Saturday, May 31, 2014

Anglicans Ablaze Weekend Edition: May 31, 2014


In this weekend's edition of Anglicans Ablaze:

The Most Common Factor in Declining Churches


In Wednesday’s post, I focused on seven very practical habits of churches that have an outward focus. I am honored and humbled to be in a place where I get to hear from and study about thousands of churches. The leaders and congregants in those churches provide me with incredible information and data. I am grateful, because I’m not smart enough to understand these issues on my own.

As God has allowed me to study congregations for more than 25 years, I began to see a common pattern in churches that had become outwardly focused. You read some of the practical steps these churches have taken in the earlier post. Keep reading

7 Examples of Unwritten Rules that Shape an Organization


In an organization the unwritten rules are just as, if not more, important than the written rules. I wrote about that idea HERE.

If you are considering making changes, implementing something new, adding staff, or any of dozen other decisions in your organization, you need to also consider the these “rules” of the organization. Keep reading

What Every Pastor Should Know: Five Articles


"Our Pastor is Not a Good Fit for our Church"

The committee could not find any specific reasons they wanted the pastor to leave. Church attendance was healthy, the congregation was responding well to the minister’s leadership, and finances were in line with expectations. But there was an undercurrent of dissatisfaction with the preacher, and had been since day one.

“You’re just not a good fit for our church” was all the committee could come up with.

They wanted him out. If he refused to go peacefully, a movement would be started to oust him forcibly. Keep reading

Is Your Ministry Position A Perfect Fit?

Several years ago I had a church search committee member call me to come to work for them. This gentleman was the second caller of two from the same place. Both were charged with the mission of convincing me to make a career move. While it was an honor to be sought after, I knew it was best to come to closure quickly on a request like this. I have found that to have a divided mind in this line of work makes an already consuming job become completely suffocating. Before even considering what kind of carrot is being dangled in front of my face, I need to ask myself a few fundamental questions: Do I feel a sense of closure where I am currently serving? Have I done all that God intends for me to do in the fellowship where I work? Have a learned from the Lord all that I am supposed to learn while in this place? Keep reading

What You Don't Know Can Hurt You

Have you ever noticed, the more you look for something, the more you find it? Like when you get a new car – the next week, you see dozens of them. That’s what I’m feeling right now about today’s topic. I’ve been shocked by how many leaders I’m encountering who have low self-awareness.

Self-awareness is huge for leaders. You can argue it’s important for everyone, but for leaders, a gap here may be the determining factor in your ability to lead at all.

How self-aware are you? Keep reading

My Top 7 Relational Practices for Dealing with Church Conflict

If you’ve been pastoring for more than a month, you’ve had someone go nuclear on you. You know what I mean . . . a charter member, board member or disgruntled church member drops a bomb on you that blows you up! Deserved or not, it hurts. Ready or not, it comes with destructive power that sends you into an emotional mess.

Perhaps they’ve never read what Solomon wrote, “The tongue has the power of life and death . . .” (Proverbs 18:21), and they don’t understand the wound they’ve inflicted.

So what should you do when you’re deeply disappointed with someone? Whether you’ve been hurt by a nasty email or upset by a post-service meltdown, what are the best ways to deal with your frustration and anger?

Here are some things that will help.... Keep reading

Should You Stay or Should You Go?

Often pastors ask, “When do I know God is calling me to another church?” I asked a pastor that question once. He had been pastor of the same church for forty-two years and eight months before he retired. I asked him if he ever thought of taking another church during that time. His reply was humorously profound. He said, “When I wanted to leave, no other church asked me. When other churches asked me, I did not want to leave.” If all pastors found the question that simple, there would be far fewer pastors changing churches.

The rule of thumb is to stay where you are if you can. As one minister told me, “At least I know what the problems are in my church. I don’t know what they are in another church.” One pastor’s wife noted that the problems are the same in every church. Just the faces change. There is a lot of truth in that. The grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence. But it isn’t. Keep reading

When a Pastor Prepares to Leave

Life is full of transitions, but perhaps no transition is more difficult to manage than when a pastor considers transitioning to a new place of service. Transitions are best handled through conversation – talking it through with others. But a pastor who is considering (or preparing for) a call to another church has very few people with whom to process the transition.

Being a pastor can be rather lonely, but the loneliness is never so profound as when a transition looms. Even a pastor who values transparency must be guarded with the knowledge that he is considering a move, lest his current congregation catch wind of the transition and create a mess – for the pastor and the congregation.

What’s a pastor to do? My encouragement for pastors is to find two or three safe people with whom to process the decision and to recognize three relationships to engage with caution. Keep reading

Four Big Mistakes that Lead to Ministry Burnout


One of the issues that we sometimes address here at pastors.com is the issue of ministry burnout. And when we do address it, the responses are overwhelming. It’s a big issue. Why do so many Pastors burn out in ministry? It’s because of faulty thinking. Our thinking controls our emotions and our emotions control the way we act.

The problem is, when we’re at an emotional low, we typically make four common mistakes. Next week I want to talk about how to overcome these emotions and prevent burnout, but today I want you to become aware of four of the most threatening internal causes of burnout in ministry. Keep reading

Eric Geiger on Sabbaticals: Three Articles


Why Your Pastor Needs a Sabbatical

In a church I served years ago, I was in a committee meeting where some members were bemoaning the fact that my senior pastor was taking “a sabbatical.” One man boldly proclaimed, “The devil does not take a day off; if we want to make a difference in this community, how can our pastor take weeks off at a time?” Another said, “It must be nice. I have worked my whole life and have never had one of those sabbaticals.”

