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  • Restorative Readings: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Human Dignity
    Restorative Readings: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Human Dignity
    Pickwick Publications

    Foreword by Walter Brueggemann, my chapter is entitled 'In conversation: The Old Testament, Ethics and Human Dignity'. A superb resource edited by Julie Claassens and Bruce Birch

  • What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    by Dion A Forster
  • An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    by Dion A Forster
Transform your work life: Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling. by Dion Forster and Graham Power.
Download a few chapters of the book here.

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Entries in Transform your work life (64)

Sunday
May172009

Exposing people to the transforming love of Jesus WITHOUT the evangelical stereotypes!

I love Jesus! I love the ways of Jesus! I have experienced the transforming and liberating power of the person and way of Christ in my own life and I have seen how it transforms persons and communities.

The Jesus I know is loving, just, inclusive, caring, affirming, understanding, compassionate and life giving! I long for more people (and systems) to be transformed by the truth and power of Christ!

Sadly, however, Christians have not done too well when it comes to exposing people to the love of Christ. We have tended to be overbearing, judgemental, 'holier than thou' and sometimes just plane weird about our faith!

One of the other HUGE problems with traditional evangelism is that it tends to be more interested in 'souls' than it in people - pretty much like the high school boy who makes notches on his bedpost for all the girls he's kissed. Jesus is not that way. Jesus longs to engage whole persons, and to find ways of transforming all of who they are. Jesus brings life, life that heals bodies, creates justice and establishes news ways of living with others.

A further problem with conventional evangelism is that it operates on the principles of propositional truths - in other words, it says things ABOUT the person, nature and character of Christ and then challenges people to make a decision to accept or reject these truths without having experienced them. The postmodern mindset does not deal all that well with 'absolute' truths that have not been experienced. There are simply too many things, people and powers that try to convince us of their competing truths.

Ed Silvoso once summed up these two notions in this way:

Preaching the truth without love is like giving someone a good kiss when you have bad breath. No matter how good your kiss is, all they will remember is your bad breath!

I think that statement is quite true for many attempts at evangelism I have heard about - we expect people to that Jesus is love, when they do not experience that love, or even see it in the Church. We tell people that Christ is merciful and just, and sadly they are exposed to judgmental and unjust Christian communities... The list could go on and on.

 

Well, I have recently come across a model of facilitating an encounter with the person and nature of Christ that is transforming my ministry! This is a method that does not require an extensive knowledge of the Bible. Neither does it manipulate people or simply try to reach their 'souls' - rather it seriously attempts to encounter them with the love and grace of Christ!

It is called 'L10T' (Luke 10 Transformation). Here's a great video that explains this approach to 'evangelism'. I have been involved in developing the model and the videos for it. There is a great DVD series that one can do with one's Church, cell groups, or even just watch by yourself. (The quality is not great - I tried to keep the video file size to 6 MB, so please do contact me if you require a higher quality version).

 

Here's a summary of the model.

Here’s a link to download the powerpoint slides that have the headings, scripture verses, and they also have sections on the ‘Luke 10’ transformation principles.

Briefly stated, the Luke 10 paradigm shift is significant. One of the mistakes that we make in the contemporary Church is that we tend to approach persons in the following manner:

 

  • Preach to them, if they respond,
  • Minister to them, then once they respond to our ministry,
  • we become their friends (i.e., fellowship with them, get them into 'small groups'), and finally,
  • if they respond appropriately to all of the above we then we ‘bless’ them (e.g., make them members of our Church, baptise them or their Children, do their marriage ceremony, offer them financial support, allow them to hold ministry positions in the Church etc.).


The reality is though, that in our contemporary post-modern culture, very few people respond to being 'preached at'. Amazingly, when you read Luke 10 (where Jesus sent out the 72 disciples to do ministry he took exactly the opposite strategy)...

 

Jesus said when you enter into a city, find a person of peace and bless him - so blessing comes first.... If we can find tangible and real ways to share God's love and blessing with people by addressing their felt needs, this is a much more effective witness than 'preaching'. So, for example, in South Africa we feed people (without preaching), we simply feed them because God would not want them to be hungry, and they feel 'blessed' when people feed them.

