I am in the midst of two books that reflect the challenge of integration of “Emotionally Healthy Contemplative Leadership” — Finding Sanctuary: Monastic Steps for Everyday Life, by Abbot Christopher Jamison and Winning on Purpose: How to Organize Congregations to Succeed in Their Mission, by John Edmund Kaiser. They draw on very different parts of our spirituality as leaders and can seem opposed to one another. I believe, however, that we must find the kind of leadership found among many of the early church fathers (Origen , Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Augustine, Ambrose -to name a few). Many of them were bishops, leaders, monks and theologians with a profound love for God. Finding Sanctuary is filled with practical insights. Perhaps the most significant for me is his section on silence. Reflecting on his own life, he notes how “before I could offer sanctuary, I had to find it.” He notes that exterior silence. Read more.
I wrote a brief article recently for Mark Deymaz that will appear in a book he is writing on diverse, ethnic Churches (Zondervan). It forced me to think through our history and what we have learned. The following is most of the what I wrote: Twenty-one years ago, when my wife and I planted New Life Fellowship, we chose Elmhurst/Corona, Queens, as a strategic location for the church due to the fact that individuals from more than 120 nations live in the area. So while we recognized the benefits of such a location and desired to bridge the racial, cultural and economic barriers for the sake of Christ, we underestimated the suffering this commitment would require for all of us of in leadership. For instance, I soon realized that our evangelical discipleship/spiritual formation model was too superficial to bring about the kind of in-depth transformation we would need to live in authentic community. There. Read more.