Pressure Points: An Interview with J.D. PayneBy David Burnette
J.D. Payne has agreed to answer a few questions about his latest book, Pressure Points: Twelve Global Issues Shaping the Face of the Church. You can now pre-order the book, which is published by Thomas Nelson and is set to release in mid-July.
Along with being a professor, a missiologist, and a rather prolific author, J.D. is the Pastor of Church Multiplication at The Church at Brook Hills. He blogs at “Missiologically Thinking,” where you can find a list of other books he has authored. You can also subscribe to J.D.’s vodcast, “Multiplication Matters.”
As the title suggests, his latest book explores twelve “pressure points” that are having a massive impact today on the church and its mission. The 12 pressure points J.D. discusses are as follows:
- Unreached People Groups
- The West as a Mission Field
- Growth of the Majority World Church
- Pluralism and the Plurality of Faiths
- International Migration
- Growth of the Cities
- Children and Youth
- Health Care
- Oral Learners
- Pornification of Societies
1. J.D., can you begin by explaining what a pressure point is?
JD: A pressure point in the book is a global issue that is influencing the present and future of the Church and mission. Pressure can be something harmful, but it can also be something that is beneficial.
Jesus has overcome the world and has promised to build His Church. However, from the first century until now, the Church has experienced pressures across the centuries.
As the Church experiences a point of pressure, the reality is that She will change. Change is unavoidable. The question of concern, in light of any pressure point, is how should the Church respond while remaining faithful to the Lord and His Commission?
2. What would you say to a pastor of a small congregation who doesn’t see the relevance of these pressure points to his weekly ministry?
JD: I would say that they are influencing the church whether or not he recognizes the immediate impact. If he is concerned about leading the church to make disciples of all nations, then as soon as teams from that church go into all the world—both across the street and across the countries—they will find themselves having to use strategies and methods in response to today’s global realities.
3. I expected to see factors such as globalization and pluralism, but others were eye-opening, such as children and youth. Were there particular pressure points that surprised you?
JD: Eleven of these twelve have been discussed by missiologists for some time. These, and others, were addressed at length at Cape Town 2010, the third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization. The biggest surprise for me was the inclusion of what I refer to as the pornification of societies in chapter twelve. About two months before my writing deadline, I felt a strong leading of the Lord to examine this matter. I quickly became convinced that this is not only an international reality, but also one that affects the sending of missionary teams and teaching new believers and churches how to obey Jesus in such sex-saturated societies.
4. In the first chapter, you refer to cross-cultural work as the “need of the hour.” Why is this the case?
JD: There are over 3000 unengaged-unreached people groups in the world. There are about 540 unreached people groups in the United States and Canada. Until churches begin sending missionary teams to make disciples by crossing slightly different and radically different cultures—both within North America and across the world—these peoples will remain unengaged, and also unreached.
5. What difference does it make for our witness that the U.S. is no longer a Protestant-majority country?
JD: This reality is part of a process that is forcing the Church in the U. S. to return to an apostolic understanding of Her missionary task. The Church is operating less and less from a position of significant influence. The country-at-large is less likely to look to the Church for guidance on issues of morality, ethics, wisdom, and spiritual matters. She may speak, but not be taken too seriously. Protestants become a voice among many often conflicting voices in our pluralistic society.
6. Why are the statistics in chapter 9 related to the seismic demographic shifts in the world so important for us to know?
JD: That is the chapter on children and youth. We in the West must recognize that while our societies are growing older, children and youth comprise large percentages of the Majority World. We not only have to think through the cross-cultural aspects of such ministry but also matters related to ministering across generations. Matters such as these influence how we minister to families in light of such demographics. Not only are children and youth susceptible to evils such as trafficking, poverty, disease, street life, etc., they are sometimes some of the most receptive to the gospel. They are a potential powerhouse for Kingdom advancement. They are often highly connected socially and technologically. In some parts of Africa, many young people are alone without mothers and fathers. Children and youth across the world need to be challenged and equipped to obtain marketable skills and degrees that would best position them for the multiplication of disciples and churches wherever the Lord may call them.
7. Most Christians realize that pornography is a problem in our own culture, but you argue that this epidemic affects missions worldwide. Can you elaborate?
JD: We often think it is an exclusively U. S., or Western problem. Not true. The pornography industry is a global industry. Western pornography is not only showing up in Majority World cities, but also in their remote villages. Many Majority World countries are producing their own pornography. The web allows free pornography to know no geographical or cultural boundaries. Major search engines are reporting that large numbers of pornographic searches and downloads are coming from predominately Muslim countries.
The tentacles of this beast will shape how the Church reaches other peoples with the gospel, but also how She teaches them to obey Christ in areas of sexuality, masculinity, femininity, the family, and raising up pastors from within newly planted churches.
Despite the massive challenges facing the church identified in this book, J.D.’s final paragraph offers a word of hope for Christ’s church:
“As we remain in the Word, walking in the light as He is in the light, His leadership will keep us on the right path. Apart from abiding in Him, all of our strategies, methods, desires, and interests are worthless for the sake of the kingdom. Greater is He who is in us than are the pressure points in the world” (p. 172).