Archive for the ‘Conversations’ Category

An Interview With Dr. Gordon Fee

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

This post about Dr. Gordon Fee (emeritus professor of New Testament at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia) is a bit of a departure from the norm and I promise not to make it a habit.

Dr. Fee’s latest work, Revelation, was published in October as part of the New Covenant Commentary series. I’ve got it on order and look forward to having it in my library. We desperately need a thoughtful and biblical take on this book that isn’t filtered through our dominate western rationalistic worldview.

In the 32 minute video interview below, Dr. Fee talks about the book of Revelation and basic principles of understanding Scripture.

Here are a few select quotes to give you a taste for the interview.

I don’t have trouble with people reading the Bible literally, because most of it is to be understood literally. But they shouldn’t read the Psalms or the Revelation that way. Yes, take it literally in terms of what it is, but please let it be its thing, don’t make it different than what it is.

[Revelation is] a marvelous book, and I just cringe whenever I see and hear people take it and make it have to do primarily with something in our future, when the only stuff that’s in our future [is] chapters 21 and 22. Everything else belongs back in the near future of these seven churches and all other Christians at the beginning of the second century.

I just experience enormous pain when I hear [Revelation] used in a Dispensationalist way, because frankly they know almost nothing about the book as John intended.

The problem with North Americans … is that we think we have a special privilege with God and we should get all the breaks and none of the pain.

[If there is one thing to know about the book of Revelation, know that it is] about the first century church that is headed for a terrible two century holocaust. Read it with that in view and then ask yourself, where do I fit in.

Enjoy and let me know what you think.


A Conversation With Ed Stetzer

Monday, March 9th, 2009

This is a cross-post of an exchange between Rick Meigs, one of the Missional Tribe instigators, and Ed Stetzer that was recently posted at Missional Tribe.

Ed is not just a talking head, guru or theorist, he is a practitioner. He has planted churches in New York, Pennsylvania, and Georgia and transitioned declining churches in Indiana and Georgia. Ed has trained pastors and church planters on five continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. He is currently interim teaching pastor of First Baptist Church of Hendersonville, TN. But his primary role these days is President of LifeWay Research and LifeWay’s Missiologist in Residence.

Ed’s must read blog is edstetzer.com.

MT: In simple terms, what issue(s) or problem(s) do you believe helped give rise to the “missional movement”?

Ed: The quality streams in the missional movement are good course corrective to some of the problems in the church growth movement (which, ironically, was mainly a response to the missio dei movement that de-emphasized evangelism in a the name of a holistic gospel). I think perhaps the common thread through all the variations “missional” would be the concern that churches have become inward focused and self-concerned and have given up the missionary nature of the Christian and the Church. “Mission” isn’t just a program or something some of us do, but something we are and something we’re all called to do as it reflects the characteristic mission of God.

MT: You mentioned the missio dei movement has/can lead to a de-emphasis on evangelism. This is a huge concern of mine. Can you unpack your thoughts just a bit on this?

Ed: Well, the last folks who put a strong emphasis on the missio dei actually did so to the detriment of evangelism. In a rather ironic reality, what became known as the “Church Growth Movement” was largely a response to the “missio dei” movement. The CGM (before it lost much of its way) was created to help the church refocus on evangelism because everything was defined as “mission.”

Missions historian Stephen Neil expresses the concern that when churches focus on societal transformation, and particularly when they call it missions, then “everything” is mission. Neil explained, “when everything is mission, nothing is mission.” Those words were prophetic: he spoke those words to a movement that progressively moved away from church planting and evangelistic missions to a near total focus on social justice (for more information, see the history of the Conciliar missions movement).

Moreover, are there historical patterns that further confirm Neil’s concerns? When we look at the history of missions, it is frequent (dare I say common?) that those churches which focus on societal change lose their focus on evangelism and church planting. The most healthy churches engage in evangelism (individual transformation), church planting (collective transformation), and societal impact (cultural transformation). And one tends to lead to the others. The best societal impact occurs when it is a reflection of individual and collective, gospel transformation.

