Saturday, January 7, 2017

Good News for the Immigration Problem

Today the immigration problem has greatly polarized evangelical Christians across America. As a group, our views are shaped by diverse and partial understandings of the Scripture and by the values and attitudes of our surrounding community and culture. Unfortunately the latter perspectives frequently have greater influence than the former, as we allow the world to “squeeze us into its mold.” Often heated debates ensue, adding to the confusion and tensions. Emotions run high, giving rise to outbursts that typically produce a lot more heat than light. As a result, our ability to make a real difference in people’s lives in the midst of this crisis continues to wane.

One of the biggest ironies in this situation relates to what we call ourselves—evangelicals—a term derived from the Greek New Testament phrase good news. Christ used this word at the beginning of His ministry, when He announced His purpose for coming to earth: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18–19 NIV).

The sad irony is that instead of proclaiming good news in today’s immigration crisis, our disorganized and divisive voices have been lost in the cacophony of sounds coming from the world. Our nation and churches have not heard a prophetic word from the Lord on this matter. As a result, evangelical Christians are missing a huge opportunity to make a significant difference in the lives of millions of individuals who have chosen to come and live among us.

A Clear Path
The immigration problem should not be dividing evangelicals! The following pathway—involving three radical steps—would enable us to give a clear biblical witness of what it means to be an evangelical. In this way, we can offer good news to our hurting and divided nation.

Step One:
Pray the Prayer of a Sinner
Step one is based on a foundational evangelical truth: We have all sinned and are in need of God’s continuing forgiveness and grace. For that reason, our Lord taught us to pray, “Forgive us our sins.”

This certainly includes those who are here without legal documents. Some of them have portrayed themselves as innocent victims. While this may be the case for a few, most are largely if not wholly responsible for their current situation, and they know it. Typically, they entered the country with a temporary visa and overstayed their allotted time, or they came across the border surreptitiously. The vast majority came here in search of a better life, are hard and diligent workers, and deeply desire to learn English and become American citizens. Regardless of their motives, personal qualities, and legal situation, they are not innocent victims.

A growing number of these illegal immigrants are coming to faith in Christ. They too have joined us in praying, “Forgive us our sins.” Some of these newborn brothers and sisters in Christ choose to return to their home country, while for others doing so would be difficult if not almost impossible. Given the complexities of their situations, we can be thankful that we are not called to be their judge—that role belongs to God.

Our responsibility is to love them and pray that God will guide them in their lives and decisions.

At the same time, the rest of us also are in need of God’s continuing forgiveness and grace. This certainly includes our government, whose right hand almost never knows what the left hand is doing. The result continues to be confusing signals for everyone involved. Nearly twenty years have passed since an amnesty for illegal immigrants was granted in the late ’80s, and Congress has just now begun to take a serious look at the situation.

As much as our government has ignored the problem, we as American citizens have not held our government officials accountable for this negligence. In the meantime, while we all enjoy the benefits of immigrant labor that are interwoven throughout our economy and way of life, we also suffer from the negative ramifications of this growing problem.

As a result of this negligence, today an estimated eleven million people are marginalized in our land, including millions of innocent children who have had no say in their situation. Because we all have sinned and come short of what God expects of us, we are in need of His forgiveness and grace. Certainly the Lord’s word to Solomon is also fitting for evangelical Christians today in America: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV).

By taking this first step, seeking God’s forgiveness and grace, we as evangelical Christians could exemplify a radically different way of viewing and responding to the immigration problem.

Step Two:
Profess Jesus Christ as Lord
Secondly, we are called to profess Jesus Christ as Lord and render to Him our first allegiance. For our undocumented brothers and sisters in Christ, this means they must look to Jesus for their salvation and not to the “American Dream.” He is their only true hope for a future of abundant living.

For the rest of us as American citizens, now is the time for a serious reality check. Two basic truths are increasingly obvious. One, the vast majority of undocumented immigrants will not go back to their home countries on their own regardless of how tightly they may be squeezed by restrictive laws and regulations. And two, our government will never muster the resolve or allocate the needed resources to export them. Most are here to stay, having staked their lives and well-being on becoming American citizens and joining the rest of us in this immigration nation to forge a future together.

Given these realities, evangelicals need to pray regularly for our leaders, that God will give them the wisdom and courage to address this situation in a reasonable, compassionate, and timely manner. Furthermore, we also need our Lord’s wisdom and guidance regarding how to exercise our influence. Measures that would deprive innocent children of basic human services should be vigorously opposed, along with any other harsh restrictions that would further marginalize these immigrants and only drive them deeper into the shadows. Given that we all have had a part in creating this situation, we need to stand against any attempts to place undue burden on these disenfranchised people.

Above all, we need to remember that we are first and foremost citizens of God’s Kingdom and fellow pilgrims on earth in a foreign land. As such, we need to allow our attitudes and actions to be shaped by Kingdom values. On one hand, our hearts need to be broken by God each day for the millions of lost immigrants in our midst, compelling us to reach out to them with His message of forgiveness and hope. On the other hand, we need God’s wisdom in relating to our undocumented brothers and sisters in Christ who find themselves in their current predicament. When faced with the temptation to judge them, we need to release that sentiment to the Lord and ask Him to fill us with greater understanding and sympathy regarding each person’s unique situation.

Step Three:
Proclaim the Year of our Lord’s Favor
Finally, as citizens of God’s coming Kingdom, we are called to join our Savior Jesus Christ in proclaiming the year of our Lord’s favor. Forgiveness, redemption, grace, and release—this is the good news God calls us as evangelicals to proclaim in His name. Where the privileged majority in our land conspires to protect and advance its acquired advantages, and our government waffles, evangelicals need to stand in the gap.

The Scriptures are abundantly clear regarding our call as Christians to care for the poor, the oppressed, the stranger, and the immigrant. Nowhere is there a caveat saying that these admonitions are only applicable to those with legal papers. Nor should Christ’s body, the Church, be called on to be enforcers of the laws and regulations of the land. One may ask, but shouldn’t we be law abiding citizens? Certainly, but not policemen! That is the role of our government. May the day never come when the leaders of our country try to entangle the Church of Jesus Christ in cleaning up the mess caused by years of their waffling and negligence! May God bless the church that unwaveringly fulfills her calling to be a house of refuge and to provide sustenance to sojourners and foreigners and those in need!

