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Ted’s Travels

Ted’s Travels

Today I checked my account on kayak.com where I send all of my trip receipts. This allows me to track my travels in a phone app while I am out and about.

Turns out they now have some infographic-style data they give you about your travel history. It was fun to see it and I reformatted it into this little “Tedfographic.”

Yes, a little narcissistic… but fun!

47 Johnson

47 Johnson

This is my 2nd old motor rebuild. A 1947 2.5 hp Johnson Seahorse. I didn’t crank it up before taken it apart so I don’t know know how she will run yet…

The World Christian Podcast

The World Christian Podcast

World Christian Podcast logo
News and info from the front lines of the global Christian movement.

From 2005 to 2008 I put out twenty episodes of the World Christian Podcast. There were news items, short facts about the global Christian movement and interviews of people doing ministry around the world. Some of the interviews were conducted via Skype, giving the podcast an eyewitness feeling.

Life happens and I was doing a PhD. I gave up the podcast in light of other involvements. In the last few months I have a set of rather strange encounters with former listeners. A number of them said, “Ted, do more of them!”

 

So, starting in a few weeks, you will once again be able to download new episodes of the World Christian Podcast. Watch here and on twitter/Facebook for an announcement.

I have a special couple to interview for this re-launch and I think you will enjoy it!

Podcast Shownotes – Movements

Podcast Shownotes – Movements

World Christian Podcast – Click here to listen

RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS and ACORNS

(Note: This material is largely based on the work of Gerlach and Hines, cited at the end of this article.)

Something that fascinates many people is the idea of movements and how they form, and how they are generated; in fact, I’ve decided to do my Ph. D research in this area. I want to share with you an acronym that I recently developed based on the work with a couple of different researchers that I think has really helped me to articulate in a short amount of time, what makes up a movement. How they happen and what goes into making a movement occur. The acronym is ACORNS. And of course, the idea behind this is that a small little acorn becomes a huge oak tree and often times that’s the case with movements.

A. Affinity Recruitment

Affinity Recruitment is the idea that movements tend to work best when new members are brought into the movement along existing social lines. For example, students who tell other students about Christ -they will grow a movement , a Christian movement across the lines of the affinity group of students. We see affinity recruitment in almost every social movement that’s out there, and I think that religious movements more so than social movements.

C. Common Experience

When we experience something with somebody else, that tends to cement the relationship and pulls us closer together. In the case of religious movements you’ll find that most of them will have some sort of Common Experience that is expressed through the movement . So for example if you are a Christian in one of the Arab countries, that Common Experience typically would be baptism. One could profess faith in Christ but when baptism occurs, then all of a sudden you are identified by your culture and by your peers as a Christian. In that context the Common Experience would be baptism. Some researchers have made the argument that within Pentecostalism, it is the similar ecstatic experiences that make up the Common Experience that makes it most important.

O. Opposition

Sometimes the Opposition may not be significant. One researcher studied Pentecostal movements in a midwestern city and he pointed to the opposition that these Christians face from other Christians because of their theology. Most of the time the Opposition that we are talking about would be more along the lines that we see in China, where it is directly against the religious movement, not a particular practice within that movement. In any case, most of the major religions make room for Opposition as a proof of their validity.

R. Revolutionary Ideology

Certainly, Christianity teaches a Revolutionary Ideology. If you follow Jesus, you become a new person. What’s more revolutionary than that? That’s personal transformation. There’s also the idea of cultural transformation inherent in Christianity. You can also find similar themes in other religions as well.

N. Network Structure

Religious movements do not have a centralized or controlling authority within them. One set of researchers described this network structure as “an acephalous reticulated network structure.” Do you know what a cephalous is? Well reach up there and grab for your head because that’s your cephalous. So achepalous means headless or without a head. Reticulated is best thought of when you see the back of the leaf and you see all the veins leading to one common spot. That is a reticulated structure. In other words, the various nodes of a network have some type of interconnection between them. So an achephalous reticulated network structure is common among most religious movements.

