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    Multi-Faith Forum:  Hold on… it’s not what you think…

    Multi-Faith Forum:  Hold on… it’s not what you think…

    Bob Roberts is the Senior Pastor of Northwood Church in Keller, TX.  He's doing something that many evangelical pastors would not dare to do... hosting a multi-faith forum in his church.

    OK.  Stop.

    You're judging.

    This isn't a forum where everyone gets together to find common ground and leave singing Kumbayah.

    Here's how Bob describes the first ever "Global Faith Forum":

    In this time of tension between faiths, this Global Faith Forum comes as such an important time, for Christians and Muslims and Jews and other faiths to be respectful of one another’s faith and yet allow one another to hold on to their faith convictions in contrast to some other inter-faith conversations where genuine differences are glossed over. While there may be misunderstandings, that’s all the more reason it is so importance to be engaging in conversation with other faiths in this day and age and this Global Faith Forum is hosting that conversation.

    Bob continues:

    No one believes in the Great Commission more than I - it is what I have given m life to.  Do we realize how our rhetoric, attitude, and actions are in direct conflict with the Great Commission?  It is not 1985 anymore - that was the beginning of a major global shift in every way.

    Twenty-five years ago, when we started NorthWood Church where I pastor, God gave me a verse that we would be a global church - but I really didn’t know what that meant and less about how to live that out.  God knew.  He knew all the changes coming to the world, he knew we would all be connected, he knew all the things back then I’ve been learning the past two decades.  In his own way, he was preparing me and NorthWood and the churches we start in the US for this adventure and it’s been a grand adventure.

    http://www.globalfaithforum.org first started as a couple of my friends who were non-Christians were going to come to visit me and my church because they had “never met an evangelical” like me.  I told them there were many, they just didn’t hear from them as much.  They wanted to visit the church where all these people were that were doing all these amazing things in Vietnam and even other places.  A couple of non-Christian friends had come and they were telling the others, and several were wanting to come.  I also asked them if they could come in our missions month in November for our church and they agreed.

    I’m always asked by pastors to take them on trips with me to meet global pastors and other world leaders that are non-Christians - so I thought here would be a good chance to let them meet them.  So I asked my friends if they would be willing to meet with several young pastors that would be starting new churches and young pastors that led influential mega-churches in the US.  They agreed.  Then many of my friends began to talk among themselves and my secular non-Chrisian friends were asking if they could come also.  So I went back to my initial friends and said what if we have a http://www.globalfaithforum.org in Dallas and lets invite several people - we’d all have to volunteer to speak because I don’t have the money!  They knew a lot of the humanitarian work I’ve done, so they agreed to do it - maybe as some payback.  The rest is history.  The speakers are Vietnamese, European, American, Arab, Jewish, Muslim, Men and Women almost everything!  Over half of the speakers are not Christian - but they are my friends.  The Christian speakers and panelist are young church planters, young influential leading pastors, Christian statesmen like Os Guinness and Ray Bakke.  Global business leaders like Al Weiss, Diplomats like Prince Turqi - Al - Faisal of Saudi Arabia and Ambassador Le Cong Phuong of Vietnam, pastors Vance Pittman, Mark Demoss, Kevin Cox and others will be speaking.

    What are we trying to do?  Expose evangelicals to the world and instead of listening to emotional rhetoric, let them listen for themselves to global leaders how they think, what the world is like, and how evangelicals can have a voice.  How do hold on to our faith, not compromise - yet treat others with respect and build long term relationships.

    So... there you have it.

    Bob is having conversations that not many of us are having.  Important conversations.  Conversations that the church needs to be having (in my opinion).

    Check out the Global Faith Forum for more information.  You can also check out Bob's blog here.

    Todd

     

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    Comments

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    1. CS on Tue, September 21, 2010

      “What are we trying to do?  Expose evangelicals to the world and instead of listening to emotional rhetoric, let them listen for themselves to global leaders how they think, what the world is like, and how evangelicals can have a voice.  How do hold on to our faith, not compromise - yet treat others with respect and build long term relationships.”