God’s Path
This is the path God calls His people to take in His name, proclaiming good news in the midst of the immigration crisis. First, we are all called to confess our sins each day and seek His forgiveness and grace. Second, we are called to profess Jesus Christ as Lord and align ourselves with the values of His Kingdom. Finally, we are called to proclaim the year of our Lord’s favor. In this way, evangelical Christians can make a huge difference in the lives of millions of people both for today and for all eternity.  •

—Norman G. Wilson is professor of religion and philosophy at Indiana Wesleyan University

NOTE: This article was first published in Wesleyan Life Fall 2006, Posted On: 9/26/2006 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Biblical and Theological Foundations for Ethnic and Cultural Diversity:  A Wesleyan Perspective of the Kingdom of God and The Church
Norman G. Wilson, Ph.D.
July 31, 2012


Over a decade ago, findings from a ground-breaking study resulted in an embarrassing indictment against majority culture evangelicals in our country who consider themselves to be “Good Christians.”   Evangelical culture appeared to be preserving racism in America.  The evidence was overwhelming and undisputable.  (Emerson and Smith 2000)  One would have hoped that these findings would have resulted in embarrassment, repentance, reconciliation, and courageous new steps of obedience.  Sadly the response was negligible at best.  As a result, in many evangelical churches today, the sins of racism and segregation still continue unabated.

Executive Summary: Cultural Diversity is an Essential Attribute of the Kingdom of God.

From Genesis to Revelation, the Scriptures clearly reveal that ethnic and cultural diversity is an essential attribute of the Kingdom of God.  The Biblical bookends of “The Cultural Mandate”   (Genesis 1 and 2) and the vision of “The Throne of Heaven”  (Revelation 7:9) are not just incidental features of the story of our salvation.  Nor are numerous other passages in the scriptures about the diversity of God’s kingdom merely peripheral details.  Some may think that this Kingdom attribute of cultural and ethnic diversity is just an ideal picture of what will happen in the future.  But our Lord prayed to His heavenly Father, saying, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10 NIV)  The Good News is that through Jesus Christ and the Incarnation, the Kingdom of God here on earth is on a trajectory toward diversity.  The reformer John Wesley and his brother Charles believed that God’s Will would spread to the whole world, as evidenced in their many sermons, hymns and other writings.  Sadly, the hyper-individualistic approach of Evangelicalism today regarding the message of salvation has produced impotent communities of “saved folk,” leaving the majority of our churches racially and ethnically segregated even as society is becoming more diverse.  Some may be inclined to excuse churches from not manifesting cultural and ethnic diversity here on earth, due to original sin.  But especially for Wesleyans, the transforming power of God’s grace also ought to extend beyond our personal lives to our communal practices and social lives as believers.  Instead of allowing the sinful social structures of our world to “squeeze us into its mold,” (Romans 12:2 JB Phillips translation) we are urged to be visible witnesses of the power of God in our communities as we are “transformed by the renewing of (our) mind.” (Romans 12:2 NIV)  As a result, local bodies of believers ought to be at least as culturally and ethnically diverse as their surrounding communities as prophetic witnesses of God’s present and coming kingdom.  On the other hand, allowing the status quo to continue in this regard is to be unfaithful as citizens of our Lord’s Kingdom.

Broader Discussion: Cultural Diversity is an Essential Attribute of the Kingdom of God.

The scriptures clearly show that cultural diversity is an essential attribute of the Kingdom of God.  Sadly, White evangelical Christianity in North America falls far short of the biblical principles on this matter in both doctrine and practice.  Thomas and Sweeney provide a historical survey of race relations in American Evangelical Christianity, tracing the roots of the lack of cultural and ethnic diversity over the years.   (Thomas and Sweeney 2007, 111) More recent studies show that this sinful situation continues to the present time.   (DeYoung et al 2003; Green and Greenberg 2004)

The presumption frequently is found among Evangelical leaders and lay people that cultural, ethnic and linguistic diversity in the Church is not essential to our spiritual life and ministry.  “We should just worship separately in our own way,” one colleague recently told me.  “What does embracing ethnic and cultural diversity in our local churches have to do with our salvation?  It can just complicate things.  Besides, how can you expect us to integrate with minorities and immigrants up here in this small town and rural area of the country?” 

Recalling our Lord’s Prayer that His Father’s “…kingdom come, [and that His] will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,”  (Matthew 6:10 NIV) the following question to my colleague is in order:  “If the kingdom of heaven is not segregated, why on earth is the Church?” (DeYmaz 2007, 4)

Not too long ago a study commission at a prominent Evangelical university called attention to the lack of cultural and ethnic diversity among faculty and students on the main campus and pointed out the difficulties of addressing this deficiency given the lack of “…a robust theology of cultural diversity”  in the hosting evangelical denomination.  Sadly, many evangelical denominations are deficient in both their teachings and practices in this area.  Internet searches turn up frequent references to cultural diversity on many denominational websites, even though definitive statements with clear guidelines are generally lacking.  In contrast, the scriptures are very clear about this matter, showing that cultural diversity is an essential attribute of the Kingdom of God. 

Two biblical scenarios serve as alpha and omega bookends regarding the Kingdom of God, the Church, and cultural diversity.  The first scenario, called The Cultural Mandate, is reported in Genesis chapters one and two.  The second is from the Throne in Heaven as narrated in Revelation chapter seven.  The following summary statements about these two passages and other representative texts establish and underscore why cultural diversity is an essential attribute of the Kingdom of God and therefore ought to be a guiding principle for the Church’s teachings and practices.  A growing number of substantive studies are available for those who may be interested in further study regarding cultural diversity as an essential attribute of God’s present and coming kingdom.   (e.g., DeYmaz 2007, 1-39; Chan 2005)

The Cultural Mandate (Genesis 1 and 2).
In the Garden of Eden, God commanded Adam and Eve to “…be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.”  (Genesis 1:28 NIV)  Implicit are instructions to create cultures, referred to as “The Cultural Mandate,” thereby mirroring and re-creating God’s image throughout all the earth.  (Rah 2009, 128)  Given the creative imagination that God invested in human persons that He created in His image, it is reasonable to expect a wide variety of cultural expressions as people groups scattered across the earth to subdue and cultivate it in obedience to the Creator’s command.  This first picture shows us that God is the original author of diversity in all His creation.  He created Adam and Eve to be co-creators with Him, and then sent them and their descendants around the world to subdue the earth and create cultures.  Here the essential goodness of God’s creation is affirmed, which also implies the essential goodness of the diversity of cultures that were to be created by the descendants of these first co-creators. (Genesis 1:31)

The Fall (Genesis 3 and 4).
Even though the diversity of human cultures is essentially good, they all are also fallen and stained by corruption.  Just as egotism is sinful for individuals, so also is ethnocentrism sinful for people groups.  These personal and corporate sins need to be recognized and confessed so that we can be reconciled to God, others, and creation.  But we do not have the capacity to do this by ourselves, thus God provides us a plan of salvation.

