BORN-AGAIN & Across segments of Christianity—not just evangelical Protestants—Americans are heeding the scriptural call that “you must be born again” (John 3:7).

by Ryan Burge, Christianity Today, 1/22/29.

…. In the last 14 years, the share of born-again Americans has risen to 41 percent, and much higher (54%) among people of color. Since 2010, at least half of people of color say that they have had a “turning point in their life” when they committed themselves to Christ.

Slideshow

Some might assume the continued rise of born-again Christians reflects the steady portion of evangelical Protestants in America, while mainline Protestants, who are less likely to call themselves born again, have undergone more rapid decline. But actually, across all Christian traditions—even mainline denominations and Catholics—born-again identity is trending up.

CONVERSION & John Wesley’s view of Conversion #Podcast

http://www.missionaldiscipleship.com/?powerpress_embed=341-podcast&powerpress_player=mediaelement-audio

by @heathmullikin and @jeremysummers, GroundSwell, http://www.missionaldiscipleship.com.

Today’s conversation is with Dr. Bob Whitesel.  He is a founding professor of Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University and current Professor of Missional Leadership.  He has two earned doctorates (D.Min. and Ph.D.) from Fuller Theological Seminary where he was awarded the Donald McGavran Award for “Outstanding Scholarship in Church Growth” by the faculty.  Dr. Whitesel is the  author of 11 books, including the award-winning series on evangelism titled, “Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey”  He is married to his college sweetheart Rebecca and they have four daughters and four grandchildren.  Today, we talk with Dr. Whitesel about John Wesley’s view of conversion and discipleship. We would love your feedback by commenting on the blog, joining our Facebook group, or tweeting us @heathmullikin and @jeremysummers using the hashtag #groundswell. For more information on the Spiritual Formation Department of the Wesleyan Church click here.

Dr. Whitesel’s website at bobwhitesel.com.

Great church resources at churchhealthwiki.com.

Join Dr. Whitesel on wesleytours.com.

SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION & 6 Factors In Muslims Following Jesus. #ZwemerInstitute

From the Archives: Dr. Robert Douglas, Director of the Zwemer Institute, (1984-1996) presented the following at a Muslim Awareness Conference in 1994.

What are some of the factors that are resulting in the seeds being planted in the Muslim world and signs of a harvest beginning to emerge?

  1. Number one is God’s timing. Remember the passage in Acts 18 where Paul is in Corinth and is discouraged. The Lord said, “Don’t be afraid; don’t be silent.” Literally He says, “Quit being afraid, Paul. I have many people in this city.” Well, he didn’t have many church members there at the time. So, it seems what the Lord was saying is, “Paul, I got here before you. Thanks for finally showing up, brother. And I have been at work here in social, political, cultural, economic and familial things. I have created some heart longings out there, and the folks may not know what they are longing for and how to articulate the question if you ask them, but don’t give up. Don’t be silent. Press ahead and take advantage of the responsiveness I have created.”
  1. Where Muslims are coming to faith, you typically find some sort of contextualized strategies. Obviously, contextualization gets widely debated in Christian mission circles, and it means different things to different people, but at one level we are all contextualists. If you believe the Bible ought to be in Arabic for Arabs, then that’s contextualization. Translation is contextualization. So the question is not contextualization but how much is appropriate and effective. How can we make radio and tracts more meaningful within specific cultures. And even the same materials will not necessarily work with urban populations that work in the villages. We need to remove unnecessary barriers in communicating the gospel.
  1. Quality of life is a factor in whether or not our message will be received. Just as food varies in different cultures, what is considered acceptable behavior is not necessarily the same as we would recognize it in America. Holiness, godliness and piety is to a degree culturally defined. For example, Muslims are people of prayer. Do they ever see us pray? Our form is to go into our closet, shut the door and speak to the Father in private. There are Muslims who have said of humanitarian workers in their midst that they are wonderful people who serve and help us; it is too bad they are not going to heaven since they are not praying people. But when our piety is lived out in a way that can be seen, it becomes a factor in bringing inquiry and drawing people to faith.
  1. Where Muslims are being won in large numbers, people have discovered ways to encourage national converts to stay in contact with their kin. Sometimes it is difficult for that to happen, but too often in the past our strategies have been that of extraction of a new believer from his community and remove any potential influence and impact. Yes, we are concerned for their safety, but our perception of conversion is too individualistic. In Muslim cultures the priority is family and community, and many places the gospel is taking root in a communal context.

