Links To Go (September 28, 2016)

How Methodists Invented Your Kid’s Grape Juice Sugar High

The upshot, of course, is that if your church uses grape juice for Communion, you’ve adapted an ancient ritual by grafting in a beverage that’s roughly as old as Coca-Cola. Whether that bothers you or not, I think we all can admit that it’s still kind of…weird.

HS football team presents surprise orange roses to cheerleader battling leukemia

Before they played their game on Sept. 3, Foothill High School’s football team honored cheerleader Ashley Adamietz, who was diagnosed with leukemia in August. As each player entered the field, they left an orange rose (orange is the color for leukemia awareness) by Adamietz’s feet — the whole gesture was a total surprise for her.

Maryland School Bus Driver Rescues All 20 Students from Horrific Fire: ‘It’s My Job to Save Them’

A school bus driver saved 20 elementary students from a bus fire that almost took all of their lives on Monday in College Park, Maryland.
Reneita Smith personally took each student off the burning bus and even went back one more time to make sure everyone made it to safety.

Bubble wrap forces military academy lockdown

Police from Radnor and Tredyffrin Township showed up and searched the campus. They found no evidence of a gun fired.
The sound, it turns out, was something else.
“Police report that one student indicated that the sound she heard could have been bubble wrap being popped.” That’s from a post on the Facebook page of Valley Forge Military Academy & College, which is next to the university.

Alcohol-fueled Ohio Amish party raided, 73 arrested

Authorities in the heart of Ohio’s Amish country say they arrested more than 70 people in a raid at a weekend party in a field that was expected to attract hundreds of Amish youth.

Bank robbery suspect: Incarceration beats living with wife

A 70-year-old man accused of robbing a bank in Kansas told investigators he would rather be imprisoned than live with his wife.
Court documents say Lawrence John Ripple gave a note to a bank teller in Kansas City on Friday, demanding cash and warning he had a gun. Ripple took the money and went to sit in the lobby where he told a guard he was the “guy he was looking for.”

Debriefing short-term trips

debrief-001-001Whether we see our short-term mission trip as primarily an educational experience or mainly an evangelistic outreach, we should try to help participants process what they’ve seen and done. Research has shown that intentional debriefing of short-term workers helps them experience long-term changes based on the trip. (See Gary Green’s Now What for insights into this)

This doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are some basic questions to ask:

  • What was the best thing about the trip for you?
  • What was the hardest thing about your short-term experience?
  • What would you have changed to improve this trip?
  • What did you learn…
    • …about yourself?
    • …about the people you visited?
    • …about the church overseas?
    • …about God
  • What do you plan to do about the things that you have learned?

Taking time to process questions like these and make specific plans about what to do with what was learned can make a short-term trip have long-term effects.

Short-term missions, long-term relationships

short-term-relationsAn e-mail comment reminded me of something that needs to be discussed as regards short-term missions: relationships. What happens to the contacts we make while on these trips?

First off, if your short-term mission trip doesn’t involve contact with people in the host culture, it’s really hard to consider it a mission trip. If such contact doesn’t come naturally, it needs to be planned for.

Secondly, we need to recognize cultural differences when it comes to friendships and relationships. Americans tend to be quick to make friends and often expect little of those relationships. In Argentina, for example, people were more particular about who they called friend; if someone was your friend, you would communicate with them regularly, visit them with possible, and treat them pretty much as a family member. Can you see how that would create conflict when an American would come for two weeks and make fifty “friends”?

When dealing with relationships in the church, this can be a critical issue. After many mission trips, the main church contact that some new Christians have is someone from another country. (NOTE: This is one of the BIG reasons why I do my best not to baptize when in another country; they need ties to the local church, not to me) If that contact is someone who doesn’t stay in touch with them, that doesn’t concern themselves with discipling the new Christian, the effect can be devastating.

There is an implied commitment when we go on a short-term trip. If we aren’t willing to invest in people long-term, we might do better to consider another form of ministry.