The Sons of Adam and the Tower of Babel (Genesis 10 and 11).
The genesis narrative is clear about the essential unity of humanity as one race, showing that all our descendants can be traced back through Noah to Adam.  In addition, it reveals that cultural diversity is not the result of the fall.  While some may think that the multiple languages originating at Babel are basically a curse, others consider them simply to be part of God’s “…benevolent act of correction, to keep humankind from remaining in the one location.” (Chan 2005, 7)   This latter view is supported by the fact that no indication is given anywhere in scripture that God will eliminate linguistic, ethnic or cultural differences in the new heaven and new earth.  (cf. "The Throne in Heaven" below) Instead, cultural, ethnic, and linguistic diversity comes from God, which He considers to be essentially good and an integral part of the beauty of His creation.

The Call of Abram (Genesis 12: 1, 2).
Abram’s call represents the birth of the Jewish people and at the same time reveals God’s plan to bless all the peoples of the earth through Israel.  It is noteworthy that this call to Abram involves leaving his country, his people, and his father’s household and becoming a pilgrim on a journey to another land.  In this pivotal passage the themes of diverse people groups and immigration are underscored as key features of God’s plan of salvation.

God’s Judgment on Israel (Amos 1, 2, and 9).
The prophet Amos proclaimed a message similar to that of other prophets in the Old Testament, chastising God’s people Israel for their disobedience and calling them to repentance.  Woven throughout his prophecy are rebukes against Israel’s ethnocentrism and unbridled nationalistic pride and reminders that God is sovereign over and cares for all peoples. 

A Widow in Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian (Luke 4: 26, 27).
Jesus’ mention of the Old Testament passages where God also reached out to non-Israelites—a widow in Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian—infuriated those in the synagogue.  This passage underscores that just as God’s messenger of redemption was sent to Gentiles when rejected by Israel in 1 Kings 17:1-15 and 2 Kings 5:1-14, so also would God’s messenger be sent to the Gentiles if Israel chose to reject Jesus.  These represent two of many non-Israelites in the Old Testament that God blessed and used to proclaim His message.

Jesus and the Samaritans (John 4 and Luke 9, 10 and 17).
Jesus models a different attitude toward the Samaritans, in contrast with the prevailing customs of his own people and time.  His inclusive approach was evident in various instances:
  • In His willingness to interact with the Samaritan women and extend God’s salvation to her town,  (John 4:1-42)
  • In the mercy He showed to the Samaritan village that did not welcome Him as He traveled to Jerusalem,  (Luke 9:52-54)
  • In His parable of the Good Samaritan,  (Luke 10:25-37) and
  • In His healing of the Samaritan leper. (Luke 17:15-16)

The High Priestly Prayer of Christ (John 17).
The primary plea in our Lord’s High Priestly prayer to His heavenly Father was for unity among His present and future disciples and followers.  In foreknowledge Jesus was aware that they would include peoples from the diverse cultures and languages on earth, as revealed in the latter part of His prayer for His Church,  where he prays for unity “…so that the world may believe that…” the Father had sent Him to the earth.   (John 17:20-26) That He had in mind a culturally diverse group of followers in His prayer for unity is corroborated by His subsequent command to His disciples to make disciples of all people groups.

The Great Commission (Matthew 28).
Here our Lord’s command to “…go and make disciples of all nations,”  (Matthew 28:19 NIV) implies incarnational ministry among the multiple peoples and language groups of the world.  Such an approach requires that the followers of Jesus develop significant relationships with peoples of diverse cultural, ethnic and linguistic backgrounds as a style of life both at home and abroad.

Pentecost and the Church at Antioch (Acts 2).
While various explanations can be offered regarding exactly what happened at Pentecost, three realities were witnessed by everyone present:
  • First, peoples were present from a wide variety of cultural, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds. 
  • Second, they all heard the Good News proclaimed in their own language. 
  • Third, the Holy Spirit brought unity in the midst of cultural, ethnic, and linguist diversity. 
This event at Antioch represented the birth of a new community of believers called Christians.  The pastoral leadership team that emerged for this church was truly diverse, with persons from various ethnicities and places of birth including Africa, Palestine, and Antioch itself.  (DeYmaz 2007, 23-24) Cultural, ethnic, and linguist diversity was a distinctive attribute of this new church at Antioch that also became a distinguishing feature of the movement of Jesus’ followers as it spread throughout the empire.

The Church in Jerusalem (Acts 6 and 15).
Implications of the cultural, ethnic and linguistic diversity that characterized this new community of Christians at Antioch soon became evident among other followers of Jesus.  In Jerusalem, the leaders responded with sensitivity to cultural, ethnic and linguistic differences among the believers by establishing a pastoral care committee of seven Jewish men. (Acts 6:1-7)  Of greater significance is the response of the Jerusalem Council to word that gentiles had also accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. (Acts 15:1-35)  The decision regarding what should be required and not required of these new gentile believers reflects the wisdom of the young church not to allow this new movement of Jesus followers to be held captive by its majority religious culture—Jewish Christianity.  The choice instead was to embrace and reaffirm the principle that cultural, ethnic and linguist diversity is an essential attribute of the Kingdom of God and of the new church as Christ’s body on earth.

Become all Things to All People (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).
Paul wrote that his freedom in Christ allowed him to “…become all things to all people so that by all possible means (he) might save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:22 NIV)  Christ’s spirit in our lives transforms us into citizens of God’s kingdom, allowing us to transcend our ethnic and cultural particularities.  Diversity is an essential attribute of the Kingdom of God on earth as an integral part of His plan reach everyone with the Good News of new life in Christ. 