So, when you hear someone you consider less “missional” that you say, “Let’s tell them about Jesus because if we serve the hurting we will lose our focus on missions,” it might have more historical validity than you would choose to believe. Thus, many are convinced that if churches have to choose between evangelism and social action, they should choose evangelism. And with good reason.

I just think that it’s short-sighted for churches to choose. Evangelism, church planting, and societal impact are like fruit that blossom and grow from healthy church trees. We do not have to bow to the tyranny of the “or.”

So, the church growth people reminded us that we needed to reach the lost. And, as we emphasize mission again, we would do well to be careful to not lose the evangelistic impulse as we also think more fully on the mission of God.

MT: Any practical advice to pastors and leaders on how to ensure that proclamation (as Frost would put it) is not de-emphasized in their efforts to move their faith communities toward a more missional stance?

Ed: I think you have to see it as one mission but with different facets.

To see all of this as one mission requires a biblical understanding of the gospel and the mission. The beginning point is to bring people into the mission (by seeing them become believers and followers of the King); the second phase involves forming groups of these believers together into transformational units (churches); the third aspect involves fulfilling the one mission (of bringing more into the mission AND serving the hurting) to the point that societal and cultural impact takes place.

While these often do not happen in a perfectly sequential way, a progression can be witnessed or identified. Hence, because of the order some conclude that a priority of evangelism exists. It is a fair statement, but incomplete.

A “priority” often creates a dichotomy where there can only be one. It is not either/or. Really, it is not even “both/and”it is “one mission.” Churches that chooses to join God on his one mission see the transformation of individuals because it is intensely evangelistic, the transformation of cooperative units as new congregations are formed, and the transformation of society because it cares about the world, because Jesus called the church to advance His kingdom in the world.

Perhaps a solution to our false trichotomy can be found by understanding the gospel and the Kingdom. Though the church is not the Kingdom of God, it is a sign and an instrument of the Kingdom. But, how does one enter the Kingdom? Well, by repenting of sin (a response to evangelism). Note the message and the response, “But when they believed Philip, as he proclaimed the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized” (Acts 8:12, HCSB).

As Christians we have an obligation to care about society and the increasing evangelical consensus on the Kingdom of God calls us to plant new churches and engage in good works because of our Kingdom obligation. Jesus calls us to serve the poor and care about our communities so that we might obey the King and demonstrate His Kingdom, showing and sharing the good news of Jesus.

Thus, proclamation leads people to Christ who then join together in the larger mission. That mission is to see the world transformed by the gospel. The focus is to see people and society more like Jesus would have it be and the church is the tool God uses to accomplish that agenda. The church is not the goal; the gospel of the Kingdom is the goal and the church is the tool. As such, we invite people to “repent and be baptized” (Acts 8:12) and then to be a part of the mission of Jesus to serve (Luke 4) and to save (Luke 19:10).

MT: In “Breaking the Missional Code,” you and Putman wrote that “what is really needed is not just an understanding of missiological thinking, but a commitment to apply “˜missional’ thinking.” Are you seeing a commitment to applying missional thinking taking place? If so, what leads you to believe this and can you give some examples? If not, why do you think this is the case and/or what is hindering it?

Ed: The problem with the so-called “missional conversation” is that it too often stops at conversation. We have lots of professional and armchair missiologists, but very few practitioners. I do think there is a tide turning; however, time will tell if it involves actual commitment to applying missional thinking or if it is merely a new coat of paint on to what is perceived as the next technique for church programming or growth. There are mega-churches interested in what it might mean to implement “missional” in their communities. Church planting organizations are nurturing missional churches from the ground up and facilitating their multiplication. And then there are numerous smaller churches that are planting unconventional and gospel-centered — yet indigenous — communities.

MT: How are the leaders and pastors of your denomination responding to this whole missional discussion and movement?

Ed: Open but cautious. Which, incidentally, I think is a wise response to any biblically coherent movement or trend perceived as “new.” My denomination is facing its decline admirably in most cases and wanting to do what is biblically and practically necessary to do what it’s always meant to do: reach the lost near and far with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

They let me hang around, so clearly they are not closed off to the missional discussion! And the research we are conducting is both waking us up to the problems before us and helping us problem-solve. Denominational publications “ both books and resources — are exploring “missional.”

