Some timely resources with some explanation . . .
- The future of post COVID-19 missions
- How statistics can be helpful (or not)!
- Podcasts and leaders in digital ministry
COVID-19 and Missions
You may be familiar with Operation World for the global prayer resources they provide. This little book is really no different. Mandryk, in concert with voices of leaders from around the world, has compiled some, self-admitted, speculations about the mid to post Covid-19 World, especially when in comes to missions. Some of the more helpful bits to me were his reflections on how sending, training, and organizing missionaries will have to change.
I first came across this at lausanne.org and you can download it below.
I have found lausanne.org a natural place to peruse for resources on global mission during this time. Lausanne is an evangelical coalition of Christians (first founded by, among others, Billy Graham and John Stott). Take some time to explore all of their content, the variety of voices from around the world has made me wiser about our current moment.
Also, as you think about missions, here’s an infographic from our organization to help you think about missions in your context. Breaking down the goal of missions into these categories has aided us as we follow along this progression with our church plants here in Madagascar.
As churches continues to decentralize their more and more, it becomes even more important for each of us as Christians to find our place in the Task picture above. No one Christian can complete the Missionary Task. It is actually a Church effort where everyone, whether accountant, artist or theologian, has a part to play in one or multiple sectors of this task.
We’ve been working recently to learn better ways of gathering and reporting data for our mission here and I’ve been reminded many times of Kahneman’s warnings in Thinking Fast and Slow. A respected expert, Kahneman’s dense book walks through multiple ways we misunderstand and misapply statistics on a daily basis, especially because of media.
Kahneman worked as a researcher in the field of psychology, and is especially interested in decision theory. His thesis, over a lifetime of research, is that we are not rational thinkers. Instead, we resort to a plethora of what Kahneman calls heuristics (cognitive traps or biased ways of thinking). As he himself explains, “This is the essence of intuitive heuristics: when faced with a difficult question, we often answer an easier one instead, usually without noticing the substitution” (12-13).
The novel corona virus has made everything more complex. But sometimes it looks like we’re replacing these complex questions with easier ones. Especially in the current onslaught of statistics in the media, you may find this book helpful. Kahneman winds through example after example of particular traps (heuristics) we use unaware: we are highly suggestible, we are naturally lazy thinkers, we abhor loss, we are overly optimistic, we don’t learn inductively, our intuitions suspect, our memory trumps experience, etc.
Throughout his book, Kahneman challenges the notion that we are rational thinkers. We need tools, strategies, and even better language to help us think things through. The best application, most likely, is to slow down in situations you recognize may incite cognitive traps instead of accepting the first answers that present themselves. So, instead of immediately sharing that scintillating new graph, we should think through whether something means what we think it does.
Speaking of statistics . . . a new podcast from Barna. For years, Barna has sought to equip church leaders with real time data. Barna’s ChurchPulse Weekly podcast is now what I listen to every week as I race around for groceries. Every week they seem to improve upon the last, digging deeper into data about church attendance, race, cultural trends, and digital ministry. They’ve also hosted a range of voices who have helped me think through our changing context here (even when the contexts are vastly different!) The most recent one was again on digital ministry.
043 | The Impact of COVID on Pastors' Spiritual Lives and How People Don't Think Theologically with Rich Villodas – ChurchPulse Weekly
- 043 | The Impact of COVID on Pastors' Spiritual Lives and How People Don't Think Theologically with Rich Villodas
- 042 | Rich Villodas on How to Provide Pastoral Care During a Pandemic Plus Barna Data on the Lack of Digital Spiritual Formation Offerings in Churches
- 041 | How the COVID Crisis is Impacting Women's Ministry and What the Church Can Do to Engage Them More Effectively With Vivian Mabuni
- 040 | Craig Groeschel on Leading His Team Through the COVID Crisis and What He's Learned About Crisis Leadership
- 039 | Francis Chan on How He Responds to Attacks and Disappointments, Ways to Avoid Burnout, and the Mental and Emotional Impact of COVID on Leaders
This is the second time they’ve hosted Nona Jones. She does a great job helping leaders on social media think not about mere “reaches” or “likes” but actual engagement for discipleship. I’ve dropped a more extended talk by her below if anyone is interested. She also has a book, From Social Media to Social Ministry, that I have not yet read, though I’m sure it’s also helpful based on what I’ve heard from her.