Best & Worst (M’sian Christianity)

In no particular order of importance

1. Bookstores
A round of applause to …
MPH – for bringing in McLaren’s A New Kind of Christian Series & expanding their Christianity section plus some great value buys!
SUFES – for bringing in excellent stuff from Eerdmans, WJK (got some good Brueggemann stuff Hope for the World plus The Bible Makes Sense)
& IVP (a surprise was Kingdom Ethics!)
Glad Sounds – for bringing in gems from Fortress Press (Ted Peter’s GodThe World’s Future, Second Edition: Systematic Theology for a New Era is a good read) & Zondervan (Happy Kimball’s The Emerging Church is on the selves!)
Evangel – for providing treasures hidden here and there. Glad to see McLaren’s the Church on the other side (for an excerpt) in paperback! C. Norman Kraus’ An Intrusive Gospel was one of the nice presents I got myself here!
Equipper – for having a great sale especially for the Message Remix & Renovation of the Heart.

2. Emerging Conversations & Connections (TQ Streamyx)
With a more affordable broadband pricing. My downloads have been much faster. And it makes conversations going on through the internet and blogsphere with friends (especially Jason Clark lately & new friends whom I’m surprised delightfully get connected!) whom have the similar passion, vision & direction in life & ministry much more relaxing without worrying about money! (Still hoping Todd Hunter blogs soon! Miss his insights a lot! For now I’ll just read A Kingdom Christmas)

3. Press Coverage
I’m not too sure about the other languages, but at least for the English speaking papers (cf. New Straights Times & The Star) I do see more coverage from Christians involved in social work as well as the recent Christmas celebrations. Occassionally, insightful articles by Christians get some air-play to (at least in this print form!)

4. Asian Mission Conference
Though it was actually organized in S’pore but we Malaysian’s were pretty much given a chance to be more involved. It’s still too early to see how it has impacted Malaysian Christianity, but it has at least impacted me (For a glimpse of the benefits here’s day 1)!

5. Christmas Card from New Prime Minister
Ok … I got three cards … one to Pastor, the other to Pastor Sivin, then Rev. Sivin. 🙂 It’s the thought that counts and some effort made to connect with at least 1500 Christian leaders in the country. And it’s the first time!

I recognize it’s not very “Christian” (apparently to use the word worst), so as a disclaimer I do believe our weak efforts or sinful attempts are still redeem-able under the Grace of GOD! I’ll try to sneak in some good words as well (since it is the end of the year!)

1. Book & Music Publishing
I must admit I’m thankful for the growing quantity of Malaysian Publications both in music and books (check out the loads of new Malaysian produced CDs). However, the quality is still uneven and in some cases need more hard work. My sincere requests :
– please improve the content of writing (cf. more theologically reflective, Biblically informed, and in the case of those already more reflective – please make yourself more accessible).
– please improve on the cover & design as well (cf. here some do better than others!)

special note: An exceptional example to follow is Tan Soo Inn’s Making Sense – a quality book that’s affordable!

2. Conference Overload
It’s an irony some of think the more conferences we organize, the more impact we are making in our nation when in actual fact we may grow “numb” by attending conferences or simply overloaded with information & ideas that stiffles the possibility of genuine creativity that’s already within us. Strange but while this is happening, people like me become very “discerning” (or choosy) in deciding what seminar or conference to go to. So, I got mixed feelings with this. Maybe it’s not the fault of the organizers (we do need resources – I personally benefitted a lot from the Crossways See Through the Scriptures seminar ), it could be our attitude that needs revising (i.e. we need to do the hardwork of creative & constructive efforts too!).

3. Pseudo-Intellectualism (or hidden anti-intellectualism)
There seems to be more and more Christian leaders with a “Dr.” as a title. At times, it’s a genuine one (cf. a theological achievement, decent doctorate of ministy, maybe a medical doctor or from some other academic discipline – all this are good and helpful), sadly a lot of what we have nowadays are Doctorates of theology or even ministry that has the appearance of deep thought (with high flying rhetoric) from minds who’ve skipped the plunge of real hardwork that would truly benefit the Body of Christ in Malaysia in the long term (for more check Free PhD? Short Cut Doctorates?). We leaders are held extra accountable for our teaching & actions! many Christians are mirroring a version of Christianity that might notbe able to out-live, out-think or out-love forces that works against the kingdom of God. Kyrie Eleison …

4. Fragmented Theological Education & Ministry Training
Organizationally, The good news is there’s more opportunities to learn. Bible schools, training centres, even distance learning programmes are beginning to flourish across the Christian community (cf. more organizations). However, we are still duplicating a lot of resources and efforts. There isn’t enough sharing of ideas and resources (cf. networking) that would focus our energies…

STM & Malaysian Care’s joint programme is a good way forward (there’s still a long way to go when it comes to genuine partnership).

Another aspect is our current training either is strong on theological emphasis or methodological emphasis thus another kind of fragmentation. My question is “how can we have some models that bring integration to theological, spiritual & ministerial formation?” (From disicpleship level to leadership level)

Some ideas “bubbling” in my mind …. at least from a local church pastor perspective! Need to talk with some people – sounds like another long term project.

5. Leadership Transition/Succesion Hump
I was encouraged to hear of the vibrancy & longevity of some leaders who in their 50’s or even 60’s are going strong in their service for God in Malaysia and beyond. People like this easily come to mind.

I do also see some potential younger leaders in the late 20’s or early 30’s “hidden” somewhere or “emerging” and doing good work. Sad to say, I can’t see many in my denomination – at least not enough …

And we definately lack “mentoring” even “co-mentoring” …. many feel we maybe walking on our own unless conscious effort is made to be accountable to another person. Organizationally, some efforts might be in place but true transition and succession is very much a relational work! And in our case a spiritual process that needs “Spirit-discernment”…

A bit speechless for this one … more prayer needed!

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