Remember Disciple Adventures? Now it’s One Year Challenge! Visit the updated website. There are over 20 sites seeking disciples with a “Here am I, send me!” spirit.
Some great ideas:
This has led to some observations about what makes certain churches especially powerful givers. Let me just say that this is not a post about how much is right for churches to give. That is a very important conversation, of course. But this is a list of observations for churches that do not do as much for missions financially as they wish.
The Economist has used data from the European Values Survey and the World Values survey to calculate the geographic center of Christianity based on church attendance. Surprised that it’s in Africa?
From the Wall Street Journal’s China blog, 10 interviews with people in Beijing. Here’s one of the interviews:
Mr. Yang48, chemistry worker from ShanxiDo you know the origin of Christmas Day?
It commemorates the birthday of Jesus Christ, who was born in Bethlehem in Israel 2,000 years ago, although the Bible doesn’t say which day.
Do you have a Christmas holiday plan this year?
Nothing special, I became a volunteer here (at Haidian Church, the biggest church in Haidian district) about seven years ago, doing some service for God. Anyway, I feel very grateful every Christmas. I hope God blesses our country of 1.4 billion people.
Why do you think Christmas Day has become so popular in China these years? After all, most of us aren’t Christians.
Yeah, I think it’s quite normal. At the beginning, this church had only two or three people, but now more than 9,000 come every Sunday. Today we’ve prepared six rounds of worship until midnight; the number will surely exceed 10,000.
What do you think of the way people celebrate Christmas Day nowadays? Some people say it’s too commercialized.
It’s because they don’t know God. If they really know God, they should come to church first, then go out to shop.
From part one of a three part series:
1. Many languages have never been written down.
Chances are you learned your “ABCs” at a young age, but you probably didn’t know that hundreds of languages around the world don’t even have an alphabet. Yep, you read that right! At least 10 percent of the world’s languages are unwritten. We call these “oral languages,” because they live in people’s mouths but not on paper.
Even though oral languages have never been written down, they’re rich in history, culture and stories that have been passed down for hundreds — and even thousands — of years. Since people don’t have books and the Internet, they tell a lot of stories instead and get really good at remembering stuff. In fact, when we help create a written alphabet so we can translate the Bible into oral languages for the first time, we’re amazed at how quickly people memorize whole books!
One challenge in oral cultures is accuracy. Like the “telephone game,” details can get confused as people pass stories down from one generation to the next. This is one reason why many oral cultures are excited to have their languages written down. It doesn’t mean they’ll quit telling stories or memorizing information, but it does mean the information won’t ever get lost or be forgotten.
Making an alphabet for an oral language can be tricky. Some use special tongue or throat sounds that are different from other languages, so we have to find a writing system that makes sense and isn’t too hard to read. But it’s worth it in the long run because written languages help people pass information down for years to come, whether people memorize it or not!
2. In some languages, a single word can have several meanings.
In English, words mean different things depending on how they’re used. For instance, if someone says to you “cool pants,” they’re probably digging your fashion choice, not accusing your trousers of being emotionally detached or actually cold in temperature.
But in some other languages, the meaning of a word can also be totally different based on the inflection — basically the way the sound goes up or down. These are called tonal languages, and over half the world’s languages work this way!
The Mazateco language in Southern Mexico is a perfect example. The tone in your voice when you say “si te” can make it mean “he spins a top,” “she pats tortillas,” “he will spin a top,” “she will pat tortillas,” “I spin a top,” “I will pat tortillas,” “we will spin a top” or “we will pat tortillas.”
Whew! That’s a lot of variations to keep track of, and sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. Let’s listen to the different forms of “si te,”here.
To read part two, click here.
A college town is predominately made up of its university population.
The university may be large, or there may be several smaller institutions such as liberal arts colleges clustered, or the residential population may be small, but college towns in all cases are so dubbed because the presence of the educational institution(s) pervades economic and social life. Many local residents may be employed by the university—which may be the largest employer in the community—many businesses cater primarily to the university, and the student population may outnumber the local population.
Churches with campus ministries in college towns serve the mission in a unique way! They are essential to bringing the next generation of campus disciples to Christ. Many disciples converted in these ministries go on to serve and lead churches all over the world.
Churches in college towns face a special challenge, too: because so many of the disciples they make go to larger cities for work or ministry, it’s harder to build a large and lasting ministry in these cities without outside help.
That’s why the One Year Challenge specifically channels volunteers who want to serve a year in campus ministry to locations that are in college towns. These are the ministries that are often sending disciples out after graduation. The One Year Challenge can provide much-needed additional support to keep campus ministries in college towns strong and fruitful.
All nations need to hear the gospel of Jesus, and there are lost and unevangelized people in every nation.
Some places are far less evangelized than others.
In the U.S. for example, International Churches of Christ have about one member per 7,000 people. That’s 10 times more members relative to population as compared to the rest of the world.
Worldwide, our family of churches has about one member per 70,000 people.
At the other end of the scale, there is a large country in Southeast Asia where the ratio is one member of the ICOC for every 500,000 people. Compared to the rest of the world, that’s seven times less evangelized.* Compared to the U.S., this country is 70 times less evangelized.
For the One Year Challenge, we focus on countries where the member-to-population ratio is at least five times less evangelized than the world ratio. Many of the world’s largest countries, as well as almost all the most “closed” countries, meet this criteria.
*We’re using “evangelized” here imprecisely, of course, in the narrow context of evangelism by the International Churches of Christ. We’re thankful for all Christians in every country who are proclaiming Jesus. For a wider perspective on world evangelism, see the Joshua Project.