Friday, January 30, 2009
Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmaat
[We need] to embrace a "new bottom line" in which corporations, social practices, government policies and individual behaviors are judged rational, efficient or productive not only if they maximize money or power, but also to the extent that they maximize love and caring, kindness and generosity, ethical and ecological sensitivity, enhance our capacity to treat others as embodiments of the sacred and to respond with awe, wonder, and radical amazement at the grandeur of the universe.
- Rabbi Michael Lerner
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Spiritual business is an interesting concept. Is what you do all day at work part of who you are? Is it possible to be a deceitful crook all week but a good person on the weekend?
Can you succeed financially by acting in an ethical way?He goes on to explain that though there are even more unethical business people out there than ever, they don't necessarily succeed - people with ethics will progress.
In a competitive world, then, one with increasing light, the way to win is not to shave more corners or hide more behavior, because you're going against the grain, fighting the tide of increasing light. In fact, the opposite is true. Individuals and organizations that can compete on generosity and fairness repeatedly defeat those that only do it grudgingly.I like the idea of increasing light - wonder where he got that from?
I'm still officially on holiday - back next week - but this particular post caught my eye.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Just read the latest post on Tony Morgan's blog. He says, I just reread All Marketers Are Liars by Seth Godin. We discussed it together with the dudes in my coaching network on Friday. Here are some highlights that jumped out to me this time around [with my thoughts in brackets].
I'm not going to reproduce the post (it's fairly short) here. It's worth checking out, not only for Godin's usual sharp-minded points, but for Morgan's brief notes about they apply to the church. And they do.
As always, the comments are worth reading too.
Thursday, January 08, 2009
In fact. five of the 10 largest megachurches in the world are located in South Korea. According to last year’s research by the Economist, the Yoido Full Gospel Church claims 830,000 members, (yes, no extraneous 0s in there!) and grows by 3,000 members each month.
According to the book, Why Not Women, Dr. Yonggi Cho (the founder of the Yoido Full Gospel Church) was initially unsure whether gifted women teachers should have access to the pulpit because of cultural, rather than biblical, concerns. Yet, under the encouragement of Loren Cunningham - cofounder of Youth With a Mission - Dr. Cho began to open ministry opportunities for women, including positions as ministers and cell group leaders.
Several years later, Cho visited another country and was shocked at the small size of their churches. What was his recommendation? Dr. Cho said:
This is a slightly modified version of a post that appeared in the Sojourners website, under the title, Release Your Women, by Mimi Haddad.
I told them to release their women, but they insist that’s not the problem. They ask me “What’s the key to your church?” I tell them again, “release your women…” (Why Not Women, p. 69
FOCal's equivalent of a mission statement is:
FOCaL is set up to give a forum for those who hold to a progressive Christian faith and 'left of centre' political convictions. While not wishing to deny conservative Christians or conservative politicians their right to express their point of view, we feel that our society and the church needs to hear the voices of the Christian left.
FOCal leans towards the liberal point of view, but seems more inclusive - if that's not a contradiction in terms (!)
Anyway, the page I first alighted on was the Links page. This is worth checking out, even if you don't otherwise give the site much time - mainly because this links page will keep you busy for some time as it is!
The links are listed under various headings:
- Christian Reflections on Politics and Society (Sojourners, Third Way, WCC, for example);
- Social Services, Government Aid Agencies;
- Environmental Groups (A Rocha, ECEN, for example);
- Resources for Faith and Spirituality (Spirited Exchanges, Soulscape, Spirituality and Practice, for example)
- Worship Resources
- The "Emerging Church" (which has both Brian McLaren and the Methodist Parish of Dunedin);
- Alternative News Sources (includes Aljazeera);
- Humour and Miscellaneous (dare I say these were quite refreshing after the list above - I'm needing a holiday, obviously! This section includes the wonderful Lego Bible (the Brick Testament), and the rather odd Dog Church Org: The Virtual Church of the Blind Chihuahua.
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Islam is the fastest-growing religion in Britain: the number of Muslims has grown from 1.6 million to two million since 2000. Moreover, every major public institution has changed its policies to accommodate the demands of Islamic "community leaders". The Government, the Opposition, the police, schools, the Church of England, the BBC and now Channel 4 are all helping Muslims construct a parallel Islamic state.
The article is fair in its approach, but focuses on a number of issues that are causing a major divide within the British community: bookshops attacked for selling books on the child bride of Mohammed, Muslim girls kept from reaching their full educational potential, the 'Sharia law' being introduced into the British legal system, a National Association of Muslim Police which is consulted by the British police force, and most recently, the decision by Channel 4 to let President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad deliver an alternative 'Christmas' message.