We face an uphill climb, because the first guys to jump ship in my denomination were our creative, entrepreneurial young pastors and leaders, the guys most inclined toward missional vision. We’ve got to woo some of them back and nurture the ones rising up in the ranks, and I think the leaders in the denominations are realizing this.

And let’s be clear, as well: the SBC’s Cooperative Program is the largest and most successful denominational/organizational missions effort in the world. The task before us is converting that cooperation and focus in a concentrated way across the life of our local congregations.

MT: Thanks for the insight on the Southern Baptist Convention. As an aside, I think the SBC produced one of the best “missional” text (for lack of a better expression) in Blackaby’s “Experiencing God.” I remember well when Henry, who was still a Pastor and DOM in Canada, spent a weekend with our SBC church leaders and staff back in the 80s. He worked us through the material that would become Experiencing God. It was a profound weekend for me. Brought understanding to so much of what I was feeling and struggling with that we now label as missional.

In your latest book “Sent,” you talk about living the missional nature of the church. In simple terms, what does this mean?

Ed: In simple terms it means every Christian is called to live on mission. Wherever he or she is, whatever his or her location or vocation, he or she is to live on mission. We are ambassadors for Christ, as Paul says. Having been reconciled to God, he now carries the “ministry of reconciliation.” Mission isn’t something “other people” do in other parts of the world, or certain people do in your church program (as in the evangelism pastor or whatever). It is the call of every believer, and therefore the call of the Christian community. And it means the community not existing for its own sake like the self-interested Jerusalem church we see in Acts, but existing to share and “be”the good news of Jesus for the sake of its neighbors.

MT: Do you have a word of counsel for the pastor/leader who wants to help move his people towards living this missional nature?

Ed: A few things: You must live it yourself. It cannot be a theoretical technique you’re trying on. Pastor by teaching but also by being an example. Secondly, be prayerful and patient. Don’t take a sharp 90 degree turn. Cast a vision through your example and through consistent teaching over time and providing opportunities for missional service. Don’t push; lead. There’s lots of other things, but the last I’d mention is to network and seek counsel with other churches and leaders. See what’s worked for others and what hasn’t, get encouragement and advice, and develop cooperation between congregations.

MT: Thanks so much Ed for taking the time to share your experience, knowledge and heart with us.

There is a lot of great stuff here to contemplate. If you have a question or comment for Ed, please leave it here and we’ll ask Ed if he can pop over and respond.

You can also see a video exchange between Ed and David Fitch here.

A Conversation With Ed Stetzer

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

I posted a really good exchange between myself and Ed Stetzer over at Missional Tribe. I particularly enjoyed his insights on how missio dei movements in the past have lead to a de-emphasis on evangelism within the church. He also has some good words for pastors/leaders who wants to help move their people towards living a missional nature.

I think you will enjoy reading this “Conversation With Ed Stetzer.”

Stetzer and Fitch on Missional

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

This is a Missional Tribe video of Ed Stetzer and Dave Fitch in conversation on what they each mean by the term “missional,” attractional vs missional, and whether missional church, as it seems to be presently framed, is “interested in converts.”


Ed Stetzer & David Fitch – a missional conversation from Missional Tribe on Vimeo.

A Conversation with Jamie Arpin-Ricci – Part IV

Friday, December 29th, 2006

This post concludes the series. My hope is that the “conversation” has enriched your own understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus in the context you find yourself. The Kingdom is rich with people like Jamie who are passionate and faithful, yet still learning and experiencing what it means to be a Jesus follower. I urge you to seek them out and be willing to be taught. None of us have all the answers. We need each other.

BB: Back in 2005 you published, “Looking Forward: Facing the Future of Christian Leadership.” Tell me briefly about this book and what inspired you to write it?

