Definition of Cultural Engagement
A pastor demonstrates appreciation for the contributions of different cultures and is committed to evangelism and biblically based ministry with appropriate engagement with people in those cultures.
Overall Reflection Statement on Cultural Engagement
For my competence in cultural engagement, I am submitting four PDFs--one demographic study for a church, two biblical theologies, and one theological reflection. Since 2006, I have sponsored children in sub-Saharan Africa through World Vision. I have participated in the leadership team for a neighboring church's Africa ministry, and joined them on a short-term mission to Zambia. But I chose these artifacts because they are intersection between my strategic and thought leadership and my concern for evangelism, social justice, and mission. They exhibit my due-dilligence which is needed for effective, biblical cultural engagement.
As I developed and demonstrated cultural engagement, I have learned that I have an intense desire to see the church rise up and engage the leading pandemics of HIV/AIDS, global poverty, and sex-trafficking. Long before the recent strife with law-enforcement, I have wanted the church to lead the way in racial reconciliation. Lastly, I want to see a church made up of men and women transformed by the Gospel, not the Christian subculture, and consequently a church that loves lost people. For more of my thoughts and vision, see my Vision for Ministry.
Lifelong Development Statement
As a result of the experiences documented by these artifacts, I will continue to developed in cultural engagement by returning to Africa. I want to pursue a partnership and friendship with a church in Africa and its pastor. I am also interested in contributing to the theological training of church leaders there.
Leading the church depends upon faith. But such faith does not exempt church leaders from being smart about the ministry to which God has called their church. As part of my Leading and Managing the Church class, my team worked with a Dallas-area church to begin a strategic re-envisioning process that would help the church reconnect with the work God intended for the church. In addition to facilitating the evangelism and disciple-making strategy sessions, I prepared this environmental scan based on the demographic data for the population the church was likely to influence. This information is vital for a church to contextualize its ministry to the environment where God has placed it--its geographical sphere of influence.
The Crossings Baptist Church in Mesquite, TX
Justice in the Book of Amos
In the 19th and 20th centuries, the evangelical church movement surrendered its concern for social justice to the liberal church. Now, a resurgence of concern for the orphan, the widow, and the alien is springing forth in the churches that long abandoned them. God is awakening His people to plight of the suffering. As a thought-leader, it is important to me that the church retune itself and to do so with a right understanding of God's heart on the matter. So when the opportunity came to study what the prophets had to say on social justice, I jumped on it and received this praise from my professor:
Your paper is superb. Superior in content and in writing. Bravo!
Towards a Theology of HIV/AIDS
When my wife and I visited Zambia in 2008 on a short term mission, we witnessed firsthand the devastation inflicted by HIV/AIDS combined with extreme poverty. What made the great hardships of individuals with HIV/AIDS and their families all the more difficult was the harsh treatment they received at the hands of the church. Two years later, my professor for Missions in an African Context, the professor rattled off possible topics that the students could write their term paper on, one of which was a theology of HIV/AIDS. How do you write a theology on something the Bible doesn't talk about? As a thought-leader wanting to see the church think more biblically about this disease and its victims, I took on the challenge, and the professor gave me a 98, saying:
Super work! With some editing, I'd like to see you publish this.
Pictures from my time in Zambia visiting visiting one of our sponsored children
The Mission of God
While the craze for mission statements in ministry runs rampant, the more fundamental question that must be engaged is: What mission is God on? What God is doing, what He is about, is the starting point for effective cultural engagement because it frames the discussion for what what the church should be doing, why it should be doing it, and how it should go about it. After reading Christopher Wright's tome, The Mission of God, I composed a reflection and summary on Wright's work, to which the professor responded:
Well done, Karl. I trust that the investment of time and energy in working through Wright's book will continue to pay dividends well into the future. A+.