The Ministry and Message of Reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:11-21).
Paul is emphatic in this passage that the Good News of God’s salvation extends to all peoples, saying “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view.”  To underscore that all peoples are to be included, Paul also states: “…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:16, 17 NIV)  Furthermore, all who are in Christ are commissioned to be Christ’s ambassadors of the message and ministry of reconciliation.

The Church in Ephesus and the Mystery of Christ (Ephesians and Revelation 2).
Reports in Acts about the Apostle Paul’s missionary travels, (Acts 19:10 and 20:21) combined with his writings, (Ephesians 2:11 and following) suggest that the new church in Ephesus also was probably culturally, ethnically and linguistically diverse.  Of particular interest is Paul’s reference to the “Mystery of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:2-4) A common understanding is that the “mystery” is simply a general reference to the Good News of Christ’s life, death, resurrection, and atonement for sin.  In contrast, Mark DeYmaz believes the phrase “Mystery of Christ” may refer specifically to the fact that “…the Gentiles [i.e., peoples of other ethnic, cultural, and linguistic groups] are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” (DeYmaz 2007, 30)  He also suggests that this specific meaning of the phrase “Mystery of Christ” is corroborated when the Ephesian church is chastised in Revelation approximately forty years later for having left her first love, (DeYmaz 2007, 36) that is, the love they had at first for all the saints—of diverse cultural, ethnic and linguistic groups—but later had presumably abandoned. (Revelation 2:2-4)

The Throne in Heaven (Revelation 7).
In Revelation, we read about the fulfillment of the Cultural Mandate with a “…great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9 NIV)  This last scenario reminds us that our ultimate purpose as peoples from all cultures and multiple languages is to worship the Lamb of God together and bow before Him as our supreme Lord and King.  Here the diversities of ethnicities, cultures, and languages are not eliminated.  Rather the Good News is that they all are to be redeemed and incorporated into the new heaven and the new earth.  The invitation is to be part of a new reality characterized by a unity that is enriched by diversity. 


Taken together, these passages along with the biblical narrative as a whole affirm that cultural, ethnic, and linguistic diversity is an essential attribute of our Lord’s present and coming Kingdom.  Thus the Church by God’s grace also ought to be on a trajectory toward greater diversity as a witness of God’s presence on earth.  Teaching and putting into practice this biblical principle is more urgently needed today than ever before given the segregated state of evangelical Christianity in America and the increasing diversity of our nation.  Sadly many churches and believers still are not embracing this principle and endeavoring to live by it.  This is an embarrassment for all of us a part of the Body of Christ and brings shame upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ whom we claim to follow and serve.  In response, we as God’s people ought to repent, turn from our sinful ways, and determine to obey our Lord, so that our Lord’s Kingdom may indeed come “…on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10 NIV)

Practical Suggestions.

Admittedly not every local church is located in a culturally and ethnically diverse community.  Still, a number of options are available to respond to the challenges set forth in this essay.  Following are some possible initiatives:
  1. Repent of these sins against God’s desire and plan for diversity, both individually and corporately.
  2. Covenant with God never again to be comfortable or complicit with the sinful patterns of this world.
  3. Ask God to reveal His will and guide one’s responses, which ought to include concrete acts of obedience such as relocation, reconciliation, and redistribution. (John Perkins' challenge to action, found in many of his writings)
  4. Identify and reach out to different social, economic, ethnic, and/or cultural populations in one’s immediate community or a nearby one.  These connections can begin at the individual level, as believers meet people of other backgrounds in their line of work, neighborhood, or social networks.  Local churches can train and equip their people regarding effective ways to reach out beyond one’s own comfort zone.
  5. Enter into a strategic partnership with a local church that is reaching a significantly different social, economic, ethnic, and/or cultural group. 
  6. Develop a multi-ethnic network of pastors and other church leaders for multi-cultural ministries.
  7. Partner with a church in a major urban area of North America to plant a new church involving team members from both congregations.
  8. Mobilize a church planting team from one’s own church to an urban community.
  9. Partner with a sister church abroad to plant a church in North America.
Acting upon this starter list can help to connect all followers of Jesus Christ with a growing network of similar minded believers for ongoing brainstorming and action, so that our Lord’s Kingdom may indeed come in earth as it is in heaven.

NOTE: This article was first presented as a white paper for a conference in the spring of 2011, and later served as a resource for a position paper for The Wesleyan  Church and for discussions in a faculty workshop at Indiana Wesleyan University. 

Your reactions to the ideas presented in this article are welcomed.

Reference List.

        Carroll R, M. Daniel. 2008. Christians at the border: Immigration, the Church, and the Bible. Grand   Rapids: Baker Academic.
        Chan, Frank. 2005. “Biblical Materials for a Theology of Cultural Diversity: A Proposal,” in Mundeke, Annie, ed. 2005. Understanding diversity: Theological views on diversity. Dubuque: Kendall / Hunt Publications.
        Conn, Harvie M., and Manuel Ortiz. 2001. Urban ministry: The kingdom, the city and the people of God. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press.
        DeYmaz, Mark. 2007. Building a healthy multi-ethnic church: Mandate, commitments, and practices of a diverse congregation. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
        DeYoung, Curtiss Paul, Michael O. Emerson, George Yancey, and Karen Chai Kim. 2003. United by faith: The multiracial congregation as an answer to the problem of race. New York: Oxford University Press.
        Emerson, Michael O., and Christian Smith. 2000. Divided by faith: Evangelical religion and the problem of race in America. New York: Oxford University Press.
        Gilbreath, Edward. 2006. Reconciliation blues: A black evangelical’s inside view of white Christianity. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press.
        Green, John, and Anna Greenberg. 2004. “America’s Evangelicals.” Downloads/EVANGEL_DL2.asp
        Kyle, Richard. 2006. Evangelicalism: An Americanized Christianity. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction.
        Mulder, Mark T., and James K.A. Smith. 2009. “Subdivided by faith? An historical account of evangelicals and the city,” Christian Scholar’s Review XXXVIII: 4 (2009): 425.
        Priest, Robert J., and Álvaro L. Nieves, eds. 2007. This side of heaven: Race, ethnicity, and Christian faith. New York: Oxford University Press.
        Rah, Soong-Chan. 2009. The next evangelicalism: Releasing the Church from Western cultural captivity. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press.
        Recinos, Harold J. 2006. Good news from the barrio: Prophetic witness for the Church. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press.
        Salter McNeil, Brenda. 2008. A credible witness: Reflections on power, evangelism and race. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press.
        Smith, David I. 2009. Learning from the stranger: Christian faith and cultural diversity. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
        Soerens, Matthew, and Jenny Hwang. 2009. Welcoming the stranger: Justice, compassion and truth in the immigration debate. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press.
        Stetzer, Ed. 2008. The Evolution of Church Growth, Church Health, and the Missional Church, at
        Thomas, Joseph L., and Douglas A. Sweeney. 2007. ”Crossing the Color Line: A Brief Historical Survey of Race Relations in American Evangelical Christianity,” 111, in Priest, Robert J. and Alvaro Nieves. 2007. This side of heaven: Race, ethnicity, and Christian faith. New York: Oxford University Press.
        Walls, Andrew F. 2005. The missionary movement in Christian history: Studies in the transmission of faith. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books.
        Yancey, George. 2003. One body, one spirit: Principles of successful multiracial churches. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What Now for Citizens of our Lord’s Kingdom?

