Martin Luther, Facebook & The Muslim World

martin lutherGUEST BLOGGER: Today’s guest blogpost comes from @BrianJRussell.  Check out his blog here:  BrianRussell.me. If you would like to submit a Guest Blog Post for BigIsTheNewSmall.com, click here.

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?

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  • I love this post, and I agree! We were full time youth pastors and I loved being where I was for a season, but I did feel like I had a harder time reaching those who would not come to me, inside the church walls–where I practically lived. I had a hard time getting OUT. The church staff shunned us not being in our offices 5 days a week when the harvest was obviously off campus in the schools and at the kids’ jobs, at their sports events, etc. As Chris moved into a secular job and we started making friends that were unchurched, we realized we had a different impact and God really worked through that time! (He worked in both seasons, just different ways.) I also love that facebook has allowed me to become a missionary to some really amazing unchurched people. Several of my friends are atheists, a few are Muslim, I have a ton of friends who have “fallen away” from their faith and somehow reconnecting with them has become a mission field on facebook. It’s living out my authentic relationship with God and letting them see it’s not a religion I follow, but Jesus.

  • Thanks for this. You nailed some things that have been trying to find a way out of my thoughts.
    Right now I’m living this transition. Unemployment and disability have taken me out of professional ministry and into living out the message in front of the folks God puts me in contact with. My limitations mean that social media has become my primary connection. It’s an amazing and challenging time.
    I really appreciate the observation about the need for an audience-specific filter. I find myself dropping the Christian insider, politics and culture ware stuff in favor of Gospel-sharing. There’s just no contest in priority.

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  • Kari, thanks for commenting and sharing your and Chris’ story. I like your statement, “it’s living out my authentic relationship with God.” I pray that God gives you more and more contact with and influence among the non-churched & unbelieving. And may He allow you to see much fruit through those authentic relationships!

  • Daniel, awesome.

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