In 2000, I attended YWAM’s 40th anniversary celebration in New Zealand. Following the gathering, a group of young leaders from the mission got together to talk about our future in YWAM. It was a good and challenging time. Inspired by our time together, I wanted to bring together different authors from various perspectives to share the message they most wanted to share with young people. The authors came from intentionally different positions to expose readers, drawn by a familiar author, to writers they might not otherwise read. I brought them together, created study guides for each chapter and – voilà!

BB: What did you learn through the process of writing your book?

It was my first book length project that I had ever worked on. Writing a compilation is very difficult process. While getting contributor to follow through by deadline (or at all) is a massive pain in the neck. However, it is even more difficult to edit (and sometimes ghost write) sections of other peoples writing that you might deeply disagree with. It was good for me, teaching me to be more generous in my embrace of people’s views that I might not agree with. It was also good to go through the process of writing, editing, publishing and marketing. Learned a lot.

BB: Are there any more books coming in the future? If so, care to give us a brief peak at the subject?

Many, I hope. Currently, I am working on a book that explores areas where the local church is losing connection with young Christians. It is not a church bashing book, but an honest exploration about the disconnect, with challenges to both the church and young Christians on how to bridge the gap. I draw a great deal from my own journey from individualistic religion to the pursuit of missional community.

Other than that, I have an unpublished novel I wrote when I was fifteen and a notebook full of other book ideas (fiction & non-fiction). Time will tell!

BB: Thanks Jamie for being so gracious and available. Much to ponder and reflect on, and it was good to learn more about the person who is Jamie Arpin-Ricci.

Part I of this conversation is located here.
Part II here.
Part III here.

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A Conversation with Jamie Arpin-Ricci – Part III

Friday, December 29th, 2006

This is Part III of my “conversation” with Jamie Arpin-Ricci . Part I is located here and Part II here. Final part coming up next.

BB: I appreciate your comment that, “It would be a mistake to think that we are simply getting involved in groups to subversively build relationships for the purpose of conversion.” I remember well my years in a typical American evangelical church where almost everything we did had the hidden, and at times not so hidden, agenda of getting the conversion. I love it when God lets me get in on the harvest, but the way we did it always seemed so dishonest and industrial. Getting past this mindset is essential if we are to become missionally minded. Another example of how missional at its core is a shift in thinking.

Your comments about community resonate, but are so foreign to us Americans. We are taught how important it is to be the “rugged individualist” and the church been co-opted by this cultural value. Can you talk to me more about the importance of living “in community” with other believers?

Jamie’s Response: First, I believe in living in community especially, but not exclusively, with other Christians. In fact, what better way to hold yourself accountable to truly missional living in every “mundane” detail than to live with those who are not Christians? Living in community is very much like marriage. It is filled with amazing rewards and a deepening connection (aka “romance”) over time, but it only truly comes through the self-sacrificial tension that results. I often say that marriage has been the best and hardest thing I have every done — which is NOT reflecting a lack of romance, but an acknowledgment that in marriage, your greatest weaknesses come quickly to the surface. Community is the same thing — and it is often in the very “unspiritual” realities of simple life issues. In fact, singles who live in true community often adjust to marriage quicker than those who do not.

Now, I should note that many people experience living closely with others in settings such as university. However, the very nature of our educational systems (i.e. competitive, self-focused, institutional, etc.) limit the extent to which true community develops. The fact is, community has less to do with who you live with or even where you live as it does with how you live together. It’s about sharing our lives as well as our space. It’s about living through consensus, authenticity, brokenness, etc. It is even more about resisting the impulse to change, convince or convert people to our way of thinking. This not only goes against our nature as people, but against our training as Evangelicals.

In my only posts on “What Is The Gospel?” at my blog, I link the Perichoretic nature of God to being created in His image, thus making the Gospel significantly about how we live together reflecting the divine in our relational/communal incarnation of the Body of Christ. I won’t rewrite the whole series here, so check it out if you haven’t read it before:

http://emergentvoyageurs.blog.com/475723/
http://emergentvoyageurs.blog.com/499495/
http://emergentvoyageurs.blog.com/585790/
http://emergentvoyageurs.blog.com/601761/

BB: If someone came to you struggling with this “missional” thing, what would you tell them?

