A recent comment notes that I have not addressed how to catalyze Urban Disciple Making Movements. In my reply, I noted that this is true and noted that there are no known urban DMMs, yet.
There are rapidly replicating movements that are happening near major urban centers, but most of these are still happening among people with more of a rural mindset/worldview. Social scientists have long noted that urbanization radically impacts the way people see life, themselves and their relationships with others.
Some believe that the strong multi-generational family structure is radically altered by urbanization. It is intriguing to watch the response to some of these challenges that has arisen in China. The efforts to ride the wave of opportunity have separated many of their young professionals from parents and grandparents who still reside in the rural regions. With wealth, responsibility and distractions, many of these young professionals are choosing to break the cultural expectations by refusing to go “home” during their breaks. Laws have been passed which allow their parents to prosecute such lapses.
Planting the seed of the gospel into such families will not follow the same route as the rural settings of many of the movements in Africa. Some doubt it can happen at all.
Any honest strategist will tell you that we have much to learn about launching movements in megalopolises. Reaching the adult grandchildren whose parents and grandparents lived their whole lives in New York City will look very different than those in Buck Snort, Tennessee.
It will still take meaningful contact where God’s nature is overtly discussed. It will continue to require a Discovery process whereby worldview is shifted into a kingdom of God outlook. Discipling people to trust Jesus will continue to be a process. The tactics will shift, though.
Take a look with me at the Samaritans. When Assyria took the ten northern tribes captive, they moved people from other nations they conquered into the region to harvest the crops so Assyria could receive taxes. (Wars are most often fought over economic resources.) Israel was valuable for the crops raised there and also the tariffs that could be charged for the products that came to and from the Far East and Africa. Nearby seaports like Tyre and Sidon gained great wealth as transportation hubs, while Israel exported wheat, barley, wine and olive oil. The rulers in Nineveh wanted people there to avoid losing the wealth to be had. Here’s how 2 Kings 17:24-26 is stated in The Message:
The king of Assyria brought in people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, and relocated them in the towns of Samaria, replacing the exiled Israelites. They moved in as if they owned the place and made themselves at home. When the Assyrians first moved in, God was just another god to them; they neither honored nor worshiped him. Then God sent lions among them and people were mauled and killed.
This message was then sent back to the king of Assyria: “The people you brought in to occupy the towns of Samaria don’t know what’s expected of them from the god of the land, and now he’s sent lions and they’re killing people right and left because nobody knows what the god of the land expects of them.”
Saul reveals humanity clothed in self-reliance. David knows he cannot trust these things, “because I am not used to them.” Yes, he has experience with his staff, smooth stones and his sling. But David is not relying on these, or himself. David knows that the battle belongs to the Lord. This confrontation is much like the one that will happen hundreds of years latter between Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. Goliath has defied the God of Israel. His failure to recognize Who is really reigning is fundamental.
David and Goliath is a story about a crisis of belief. Saul should lead Israel to battle by confronting Goliath. That was what the people said they wanted a king to do. But in David we see God’s willingness to use the least likely to accomplish His purpose. God will get the glory for the victory over the giant and the Philistines.
Who do we trust, really?
Do we as parents live more like David or Saul? When our lives entail giants which appear capable of swatting us away like a fly, do we wait for someone else, like Saul waited? Do our children see us drawing confidence from our earlier experiences of God’s provision? What are the lion and bear stories from your life journey with God?
Are you depending on your technology more than on the Creator? Are you happy to have someone else face your giants with simple faith? Are you keen to see the deficiencies in your resources and stay on the back lines of the conflict?
How we tell the story is important. How we live it is more significant, though.
In the story line of 1 Samuel, the encounter of David and Goliath contrasts the worldview of David with that of King Saul. God has chosen Saul to be the king the people thought they wanted. Standing head and shoulders above his peers, Saul is the one who is supposed to lead the people into battle. While the conversation between David and the giant is significant to the story, the one between David and Saul is crucial. It appears this story is taken out of chronological order (the general arrangement of the book). The narrator has already introduced David’s presence in Saul’s court when he comes to play the harp. David has already been anointed to be the next king in an earlier overview section.
The conflict with the Philistines and especially with Goliath reveals a fundamental difference between Saul and David–their views of God and how that affects their approach to warfare against their enemies. Saul relies on himself and his armor. Often the artwork illustrating this scene presents a boy who is twelve or younger foolishly trying to mimic an adult. Saul’s actions, though, are not foolish because David is too small, the issue is contained in the question, “In what/whom are you trusting?”
It is great that the stories of the Bible are so integral to children’s curricula. But I am concerned that it often focuses too heavily on exploring what the human characters do.
Consider the story of David and Goliath. Traditional approaches make David the hero, whose behavior is to be imitated. Goliath is the villain and his behavior is to be avoided (if his role is explored at all). The actions of King Saul and the other soldiers (for example, David’s brothers) are also noted as negative examples of fear.
But the main character of this story is too often ignored.
Who is this story really about? Ask David. Whose reputation is David concerned about? How is it that David has so much confidence when everyone around him is terrified? David’s heroic behavior arises from his worldview that sets his beliefs and grounds his values. David knows who the main character is–God!
David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. (1 Samuel 17:45, 46 NIV)
I want to create a dialogue about the spiritual formation of children. Realize that 35% of the world’s population falls in the ages of 4-14 years old. What if we adapted the best of chronological storying, discovery processes and obedience-based discipleship to the character development of children? What if we began to intentionally form the worldview of the children around us? What if we developed materials that others could use to shape the worldview of their children?
Most of the worldview studies I have read assume people already have a developed worldview since they are largely discussing adults. My earlier posts explored the value of using storying to reset worldview in people who grew up with something other than a Judeo-Christian one. A discovery process is critical to allow the biblical message to sink deep enough for a Kingdom of Heaven worldview to begin replacing the existing worldview. For children, the process is simpler since it is about the initial formation of the answers to the critical questions.
Kwast, “Understanding Culture”
Parenting often focuses on the “Behavior–What is done?” level. We want our children to behave in ways that allow them to fit into their culture. We want them to stand out as exceptional, without standing out as “weird.” We want them to value things the way we do. We want them to believe like we do. But often we fail to consider the question of “What is real?” We assume the answers we have for such a question are self-evident, thus they will automatically be held by our children. Is such an assumption wise?
While behavior is important, the emerging values, beliefs and worldview which drive it are critical. Be sure your parenting and grand parenting goes deeper!