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The Cell Phone Test

Posted by David Manske , 01 March 2013 · 1670 views

Have you taken the "cell phone test"? Whether you have a "smart-phone" or a "phone of average intelligence"...grab your mobile device and open your contacts list, and start perusing the names...as you do, ask yourself 3 progressive questions:

How many “diverse” names are on my list? (unlike me in culture, ethnicity or background)

How many of these “diverse” people have I interacted with in the last month?

Are my “diverse” working relationships interfaced into my life outside of work?


Long ago I learned that the depth of relationships are built on shared experiences. However, I am noticing that we too often isolate ourselves from iron-sharpens-iron relationships and from intentional relationships.

Iron-sharpens-iron relationships are those with people whom we allow to speak into our lives, challenging us at the deepest level, while loving us unconditionally. Robert Vajko (in his “10 Mistakes Church Planters Make”) confesses that he didn’t seek the right help when developing a new church. He says, “I did have counsel and help...but if I were to do it again, I would seek out a veteran church planter...ask him to mentor and meet with me regularly.” We suffer from this omission, and the edification of Christ’s Church is hindered, when you and I neglect to develop these relationships.

When was my last encounter with these friends?


Intentional relationships are those we purposefully develop with people different than ourselves. In the words of David Mays, “People unlike us nearby.” There are tremendous ways my life has been deepened through meaningful relationships with brothers and sisters from other cultures. It has shaped my prayer life and invigorated my worship, it has challenged my perceptions of spiritual maturity and “adulthood,” while enlightening my interpretation of Scripture. After living life with Ze, Luis, Sing, Anesia, Toshi, Daniel, and countless others...my daily worldview is different, and I continue to see life through new eyes!

Am I intentionally building bridges into these people’s lives?


Culture is never static, it is always in a state of flux. For these relationships to be valuable to us (and for us), we must contextualize as a reflection of our love for, value in and acceptance of them. Tim Keller has just released a great video “class” on contextualization as part of his book, City Church. In the class he warns of the extremes of contextualizing too much and contextualizing too little. Interestingly, he also points out that if we are critical of those who have gone too far identifying and contextualizing, most likely we are guilty of contextualizing too little! (and visa-versa)

As you represent Jesus Christ, let’s return to being students of the people who live in our communities, the people we are trying to reach with the life-altering message of our Lord!
What are the values my neighbors hold dear?
How does daily life with my “diverse” contacts demonstrate that relationships are important to me?

Allow me to suggest some interesting resources:

Roland Muller, The Messenger, The Message, The Community: Three critical issues for the cross-cultural church planter

David Livermore, Cultural Intelligence: Improving your CQ to engage our multicultural world.

Scott Williams, Church Diversity www.churchdiversity.com

Andy Crouch, “Where Faith & Culture Meet: How you can engage your culture” (DVD, 6 sessions)

Kevin Gushiken, “Spiritual Formation and Multiethnic Congregations.” Journal of Spiritual Formation & Soul Care Vol 4, No 2.

Tim Keller, www.centerchurch.com, Part 3: “The City: Contextualization”

Robert J. Vaiko, “Ten Mistakes Church Planters Make,” www.emqonline.com January 2013



  • Bill Lanpher, Merilyn Lauffer and elizabethcog like this



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Merilyn Lauffer
Mar 01 2013 05:09 PM
We certainly need to be stretched by breaking out of our homogenious groups and diversify like you say. I have been prompted lately to reach out of my age group. Cross generational connection is so valuable. Not only do the "emerging generations" want to be heard, we need to speak into their lives.

I recently took the a young gal out to lunch who from her social media was obviously struggling. What does a fiftly something year old woman say to an 18 year old girl? It was obvious she not only needed someone to care but someone to be an adult.

At various ages and stages people are looking for someone to speak into their lives. When we step out of our comfort zones and make ourselves available we can speak and be spoken to. We are not meant to be static, but dynamic. When we keep in step with the spirit we find ourselves available to diversity in many forms.

Good blog, David!
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David Manske
Mar 01 2013 10:23 PM
Great insight, Merilyn! Thanks for discerning (w help from social media) that the 18 yr old was struggling, and for being available for her.

Generational diversity is important, and one of the great values of listening & mentoring.
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