Frankly, I would do one of two things (generally speaking): recommend they read through “Friend Of Missional” or come spend a week with me in our neighbourhood where I could introduce them to people who live missionally.

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A Conversation with Jamie Arpin-Ricci – Part II

Friday, December 29th, 2006

This is Part II of my “conversation” with Jamie Arpin-Ricci . Part I is located here. Part III and IV coming up.

BB: When you said that you didn’t want “to be ‘professional’ do-gooders that commuted to the neighbourhood each day,” it reminded me of the many missionaries who went to foreign lands and immediately moved into walled off and seclude compounds. Here in the US we still have the old missionary model. For example, a faith community will begin working in a low income housing development. They come in from their walled off and seclude compounds in middle-class suburbia, minister, and then return to their protected communities. I truly believe that this must change if we really want to impact the diverse cultures and situations that are all around us. This is why I’m intrigued that you decided to become a part of your community. Can you unpack this idea some.

Jamie’s Response: When people hear about our value of living in the community they often interpret it romantically. Either that or they pat us on our back for being willing to live so sacrificially for the poor. Both views are mistaken. First, we don’t live with most of the conditions of the poor. Because of our strong systems of support from family, friends, churches and YWAM, added to the fact that most of our staff do not deal with the realities of long term systemic problems of abuse, addiction, racism, etc. Therefore, we can never fully identify with the poor. However, by choosing to root our lives there, it shows them that it is our home. We are willing to raise our kids there, invest our money and lives there, etc. To this end, it helps (somewhat) to bridge the gap.

To the second, it still presumes that we are coming with all the answers. The fact is that we are the ones who are the fish out of water. We come needing to learn and trust our neighbours first. We have as much to learn as we do to offer. Philippians 2 tells us Jesus, who is GOD, didn’t think He should come with the power, so how can a screwed up bunch like us think we can be any better, right?

While we don’t follow it exactly, we were influenced by Perkin’s “Restoring At-Risk Communities,” especially the three R’s: redistribution, reconciliation, and relocation. The final R, relocation, is often the toughest for people. Perhaps a better articulated expression of this is coming out of the new monasticism, “relocation to the abandoned places of Empire,” again seeing where we live (and how we live there) is as important a part of the mission as any message we might have to share.

The reality is, of course, that in five years, we are still learning. Some of us are more naturally inclined to connect with people than others of us. As an organization that has short-term in its roots, we often find ourselves spending a lot of energy helping our new, young staff adjust to urban living, taking away from our ability to connect more ourselves. Any number of factors, many of which we can address, others outside our power, do make this a challenge. I don’t see us as a success story – at least not yet. Rather, I would characterize what we are doing in the words of Gandhi: It is an experiment in truth. We are learning through risk, failure and success.

Our focus is constantly being shaped and directed by the community, its strengths, its needs, our strengths, etc. We try to embrace the value of systematic planned abandonment (see my recent blog post on being missional in an age of liminality). We don’t want to reinvent the wheel, but neither can we always provide something which isn’t naturally part of our gifting and passions. So, much of what we have done was found ways to use our gifts to compliment what has already been going on, supporting existing programs, churches, etc. However, we are now at the stage of developing more independent projects too (such as the bookstore).

BB: I read on the ministries website, “YWAM Urban Ministries Winnipeg is a missional community….” What does it mean to be a missional community? I’m also really interested in what this looks like on a practical day-to-day basis.

Jamie’s Response: This questions totally messes with my head. My impulse is to start with my definition of the Gospel and going from there, but since this is not a thesis, I’ll try to give you the nutshell. In the common language surrounding missions, it becomes something of a specialized field of ministry, usually looking to going to “foreign fields”. This smacks of a dichotomy that I don’t think is healthy, plus promotes the often subtle (or not), but all too commonly colonial view of Western Christianity that sees our expression of faith and mission to be the standard by which all others are measured (and found inferior).

