Global Reflections

Fuller School of Intercultural Studies Blog

On this blog site you’ll find weekly updates and insights from faculty and friends of Fuller’s School of Intercultural Studies: missional conversations, up-to-date information, reflection, and new ideas regarding missional engagement of the global church.

6 reasons thumbnail

Top Six Reasons for Studying Global Christian Worship and Witness

2/12/18 in Missiology Conversations

When I left for Kenya 40 years ago, I was asking God if he could use me, a woman and a musician. In those days mission was mainly focused on church planting, and women were for the most part junior partners. One had to fit the profile in order to participate. To my amazement, however, within the first six months of my arrival in Nairobi, I found myself producing the radio program “Music with a Message” on the national radio station.

Justice Grace Forgiveness Thumbnail

The Inextricable Binding of Justice, Grace, and Forgiveness

2/6/18 in Responses to World Events

Like many others, I have been deeply affected by Rachel Denhollander’s powerful testimonies: both her words as the first plaintiff and last survivor to testify in the sentencing of pedophile Larry Nassar, and in the further details she gave about losing her church in an interview she did with Christianity Today.

Translation Thumbnail

To Translate or Not to Translate?

1/29/18 in Missiology Conversations

Translation enables the transmission of ideas from one sociolinguistic context to another. It has been necessary since God visited the tower of Babel in Genesis 11 and people dispersed because they no longer understood each other. As they moved across the planet they took their languages and cultures with them, and diversity has been deepening ever since. Translation has been part of transferring information—sometimes for better, often for worse.

President Labberton in China Thumbnail

President Labberton Witnesses Firsthand New Developments in Chinese Theological Education

1/22/18 in Missiology Conversations

A June-July 2017 visit to China by Fuller President Mark Labberton and his delegation strengthened long-held ties between Fuller and leading centers of theological education in the country. The visit, organized by Fuller’s China Initiative, deepened understanding of the current state of theological education in China, fostered discussion of opportunities for Fuller to cooperate with Chinese seminaries and Bible colleges, and renewed personal relations between Fuller and Chinese seminary leaders.

Why Church Planting is not Sexy Thumb

Why Church Planting Is Not Sexy

1/15/18 in Church Planting

Fads are intriguing but they can lead us to poor decisions. They can occur in every area of life: fashion, diet, career choice, child rearing, fitness, and faith. But more importantly, some fads can be dangerous and can even change the trajectory of our lives.

4 Cs thumbnail

The Four 'C's of Church Planting Collaboration

11/29/17 in Church Planting

Collaboration is a buzzword. Cooperation is all the rage, especially among millennials. It can be fun and it is necessary to get certain things done, especially in church planting. Rarely is this exciting and complex method considered as a process or on a scale.

Valuing Thumbnail

Valuing the Vision

11/9/17 in Church Planting

Accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior as an adult, attending Bible college and seminary, and serving within my Assemblies of God denomination have allowed me to notice a culture focused on equipping the next generation. As I stepped into becoming the director of Hispanic Church Planting for Assemblies of God and started equipping the next generation of church planters, it was evident that they wanted to be equipped, but their reality was a hindrance.

Reorganizing the World for Community Thumb

Reorganizing the World for Community— Lessons from Mexico and the Philippines

10/30/17 in Missiology Conversations

Subversion is at the core of Christianity. Jesus was born in a humble stable and was a refugee. He did all kinds of things that broke through the norms of class, race, and religion, hanging out with those who were marginalized, engaging a woman to be his evangelist in Samaria, coming into Jerusalem on a donkey—a true sign that he was not about imperial power.

Ethnoracial Reconciliation Thumbnail

God’s Plan for an Ethnoracially Reconciling Church

10/10/17 in Missiology Conversations

How should we understand God’s plan for racial reconciliation in the church? The epistle to the Ephesians and the book of Revelation offer insight into God’s plan for the church. Ephesians says that the church is only the complete church when she is Jew and Gentile together, united through the gospel of Jesus Christ, into one new humanity.

Wine Club Thumb

Sharing the Gospel Through Wine Clubs

9/25/17 in Church Planting

Culturally speaking, Santa Barbara is a place where people work to live, making Friday Happy Hour an essential rhythm of the week. So I’ve embraced the Apostle Paul’s principle of becoming all things to all people, that by all means I might save some (1 Cor 9:22).

Fractal Missiology Thumb

A Fractal Missiology for a Fractured World

9/14/17 in Missiology Conversations

What do US Christians think about Trump? Why do US Christians love guns and violence so much? These were the most popular questions I received during a five-day conference for the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES) alumni throughout East Asia last year.

Gabe Veas Thumbnail

Does Your Organization Have the Moral Courage to Hire a Diverse Staff?