Read more at … http://www.zwemercenter.com/6-factors-in-muslims-following-jesus/

SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION & Archbishop Welby: “The best decision anyone can ever make is to be a follower of Jesus Christ”

By Adrian Hilton, 3/6/15.

In January, Tim Montgomerie, writing in the Times, vented his frustration with the Archbishop of Canterbury:

I remain hopeful that Justin Welby, a “graduate” of HTB and its famous Alpha course, might oversee a renewal of the whole Church of England but I’m increasingly worried about his early focus… We’ve heard his views on banking reform, Wonga, food banks, energy companies and welfare reform but where is his big intervention on the miraculous nature of Jesus Christ?

… The thing is, if you spend time listening to Justin Welby, he just can’t help himself. No matter what the topic of conversation, he will quite naturally bring Jesus into it sooner or later. This is a man genuinely obsessed with his faith to the point of overflowing. Anyone who thinks he doesn’t talk about it enough either hasn’t heard him speak at any great length or has only observed him through the media, which loves to pick up on any of his comments that might be perceived as bashing Wonga/bankers/Ian Duncan Smith whilst generally losing interest once God gets a mention.

It really shouldn’t be a surprise that, on becoming Archbishop of Canterbury two years ago, he announced his three priorities as:

  • Prayer and the renewal of the religious life.
  • Reconciliation
  • Evangelism and witness…

Read more at … http://archbishopcranmer.com/welby-the-best-decision-anyone-can-ever-make-is-to-be-a-follower-of-jesus-christ/

SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION & A Case Study #WaypointBook

by Guillaume Bignon, Christianity Today, 11/17/2014

How a French Atheist Becomes a TheologianImage: Dan Bigelow

If French atheists rarely become evangelical Christians, how much rarer it is for one to become an evangelical Christian theologian. So what happened? One might argue that with 66 million French people, I’m just a fluke, an anomaly. I am inclined to see it as the work of a God who says, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy” (Rom. 9:15). Hearing the facts may help you decide for yourself…

Read more at … http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/november/how-french-atheist-becomes-theologian.html?paging=off

WESLEY & CHURCH GROWTH Before McGavran: The Methodological Parallels of John Wesley

by Bob Whitesel D.Min. Ph.D.

Delivered October 3, 2014 to The Annual Conference of The Great Commission Research Network, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth, TX.

Abstract

This article will look at methodological parallels between John B. Wesley and Donald A. McGavran. The influence of both men arose during similar social shifts that were accompanied by a perception of ecclesial apathy. Parallels will be demonstrated in McGavran’s principles of 1) conversion as a priority, 2) effective evangelism as a process model, 3) the danger of redemption and lift, 4) the importance of multiplication and 5) pragmatism in methodology. A final section will look at the legacy of these two men and suggest how identification can help retain focus on principles rather than contextually-bound tactics.

Published in the Great Commission Research Journal (2015).  Delivered in abbreviated form by Dr. Whitesel as a keynote at Renovate: The National Church Revitalization Conference, 11/3/14, Orlando, FL.

Whitesel Wesley RENOVATE 1 copy

Parallel Times

In this article we will look at missiological parallels between the principles of John B. Wesley and Donald A McGavran. Wesley’s methodology was hammered out in mid-18th century England as the Industrial Revolution conquered Europe, driving peasants from agricultural to urban lives in a quest to better their lives though technology. As historian David Watson describers it, “a society which was suffering from radical change and depersonalization.”[1] Only in hindsight would history brand the promises of the Industrial Revolution as overly materialistic and rarely altruistic. Yet amid this cultural shift from organic to mechanistic, spiritual fires leapt from the field sermons and structured discipleship methodology of a former Oxford don.

Not surprisingly in such an era, methods overshadowed principles and soon the derisive appellation “Methodist” was applied to Wesley’s followers. Though they preferred to be called Wesleyans, Wesley would only bend to popular terminology by describing them as “the people called Methodists.[2] Yet the sarcastic term survives and even flourishes in churches and denominations with Wesley’s methodologies in their heritage (though they may not remember what those methods be).

