Paul Ericksen is Director of Resources (Archives/Museum) at the Billy Graham Center.
Extroverts + Introverts = A Whole Gospel Witness
I recently listened to the audio version of a very stimulating book: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain (Crown, 2012). It has gotten a lot of attention, including a review in the May/June issue of Books & Culture. There are a multitude of practical implications that spool out of this book, including the impact of temperament on the evangelistic mission of the Church, especially when it comes to interaction and relationship building.
The rough estimate that one out of three people are introverts, and that American culture (including evangelicalism) is biased toward extroversion, make for a new way of looking at the people around us. Cain traces the origins of the extroversion-introversion continuum to Western culture's transition from an emphasis on character to one absorbed with personality, resulting in a very strong preference for the extrovert. She includes evangelicals in her survey as illustrated by Rick Warren's Saddleback Church, highlighting the struggle of introverts in that context as well.
Like Josh Lehrer in his recent Imagine: How Creativity Works, Cain points out the heavy, but mistaken dependence upon brainstorming in education and business, undercutting rather than fueling creativity when it has been proven less effective than solitary work that feeds into a group process. She also highlights the temperament spectrum, especially as it affects child-rearing, conflict resolution, and maximizing communication in relationships. Cain speaks into the nature vs. nurture discussion and helps pull apart terms like introvert, shy, reflective, and others related or confused with each other.
As to our task of “accelerating global evangelism,” more than a few introverts will be relieved to find that a big part of their temperament is how God made them. These two temperaments (and, since no one is purely extroverted or introverted, the blending of the two in almost infinite ways) are God’s diverse means of expressing his love and appeal to a lost world. Spreading the gospel can’t be left just for the extroverts to take care of, nor do introverts need to become extroverts in order to have a place in the Church’s mission to communicate the good news. We all must play our part.
Cain’s Quiet may do a number of things:
1) Dissuade more than a few introverts from trying to remake themselves into extroverts
2) Help extroverts appreciate what they gain from their quieter, more reflective companions and work to draw that out
3) Help parents raise their children, especially the introverts, more aware of their needs and internal dynamics
The gospel is for those who are outgoing and interact easily. It is also for the more reflective or awkward and quiet among us. I'm already recommending this to colleagues, friends, and family members, and have gotten the print version for a more reflective and deliberate reading. (Care to guess on which side I fall?)
Are you an introvert seeking to accelerate evangelism where God has placed you? What have you found to be helpful? We'd love to hear about it! Let's continue the conversation on our facebook page!
Posted January 30, 2013
Diane Swierenga is Coordinator of the Billy Graham Center Scholarship Program.
The Great Invitation
Every three years, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship hosts a large missions conference especially geared for college students. The first Urbana occurred 66 years ago in Toronto, with 575 students attending and 151 schools represented. This year, 16,000+ young people filled the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Missouri. The theme was “Come to the Table,” a topic mirroring the eschatological feast victoriously recorded for us in the Book of Revelation.
Approximately 50 Wheaton College students were present at that amazing gathering. Six Billy Graham Center scholars were among those who were privileged to “Come to the Table.”
For some attendees, it was a time to entertain the opportunity that perhaps God might be calling them to missions. Still others already engaged in ministry received inspiration and confirmation to continue going forward in their mission calling. Such was the message that George and Milly Obiero from Kenya received as participants at Urbana ’12.
After “five days of feasting,” 4,000 young people responded to the call to partner with God in missions. However, the most remarkable thing is that nearly 100 attendees committed their lives to the Lord Jesus for the very first time.
At the conclusion, George said, “The ultimate challenge was for all of us to extend the same invitation to others, whether locally or globally, because the Master of the banquet has asked us to do so and has invited us all!”
Zonia Go, who is from the Philippines but ministers in Asia, was challenged to “abandon any idea of living my life as an ordinary person in the kingdom” after hearing David Platt’s presentation. For Zonia, Urbana was a clarion call to “get serious with the Great Commission.”
Harun Njuguna of Kenya saw the larger picture as he looked over the crowds from over 25 different countries to celebrate how God is moving around the world. He saw the amazing work God is doing around the world: the student movement in North America, the rapidly growing churches of the Majority World, the persecuted, underground Church. Harun was reminded that God is raising up the non-Western Church for mission in powerful ways.
One day, the day of invitation will be over. Our mission work will be done. And one day, we will sit at Jesus’ banquet table.
Have you had a memorable, life-changing experience at a Christian event? We would love to hear about it! Let's continue this discussion on our facebook page >>
Posted January 23, 2013
Karen Swanson is Director of the Institute for Prison Ministries at the Billy Graham Center.
It's What's Missing in the Christian Life!
The song “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang was popular when I was in college. For those of you who are too young to remember, some of the lyrics are:
Yahoo! This is your celebration
Yahoo! This is your celebration
Celebrate good times, come on! (Let's celebrate)
Celebrate good times, come on! (Let's celebrate)
There's a party goin' on right here
A celebration to last throughout the years
So bring your good times, and your laughter too
We gonna celebrate your party with you
One of the responses unbelievers have about Christianity or Christians is that we don’t have fun. What is fun to an unbeliever, often involves sin. What is fun to a Christian, living in union with Christ, is not appealing to an unbeliever. So you have two different definitions of what is fun. But I do believe there is some truth that Christians do not have fun.
