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Friday, July 29, 2011

Implications of a Kingdom Mindset

A Kingdom Mindset is neither American nor European; it’s not the product of twentieth century, first century, or ancient thought; nor is it the property of a particular religion.

A Kingdom Mindset is in a category all its own. It stands in stark contrast to all cultural mindsets because it was neither conceived of, nor developed, in the heart of man.

Cultural mindsets, on the other hand, are very much the product of man. Whether it be:
a Religious Mindset or a Western Church Mindset;
an American Mindset or an Asian Mindset;
a Corporate Mindset or a Political Mindset;
an Academic Mindset or a Military Mindset;
a Modern Mindset or a Medieval Mindset;
an Urban Mindset or a Small Town Mindset;
All cultural mindsets are, understandably so, conceived of and developed in the mind of man.

Furthermore, whereas cultural mindsets change and adapt over time, a Kingdom Mindset remains the same regardless of cultural context. There's no mystery here - the two mindsets are simply as different as, well, apples & oranges!

In fact, if anything does change about a Kingdom Mindset, it's simply our awareness and understanding of how to live out the implications of a Kingdom Mindset within a particular cultural context.

But what happens when a kingdom mindset intersects with, say, a religious mindset, or western church mindset, or even a first century Jewish mindset?

Can we assume that the former will be represented accurately and with high fidelity by the latter?

2000 years ago we got the answer to that question and found out exactly what happens when a kingdom mindset intersects with a particular cultural mindset, in this case, within a Jewish context!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Assumptions and Absolutes

NOTE: This is Part 2 of a two week series. If you haven't read Part 1, Our Message - Not Like the Others, you can do so by clicking here.
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Last week, the key point made was that though our message, the Gospel, is wholly unlike any other message on the face of the earth, the forms and practices of our western church system can often have more in common with the "other messages" than with the unique and radical message that we hold so dear.

In this post we’re going to develop that point a step further by taking a closer look at how the traditions and deeply rooted assumptions of the messenger have the potential to hinder the message we hold so dear.

The target audience of this two week series is not so much those who don’t care about the Gospel, but those who, in fact, care deeply. Furthermore, this is not primarily written for those who don’t view the Scriptures as their authority, but rather for those who do.

With that said, I think it's safe to say that all of us who view the authority of Scripture as the supreme authority believe that its teachings must take precedence over all else.

Whether it’s church history, family upbringing or culture, the teaching of a particular denomination, theological system, or Christian organization, we all believe that the teaching of Scripture must, on each and every occasion, take precedence.

That’s not to say, of course, that these other things have no value.

In and of itself, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with living according to western church tradition, a particular denominational system, or even our own personal preferences. Many great men and women of God have gone before us and we have much to gain from their teaching and experiences.

There’s also nothing necessarily wrong with preferring one particular approach over another. That’s what culture is. By and large we live the way we do because we prefer it over any other approach to life. Life is most comfortable to us when approached in a manner that we've become accustomed to. It’s part of our “first birth,” and there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that.

The problem lies in the elevation of our "preferred approach" to a level that is equal or superior to the Scriptures. As Mark 7 warns:
When the Scriptures are inadvertently placed in an equal or subordinate role to a prevailing mindset, culture, or system we have a major problem indeed. I say "inadvertently" because, after all, no one would purposely set out to undermine the Scriptures unless they themselves were an enemy of the cross.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Our Message - Not Like the Others?

NOTE: This is part one of a two week series. If you want to go to Part 2, Assumptions and Absolutes, you can do so by clicking here.
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When crossing cultures with the Gospel just how difficult of a task is it to bring “the message” to a particular people without entangling that message in the “cultural trappings” of the messenger? Does it even matter?

If by “culture” we mean eating with silverware instead of chopsticks, or shaking hands instead of bowing, it’s probably not very difficult at all to leave culture out of the message.

However, if by culture we mean "church culture," that is, the forms, practices, and deeply rooted assumptions of the "western church system," it’s another matter entirely.

Allow me to explain!

The message we bring to the nations is a truly unique and radical message that, in every respect, is wholly unlike any other message on the face of the earth.

Unlike the other messages, God does not respond to what we do, we respond to what God does. Unlike the other messages, the focus is not on the outward, the focus is on the inward.

Unlike the other messages, acceptable worship is not about participation in rituals, acceptable worship is about the response of the heart in spirit and truth. Unlike the other messages, God does not dwell in a building, He dwells in human hearts.

And unlike the other messages, this message is not bound to one particular earthly culture, religious culture, or "church system," it’s bound to a unique culture all its own – kingdom culture!

But wait!

When we stop to take an objective look at the forms, practices and mindset of our western church system what do we see? Is it more reflective of the unique and radical message that we hold so dear, or is it more reflective of the other “messages” that exist in the world today?

Friday, July 01, 2011

Why Blog? Why Now?

What's this blog all about and what can you expect to gain from it?

I'm convinced that we are in the middle of yet another major paradigm shift in church history.

One factor that leads me to believe that comes from what I see God doing as a result of our determined efforts, as the people of God, to take the Gospel into the rocky soil nations within Asia and the Middle East.

The indifference, hostility, and overall lack of Gospel impact over the decades has forced us, albeit kicking and screaming, to go back to the Scriptures for a second look at our deeply rooted assumptions about missions and ministry.

This process of reexamining our presuppositions in the light of Scripture is having a profound impact on our understanding of the Church, the Gospel, and the Kingdom of God.

More than that, we're all being forced to trust the leading of the Holy Spirit in ways never imagined a generation ago. Something marvelous is happening in the hearts of God's people and calling it a shift in paradigm is but one way to describe what God is doing.

Obviously you don’t need to go to Asia or the Middle East to recognize that right here, right now; in our own society in America; we’re facing some of the same issues that missionaries have faced for decades in the rocky soil nations.

The difference, however, is that unlike the rocky soil nations, the church in America not only enjoys a long, proud history of helping to shape western society, but the protection of the State that guarantees, by law, our right to exist.

In the rocky soil nations, the church has never played an integral part in society and there is little or no protection under the law. The kind of issues we're facing in America and the kind of questions we're asking are, quite honestly, pale in comparison to the kind of issues facing the people of God in the rocky soil nations.