Flirting with Faith

A Twitter friend I met in California posted the following Tweet that got me thinking…
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The conversation that followed went like this…

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What do you think?  Can one person apologize for another? Should we?  

More than 4200 Christians from across the globe will spend the next week and a half discussing the future of evangelicalism as part of the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelism in Cape Town, South Africa. You can follow the Congress via video and audio through posts on Twitter and Facebook . I’ll also be posting updates from attendees here, including this piece from author and CEO, Mark L. Russell who asks a loaded question…  



by Mark L. Russell, PhD

Travel is one of my favorite activities and experiencing
other cultures is one my greatest passions. But with a family, long haul flights to Africa and beyond have become a challenge. After taking six such trips in 2009, I decided it was time to slow
down, well actually just quit.

When the opportunity to participate in the third congress of
what Christianity Today called the most diverse gathering ever in Cape Town,
South Africa, I wasn’t sure if I should go. Normally, I would be ecstatic to go
a place I’ve long heard about and experience a multitude of cultures at one
time, but the sixty hours on airplanes and 12 days away from home, gave me some

But there was something else that gave me hesitation. Lausanne
calls this gathering, the “third congress on world evangelization.” While I
definitely believe in sharing my faith and in people’s rights to convert to
other faiths, and, furthermore, I’ve recently co-authored a book on
evangelicalism identifying myself as a part of the movement, I am still nervous tossing around
terms like “world evangelization.”

There are really two reasons why: First, the phrase can
carry a sort of “conquering” implication that is, frankly, creepy at best and
horrifying at worst. As if we, Christian people, are out to make everyone like

Second and perhaps, even more serious for me, as a person of
faith and a follower of Christ, is that evangelization has been frequently defined
quite poorly to mean simply a cognitive assent to some doctrinal beliefs in
order to seal a deal to obtain a get-out-of-hell-free card.

This type of evangelization reveals a reductionistic view of
the gospel that I believe is far from what is intended when one reads the words
of Christ.

Despite my hesitations, I opted to kiss my wife and kids
good bye and make the long trek to other side of the world. Now that I am here,
I am definitely glad that I have made the trip.

What I see and hear is a fresh awareness of the complexities
of life and the reality that our faith is a way of life that we are to live
with genuine love for our neighbor, not merely something we are somehow
obligated to impose on people who don’t really care.

In recent years through active missions the evangelical
church has done a tremendous job in spreading the gospel message geographically
around the world. Now, I think the time has come to integrate the gospel of
love into the various spheres of society, because we take it seriously that
Jesus prayed, “Father, may your will be done on earth as it is heaven” (Matthew
6:10) We take it seriously that Jesus said, “Heal the sick who are there and
tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you'” (Luke 10:9).

Evangelization does not simply mean spreading the message of
salvation, but of love as well. A love that drives us into slums, ghettos, and
bordellos, to seek and save those that are lost and in need of healing. A love
that drives us to be kind to people on the street, embracing of those that are
different, compassionate to those with questions, and gracious with those who

Right now in Cape Town, South Africa, there are thousands of people from all over the world that get that and that’s why I’m glad I came.

Mark L. Russell, PhD is founder and CEO of Russell Media ( Mark is a frequent public speaker and has worked as a consultant for a diverse set of organizations. He has done extensive work in areas of poverty, empowering microentrepreneurs through microfinance and other economic development initiatives. Mark has lived and worked in Russia, Chile and Germany and in traveled to over 70 countries to carry out a variety of business, educational, humanitarian and religious projects. He has been published in over 60 academic and popular level publications and is the author of The Missional Entrepreneur, the coauthor of Routes and Radishes and Other Things to Talk About at the Evangelical Crossroads and editor and publisher of Our Souls at Work: How Great Leaders Live Their Faith in the Global Marketplace. Mark lives in Boise, Idaho with his wife Laurie, and their children, Noah and Anastasia.

“Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead.” Philippians 2:3 (The Message)

No one has missed the headline story this week – 33 Chilean miners are being rescued after being trapped for an agonizing 69 days. It’s an incredible story with a wonderful ending – and I’m sure there will be amazing stories told in the days, weeks, and months ahead. But the story that may not be written is the one that can teach us the most.

Two mine rescue workers SIGNED UP & VOLUNTEERED to go DOWN into the mine to help the stranded miners get to the surface. They went DOWN INTO the darkness so the others could see the light of day. They could have stayed on the surface with TV cameras, family, and politicians – but they didn’t. And, as a result, they will be the last ones out, when the ordeal reaches it’s conclusion.

If there’s a lesson for us and for the church, maybe this is it – we need to break out of our holy huddle, go where we’re needed (sometimes to dark places), and stay to the end! That’s when we know we’re doing real Kingdom work!

Bruce Barnard is Lead Pastor of the Warwick Valley Church of the Nazarene in Warwick, NY

Can you boil down your spiritual journey to just six words? 

The writers at Killing the Buddha thing so and have collected some beautiful and thought-provoking “six-word spiritual memoirs” in the comments section of their post titled Six Word Journey
If you’ve never read Killing the Buddha, you should check it out. Described as “a religion magazine for people made anxious by churches, people embarrassed to be caught in the “spirituality” section of a bookstore, people both hostile and drawn to talk of God”, KtB writers map the edges of belief and unbelief in a smart, sometimes irreverent but always interesting way. Here’s the six-word journey I posted at KtB…
Nothing. Something. Everything. Listen. Shift. Explore.
What’s yours?