S. Spiritual Dynamism

Of all the letters this one may be the most important one. The Spiritual Dynamic that you’d find in most Christian movements is, of course, centered around the person of Christ and the Holy Spirit. I don’t think that there’s any research that’s been done that doesn’t highly emphasize the spiritual character or nature of that particular movement. Whether that would be a “student volunteer movement” (a missions movement from the early 1900’s) or the current expansion of the church in China, or the church in Mongolia, or the Pentecostal movement in the United States, the spiritual element is very important.

So that’s a little acronym for you to think about movements – ACORNS. Affinity Recruitment. Common Experience. Opposition. Revolutionary Ideology and Network Structure. Topped of by perhaps the most important: Spiritual Dynamism.

Endnotes:

Gerlach, L. P., and V. H. Hine. 1968. Five Factors Crucial to the Growth and Spread of a Modern Religious Movement. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 7 (1):23-40.

What’s the ROI on your giving?

What’s the ROI on your giving?

If you raise funds for any kind of non-profit venture, you will no doubt have noticed a sea of change in how people give. I am not talking about the “I give online” movement – that’s a change in methodology only. I mean, “What are people willing to give to these days?”

The predominate shift that our organization has noticed is that givers want to have much more say over how their money is being spent, a business-oriented approach to solving problems, and higher levels of accountability. While this is a great thing in some ways, it is also detrimental in others. A recent New York Times article highlights this new trend. It is well worth reading.

The author provides some interesting critiques of these shifts. The first is that the non-profit exist because by their very nature they are better suited to handle some problems than for-profits. Things that are difficult to measure are often not considered as viable activities by for-profit ventures. So, non-profits are created to address these issues.

A focus on project funding (with very specific deliverables and start/end dates) has forced short-term thinking onto non-profits. In some ways these is not unlike Wall Street’s obsession with short-term profits at the cost of long-term profitability. There is little investment in the infrastructure of the non-profit world and over time we will see the results of this in a diminishing return on any investment we make in them.

Another point is well summed up in the last paragraph, in a quote from Ms. Enright of the Grantmakers for Effective Organizations:

“The presumption is that the donor knows more about how to address a given problem than its grantees, and I think that’s usually not a correct presumption,” she said, “More operating support can shift the locus of action and ideas to the people who are closest to the problem.”

In other words, “Do we trust those people on the ground that are closest to the problems to make the right decisions OR are we telling them what to do from afar?” The history of missions would suggest that when the “home office” tells “the field” what to do there are problems. It’s far better to let those closest to the action make the most decisions. Yet, in a rush for greater accountability, there seems to be a huge shift toward donors being empowered to make funding decisions.

Associated with this trend is the BAM movement. I am a firm believer that the BAM movement is a very positive trend within the mission community. There are, however, parallels to this movement’s weaknesses and the weaknesses mentioned in the New York Times article.

For example, a common theme I hear within the BAM movement is that business men and women are better able to reach the world than “traditional missionaries.” Why? Well, they have been successful in business, of course, so they therefore see themselves as equipped to do have the same success in ministry. This is also a phenomena I have observed among some large, aggressive mega-churches. In both cases I want to make sure to note that it’s not always the case, but it is something I have personally observed.

Let me ask a simple diagnostic question about funding a particular ministry for you to ponder. If you were approached by the Old Testament prophet Isaiah to be a part of his “support team,” what would be your answer? As you know, Isaiah didn’t experience much success in the outward manifestation of his ministry. In fact, he himself said that he saw no spiritual transformation in the people to whom he ministered. Isaiah’s “non-profit” (no pun intended) had its doors open for about forty years. He was under orders to make it difficult for Israel to repent (see Isaiah 6:10). Now that’s the kind of ministry that I want to support!

Yet, Isaiah was God’s man for the job. Would you support him? Would you ask him what the “ROI” (return on investment) would be for the donations you are making?

Somehow the idea of “Giving” and “ROI” doesn’t seem quite right to me. On the other hand, irresponsible giving is also an error. Does the solution lie in balancing our giving?Perhaps we need to diversify our giving portfolio… Oh-oh, I just did it again!