      So they want a forum where Christians can hear from a whole bunch of non-Christians about how they want us to do things?  I still don’t get it.


      CS

    2. jerry k on Tue, September 21, 2010

      I am just a little nobody pastor way out in nowhere land [in the scheme of things, but I am not nearly as blind to reality as Roberts. Isalms stated goal is World domination, religious and governmental. This not just the goal of the fundamental terrorist, but also the overriding goal of the moderates. They will play on the stage nicely with the Christian, but with one purpose in mind—Islam conquers. While Roberts is trying to understand, they make themselves more appealing in the eyes of those who particapate.

      His Royal Highness Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, is the former Saudi General Intelligence Directorate, and will be a featured speaker.

      Let’s see, “Intelligence Directorate” of Saudi Arabi! Was that a position that was educational in nature? You know, raising the intelligence of the Saudis! NOT! One of the, if not most generous finanical contributors to terrorist is the Saudi Royal family. And you don’t get much more family than the son of the late King Faisal. And he his going to help understand Isalm? Give me a break.

      This is an unbelievably bad idea. No good will come of it, except for Islam.

      Do I sound radical, paranoid? I suppose. But the fact is, Islam is the ENEMY OF GOD, and until we realize that we are in a religious war with them they will continue to grow, either by subterfuge or terrorism.
      jerryk

    3. FH on Tue, September 21, 2010

      CS and JK, No offense, but I don’t see any solutions coming from either of you, just a lot of criticism.  Do we pretend it’s not happening (the globalization of Islam), or do we strap on the guns and fight them…Or perhaps we try and understand why they believe they way they do, so that we can show them that Jesus is the only way to eternal life. If we don’t understand anything about them, how can we begin to preach them the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I am pretty sure that we aren’t going to get anywhere by ignoring them or fighting them.  I am certainly not a Bible scholar but I am pretty sure that the Great Commission says to “Go there and make disciples of ALL nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  It didn’t just some of the nations, or just pick the easy ones that aren’t going to argue too much.

    4. jerry k on Tue, September 21, 2010

      FH on Tue, September 21, 2010
      FH on Tue, September 21, 2010
      CS and JK, No offense, but I don’t see any solutions coming from either of you, just a lot of criticism.  Do we pretend it’s not happening (the globalization of Islam), or do we strap on the guns and fight them…Or perhaps we try and understand why they believe they way they do, so that we can show them that Jesus is the only way to eternal life.
      —————Oh, I think lots and lots of people understand them. However, all the disinformation being distributed about Isalm as a peace loving religion by polititians, talking heads, and those who believe that all religions are equal is certainly clouding the issue and truth. But if you believe His Royal Highness Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud is going to come clean about the goals of Islam, I have a bridge….

      YOU:Do we pretend it’s not happening (the globalization of Islam), or do we strap on the guns and fight them…
      ———-A little study of Islam will show very clearly that they strapped on the gun {sword} almost from their inception. This terrorism that is going on is NOT something new.

          Putting our heads in the sand and not acknowledging what Islam is really all about, world domination, is tantamount to what the church did in pre-war 2 in Germany. Very few listened to Bonhoeffer’s warning, too.

      YOU:If we don’t understand anything about them, how can we begin to preach them the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
      ————Well, that is the biggest thing to understand. And when we Christians realize that as a whole, then we can and will make headway in “making disciples of Jesus” of them.

            And if we really want to understand them, well read the Qur’an. I was just reading it this morning.

      YOU:It didn’t just some of the nations, or just pick the easy ones that aren’t going to argue too much.
      ———You make a strawman.  Neither CS or I said anything about not going and evangelizing. We should. But a missionary would be well advised to know that to go into certain Muslim countries to make disciples, well, they are not going into the open arms of a peaceful people. I have a friend at this very moment evanelizing in a hostile Islamic nation. He has to do it in secret. If he does not, his head will be theirs. He UNDERSTANDS THEM VERY WELL. He is willing to chance it, but he is not willing to be a fool.

