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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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    1. BC on Sun, September 26, 2010

      Wendi -

      CS didn’t say he was opposed to conversing with Jews.  What he said is it doesn’t make sense to ask a Muslim how to evangelize Muslims (rough translation, something to that effect).

      The Holy Spirit opens doors through the proclamation of the Word of God and the Gospel.  Ephesians 6;17 says the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God.

      Re-read Acts 16, and you will see Paul was speaking, then the Spirit opened the heart of Lydia to respond to the things of the Lord.  So obviously, Paul was speaking the things of the Lord, there was no time for any significant relationship to be built, as Paul arrived at the river that very morning, sat down, and began speaking the way of the Lord.

      We can only assume it was the same message that got him persecuted, blasphemed, stoned, and left for dead at Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra in Acts 13 and 14.  Paul reminds us the gospel is an offense and a stumbling block to both Jews and Gentiles (the whole world) in I Corinthians 1.

      This is because as Jeremiah 17 says, the human heart is desperately sick, deceitful above all else, and the gospel exposes the sin and sickness.  Romans 8:7-8 reminds us, “the mind set on the flesh (every person without Christ) is hostile toward God, for it does subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so”.

      Yes, it is wise to know some things about an unconverted Southern Baptist, as I was, an unconverted Muslim, an unconverted Buddhist, etc.  But all we ultimately need to know is what the Bible says about the unconverted human heart;  it is dead in trespassess and sins, Ephesians 2:1, it hates God, Romans 1:30, it does not seek God and has turned aside to its own way, Romans 3:11-12., and only the eternal Word of God will convert the heart, create faith, and give it life, Romans 10:17, John 6:63, I Peter 1:23.

      Thank God He is able to save unconverted Southern Baptists and Methodists and Presbyterians every bit as much as He is able to save unconverted Muslims and Hindus.

      BC

    2. CS on Mon, September 27, 2010

      Wendi:

      “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.”

      The reason I decided to focus on the piece of your posting dealing with the Holy Spirit opening doors instead of the rest of it dealing with understanding cultures is because this ephemeral concept is a greater stumblingblock in modern Christianity than trying to understand a culture.

      We have evidence in the Bible that sometimes it helps to understand a culture, such as Paul quoting ancient poets.  (Mind you, it’s not prescriptive, but descriptive.)  But for the signs and signals of when a person has permission to share the Gospel when the Holy Spirit acts?  I would say that is neither prescriptive or descriptive, or even found in the Bible.  Instead, we’re called to go and preach.

      And, I agree with BC’s rephrasing of my core thought in this matter.


      CS

    3. Wendi Hammond on Tue, September 28, 2010

      Okay CS - but I’m not going to enter into a discussion about how the Holy Spirit speaks to believers today, because that isn’t what the thread is about.  If you don’t want to talk about the topic in the thread, I’ll bow out of the discussion with you.

      In the future though, please don’t put words in my mouth.  I never said (nor did the author say or imply) that we should seek “permission” to share the gospel.  I simply agree with the authors (and the NAMB and most mission organizations) that evangelistic efforts are much more effective if a Christ follower takes the time to learn both the cultural AND theological differences themselves and someone of another faith.  I propose that events like this lead to that understanding and applaud the effort.

      Wendi

    4. CS on Tue, September 28, 2010

      Wendi:

      “Im not going to enter into a discussion about how the Holy Spirit speaks to believers today, because that isnt what the thread is about.”

      Fair enough.

      “I simply agree with the authors (and the NAMB and most mission organizations) that evangelistic efforts are much more effective if a Christ follower takes the time to learn both the cultural AND theological differences themselves and someone of another faith.  I propose that events like this lead to that understanding and applaud the effort.”

      Understanding the culture is possibly beneficial, but not always a requisite to sharing the Gospel.

      Asking people of another faith how they would want to be evangelized is silly.

      And, for what it’s worth, I’m a Christian, not a Christ-Follower.


      CS

    5. Wendi Hammond on Tue, September 28, 2010

      CS - “Asking people of another faith how they would want to be evangelized is silly.”

      No one has said anything of the sort.  Why do you keep making such a silly statement about the event and those of us who affirm it?

      Since Jesus asked people to follow Him, and never asked anyone to become a Christian, I am a Christ follower AND a Christian.

      Wendi

    6. CS on Tue, September 28, 2010

      Wendi:

      “No one has said anything of the sort.  Why do you keep making such a silly statement about the event and those of us who affirm it?”

      Could you please explain what the last part of this sentence means?

      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.


      CS

    7. Wendi Hammond on Tue, September 28, 2010

      An interesting study of perspectives and presuppositions is happening in our conversation CS. 

      You read the words . . . listen for themselves to global leaders, how they think, what the world is like, and how evangelicals can have a voice and interpreted, ask people of another faith how they would want to be evangelized.

      I read the same statement and interpreted, join a conversation with a genuine desire to learn as much as tell, and in the process gain a voice and actually persuade those of other faiths to listen to us.

      Pastor Roberts didnt say either of those statements, so if you happen to be reading Pastor Roberts, could you clarify for CS and Wendi?

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