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Hope of Nations by John S. Dickerson is a strong call to the church to awake from their bed of apathy and rise up with a newly focused call to missions. It describes the hostile land in which we live, the stark reality of our Post-Christian, Post-Truth society. The book also shares the hope we have for the future with a caveat that the responsibility for that future lies in how we move forward. Will we continue unchanged or move with the fervor and boldness of missionaries past?
Several points I have already blogged about here and here. Here are some more thoughts from my reading:
“Following World War II, some 93 percent of Americans identified as Christian—either Protestant or Catholic. That was only seven decades ago. On today’s trajectory, it is almost certain that fewer than half of Americans will identify as Christian by 2048 (that figure includes very nominal and casual Christians). In a time of unprecedented peace and prosperity compared to historical averages, one of the most Christianized nations in history has steadily turned away from its faith. (pg. 140)” Coincidentally, an increase in mental health diagnoses has occurred. Violence has increased. Addictions are on the rise. Suicides appear up. Mental health is a 203.6 billion dollar industry.
“Enjoying the fruits while neglecting the roots. (Pg. 161)” A lack of historical knowledge of our country’s Christian roots and institutions and a lack of knowledge of history, in general, is hurting our nation. Hope of Nations talks about Germany and how Nazism began. The book reminds us to care for the country our grandparents and ancestors worked to maintain so that we might enjoy its prosperity.
Hope of Nations goes over several probable endings for America. All are terrifying. One particular scenario will only continue this sense of apathy in the church while others may bring about revival as we lose the possessions and comforts we presently value over God’s desire for our obedience.
The growth of the unchurched. It is mostly the older generation that gives to missions and its causes. The unchurched didn’t grow up steeped in church tradition and may be unfamiliar with the Great Commission and how to exercise their faith. In fact, when a church begins a series on stewardship, I often hear people refer to it as the church asking for more money. Without a theological understanding of stewardship, America may not long enjoy having the richest churches around the globe.
Manifesto gives us guidelines on how to navigate this new world. Hope of Nations calls all of us to recognize that we need to learn from our missionaries how to act and share our faith in an increasingly hostile culture.
Let me remind you of the stats cementing why it is important for churches and individuals to support what I am doing with WorldVenture:
1 missionary for every 200,000 to 400,000 people (depending on whom you ask).
1 pastor for an average 300-person church. Or a staff for a 4,000 person church that is often over-worked.
We expect a level of sacrifice from our missionaries and pastors, but not from ourselves. Hope of Nations reaffirms for me the importance of my calling in social media to mobilize the church and strategically design partnerships for a global revival. Hope of Nations prepares us for moving into a future as people with purpose and a hope. Let’s put to the cross our fears, our prejudices, our politics, and our offenses and realize that we are all image-bearers of God. Let’s share that gift of hope with others through good works, compassion, and truth.
“Roots Writers and Social Media Critique Group is about online dicipleship. It’s a movement for writers to return to the roots of why they write. We live in an age where the power of ideas is far mightier than the sword. Since the invention of the printing press in 1440, Christians have access to more people than in any other time in history via social media and technology, including unreached people groups. Roots is a global movement, gathering Christian writers that share the same Biblical beliefs as what we find here, together in small group style meetings that are free of charge. Roots encourage our writers to join other fee-based writers groups for the perks of what they provide. We also work in partnership with fee-based writers groups, not in competition with them.
The writers of roots meet to pray, encourage, and give and receive positive critiques of their work whether that work is fiction, non-fiction, blogs, scripts, and mini-stories posted online.
The only agenda we have at Roots is to serve the Lord as called and obedient servants through the gift He has given us in the arts of writing.”
Be praying for this movement to take off. We did have an interest from a pastor in another state to start one at his church. If you are interested in creating a Roots Group, stay tuned when the website is complete.
How can a pastor of a 300 to 5,000 member church give quality time to each congregant member? How can a missionary possibly give quality time to 216,300 people? How can a famous online Christian with thousands or millions of followers develop individual relationships with strangers? In a recent conversation, someone wanted to give a lead on a new believer to a missionary. Instead, I encourage every church member to tap into the resources available, the guidance of mentors at your church, and available missionaries or pastors to ask for help in answering the call to an unbelievers questions about Jesus. That’s what I do…one of my jobs as a worker with WorldVenture is to empower the believer to answer God’s calling in their own lives through social media.