      YOU:CS and JK, No offense, but I don’t see any solutions coming from either of you, just a lot of criticism.
      ————Solution. Know the goal of their religion. It is right there in their Qur’an. Love them; feed them in disasters; share the Word when possible; but never, never see their religion as a peaceful religion looking to get along with other religons. They will only get along as so far as it futures their goal. Talking to a terrorist supporter like Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud will only prove fatal if we act upon what he says.

    5. FH on Tue, September 21, 2010

      CS, thanks for your response. I will tell you that I have not read the Qur’an yet, but I am planning on it some time soon.  I still do not see how sitting down peacefully with them and try to understand where they are coming from is a bad thing.  I am not saying we need to go into this with blinders on, but I am interested in hearing what a “non-oppressed” Muslim has to say and I am not talking about a Prince.  I am talking about a guy like me that is middle class with a family, gainfully employed in the United States.  I mean it’s almost as if the radical Muslim is as much the result of an oppressive government as it is a belief in a radical religion.

      I will be praying for your friend that is evangelizing in an Islamic nation.

    6. jerry k on Tue, September 21, 2010

      FH,
      YOU: I still do not see how sitting down peacefully with them and try to understand where they are coming from is a bad thing.
      ———-I think you hit closer to what is needed, than what Roberts is doing. You said: “...I am interested in hearing what a “non-oppressed” Muslim has to say and I am not talking about a Prince.” And there in lays the rub. A prince, and for that matter another Muslim elite.

          I once worked, before I became a preacher at 50, with a Muslim from Iran. We were good friends. He was going to college when the Shah was overthrown. Didn’t get home for years to see is family. I had many hours of great dialogue about our differences. In the end, he told me I was wrong, and I told him he was wrong. And we remained friends. But we finally decided religious talk was best left alone.

      YOU: I mean it’s almost as if the radical Muslim is as much the result of an oppressive government as it is a belief in a radical religion.
      ————-A little study of history and you will find that Islam has a history, right from the start with being radical. And it wasn’t about oppressive governments. It was about Islam taking over governments.

            I guess we will just have to disagree about this.
      jerryk

    7. CS on Tue, September 21, 2010

      FH: 

      I think you’re getting me and Jerry K confused here.  I didn’t reply back to you.  In fact, all my contribution to this thread is saying that I don’t get the rationale of going to the lost and asking them how they’d like us to behave.  I don’t see a biblical precedence for it at all.  But, I want to respond to this:

      “Or perhaps we try and understand why they believe they way they do, so that we can show them that Jesus is the only way to eternal life. If we don’t understand anything about them, how can we begin to preach them the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

      This may sound funny, but I don’t have to know anything about someone to preach Christ to them.  All I have to do is read the Bible to know that they are sinners who need a Savior, and I go from there.


      CS

    8. Wendi Hammond on Wed, September 22, 2010

      CS - what was it from the article that made you think this event is about asking the lost how they want us to behave?

      Wendi

    9. CS on Wed, September 22, 2010

      Wendi:

      “what was it from the article that made you think this event is about asking the lost how they want us to behave?”

      It’s mainly the last part of this sentence:

      “Expose evangelicals to the world and instead of listening to emotional rhetoric, let them listen for themselves to global leaders how they think, what the world is like, and how evangelicals can have a voice”

      They’re asking the unsaved, “how evangelicals can have a voice.”  So, they want to ask people of contending faiths what we can do so that we can go and fulfill the Great Commission in their culture.

      That’s hugely illogical.  Asking a Muslim how we can then go share Christ in his community makes no sense.  That’s like asking a member of PETA the best way to cook a steak.


      CS

    10. Wendi Hammond on Wed, September 22, 2010

      CS – actually, your method seems more illogical to me.  It would be like a 21st century American missionary heading to an unreached tribe in the jungles of Africa and saying, “why should I listen and learn, I’ve got everything I need to share Christ.” 