Christ’s Alamo

Christ’s Alamo

(This article just appeared on Move Further)

In 1999 I stood in the midst of an unusual cemetery. It was a collection of bodies that were not buried but rather stacked in rows on a field, with police tape surrounding the area. These bodies were to be used as evidence in a United Nations investigation of Serb atrocities against Kosovars. The sad thing was that these atrocities had been committed in the name of Serb nationalism… and in the name of Christ.

For a people like the Kosovars religion is more than a belief system but also a political identity. As missionaries endeavor to work in Kosovo they are faced with a historical problem: the Serbs fought against the Kosovars in the name of Christ. How does one overcome this distorted view of Christ?

That same year two young Kosovar men who became followers of Christ soon after they had arrived in Bosnia as refugees. What made them take this leap of faith into cultural suicide? Was it a film, or brochure, a book, or a snazzy gospel presentation? No, it was none of those things. It was a couple of missionaries who regularly visited the refugee camp, played sports with the young men there, and invited them into their homes. It was, in a word, love working its way into their hearts through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is hard for us to show love without “being there.” From Afghanistan to Zaire we live in a world where violence opens the gap between love and hate so plainly that real love is a stark contrast to the reality of war.

As Muslim troops spread toward the heart of Europe in the 1300s, a key battle was held in Kosovo. The Serbs held their ground against incredible odds but in the end, lost to the invaders. Just as Americans might say, “Remember the Alamo,” the Serbs would say, “Remember Kosovo.” Conversely, many a Muslim has told me to “Remember the Crusades.” On February 17th, 2008, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia. What do I think of this latest development? I realize it’s an important step politically for this emerging nation. Yet, the real battle is for men’s hearts. It’s not remembering the things that have been done to our people, but remembering what Christ has done for us that is so much more important.

Remember the Cross.

Church Planting

Church Planting

I feel that I spend much of my time thinking about church planting from afar and maybe it’s time to change that.

As a cross-cultural church planter I felt a very strong call to my role. Since then I have moved stateside and have worked more on the mobilization of others to do cross-cultural church planting. I continue to feel a strong call toward empowering others to do church planting. Yet…

Here in Orlando there is much opportunity for church planting. The growth in the community and the stark spiritual needs in this area is huge.

Papuan Demographics

Papuan Demographics

I was reading the Missions Catalyst (sign up here) and came across an article on Muslim demographics in Papua. What struck is the following note, taken from the original source on the WEA website:

“According to Dr Elmslie, highland Papuans who allegedly have gonorrhoea are being treated in UN-funded family planning clinics — but not for gonorrhoea. They are being injected instead with long-term contraceptive drugs. As Dr Elmslie notes, this goes some way to explaining why the 1.67 percent population growth rate for Melanesian Papuans in West Papua is so much lower in than over the 2.6 percent population growth rate for Melanesian Papuans over the border in Papua New Guinea (PNG). (Meanwhile, the growth rate for the non-Papuan population in West Papua is 10.5 percent.)” (full story here).

If this is true, then it is truly sinister.

The Kind of Leaders We Need

The Kind of Leaders We Need

We need leaders. You hear it all the time. In our office we had a recent call for some to step up to the plate and lead a team in a mission critical task: to serve breakfast to the office staff. We used the following criteria to pick our leaders:

“What kind of leaders are need for this task? Well, people are chosen for leadership that display a rugged yet graceful demeanor, they can be intimidating at times while being warm and welcoming. They are experienced, yet can see things with fresh eyes. These leaders are strong yet gentle, meek and forceful, timid yet able to domineer when the situation calls for it. They can quickly assess a situation without jumping to conclusions (able to make well thought out decisions on the spur of the moment). They will build consensus as they rely on their own wits. They have well formed philosophies and opinions about the way forward which are intertwined with a listening and sympathetic approach to problem solving that is unbiased and open. They love ownership and responsibility yet seek consensus in all things, getting everybody’s input without taking a lot of time in the process. They are well balanced with outstanding strengths in just a few strategic, yet inclusive, areas. These are leaders who know how to follow. They are administratively gifted with strong people skills. These leaders are multi-taskers who are able to focus exclusively on one thing at a time. They are studious and adventurous, serious yet light-hearted, strong-willed and flexible.”

Any takers?