As a Christian and a Hoosier, I take seriously my responsibilities as a citizen and resident of the State of Indiana. For years I have been a default conservative Republican. However, in recent years, I have come to question many of the traditional positions of the party. At the risk of oversimplifications, here is my take on the recent elections:

• Conservative Values. As an Evangelical believer, I submit to the authority of the Scriptures and historic Christian teachings. For me, they inform my position regarding homosexual behaviors and abortion. However, I cannot sympathize with many other so-called conservative positions for one simple reason. North America is not The Kingdom of God; it never has been nor is it today. While I love my country, there are many reasons that Christian should not favor a return to the past nor assume that the world will just get better on its own.

• Critical Issues. I believe that several critical issues were at stake in the recent elections, including the economy and jobs, health care, care of the environment, the inclusion of minorities, and the need for comprehensive immigration reform. (My sense is that the debates regarding homosexuality and abortion are not on the front burner, thus less was at stake in the recent round of elections.) As a citizen of God’s Kingdom, I struggle with the conservative positions on each of the critical issues.

• Equal Opportunity versus White Privilege. My view on many political issues is influenced by a growing awareness of White Privilege. Simply stated, current social realities reflect the scars of our country’s sad history of social and racial preferences. As a result, social inequalities still exist in many subtle ways through the structures handed down to us from our nation's history. On one hand, conservative ideologues imagine that today our country offers a “level playing field.” This “equal opportunity” view presupposes that anyone can rise above their circumstances and succeed. On the other hand, White Privilege reminds us that this is not necessarily true for many people that are still trapped in today’s social structures.

• Regional Differences. It is not a coincidence that Republican conservatives tend to be concentrated in the suburbs, small towns and suburban areas (of course, there are exceptions), while more moderate Republicans, Independents and Democrats are found in our Nation’s cities and along the coasts. Our cities and the coasts have much higher percentages of minorities and immigrants. It makes sense that those in more privileged regions would tend to favor the status quo and less governmental involvement, while the less privileged are hoping for more radical changes.

• Help from our Government or the Church. Some say that Christians should not expect our government to solve our nation’s social problems. This is only partially true. On one hand, God works through governments to accomplish His will on earth. For that reason, Christians ought to participate in the political process. On the other hand, God calls upon the Church to help bring His Kingdom to pass on earth as it is in heaven. So where the government falls short, Christians ought to step in the gap. Unfortunately, churches in America often have fallen far short, allowing the world to squeeze them into its mold.

My prayer and hope is that Christians will step into the gap, especially in light of the recent elections.

• Health care. I for one am willing to pay more so that others can have adequate health care. Even Christians who oppose an expansion of our government’s health care programs are urged to step into the gap for minorities in our cities, seniors in the donut hole, and those with preexisting conditions.

• The economy. All Christians are called to step in the gap for the unemployed among us, especially until our nation’s economy recovers. We ought to make sure that no one goes without food, housing, health care, and the basic needs of life.

• Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Christians ought to support comprehensive immigration reform. I'm convinced this is one of our country's most pressing moral issues. Millions of our brothers and sisters in Christ are marginalized because of our nation’s broken immigration system. (For more on this topic, see the sidebar to the right for the link to my blog entitled "Evangelicals and Illegal Immigrants.")

• Care of the Environment. God has entrusted us as stewards of His creation. This responsibility ought to inform our position on related issues, such as the current debates regarding cap and trade. On a personal level, our responsibility as Christians calls us to change our consumerism lifestyle.

So those are my current views, admittedly oversimplified at many points for the sake of brevity. As a result, there is lots of room for debate and modifications.

To summarize, it comes down to three simple questions:

One, do you agree that Christians are first and foremost citizens of God's Kingdom and thus our priorities will often be in tension with the priorities of this world?

Two, do you agree that “White Privilege” still exists and should inform our positions on many social issues?

Three, do you believe that Christians and churches will step in the gap for millions of our brothers and sisters who are marginalized and in need of a helping hand?

Monday, October 4, 2010

What Happens When Everyone’s a Missionary?

In the morning I learned that Jessica, my former student now living in India, had typhoid, and still she was joyfully looking forward to discipling her new Indian friends that evening. Her extraordinary commitment and sacrifice resonated with my definition of a “missionary.” I knew that she had just spent her birthday separated by thousands of miles from her parents, siblings, nieces and nephews. I thanked God for her and asked Him to be her constant companion and help.

Right now I’m listening to another woman that several decades ago had given witness to a call to overseas mission service, but shortly afterward got married and now for years has lived within a five minute drive of her parents and sister in her home town. She’s giving a lengthy explanation of how she considers that she still has fulfilled her missionary call even while living in her hometown, surrounded for all these years by family and friends and celebrating life daily with them. To me it feels like rationalizing, especially as I think about what Jessica is doing today.

Nearly every day I have students in my intercultural studies classes tell me that they have been thinking recently about going back to their hometown here in North America instead of serving God abroad. After all, North America is a mission field too, they remind me.

For several years, we have been told that local churches could be better stewards by supporting “national missionaries” instead of sending North Americans to faraway places. Today there is a constant stream of “nationals” speaking in our local churches and supported as our missionaries. Most of them in reality are what we used to call “evangelists” and “church planters.” While these ministries should not be minimized, most do not represent cross-cultural outreach endeavors that also are crucial to the expansion of our Lord’s kingdom.