Tribals – 714,108,000 population with 11,900 Missionaries: 1 for every 60,000
Hindus – 984,532,000 population with 5,500 Missionaries: 1 for every 179,000
Unreligious – 831,267,000 population with 11,700 Missionaries: 1 for every 71,000
Muslims – 1,703,146,000 population with 4,200 Missionaries: 1 for every 405,500
Buddhists – 520,002,000 population with 2,000 Missionaries: 1 for every 260,000
With Social Media and technology, the church congregation can partner with their church’s mission and vision to reach their community, and the church can partner with their missionary organization to work directly with available missionaries in building local churches and local fellowship of faiths greatly reducing the above stats; thereby answering a calling.
Imagine if a believer in our own country took the time and trouble to build relationships on and offline with a non-believer who may not agree with them politically, culturally, and who may have come from another country. Imagine if that non-believer became a believer and was taught to share the Gospel with friends and family members via Social Media who live in their home country in their heart language?
But first, the congregation needs individual training on how to answer God’s call on and offline. It’s harder than it sounds. It’s much easier to give in to insecurity and pass on the opportunity to our pastors and missionaries. Developing those online and offline relationships can be acutely frustrating, challenging, but worth it. Learning about the culture, understanding the language (even while using Google Translate), and learning to care about the person you are speaking to in person and online is an important part of a church congregation partnering with their church in online outreach teams.
After the pie, when all the dishes are cleaned, and life returns to normal portions, my mind returns to pressing needs like TRC Magazine’s next edition. It’s the last edition of 2017. It’s been a fruitful year.
December means our Intern is coordinating the social media for TRC Magazine in honor of Advent. We’ll see devotionals and maybe some interviews. Renee, our volunteer, will compliment our intern’s social media with her art.
TRC Magazine is not an ordinary ezine. We publish stories to influence and make a difference. We also teach our volunteers and intern to engage with our readers. Our readers are global. They come from a variety of backgrounds. Not all are believers. Our vision is not to chase the stories everyone else is chasing. It’s a creative way to empower the church to serve online.
V leaned toward me, her phone in the palm of her hand, showing me pictures and videos of her recent church short term missions trip to Guatemala. She shared deeply what God had done in her through the trip and how her team members were right by her side at a crisis moment. It so reminded me of Honduras.
Short term trips do as much for the people of the country as they do for the team. When you go on a short term trip, you return home different. The people leave footprints in your life that never go away. V wanted to keep in touch with some of the leadership and team, and had collected a few email addresses while in Guatemala. At this point, the conversation went from friend-to-friend to a social media class to learn how to use her seldom-used Facebook in a global way.
Privacy is an issue for V for reasons I won’t go into, and as the afternoon sunshine gave way to monsoonal wind, rain, and lightening, we nearly closed down Starbucks. V had both her tablet and phone as I taught her how to copy and paste links, create statuses, edit photos, and share her faith without revealing personal information. She even shared her story in a Facebook Live video, being okay with it being public.
The next step was walking her through inviting her Guatemalan friends to “friend” her on Facebook. She used Google translate to type out her message to them and copied and pasted the Spanish text into the body of the email. While Google translate is wonderful, it is always best to learn the language of the culture you wish to reach.
V is not just a dear friend, but an avid prayer support. You read my story about P, and now you are learning about V. Both attend the same church. Imagine if every church member shared their faith with their “Oikos” online, took the time to mentor people online, and shared statuses that reflect their face-to-face personality, inviting further conversation? The church would be powerful, indeed. This is partly what I do. I am a trainer of those who wish to be more than spectator Christians.
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Originally, I wrote this as a status on Facebook when I left, after almost 11 years, a job at Solid Rock Christian Fellowship, to start a full time job that would help me pay the bills better as I raise support. But it is a prayer for the global church. Feel free to share it.
Coffee With Nikki are short episodes addressing older Christians or the technologically challenged to help the church body use this tool to share the Gospel and build relationships online. If you would like to hear more about hashtags, you can go to my free Facebook class in May or we can set up a Zoom or Skype session to talk.
I am happy to report that I have finally passed the 50% mark in my Kindle of the required reading from WorldVenture called, Intercultural Communication For Christian Ministry.
Between working a full-time job and working full-time ministry, reading is challenging. Added to this, it’s not your Hallmark easy reading book, but heavy, like lifting weights at the gym; only it’s working the muscles in the brain.
Something that I would like to share with you is this quote:
“Since people of any one cultural group do not think in one style alone, but rather in a variety of styles, it can be useful to construct a profile of styles for a people and use this as a guide for communicating with them.” (51%, Kindle version).
Communication styles are necessary if you want your message understood. As a blogger and a writer, I get it. I find this book completely fascinating. Still, I cannot wait til I am done with it and I can check one more thing off my task list as an appointee.
Many thanks though to Pastor Dave Droste for helping me get through Wayne A. Grudem’s book, Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know: Christian Beliefs. Only a few chapters left to run through of this task! I am learning a lot, but not just from the book, but from him.