Friday, December 11, 2009

when message and medium colide try on a little contextualization for size

Look at the dichotomy above.  I tend to agree with the message of corduroy girl on the right.  Nevertheless, I find myself laughing with holier-than-thou denim man on the left.  A few things strike me about this photo:

1. This is the way the world views us.  Odd, outdated and out of place.  Willing to fight but not to love.  Preaching at people rather than talking with them.  Part of a different community.

2.  We some times let method get in the way of message.  I remember going to NYC for a mission trip and passing a man who was in the median of the highway holding up a "Jn 3:16" sign.  He had the right message, but how many people's lives were changed by the sign.  Could he have been more effective with the same (well, flesh it out some first) message but in a different format.  One time I went to a pagan pride fest.  There were hundreds of Christian (presumably) protesters.  You learned a few things from their signs: they were angry these people were here, they wanted them to go, they thought these people were wrong, and they were angry with them.  Since I brought no sign, they let me through the front door.  I talked with many people face to face about real life issues and how to answer them.  I was able to present the gospel with several participants.  Who was more effective?  Who was heard?  In spite of all of their shouting, the protesters were ignored.  They did manage to accomplish one thing, they made "Christianity" look ugly, hateful, and dumb.

3. She is in corduroy....  There is nothing inherently wrong with it, but she looks odd to the world.  Do you think she would be received differently if she were to put the sign down, dress in a culturally normative way, get involved in peoples' lives, and spread the gospel?  My glowing description of this alternative betrays my own thoughts on the topic.

4.  Probably no one was changed in the slightest by the sign.  I doubt any gay in America wonders what evangelicals think about their lifestyle.  All gays know that we disprove and think that they are in sin.  They are probably even familiar with the fact that the Bible calls homosexuality a sin.  So what is her purpose?  What is she accomplishing?  I can't imagine any gay walking by, seeing the sign, and deciding that it is time to change.

We have to stop tract bombing, Christian mugging and protest evangelism.  They are going to get us exactly where they have always have: nowhere!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

detroit: how migration changes a city

Migration in and out of cities is a fascinating phenomenon.  From the early 1900's forward, there has been a massive influx into urban centers in the US.  Some of this has come through immigration.  Much of it has been a  result of industrialization; the improvement in farm implements did not require the same workforce to run a farm, at the same time the cities were opening factories.  During WWII, over half a million African Americans migrated to northern cities to fill jobs which were being vacated by men leaving for war.  This created, almost overnight, places like Chicago's south side, and New York's Harlem.  In influx of African Americans into cities, sparked what sociologists call white flight.  Suburbs are the result of white flight.  This left most major urban centers as predominantly African American.  While urban centers continue to grow--at least in the sun-belt cities--there has been a push since the late 70's to move to the suburbs and back out to smaller towns.  The influx of technology jobs (as industrial jobs are sent overseas) provided the means for this migration out of the city.

Detroit has seen exaggerated forms of all of these eras of migration, the most devastating of which has been white flight and the current down turn in the economy.  Detroit has shrunk by half its population over the past decade or so.  Over one third of all homes in the city are vacant.  The entire state is expected to fall below 10 million in population.  This exodus out of the city has sparked a major crisis for city leaders as they are trying to operate the same services for the same size city, geographically, with half of the tax base.  The city is facing a 15.3% unemployment rate and is suffering from a 2.8 billion dollar deficit.

Rather than looking to the federal government for a bailout (it is arguable that government has been a major contributor to the problems in Detroit), they should look to innovators, individuals with an entrepreneurial spirit and hard work ethic, organic solutions (a government prop up will only prolong the bleeding not stop it), and private investors (when money is needed--though judicious government should be used to prevent speculation).

One such group of innovators is the Catherine Ferguson Academy.  They are providing education to young pregnant mothers, who would otherwise have to drop out.  While they only provide services for 300 of Detroit's 3,000 young pregnant mothers, they have a phenomenal graduation rate of 90%.  They have reappropriated some school grounds have have turned it into a working garden.  The women are taught how to grow fruit and vegetables and then turn and sell their produce.  Aside from teaching them valuable job skills which can feed their family, they are learning self reliability and responsibility.  Two filmmakers have put together a documentary showcasing the school.   I highly recommend that you take an hour and watch this video.

One of the solutions to the problem of waning tax base and a vacatant city, some have proposed shrinking the size of the city's footprint.  This is a great idea.  The word self-sustaining needs to be in everyone's vocabulary.  Some have proposed using vacant lots for gardens like the Academies'.  It is no small irony that in the cycle of migration that the rural and the urban are now going to be mixed to one degree or another.

What can we learn?  Do you have a city with urban poor?  Rather than build your next church building or campus, why not buy some unused plot of land in your city.  Find the people in your church who are just sitting on pews with skills in gardening and husbandry.  Start a working community farm.  This demonstrates your genuine concern for being a blessing to your community.  You are giving people the skills and dignity to take care of themselves.  The people in your church will see an direct connection between your church and your community. 

Otherwise, we end up looking like the typical Americans and they typical Christians who tithe to themselves.  

Here is a funny video:

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

i want to be like Lot when i grow up

Check out my latest post.  The guys at sbcIMPACT! asked me to put up a guest post. 

Thursday, November 19, 2009

eccleastical greed: a lack of ethos in urban space

As promised, I am going to blog following the TIME Detroit blog. I want to provide some 
theological and missiological reflection on their Detroit restoration project. Part of what is
amping me up on this post is my two previous posts {here and here} so you might want to 
briefly check those out before proceeding.

I don't know of any churches whose express purpose is to live for self. I don't know of a church
website, brochure, pastor, etc who would not say that they are not interested in helping their 
community and reaching the world. Yet, this is the exact impression most people under the 
age of 30 think of churches. Most churches state quite the opposite. Most will say that they 
are there to help their community. Why is there this disconnect? Perhaps it is because there 
is a Grand Canyon sized chasm between what churches say they are interested in doing and 
how they actually behave. When walk and talk are perceived to be this far apart, it presents a 
problem in a church's ethos.

Darrell Dawsey recently posted an article titled, "Ditchin' Religion."  He says

we put too much faith in these ministers, their big churches and the feel-good rhetoric they sell on Sundays.
While his cry to ditch religion is a bit premature, he says what many are probably thinking:
I can't help but wonder how much better our communities could be if we put even half the energy that we invest in keeping these pastors well-heeled into our public schools, politics, finances or businesses. 
I do not profess to know the situation on the ground in Detroit (at least beyond what is online and in print).  Their church situation is probably similar to the church situation around then country.  

