July 2018 E-news from the Siburt Institute

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Thinking Globally for Renewal!

One of the most interesting and challenging books of the summer for me is Wesley Granberg-Michaelson’s Future Faith: Ten Challenges Reshaping Christianity in the 21st Century.[1] Although Granberg-Michaelson writes for church leaders in North America, his view is the global church. And that is where both the interest and the challenge emerge for me!

In many ways, his analysis of Christianity in the United States is sobering. North American Christianity is in significant decline; however, Granberg-Michaelson offers ample evidence of significant growth in other parts of the world. Asia, Africa and Latin America are experiencing Christian expansion and development in amazing ways. Granberg-Michaelson notes that the center of our faith is neither the west nor the U.S. but rather in the global south. This shift away from Europe and North America may not have an immediate impact on the church you attend, but I suspect that most of us can already see evidence of the decline. Simply put, churches in the U.S. (generally speaking) are smaller, older and less influential.

In response, church leaders can wring their hands, or perhaps they might ask, as Granberg-Michaelson does, what God is doing in the world and what we need to change, renew, repent of or address to participate more fully in his work! The book offers more than I can review in this essay, so I will say more over the next couple of months. To begin, let me offer a few observations.

Granberg-Michaelson makes a convincing case that much of what passes for North American Christianity is based on a worldview in which the Christian faith engaged the world of the Enlightenment and emerged with the following assumptions:

  1. Individual rights matter more than community.
  2. Rational explanations are stronger than supernatural explanations.
  3. The material world is the world that matters for public conversations, scientific exploration and civic discourse. Completely separate from the material and observable reality, the spiritual world is private, personal and usually suspect!

These assumptions – so deeply woven into western thought – are not held by most people in the world, and in the places where Christianity is growing, these three assumptions are simply not in play. In other words, where Christianity is thriving:

  1. Community means more than individualism.
  2. God is alive and powerfully at work.
  3. The spiritual and material worlds are deeply connected.

This gives me pause as I consider what North American Christianity often emphasizes. Maybe it causes you to ponder as well! I’ll share more next month as we explore global resources for renewal.



[1] Published by Fortress Press, 2018.


ElderLink comes to San Antonio, Oct. 27

We’re pleased to announce a new ElderLink seminar in San Antonio this October! The event will feature Randy Harris, ACU Bible instructor and spiritual director for the Siburt Institute and the College of Biblical Studies. This seminar will be relevant for any adult engaged in congregational ministry – whether as elder/shepherd, minister, deacon, ministry leader or spouse.

Mark your calendars for Saturday, Oct. 27. Registration opens in early August at acu.edu/elderlink. We hope to see you there!

Henegar asks, ‘Are the doors of your church really open?’

While churches are often welcoming spaces, it can be easy to miss some of the barriers that stop new people from ever venturing inside. In her latest CHARIS article, “Are the Doors of Your Church Open?”, Dr. Amy Bost Henegar explores some of the simple things that may make our perpetual invitation to “come as you are” fall on deaf ears. Henegar is a minister for the Manhattan Church of Christ in New York City and one of the leaders of the Community of Women Ministers.

Deadline extended for Summer Seminar with Randy Harris

Interested persons now have until Sunday, July 29, to register for this year’s Summer Seminar with Randy Harris, Aug. 3-4 on ACU’s campus. In this weekend intensive Bible course, Harris will bring together several colleagues to explore the topic, “The Gospel and Culture: What’s a Christian to Do?” The cost is $60 per person. Final deadline: Register by July 29.

Reminder: explore ‘Why Preaching Matters!’ with Rick Atchley

Join us for the “Why Preaching Matters!” Lunch and Learn event with Rick Atchley (’78) on Thursday, Aug. 30, at 11:30 a.m. in ACU’s Hunter Welcome Center. The cost is $15 per person, and the deadline to register is Aug. 23.

Learn the Enneagram with Casey McCollum at Summit 2018

“You are your own nemesis, your own biggest problem, because there is a relationship between the best version of you and the worst version of you. What they have in common is that both of them are you.” – John Ortberg

At first glance, the Enneagram (pronounced ANY-uh-gram) is a personality-typing system that helps us understand who we are and what motivates us. In reality, it’s much more than that.

The Enneagram identifies nine ways of seeing and experiencing the world and describes with amazing accuracy how we think, feel and act. It is a helpful tool for navigating all kinds of relationships because it not only helps us understand ourselves, but also gives us compassion for other people in our lives. The Enneagram itself doesn’t change us, but it helps us see who we truly are and gives us clear steps for transformation, to be more like Jesus.

Join Enneagram teacher Casey McCollum on the Wednesday of Summit, Sept. 19, and learn which of the nine types you identify with as well as how to use the Enneagram for yourself, your home congregation, work or family.

Find more information about speakers, times and locations at acu.edu/summit.



  • “The world should hold Christians to a high standard, but not to one higher than we hold for ourselves. Grace is not a pass for bad behavior. The love Christ has for us compels us to manifest  a quality of human generosity and kindness that surpasses what any law could legislate. When we claim to belong to Christ, others should expect to experience something special through us.” – Don McLaughlin, Love First
  • “Jesus spends a whole night in prayer prior to making the most important decision of his ministry – the appointing of the apostles. For Jesus, decision making is not just a matter of calculating pros and cons and weighing in on this or that – it is seeking the mind of the Father, who is generous with wisdom.” – Randy Harris, “Spirituality for the Busy, Frantic, and Overwhelmed,” in Like a Shepherd Lead Us: Guidance for the Gentle Art of Pastoring (Dr. David Fleer and Dr. Charles Siburt, Editors)

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