Thanks to all those who put on the Conference. It was so good to meet a bunch of different people involved in ministry among Asian Indians (church planters, missionaries, pastors, counselors, etc) and to hear of what God is doing in different parts of the country, even the world.
Some of the things I came away with:
» We need to plant a church where Jesus is central to everything. Christians often read the Bible with moralistic lenses. And so the point of Abraham’s story, or Joseph’s story, or Moses’ story is ultimately to “be like” Abraham, Joseph, and Moses. We need to plant a church where every story is connected to the larger story that points to Jesus. We need to plant a church where the hero of every story is the same – Jesus Christ.
» We need to plant a church where the Gospel is central to everything. The conference reminded me that often we see the Gospel as the point of entry into Christian faith, but then something to be advanced beyond. It’s like we say to Jesus, “Thank you for getting me in… but I can take it from here.” It’s as if we believe the Gospel to become a Christian, but then move onto more “mature” things like fasting, witnessing, missions, etc. The Gospel is the power for life, both coming to life and living out the new life in Christ. We need to plant a church where the Gospel is rooted right in the middle of who we are.
» Asian Indians are generally highly educated and very rich. Of course that might be a huge generalization and is not the rule, but just an observation. Many in the Indian community are college-educated homeowners who have great jobs and drive nice cars. So what will a church look like that might draw these kinds of folks? How will the foolishness of the cross, and the call to sacrifice of means and comfort, and prizing Christ above every earthly treasure, and extending mercy to the poor, all be received by these folks? We’ll need to think through what it means to plant a church that in some ways engages an educated and affluent people. If nothing else…I’m pretty sure it means I’ll have to get another degree and we’ll have to give me a huge salary!
» Met up with a great guy who has done extensive demographic studies of the Indian community in Philadelphia. Interestingly, two of the areas we are looking at, Northeast Philadelphia and the University area, are highly populated with non-Christian Indians. Let’s be prayerful that God would raise up laborers to work in this huge harvest.
» Reconnected with a brother who is planting a church in Jersey to reach Asian Indians and their peers. This fall he will be trying to gather a Core Group together and cast a vision for the church through a study of the Gospel of Luke. It was so good to hear his progress, his struggles, and his burden for this work. He had this great attitude that basically said – “I sense a need for this kind of church plant. I feel God has called me. It’s hard and discouraging at times. I don’t want to fail, but even if I do, I feel God has a purpose in all this. Maybe, we’ll just lead the way and the next generation will do it right.” Amen. Let’s be prayerful for him.
Plus, I got to hang out with Saju and Cibil in NY which is always fun. Overall, it was a great weekend of learning and connecting.