In most pioneer missions contexts, missionaries are not allowed in as missionaries.  They must have a legitimate purpose for being in that country.  I believe the time has come in our own country that we need a specific purpose and reason for being in our communities.  Our role should never be to merely take up space in the city which only gets used once a week and provides little more than a meeting space.  We need to use the space more than once (and for more than just believers) and carry our own weight.  

Churches are religious organizations.  As such they are exempt from taxation.  This means that they use space which requires utilities and public services such, as fire and police, but they don't pay into the system.  Currently there are large census tracts with vacancy rates of 30-50% and higher!  At the city level, this makes maintaining adequate police and fire services difficult since they must still patrol and protect the same area but with fewer tax dollars to help them.  

This has been a problem for a Houston suburb as well.  There are so many churches moving in {because land is cheap} who are not paying into the system that the city is struggling to provide adequate services.  A barrier is growing slowly  between the city and the churches since the city knows that they will never win a fight to tax the churches and since the churches will never actually pay into the system.  Would it be so hard to pay for services that they are using?

Churches all over Detroit are struggling to keep things running cutting staff and services and charging for things like funerals.  But what if each minister were bi-vocational?  There would not be the stigma of "freeloading" in a sinking society.  It is time to abandon church as a purely Sunday function.  Why should everyone go through such sacrifice for the sake of one building?  Why not sell the building and give back to the community?  We have nothing to loose and much to gain by giving it all away and living like we truly believe this world is not our home rather than building kingdoms to ourselves. 

The urban crisis facing Detroit demonstrates the divide between church life and city life and how out of touch we  are with the problems in the world.  The church all over America is in the same boat but, since there is no crisis at hand, we do not realize that we are dragging our communities down rather than being a blessing to them.  In my previous post I recounted how Gallery Furniture has been a beneficial fixture of the community.  When it burned down, the community rose up to help it rebuild.  I can't imagine that happening for most churches were they to find themselves in similar circumstances.  

There is a lesson here if we are listening.

what if the church burnt down? a lesson in helping the community

I grew up for the most part in Houston.  As long as I can remember Mattress Mack has been a Houston icon.  He supports the community in numerous ways.  If you are unfamiliar with him, here is a good article.  It is easier to come up with a list of venues where he has not helped.

Earlier this year Mattress Mack's Gallery Furniture suffered millions in losses from a four-alarm fire which consumed most of his inventory. In spite of the great loss, he was able to keep the business running making deliveries on time.  Also in spite of the loss, he tried to donate over $300,000 worth of furniture and electronics to the firefighters and stations which helped put out the blaze {though it got tangled up in city laws...} In response to the fire, his customers have remained faithful.  Many have offered to donate time and money to help rebuild the store!  Some people have gone and bought furniture that they didn't need, just to help.

Here is the takeaway for us: if your church burnt down would the community come out in mass to help?  Would they even know?  Would they even care?  "Mack" has been a regular fixture in the Houston community for 28 years.  He has donated beds to Hurricane Ike victims, helped firefighters, policemen, students, 4H clubs, given scholarships... the list just goes on and on.  Again, it is easier to point out where he hasn't helped.  We could learn something from him. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

when bad contextualization happens to good people

In dealing with international circles, one is readily made aware that there are a number of ways of going about the business of cross cultural ministry.  The purpose of contextualization is to present Christ in the receptor culture in such a way that he is accepted or rejected on the basis of his true person and work and not on the basis of the presentation or the presenter.  Contextualization can go wrong in two ways.  The first is when the evangelist does not go far enough; the second, is when he goes too far.  I don't know which one the following video is.  I will let you be the judge.

Please don't hate me...

Friday, November 13, 2009


On the heels of my last post concerning the Kingdom which FBC Dallas is building, here are some thoughts about money in the SBC:
According to Gordon Fort at last nights meeting SBC churches collected $11.1 billion 08, according to the ACP, and only 2.77 percent was used to support the vision of reaching a lost world. "Southern Baptists are structuring ourselves in a way that guarantees we will fail in our mission, it just shouldn’t be,” Yes only 2.77% of all S. Baptist gifts go to World Missions by way of the IMB.
 I got that from a few friends.  The problem is not money and resources, it is priorities.  What are we willing to give up in order that more people might hear the gospel?

I have my first post concerning Detroit in the works.

Friday, November 6, 2009

athens, jerusalem, wall street and the church

"What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?" laments Tertulian. This was in the context of his rejection of Greek philosophy. While I personally do not share his lament, here is an echo for our day.

What has wall street to do the the church?! Apparently everything. Michael Frost says that we often just tithe to ourselves. I couln't agree more. We have whole heartedly adopted the consumerism of our day. The watching world hears us talk about our concern for our community and the poor and the world. These are vapid proclamations as we live the American dream both on the individual and corporate levels. The world is not fooled.

Here is what set me off today. FBC Dallas has been planning a massive building project-- massive to the tune of 130 million--for quite some time.  If you are interested in dieting and don't want to eat lunch, watch FBC's promotional video.  This is a kingdom unto the pride of man.  Recently, the Dallas Cowboys build a new stadium for 1.3 billion, At&T built a 350 million dollar preforming arts center and a 500 million dollar convention center hotel.  FBC is simply buying into consumerism.  They are not alone in their folly.  Most churches follow secular culture into the pit of materialism.  We spend gobs of money for new paint, playground equipment, iron crosses, bigger screens, and other similar crap.  All of this goes on a building which typically gets minimal usage.  Why should we have multi-million dollar childrens' facilities while children live in garbage dumps in India {not to mention all around the world!}.  Our denomination can't send missionaries and yet, we just keep buying into the American dream.

Do we really wonder why the post Christian generation doesn't want anything to do with church?  I can't say that I blame them...

Friday, October 30, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

IMB, NAMB and the impending smackdown

Why do we enjoy a good church fight so much?  I have been watching my stats in analytics lately.  Any time I use the labels NAMB and merger, my hits double what they normally are when I post something more generic.  I will always be one pushing for change and adaptation.  The world is a dynamic place.  We cannot remain a static denomination.  But some people are just going bug-eyed over this. 

