Monday, July 28, 2014

“Adaptive Evangelism” in Resistant, Islamic Contexts

I’m currently working on a theory of “Adaptive Evangelism” in resistant, Islamic contexts that is based on Arab MBB conversion factors. 

I’m ‘adapting’ the concept from the book Adaptive Leadership

By “adaptive” I mean that there is not a one-size-fits-all type of evangelistic approach that can be used to reach Muslims for Christ.  Evangelicals are often prone to “method chasing,” which is searching for a technical solution to the problem of Muslim evangelism.  (The Camel Method might come to mind.) 

A simple technical solution, such as “evangelism should be done in such and such a way…,” (which is very common in current missiology) is inappropriate. There is no one single method or solution to the challenge of evangelizing Muslims.

Muslim evangelism is not a technical problem (i.e. a known problem with a known solution, like a doctor performing heart surgery) but is instead an adaptive challenge (both the problem and solution are unknown) that requires people working together to attempt to discover new, personal, and biblical-missiological paradigms of effective kingdom witness in resistant, Islamic contexts.

More to come… (probably summer of 2015…)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Research and Worship, by Gene Daniels

From the personal blog of Gene Daniels, Research and Worship:

…Some years ago I was studying interviews with church planters in various parts of the Muslim world, looking for those key insights into how God was using them. One day during that project, sitting at my desk in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, I read about a fundamentalist Muslim soldier who came to Christ when a foreign missionary had the courage to share a New Testament with him.  My eyes welled-up with tears. I set my work aside, got on my knees and wept. Here research was painting a picture, showing me a miracle of God that many of my fellow Americans would find hard to believe. Worship was the only proper response.

Along this same line, worship should rise-up in our hearts anytime we encounter the amazing beauty of the gospel crossing new cultural frontiers. We should marvel everything new nations and peoples are woven into the tapestry of God’s kingdom. I guess that is one of the reasons I love to do mission research, it often evokes such wonder and awe that I can’t help but worship.

While there are many ‘practical’ arguments for doing mission research, its ability to push the soul to worship is reason enough for me.

See his book: Searching for the Indigenous Church: A Missionary Pilgrimage

Related: CT Cover Story: Worshiping Jesus in the Mosque, “CITO” vs. “Socio-religious Insider”

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Both Pro Israeli AND Pro Palestinian

Whenever things heat up with Israel, people want to know how to think about the conflict in a way that is fair and balanced. Here is a repost of something I put together in 2011. It’s a group of some of the best resources I’ve found on the subject.  Please link to other resources in the comments.

Talking about Israel and the Arabs is a minefield among evangelicals.
There is probably no quicker way to be labeled anti this or pro that.

Mike Kuhn, pg. 109

For anyone working with Muslims the issue of Israel is bound to come up eventually.  So what is the way forward?

For starters, here is a short article: How Evangelicals Are Learning to Be Pro-Palestine, Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace, Pro-Justice and Always Pro-Jesus (HT: JC).

One great secular resource is the very unique book called The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East.  It’s a narrative non-fiction that displays the humanity on both sides of this complex issue.  I have heard that both Palestinians and Jews claim the book is fair.  But more than fair, it’s also an enjoyable, fascinating read!

See also chapter 7 in Fresh Vision for the Muslim World by Mike Kuhn.

For a solid and balanced biblical-theological perspective, see John Piper’s Israel, Palestine and the Middle East.  Piper also has some shorter resources:

It’s nice to know we don’t have to take sides on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  The important thing is to use this issue to point our Muslim friends to Jesus, the hope of all and our only lasting peace.

Related Post: Christ at the Checkpoint

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Two Triangles: the Gospel for Animists

Christopher Johnson modified his original presentation called Victorious Jesus and put it on a website called, “Two Triangles: the Gospel for Animists.”  Here is his introduction:

I shared the gospel countless times with Muslims, and for some reason they didn't seem interested. After creating the two triangles, I realized I had stumbled onto something that could change the way we share the gospel with Muslims and with anyone who believes in the devil.