In fact, the spiritual practice of Celebration is often neglected.
Christians recently celebrated the birth of Christ. This jubilee was announced by the angel, “I bring you good news of a great joy, which shall come to all the people” (Luke 2:10). Celebration is primarily a corporate spiritual practice. Paul writes, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:3). We are to “Rejoice always” (Phil. 4:4) and “In nothing be anxious” (Phil. 4:6).
I feel privileged to work with others who are Christ lovers, value hard work, collaboration, fun, and are called to make Christ known. We enjoy celebrating together, but need to do it more often.
Let’s celebrate and have a good time! What does this look like?
Shout a verbal praise to the Lord
High five someone for Jesus
Give someone a hug
Share a meal with someone
Sing (maybe even “Celebration” by Cool and the Gang?)
How do you celebrate? We would love to hear about it! Let's continue this discussion on our facebook page >>
Posted January 7, 2013
Lon Allison is Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center.
Because Lives Depend on It
“Let those who lead, do so with zeal” - Romans 12:8
A colleague paraphrases the verse this way: “Let the one leads do so as if lives depend on it, because they do.” I am moved by this definition, and especially as it pertains to leadership in the field of evangelism. Lives depend on it. I think Jesus was feeling the force of evangelism-leadership as he watched Samaritans streaming out of the village to hear him. Remember? His disciples were urging him to eat. They knew he was hungry and had been for hours. Still, he said, “I have food to eat you don’t know about… My food is to do the will of the One who sent me and to accomplish his work.” The result of that urgent focus of the Master was the salvation of many.
There is an urgency to the gospel that I often lay aside. It is a life-and-death situation for every soul on the planet. Therefore, I need to order my life to the priority of this gospel and order my agency to the same.
Looking back on Christmas I’m pretty pleased with how the Billy Graham Center prioritized it. We recorded eight brief gospel messages that played throughout the season on our Wheaton College radio station. And we offered an Advent calendar to thousands of believers which provided tips for sharing the gospel from December 1- 25. Our museum offered special Christmas activities for families. That was pretty good, but we can do more and do it better. We must. We simply must.
I confess that I’m often disappointed in myself for not “leading us” better in our calling to “accelerate global evangelism.” It really is my issue as the leader of this place. Some will say I’m being too hard on myself. No, not at all. It’s what I am to do. It is what the Spirit is saying to me now. God, I commit myself and the spiritual gifts you’ve given me, including leadership to you. Press us forward with zeal.
What does it mean for you to "press forward with zeal" in 2013? We would love to hear about it! Let's continue this discussion on our facebook page >>
Posted January 7, 2013
Jerry Root is Associate Director of the Institute of Strategic Evangelism at the Billy Graham Center.
Time Passes, but the Message Remains Steadfast
As the Advent season fades into history and the new year is upon us, it is a good time to remember that day when Immutable, Eternal God stepped into the pages of mutable, temporal history. There was a moment when time was transected by the timeless. Of course, on entering time, God the Son took upon himself the body of a man; that is, he took to himself the body of a baby that grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52).
So thoroughly did he enter into the affairs of human experience that he allowed himself to surrender to all the bonds of time. Certainly all mortals are born to die. C. S. Lewis once wrote, “War does not increase death.” He could just have easily written “disease does not increase death, accidents do not increase death, and even aging does in increase death,” because death is total in every generation.
We have all been born into this world, and, barring the coming of Christ we will all have our dying to do. The Son of God, in entering time, surrendered to the aging (and therefore the dying) process. Of course, as the Bible reminds us, he came specifically to die. He came in the full judicial awareness that if one has committed a crime, then Christ will have to pay his debt to society. Only in Jesus case, it was all humanity who stood criminal; all humanity had sinned against God and the penalty for sin was death.
Jesus came fully knowing that he was born to die. Yet when the Eternal entered into time, and, even entered into the very death sentence placed upon all who have sinned, he did something no one could have anticipated: his death, somehow, miraculously, set us right with the God of the universe. That is, somehow, we have been given the power to become right with God though Christ’s death and resurrection…
…just as those in a fox-hole are given the privilege to live when one of their mates covers the enemy grenade with his own body
…or a poor man has a new lease on life when a wealthy man of great means pays the debtor’s bills
…or the drowning man is saved when the accomplished swimmer and lifeguard risks his own life to bring the sinking man to the shore.
Time was breached by the Eternal that we might have the hope of Heaven forever. This is good news! The angels shared it on that first Christmas night when they heralded to the shepherds that unto them a Savior was born, Christ the Lord. And so too, that message of the first Christmas has echoed down through history on the lips of all who have continued to proclaim to others the love and forgiveness of Christ. The seasons come and go, but that Eternal message remains forever the same.
How will you carry on this great message post-Advent and into this new year? We would love to hear about it! Let's continue this discussion on our facebook page >>
Posted January 2, 2013