This reminds me of a recent post by Grady Bauer.  He says that there was a mass reaction against the fact that a few IMB personnel used a private prayer language. He relates this to the present financial crisis at the IMB.  Where are those churches who were voracious about "purity"?  Where is their cry that the lost are going without the gospel because we are living the American dream rather than the great commission?

Perhaps if we spent more time on the great commission we will have less time to fight.  The only reason I ever posted about NAMB in the first place is because I realized, in so far as it concerns my area, that it is unclear, at best, what their influence as a mission board is on impacting lostness.  The politics wherein churches and individual power brokers are concerned with who gets what with regime changes at NAMB is purely carnal.  We should have one concern, and only one concern, to impact lostness. 

I doubt this will be a small issue in upcoming SBC events.  This is unfortunate.
ps, and yes, I tagged this post with NAMB and merger in a shameless ploy to get more hits...

Monday, October 26, 2009

hedge of protection

Is this what the devil sees in our "hedge of protection"?

fail owned pwned pictures

Here is Tim Hawkins on praying for a hedge

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I have finished the series on extraction.  You can click the links to read them in order.

Christian Mugging

A personal journey of feeling out of place

What Independent Baptists and Muslims have in Common

Closer to Home

The History of Revelation

Water Balloon Evangelism

water balloon evangelism

Sadly, I know people in real life who are like Mr shorty-shorts in the video.  Whats worse, is that many of us come across like this to the world without even knowing it.

This will probably be my last post in the extraction series.  I am tired of writing on it.  It only ticks me off to think about how out of touch we are with reality.  And, I am sure you are tired of reading about it.

I was walking through the parking lot on my way to get groceries and saw that there was a Starbucks inside Krogers.  My initial reaction was one of disgust, "what are they going to put them in next?!"  The more I think about it, it is clear that they have the right idea.  I personally am not big coffee drinker.  I have only been to a coffee shop one time.  If they are going to get me to try a cup of coffee, it is not going to be by making me drive out of my way, and going somewhere I would never naturally go.  They would have to put it in the normal pattern of my everyday life in order to get me to try it.  This is exactly what they have done.

I think part of the problem with most churches (and why they aren't growing) is because they are extracted from the normal patters of people's everyday lives.  Unless it is Christmas or Easter, or someone is getting married or dying, church just isn't the place where people go.  The people in church aren't the group of people with whom they normally associate.  People are interested in Jesus; they just aren't willing to go to church to find out about him. After 9-11, when you wanted to know more about Islam, did you go to mosque or read a book?  Most people read books rather than visited with Muslims face to face because we want the leisure or reading over the pressure of what we view to be an immanent hard sell.  Do you think our post/pre christian culture views us differently?

This is the problem which both the contemporary church--which is typically only a hip traditional church--and the traditional church have in common.  Both models expect people to "come and see."  The traditional church expects people to come because they operate under the cultural presupposition that it is Sunday and people will come to church.  The contemporary church expects people to come because they are so much cooler than traditional church.  To an unregenerate mind, neither is attractive.  The unregenerate would rather be elsewhere than church on Sunday, and if they are going to pick a place based on vibe, the church cannot compete with "vanity fair."

We need to model what Jesus modeled: Incarnation.  Evangelism is not so much of an event as it is a process.  We need to quit giving flip answers so we can move on to point 3 in our outline.  Rather, we need to take the long sell and model christian life and theology for them.  If we can't.won't do that, we need to just pack it up.

It is said that we shape the building and then the building shapes us.  I am not against buildings, but in spite of our affirmations to the contrary, when we think of church, too often, we are really thinking about buildings and programs.  The post/pre christian culture needs Jesus brought to them.  If we quit thinking buildings then we will no longer be limited by geography and environment.  Why don't we take Jesus to the pub?  The sports team?  The work place?  Our street? Because we do ministry at our church building...  we are probably too busy there to ever think about these other places.  After all, that would just put our work in competition with our home church, and we don't want to trump on their turf.

We need to be mindful of which kingdom we are supposed to be building.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I was reminded today that our call is one of endurance and perseverance.  A friend of mine posted this on his blog.  It is the chronicle of events from when he started down the missions path to when he actually started his formal ministry.

1998-2003 We went through NTM trianing program (and took a semester off to get married).
2004 Deputation. That is we raised financial support for doing what we do now.
Aug. 2004 - May 2005 French study in Quebec, Canada.
July 2005 - Nov. 2005 Orientation to the country of Senegal under the direction of NTM.
Dec. 2005 - Sept. 2007 Jalunga language and culture study in Madina Bafe.
Sept. 2007 - April 2008 Prepared written Bible lessons and taught publicly.

Look at the start date, and the "finish" date... ten years.  I am at 9 years since I started and I am still hung up stateside {complications with the board and finances/disorganization}.  Nevertheless, I am being productive in the mean time.  And that is the take away.  Don't wait till you get there.  Start today.    ...and have perseverance.

So how long has it been for you?

mission or worship: the condrum of the chicken and egg revisited

funny-3.jpg image by tahtimbo"Missions exist because worship does not" ~John Piper

"The chief end of man is to glorify God" ~Westminster Catechism
Recently Derek Webster has taken on that first statement. {follow up post, exegesis 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9}  It is a good series of articles.  Webster challenges Piper's statement on many levels.  I have no desire to recreate that here.  I do want to challenge the logic of the first statement on two levels.

First, many who take the glory argument promote their belief with this logic: when we think about what is ultimate, what is ultimate must be that which we can do forever and never cease from doing.  This means, that since missions and all other facets of church will cease when we reach heaven but worship will not, that worship is the ultimate goal of man.  The problem is that we do not live life in an ultimate sense.  We live life in time and space; we live in the here and now.  What makes up our lives ultimately is the accumulation of a series of smaller parts.  These smaller parts make up life as we know it. 

While this all appears a bit metaphysical, Jesus put this in practical terms.  In John 12, when Mary used the extravagant ointment, Judas chided her for her lack of stewardship citing the need of the poor.  Jesus' response is telling.  He tells him that the poor will always be there with them, but He would only be there for a short time.  The point: perhaps we should shift away from the "ultimate" view of life to a temporal view of life.  That is to say, that which can only be done in the here and now SHOULD be done with priority over things that will always be around.  Jesus instructed them to put their concern for the poor {a good and biblical concern} on the back burner on the basis that it was more important to be with Him since he was only going to be there a little while.  

The opportunity to partake in missions is a temporal pursuit.  It can only be done for a short while.  This does not mean that it is less important, rather, it is more important.  