Watch him explain his approach here:

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Significance of the Naja Case Study

IJFM recently released Sixteen Features of Belief and Practice in Two Movements among Muslims in Eastern Africa: What Does the Data Say? by Ben Naja.  I think the publication of the empirical study is highly significant. 

Obviously, just because something is happening doesn’t automatically mean God is blessing it. However, this Naja case study shows, regardless of our positions or opinions, that the Holy Spirit (apart from a postmodern expatriate missionary!) is birthing emerging expressions of “church” in frontier settings where MBBs retain, to some degree or another, a “Muslim” identity.  (Whether or not they will always have a “Muslim” identity is another issue.)

Followers of Jesus in these movements:

  1. trust in Jesus alone for salvation, forgiveness, blessing and protection
  2. believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross for
    their sins
  3. have been baptized
  4. pursue a dual identity (social and cultural insider, spiritual outsider)
  5. do not acknowledge Muhammad as a true prophet nor trust in his power to intercede
  6. no longer consider the Qur’an as their sole and highest authority
  7. pursue diverse practices with regard to mosque attendance
  8. feel that they are a part of the worldwide family of God
  9. attend ekklesia meetings at least once a week
  10. read or listen to the Bible frequently
  11. share their faith
  12. have family members who also follow Jesus
  13. have been persecuted
  14. experience the supernatural power of God
  15. are frequently from a Sufi or other non-Wahabi background
  16. grow into more biblical expressions of faith and practice over time.

Here is an extended quote from the article:

My research provides empirical evidence that Jesus movements are a God-given way in which many Muslims are coming to saving faith in Christ. In addition, two features of these movements—pursuit of a dual identity and regular ekklesia gatherings within the Muslim community— are not simply theoretical possibilities, but actual reality.

In the literature on insider movements, supporters and opponents are divided as to whether such movements are a modern theoretical construct concocted by Western missiologists or whether they are actually happening as a God-given phenomenon in the Muslim world today. My research on these two Jesus movements in Eastern Africa seems to suggest the latter. These movements appear to have been divinely initiated and are not the result of a new strategy developed by a few mission strategists from the West. In fact, no Western gospel worker even knew about them at first. Only at a later stage, as more things were happening, were these movements brought to the attention of field practitioners. These practitioners then sought to find biblical guidelines and answers to the missiological questions these believers were asking.

Whatever their origin, the data make it clear that Jesus movements among Muslim communities are happening; they are an undeniable reality today.

My findings show that many followers of Jesus in these two movements pursue a dual identity. Culturally and socially, these believers are Muslim, while spiritually they are disciples of Jesus. They are still part of the wider Muslim community, even though their thinking diverges theologically and spiritually from that of mainstream orthodox Muslims. Their Muslim communities do not seem to mind that much what these disciples actually believe and practice, as long as they do not bring shame or offense to the community.

Within the wider umbrella of at least some expressions of Islam, there seems to be room for many deviant views, practices, and opinions. This is true not only for members of Jesus movements, but also for the very numerous members of Sufi orders or other Muslim sects.

The findings presented here show discreet gatherings of disciples of Jesus within a wider Muslim community to be a reality (and one that can now be carefully documented). The existence of “visible/invisible” informal groups of disciples (ekklesia) who regularly gather in the midst of Muslim communities might be one of the most important findings of my research.

These informal ekklesia are “invisible,” in that they do not actively seek public recognition by displaying Christian symbols or engaging in practices generally connected with Christianity (such as large buildings, loud music, or full-time clergy). But they are nonetheless very real or “visible” fellowships because actual people are meeting at actual times in actual places on a regular, at least weekly, basis.

Structurally, these ekklesias usually follow the lines of natural family and other pre-existing social networks. Rather than extracting members from their networks into an aggregate church, the kingdom of God and its values are implanted into them.

Given the rather authoritarian character of Islam, open or normal ekklesia gatherings do not seem to be an option. Nevertheless, my research shows that—however unlikely on a theoretical level—a new redemptive community within the old is an actual reality.