8/31/17 in Missiology Conversations

Last year, I spoke at a mission conference in Pasadena, California. As is the case in many evangelical events I have taken part in over the years, the speaker lineup as well as those in attendance did not reflect the ethnicities represented in Los Angeles, one of the most diverse metropolises in the world.

Church Planting Part 3 Thumbnail

Six Challenges of Missional Church Planting (Part 3)

8/23/17 in Church Planting

In the early phases church planting is too often more about launching a public worship service than planting a church that’s able to equip existing/new disciples of Jesus. Leaders will need to resist the urge to give too much energy and visibility to a weekly central gathering.

Racial Reconciliation Thumb

Five Non-Negotiables for White Folks In Pursuing Reconciliation

8/18/17 in Missiology Conversations

“Racial reconciliation” is all the rage. Increasingly, younger white Christians are professing their desire for unity across ethnic lines. Christianity Today recently ran a piece noting the growing tendency of white evangelicals to recognize the systemic nature of racism and to desire to do something about it.

Race in Puerto Rico Thumbnail

Making Race in Puerto Rico

8/11/17 in Missiology Conversations

Have you ever wondered about how race differs between the U.S. mainland and the commonwealth of Puerto Rico? As in the case of missiology in which context shapes interpretations of reality based on understandings of God, Scripture, and human beings, issues of race are also contextually propagated and implemented.

Part 1 Thumb

Six Challenges of Missional Church Planting (Part 1)

8/7/17 in Church Planting

The number of Christians who have had it with existing forms of church (the Dones) or who claim no religious affiliation at all (the Nones) is on the rise, perhaps eclipsing the 100 million mark in the US alone. These growing populations of dechurched and unchurched people present the body of Christ with fresh opportunities to follow Jesus into inventive expressions of church. Though certainly not exhaustive, this list represents what planters and planter coaches commonly identify as key challenges to starting sustainable missional churches.

Headache Thumbnail

Missionary Self-care and Spirituality

8/2/17 in Missiology Conversations

I love missionaries because they get the job done. Against all odds. They’re committed to a long obedience in the same direction at any cost as an expression of their love for God.

Learning from the Maasai Thumbnail

Learning from the Maasai

7/5/17 in Missiology Conversations

I was seated with a group of Maasai leaders outside their village at the foot of the Chulu Hills in the shadow of Mt. Kilimanjaro. We were enjoying large cups of fresh milk as the short rains had come and the animals supplied ample amounts. The men were giving me a lesson in the Maasai language and I heard their stories of life in this beautiful but rugged land.


Spring Break Research in Thailand

5/26/17 in Pioneers of Today

Working on our John Templeton Foundation research grant with its focus on “recruiting field data for cognitive science of religion (CSR) questions,” we have been exploring various approaches to collecting people’s ideas about spiritual beings and powers (what anthropologists call “SuperHuman Beings”) and the nature of rituals that are driven by those beliefs.


Lament of a Church Planter

5/12/17 in Church Planting

When a core group member leaves suddenly, or conflict erupts between two key missional community leaders, or your worship leader quits right before your public launch, how do you deal with the feelings of loss, pain, anger, and grief? When an unbeliever that you have befriended and baptized walks away from the faith, how do you pray? How do you navigate the chasm between how our theology says we ought to respond and how we actually feel?

Ducks and new Churches

Of New Ducks and New Churches

5/5/17 in Church Planting

They say that in their first hours of life, baby ducks will form a special bond with the first moving object that they see, whether it’s their mother, an unsuspecting human, or the family dog. They will begin to follow it, imitate it, and consequently, their behavior will begin to take the same shape as the entity to which they have bonded. They call this process imprinting.

Peter Lim

20 Years of Innovative Education in China

5/3/17 in Missiology Conversations

Have you heard about the extremely creative artwork displays at the annual International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in Harbin? I bet most of us have. But I bet not many of us are aware of the creativity in theological education in this capital city of the Heilongjiang Province.


Can We All Get Along? Los Angeles Civil Unrest, 25 years later

4/25/17 in Responses to World Events

Rodney King famously asked, a few days after the fires started, “Can we all get along?” In the early ’90s, a report from the mayor’s office had described LA as a mosaic, with distinct colors, each section vibrant and essential to the whole. The civil unrest of 1992 called into question this glowing image of our city. The many churches in our city had to face the question of how this happened in a city with so many churches.


Leaders Becoming Learners

4/7/17 in Missiology Conversations

Communal learning begins with leaderly learning—that is, with leaders as learners. For learning to be promoted and a culture of inquiry cultivated within a community, it is important that leaders become learners first. Accordingly, for spaces of communal learning to be created in their church or mission field, pastors and missionaries need to role model learning.