My response to the first man was, “Well, I know the devil does not take a day off, but I am glad our senior pastor is not modeling his life and ministry after him.” My response to the second was, “I understand your feelings, but trust me, it’s different for a pastor. His calling before God is different.” Keep reading

7 Sabbatical Lessons

Last week I had a conversation with a pastor who was about to go on his sabbatical. With great focus and intentionality, he was planning the time away, which by God’s grace will refresh him. His family and the church he serves will benefit. The conversation reminded me of my first sabbatical and the insights I gained from the experience.

The church I served as executive pastor for eight years (Christ Fellowship) graciously gives their pastors a sabbatical. Mine was scheduled for six weeks in the summer of 2010, but I was not quite sure I was going to make it until then. Keep reading

Why Churches Should Give Pastors Sabbaticals

I know that the decision makers for giving pastors a sabbatical vary according to context. The ones responsible with the decision may be executive staff, elder team, deacon body, or personnel team. If you are on one of those teams, I encourage you to give your pastors a sabbatical for two reasons: (1) for the sake of the pastors and (2) for the sake of the church. Keep reading

Eric Geiger on Personal Development: Two Articles


4 Spheres of Personal Development

Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people [Luke 2:52]

Jesus’ teenage years are essentially summed up in the above verse. He grew in wisdom, physically, relationally with people, and in favor with God. Christian educators have referenced the verse to show how we grow and develop across multiple spheres: cognitive (in wisdom), physical (stature), spiritual (in favor with God), and social (in favor with people).

We are unified because our God, who exists as a community of three Persons in One, created us in His image. In other words, we can’t slice and dichotomize our lives into disparate parts. And because we are whole and unified people, struggles in one sphere of life impact all the other areas. Keep reading

4 Questions to Plan Your Development

Jesus grew in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52). If we look to His development as an example, we will desire mental, physical, spiritual, and relational health. We don’t seek to grow in order to earn His love, grace, or favor. His perfection is already ours, already freely given to us by His grace. But because He has already accepted and approved us, we should strive towards the goal of Christlikeness – seeking to live up to what we have already attained.

As we consider our development, we should consider all areas of our lives because we are unified people and each area of our life impacts the other areas. As I have thought through my personal development and helped other leaders consider their development, I have used the following framework and questions. Keep reading

How Not To Lie In The Pulpit!


86% of statistics quoted by preachers are untrue.

Including that one. But I suspect it may have got your attention.

I’m sure I’ve made countless errors in sermons; quoted people out of context, miscommunicated someone else’s position, given an example from a field I’m not qualified to comment on, mis-attributed to G.K. Chesterton a quote that would have made him huff in disgust… all unintentionally, of course!

But a few conversations I’ve had, and sermons I’ve listened to recently, have caused me to think a little more carefully about how not to lie in sermons! And in particular with regard to word studies and the potentially-misleading nature of statistics. Keep reading

5 Common Mistakes of Rookie Small Group Pastors


“That was a rookie mistake.”

Ever heard that? Ever said it to yourself? Probably all of us have been there and done that.

Here are 5 of the most common mistakes of rookie small group pastors.... Keep reading
For readers who are unfamiliar with the term, a "rookie" is "a person in his or her first year of a sport, or someone who is new to a profession, training or activity such as a rookie police officer, rookie pilot, a recruit, or occasionally a freshman." The following discussion of the etymology of the term comes from Wikipedia:
The Oxford English Dictionary states that the origins are uncertain, but that perhaps it is a corruption of the word recruit. The earliest example from the OED is from Rudyard Kipling's Barrack-Room Ballads (published 1892): So 'ark an' 'eed, you rookies, which is always grumblin' sore, referring to rookies in the sense of raw recruits to the British Army. At least during the beginning of the 20th century, in the British Army the term "rookie" was typically used in place of "recruit" as exemplified in "Trenching at Gallipoli" by John Gallishaw (New York Century Co.:1916) and in "The Amateur Army" by Patrick MacGill (London,Herbert Jenkins:1915).

Rainer writes 'autopsy' of 'deceased' churches


The church was dying and didn't know it. Attendance was down, the building was mostly empty, and the glory days had long since passed.

As a last resort, a church member asked LifeWay Christian Resources' president, Thom S. Rainer, for advice. Rainer spent a few weeks studying the church, then recommended a number of changes.

But church leaders rejected them.
,Br/> As he walked out the door, Rainer knew it was simply a matter of time before the church died. Later, he and a friend performed a kind of autopsy on the church -- reviewing its last few years for what went wrong.

Lessons from that church autopsy -- along with about a dozen others -- are included in Rainer's latest book, Autopsy of a Deceased Church from LifeWay's B&H Publishing imprint.

The book is meant for struggling and vibrant churches alike, Rainer said. "Even healthy churches need to learn from autopsies," he said, "because they can tell us paths of prevention."

Rainer found 10 factors -- from slow erosion of the congregation and too many short-term pastors to a lack of prayer and neglected facilities -- that cause churches to decline and die. Keep reading

Ever so often a book comes along that is a must read for informed Christians as well as pastors and other church leaders. Thom Rainer's 'Autopsy of a Deceased Church" is such a book. It is certainly a must read for North American Anglicans.

Conservative Presbyterians to Hold National Gathering to Answer 'God's Call to a New Way of Being Church'


A newly formed conservative Presbyterian group plans to hold a conference in Dallas where about 1,200 people are expected to attend the event in August.

Formed in early 2012, the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians hope to bring together Presbyterians who are "hearing and answering God's call to a new way of being church," reads the registration page for the gathering.

Cosponsored by the theologically conservative Fellowship of Presbyterians, the national gathering is scheduled to take place at the InterContinental Hotel off Dallas Parkway August 18-20. Keep reading

30 Christians Shot Dead Inside Church by Muslim Rebels in Central African Republic Attack


At least 30 Christians were shot dead by Muslim rebels in an attack on a church in the war-torn Central African Republic, a pastor said.

