Reviewer Penny Watkins: Penny is a Registered Nurse and specializes in Clinical Informatics. She is also a wife, mom, grandma, activist, coffee lover, cat owner and book addict. Faith and family are her priorities and reading is her second favorite activity. (Sleeping is #1--in my spare time.) She agrees with Margaret Mead: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
Author: Fritz Kling
Every Christian leader will benefit from reading this book
Author: Fritz Kling
At Manaus, Brazil, two rivers—the Rio Negro and the Rio Solimoes—meet to form the Amazon. For ten miles, the two rivers flow side-by-side in the same channel without mixing waters. This is the metaphor Fritz Kling uses to describe today’s Christian Church—the influence of the past and the chaotic, rapidly changing, globalizing present--flowing side-by-side without blending. Somewhere downstream these two rivers must blend to become the future Church.
As an executive for a foundation that invests in the growth of the global church, Kling has 40 years on-the-ground experience talking to Christian leaders all over the world. He began to notice a current of change in his discussions with these leaders and, in 2006, undertook the Global Church Listening Tour for the purpose of trying to understand the future of the global church.
Kling and his associates discovered 7 currents in today’s “all-bets-are-off world.” A world in which, “Even in the most provincial or remote venue, global forces are now at play. Nothing seems to remain the same from year to year, week to week. Change is the norm.” He says these currents are invisible, relentless, dominant and often overlooked. They are not restricted to nationalities or ethnicities. But they will “alter the global church’s future direction.”
The 7 currents Kling identifies are:
Mercy—an increasing emphasis on social justice and meeting the needs of poor and vulnerable people
Mutuality—an “evening out” of influence, educational opportunities and voice in the church. Leaders in poor, underdeveloped countries are challenging those in richer nations and assuming global leadership.
Migration—people moving among nations and regions in unprecedented numbers, leading to increasing diversity everywhere.
Monoculture—growing similarities among all cultures, peoples, nations; the result of global communication and marketing
Machines—technology, which is increasingly available in the most remote villages and which is transforming the world.
Mediation—partisanship, discord, ethnic prejudices and polarization are all contributing to rifts and divides between people. Mediation will be an essential role in the future church.
Memory—Globalization overlays history. Every nation, ethnic group and family has history. Those histories have created the present—and they will create the future.
The Meeting of the Waters is a fascinating book. Kling conducted over 150 interviews with church leaders all over the world in his research; he pulls frequent examples from those interviews. Each of the 7 currents is wonderfully described using the words and stories of church leaders from all over the world. At the end of each section, Kling lists organizations that practice the principles of that particular stream. This gives the reader access to real-life resources that show how that particular current works out in real life.
The currents Kling describes are important not only for leaders of large national or international ministries. The currents affect every ministry in every church in every small village and suburb and town. Even in my small corner of the world, I have seen more diversity, more people who have different histories than I do. I have witnessed the rapid proliferation of technology that has dramatically changed the way we communicate. I have noted a welcome increase in concern for the poor and vulnerable. And I live in a backwater of the global church. Every Christian leader will benefit from reading this book.