Missional is a more broadly descriptive and generously embracing view. It describes the formational and vocational nature of being part of the Body of Christ. That is why I believe the truest form of missional expressions are communal. If we find salvation through dying with Christ and being resurrected into one Body – Christ’s Body – then it stands to reason that His vocations becomes our collective vocation too. Since we are not His Body only when we are in church, but in every moment, then again it stands to reason that every moment, even (perhaps especially) the seemingly mundane, is ripe with divine purpose, potential and import. While there might be a difference between the sacred and the profane, we need to get past the dualism of dividing our lives up between the sacred and the secular.

In the context of YWAM Urban Ministries Winnipeg, this is a tough process. Despite our desire to be a missional community, most of us are still working through a lifetime of discipleship that taught us a very different- namely individualistic – paradigm. We are getting there, but it is a lot of work and a very demanding process. I have already mentioned the intentional relocation of our lives, but there is of course much more to it than that. Perhaps the biggest challenge is shifting our perception about the difference between job and vocation. As YWAM staff, we are “full time ministry” people, but our role of being missional in our community (and in life in general) does not fit simply between 9-5. Rather, it is about our whole lives.

To that end, we try to connect with other activities, networks or communities as part of our social lives. It might be coaching kids soccer, volunteering at the youth correctional facility, participating in neighbourhood associations, etc. It would be a mistake to think that we are simply getting involved in groups to subversively build relationships for the purpose of conversion. Rather, it is about seeking genuine relationships with people because we love people, we need people. I truly believe that God created humanity in His image collectively, meaning that it is in the unity of our rich diversity as His Body that we discover, with increasing depth and breadth, the nature, character and very Person of God. That motivates me to live and proclaim the Gospel more than scaring the Hell out of people.

With this in mind — seeing every person, culture, etc. as bearing a unique expression of the image of God — we no longer come simply as people with answers for the lost, but also as learners. We need to truly explore, engage, appreciate and participate in these unique dynamics, not only to discover the unique expressions of God’s image, but also to help them discover it in themselves and in you. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not talking about some kind of new age self-actualization. To use “safer” terms, it is like what evangelical missiologist Don Richardson called discovering “eternity in their hearts.”

Another emphasis that is common in our ministry is that of justice issues. This comes as an inevitable response of living among the poor, relating to them as neighbours and friends. When you begin to see the realities of systemic inequity and injustice on every level, you cannot help but be stirred to act for change. I know I don’t need to defend social emphasis of Kingdom living to you, as it goes without saying that as we live Christ together, our missional drive is stirred powerfully in these situations.

The reality is that there is always a tension and disparity between our articulated/espoused missional values and our actual lives. That is another reason why missionality needs to be in community, for mutual encouragement and accountability (not to mention that living in community is a hard, but effective task master), as well as why relocation creates a demanding tension.

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A Conversation with Jamie Arpin-Ricci – Part I

Friday, December 29th, 2006

Something that I’ve wanted to do for some time is to have an online conversation with a number of individuals that have interesting blogs and ministries. These are people who are doing missional work every day. They know the difference between theory and reality. For me, hearing them is an important part of the journey of life.

Jamie Arpin-Ricci has been gracious enough to be the first to enter into an exchange. It will take a number of posts to cover the full conversation. This is just the first and I hope I’ve done justice to the exchange.

BB: Jamie, you are Co-Director YWAM Urban Ministries in Winnipeg, Canada. How long have you been with YWAM Winnipeg and give me a feel for this ministry.

Jamie’s Response: I joined Youth With A Mission (YWAM) in 1994, but co-founded the ministry here in Winnipeg in 2002 with my wife Kim, who is originally from Australia. Our desire for this urban ministry was that we would seek to serve God and the community with our heads, hearts and hands- in other words, engaging the missional dynamics with our minds, our emotions/motivations and our wills.

Not wanting to be “professional” do-gooders that commuted to the neighbourhood each day, we decided that in order to reach the community to which we were called, we would have to become a part of it. To that end, we decided that all our staff would be committed to live in the neighbourhood. My wife and I helped restore, then purchased, a former gang house in the community which has served as home for us and most of our staff. By becoming part of the community, we weren’t coming as superior “saviours”, but as fellow neighbours with as much to learn and receive as we had to offer.