"We were in the church when were heard the shooting outside," the Rev. Freddy Mboula of Notre Dame de Fatima in Bangui told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "There were screams and after 30 minutes of gunfire there were bodies everywhere."

Christian and Muslim militias have had several clashes in the troubled African nation since the Seleka coalition left power in January. The fighting between Seleka rebels and anti-balaka fighters escalated following the resignation of interim President Michel Djotodia earlier this year. Keep reading

See also
Treatment of Christians prisoners in Eritrea is 'barbaric'

Prayer List: Almost 1,000 Honor Killings Annually in Pakistan


Pray for the Holy Spirit to convict anyone planning to kill a relative to preserve honor.
Pray for safety for girls and women that have been injured in attacks.
Pray for a change in the culture of Pakistan and an openness to the Gospel.
Pray for forgiveness for people that have participated in honor killings.
Pray for justice and mercy in the courts. Keep reading

Indian Police Conspire to Cover Up Horrific Rape and Murder of Dalit Girls


Budaun police say two girls were found Wednesday morning hanging from a tree after being gang raped.

The 14- and 15-year-old cousins went missing Tuesday night, and were found deceased, hanging from a mango tree in Katra Shahadatgani, Budaun. Autopsies confirmed that the girls were sexually assaulted.

Reuters reported that the girls were from a "low-caste Dalit community," a historically-marginalized group that still faces injustices in Indian society. Keep reading

See also
Indian Teenage Girls Gang-Raped and Hanged; Hundreds Protest Police Inaction
Against Women Crime

Sudanese Pregnant Woman Case Spotlights 1 in 10 Nations Legally Punish Apostasy


A report by Pew Research Center has found that as of 2012, about one in ten nations in the world have legal punishments for apostasy, or the leaving of one's faith.

Released Wednesday and authored by Angelina Theodorou, the report found that 11 percent of countries and territories had apostasy laws and 22 percent had blasphemy laws.

"Apostasy and blasphemy may seem to many like artifacts of history. But in dozens of countries around the world, laws against apostasy and blasphemy remain even today," wrote Theodorou.


"We found that laws restricting apostasy and blasphemy are most common in the Middle East and North Africa, where 14 of the 20 countries (70%) criminalize blasphemy and 12 of the 20 countries (60%) criminalize apostasy."

Most of the nations listed as still having apostasy laws were majority Muslim and included Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Egypt, Yemen, Oman, Malaysia, and the Maldives.

Nigeria, a nation that is nearly equally split between Muslim and Christian, was also listed as having legal proscriptions against apostasy. Keep reading

See also
Which countries still outlaw apostasy and blasphemy?
Sudan woman Meriam Ibrahim's new baby daughter photos emerge, brings joy despite looming death sentence
Woman in Sudan sentenced to death for apostasy forced to give birth ‘with her legs chained’
Sudanese Christian Mother Facing Death for Faith Gave Birth in Chains; See Beautiful Daughter, Maya, That Came From Pain

Friday, May 30, 2014

7 Reasons to Consider Interning at a Small Church


Church internships are great. For the church and for the intern.

If they’re done right (yes, that’s a big “if”), they can confirm or define a call to ministry, provide real-life experience to enhance classroom learning and bless a local church.

If you’re a pastor who thinks you can’t run an internship program because your church is small, think again.

If you’re a college student or high school senior considering a church internship, a Small Church may be your best option.

For instance, the Small Church I pastor offers three different types of internships. A year-long residential, a summer intensive and a school year program for students.

In the last decade, we’ve seen over 100 interns come through our doors and bless our church. We’ve also been a blessing to them. Not in spite of being a Small Church, but in a lot of ways because we’re a Small Church. (In my case, it also helps that I have a great youth pastor, Gary Garcia, who runs the intern ministry. I just stand back and take the credit.)

Yes, big churches have a lot to offer an intern. They have options, programs and benefits that no Small Church can match.

But a big church internship isn’t for everyone. And Small Churches offer some significant benefits of our own. Advantages that big churches can’t compete with. Here are 7 of them. Keep reading

Photo: Immanuel Anglican Church, Keystone Heights, Florida

Vampire Churches Among Us


Yes, vampire churches are among us!

I'm not talking about churches full of red-lipped, pale-skinned Draculas (that would be creepy!) No, I'm talking about churches that live off the lifeblood of other churches (well, I guess that's creepy too.)


This breed of church flies into town and announces their arrival with a flashy marketing campaign and an entrancing stare (Lights! Camera! Action!) Then they steadily, and probably unintentionally, sink their fangs into the necks of the smaller churches in that community and drain them dry. The results are church members, offerings and involvement sucked away from these smaller churches and the vampire churches increasing their own size, budget and strength.

Unfortunately the explosive growth of many new church plants is not due to the lost being reached but the saved being lured. Of course many of these churches claim to be evangelistic but a quick survey of their members would most likely find that the majority of their church growth is due to discontented and consumeristic church goers who were growing bored with their current congregations and looking for a new place to go and grow. Keep reading

The 'Fifth Column' Threatens the Church From Within


In 1939, near the end of the Spanish Civil War, outside the city of Madrid, the rebel General Mola was about to launch his attack. When asked which of his four columns of troops would first enter the city, Mola's reply became legendary. He responded, "The fifth."

The General was referring to a band of rebel sympathizers behind Loyalist lines inside the city, a group that was already helping him. His coining of the term "fifth column" has been used for decades as a description of a traitor, someone who aids and assists the enemy from within.

Scripture warns the church to beware of a similar "fifth column." The apostle Peter warned, "But there were false teachers among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privly shall bring in damnable heresies…" (2 Peter 2:1). Jude 4 reads, "For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our Lord into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ."

