Forming a firm identity: The pastoral challenge for ex-Muslim Christians

2012 10 23 AMISOM Hotel (8134668378).jpg
Photo by AMISOM Public Information – Flickr, CC0, Link  Mogadishu, Somalia

I recently attended a consultation in East Africa. Our goal was to formulate a strategy for evangelizing the unreached of East Africa and the Horn Africa, almost all Muslims. This talk was my own contribution to the consultation and was well received. It is an expansion of an earlier talk I gave in November of 2017.

I begin by arguing that persecution is not the main pastoral challenge for converts, rather is the formation of a firm, new Christian identity. I found this in my own research presented in Living among the Breakage (2016), and earlier research by Kathryn Kraft (2013) and Seppo Syrjänen (1984) contain similar findings.

Here I present ten points that can be used for people counseling and guidance for Christ’s converts from Islam:

A Firm Identity in Christ: The Pastoral Challenge for ex-Muslim Christians

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Filling in the Global Map for the Anglican Communion

From my latest post at Covenant, the blog of The Living Church:

So, let’s imagine a country where the Communion has no presence. Let’s imagine a country where having a Bible is against the law and where citizens who become Christians might be executed. Let’s think about a place where there is not a single church building. In the words of John Lennon, “It’s easy if you try.”

What would establishing a missionary diocese there look like?

Read it all HERE.

Reviewing Andy Stanley’s *Deep and Wide*

Deep and WideDeep and Wide by Andy Stanley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My wife and I have been in full-time Christian ministry for some 14 years now. I presently serve as pastor at the Anglican cathedral in Madrid. My main work has not been as a congregation pastor, but I’ve done a lot of teaching at churches throughout the USA and other countries as well. I’ve had many, many opportunities to see what is working and what is not working. I’ve seen that in everything from home churches to megachurches. I’ve seen it across denominations: Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Nazarene, Pentecostal—you name it.

A ministry partner of mine bought this book for me and my wife, Sharon. We slowly read it together over two years or so. But we did read it. We just finished it last night.

I’m excited about this book. I want to recommend it to everyone in church leadership and especially for pastors. I want to recommend it to people from every single denomination. Yes, yes, he’s not sensitive to liturgical realities, I get it. But still there is so much to learn and apply from this book.

The author’s main goal is to tell you how to create a church that is welcoming to unchurched people. He gives you pointers on sermons, ministry, leadership, and basic nut and bolts things like welcoming people and music. There is a load of useful stuff in here. Also, his writing style is easygoing and very readable.

Pick it up. Read it. You won’t regret it.

View all my reviews

Why Some Muslims are Attracted to Christianity

More Muslims have converted to the Way of Jesus Christ in the last four decades than in all the other years since the advent of Islam in the 7th Century. Something is certainly happening among Muslims and there is an openness in their society that was not there before. It’s also important to note that large numbers of nominal Christians, especially in Europe, are converting to Islam–a main reason being so they can marry Muslim women. Who has more converts? Not sure about that. I will say that Muslims converting to Christianity often pay a heavy price in terms of persecution, and that Westerners converting to Islam are afforded generous protection by their governments.

But here is the question: why are some Muslims attracted to the way of Jesus Christ? Here are some of the main reasons…

Read the rest of my article at the New Wineskins blog.

Revisiting Asimov’s *The Naked Sun*

The Naked Sun (Robot, #2)The Naked Sun by Isaac Asimov

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I first read this book when I was a teenager. It has aged very well. Asimov gives us a fascinating world in Solaris where people view each other often, but overall live in isolation, with hundreds of robots for each human. As an adult I found the ethical questions and anthropological questions particularly fascinating. For instance, how the Solarians raise their children, training them to live in solitude in spite of what seems like an ingrained human need for company and friends. And of course there is a murder mystery to solve. And robots. What’s not to like?

View all my reviews

“Thinking about Mission the Anglican Way” in *The Living Church*

I’m glad to share a new article just published at the blog of The Living Church. I am basically asking why Anglicans have a concrete approach to music, theology, and architecture, but don’t seem to have anything like this when it comes to global mission. Here is the lead:

Like most Christians, we Anglicans tend to love our traditions and cherish our identity, from the prayer book and particular holy days, or to the very idea of being a via media, Reformed and Catholic at the same time. We are excited when a new church plant or satellite campus opens, and in some Anglican circles there has been a veritable revival in church planting in North America and the United Kingdom. We usually appreciate our diversity — that one can be catholic or evangelical or liberal, though the last decade has tested some important boundaries. We like to send our ordinands off to seminaries within our tradition, we read books by our tradition’s authors (though not exclusively, of course), and we even have our styles of architecture and hymnody.

But then something funny happens on the way to world evangelism. When it comes to cross-cultural missionary work, we quickly forget about our Anglican distinctives. This doesn’t happen in other areas, so why does it happen with cross-cultural and global mission?

Check it all out here.