The second challenge I want to bring is against the shallow view of worship and glory which typifies modern evangelicalism.  Ask someone what worship is and they will typically reduce it to music.  1 Corinthians 10:31, however, expands worship to every facet of our lives regardless of how menial it many appear.  Our view of Jesus is typically so "porcelain" that he only invokes our worship {where worship equals music or some other kind of worship experience} but not our obedience and followship.  The problem with our understanding of "Glory" and "Worship" is that we often view these as exclusive terms unto themselves.  That is, worship and glory exclude mission, service, etc.  This is a false dichotomy.  When we ask which comes first, When Paul instructs his readers in Romans 12 as to their "reasonable worship" he calls them to transformation.  Paul takes the next several chapters to flesh out what that transformation looks like in the here and now.

I believe we move into dangerous territory to posit worship against mission in an either or because it simply reduces worship to a Sunday experience.  We only truly experience worship when we follow Jesus, do the things he does, and love the people he loves.  It is possible, in a shallow view, to worship without missions, it is impossible to do missions without worship.

Culture Shock

Make sure you watch it all the way to the traffic scene

Thursday, October 15, 2009

help wanted: bloggers needed

I need your help and I need it fast!  This is a blogging project for church planters, missiologists, strategists, sociologists, missionaries, and urban minded folk {any of those people can be actual, armchair, or wannabe status}.  I need your help getting the word out to and recruiting  imagethese people.  I am stealing Ed Stetzer's idea wherein he recently used a number of bloggers to cover his vision trip to Taiwan
Here is the project.  In the Oct 5, 2009 edition of TIME magazine, they are starting a special project in Detroit {you need to find that copy and read the entry article on Detroit}.  They have purchased a house and moved some of their staff to Detroit for a year to cover the city.  They will be analyzing what went wrong, and possible solutions for making it proper.  You can find their stuff on the web.  For those who agree to blog with me, I am asking you to subscribe to their blog, and provide theological and missiological interaction with their articles, data, and opinions.  I believe that other cities can learn much from the decline and, hopefully, rise of Detroit. 
Just to pique your interest, here are some sobering facts:
  • The city's population has plummeted from just over two million in 1950 to barely 900,000 in 2000.
  • Detroit was once the 4th largest city; now it is the 11th.
  • The median price of a house is now $8,000.
  • 25% of the available houses are from foreclosures.
  • Unemployment rate is almost 30%.
  • 20% of postal addresses city wide are unoccupied. 
  • There are 56 census tracts that are there are above 30% unoccupied.  Five of those tracts are 50% and greater unoccupied.
  • 7 in 10 murders go unsolved.
  • Check out this photo essay.
Here is the skinny: TIME attributes the fall to four things.  First there were the race riots and "white flight."  Second, Mayor Coleman Young practiced the politics of retribution and isolation.  Third and fourth, the economy collapsed at the triumvirate hands of stalled auto makers, unions, and pandering politicians.   
Some initial questions I have to get you started are {relate everything back to your context-what are the lessons and insights here?}:
  • What is the role of racism in the decline of Detroit?  How does this relate to wight flight in your city? 
  • How could the church have prevented wight flight?
  • As America "browns" and whites move into majority minority status in most urban centers, what should be their outlook on their place in the future?
  • What is the role of the church in restoring the city?
  • How has the church failed?
  • What role has greed played, both corporate and individual, if any, in the economic crash?  In what way is your city and church partaking in greed which is going to lead to their decline?
So here is what I need from you:
  • Read the Oct 5th article on Detroit.
  • Subscribe to TIME's Detroit blog.
  • Blog {please let me know if you are doing this}
  • Pray
  • Mobilize
If I get enough feedback and interest I will set up a group blog wherein we can syndicate our posts.  If someone out there can make us a logo, that would be great as well.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

revisiting the "merger"

Apologies to my readers for my tardiness.  I have been traveling a lot lately, and it hampers my ability for the real important things in life--blogging. ;)

I recently posted on some possible ways to merge NAMB and IMB, and Mike Ebert, Communications team leader at NAMB, was gracious to post a reply.  I am going to comment on his reply here, rather than in the comments section, because I believe my readers will gain something through our interaction.  If it happens in the comments, it will probably just be ignored.  I would encourage you to go to that page and read his complete comment in its context as I am going to pull out specific quotes.

I'm sorry you didn't get your questions answered properly, but don't give up on us just because someone wasn't able to clearly explain how we work!

For the record, I do view NAMB to be a valuable entity.  Like most SBC entities, however, I think that we need to make changes so that we continue to look outward.  My question to the gentleman at NAMB was specifically "Does NAMB have any cross cultural church planters working in my city?"  That is when he explained to me NAMBs connection through the state and association levels.  I am deeply concerned to find that we only have one person doing this kind of work through any SBC entity.  Our city is a "majority minority city.  It is the 4th largest hispanic city in the world.  We have the third largest Vietnamese population in the States and are home to over 100,000 Muslims.  One person just seems inadequate. 

I only really went looking for answers at NAMB because some people who heard about our project thought that we were putting ourselves in competition with NAMB.  There is no need to reinvent the wheel.  We certainly don't need just one more organization.  Turns out we are not. 

Because all of NAMB's mission field—North America—is on someone else's home turf—state conventions, associations, churches—we're very careful to work through SBC partnership. That means some missionaries who receive partial funding from us don't even receive a paycheck that says "NAMB" on it. It comes from the local state convention or the association or the church and those entities receive dollars from NAMB.
And isn't that the way we would want it?

This is the mentality that I keep running into--Turf.  I do realize that for the sake of the local church we don't necessarily want national resources being used to set up a church just down the road which "competes" with at existing church.  Why would the first church give to such an organization?  At the same time, this is exactly the problem we need to address--turf. 