Such passages are to put the people of God on alert. The scenario is to be expected. Some will make-up church life and ministry who profess the Christian faith and call themselves believers, when actually they are apostate – enemies that threaten the work of God from within. Keep reading

See also
United Methodist Bishop Says Schism Over Homosexuality Avoidable
Did Jesus Say Anything About Homosexuality?
Didn't Episcopal Church leaders call for church unity as they caused division in their denomination with their doctrinal and moral innovations?

Formulary Friday: Why Creeds?


In every major service in the Prayer Book, the congregation recite one of three Creeds, helpfully laid out for us in Article VIII: ‘Of the Three Creeds’.

The Three Creeds, Nicene Creed, Athanasius’s Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles’ Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed: for they may be proved by most certain warrants of holy Scripture.

At the Reformation, the Church of England made it clear that it remained part of, and in continuity with, the Catholic Church – and one way it did this was by retaining the Catholic Creeds. Scripture remains, as in all things, our primary authority – but these three Creeds provide us with briefer forms of that deposit of faith – they give us salvation in summary. Keep reading

Better to Worship in the Pew Than the Pulpit?


One of the benefits of having to sit in the pew more often than I was used to before my illness is not only to hear more good preaching but also to be more “involved” in the worship of God.

Like many preachers I’ve often found it difficult to get fully engaged in corporate worship. Partly it’s because of the sense of responsibility for leading the service; partly it’s the burden of having to preach shortly; but it’s also partly the “distance” from the congregation.

On a platform or in a pulpit you hear the general volume of the gathered voices (if the instruments are quiet enough!), but you don’t get to hear the subtle and beautiful pathos in individual voices. Keep reading
Professor Murray is fortunate to attend church services where he can hear individual voices in the congregation. In a large number of contemporary churches the band is so loud that the people in the congregation cannot hear themselves singing, much less hear each other.

The loudness of the vocals and the accompaniment is intentional. A typical explanation is that contemporary worshipers want to "feel" the music as well as hear it. The loudness of the vocals and the accompaniment also spares them the embarrassment of hearing their own singing and comparing their own efforts with those of the semi-professional and professional vocalists in the band. The unspoken message is that the people in the congregation generally do not sing well.

A truth that is ignored is that most people in the congregation can learn to sing well if they are given an opportunity to do so and they are asked to sing hymns and other songs that are accessible to the average singer. Only a few people have "flat" voices and "tin ears." What these churches are doing is actually destroying people's confidence in their singing ability.

Rather than praising God with one voice, as exhorted by the Scriptures, the people in the congregation sing along with the band or listen to the band. They could do the same thing with ear buds and an I-pod. What is seen in these churches is not so much corporate worship but parallel worship. Parallel worship is similar to parallel play. The following explanation of parallel play was taken from a Wikipedia article on the subject:

Parallel play is a form of play in which children play adjacent to each other, but do not try to influence one another's behavior. Children usually play alone during parallel play but are interested in what other children are doing. This usually occurs after the first birthday. It usually involves two or more children in the same room who are interested in the same toy, each seeing the toy as their own. The children do not play together, but alongside each other simply because they are in the same room. Parallel play is usually first observed in children aged 2–3.
I suffer from tinnitus in my right ear and loud bands (and loud preachers) aggravate the condition. I skip the worship set during the Sunday gatherings of the church with which I am sojourning and I sit as far as I can from the sound system speakers during the sermon. A number of studies have shown that the particular sound level of the band in a typical contemporary church is high enough to cause ear damage. I see no point in further damaging my ears, which I damaged listening to loud rock bands when I was younger.

Why Christians Struggle with Evangelism


Fear

Sharing your faith is a scary prospect. You can lose face and friends as a result of communicating this "narrow-minded" message of the Gospel, even when you do so in love.

When choosing between being accepted by others and sharing the good news with others, too often Christians choose silence. Fear is the biggest culprit that keeps most Christians from evangelizing.

The Cure: "Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should." Eph. 6:19-20 Keep reading

China Lifts High the Cross (Right Off Dozens of Churches)


Photos show campaign to 'de-Christianize' skyline of 'China's Jerusalem' continues.

When a megachurch's walls came tumbling down in China's Jerusalem last month, the forced demolition drew widespread international attention thanks to photos circulating on Weibo, China's version of Twitter. Now, Weibo photos have documented how local authorities have continued their campaign this May to de-Christianize the skyline of wealthy Wenzhou, one of China's most Christian cities, and surrounding areas.

The latest in the reported "Three Rectifications and One Demolition" campaign comes from the city of Ningbo, where famous missionary James Hudson Taylor once worked. Officials have ordered services to halt at the 1,000-member Xiaying Holy Love megachurch, and demolition work has reportedly already begun after the church refused to tear down the large cross atop its 10-story building.

Meanwhile, The New York Times's Ian Johnson offers a thorough analysis of the much-discussed destruction of Sanjiang Church. Keep reading

See also
Church-State Clash in China Coalesces Around a Toppled Spire

Boko Haram attacks leave over 90 Nigerians dead in Borno and Yobe States


Over 90 Nigerians in Borno and Yobe States are dead following recent attacks from militant group Boko Haram.

The terrorists gunned down villagers in Marte Local Government Area (LGA), Gwoza LGA, Gujba LGA, and Biu LGA on May 25, 26, and 28. Keep reading

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Evangelism in the Smaller Church


I stood alone, scanning the parking lot of my new church. It was 3 minutes before Sunday school and not a single car containing visitors had turned down the gravel lane. I thought of Zechariah 4:10, where God asked, "Who despises the day of small things?" (NIV). At that moment I despised the day of small things. My new post had a 35-year history and 33 people. Morale was low. Our building was secluded on the back of the property. Everything from the burnt-orange carpet to the peeling vinyl entryway to the crooked sign said, "Stay away."