Donald A. McGavran’s principles for what he called effective evangelism[3] were born in a similar cultural transition from farm to factory. In the post-World War II milieu, American ingenuity in science and quantification had defeated Europe’s historical masters of technology: the German nation. Amid the euphoria generated by the passing of the technological baton, Donald A. McGavran began to emphasize measurement and anthropological assessment as valid lenses to follow the unseen movements of the Holy Spirit within societies. Based in part on his background as an executive-level administrator of missionary hospitals in India; McGavran suggested principles and methodologies that appealed to a culture infatuated again with measurement and technology.

But, McGavran and Wesley had similar eye-opening experiences regarding the state of contemporary spirituality. Wesley famously received a letter from his brother Charles, who had just begun his studies at Oxford’s most prestigious seminary: Christ Church College. Charles summed up what he found in these words: “(at Christ Church College) a man stands a very fair chance of being laughed out of his religion.”[4]

McGavran had a similar experience as described by Tim Stafford: “One morning McGavran asked his class what should be the first question a person asks when he reads a biblical passage. One of the most intelligent men answered promptly, ‘What is there in this passage that we cannot believe?’ He meant that anything miraculous or supernatural ought to be deleted or explained as ’poetic.’ ‘I had never before been confronted as bluntly with what the liberal position means to its ordinary Christians.’ McGavran says. ‘It shocked me, and I began at that moment to feel that it could not be the truth’.”[5]

Both men encountered dichotomies that would set their spiritual and tactical trajectories. For both, a popular interpretation of what constitutes biblical spirituality had robbed Christianity of authenticity and relevance. As a result, it should not be unexpected that parallel explorations and codifications of the spiritual journey would result…

DOWNLOAD the presentation handout HERE >>> ARTICLE Whitesel – Wesley & McGavran GCRJ GCRN

DOWNLOAD the Great Commission Research Journal article HERE >>> ARTICLE ©Whitesel – GCRJ Wesley & McGavran

[1] David Lowes Watson, The Early Methodist Class Meeting: Its Origins and Significance (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2002) p. 129.

[2] John Wesley, Letter to John Clayton, 1732.

[3] Similar to what Wesley experienced, McGavran’s more nuanced designation underwent a similar simplification with an accompanying overemphasis upon its tactical nature. Though McGavran preferred his principles be described as effective evangelism (Effective Evangelism: A Theological Mandate, (Presbyterian & Reformed Pub Co, 1988), 43) but much like Wesley 256 years earlier, his work would succumb to the more modish label: church growth.

[4] Kenneth G. C. Newport and Gareth Lloyd, The Letters of Charles Wesley: A Critical Edition, with Instruction and Notes: Volume 1 (1728-1756), (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 25.

[5] Tim Stafford, “The Father of Church Growth,” Mission Frontiers Journal, January 1986.

#Renovate14   #RenegadePastors

WESLEY & a Quote From His Sermon in Oxford on Being Born Again

“So that he who is thus justified, or saved by faith, is indeed born again. He is born again of the Spirit unto a new life, which ‘is hid with Christ in God’.”

John Wesley, from his sermon “Salvation by Faith” which he preached shortly after his conversion to the students and faculty of Oxford University in St. Mary’s Church, Oxford. Read the entire sermon at http://wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/the-sermons-of-john-wesley-1872-edition/sermon-1-salvation-by-faith/

TRANSFORMATION & Paul

Was Paul Converted? NT Wright on the “Conversion” of Paul
by scotmcknight 

“The standard reading of the apostle Paul’s life is the story of conversion, and at work in that story is religion and hence of Paul ‘finding religion’ or ‘leaving religion for faith.’ In the altogether exciting 15th chp of NT Wright’s Paul and the Faithfulness of God, Wright pitches his tent in a way that he gets a good angle on this very topic (though I shall suggest another angle might provoke a more refined perspective on the question if Paul was a convert).

He sees three definitions often at work: (1) those who see Paul abandoning one religion (Judaism) for another (Christianity) — which is not how Paul saw it; (2) an inner renewal on the part of those who had no faith — again not the best way to see Paul; and (3) the move from ‘religion’ (externality kind of thing) to “faith” (inner reality). Again, NT Wright says this too is not how Paul saw things. He says more about this third view, because he’s right in saying this is the core orientation in the ‘old’ perspective on Paul…”

Read more at: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2014/03/03/was-paul-converted-nt-wright-on-the-conversion-of-paul/