Then Jesus said when you've blessed the person of peace, stay in his house and eat with him - that’s fellowship. We need to find ways to engage with people on their level and in their primary location (e.g., instead of trying to first bring people into Churches, lets get to know them and love them where they are. Whether that be in a school, or an office building or their home). Relationships are key to facilitating faith, after all, what God gives us in Christ is not 'doctrine', but the truth of transforming love in the Person of Jesus Christ.

Then having fellowshipped with persons we minister to them, this is where we pray for persons to be healed, for them to find wholeness, for the marriages and children to be whole etc. Ministry flows out of a relationship of trust (point 2 above) and an experience of God’s blessing (point 1 above). People are open to being ministered to, and to receiving God's grace, when they trust us, and they have already experienced God’s blessing.

Finally, as a last step one will ‘preach’ - this is the discipleship phase, not the evangelism phase. I have experienced that this is much more in keeping with 1 Peter 3:15 (give an account of the hope that lives within you...) than it is 'preaching'. In Luke 10 Jesus instructed the disciples to share the truth only once people had been blessed, included into a community, and experienced God’s healing, love, and provision.

Anyway, this is the methodology of ministry that I apply in my ministry. So, I operate according to 5 ‘new’ paradigms of being Church and being a Christian, but my functional methodology is the Luke 10 methodology (Bless, fellowship, minister, then preach)... This has been quite a change for me since as a Pastor I was accustomed to always preaching first. However, I have come to recognise that the ‘old Church’ methodology is no longer as effective in the post-modern context.

If you would like to read more about the theology and biblical perspective that shapes this form of ministry you can see the following link that I wrote on my blog about a year ago...

I would encourage you to watch the video above, download it (you can use 'kissyoutube') and share it! If you're interested in getting the DVD material to run it with your group, or in your Church then please email me. I'll gladly put you in touch with the folks who are distributing it.

So, what do you think? Is this a tool that could be useful in your setting? Can you spot any problems we may not be aware of? Any advice or help you could offer would be very much appreciated!

Monday
Nov172008

Reflection on work and worship. Qik Video.

This is a first attempt at posting a short daily (or not so daily, as the case may be!) reflection on my blog. I find that my days get so busy that the only time (and place) where I can record a short reflection is whilst I am driving between meetings! So, take a look at the scenery as I drive!

The scripture that is mentioned here is Col 3:23-24. This is one of the paradigms for National Transformation - you can make your work worship! And in doing your work for the Lord you can reclaim your sphere of influence for the Kingdom of Christ, which is a Kingdom of justice, mercy, and grace! If we truly believe that Christ wants to save all of creation, then we need to live and work to see people, systems and place brought into loving submission to the will of Christ.

I would love to hear your feedback!

Monday
Oct132008

A jet-lagged reflection on our Latin American trip... A simple strategy for national transformation.

We arrived back in Cape Town about three hours ago. I've unpacked my bags, got the first load of washing in the machine, Megie is back to work and I'm taking an hour or so to catch my breath and fetch Courtney from school. I'll go into the office later this afternoon.

If you look back over my blog you'll see that I have been out of South Africa for almost a month in total (starting with a trip to London for the Global Prayer Leaders' Network and Unashamedly Ethical meetings). It has been a busy time - yet it has been extremely rewarding and worthwhile. In these weeks I have been encouraged and blessed by the many wonderfully faithful and diverse expressions of courageous, Christ-centered, obedience I have experienced.