Worship was stifled and awkward. I didn’t have a novel strategy to help the church grow. Evangelism programs I knew about didn’t seem to fit this congregation, and I was too inexperienced to make appropriate modifications. On that second week in September, I didn’t want to stay at Calvary Church. I wanted to eat a Sunday brunch and start packing. I might have, except for the tan Chevy I saw turning down the lane. I smiled, waved, and slipped inside.

As I remember, we had a banner day that Sunday. Our rule was: If it breathes, we count it. That day we counted 39 people. People seemed pleased with the turnout. That was 15 years ago.

Today Calvary Church is healthy and vibrant. Some transfer growth helped us along the way, though I have learned that people who drift in from other churches usually drift out in short order. A wise elder defined these short-termers as scaffolding. They help you build for a while, and then they fold up and move on. We experienced good growth as people moved into the community and became part of the church. But by far, the most solid growth came through personal evangelism and the joy of the new birth radiating from new believers. Keep reading

Everything You Know About Small Churches Is Wrong


OK, maybe not everything you know about Small Churches is wrong. But there’s probably no aspect of the body of Christ that is more misunderstood and under-utilized than Small Churches.

Small Church myths have become so commonplace that most church leaders believe them, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. I know, because I believed them for years, too.

But 90% of churches are under 200 people.

Ponder the implications of that. If any other organization or business was misunderstanding and under-utilizing the nature, value and structure of 9 out of 10 of their outlets, it would be considered a massive emergency.

But much of the church barely notices. And many who notice it, don’t seem to be bothered by it.

Well, I’m bothered by it. And if the comments I’m receiving on this blog and in private conversations are any indication, there’s a growing number of ministers who are becoming bothered by it as well. Keep reading

Millenials are the devil


If you believe everything you read, the current generation of young adults are pretty much useless. The millennial generation comprises roughly those between 18-30 currently (Strauss and Howe stretch it to 10-32). Among evangelicals are those who never miss an opportunity to blame others for societies ills. Millennials have been in their sights as of late. Keep reading

How Your Church Can Create a Multicultural Youth Ministry


“After this I looked and there before me a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb.” Revelation 7:9-10

As we read these verses we can’t help but be struck by the beautiful picture of what heaven will be like ... people of all tribes and nations worshipping the King.

Doesn’t it seem to make sense that our youth groups and churches should be modeling their ministries after this biblical mandate?

With the dramatic increase of immigration and the globalization of our society, ministering to a multicultural society is no longer an option.

Many of our churches are sounding an alarm and seeking answers as to how to minister to communities of ethnic and economic diversity.

If we don’t want to be left behind and become totally irrelevant and outdated, each of us as youth pastors needs to take a careful look at the demographic makeup of our youth group to see if it resembles the surrounding community of our church. If you discover that your youth group doesn’t resemble the community, it may be time to reevaluate your vision.

For more than 30 years I have served as a youth pastor in multicultural communities. There has been no greater joy than seeing young people come together from different racial and economic backgrounds worshipping the Lord. The thought of our youth group being a model to our community of what the Kingdom of God looks like has been extremely gratifying! On the other hand it has required every ounce of energy, creativity, and attentiveness to the Spirit’s guidance to lead the youth group and church in this direction.

So where do you start in developing your multicultural ministry? Keep reading

How to Prepare Youth to Endure Hostility


For all the benefits of access and efficiency that have come with the explosion of communication mediums like e-mail, texting, Facebook, and Twitter, one serious downside is their limited ability to foster thoughtful dialogue.

We live in a soundbite culture where pithiness is often valued over wisdom, flashiness is preferred to wisdom, and the quick retort is favored over patient reflection. There is little room for a nuanced discussion to take place in such venues—especially when you’re able to “hide” views with which you disagree.

Our world has become increasingly complex as the internet and other media have made widely available at our fingertips an array of divergent opinions and studies on every issue under the sun. It is likely that this trend towards knee-jerk truncated responses will only increase as technology continues to expedite and encourage immediate pubic discourse.

Our world has become increasingly complex as the internet and other media have made widely available at our fingertips an array of divergent opinions and studies on every issue under the sun. It is likely that this trend towards knee-jerk truncated responses will only increase as technology continues to expedite and encourage immediate pubic discourse.

Our inability to patiently grapple with complexity has lead to an increasingly hostile context for voicing opinions, particularly as the American arena for public discourse becomes increasingly polarized into divergent factions. Tolerance in this contentious environment has become more akin to intellectual apathy rather than being understood as holding an informed opinion and accepting that others have differing convictions.

In a climate where both voicing an opinion on certain issues is perceived as belligerence and those opinions are often stated in 140 characters or less, it’s no wonder that many youth (and their parents) are struggling to engage in meaningful dialogue on important issues—particularly as it relates to faith and culture.

So how do we equip youth to understand and engage their world with the beauty and credibility of the gospel of Jesus Christ given this increasingly polarized culture? How do we prepare them for the contentious world they will face down the road? In this article I offer five suggestions. Keep reading

Five Reasons Why Most Southern Baptist Churches Baptize Almost No Millennials


SBC task force 'owns the problem' and identifies five sources of 'stark patterns of decline' in evangelism.

The "heartbreaking slide" in Southern Baptist baptisms has now entered its seventh year. While the loss of nearly 4,600 baptisms was not as steep as last year's drop, the continued decline (full stats below) is still enough for LifeWay Christian Resources president Thom Rainer to tell Baptist Press, "I am grieved we are clearly losing our evangelistic effectiveness."