A couple of days ago, one of my faculty colleagues proclaimed as he came into the room that another missiologist, referring to himself, had just arrived. In reality, this scholar’s specialization is what we used to call “church growth,” but now he along with many of his colleagues has embraced missional language. Never mind that some (perhaps many) have never lived abroad, nor mastered another language, nor spent countless holidays separated from family and one's home culture, nor struggled with physical afflictions such as typhoid or malaria or hepatitis.

While I celebrate the fresh realization that all churches ought to be missional, still the co-opting of missiological terminology to refer to what we used to call “evangelism and church growth” makes me wonder how pleasing this general picture is to our Lord. I suspect that He would be very disappointed to discover that while growing numbers of his followers are now calling themselves “missionaries,” only a few North Americans today are leaving their home cultures and families and friends for a lifetime of serving Him among the multitudes of unreached people groups that are lost for all eternity and without a single witness for hundreds of miles around. Furthermore, the number of "missionaries" going to those peoples is disproportionatly small, to an embarrassing extreme, when compared to the growing number of others here in North America that also call themselves "missionaries."

For my part, I’m inclined to reserve the term “missionary” for Jessica and others like her who are serving our Lord in far away cultures and places. This is not meant to minimize the commitments and efforts of thousands of others that are extending our Lord’s Kingdom nearer to home. Rather, it is to celebrate and champion the obedience of those like Jessica that are willing to leave their family, friends, home, and everything familiar to serve Jesus.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Business Captivity of the Church: Concerns Regarding the Impact on Missions

What does the phrase Business Captivity of the Church suggest to you? In addition, how in particular does it affect our highest vocation as Christians, which is to “make disciples of all nations”? To illustrate what I mean by this phrase, let me give a short list of practices that I have observed by BCCers (Business Captors of the Church) that concerns me. Afterward I will make a few comments and then get your reactions.

• BCCers* value specialists over generalists.
• BCCers prefer information over intuition.
• BCCers over-analyze and dichotomize everything.
• BCCers focus on “the main thing” to the exclusion of seeing the whole picture.
• BCCers obsess with the bottom line.
• BCCers fixate on getting the “biggest bang for the buck.”
• BCCers accentuate projects over enculturation and language learning.
• BCCers emphasize “sticking with the strategy” over flexible responsiveness.
• BCCers elevate completing tasks over building relationships.

Admittedly, this list reflects extreme approaches, and each one can be helpful when implemented in appropriate ways and with moderation and balance.

My primary concern is that BCCers tend to be overrepresented in the church on boards and in administrative positions. Prominent among them are business people, executives and administrators in secular firms, bankers, and professionals in other for-profit endeavors. This tendency should not be a surprise, since the orientations and skills represented in the above bulleted list are crucial to responsible stewardship and administration in the church. In addition, people with predilections in these areas tend to gravitate to administrative and leadership roles because their expertise and successes in personal life seems to commend them to similar roles in the church.

The problem is that the perspectives and opinions of BCCers tend to highjack the mindsets of our boards and leaders and become the controlling orientation, leaving little or no room for faith, hope, mystery, and the opportunity to depend upon God. This happens with other voices are not present to provide more balanced perspectives and approaches.

I have observed the “Business Captivity of the Church” in a many denominations here in North America in recent decades, and of even greater concern to me, in mission organizations with ministries around the world. As a result, mission endeavors tend to be evaluated based primarily and at times exclusively upon short-term results with less consideration for breadth, depth, quality and long-term viability.

Rather than provide a list of specific examples at this point, I would welcome your responses. So please give me your reactions:

• What does the phrase “Business Captivity of the Church” bring to mind for you?
• What else would you add to the bulleted list above about BCCers?
• How are BCCers influencing the ministries of your local church, denomination or mission endeavors?
• Could you share any examples that you have witnessed or experienced personally?
• In what ways can the Church respond to bring balance to this trend?

If you would like to send me a personal response instead of commenting on this blog, please share your thoughts in confidence, at the following e-mail address: I am looking forward to hearing from you!

“*” BCCers stands for "Business Captors of the Church"

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Two Enduring Truths about Our Lord's Great Commission

Church growth, Church health, The Missional church, post-modernism, the younger evangelicals, globalization, southern Christianity, multiple Jerusalems... Christians today are bombarded by countless new terms and trends. Many of them can be helpful, as long as they do not confuse or distract us.

Nevertheless, The Great Commission, Jesus’ last words to His disciples, still best expresses our Lord’s passions and priorities.

18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
(Matthew 28:18-20 KJV)

Our Lord’s words in this passage are simple and direct and still have radical implications for all of us today who choose to follow Him. His message can be summarized by two basic and enduring truths.


We are supposed to be a pilgrim people on this earth, going to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the world (Acts 1:8).

A. An Incarnational Approach. Going requires an Incarnational approach, patterning our lives after our Lord’s example, Who came to earth “in the flesh.”

All believers are included and expected to obey, whether from Europe, North America, the Caribbean, Latin America, Africa, the Pacific area, the Middle East or Asia. No one is exempted. Nor has the day passed for North American missions. Those who say, “Now it’s time to focus primarily on our own nation and let Christians from other countries take our places on the mission fields,” are wrong. Yes, today our own nation is a mission field too. In addition, there are urgent needs all around the world.

Literature and media are wonderful tools to complement our endeavors. Nevertheless, connecting in “virtual reality” cannot offer a handshake and a warm embrace. Nothing can replace the multidimensional ministries that only are possible through physical presence.

B. Global Ambassadors. We are all commissioned to be “Global Ambassadors” for Jesus Christ throughout the entire not-yet-Christian world—both at home and abroad.

The whole world is a mission field.

We praise God for the growth of Christianity in the Caribbean, South America, sub-Saharan Africa, and parts of Asia. However, the need for missionaries in those areas continues, even though their countries of origin and their ministries may need to be different.

At the same time, peoples in many unreached areas desperately need our priority attention—in Northern Africa, the Middle East, Asia, the Pacific area, and all Muslim regions.

In addition, North America and Europe are huge mission fields that also call for our focused attention.

We are not asked to choose—between staying “home” and going to “the mission field.” Instead, God's people are called to go across the street, across town, across our country, and around the world whenever and however possible.

