Hey, hey, hey! I've got a NEW book coming out, co-written with the talented Andy Gray.
If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll know I'm not satisfied with the status quo in church and missions. I'm convinced we can do better.
But I'm not just another armchair critic.
I'm passionate about living this stuff, on the ground here in Asia, among the poor. And I want to see movements rise up from these poor communities - movements of the young, the marginalized and the overlooked.
And it's happening. It's actually happening - and spreading through Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East! As Jesus might say, these are new wineskins, for a new generation of change-makers.
So, Andy and I sat down and fleshed out the principles and practices, mine-fields and mistakes made along the way. And through it all we've weaved the inspiring stories of young people, Alongsiders, all over the world, who are at the forefront of bringing change to their own communities.
And then, because I love beauty and design, we asked Vancouver designer, Laura Lin, to make it beautiful, something inspiring to look at, as well as read.
So, here's how you can get in on the action, early.
Have a read of the intro below, and if you'd like to read more, fill in the form at the bottom to apply to join the Book Launch Team. You'll get a copy of the book in advance to read and review, and a few other freebies along the way (see more details below). And you'll be part of spreading this beautiful movement we call Alongsiders even further.
The Alongsiders Story (Intro)
The crisis in the church today is neither a loss of faith nor declining church attendance, for those are just symptoms. Rather, the church is failing to pass on to the next generation a vision for which they will lay down their lives.
But we can’t pass on what we haven't embraced ourselves, and many of us have settled for lives that fall short of Jesus’ vision of the Kingdom of God.
Young people want to take part in a story that will change the world, and they are the future of local churches everywhere. When they hear “the Kingdom of God is near,” they want to see it in reality and join in. But if they can't engage with the Kingdom here and now, they’re likely to settle for lesser pursuits of comfort, control, status, and wealth (or power and nationalism). When this happens, they forfeit their potential impact and lose their way.
But God’s Spirit is moving in this generation, whispering, “good news, the Kingdom of God is near,” for those who have ears to hear. Youth around the world, both within and outside the visible church, want to make a difference.
By connecting on social media and tapping into vast resources online, they have prompted uprisings, influenced elections, helped others in need, and campaigned for causes far and near, facing systems and self-serving leaders resistant to change.
They've had both striking successes as well as failures, but throughout history, young people have always been at the forefront of change. And today's youth are in a better position to influence history than the youth of any previous generation.
In every crisis there's an opportunity. Young people want change, and the good news is the Kingdom of God is here! What if we equipped and released a wave of young people as disciples of Jesus Christ, the greatest change-maker in history?
Imagine what they might do and become!
You may be thinking that we've already done that with Youth for Christ, Youth With a Mission, Campus Crusade, and many other large and small examples of Christian youth movements.
Though these movements have made deep impacts, none of them has originated outside the developed countries of the West. In the three movements named above, the patterns of discipleship (like Western Christianity in general) tend to emphasize head knowledge, belief change, and saving souls.
Their visions of the Kingdom of God are predominantly spiritual, future-oriented, and risk being disconnected from real world problems such as hunger, disease, and exploitation. Many of these movements were founded on the vision of mobilizing young people to serve outside their local communities and families, mirroring the individualism and compartmentalism in Western cultures. When such movements go global, they risk taking their Western vision, programs, and cultural mindsets with them.
But if the Kingdom of God is here, it's also in the “under-developed” countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, where the majority of people in the world live. It's revealed wherever people become disciples of Jesus Christ and begin living in a new way together.
Paul wrote, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come” (2 Cor 5:17). At the time, he was distressed that a group of teachers from the “mother church” in Jerusalem were transplanting religious and cultural baggage wherever they went. He insisted that the Corinthian Christians had everything they needed right where they were and based on their own experience in Christ.
So he told them to live by the Spirit in the new creation: to join actively in the Kingdom of God invading the here and now. Paul's thinking mirrors the life and teaching of Jesus. Jesus' discipleship was connected to everyday life and relationships: serve one another, forgive without limits, love your enemies, give freely, and put the “least” first.
Jesus' teaching was meant to be lived out in families and communities. It was so simple that he could pass on its essence in a single encounter. He demonstrated its power all the way to the Cross. Discipleship in the Kingdom of God that was pronounced by Jesus ushered in a new way of living and relating in the here and now.
Jesus didn't practice discipleship from the top down, nor did he hand off teachings or principles to be learned by rote. He communicated good news and practiced discipleship from ALONGSIDE in relationship.
If we want to follow his example, and if we believe people everywhere have equal access to the Kingdom of God in Christ, then we need to move beyond Christian initiatives that move from the West to the East (or the North to the South).
Imagine for a moment a youth movement initiated in the majority world, among people who are economically poor and marginalized.
Imagine a youth movement rooted in local families and communities, following the life and teaching of Jesus.
Then imagine those youth making disciples by walking alongside the next generation.
This book is about the growing worldwide movement of Alongsiders (now in 15 countries and counting). It will encourage and challenge you to look at Jesus with fresh eyes and embrace this movement, where those who seem to be “last” are leading the way.
Want to be part of the Book Launch for "The Alongsiders Story"?
Here's where it gets fun. I'm putting together a Book Launch Team with a limited number of places. We're looking for people who are committed and keen to help spread the word online. If you are chosen, here's what you'll gain access to:
- A FIRST LOOK at the new book (e-version) - you'll see it before anyone else
- An invitation to join the SECRET LAUNCH TEAM FACEBOOK GROUP - where I'll be posting resources and updates
- Exclusive access to VIDEO TEACHING from Alongsiders
- And for those who are in or visiting Cambodia, a free SIGNED COPY of the book and a cup of coffee with me!
If this sounds like something you'd like to be involved with, with a particular commitment during Launch Week, click below to apply...