And according to a recent report by a special task force of pastors, the baptism drought in America's largest evangelical denomination—which counts 15.7 million members and 5.8 million Sunday worshipers—is worst among millennials.

In last year's Annual Church Profile, 60 percent of the more than 46,000 churches in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) reported no youth baptisms (ages 12 to 17) in 2012, and 80 percent reported only one or zero baptisms among young adults (ages 18 to 29). One in four Southern Baptist churches reported zero baptisms overall in 2012, while the "only consistently growing" baptism group was children under five years old.

"The problem is even greater than these numbers indicate," states the task force report. "Considering how the North American population has increased substantially between the 1950s' baptism peak and today, these figures indicate how much ground we have lost and are losing." Keep reading

See also
Baptism, worship declines prompt Southern Baptist leaders' prayers for 'renewed passion'
How is your denomination or network doing? Are your denominational or network leaders being honest with you about how that organization is doing? If not, why? Could your denomination or network be more effective in reaching and engaging Millenials? How?
Photo: The Journey Church, Murray, Kentucky

Gender violence endemic in India and Pakistan; perpetrators go unpunished


Indian teen girls gang-raped and hanged from a tree: police

Indian police have arrested one man and are looking for four other suspects after two teenage girls were gang-raped and then hanged from a tree in a village in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, police said on Thursday.

The two cousins, who were from a low-caste Dalit community and aged 14 and 15, went missing from their village home in Uttar Pradesh's Budaun district when they went out to go to the toilet on Tuesday evening.

The following morning, villagers found the bodies of the two teenagers hanging from a mango tree in a nearby orchard....

The victim's families say the girls were gang-raped and then hanged by five men from the village. They allege that local police were shielding the attackers as they refused to take action when the girls were first reported missing. Keep reading

Pregnant Pakistani woman stoned to death by family

A pregnant woman was stoned to death Tuesday by her own family outside a courthouse in the Pakistani city of Lahore for marrying the man she loved.

The woman was killed while on her way to court to contest an abduction case her family had filed against her husband. Her father was promptly arrested on murder charges, police investigator Rana Mujahid said, adding that police were working to apprehend all those who participated in this "heinous crime."

Arranged marriages are the norm among conservative Pakistanis, and hundreds of women are murdered every year in so-called honor killings carried out by husbands or relatives as a punishment for alleged adultery or other illicit sexual behavior. Keep reading

See also
Pregnant Pakistani Woman Stoned to Death by Family Members for Marrying for Love
Stoned woman's husband condemns Pakistani police
Pakistani woman stoned to death for choosing her own husband in 'honor killing'

Rape

Rape is defined as sexual intercourse done to female victim without her consent . It is either done by a single person or a group of people forcibly . People who are raped suffer from several disorders . Their might be chances of victim being pregnant or may suffer from sexual transmiited diseases (HIV ,AIDS) if there is no use condom during sexual intercourse.

Rapes are done due to variety of reasons due to sexual attraction , rejection of marriage proposal, breakups or to take revenge . In some cases there may not be in any valid reason behind rapes , it might be just that want to sex or might be just to prove there male dominance .Rapists don’t select victims by their appearance .Those victims are only selected are easily reachable , it can be a girl going to college or school or to job or coming to her home by bus or car. Keep reading
Darlit girls and women are frequently the victims of rape.
Honor Killing

An honor killing is the homicide of a member of a family or social group by other members, due to the perpetrators’ belief that the victim has brought shame or dishonour upon the family or community.

Honor killings are a result of the position of women in society. In these traditional male dominated societies women are dependent first on their father and then as a way of ensuring compliance and preventing rebellion. on their husband, whom they are expected to obey. Women are viewed as property and not as individuals with their own agency. As such, they must submit to male authority figures in the family – failure to do so can result in extreme violence as punishment. Keep reading

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Anglicans Ablaze Midweek Special Edition: May 28, 2014


In this midweek special edition of Anglicans Ablaze:

Predestination: Why Do Some Believe and Some Don’t?


One of the things I hope you’ve noticed so far in this series on predestination is that before mentioning what we do and don’t believe about it we need to be firmly grounded in several basic, biblical, and evangelical truths: we are sinners, God is just, and God is love. Not only do I believe this is a biblical method, I believe it is wise. There is so much misunderstanding and mockery of this doctrine that we need to lead into it gently.

In this post I want to lay out another of these foundational truths, which is one that leads us into the actual subject of the who, what, when, and why of predestination. Given humanity’s sin and both God’s justice and love, why is it that some believe in Jesus Christ and some don’t? These are the two responses to Jesus’ call.... Keep reading

Seven Habits of Outwardly Focused Churches


It was not a dramatic moment in time. Instead it was subtle, almost too subtle to be noticed. It became evident first in mainline churches. But evangelical churches followed a few years later. The erosion was slow, but it became glaringly apparent after several years.

The change of which I speak is the movement away from outwardly focused ministries in churches. Over time, most of the resources of time, money, and ministries have shifted more toward the members. Churches are now gathering in holy huddles with little intention of breaking out into a world of lostness and loneliness. Keep reading

Why Men Hate Going to Church


How did a faith founded by a man and His twelve male disciples become anathema to men? Here is how to restore the balance between the feminine and the masculine in our churches.

Welcome to Lakeside Church, the statistically average U.S. congregation.

  • This week Lakeside will draw an adult congregation that’s 61 percent female, 39 percent male.1 
  • Almost 25 percent of the married women who attend will do so without their husbands.2 The 
  • church will attract a healthy number of single women but few single men. 
  • The majority of men who actually show up for Sunday worship are there in body only. Their hearts just aren’t in it. Few will do anything during the week to nurture their faith.

