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December 19, 2006


drew moser

I look forward to reading your article. I too have been wrestling with McGavren and the implications of his thoughts for future church growth strategy. This should help me connect some dots.

matthew krabill

it was good to hear some of your reflections following our class this quarter. i look forward to round 2 when your article is published.

alex perdigueros

hi ryan,

i was part of the every nation school of campus ministry fall 2005 and i took 2 subjects under you. i need to get in touch with you ASAP. i hope you read this soon. can you email me and i'll try to write or call you back? thanks.

Chuck Warnock

Ryan, I look forward to reading the article. McGavran's bio on Wikipedia is very inadequate -- I added some stuff, but he deserves better. I'm in Branson/Roxburgh's DMin cohort. Hope to see on campus in Jan 07.

Alan Hirsch

Ryan, when is the article appearing? I remain convinced that McGavren was the only real true church growth exponent ever. He is very close to being what we would call 'missional' today.

Matt Myers

Is the article somewhere to download?

Dan Sheffield

I will look forward to the Missiology article. It is interesting how many people think McGavran developed his materials on his own initiative when he specifically identifies Methodist missionary, Bishop Pickett and Pickett's massive research project in India, as the foundation for his analysis. Even most of McGavran's key factors were articulated by Pickett in the 1930s. But.. I'm sure you've integrated all that into your article, so...

jared looney

Ryan, I think this article will be pretty helpful for me. When do you expect it to be out?



Dear Ryan, on a totally different track. I was wondering whether you could email me or post and thoughts on the recent critique of Brian McLaren by David Hesselgrave in the latest Evangelical Missions Quarterly (43:1, Jan 2007) entitled "Brian McLaren's contextualization of the gospel" (p. 92-100).

Brian is coming to Malaysia in March 3-5 for some meetings. So, we'll have a chance to interact with him then. But any thoughts from you? or Prof. Eddie Gibbs?

Dan Wilt

I'm very interested in considering the content of the article and its relevance to the worship leadership/creative community within the emerging church community, Ryan.

We have much to engage, and quickly, for our worldview to turn in time to have effect in the now.


to echo Dan, I'd be interested too with the content of your paper.


Like the new look of the blog, we met at the ASCG conference in KC a few months ago.


Thanks for the interest -- I'm told it will be in the upcoming issue of Missiology -- will link to it when it becomes available...

Sivin - I didn't see your request until after the date -- I will look into that article...


Thanks Ryan for taking note of the request. I'm still interested to hear your views.

Andy Rowell

Here is the bibliographic information for Ryan's article:
Practice movements in global information culture: looking back to McGavran and finding a way forward By: Bolger, Ryan K. Source: Missiology, 35 no 2 Ap 2007, p 181-193.
The PDF is available at ATLAS if your school has access to that. http://www.asmweb.org/missiology.htm#Online

No need to comment or respond to this but I just thought I would post it here in case you ever teach on McGavran again, you'll have a copy of it and it might help someone else. I thought I would suggest two essays by John Howard Yoder that graciously, fairly and briefly analyze McGavran's approach theologically. I think you and your students would like these essays.

John Howard Yoder, "Church Growth Issues in Theological Perspective," in The Challenge of Church Growth: A Symposium (ed. Wilbert R. Shenk; Eugene: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2001), 25-48.

In this essay, Yoder asks questions about the approach which seeks to get everyone in the church and then later to "perfect" them. This would be relevant to McGavran's heirs who lead megachurches. Their challenge is to (1) attract people far from God and then later to (2) help those same people grow into fully devoted followers of Jesus. Yoder merely sheds light on the difficulty of this two step process.

John Howard Yoder, "The Social Shape of the Gospel," in Exploring Church Growth (ed. Wilbert R. Shenk; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983), 277-284.

In this essay, Yoder asks whether transcending cultural boundaries is part of the gospel or secondary to it. In other words, should evangelism embody transcultural relationships or can the gospel be taught to racists and addressing the racism be done later. Yoder argues from Galatians and Acts that transcending the Jew / Gentile barrier was a key component of the Gospel. From my work in New Testament, I know this question continues to be one that is debated under the discussion of justification and the New Perspective on Paul.

Andy Rowell
Th.D. Student
Duke Divinity School
Blog: Church Leadership Conversations http://www.andyrowell.net/

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That 'little' paper took me over a month to write! I just couldn't bring it all together. However, in the end, I felt this assignment was more a gift than a burden -- it provided me the opportunity to weave together many threads that have been dangling there for at least ten years. I feel I found a way forward with McGavran -- a way to look at this man in light of our changed context. Here is the abstract for the upcoming article in Missiology:


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  • Hi, welcome to my former blog! My name is Ryan Bolger, and this is where I posted my thoughts on Jesus, culture, new forms of community, among other things. Come visit me at my new blog: http://www.ryanbolger.com. I still teach at Fuller Seminary in Southern California where I'm doing some writing as well. Feel free to bounce around the new or old website -- I hope it might stir your imagination -- feel free to stir mine as well by leaving some comments, preferably at the new site... Peace...


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