Each level of SBC entities adopts the same mentality.  I currently am working at an association; and that is where I realized the problem.  We, as an association, have been doing people group research for our city.  Our mentality was that we would have the information ready (who the PGs where, where the are, a basic worldview document, and a few pointers on strategy for working in that context.).  Our SOP was to wait for the initiative of the churches to come to us with this burden.  We were poised to help them once they came to us (though we were beating this drum at every meeting).  The problem, is that when you look at our city in terms of "red dots" (think of the IMB world evangelization map), that we have many red dots just waiting for the gospel, and most churches are only thinking about themselves, their Sunday event, and their bottom line.  If reaching a red dot doesn't help them, then they aren't interested.  We, the association, needed to change and become more proactive.  When I went looking for partners, I looked to those organizations closest to us-state convention and NAMB-and realized that they were operating under our old paradigm.  They wait on the initiative of the churches.  The red dots can't wait.  This isn't really anyone's turf since most of these people are not candidates for the churches in our city, not to mention the fact that most of the churches are in the suburbs and most of the internationals are in town.  What is true of the world (that all of the resources and the green dots are in the west) is also true of our city.  The resources and believers are out of town and all of the major areas of lostness are in town.

It doesn't matter to me whose name is on the check or who gets credit {and I think it is positive that NAMB is funding stuff that doesn't bear its name-kudos}, but we need to get past respecting churches, associations, and states turf.  We need to be proactive in our mission--unilateral if necessary.  In our overseas operations we deal with many of the same issues.  What is the role of the local church in reaching the majority people group?  There are instances in which we work with and through the local church.  But in the 10/40 window, more often than not, the work must be done in spite of the local believers {there are significant cultural, religious, and even ethnic barriers which explain why the churches are reluctant, and at times resistant, to reaching out}.  All of this is particularly true in the Muslim world.  In the same way, we need to be willing to send missionary church planters to the international population in our major cities just like we do overseas.  Though our churches at home don't have the same soci-cultural issues, they are still reluctant to get into local internal work.

Most state conventions or local associations or local churches for that matter don't want (or need) a national entity coming in and telling them where they need a church. So we work in conjunction with them.

I agree.  We don't need a top down organization.  But at the same time, the local church is not equipped to look at their city as a strategy coordinator would.  That is to say, most churches think they are effective if their sanctuary is full and if their budget is met.  They only start asking questions when they see empty seats. 

Regarding restructuring our denomination, I personally am in favor of getting rid of the middle man (the state conventions).  I do realize that will never happen.  But while we are dreaming...  I think that NAMB can be a cooperative way for all of our churches to channel their money towards local missions.  NAMB can funnel money and provide guidance at the strategy level {Someone has to be keeping their eye on the red dots and funneling people and resources to them}.  The local association can provide local and regional strategy and guidance.  All of the other activities of the state conventions {since we just got rid of them} need to be carried out as an integral part of the strategy to impact lostness.  {this is actually a great way to evaluate church programs at the local level.  Leadership sets the focus and strategy and then evaluates programming in light of that.  Some things get cut.  Others get refocused.  Our ESL program might stay, but we tweak it so that we are using this as a part of our strategy to reach a particular branch of our community with the gospel}.  We need orphanages, hospitals, etc, but how do they fit in to our overall strategy?  I think they are important and useful, but, perhaps, there is a better way of structuring them so that they make more sense strategically {we still provide the same services, but in a format which better demonstrates our commitment to meeting needs and reaching people}.    

We provide research, training, strategy, experienced church planters, resources, etc. And, yes, funding.

All of this is great, but this is exactly what the state conventions and local associations provide.  There is one thing that each level needs to add to their list of services--Leadership.  I am not all negative concerning the local church.  There are a great many of them which are interested in reaching the internationals in their community, but they have no one to show them how.  Thus, they either do nothing, or strike out on their own.  You and I both know that there are resources available, but the churches don't know that.  I am with the IMB {its complicated} and have visited many churches that don't know that the IMB is the SBC mission board!  This is true at the local level as well.  Many of the rank and file at our churches don't know that they are part of our association or what our association does.  There is a disconnect between our entities and our churches and if the SBC will go forward effectively this needs to be remedied.  But what if an entity {be it NAMB the association or the state} were to use money to fund a missionary church planter who served as a networker to compel and lead churches to action?  I think a lot of church  which are sitting on the fence would jump on that.

As for MSC missionaries. They've been a part of what we do since the late 1970's. We don't appoint an MSC missionary unless the local state convention tells us they fit with their state mission strategy. True, they are not funded in the traditional SBC missions model way, but the origin of the paycheck is not what makes a missionary. Our state convention partners provide local oversight of MSC missionaries and hold them accountable to the missionary ministries they are performing.

I wasn't trying to say anything negative about MSC.  We have had MSCers at our church before and it was a real blessing and I assume that is the case wherever they go.  By definition, this couple who served in our church were not missionaries.  They did play a vital role in our church, they just weren't missionaries by definition or role.  When the average southern Baptist hears that we have 5,000 missionaries stateside, he is hearing that we have 5,000 people who are on the street, sharing the gospel and planting churches.  Truth be told, most rank and file Baptists, pastors included, probably don't know what NAMB does, and this is a problem {the same is true of the SBC, State conventions, local associations, IMB--and we wonder why we are in trouble...}.

Mike, I appreciate your time and interest.  I do understand the political restrictions on NAMB {which also apply to the associations and state conventions} but to me, that is the problem.  The goal of a missionary is to take the name of Christ where it is not known.  By definition, that is no one's turf.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

business time

I am always intrigued at the way ideas in pop culture spread.

Here is the original joke.

You now can advertise with a shirt

Friday, September 18, 2009


I started this post a while back, and with the recent news of retirements there is much more to speculate about...

When I first heard news concerning the proposed merger of NAMB and IMB, I was completely against it.  They are two very different institutions.  I did not realize just how different they were till I called NAMB today.  I am trying to start some international church planting in my city {lets just say it is a top 5 metro area}.  Someone challenged what I was doing with "it sounds like you are competing with NAMB."  I called them today and asked if there were any NAMB personnel in my area doing international church planting.  The response was: "uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh" {about 8 seconds worth}
"weeeeeeeeeeeeeeelllllllllllllllllllll" {another 5 seconds}
{slowly} "thats not exactly how we operate"

It went down hill from there.  IMO, if you have personnel in a sizable city, you need to know it.  I have been trying to get everyone I know to call in and ask about their area.  Turned out, we only had two NAMB personnel and only one of them was actually paid by NAMB and neither were doing church planting.  What a lot of people do not know, is that half the of the purported 5000+ missionaries they have are volunteer.  These volunteers are primarily retired folks working to strengthen churches.  I am grateful for their service, but by definition, that is not missions.

I am now in favor of merging the two where IMB strategy takes precedence.  Essentially, NAMB needs to go through New Directions {Short story: this shifted IMB folks out of "church work" to front line work}.  They wait on the initiative of churches, associations, and state conventions before they plant any churches.  I understand the reasoning, but the down side is that we have unreached people groups within the major urban centers.

