The Emerging Church

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There seems to be a lot of interest in the emerging church conversation right now throughout the church. When it pushes too far against the envelope that it starts questioning scriptural truth, there’s certainly a problem! But there are some valuable things that the emerging church discussion has brought back to the surface of our faith.

1.) Emphasis on cultural understanding and relevance. This is of critical importance, especially in an international ministry perspective. The Bible was written in culture, is understood in culture, and is taught within culture, and we need to ensure we are doing our best to be true to each of those.

2.) Examination of what’s true and what’s tradition. Styles and expressions vary from era to era, and from country to country. We need to make allowances for those differing styles and their meanings, and use the benchmark of truth rather than familiarity.

3.) Focus on outreach. We are told in the Bible that we have the good news, and that we need to share it. That’s a foundational truth in scripture that is returned to within the emerging church conversation.

In recent times the words ’emergent church’ have become polarising, turning some off. This is unfortunate and unnecessary. While we need to be cautious and prayerfully reflective as we consider these things, I think the discussion gives us a new impetus to gain a deeper understanding of our faith.

What’s Going on Here?

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I was searching through our picture files for something specific the other day (can’t even remember what anymore) , and I happened on this picture of Steve, our Latin America Area Director.


When I showed it to another colleague here at Home Office, she joked matter-of-factly, “Oh, he’s killing him.” Mercifully, that’s not what’s going on at all! Let’s call this a ‘dry run’.

Taken at Nueva Belen (the Quechua church in Bolivia that was included in our recent Year End Projects), Steve and Pastor Diego are demonstrating to a number of candidates what to expect in the upcoming baptism service. This is an example of the creativity we celebrate here: with the language barrier between Quechua and Spanish, it is far easier for them to show this than to try to explain it.

But it sure makes for some rather unusual photo ops!

Op-Ed: Missions as Activism?

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If you’re into missions, there’s a good chance it’s because you care about people. But sometimes as we face a large, hurting world, it’s challenging to know where to begin. Some turn to politicians, trying to implement a large-scale change from the leadership. Others work socially, trying to change the mindset of their friends and peers. And some simply give up before they even get started. The problems are so overwhelming, the question becomes “Why bother?” or “What can I do?”

I think it’s interesting that the world is becoming increasingly activist. There is more media emphasis on the environment (e.g. An Inconvenient Truth), on social justice issues (e.g. The Constant Gardner and Blood Diamond), war in the Middle East, and a host of other causes. This is both good and bad for the church. Good, because people are getting used to being involved in some way. Bad, because it’s easy to treat being a Christian like just one more agenda. And that’s not the way it’s supposed to be.

I like this quote taken from the 1999 MSF Nobel Prize acceptance speech: “Humanitarianism is not a tool to end war or to create peace. It is a citizens’ response to political failure.” What does this imply for Christians? As Christians, we are compelled to act out the love we claim. And there are innumerable failures to be addressed with it. Sometimes action needs to be impulsive. Even dangerous.

Missions involves risk. We all recognise and honour the risk. But we each need to adopt some of it. It’s God’s greater vision. And He promises that, one way or another, the payoff is worth the price!

Agua Viva Building Progress

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The building project in Mexico for the Agua Viva (Living Water) church is developing swiftly.

As reported by Reg and Linda, a couple deeply connected with the Mexico team, this phase of the building project has been completed in a remarkable five weeks! The basis of the construction project is a steel structure, covered in styrofoam which is then coated with concrete. A team from Webster, Alberta offered their assistance with this stage.

Give thanks with us for the amazing accomplishments this past six weeks! Would you like to join is in Hermosillo to carry on this great kingdom project? We need electricians, plumbers, and drywallers. If you want to participate, send us an email.

Op-Ed: Age-Old Missions in a New-Fangled World

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Have you noticed that being a Christian has become somewhat controversial recently? It’s an interesting paradigm to grasp. The world is adopting a “live-and-let-live” type tolerance, and Christianity is kind of at odds with that. In two ways. On one hand, we have a moral code that is (or should be!) more stringent than that of the world, so don’t want to tolerate ‘bad behaviour’. And on the other, we are called to love our neighbours, even our enemies, which defies mere tolerance. But at least the latter part of that should be attractive, so what is it that’s disconnecting?

I think the problem is that evangelism flies in the face of our larger culture’s “what-you-believe-is-OK-for-you,-what-I-believe-is-OK-for-me” mentality. We are making truth claims, and asserting that Jesus Christ has answers to life’s questions that can’t be found anywhere else. And one of our truth claims is that there are consequences to not adopting the same truth claims. If not handled with great tact, this can come across as very arrogant. (If the truth is infected with pride, it’s not really truth.) It’s a simple switch from “You have to believe what I believe” to “I invite you to follow who I follow”. One is unforgivably haughty, and the other is the ultimate in humility. And as a side benefit, the way that someone follows Christ becomes much less important than the fact that they are following Christ, which is at it should be.

Postmodernism (simply translated: “question everything”) is forcing us to examine the mechanics of our faith. How do we share the love of Christ in a way that can be understood rationally and practically at the same time? How do we stay true to our faith, and still remain culturally in-tune? In the context of global outreach, these questions take on even more significance, because we’re straddling (at least!) two different cultures. Well, mistakes get made, and misunderstandings happen. But we succeed when we honestly admit to them, humbly apologize for them, and even allow ourselves to laugh along with others about them.

Every day stories are happening all over the world that show how invested God is in this. It is His truth, and we seek to share it with the people that He made. And that’s a goal that hasn’t changed for a couple of millenia, or so.