My husband and I recently visited Shipshewanna, Indiana, to experience an Amish community. The calmer pace of life and the cooler weather were a respite for us from our life in Houston with its frantic pace and hot, humid weather. Their pace of life, value of simplicity, and commitment to living our their faith in a countercultural way really made me think about how we might better live out our beliefs among our community. Here's a bit of what I learned.
Missionaries working in countries where there is no printed gospel available in the heart language of the people use a method called storying to share their faith. Story sets have been created that create bridges (beliefs and views we share) and address barriers (beliefs that make it difficult for someone to believe) to the gospel. One such example is “Creation to Christ.” It is a crafted presentation that presents the whole gospel story of the Bible beginning with creation and all the way to Christ.
It is said that no one likes change except a wet baby, but I disagree. We embrace and celebrate all kinds of changes—graduations, weddings, the birth of a baby, a new car or home purchase. But sometimes, changes can be painful, too—a loved one passes away, a friend moves to another state, or we experience the devastation of a major hurricane.
Sometimes, we experience the same sense of loss and pain when changes are made in our church. But could John 15:1-8 help us navigate our grief? Could we ask the Father to prune away the dead branches in our church so we could once again produce healthy fruit?
How many new church plants start to decline after they acquire a permanent building? I recently received this question in an email. Though I don't have the statistics, I do have stories. These are stories of churches that have slowly started their decline after completing building projects and others that have built and are still thriving today. But what has made the difference?
On my last sabbatical, I researched the early church. I studied the time from right after the resurrection of Jesus until the time of Constantine and wanted to see how they survived and thrived during a time when they were not the cultural norm and experienced intense persecution. I grew up in a Christian culture where Christianity was not only accepted but also encouraged by the culture. Getting to know the early church taught me many important lessons, some of which were hard to learn.
I have always been an avid collector of nativities, picking one up as a souvenir for each of my travels near and far. So, I was incredibly surprised to find that the reality of the nativity is hardly depicted in most of my little scenes.
With some insight from Kenneth Bailey's Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, I've learned a lot about Middle Eastern culture and how things would have actually happened in the Christmas story. Here are some of the things I've gleaned.
Some people think I have the “gift of hospitality,” but I assure you, I do not. I am not a hospitable person. I am an introvert. My home is a haven where I can recharge and get ready to be with people again the next day.
In time, I have learned that hospitality is not a gift but an act of obedience with great gospel benefits. For me, though, it's been a journey.
Sally Hinzie, UBA Church Consultant, is an avid reader and a practical thinker. She condenses selected books into a quick, easy to read set of “Book Notes” that offers you the opportunity to determine if this is a topic that you’d like to study further. This week's edition reviews Tony Maalouf's Arabs in the Shadow of Israel: The Unfolding of God’s Prophetic Plan for Ishmael’s Line.
I was in a meeting a couple of weeks ago with two churches wanting to share a building. The host church is almost 60 years old, and the church wanting to share their space was an immigrant congregation that is about 5 years old. It was a challenge to work out the details across cultural worldviews and language barriers.