Wherever we may temporarily “pitch our tents,” we are all supposed to have eyes, hearts and hands for the whole world. (1) When God calls us to serve Him abroad, our ministry will be authenticated by our pattern and example of reaching across the street at home. (2) And regarding ministry in North America, our witness and service across the street will be enriched and enhanced by our experience of serving our Lord abroad. This is increasingly true and possible in the globalizing world of today.


A. Physical Presence is Essential. Making disciples requires physical presence, personal relationships and holistic ministry.

The goal is that all the peoples of the earth will have contextually appropriate opportunities to be involved in worship, evangelism, teaching, fellowship, and service.

To that end, vibrant self-sustaining, self-governing, and self-propagating communities of Jesus followers are to be established among every people group.

B. We have Greater Means to go than Ever before in History. Our ability to reach peoples all around the world is greater than ever before in the history of the world. It is within our means to go regularly in person to virtually anywhere in the world, and in between we should stay in touch regularly via e-mail, Skype, blogs, web pages, and other media communications.

C. Ministry Opportunities and Resources Abound. Today the opportunities for all believers to obey our Lord’s Great Commission are limitless. There are thousands of people groups and more individuals today than ever before in all history that are still unreached. Moreover, wide varieties of partnerships to reach them are available for all believers and local churches. In addition, resources abound to help us minister in ways that are effective and help to build our Lord’s Kingdom.

So while there are many new ideas about missions in the world today, the urgency and main message of our Lord’s call is just as relevant for us as ever in history. We are all called to go to all the world and make disciples of all peoples.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

North American Christianity and The Great Commission: Making Sense of the Big Picture

Countless global challenges face North American Christians and churches today as we endeavor to obey our Lord’s command to “go to the ends of the earth.” Long lists of issues are often cited, including but not limited to the following (Guthrie 2000; Pocock et al. 2005):

• Supporting national workers
• Finances and patron-client relations
• Missionary care and attrition
• Contextualization
• Short-term missions
• Women in missions
• Globalization
• Partnerships
• Technology
• Terrorism

Frequently one may wonder if there is any way to make sense of the big picture and how these issues are interrelated. For these reasons, identifying and analyzing several overarching realities of North American Christianity that interface with a number of the most prominent issues could be very helpful for believers and churches. In this way, vital topics for discussion can be identified and addressed, hopefully leading to more comprehensive and faithful approaches to addressing the current challenges before us.

A Mile Wide and an Inch Deep Abroad?

On one hand, from various perspectives Christianity in North America is prospering. Protestantism, revivalism, the rise of evangelicalism, volunteering, and the modern missionary movement of the past century sensitized and mobilized the laity during the twentieth century to serve as missionaries in unprecedented numbers around the world.

The financial resources available to North American Christians are at record levels. Furthermore, multiple mission organizations now provide administrative infrastructures for a broad spectrum of ministries and represent over a century of institutional memories and wisdom regarding effective management of missionary endeavors. These developments have contributed significantly to the huge global impact of the modern missionary movement during the past century and helped to establish Christianity in many countries around the world.

Even then, at times and in many places around the world, rather shallow expressions of the Christian faith and doctrine were syncretized with local tribal customs, thus failing to penetrate deeply into the host cultures and thoroughly transform the people and their ways of life (cf. Cope 2001; Miller 2001; Sider 1999; Sider, Olson, and Unruh 2002; Stone 2004 and 2007).

Meanwhile Something’s Amiss Back Home

Meanwhile back home in North America, a number of debilitating weaknesses have emerged and are hindering North American Christians from fulfilling our Lord’s command. Worldliness is growing among many who call themselves Christians of the majority culture. Redemption and lift has created a Christian culture that is increasingly wealthy, materialistic, hedonistic, self-absorbed, parochial, and self-serving (Sider 2005).

Furthermore, many who consider themselves Christians allow their perspectives and passions to be formed more by the influences of this world than by a personal relationship with Christ and emersion in the Scriptures. This growing tendency of North American Christians to identify more with the world and its values than with those of our Lord’s kingdom is weakening their ability to be effective witnesses of the Good News at home and abroad.

North Americans, Bellicosity and Fanaticism

Being an American and a missionary can have both positive and negative consequences. Americans around the world are both loved and hated, often for understandable and at times for puzzling reasons. The role of The United States as a world leader often represents a hindrance for Christian missionaries serving abroad. For this reason, discretion is urged regarding discussions about political matters. Otherwise, one’s motives and loyalties can be questioned, even when speaking from commendable perspectives. As a result, in many places one can never know for sure how those of our host countries are thinking and feeling about our presence and ministries.

Due to the rise of fanaticism by those of Muslim backgrounds and otherwise, and also due to North American nationalistic fervor and bellicosity, North American missionaries that live abroad are increasingly at risk. While being a Christian has always meant dying to self and living for Christ, the stakes for North American missionaries in many countries have never been higher. Obeying our Lord’s call frequently means considerable risks to a missionary’s personal safety and that of one’s family. Meanwhile, North American Christians back home need to remember that first and foremost we are citizens of our Lord’s kingdom and only pilgrims in our earthly country.

Missional Churches at Home and Abroad

The call in North America for local churches to be Missional, on one hand, could represent the possibility of a renewal of passion and interest and a welcomed shift of emphasis (Guder 1998; Rusaw and Swanson 2004; Stetzer and Putman 2006; Van Engen 1991). This new focus could motivate and enable local churches to reach outward and engage in transformational ministries in their communities, across the continent, and around the world. The call for local churches to become Missional could prompt one to hope for the coming of an exciting new missionary movement, bringing a breath of fresh air to North American missions, both domestically and globally.

On the other hand, the proposal by some to “subsume missions in mission” (McClaren 2006, 138 ff.) could result in a reductionist approach to the Great Commission. One would hope that North American Christians could become effective as cross-cultural witnesses by first reaching the world that has come to our doorsteps in recent decades and then going around the world. But effective cross-cultural ministries typically do not happen automatically. Today more than ever, specialized training is needed to enhance our endeavors, often including years of missiological training and language learning (Medearis 2008, Pillai 2003).

During the past century, missions organizations provided specialized resources, training, and infrastructures for cross-cultural ministries. Now with the emergence of the Missional church movement, some may imagine that local churches can fulfill the Great Commission both at home and abroad through their own initiatives and endeavors with little or no outside input or collaboration.