Perhaps it's too late for Britain to turn things around. On the other hand, can it sustain a Christian heritage alongside an active and dogmatic Muslim one?
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
Doris Kearns Goodwin wrote a book in 2005 called Team of Rivals: the political genius of Abraham Lincoln, which was about the leadership lessons to be learned from Lincoln’s administration. One of the intriguing things Lincoln showed was his willingness to embrace the concept of a leadership team composed of men who were not only diverse in their views, but were his personal rivals as well. (In the last episodes of the last season of The West Wing, we see the incoming President doing the same sort of thing, particularly in relation to asking his Republican opponent to take on the role of Secretary of State.)
Jeff Knowles writes in Leadership online: Goodwin's thesis that great leadership neither punishes nor ignores ideological foes, but rather embraces them, has important implications for our increasingly large and complex church governmental structures. The danger of group-think is ever present in congregations where dissent is seen only as a problem. Church leaders often extol the virtues of 90 percent congregational confirmation votes for the new building program or the new minister, or the elders' "unanimous agreement" that the church needs to take a certain action. But we forget that many of God's commands in Scripture required leaders to go against the tides of popular opinion. If Abraham Lincoln could use the power of diverse opinions and contrary egos to save the nation, then we ought to look more closely at the benefits of dissenting opinions in our churches as well.
You can check out your own state of loneliness by looking at the UCLA Loneliness Scale - it'll only take a couple of minutes.
Chronic loneliness is as unhealthy as never exercising, not looking after your heart or your blood pressure. Increasingly medical people are realising that loneliness may be a major factor in people dying younger than expected.
Salon.com published an article by Katharine Mieszkowski a few days ago on the subject. Even though it doesn't mention the spiritual side of life to any extent, it looks closely at the problems of loneliness and their physical effects.
How can congregations minister to the lonely? Can they be helped at all?
Rhoades himself doesn't comment on this innovative way of doing church (!) but the people who read his page certainly do. It sets off a great argument about the rights and wrongs of the way the couple are going about 'being Christians' in this setting.
Well worth reading the comments as a way of thinking about the debate regarding Christians in the 'world'.
The Upside-down Kingdom
Sunday, January 04, 2009
The piece is by Daniel Oudshoorn, about whom I can't find a lot, except that he's been a student at Regent in Vancouver.
The essay is full of great quotes, but I'll stick to just one: Western Church talk about mission is often dominated by strategising. The church, driven by a pragmatism that is itself definitive of western culture, searches for the strategy that will cause mass conversion.
You can read the complete essay here.
Stimulus doesn't have all its material online; only a selection. However, many of their printed back editions are still available.
--Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners and author of The Great Awakening: Reviving Faith and Politics in a Post-Religious Right America
René Padilla writes on the Integral Mission blog and asks What is Integral Mission Anyway?
He begins by saying:
Although it has recently become fashionable to use the term integral mission, the approach to mission that it expresses is not new. The practice of integral mission goes back to Jesus himself and to the first century Christian church. Furthermore, a growing number of churches are putting this style of mission into practice without necessarily using this expression to refer to what they are doing: integral mission is not part of their vocabulary. It is clear that the practice of integral mission is much more important than the use of this new expression to refer to it.
He goes on to compare the traditional view of mission, with its four dichotomies, and then discusses integral mission:
When the church is committed to integral mission and to communicating the gospel through everything it is, does, and says, it understands that its goal is not to become large numerically, nor to be rich materially, nor powerful politically. Its purpose is to incarnate the values of the Kingdom of God and to witness to the love and the justice revealed in Jesus Christ, by the power of the Spirit, for the transformation of human life in all its dimensions, both on the individual level and on the community level.
Thursday, January 01, 2009
As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God. The subheading is: Missionaries, not aid money, are the solution to Africa's biggest problem - the crushing passivity of the people's mindset.
This intriguing article comes from Matthew Pariss, someone who knows Africa well, and who has had a longstanding relationship with it. His article, which appeared in The Times Online on the 27th December, begins:
Before Christmas I returned, after 45 years, to the country that as a boy I knew as Nyasaland. Today it's Malawi, and The Times Christmas Appeal includes a small British charity working there. Pump Aid helps rural communities to install a simple pump, letting people keep their village wells sealed and clean. I went to see this work.
It inspired me, renewing my flagging faith in development charities. But travelling in Malawi refreshed another belief, too: one I've been trying to banish all my life, but an observation I've been unable to avoid since my African childhood. It confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God.