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 Portland Area ChurchesFinding Christian Community in Portland, Oregon

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 MISCELLANEOUS INDEX to articles, links, events, and resources

Hiebert’s Critical Contextualization

Hirsch and Frost look at Paul Hiebert’s view of contextualization in regard to mission in The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the 21 Century Church (Michael Frost & Alan Hirsch, Hendrickson, Peabody, Massachusetts, 2003, p. 89).

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Hiebert's model attempts to build safeguards that minimize the risk and limit the possibility of syncretism or a betrayal of the gospel. First, he encourages the church to engage seriously with an examination of the host culture, as we've been advocating. Second, he strongly recommends a clear commitment to biblical authority. A missional church ought to be filled with students of the Word of God. He says,

This step is crucial, for if the people do not clearly grasp the biblical message as originally intended, they will have a distorted view of the gospel. This is where the pastor or missionary...has the most to offer in an understanding of biblical truth and in making it known in other cultures. While the people must be involved in the study of Scripture so that they grow in their own abilities to discern truth, the leader must have the meta-cultural grids that enable him or her to move between cultures.

So the role of missional church leadership includes the examination of the community it is trying to reach and the teaching of biblical truth to a local congregation. The third step "is for the people corporately to evaluate critically their own past customs in the light of their new biblical understandings, and to make decisions regarding their response to their new-found truths." Hiebert's next step sounds easy, but is in fact very demanding. After emphasizing the importance of the expertise of the evangelist/missionary in the second step, he now turns the process back to the people. This is an important feature of his model; it is congregationally based. It is not reliant on "experts." It validates the contribution of new converts and longer term committed Christians. Only at the stage of Bible teaching does he emphasize the role of the leadership. He says, "(The gospel) is a message to which people must respond. . . . It is not enough that the leaders be convinced about changes that may be needed. Leaders may share their personal convictions and point out the consequences of various decisions, but they must allow the people to make the final decision in evaluating their past customs." His assumption is that the new converts understand their culture better than do those of us who examine it from without. If we teach the Bible effectively, and if we have examined the culture creatively, then we must trust the Christian community to evaluate the changes in language, customs, practices, and beliefs that need to be embraced in order to critically contextualize the gospel.

This is where Hiebert is at his most radical. He wants leaders to trust the congregation, something that clergy have been notoriously poor at doing in the past. If the process is guided effectively, he suggests a number of ways a congregation might respond to old beliefs and customs.

 

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A Sense of Expectation in Myanmar

Thursday, 11 November 2010

(from CWM: http://www.cwmission.org/features/a-sense-of-expectation)

As the world waits for Myanmar's election results, Rev Lalengzauva talks about how the church is sharing the good news:

Most people in Myanmar are just not interested in politics. Maybe they don't see hope coming from political change. Instead they pay attention to their own daily struggle. Whether you like it or not - you have to be satisfied with the situation where you are.

My personal point of view, though, is that Myanmar has changed. We have a lot more freedom than we did a decade ago.

But life is still uncertain. When we know the outcome of Sunday's election, we may be able to imagine the kind of future we are going to have.

Reaching out

Our people are growing in their faith. We can see this in the way they carry out their ministry in the country. All the churches are working hard to reach out to the non-Christians, the Buddhists and other faith groups.

The Presbyterian Church in Myanmar has appointed a person to be sent among the Buddhists to share the good news.

And since last year, the church in Singapore also helped us to send two evangelists. These two evangelists are now sharing their faith with other people. They are working on a carry out home-to-home visit system. They go in, talking and sharing with people. It is not direct evangelism, it is indirect evangelism first.

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Biggest Obstacle to World Mission

(from "Idolatry is Biggest Obstacle to World Mission, Says U.K. Theologian" By Michelle A. Vu|Christian Post Reporter |Sunday, Oct. 24 2010 11:06 AM EDT

CAPE TOWN, South Africa – Respected theologian Chris Wright gave a challenging critique Saturday of the evangelical movement when he said a disturbing number of its leaders are guilty of idolatry.

Respected theologian Chris Wright, international director of U.K.-based Langham Partnerships and the main drafter of Cape Town Commitment, speaks at the Lausanne Conference about integrity in evangelical leaders on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010, in Cape Town, South Africa.

God’s people today, like in the Old Testament, have fallen to worshiping the false gods and idols of the world, said the international director of U.K.-based Langham Partnerships as he spoke before the thousands attending the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangeliziation.

“Idolatry … is the biggest single obstacle to world mission,” said Wright, who will be the main drafter of the much-anticipated Cape Town Commitment that will come out of the weeklong gathering of mission-minded Christian leaders.

According to Wright, the three idols are: power and pride, popularity and success, and wealth and greed.

Many evangelical leaders, he said, have become obsessed about their status and power in the Christian church and have become disobedient to Christ in the process. They worship popularity and therefore exaggerate or report dishonest statistics to make themselves look more successful than they are Similar to the false prophets of old, these leaders claim to speak the word of God but really act in their own self-interest.

“The Church was dazzled by these super apostles who boasted about their credentials and their impressive speaking and great popularity,” said the theologian, whose ministry was once led by John Stott, the evangelical leader who was the main drafter of the first two Lausanne covenants.

But the Kingdom of God cannot be built on the foundations of dishonesty and lies, such as questionable statistics of success, he said. It also cannot be built based on the false teaching of prosperity gospel, which distorts what it means to be blessed by God and does not properly teach about suffering and the cross, Wright added.

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