Multiplication by personal decrease

People who draw big crowds to themselves, big attention on themselves, have little influence past the loss of their fame.
People who work on empowering their followers – “Generation Zero” – to follow their dreams leave legacies and empower visions. This requires the “death” of some fame and notice of themselves, and the raising up of others. But there is still attention from their followers.
People who work on empowering their followers to empower their followers – “Generation 1” – inspire multiplication. But almost immediately they are “lost in the shadows.” By actively turning the eyes of “Generation zero” away from the catalyst and toward “Generation 1,” the Catalyst is denying him or herself any attention.
People who work on empowering their followers to empower their followers to empower their followers – who inspire Generation Zero to, like the Catalyst, actively turn eyes away from them and on those who come after – are inspiring the same kind of “dying to self” that leads to much fruit, and eventually, to movements. This is disciple-making in the pattern of Jesus at its height.
How can you inspire and challenge those who listen to you to stop listening too much to you, and to stop asking others to listen too much to them?

Does the rapid growth of cities create strategic opportunities for world evangelization and the discipling of nations?

Globalcast asked the question:


My responses:
1. I suspect it creates more challenges than opportunities
2. Large populations can be more difficult to reach while rural areas can be addressed in individual detail and churches built over time
3. Much of our ministry work is geared toward rural culture & families, while cities feature urbanism, different transmission methods
4. Lot of missionaries come from smaller towns, more conservative rural areas; megacities are a shock to them
5. Many cities require higher budgets because of more costly standards of living
6. Rapid growth of cities leads to rapid growth in crime & government controls & corruption
What do you think? Studies we should link to? Experiences you’ve had?

His peace

Peace is one of the fruits of the spirit. In these precarious times, lots of things are trying to rob us of our peace: wars, natural disasters, diseases, persecution, and the love of many for Christ growing cold. (Sounds like a Bible verse, doesn’t it?)
God does not need a peaceful nation or a prosperous economy to bless his children. He warned us men’s hearts would fail them because of fear.
As believers we should walk in the peace of God.
The world’s peace is an absence of calamity.
God’s peace has nothing to do with circumstances.
It is a quietness of heart, a calmness, a settledness of spirit:
Isaiah 6: promises a prince of peace
John 14: Jesus promises he will leave peace with us
Colossians 3:15: May the peace of God rule in our hearts (act as an “umpire”)
Phil 4:6-7: Be anxious for nothing
Isaiah 26:3: “Keep him in perfect peace who has trust in you.”
Fear leads to spiritual paralysis. Jesus’ peace is given to us. This is something we ought to pray for daily and seek to walk in.

Pew: Religious Composition by Country, in Numbers

Pew Research. Religious Composition by Country, in numbers. Bookmark this table.

Praiseworthy

We can’t judge who God will say “well done” to based on who we say “well done” to (or why).

The Long View, Nov 04, 2015

This week’s edition of the Long View features a note about finances, plus links to new events, new studies on generations, photos of the unreached, new resources, and more. View it online here. Subscribe to receive in your inbox at the top of this page.

God in a box

When a box describes God, if you erase the box, He’s still God. Expect his character, not his actions. Unpredictable does not mean unreliable.

3 Kinds of Growth, and when each is important

One of the diagrams I am always careful to go over when teaching Perspectives Lesson 9 is the Global Religious Dynamics diagram. You can see it online here.
This diagram highlights two forms of growth globally: demographics (the newly born minus those who die) and conversion (those who become Christians minus those who defect).
When you look at a specific place (e.g. a country, province, city, whatever) you can add a third form of growth, immigration: those who move in minus those who move out.
Church structures generally optimize for one form of growth, be it demographic or conversion (with care for immigrants often a kind of middle point). Both are important. If Christianity in an area has conversion growth, but loses demographic growth, its share of the population will steadily erode. If it has demographic growth but no conversion growth, its share of the population will likely remain steady but it will not increase; thus, people with no access to the Gospel will slowly drip away into a Christless eternity (this being the general case today–the % of the world that is Christian has remained a steady 33% for over a century, with little change).
Some forms of church growth are optimized for building the Christian family: essentially, helping children of Christians choose Christ themselves, grow in maturity, marry believers, and in turn raise believing children. As already noted, this function is not to be downplayed. Right now globally there is a very high defection rate (15 million converts p.a. vs. 12 million defectors); if the defection “back door” were “closed,” we would see a significant jump in % Christian worldwide. (15 million per annum would add 33% to the total growth rate.)
Other forms of church growth are optimized for conversion and discipleship of new believers, and the rapid expansion of the church. This is especially necessary in view of the fact that the total number of non-Christians is twice Christians.
What I’m thinking about today, however, is this: we need both kinds of growth, but sometimes we need one kind more than others. For example, in low-% Christian countries, we need to focus on conversion and rapid expansion. But when the church reaches a certain size – say, more than 60% of the population? – demographic growth becomes very important for maintaining stability over the long run. Births become the primary engine of growth for the future of the church in that place, and the church should begin investing in conversion growth in distant places.
A church that optimizes on demographic growth (seeing most of its baptisms, for example, be the children of believers) when the % Christian in an area is low, is a poor strategy (at least in terms of the fate of the lost). But a church that optimizes on conversion growth when % Christianity is very high may be risking the loss of its children (if little emphasis is given to internal discipleship).
Disclaimer: I’m not saying churches should do one to the exclusion of all else, but in my experience the reality is churches will generally do one kind of ministry really well. Megachurches may be an exception to this, as they have more resources.

Random notes on exponential scalability

Photocopies vs. viral growth. Organics are never exact. Health: organisms are never “on/off” broken (as machines can be). They are more a % broken – “ill” or “fatally ill” that results in degradation until death. Organics must therefore gradually get “more healthy”–not “fixed” or “repaired.” Growing sick and growing healthy are both slow processes. Organisms can mutate. Reproduction is not owned or limited by a manufacturing process (anyone can make a baby, whereas making an iPhone is an owned process). What you can manufacture can be engineered to specification; what you birth is uncontrolled in many ways, and must be guided/channeled after birth. All of this applies to churches and disciples, too: disciples are not iPhones, manufactured to specific settings. They have gifts, talents, predispositions, illnesses, and must be matured over time. Only organics (physical/spiritual reproduction) can scale to the size of populations through natural, organic processes.

Reach the people who can reach the people you want to reach

If you want to reach a hard to reach people – a group that you might not have easy access to – one strategic question might be, who would be in an ideal place to reach them? Reach those people. The workers may be in the harvest.

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