Four Ways to Strengthen the Church Planter’s Marriage

4/5/17 in Church Planting

How is your marriage going to survive or even thrive when you are doing all you can just to keep the church plant going?

Challenges for Women Church Planters Part 2 thumbnail

Challenges and Opportunities for Women Church Planters, Part 2

3/10/17 in Church Planting

Gender aside, church planting is not for the fainthearted. Yet (to use a decidedly feminine metaphor), just like the labor of childbirth, the extraordinary exertion—combined with some degree of pain—is temporary, and beyond worth it!

Women Church Planters Thumbnail

Challenges and Opportunities for Women Church Planters

2/22/17 in Church Planting

In 2010, I started one of the first two satellite churches for a large nondenominational church in Seattle. Not only did it feel very lonely, it is, in fact, very rare. I have yet to encounter a female lead pastor in an analogous situation. When I searched for data to substantiate my experience, it was also scant and difficult to find.

Nick Warnes

The Shrewd Ethics of Starting a New Church

2/8/17 in Church Planting

From house churches to churches with full-time vocational pastors, we have experienced a breadth of ecclesial expressions in our city. While many of the frameworks that our churches prioritize are different, we have noted 12 commonalities as expressed by our 12 core covenant values

Flags Thumbnail

Kingdom Embassies and Ambassadors

1/30/17 in Church Planting

“Where should we plant?” and “Who will be our church planter?” are two of the first questions our eager church planting commission asks as we hover over a detailed map of our North Texas region. Our team, with coffee in hand, has gathered this early morning filled with excitement and expectation as we analyze where new houses are being built.

Peach Blossom Thumbnail V2

Feeling Inadequate for the Task

1/23/17 in Church Planting

Sometimes, it seems, God calls us to persist in a given ministry, even though we feel ill-equipped, seem to take two steps back for every one step forward, and generally (in our own estimation, at least), kind of suck. We struggle, don’t see the fruit we hope for, and wonder aloud why God didn’t call someone with better skills to take on this challenge.


Different Pools, Different Fish: The Mistake of 'One Size Fits All' Solutions to the Challenge of Effective Outreach Among Muslims

1/18/17 in Reflections on Islam

“Different fields have different grasshoppers; different pools have different fish.” The wisdom of this Indonesian proverb has often been missed in discussions about Islam and how best to present a useful gospel witness to Muslims. Even many people wholeheartedly committed to reaching Muslims have made the mistake of treating Islam as a monolithic system and proposing “one size fits all” solutions to the challenge of effective outreach among Muslims.

Starting New Things Thumnail Lemonade Stand

What All Planters Have in Common: Starting New Things

1/11/17 in Church Planting

Apart from sensing a clear call from God to plant a church, what do most church planting leaders consider to be the strongest indicator of being a fruitful planter? The answer is a demonstrated track record of starting new things either inside or outside of the church.

David Singh Thumbnail

The Dynamics and Diversity of Islam: South Asian Perspectives

1/3/17 in Reflections on Islam

Well over 500 million Muslims live in South Asia. They reflect what one is familiar with elsewhere, not least in West Asia, but so also the diverse local cultural contexts where they were born and raised. Until recently, Muslims in South Asia were understandably largely overlooked...

Avatar Thumbnail

Do You Want an Avatar for Christmas?

12/21/16 in Missiology Conversations

When my avatar and my sister’s avatar spar in a text message, are she and I really in battle? Why does my avatar headset have less sound quality than my master sound system? Is Dick Tracy an avatar of Warren Beatty or is Warren Beatty an avatar of Dick Tracy? What IS an “avatar” anyway? Is “avatar” really another word for “incarnation?”

Gospel Heresy Thumbnail

Gospel Heresy

12/20/16 in Missiology Conversations

Heresy is a very strong word. In times past heretics (from one group’s perspective) were tortured, exiled, or killed for their beliefs. Therefore, we do not use the word lightly. It may be of value, however, to resurrect the word in Christian circles, because some of the “Christian” beliefs being espoused today compromise the gospel to such an extent that it may very well be heresy.

Seedless Watermelons Thumbnail

Seedless Watermelons and the Gospel

12/12/16 in Church Planting

One of the great inventions of history is seedless watermelon. I sometimes wonder if kids growing up today can even imagine a past when anyone eating watermelon would have to carry around a little bowl that would function as their seed-spittoon. I’ve thought quite a bit about seedless watermelons and the gospel, and it’s caused me to be convicted about my own faith.

got theological education thumbnail

Got theological education?

12/6/16 in Church Planting

Do church planters need a theological education? Should those of us guiding potential church planters encourage them to get a theological education? We’ve all heard the well-worn put-downs that seminary can be a spiritual cemetery and that people just need Jesus, not exegesis.

