Discipleship is a lost love in our culture of “Go Big or Go Home.”
At Praxis Gathering 2016, however, we will gather to recover the act and art of discipleship. This unique, annual church planting experience combines real-time practice with rich theology and deep reflection. Participants of all backgrounds, denominations and ecclesial styles will join together to plummet deep into the hands-on work of shaping disciples in their neighborhoods and networks. Join the V3 Movement, leading missiologists and hundreds of passionate practitioners like yourself this September to be equipped, nourished and renewed for a life of intentional, place-based discipleship.
Meet Soong-Chan Rah
A prerequisite for every Praxis presenter is a life that accompanies the instruction and insights she or he shares with us. Great communicators are in abundance, but the best practices and tools come from the bumps and bruises of working them out at the street level.
[Tweet “Best missional practices come from the bumps & bruises of working them out at the street level”] A consummate academic and seasoned church planter, Dr. Soong-Chan Rah embodies the Church’s early history of evangelism, one that mixed thoughtful and knowledgeable cultural engagement with communal care, compassion, and justice.
Dr. Rah is the Milton B. Engebretson Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois, and is an ordained minister in the Evangelical Covenant Church. He has served as campus minister at MIT with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, has been an active member of the Boston TenPoint Coalition (an urban ministry working with at-risk youth), and is a founding member of the Boston Fellowship of Asian-American Ministers.
A decade at North Park Theological Seminary has given Soong-Chan Rah an academically sophisticated perspective on church growth and evangelism. But it is not only his extensive research and study that make him such a sought-after communicator on missiological issues, it is his grassroots experience planting churches, such as the multiethnic, urban Cambridge Community Fellowship Church (CCFC) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that makes his voice such a resonant one in the missional-church conversation. And it is this combination of decades-long study and real-world practice that makes Dr. Rah such a perfect fit for Praxis Gathering 2016.
The Tenured Professor/Planter
While the current spotlight in Dr. Rah’s work shines on reviving the important healing role lament plays in the body of Christ, as well as culture in general, Soong-Chan’s love for church planting and place-based missiology continues to drive his passion for the church. Of course, the two are not separate issues, as revealed clearly in how Soong-Chan’s church planting history evinces the role of lament in facilitating racial reconciliation and social justice, particularly in urban settings.
“For Dr. Rah, engaging in urban ministry is a passion. ‘The urban environment is complex, constantly changing, and always challenging,’ he says” (courtesy of North Park Theological Seminary’s website).
In fact, Dr. Rah has designed his courses to “enable students to identify the skills necessary for practicing sociocultural analysis, expanding their understanding of the relationship between the church and the urban setting. ‘Anytime we can deepen the theology, it’s a good thing,’ Dr. Rah says. ‘Also important are spiritual formation and discipleship. All of these serve to strengthen our work” (ibid).
[Tweet “Anytime we can deepen theology, it’s a good thing ~Dr. Soong-Chan Rah”] His students learn in such classes as Introduction to Church Planting, Communicating the Faith in the Contemporary World, and Leadership and Empowering the Laity for Church Growth, curricula that also have proven to be exigent at myriad speaking engagements outside of seminary halls for this experienced crosscultural preacher and conference speaker.
The Changing Face of American Society and the Church
Concerning his own education, Soong-Chan received a bachelor’s degree in political science and history/sociology from Columbia University. After, he earned a Master of Divinity degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a Master of Theology degree from Harvard University. Ever the academician, Soong-Chan added a Doctor of Ministry degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and now is in a Doctor of Theology program at Duke University.
Dr. Rah serves on the boards of World Vision, Sojourners, the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA), and the Catalyst Leadership Center. He, his wife Sue, and their two children, Annah and Elijah, call Chicago home.
Dr. Rah has been imploring the church to listen to the voices of the oppressed and lament the injustice that we see in the world around us, particularly the American church. And the importance of his message over the years has only grown in light of the increasing brokenness of our time.
Here are some of his writings on the importance of lament in the world today:
A Time to Mourn
The American Church’s Absence of Lament
Lament and the Call to Advocacy
A Call for a National Lament
A Lament for Our Nation
Lamentations and Justice
Prophetic Lament: A Call for Justice in Troubled Times
The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity
Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church
Forgive Us: Confessions of a Compromised Faith (coauthor)
Growing Healthy Asian American Churches (contributing author)
See You in September
What is the relationship between missiology and lament? What about discipleship and multiculturalism? Dr. Rah, a leading Christian voice in these timely issues, will be addressing them at Praxis. We all should be addressing them. See you in September.
(You can learn more about Dr. Rah on Facebook and Twitter.)
Meet Soong-Chan Rah at Praxis Gathering 2016!
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