Thoughts on the New Apostolic Reformation

The Wartburg Watch (TWW) recently posted the article What is the New Apostolic Reformation? (NAR) as part of a series exploring where it appears Mark Driscoll may land for “ministering” in his post-Mars Hill Church career. I contributed several comments to this thread, since I had done some in-depth studies of the NAR as part of my case studies on involvement of the NAR Council of Apostles and Prophets with Todd Bentley and the Lakeland Outpouring, and with its incubating the Strategic Level Prayer and Spiritual Warfare movements. Continue reading

Thoughts on the “Strategic Level Prayer and Spiritual Warfare” Movement

The Wartburg Watch (TWW) recently posted the article Where Have All the Flowers Gone? Demons, Tongues, and Healings at Chris Hodges’ Church of the Highlands (ARC). It is, in part, an expose of ARC – the Association of Related Churches – which seems to have a substantial level of involvement in the “strategic level prayer” and spiritual warfare practices, and possibly also elements of a prosperity gospel and Word of Faith teachings. This critique applies to the New Apostolic Reformation movement as well.

Because of my background in studies of this particular prayer movement, along with spiritual warfare and spiritual mapping, I added several comments to the thread on this TWW article. I recommend reading my article on Strategic Level Prayer and Spiritual Mapping (2008) as a more systematic backdrop to the detailed analysis pieces here. Continue reading

Reflections on Malignant Ministries 2: Three Additional Lessons Learned

The past few weeks, I’ve been reflecting on my experiences with various kinds of churches, ministries, and Christian non-profits. Mostly I’ve focused on situations that relate to spiritually abusive leaders and toxic organizations. But I’ve also considered relationships with other Christians where they got into or came out of “christian cults.” I won’t be going into the details here, but I did want to share the big picture of what’s happened. Keeping that big-picture perspective in mind, here are the contours of what I’ve experienced.

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Seven City-Reaching Systems

Summary: The recent process of evaluating Pastor Tim Keller’s “gospel ecosystems” approach to city-reaching inspired me to think about other approaches that I’m aware of from the past 20 years of experience and research. And so I wrote this post to offer an initial overview of seven distinct systems for reaching cities for Christ. The overview for each approach includes something about its ministry emphasis, theology, and generation-group appeal. If we look at these approaches as a set, I suspect we’ll be better able to develop a more comprehensive and contextual strategy for wherever it is that God’s providence has rooted us in. Continue reading

Thoughts on Pastor Tim Keller’s “Gospel Ecosystems”

Dr. David Fitch recently posted Tim Keller’s “Gospel Ecosystem”: 3 Dangers In a Noble Idea. He invited feedback on the accuracy/validity of his take on Pastor Keller’s approach to urban transformation. Dr. Fitch was especially interested in whether the planks in Keller’s “gospel ecosystems” are (or could be misused to be) as (1) reductionistic and/or (2) potentially imperialistic. Also, to paraphrase, he wanted to know (3) whether Pastor Keller’s approach assumes that social structures are neutral and need only be improved by influential Christians, or whether there are personal forces of evil at work that must be resisted and sometimes the existing social structures must be resisted or replaced.

My short answers are: (1) Yes (probably). It appears to be incomplete and not fully interconnected. (2) Yes (potentially). Anytime you talk about influencing culture, and you don’t talk about the wisest and worst ways to do that, you leave the way open for horrific misapplications. And (3) I don’t have a yes or no due to insufficient information. But I do believe this is a particularly crucial issue. Some theologies don’t believe in Satan as a personal force of evil and that means social action is merely based on enlightened decisions by people instead of also spiritual warfare against an enemy who would rather see us enslaved or dead. Other theologies give principalities and powers too much purchase, and therefore overfocus on spiritual warfare in their attempts at solutions for social transformation. This post gives a more detailed expansion of these espresso answers to Dr. Fitch’s questions. Continue reading

Strategic Level Prayer and Spiritual Mapping (2008)

Background: This article was originally published on my Radoxodar blog in December 2008. As I am now using that blog for other purposes, I have migrated Radoxodar posts to futuristguy, if I hadn’t reposted them here already. An edited version of this article appears in my tutorial on Theodicy. Continue reading

MissionShift and Paradigm Shifts

Summary: Charles Van Engen’s essay in the recently released book, MissionShift, overviews the series of paradigm shifts in the meaning of “mission” through Western church history. He also gives some perspective for why transformation of missiology is needed, and what a more holistic statement of mission could look like. It wasn’t necessarily part of his opportunity or role to share much about the how-to’s of paradigm shifting. Yet I see that as being THE crucial topic for our moving beyond the influences and mistakes of the past toward a stronger and more holistic impact in the future.

And the subject of paradigm shifting is where I thought I could offer a critique and contribution to the discussion that doesn’t duplicate what others are emphasizing. I don’t believe our answer to the dilemmas of mission will be found in reconfiguring our missiology or even our larger theology. I argue that epistemology – how we process and organize information – dictates our theology. So, if we’re going to succeed in implementing a holistic paradigm shift, it’s got to be first and foremost at the even deeper level of epistemology.

I’m passionate about cultural interpretation, contextualization, futurist strategies, and organizational systems design and development. I’ve spent much of the past decade trying to figure out how to profile paradigms from the bottom up, and assist Christian groups in creating the constructive dynamics needed to undergo a paradigm shift to either become or remain a viable, sustainable organization. I’ve been in on mostly “epic fails,” but also a few modest successes. I hope my practitioner perspectives on holistic mission and what’s been missing, plus some of the why, how, and who of paradigm shifting, will prove helpful.

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