Due to this, we have been committed to being a learning ministry. While this includes things like studying and training, it has more to do with an intentional an consistent reflection upon our lives and ministry, adjusting it as we learn from our failures and successes. While that may sound pretty normal, it is very challenging and practiced far less commonly than you might imagine.

In addition to being a part of the surrounding community, we are committed to developing the relationship within our smaller
YWAM community. While this primarily includes our staff, it also includes former staff, student, volunteers and others we have connected with. This requires of us to be “working” at relationship outside the constraints of our “jobs.”

We also seek to live with the Gospel at heart of everything we do. That being said, we recognize that the Gospel is far more than a simply proclaimation of a certain message about Christ’s death and resurrection. While these play a critical role in the Gospel, we see it as a more encompassing message that must be made as manifest in the way we live as it does in what we proclaim- and at times, even more so.

YWAM International is, generally, an Evangelical mission with Charismatic emphasis having its roots in the Holiness tradition. Because of this, most people who join us as staff, students or volunteers generally come from that background. While we affirm the importance of these heritages, we also recognize that Western Evangelicalism (including YWAM International) needs to engage in a more generous embrace of a broader expression of Christian traditions. Therefore, our often characterize our ministry as being a bridge.

Some might see this as a compromise, but we feel that we would rather maintain relationships and affect real change than be “right”. Here’s an example of what I mean: YWAM is largely known for its short-term missions model. There are many legitimate critiques of this model that our local ministry acknowledges and seeks to change. However, where some would say that these models must be fully abandoned, we believe that we need to meet people half-way, using models (and motivations) that might be questionable (though never immoral) on some level, but offer an opportunity for a change in worldview that might otherwise not be possible. If we insisted on doing things based only on the ideal models/theologies, we would alienate the larger Christian community. It is a constant tension, but one well worth wrestling with.

BB: I’d like to get to understand you better. What is the fire that burns in your belly? What makes you get up in the morning?

Jamie’s Response: Hmm, tougher question. My wife would tell you (with a mix of affection and teasing) that I am a nerd. She’s probably right. I love to learn, so I read like my life depended on it. Even when I sit in the theatre waiting for a movie to start, I’ll pull up Wikipedia on my cell phone and read about anything that I feel like learning about. If you are into Meyers-Briggs, I am an INTJ, which is fairly uncommon. If you are into Strengths Finder, I come up:

– Input
– Intellection
– Ideation
– Strategic
– Learner

With that being said, it is not a surprise that I am passionate about exploring ideas and engaging them in real life. I am a reformer in the sense that I am constantly trying to evaluate things and see where they might improve. This is especially true of systems, by it YWAM, the Church, etc. However, I am an intuitive systems thinker, meaning that I can see patterns and predict futures in some respects, but I cannot always explain why I see that. This kind of thing gets my blood flowing.

What is most difficult about this is the fact that YWAM is not a likely organization for someone who wants to engage the missional dynamics with an emphasis on learning, etc. I am not suggesting that YWAM is for stupid people- by no means! Rather, I have found very few people in YWAM are as interested in exploring the historical, sociological, systemic, etc. dynamics of life and ministry. This has made it hard being part of YWAM, very hard at times.

So why do I stay? Because I am not a theoretician. I must try things, forcing myself to test ideas, try to influence through ideas proven through practice. Also, regardless of YWAM’s more dominant expression, the organization allows for a great freedom and diversity in expression and belief, held together in a network of relational (not hierarchal) leadership. These are some of the core reasons I have stayed with YWAM.

I am also a writer. I love to write, even if I find it difficult to find the time to do it. I have one book published and half way through writing a second. However, my first love is fiction (when I was in my early teens, I wrote a 200 page fantasy novel (that is collecting dust in a binder somewhere). I believe that fiction holds a great deal of power to influence in far deeper ways than we have realized.

I love diversity of culture, race, belief, etc. and the implications of that diversity on the Body of Christ and our understanding of God. This REALLY gets me excited. Connected to this is a passion for reconciliation (not just reconciliation events, but systemic changes that work for a mutual future).

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