So here is the speculation: since both NAMB and, in a year, IMB both president-less, is this the precursor to a merger?

Concerning restructuring the SBC, which is all the GCR is really about{Call it restructuring the SBC, and everyone would throw a fit.  Put "great commission" in there you cant vote against the great commission}, SBCers must know that merging NAMB and IMB will not fix the money problems or inherent spiritual problems.  Here is my plan;
1. Get rid of state conventions.
2. Merge IMB and NAMB where unreached people groups is the priority.
3. Move the local associations into the position of "strategy coordinators".  They would work closely with the new conglomerate mission board.
4. Get rid of ERLC.  Nobody listens; nobody cares.  We should look for spiritual and cultural transformation and get out of politics.

We need to be less about dumb resolutions [Version debates, Reformed debates, Homeschool debates, etc] and more about the mission.

like a sore thumb: the history of revelation

This has nothing to do with end times.  Rather, it concerns the history of God revealing himself to man and the missiological implications which we can draw today.  

There are several key passages {Heb 1:1-2, Rom 1:18-30, Jn 1:1, 14; 17:18, Matt 21:33-41} relating to the history of revelation.  What is the process, historically and chronologically wherein God revealed himself to man.  Jesus alludes to this process in the parable of the tenants in Matt 21.  A land lord lets out his property.  He sends various representatives, whom the tenants kill.  Finally he sends his Son, thinking that they will not kill him-they do. 

Adam and Eve walked with God and they certainly taught their children about this after the fall.  In the days of Noah, there was a brief point during which the entire world {Noah and his family} knew God.  Think about being Abram, a probable moon worshiper.  For our purposes here we are going to use Abram as an “everyman.”  What is true for Abram and what followed him is also true, in whole or in part, for every man today.  The revelation of God has gone through several phases: Nature, Law, Prophets, Jesus, Body of Christ. 

If you lived between Babel and Abram’s day you would probably be looking to nature.  Scripture is clear, that God reveals himself through nature:

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.  Ps 19:1

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  For his invisible attributes, namely his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.  Rom 1:19-20

moses What does man do with God's revelation?  He spurns it.  Romans goes on to say that man traded worshiping the creator with worshiping the creation.  This is true historically.  In the days of Noah, his family knew the one true God.  How did they trade the worship of the living God for Idolatry?  In spite of God declaring himself to them through nature, they misunderstood and twisted revelation.

God rectified this through choosing a people and calling them out through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Primarily he revealed himself through the law.  As if the tenants misunderstood their landlord (Matt 21), he sent them another person to explain his terms.  They killed him as well.

What did the Jews do with the law?  It didn't take long for them to break it.  In fact, they were busy making and worshiping an idol while God was revealing the law to Moses! 

The story which continues through the rest of the Old Testament, is one in which they are constantly breaking God's law.  Judges describes their continued cycle of breaking the law, God's judgment, oppression, repentance, and restoration.  Not having learned their lesson, they repeat this cycle over and over again. 

This leads to the next phase of revelation: the prophets.  Hebrews 1:1 reads that in many times and in many ways God spoke to man by the prophets.  The landlord from Matthew continued to send emissaries to reason with the tenants.  So God did with man.  He sent prophets who transmitted His messages to His people.  They called the people back to God and rebuked them from the law.  They demonstrated the ways in which they had forsaken God and broken his law.  One would think that man would eventually wake up and heed what God was saying to them.  Yet they persisted.  They punished, imprisoned, and even killed the prophets.  Rather than believing and turning to God in repentance, they continued in their ways.  Just like the man in Romans 1, they continued to reject what they knew was true till they were turned over to their own darkness.  Finally, God caused his people to be taken into captivity, the temple to be destroyed, and the land to be inhabited by another.  The land represented his blessing and providence and the temple represented his presence.  He had removed his blessing and presence from them.

But, in love, he did not leave them to their own devices.  He further revealed himself through his son.  The landlord sent his son to the tenants thinking that they would surely respect his son.  Hebrews 1:2 says that in these last days he has revealed himself though his Son who is the heir of all things.  Through these phases of revelation, the message has been clarified at each point.  In this phase God sent his revelation in the form of a person.  When God chose to reveal himself to man, he put a face on it.  He spoke our language.  He understood our culture.  John 1:1 says that in the beginning was the word.  The Greek word is logos.  This word has a broader usage in the Greek world than the way John used it (and John is bridging the gap between the common Greek understanding of logos and his theological understanding of logos).  Plato used this concept and called it "forms."  These forms were eternal and transcend the created order.  These forms consist of ideas such as justice, love, beauty, and truth.  Philosophers always assumed that the logos was eternal.  John said nothing new.  His next phrase was a little more controversial, "and the logos was with God."  Many philosophers had joined the idea of an eternal logos and an eternal divinity.  Augustine actually agreed with Plato (though he comes after the days of Jn 1:1...), to an extent, in that he also affirmed that justice, truth, and beauty were all eternal.  Augustine, however, believed that they were eternal and unchanging because they were in the mind of God and God is eternal and unchanging.  John's final statement was revolutionary, "and the logos was God."  This was something that the philosophers had never thought before.  Why are truth and love eternal and unchanging?  Because God is love and truth and he is eternal and unchanging.  But logos is still very much a philosophical principle at this point.  We are at the point in the history of revelation that God is ready to roll out the next clarification and he is sending the logos himself.  But God is spirit, and we, since we misunderstood nature, the law, and even the prophets who explained the law, it was necessary for God to reveal himself in a way that could not be misunderstood [aka not in some kind of ball of ethereal philosophical logosness.]. 

"And the word became flesh and dwelt among us." 

This is the principle of incarnation.  God revealed himself in a form which was 100% human.  Our senses had become dulled (we were turned over to a reprobate mind-Romans 1) and so he came in a way which we could understand.  He spoke the local language.  You could have heard him talk and known where he was from.  He taught in local forms.  He wore local clothes; you could have looked at what he was wearing and known where he was from.  He attended the local parties, participated in their cultural festivals.  He was in every way human.  More than that, he was in every way Jewish.  All of this should be instructive to us for our stance towards culture.  There were many areas of culture which Jesus assumed.  Many of these areas do not fit our local taboos and thus we gloss over them.  For instance, the church, primarily in the South, is highly political.  They seem to overlook that Jesus stepped into an extremely corrupt political environment and said precious little concerning it.  To my KJV only brethren, in Jesus' day, there were several texts available...  he did not pick which text was best, and sometimes he just paraphrased or told stories.  Jesus was comfortable with many aspects of culture in ways which would make us uncomfortable (at the same time, he prophetically rebuked certain aspects of culture). 

