Martin Luther, Facebook & The Muslim World
A friend of mine recently told me he sensed God ask him, “Are you willing to no longer be a missionary, if it means being a more effective cross-cultural minister for Me?” In other words, are you willing to give up status, title, and position if it means actually having more impact for Christ? Over the past few years I’ve met an increasing number of ‘professional ministers’ experiencing similar challenges of heart and paradigm. Living and working in some of the least Christian nations of the world, I have seen this vision and challenge often birthed initially out of necessity. In most of the Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu areas of the world, if you want to minister, you can’t do so as a ‘missionary’. I used to see this as an unfortunate obstacle. Yet, lately I’ve begun to understand and appreciate the benefits of this reality.
What can be good about countries refusing missionary and minister visas? It is forcing many of those on the front lines of outreach to tear down the walls that still exist between clergy and laity (that applause you hear is Martin Luther cheering from the grave). More and more, the most effective ministers in these parts of the world are not ‘missionaries’, but rather engineers, doctors, teachers and business people. What’s more, national leaders of these emerging church groups are pleading for assistance in becoming successful in the marketplace, enabling them to be relevant forces of positive change in their communities. Already some recruiters of cross-cultural workers are looking more for MBA’s than M.Div’s. And many of those former ‘missionaries’ circumstantially forced into a ‘secular’ occupation abroad can now never imagine trying to reach a nation any other way.
We in the Church in the West have much to observe and learn from this move of God’s Spirit in the Middle East and Asia. Certainly there is a place for paid church staff members who can devote their full energy, time, and efforts to helping teach and equip other believers. Yet, may we continue to fight against remaining dualistic tendencies which separate the sacred and secular, placing higher value on people and positions on the ecclesiastical payroll.
Do we fully value the callings our policemen, retailers, physicians and mortgage brokers have and encourage them to maximize their potential for Kingdom impact Tragically, it often seems more like we as Church leaders pull the cream of the flock out of the world so they can be trained on how to be effective/relevant ministers to those who are in the world. I think the irony and futility of such a perspective is obvious.
Here enters the beauty and power of social media for Jesus’ disciples today. Twitter, Facebook, and blogging also attack that tendency to draw a distinction between our holy and unholy worlds. Fortunately there is not yet a filter on status updates which allows us to decide which ones are seen by our Christian followers and which ones go to our unchurched friends. There is something wonderful about the authenticity and single mindedness this is producing in much of the Church today. The reach of this second reformation will surely only extend as Generation Y, and those following in their wake, become more vocal and mature in leadership.
What Do You Think?