The last two weeks have been a time of challenge and growth. Ed Silvoso's perspective on the role of one's everyday 'working life' in relation to God's purposes for transformation and healing of the world have made a significant impact upon me. I guess that in some ways he has a unique foundation in that he comes from South America (Argentina) and so understands issues of poverty, struggle, and of course the ideals and principles that inform and drive theologies of liberation (i.e., God's love and option for the poor, the evil of greed and wealth, the suffering and abuse that stems from oppressive economic and political systems etc.). Yet, he has also spent a great deal of his life living in America and working among evangelical Christians (his brother in law is Lius Palloa the 'Billy Graham' of Latin America). So, he understands the energy and passion that comes from the evangelical perspective on the faith. I found his emphasis on God's sovereign power to work with and in the world to be a healthy and refreshing addition to the frequently dry, secular hummanist, purely social Gospel teaching (which is so frequently my point of departure). In him I found a healthy balance between God's power and capacity to bring about healing and change, and the human person's responsibility to seek God's guidance, will, power, and grace to be a partner in bringing about transformation.

I have written about Ed Silvoso's 5 paradigms before (you can listen to a broadcast I prepared for Radio Pulpit on this subject on this link '5 paradigms that can change your work into worship' (6MB, MP3). He seems to be able to keep the balance between reliance upon God and individual and corporate responsibility for national (and even global) transformation.

This week we had many opportunities to share our vision for eradicating systemic poverty by addressing systemic corruption. This is not only a matter of moral choice and complaince with the laws and systems of a particular nation state, rather it is about deal with the corrupted human soul, finding freedom and sufficiency in Christ and operating from that base of Christ-centered renewal and healing to discover person transformation and renewal, to work towards the renewal and transformation of one's family, one's social group, one's workplace, one's neighbourhood, one's children's schools, the local economy, and even broader afield to transform that laws and values of one's nation, continent, and the world.

William Wilberforce, Charles Wesley, Ghandi, Nelson Mandela - these are all examples of people who allowed their faith to impact more than just their personal lives! Rather, they sought to discover what was right for them and all other persons, and even the rest of creation, and work towards making that a reality.

Our time in Montevideo, Uruguay, was truly encouraging. On the Friday evening we had about 250 business leaders, politicians, and pastors together. On the Saturday we held a workshop for about 400 persons including pastors, business leaders and politicians. We shared something of Christ's dream for our world, and of course their city and nation, and then offered some tools, insights, and encouragement that could help them further along that road.

Our task is quite simple, we share a vission of what the world could be like, we activate the imagination, do our best to inspire hope, give a few glimpses of possible strategies (mostly gleaned from research about the particular area and context, coupled with success stories and prototypes from other similar contexts in the world), and then do some basic teaching, create a network of locally driven, locally 'owned' relationships, and then follow up from time to time to see how we can bless and support that work.

We place a fairly strong emphasis on the fact that the strongest testimony that the Church can give concerning the love of Christ is not full services, but rather it relates to addressing the concrete and felt needs of a community (e.g., hospitals for the sick, jobs for the poor, social restoration for divided communities etc.) In order for this to take place there needs to be a strategic partnership and relationship between Pastors and Christians who are leaders in various spheres of society that we call 'the marketplace' (i.e., politicians and elected officials, educators, health workers, business people, youth and social workers etc.) Unity and strategic co-operation are the key to achieving maximum success in any community or area. As such we will often go into a city or region and set up meetings where we bring together top politicians, business leaders, the heads of denominations and Church organisations, and simply spend time helping them to get to know each other, find forgiveness and healing from past hurts and struggles, and dreaming of the way forward for their region.

Well, I'm back home and so excited to be with my family!!!! Thank you to everyone who has prayed for us.

Friday
Apr112008

International Transformation Network 

 

Today the International Transformation Network Conference started at the Lord Charles Hotel in Somerset West. The purpose of the conference is to help business leaders, politicians, and Church leaders to use their influence and passion to bring about God's Kingdom of healing, transformation and renewal on earth.

I think forget that there is an eschatological urgency and task for Christians in society - we are called to DO what we so often pray for i.e., to establish God's gracious Kingdom here on earth (a Kingdom in which people are reunited with God, at peace with God, with others, and with all of creation).

I am looking forward to learning fresh and creative ways to help the Church (in all its members, in local congregations, in schools, in offices, in homes, in cities) to bring God's healing and provision to all people (not just Christians)!

If you're looking for a very good book to read on these priciples please read Ed Silvoso's book 'Transformation' (2007) Regal Publishers.

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