Back to the story... In the parable of the landlord of the vineyard, he decides that the way to convince the tenants of his intentions is to send his son.  What do they do?  What did the Jews do?  They disbelieved; they killed him.  There is one more phase of revelation: us.  When we look at revelation historically we should expect a similar reception. Jesus says this to his followers.  He tells them that the should rejoice in the face of suffering and persecution because their fathers before them were treated in kind (Matt 5:11-12).

The next step of the story is simply you.  How did God reveal himself ultimately to man?  He put a human (Jewish) face on it.  How does God want to reach the dying world?  Airdrop Bibles and tracts?  Nope.  He sends you.  John 17:18 says that as he has been sent by his father, that he sends his followers.  He repeats this again in 20:21 "as the father sent me, even so I am sending you."  Paul affirms this message.  He says that God is reconciling all things to himself through Christ {2 Cor 5:19}.  Furthermore, we are ambassadors and God is now making his appeal through us {5:20}.  In the same way in which God did not send the logos in the form of a spirit or philosophical concept to us but put it in flesh, so also today he does not send his message through some kind of impersonal syllogism, drive by evangelism, and spiritual "scratch and sniffs" {aka tracts.}.  He wants us to be incarnational {and for the purpose of this article, not extractional}.  We know this because Paul admonishes us to follow Christ in this regard {Phil 2:5-8}.  A lot of people get messed up over "God emptied" himself.  This is because they do not understand the incarnation.  This is not emptying in the sense of loosing part of himself.  Rather it is a pouring into.  He simply poured himself into a human form and modeled the incarnation.  So to, we are to pour ourselves out-not that we are not human-and into the form of a servant following their master all the way to the cross.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Since this is a blog about going...

One of the common problems travelers face is theft.  A lot of this boils down to street smarts: awareness, state of mind, common sense.  Here are a couple of articles to help you think about protecting yourself from both old fashioned theft and digital theft (Remember the good old days when they just took your stuff...).

10 Ways to protect your stuff

10 ways to keep your data safe

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

the world's happiest countries

There is a recent study which details the world's happiest countries.

 What do you think about the study?  Agree?  Disagree?

Personally, I find it a little too subjective.  It tends to view happiness through western lenses [socialist, European lenses at that].  I know the situation in Ireland, his 11th most happiest, and I know that in many respects the envy the freedom and cost of living USA which ranks at 23.  National health care is "free" and isn't really an indication of happiness.  Many of his standards can be interpreted in reverse.  For instance, he places a high value on lots of government programs.  The pain from the high taxes is balanced by the joy of equality and "free" health care.  Is this the case in Russia?  Equality of poverty and suffering is not equal with national happiness.  He also places value on education {as do I} but some of the happiest people I know are the most ignorant {its bliss they say}.  I find that the more I know about the world directly relates to my growing discontent.  It all depends on what makes you happy.  For instance, in one country government involvement is highly valued at the level that it would ruin other countries.  The freedom which I personally value would completely destabilize other countries throwing them into chaos {Check out the J curve book.}.

Is happiness based on circumstances?  Money? Governmental security?  Education?  Some of the happiest people I have ever met have none of that.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


"When way leads to way, I fear I shall never return."  I have heard my father say that at most watershed moments in my life: when I left for school, when I got married, when I looked at going overseas.  Decisions are like being at the Louvre.  It is not your standard museum.   There are halls connecting rooms and in the new room there are more halls.  I feel this way about life.  It is as if I when I make a choice it puts me in a new room with several doors.  When I take one, it puts me in another room with several doors.  When way leads to way, I fear I shall never return.

There has been a fork in the road which has frustrated us for a long time.  Not so much because we cannot decide--we are completely comfortable with either road--but because we are never allowed to decide.  For several years now we have been looking at going overseas with a particular organization.  We have made it far with them and had many set backs.  There have been several points along the road wherein our journey was nearly aborted.  I am a resourceful person, sometimes overly resourceful.  I can think of many ways to continue follow God on the path to which I have been called and gifted.  I have always had other plans and opportunities but never really explored/followed them since things appeared to be so close to fruition with the company.  Several times they would set us back by a conference or departure [typically due to incompetency on their part, though this is always spiritualized as "God's timing"].  At these points I would always look at this fork in the road.  But, "what is another 6 months?" I would tell my self.  And so the fork continues to back up like a mirage in the desert.  This goes on for almost two years. 

We finally get to a conference, pick a job and are approved.  Then they back us up one more "training" camp.  They had overbooked and delayed us and three other families.  We get there to the next training and everything is going fine until we have a surprise pregnancy.  We were so close to departure.  They had the tickets and everything!  My wife hadn't had her shots yet {though they knew this ahead of time...  apparently this was more of "God's timing" coming into play}.  So, they refuse to send us till after the baby is born and they have their shots {about a year}.  There that cross roads mirage escapes us again.  We {the leadership and I} had agreed on a plan and time table for getting plugged back in.  You probably won't believe this, but they emailed me this week to let me know that this has changed... 

I can hold out to go with the company {my practical side tells me it is only just a few more months--even though all of these "few more months" and "God's timing" delays have amounted to two years.  sheesh, I could have just done deputation...}.  Or I can push forward with my own plan {a new system for reaching people globally through our own international cities.  It would really make a new paradigm in partnering and cooperating with local churches; one the company probably should have shifted to years ago}.  My new plan starts where I am, spreads geographically all across the country and then spring boards overseas in a few years.  I already have two associations, an independent board, and two churches in talks about this idea.

So, for those of you who know me, please be in prayer.  I like either side of the crossroad.  But it is time to choose.  For the record, I have nothing against God's actual timing.  I do have a problem with blaming systemic incompetence on God.  Lest we forget what God's actual timing is: "today is the day of salvation" and "the fields are white for harvest."