Hands Thumbnail

Anger, Peace, and God’s Mission

11/14/16 in Responses to World Events

On a number of occasions I have had a student, staff member, or faculty member sit in my office with fists clinched or teeth gritting as they describe an issue they are concerned about. Occasionally I will stop, look in their eyes, and make the observation: “You seem to have a lot of anger . . . where do you think that is coming from?”

Muslim Counternarrative Thumbnail

A Muslim Counter-Narrative to Challenge the Islamist Extremist Narrative

10/31/16 in Reflections on Islam

Two old Arab Bedouin sayings are as follows: I, against my brothers. I and my brothers against my cousins. I and my brothers and my cousins against the world (outsider/stranger); and: The length of our age is less than our spears. Early Islam demonstrated this adage as seen in the murders of the first three righteous Caliphates to the current Sunni–Shia and Salafi–Sufi conflict.

BLM Post Thumbnail

Black Lives Matter Through the Lens of Discourse Modalities

10/28/16 in Missiology Conversations

Why was the position “Black Lives Matter” (BLM) met with the response “All Lives Matter” (ALM)? I am not going to approach this issue from the paradigm of racial tensions in contemporary US society, but rather using a new approach that I call discourse modalities.

Islamic Diversity Thumb

Islamic Diversity and Missiological Response

10/19/16 in Reflections on Islam

Malik Mumtaz assassinated the governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province, Salman Taseer, in January 2011. He killed in cold blood, publicly, witnessed by many who did not move to stop him. Malik himself immediately and openly acknowledged what he had done.

Christian Muslim Relations Thumbnail

Christian-Muslim Relations: Are Missiologists Getting Brilliant on Old Ideas?

10/13/16 in Reflections on Islam

In 1985 when I was applying to PhD programs in economics I went to one of my ex-professors for advice on universities. I told him about one of the schools I had in mind and immediately he said: “If you go to that university you will get brilliant on old ideas.”

Election Photo Thumbnail

Flush Out Your Toxic Thinking about Islam before Election Day

10/5/16 in Reflections on Islam

As we approach election day, at a time when the question of Islam and Muslims in America has become so divisive, it would be easy to vote for the wrong candidate for the wrong reasons. In this brief reflection, I would like to point out a few mistakes that we often make in our thinking about Islam and Muslims.

Church Planting Palm Trees Thumbnail

Three Ways to Build a Church Planter Pipeline

9/26/16 in Church Planting

Where do church planters come from? This morning I got off the phone with a friend who is a denominational church planting leader. We both agreed that one of the major obstacles to planting more churches is the lack of identifiable pipelines for church planters.

Western Frontier Thumb

The Western Frontier

8/30/16 in Reflections on Islam

All too rarely does any discussion of Islam in Europe end on a positive note. Commonly, we hear about failures of integration, of the oppression of women and sexual minorities, and in extreme cases, the focus is on extreme acts of terrorism. The prospect that Europe could succumb to Islamic cultural domination is a nightmare that drives nativist and right-wing political parties.

Kali Reider Thumb

Holy Discontent

8/25/16 in Church Planting

My call story begins in my fifth grade science class when I learned about the cardiovascular system. I was utterly captivated by the heart and started dreaming about becoming an open heart surgeon. I knew from age 11 that I would be working on hearts, I just assumed at the time that it would be through surgery.

Food and Faith Thumbnail

Food and Faith

8/15/16 in Missiology Conversations

The Gospel of Luke includes many moments when food and eating become key events in the life and ministry of Jesus. Jesus ate with all kinds of people—friends, enemies, tax collectors, sinners, women, Pharisees, disciples—the list goes on. On several occasions, Jesus’ eating habits earned him such labels as “a glutton and a drunkard,” “a friend of tax-collectors and sinners,” one who “welcomes sinners and eats with them,” and “a guest of a sinner”.

Women in Islam Thumbnail

Breaching the Divide of Islam: Muslim Women at the Margins

8/3/16 in Reflections on Islam

What do Muslim women who advocate for a radical reinterpretation of Islam, Muslim women of the piety movement, and Muslim women activists for social change have in common?


A Call to Love Not to Fear

7/1/16 in Responses to World Events

It is tough loving our enemies: something Jesus calls us to do. Yes, there are reasonable fears about Muslim extremists today, but why don’t we start by loving our Muslim neighbors, who overwhelmingly are proud Americans and want to contribute to the good of our society?


Mission in a World Gone Wild and Violent: Challenging the Monochromatic View of Islam from a Silent Majority Position

6/17/16 in Reflections on Islam

How do we understand militant jihadism within the grander scheme of the Islamist and Salafist ideologies of the twentieth century? What does a twenty-first-century perspective on the Middle East and global developments tell us?

(626) 584-5200
(800) 235-2222
135 N. Oakland Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91182