Lakeside is the norm in Christianity — in the United States and around the world. Next time you’re in church, count noses. A 60/40 gender gap (or larger) probably affects your worship services, midweek meetings, Bible studies, ministry teams, youth group, and so on. Overseas congregations often run 80 to 90 percent female.3 In today’s church, women are the participators, and men are the spectators.

How did a faith founded by a man and His twelve male disciples become anathema to men? Why is Christianity the only major religion with a worldwide gender gap? Why are churchgoing men so hesitant to live their faith, when men of other religions willingly die for theirs?

Many church leaders seem unaware of the gender gap — or if they are, they don’t really see it as a problem. After all, if you want a smooth-running congregation, women are the key. They sing in the choir (or the worship team), care for children, teach classes, cook for potlucks, and serve on committees. They’re more pleasant to deal with and more likely to volunteer. Researcher and author George Barna puts it this way: “Women are the backbone of Christian congregations.”4

It would seem that men, on the other hand, are like hood ornaments on cars: nice, but not necessary.

Over the long term, however, a lack of men will doom a congregation. Multiple studies have shown that a lack of men is one of the strongest predictors of church decline.5 Denominations with the fewest men are the same ones that have been losing members and shutting churches. For example, the United Church of Canada, that nation’s largest denomination, is comprised of 80 percent female worshippers — and overall attendance has dropped by half in the past decade.6

But there’s an encouraging flip side to this equation. Churches with robust male participation are generally growing. That’s the secret megachurch planters such as Rick Warren and Bill Hybels learned a generation ago: grow your men, and your church will grow. This was Jesus’ strategy. It still works today.

There’s just one problem. Men hate going to church. Keep reading

Four Steps to Rebuilding a Dying Church [Video]


When church attendance is dwindling, the church leaders have two options: seek God’s help to rebuild or accept that it may be God’s will for their church to die. This choice shouldn’t be taken lightly, but prayerfully decided.

If God is leading you as a pastor, elder or church steward to reestablish your failing church, here are four responses taken from Thom Rainer’s book Autopsy of a Deceased Church: 12 Ways to Keep Yours Alive. Keep reading

Free Resource - Six Metrics for Reaching People


Metrics are bad when they become an end in themselves. But they can be helpful when they focus on what really matters, if they become a mechanism to remind us of the lostness of humanity.

Download free resource

Know the Heretics: A Book Interview with Justin Holcomb


Justin Holcomb answers questions about his new book on heresy throughout church history.

Q: What makes someone a heretic? What is the difference between orthodoxy and heresy?

Justin Holcomb: A heretic is someone who has compromised an essential doctrine and lost sight of who God really is, usually by oversimplification. Literally, heresy means "choice"—that is, a choice to deviate from traditional teaching in favor of one's own insights.

Orthodoxy is the teaching that best follows the Bible and best summarizes what it teaches — best accounts for the paradoxes and apparent contradictions, best preserves the mystery of God in the places where reason can't go, and best communicates the story of the forgiveness of the gospel. Keep reading

See also
The False Teachers: Teresa of Avila
The False Teachers: T.D. Jakes

Truth has this interesting quirk: Only those willing to adapt to it get it.


“If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from myself” (John 7:17).

Truth is a funny thing: If you want it, you tend to find it. If you don’t believe it exists, you never come across it.

A generation ago, Professor Allan Bloom wrote a bestseller called “The Closing of the American Mind” in which he said a growing percentage of young Americans considers the mark of the modern man to be an open mind.

By “open mind” they mean an intellect that tolerates everything and considers truth to be relative, that takes no hard and fast positions, and gives all positions equal footing. To them, a “closed mind” ranks as the epitome of ignorance and backwardness. Keep reading

7 Toxic Ideas Polluting Your Mind


The worst kind of poison is the kind that poisons you without you realizing it. There’s no bitter taste, no pain, no sudden weakness, nothing to alarm; yet, the poison is slowly and steadily doing its deadly work.

In such a dangerous condition, our only hope is some kind of test that shows what is undetectable to normal human senses, maybe a scan of sorts that shows up the extent of the poison in our systems. Only then can the antidote be found, prescribed, and taken.

Although the vast majority of Christians don’t realize it, we are being slowly yet steadily poisoned by virtually undetectable toxins. No, this isn’t about chemicals or biological agents; it’s ideas, worldviews, philosophies, and ideologies that we are unknowingly absorbing into our systems every day of life, and that are eating away at the vitals of our spiritual vitality. Keep reading

How to Weigh Doctrines for Christian Unity [Video]


Last month a group of Protestant theologians met in California to discuss the Future of Protestantism. While summaries and follow-ups of the event can be found elsewhere, the concern for visible Christian unity raises all sorts of questions about the seriousness of doctrinal, liturgical, and practical disagreements. Such questions usually center around which doctrines we regard as “essential” or “necessary.” However, over the years, I’ve been dissatisfied with that sort of flat analysis, because it doesn’t grapple with the complexity of divisions within the body.

Ephesians 4 tells us that Christian unity is something that we ought to maintain (4:3) and something that we ought to attain (4:13). It is both a given and a goal, something we possess and must protect, and something we lack and must pursue. The unity we must pursue is closely linked to maturity, to “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” The passage also says that one of the signs of immaturity is being tossed by the winds of doctrine. Therefore, I’d like to suggest that part of growing up into maturity as an individual, as a congregation, as an institution, and, Lord willing, as a universal church is the ability to make distinctions when it comes to doctrinal disagreements. All truths are important, but not all truths are equally important. Some are “of first importance” (1 Cor. 15:3-4). There are weightier matters of the law (Matt. 23:23). And therefore, we ought to grow in our ability to weigh doctrines and practices rightly so that we preserve and pursue our unity in Christ. What follows is my attempt to introduce the types of distinctions we should look for when evaluating our divisions.