Friday, September 4, 2009

heard on twitter

I think this is from Grady Bauer

Drink wine and you will sleep well
Sleep and you will not sin
Avoid sin and you will be saved
Ergo, drink wine and be saved

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

the church: relationship, philosophy, system, art, business

The church started in the middle east where it was about relationship
The church went to the Greeks where it became a philosophy
The church went to the Romans where it became a system
The church went to Europe where it became and art form
The church went to American where it became a business

I heard that the other night.  Love it.
There are strengths and weaknesses in all of the motifs for church.  It is interesting to see how those strengths and weakness have played out over history.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

new strategy: out breed, out educate, out last--survivor

 In a previous post, I discussed the relationship between the shrinking denomination and the shrinking christian family.  My thesis was that ubiquitous decline/plateau of the church had little to do with more of less evangelism efforts but was related to the size of the families we are having (hidden premise: our evangelism efforts are primarily "bringing in" direct kin).  Voddie Baucham's solution is to have more kids and to home school them.  Voddie is really making a splash over the "pull your kids out of public school" issue as in the video and SBC resolutions.  He is now trying to get parents not to send their kids to college-even Christians colleges!  It is a bit ironic {read: hypocritical} since many of his speaking engagements place him talking to Christian college students both from christian and public colleges {we will come and speak, take their money, but wants no part of it, mean while going to the home school/FIC crowd telling them to stay away and writing books and giving voice and credentials for their cause...}.  My point is not to go after Voddie--though I certainly disagree with him on a number of points--and I am doing my best to be respectful since it is the right thing to do, and I have a number of readers who are big fans of his (I used to be till he started sounding like what I left behind).

I want to note a few things about the video/movement, especially since we continue to see these misguided resolutions at the convention.

1. Even if a resolution passes, this is meaningless.  No one cares what the SBC resolves, not even most SBCers.  In fact, the broad majority of southern baptists are probably naively unaware that any such resolutions are even being discussed at the convention.  Many people forget that the convention has absolutely no control over its churches.  As such, resolutions instructing churches to do anything are absolutely meaningless.

2.  The video and resolutions present a false dichotomy.  They present the biblical choice for parent involvement through home schooling vs. the unbiblical choice to remain absent and send your kids to public school.  First there are absentee methods of home schooling.  Second, there are ways to be involved in a child's education even if they are at public school.  Check out Ray Bakke's book Urban Christian.  He provides some great tips for doing just that (it is a great book in all regards and should be read even if there is no interest in the school issues).

3.  It is based on fear resulting from trumped up evidence.  Their idea is that if you send your kid to PS then he will become a humanist and if you HS he will be a saint.  This simply is not the case.  Voddie cites the track record for HS but I am not sure where he is finding this figure.  From personal experience, I have know many HSers who turned out to be licentious atheists/agnostics and many PSers who have turned out godly.  From the HS circle I grew up in, for those who actually stayed the course, the majority have walked away from the faith or have a Christianity that is more folk religion than it is biblical.

4.  It is borderline humanism.  To teach that sending a Christian kid to a non-Christian school will make them walk away from the faith is the same as saying that it is the surrounding environment which corrupts (biblically, we are born with sin into a fallen world: there is no Village).  Environment is the source of corruption comes straight out of behaviorism and humanism.  While the protection mentality sounds biblical, it betrays incipient humanism.  Ironically, while trying to avoid the culture, they espouse some of the most dangerous ideology.

5.  It neglects regeneration and the Daniel factor.  Do we not trust the Holy Spirit?  Ironically, many of the folks in the FIC groups are reformed.  To them I ask: do you not trust God to keep your child?  I am not in favor of throwing children to the wolves.  However, when one is truly regenerated (and that is the problem with many HSers and regular church goers alike, they buy the Christian worldview without the relationship and regeneration) evil influence and even indoctrination are not an issue.  Look at Daniel.  He was taken as a mere boy and placed into occult classes.  Did that warp his "Christian" worldview?  On the contrary, his surroundings were not the source of his power--he was not a humanist.

6.  It feeds the idea that we can pull out of society, out breed and out educate, and that this will restore Christianity to our country.  A friend of mine addresses this trend in Europe.  This is a failed strategy.  As I referenced in my previous post, we are already seeing the failing effects here.  It is a broader problem than just the FIC and the HS crowd.  To be honest, most of our churches have a similar strategy which leaves them only evangelizing those who show up at church.  But the FIC and HS crowd has officially turned this into a strategy.  The not too distant history teaches us that this is failure in the making.

{addendum:  I am not against homeschooling.  We are currently homeschooling our little girl.  I just think that the reasons that many state are based in misinformation, fallacies, and even "vain philosophies" not rooted in Christ.  On the other side, I do believe that there are many missional reasons to utilize and engage the PS system.  If on wants to HS they must take precaution not to adopt and pass on a village mindset-the parents have to model this through missional living}

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Folk Religion

Folk religion has always fascinated me.  The story below is a great example.  It is easy to look down on others since we can see the obvious ways they turn our faith into a folk religion.  But we rarely see the ways in which we turn our own faith into a folk religion.

Church rules no pants on Sunday

By Theresa Ralogaivau (Tuesday, August 18, 2009)
THE strict observance of Sunday worship has resulted in men on a Bua island not being allowed to wear pants on Sunday.
The Sunday ban also forbids travel and the hanging of clothes on lines.
Galoa Village headman Josefa Baleinasiga said the ban was enforced so that the islanders could learn to respect the significance of Sunday as a holy day.
Mr Baleinasiga said the Methodist Church and the vanua also decided to impose the ban as a means of bringing good fortune to the people.
"The ban is meant to bring good luck to the island as we respect the day of the Lord," he said.
"You can see that often misfortune befalls us because we don't respect His commandments that there be no work performed on Sunday except worship.
"Before our islanders used to go diving on Sunday, and there was a lot of travelling and it was difficult to separate the days all the days were the same.
"Now on Saturdays the clothes line in the village is full as the villagers know they can't hang anything out on Sunday."
As a mark of respect, men can only wear a sulu or sulu vakataga on the day; travelling by outboard from the island is forbidden.
"But we make exceptions during emergencies for the sick so it's not a ban that hasn't been well thought out."
A villager who requested anonymity said the ban was too restrictive because it limited movement.
"We can't understand how wearing a sulu vakataga on Sunday will help us forge closer relations with the divine," he said. "At times too for the school children who come home for the weekend, the best time to return to their hostel in Labasa or Savusavu is on Sunday - so that is getting in the way."
Mr Baleinasiga said anybody who breached the ban would be chastised by the vanua.  From the Fiji Times