Publisher's notes ---
October 2000 I attended the Off-the-map evangelism conference at
the Vineyard Community Church in Cincinnatti, Ohio last week. I
went to have the opportunity to meet with Leonard Sweet, Brian McLaren
and Steve Sjogren, brilliant guys with futuristic ideas about ministry
in the year 2000. At some point, I'm sure I'll write more about the
The image for the
conference was a picture of a central American landscape in the
aftermath of Hurricane Mitch. In the foreground of the picture is a
well-constructed concrete bridge. But there is no "other side"
to the bridge. And the river that it was meant to traverse now runs on
different banks. The topics for Sweet, McLaren and Sjogren were: Who
moved my river? and who moved my bridge.
The essence of
their message is that there has been a shift in culture that is
cataclysmic to our "normal" methods of communicating
Christianity. If we don't understand this, they assert, then we will
fail to reach this culture with God's message of grace, simply because
we will not be heard!
For one small
group meeting I found myself at a table with a young Baptist pastor and
his wife, a Presbyterian layman, and a Lutheran minister. Their topic of
conversation was the possibility of theological training for the
Presbyterian, he was considering becoming a professional clergymen. The
pros and cons of various campuses were discussed. The study of Greek and
Hebrew was parsed. The Lutheran minister was interested in the impact of
infant baptism and the sacraments on reaching people for Christ. I
wondered to myself if they were attending the same conference with me!
encouraged a friend of his to submit an article on his sojourn to
Burning Man, an experience in off-the-map evangelism which redefined his
concept of weird.
editor David Hopkins writes on need for image in
ministry director Sean Witty explores the need for
"experience". Pastor Gary Goodell encourages Christians to
explore the journey from 1st day to 3rd day for
churches. Brad Birt uses
surfing to explore the difference between Try Hard and Train Hard
Spirituality. Contributing editor Eric Stanford reviews Millennials
Rising and Kim Gentes announces Worshipmusic.com's Editor's Choice
Awards for 2000.