      We make a big mistake if we think that there is no need to understand culture, worldview and other theologies and beliefs.  The North American Mission Board says, “For effective evangelism it is vital to understand what others believe and in what ways their beliefs deviate and differ from Christianity.”  Of course, we can do this by sitting by ourselves studying every other religion, or we can do so by engaging with people and building relationships while we ascertain how our new friends look at the world.  Then, when the HS opens a door, we are equipped (with both information and relationship) to respond.

      Besides, you took a big leap assuming that this event was about asking the unsaved what we should.  The article never said that.  Instead it described an event where evangelicals listen and learn.  I’d assume that they then go home and ask ONE ANOTHER how we can be effective and respectful in our efforts to fulfill the great commission in our context.

      Wendi

    11. Jan on Wed, September 22, 2010

      And your response is just what they expect.
      I live in this world.  Only 4% of my community profess to attend a church community that is not Buddhist etc.  This includes Catholics and Mormons. 

      The big deal is that Christians for a long time have been talking… talking “love” and not loving.  Talking peace and not having it.  Talking joy, and fighting like crazy.  Many in my community could tell you what the gospel is, at least what we believe… who Jesus is, that He died, that we believe He is the only way to salvation, etc.

      But they do not feel heard.  When we sit down and listen.  They begin to listen back.

      I’m not saying we don’t share the gospel.  But in the real world where I live, I have to listen first.  Then they begin to trust me and start to ask questions.  Then I get to talk.  This IS our culture.

    12. CS on Wed, September 22, 2010

      Wendi:

      “Then, when the HS opens a door, we are equipped (with both information and relationship) to respond.”

      Biblically speaking, how do you know when this has happened?


      CS

    13. Wendi Hammond on Thu, September 23, 2010

      CS - what do you want biblical support for?  Whether the HS prompts people and opens doors?  Whether listening to people and hearing their stories prepares us to talk with them effectively about Jesus?  Whether having a relationship with someone creates opportunities to share one’s faith? 

      Wendi

    14. CS on Thu, September 23, 2010

      Wendi:

      “CS - what do you want biblical support for?”

      Sorry, I thought that my question was clear.  How do you know when the Holy Spirit opens a door for us to respond?  What are the telltale signs from the Bible that this has occurred?


      CS

    15. Wendi Hammond on Fri, September 24, 2010

      Well, I don’t believe any of us could make a case that the bible gives us a definitive way to know when the HS has prompted.  If such scripture existed, then we wouldn’t have people like Fred Phelps believing that he’s been led to picket at the funerals of American service men and women or pastor Terry Jones thinking he’d been led to play to the media about his plan to burn the Koran on 9/11.  Not sure what “biblical evidence” these guys had for their conviction that the HS had led them to these actions, but I’m sure they would offer it if asked.

      Nevertheless, here are a few times the HS opened a door for the disciples.  Note that many of these times it was a door opened to heal or care, without presenting “the gospel”

      Acts 3:1-10 – The HS opened the door and prompted Peter to heal the cripple who asked for money.
      Acts 6:32-35 – The HS opened the door and prompted Peter to heal Aeneas as he was visiting saints in Lydda
      Acts 14:8-13 – The HS prompted Paul that the lame man in Lystra had faith and he should heal him.
      Acts 16:11 – Paul and team stumbled upon the group of women who feared God gathered at the river in Phillipi and the HS prompted them to stay at Lydia’s home, build relationships and baptize her household.
      Acts 16:25 – After Paul and Silas had been imprisoned by the oppressive Romans (Islam?), the miracle of the earthquake freed them, but the HS opened the door for Paul to have a conversation and a relationship with the Roman jailer, who then became a believer.

      That’s all I have time for.  There are hundreds more . . . .

      I’m wondering why you haven’t responded to my comments disagreeing with your perspective that conversing with Muslims is like conversing with PETA about how to cook a steak.

      Wendi

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