Unfortunately, at times local churches end up focusing primarily on their own sub-cultures while minimalizing their cross-cultural Missional outreach efforts across town and around the world. Given that a significant number of evangelical churches today are located in rural, small town and middle and upper class suburban areas, many Christians of the majority culture rarely interact significantly with the diversity of cultures that are found in large urban areas. North American majority culture Christians typically have been slow to identify with strangers, the marginalized, visitors, and immigrants (Carroll 2008; Soerens and Hwang 2009; Wilson 2006 and 2009).

For these reasons, local Missional churches need to supplement their endeavors through partnerships with broader ecclesiastical structures, mission organizations, churches in communities of diverse cultures, and other intermediary organizations for resourcing, training, and networking.

The Global South and International Partnerships

New developments abroad represent emerging opportunities for North American Christians in Great Commission ministries. In recent decades the number of believers has multiplied in the Global south, providing a groundswell of coworkers in the harvest fields from Central and South America, Africa, and Asia, along with others from Europe, the Middle East, and the Pacific regions (Jenkins 2002, 2006, and 2007; Johnstone and Mandryk 2001; Mandryk 2009; Miller and Yamamori 2007; Noll 2009). These represent multiple opportunities to work together for greater Missional effectiveness. In response, North American believers must shift from their controlling paradigms of the past century, learn to work in multi-national teams, and enter into mutually submissive partnership relationships.

A willingness to develop partnerships with non-North American workers is crucial in order to respond to the newly opened doors for ministry in previously closed countries and among peoples that increasingly are open to spiritual matters. Even where oppressive political regimes prohibit or severely restrict Christian witnessing, missionaries from other countries continue to go and faithfully serve the Lord. Our partnership with them can make a huge difference in their lives and ministries.


God has blessed North American Christians with a wealth of resources, experiences, organizational structures, and insights, and we are called to give much in return for Christ and His Kingdom. Our greatest internal hindrances to Missional faithfulness are due to our own worldliness, materialism, hedonism, parochialism, and self-centeredness.

Meanwhile opportunities to collaborate with Global Christians are greater than ever before in human history, representing huge opportunities for transformational ministries through cross-cultural partnerships and teamwork. Our effectiveness in these ministries depends in large part on our willingness and ability to cooperate as mutual partners. While the threats in many places also are greater than ever before, God has promised never to leave us nor forsake us. Furthermore, He commands us to go forth in courageous obedience to His call, confident in the knowledge that in Him we are more than victorious.

Works Cited and Selected Resources

Carroll R., M. Daniel. 2008. Christians at the border: Immigration, the Church, and the Bible. Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing Group.

Clegg, Tom, and Warren Bird. 2001. Lost in America: How You and Your Church Can Impact the World Next Door. Loveland, Colorado.

Cope, Landa L. 2001. “Biblical Reflections: The Old Testament (Part I) and The New Testament (Part II).” Messages presented at, Orlando.

Engel, James F. 1996. Clouded Future: Advancing North American World Missions. Milwaukee: Christian Stewardship Association.

Engel, James, and William Dyrness. 2000. Changing the mind of missions: Where have we gone wrong? Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press.

Guder, Darrell L., Ed. 1998. Missional church: A vision for the sending of the church in North America. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company.

Guthrie, Stan. 2000. Missions in the third millennium: 21 key trends for the 21st century. Waynesboro, Georgia: Paternoster Press.

Jenkins, Philip. 2002. The next Christendom: The coming of global Christianity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

________. 2006. The new faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the global south. New York: Oxford University Press.

________. 2007. God’s Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe’s Religious Crisis. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Johnstone, Patrick, and Jason Mandryk. 2001. Operation world: 21st century edition. Waynesboro, Georgia: Paternoster Lifestyle.

Mandryk, Jason. 2009. “The state of the Gospel.” (Video and PowerPoint Presentations) Operation World. ;

McLaren, Brian D. 2006. The church on the other side: Exploring the radical future of the local congregation. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Marty, Martin. 2007. The Christian world: A global history. New York: The Modern Library.

Medearis, Carl. 2008. Muslims, Christians, and Jesus: Gaining understanding and building relationships. Minneapolis: Bethany House.

Miller, Darrow L. 2001. Discipling nations: The power of truth to transform cultures (2nd Ed.). Seattle: YWAM Publishing.

Miller, Donald E., and Tetsunao Yamamori. 2007. Global Pentecostalism: The new face of Christian social engagement. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Noll, Mark A. 2009. The new shape of world Christianity: How American experience reflects global faith. Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press.

Pillai, Rajendra. 2003. Reaching the world in our own backyard: A guide to building relationships with people of other faiths and cultures. Colorado Springs: WaterBrook Press.

Pocock et al. 2005. The changing face of world missions: Engaging contemporary issues and trends. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic.

Rusaw, Rick, and Eric Swanson. 2004. The externally focused church. Loveland, Colorado: Group Publishing.

Sider, Ronald J. 1999. Good news and good works: A theology for the whole Gospel. Grand Rapids: Baker Books.

________. 2005. The scandal of the evangelical conscience: Why are Christians living just like the rest of the world? Grand Rapids: Baker Books.

Sider, Ronald J., Olson, Philip N., and Unruh, Heidi Rolland. 2002. Churches that make a difference: Reaching your community with good news and good works. Grand Rapids: Baker Books.

Soerens, Matthew, and Jenny Hwang. 2009. Welcoming the stranger: Justice, compassion and truth in the immigration debate. Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press.

Stetzer, Ed, and David Putman. 2006. Breaking the Missional code: Your church can become a missionary in your community. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman and Holman Publishers.

Stone, Bryan P. 2004. Compassionate ministry: Theological foundations. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books.

________. 2007. Evangelism after Christendom: The theology and practice of Christian witness. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press.

Van Engen, Charles. 1991. God’s missionary people: Rethinking the purpose of the local church. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

Wilson, Norman G. 2005. “Compassionate ministry and evangelism: Their relationship and expression.” Wesleyan Church Web Site: Leadership Development Journey (July).

________. 2006. “Good news for the immigration problem.” Wesleyan Life: Winter. (Posted Wednesday, March 19, 2008)

________. 2009. “Evangelism and social action—revisiting an old debate: Good News for immigrants and Evangelicals too.” Journal of The American Society for Church Growth: Volume 20, Winter, pages 69-83.