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The Christian Information Problem

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Nik Ripken ministries states well a serious Christian information problem, but seems curiously shy about stating the solution. We are given a pinprick of light where we really need a searchlight.

The problem:

"[It is] is not about money. It is about who sets the agenda for God’s people.

"Those early years in Somalia were horrific as we buried scores of children, witnessed an abuse of women which became the norm, and encountered an environment that was potentially worse when we left than when we arrived. As our ministry grew in Somalia, believers from all over the world responded spontaneously to the need. Sometimes as much as $10,000 a month was given to this ministry from unexpected places around the globe. Such sacrifice became the norm.

"Then Black Hawk went down.

"Our team was not very far away from that tragic event. Many young American Rangers lost their lives. Possibly more than 700 Somalis were killed. It was a horrible time. In such an environment, episodes as these were not unexpected, though this particular event broke our hearts and had unforeseen consequences. Immediately after “Black Hawk Down,” gifts to our ministry from believers and churches around the world went from $10,000 a month to $100. I was shocked, confused, and then hurt. For the first time in my life I understood clearly who sets the agenda for the church, for the bride of Jesus Christ. Perhaps I was naïve, as I believed that the church received her marching orders from the Bible and the Holy Spirit.

"The truth was, and is, who sets the agenda for the church in the West is most often Fox News and CNN.

"...Can we pause a moment and ask ourselves, who sets the agenda for the people of God? Where do you get your information? What sources influence the decisions made by the church, where it goes and what it does? ...Seldom do we as a church spend a great deal of time in prayer and Bible study before deciding where to go and what to do in regard to ministry. Is the church, across denominational lines, gathering together, informing one another, breaking bread together, reading our Bibles, and then deciding where the Holy Spirit would have us go both across the street and across the globe?

"Or are we turning on the television, tuning in Fox News or CNN and then rushing to the famine of the week, involving ourselves in stopping human trafficking, or being inundated by the next civil war with the ensuing images of yet more women and children at risk? From where does the church get her agenda?

"It’s not about the $10,000. It’s about the need for the people of God kneeling before the throne of God seeking the will of God that haunts me."

[Website home page as of 5/24/14, posted December 30, 2013, Title: "Fox News & CNN
by Nik Ripken" (a pen name)]

Ripken gives the solution but a glancing blow as he asks, "Is the church, across denominational lines, gathering together, informing one another, breaking bread together, reading our Bibles, and then deciding where the Holy Spirit would have us go both across the street and across the globe?"

Ripken doesn't show us a picture of the whole range of Bible-commanded causes that suffers, beyond his own, because the communication he describes is the rare exception.

Ripken doesn't address the "noninvolvement theologies" that actually insist it would be wrong - a distraction from "[what's left of] the Gospel" - to "get involved" opposing evils promoted by governments, because that is "politics" which is "controversial", violating the 14th Commandment in Chapter 3 of Second Denominations.

Ripken doesn't address the Biblical mandate for Church to be a place where concerned individuals are allowed to share their concerns, as God leads,in real time, not as the time-strapped pastor pre-approves. (1 Corinthians 14. Also Hebrews 10:24-25 describes church as a place where members are allowed to "exhort one another" and even "provoke one another to love and good works".)

Ripken doesn't address the tremendous force of habit and tradition in America's churches that resists any kind of network of communication allowed by the pastor to be made available to interested members. The resistance is not just from pastors, but church boards, members, the public, everybody.

I created a nonprofit, The Partnership Machine, Inc., to be a vehicle for this kind of intra-church Christian information. I reasoned that if for example home schoolers, prolifers, gun rights groups, would combine their mailing lists they would have a circulation great enough to hire reporters, attract advertisers, and create a full service Christian information newspaper honoring God and printing the truth while competing with large newspapers.

I couldn't imagine how prolifers and home schoolers, for example, could find any more doctrinal compatibility in the world than with each other. Yet when I approached them, neither would cooperate in this way with the other, fearing that some of their followers might be "offended" by their sister cause, a possibility I thought remote. But for fear of this possibility, they would rather stick with reaching 10,000 people twice a year than 100,000 weekly or more.

Following Scripture, such Christian information flow needs to allow respectfully expressed, sincerely held dissent, a thing ironically natural for pagans but not for church people.

So how do I close an article like this? I don't know the ending yet. I'm still waiting.

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