We ought to be able to distinguish between different types of essential doctrines (I’m grateful to Daniel Wallace for first introducing me to these categories). These distinctions focus on the weightiness of the doctrine itself. Keep reading

See also
The Future of Protestantism Full Roundup [Video]

Photo: keepsakes-unlimited.com

Do Not Make An Idol For Yourself


Sometimes I wonder if the apostle Paul would say if were to arrive in my city. I suspect it would be pretty similar to what he told the men of Athens, “I see that you are extremely religious in every respect” (Acts 17:22). But unlike the men of Athens, most hearers in London, Toronto, New York, or any number of North American cities would be shocked by these words. After all, we borderline pride ourselves on our irreligion.

Which may reveal just how religious we truly are.

The second commandment forbids God’s people from making idols for ourselves, “whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth” (Exodus 20:4). Many of us read this command, and think, “Don’t worship angels. Don’t make statues or carvings of animals, bugs, birds, fish or anything like that.” Then we look around our houses, smile a bit and say, “Nailed it.”

 Which may reveal just how self-deceived we truly are. Keep reading

8 Tips on Leading a Movement


In talking with hundreds of aspiring young leaders, I’ve learned two things:
1). We all want to be part of something bigger than ourselves. I call that a movement.
2). Every leader thinks their cause is significant enough to be a movement.
In today’s social media world, it seems that movements happen faster and bigger than ever before, but movements have been around for millennia—the Reformation, Christian foreign missions, the push for racial equality, the dot com revolution. Keep reading

Avoiding a Moral Fall [Video]


Every year dozens of pastors fall, and it’s almost always because of a moral failure. Not an ethical one, not a doctrinal one – a moral one. Why?

Mike Minter shares why this happens – pastors “get used to the dark.” That is, pastors become accustomed to the lower moral standards of the culture. Minter explains why this is so dangerous and calls pastors to a high moral standard then teaches some particular ways to maintain this. Watch now

Learn more about Ministry Grid and how it can help your church flexibly and effectively train volunteers.

Pastor . . . Take Your Vacation


Summer is quickly approaching. If your calendar is anything like mine you already know where most of the summer is going to go. Between my kids’ sports, Vacation Bible School, weddings, camps, reunions and life in general I pretty much know where I’m going to be and what I’m going to be doing from now to well past when my kids go back to school in the fall.

This year though I’ve had a unique problem. I have had more competition this year, more than any other year, in scheduling vacation time.

The easiest solution would be to skip vacation this year. That is actually what most Americans do. But for a pastor, that is unacceptable, and there three reasons why. Keep reading

Why Won't You Forgive?


As a pastor and preacher, there are two topics I have discovered always get pushback when I address them from the pulpit. I can count on a few lively conversations or tough follow-up emails when I speak about personal finances (generous living) and any time I preach about forgiveness. It is the second topic that seems to take me by surprise. I am baffled every time someone corners me and tries to explain why they should not have to extend forgiveness, even though Jesus was emphatic that this is part of the Christian life.

If we refuse to forgive, we compromise our witness to the amazing grace of Jesus. When we hold bitterness rather than showing mercy, we make the world wonder if we really know a God of grace.

The truth is, we have all been wronged, hurt, abused and sinned against—all of us. Jesus knows this. He is personally aware because he actually bore the punishment for those sins. And he calls us to extend forgiveness as we have received it from the Father. Keep reading

The Gospel


Ray Ortlund. The Gospel: How the Church Portrays the Beauty of Christ. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014. 144 pp. $14.99.

The gospel is rich truth that stirs deep love—or at least that’s how it’s supposed to be. Yet, as Ray Ortlund frames the conundrum, there is a deep disconnect in our churches between what we believe about the gospel and how we live out that gospel.

Ortlund’s recent contribution to the 9Marks Building Healthy Churches series is not a display of the doctrine of salvation. Greg Gilbert already did that well in What Is the Gospel? This book portrays how the beauty of Christ transforms the bride of Christ so that gospel doctrine creates a gospel culture.

The Gospel asks incisive questions that stimulate clear, well-constructed responses. Ortlund’s methodology is expositional. Each of the seven chapters illumines gospel implications of a key text (John 3:16, Eph. 5:25, Rev. 21:5, 1 Tim. 3:14-15, Gal. 2:14, 2 Cor. 2:15-16, Rev. 14:4). With the unpacking of each passage, truth exhorts us toward practice.

In the first three chapters, Ortlund, pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee, addresses three levels of gospel transformation: individuals, churches, and all creation. The final four flesh out the gospel transformation process. Gospel transformation is a counter-cultural, challenging, sacrificial, powerful, and beautiful process. Keep reading

Ten Years Later, Why Gay Marriage Is Winning


A decade after Massachusetts became the first state to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples, the gay marriage movement has all the momentum.

What at a difference 10 years makes.

In May 2004, Massachusetts became the first state to allow same-sex marriage. Six months later, with dire warnings about schoolchildren being forced to read “Heather Has Two Mommies” and threats of legalized polygamy, so-called “values voters” passed bans on same-sex marriage in 11 states and ushered George W. Bush to another four years in the White House.

Fast-forward to 2014, and the cultural and legal landscape could hardly be more different. Today, 19 states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage, and federal courts have struck down bans in 11 more states. The U.S. Supreme Court ordered the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages after ditching a central portion of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act last year, and 44 percent of Americans now live in states that allow same-sex marriage. Keep reading

See also
What Does the Bible say About Gay Marriage?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Beat the Summer Slump


1. Challenge your church to host summer neighborhood block parties.

2. Think leadership development. Encourage team leaders to invest in others one-on-one.

3. Go beyond the weeklong vacation Bible school and offer children’s activities each week. Keep reading