Links To Go (September 21, 2016)

When You’re Diagnosed With A Fatal Disease

This blog will be about how I live life now that I have ALS, how I deal with the obstacles, how I sometimes fail, and how I sometimes succeed. Mostly, though, it will be about how this experience is changing my perspectives and about how I hang on to my faith. Although I may not always pull it off, I’ll try to be personal, open, and real. And I’ll not be straying into the TMI zone. If you’re struggling too, which most of us are for one reason or another, I hope my posts encourage you. That’s really why I’m doing this.

Five quick points on the ESV’s rendering of Genesis 3:16

I happen to agree with Susan Foh’s interpretation of “desire,” which defines the term in connection with its appearance in Genesis 4:8. I think it is a compelling connection and of course would be consistent with the new ESV interpretation. Having said that, neither complementarianism nor egalitarianism stands or falls on the interpretation of this single verse. One can be an egalitarian and agree with the Foh interpretation of “desire.” One can be complementarian and believe that “desire” should be defined in connection with Song of Songs 7:10 (7:11 MT). The interpretation of this verse is a piece of the puzzle, not the whole puzzle.

Eight Barriers To Multiplication, Part 2

Until your church sees multiplication 
as a personal conviction that they should embrace and enact, you will 
be facing an uphill battle. So work on communicating Jesus’ commitment to multiplication to the entire congregation through different means, like vision talks, sermon illustrations, state of the union addresses, print pieces, stories, and video.

10 Things You Should Know about Persecution

It’s the nature of news reporting to generalize and sensationalize, and Christian news sources aren’t much different than secular media in this regard. While the speed and reach of the internet can bring persecution incidents quickly to light, it can also result in the proliferation of poorly vetted stories that are then recycled for months—even years.

The State of The Church in America: When Numbers Point To A New Reality, Part 2

The fact is that more than one-third of Americans are evangelical by self-identification. Furthermore, evangelicals attend church now more than ever. The 2014 GSS reported that in the last two years of the study, a greater percentage of evangelicals were attending church than any other time in the last four decades. Fifty-five percent of evangelicals attend church nearly every week. According to the Pew data, about half of American Christians claim to be evangelical or born again.

Less Redeeming Things and More Enjoying Them

Is it wrong to find the 8 gospel themes in The Revenant? Of course not. But it’s also okay to watch the movie simply for fun and to observe Leo’s bear skills. That too is a gift from God. An activity doesn’t need to be overtly “spiritual” for it to be deeply spiritual.

How Morality Changes in a Foreign Language

What then, is a multilingual person’s “true” moral self? Is it my moral memories, the reverberations of emotionally charged interactions that taught me what it means to be “good”? Or is it the reasoning I’m able to apply when free of such unconscious constraints? Or perhaps, this line of research simply illuminates what is true for all of us, regardless of how many languages we speak: that our moral compass is a combination of the earliest forces that have shaped us and the ways in which we escape them.

Texas College Transforms Football Field Into a Farm

All Paul Quinn students now work 150 hours on the farm to fulfill their work tuition, raising organic vegetables that are sold to area restaurants, as well as to the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium. The college also donates 10 percent of its produce to residents in need in the surrounding community, which is situated in an area of Dallas with few grocery stores and limited access to fresh food.

Share the wealth (resources) on short term trips.

short-term-missions-001The other day I mentioned the problems that arise when mission teams bring in materials and resources that aren’t available to the Christians in their host church.

This is especially true with kids classes. We want to shower them with candy and gifts. We want to wow them with slick presentations and elaborate classes.

But what happens when we leave? What about the Bible teacher the following Sunday who has no candy to give, no toys to distribute, no videos to show, and no costumes for acting out Bible stories? Is it really fair to them?

To me, the solution is fairly simple and not too expensive. Whatever materials you bring, bring at least three times more than what you will use. Or only use a quarter of what you bring. Leave the rest with the local church to be used at a future date.

Now the wow factor can last longer, the local teachers gain credibility, and your mission team is solving problems rather than creating them.

This doesn’t just go for Bible class materials. We need to think of creative ways to share the credit with our hosts, edifying the church we visit, creating further opportunities for ministry after we’re gone.