Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Is the Church Being Influenced by the World or Influencing the World?


It takes few words to persuade people of the chaos that reigns in our civil arena. The divide in America has transcended past politics and into the fabric and understanding of life itself.

What once was classified as a political and even generational divide must now be redefined and reexamined.

The divide in America has exploded past the social norms of just a few years ago and now is based on something far different from age, upbringing, culture, region, or even experience.

This is where the Church finds herself living. But instead of living and working in the midst of such things, she finds herself embroiled in the very same complexing situations.

In fact, some churches lunge themselves into this worldly chaos from their own pulpits. Many pastors feel strongly compelled to focus almost exclusively on matters of country and politics—especially in election years.

Yet, even if pulpits aren’t engaging in the rhetoric, most church attenders are; and they are thrusting their entire church into the marsh with themselves.

In fact, such divides, hostilities, and politics seems to be all that “church people” want to talk about.

This leads me to ask a question: Is the church being influenced by the world or influencing the world?

That question requires no small answer. Let me attempt to unpack what I am saying by asking it. Read More

Mask-Wearing Is Up In The U.S., But Young People Are Still Too Lax, CDC Survey Finds


More Americans may be wearing masks than early last spring, but other recommended behaviors to stop the pandemic's spread haven't kept pace, according to a new federal survey. And young people are the least likely to take needed steps to stop the virus, the data suggest.

The proportion of U.S. adults reporting wearing face masks increased from 78% in April to 89% in June, according to the nationally representative survey released by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Tuesday.

But the survey found either no change or a decline in other behaviors aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus, such as hand-washing, social distancing and avoiding public or crowded places. Read More

Also See: 
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed how self-centered Americans can be and how little regard they can have for the lives of others. Jared Kushner' admissions are not surprising. To those who are paying attention, it is quite evident from his comments, Donald Trump has written off a large segment of the US population as casualties of the pandemic in his bid to reopen the economy and to secure his re-election. What is more surprising is that a segment of the population which identifies itself as Christian has gone along with what may be described as anti-life, pro-death policies, raising serious questions about its commitment to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Jesus fed the hungry, healed the sick, expelled demons, and raised the dead. He taught that his disciples are to be as merciful as God is merciful. He rebuked the Pharisees for their lack of compassion. He drew to his disciples' attention that those who showed compassion to others were, unknown to themselves, showing compassion to him. They would on the day of judgment be welcomed into his presence and rewarded for their compassion. But those who failed to show compassion to others, would be on the day of judgment sent away to eternal punishment. Jesus' warning is something that should give us pause. We can deceive ourselves but we cannot deceive Jesus. He knows our hearts. 

All Hallows Evening Prayer for Wednesday Evening (October 28, 2020) Now Online


The daily rhythm of praise and prayer has helped generations of Christians in difficult times like our own. It focuses our attention on what is most important—our relationship with God. Everything else in its time will fade away. But our relationship with God lasts forever.

All Hallows Murray offers its weekly services of Evening Prayer on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings with that thought in mind. It does not matter who you are, the walk of life from which you come, or where you are in your faith journey, these services are offered to help you to draw closer to God and to live in the way that God is calling you to live, at peace and in harmony with God and all humankind. May they prove a lasting blessing to you and to whoever with whom you share them.

The reading for this evening is:  
Matthew 11:1-8.

 The homily for this evening is titled "Who Is Jesus to You?"

The link to this evening’s service is:  https://allhallowsmurray.blogspot.com/2020/10/all-hallows-evening-prayer-for_28.html#more

Please feel free to share this link with anyone whom you believe might benefit from the service.

If an ad plays when you open a link to a video in a new tab, click the refresh icon of your browser until the song appears.

Previous services are online at: https://allhallowsmurray.blogspot.com/.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Halloween and Coronavirus: Can We Go Trick or Treating?


From trick or treating to apple bobbing, the traditions of 31 October aren't things you would immediately consider to be "Covid-safe". So does that mean Halloween is cancelled?

The answer kind of depends on where you live. Read More

Also See: 
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Guidance for Celebrating Halloween and Dia de los Muertos
CDC COVID-19 (2019) Holiday Celebrations: Halloween
This article was posted on the BBC News website with links to the foregoing guidance. Considering the fact that COVID-19 infections are surging in almost all of the states here in the United States, I personally would recommend that parents avoid such activities as trick or treating and multi-household Halloween parties, which pose a high COVID-19 infection risk. The county of Kentucky in which I live has been classified as a "red-zone" county due to its high incident rate of COVID-19 infections. "Red-zone" counties have the highest incident rates in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. WKMS reports that universities in Kentucky and Tennessee are anticipating an uptick in new COVID-19 cases after the Halloween weekend due to students attending off-campus Halloween parties and relaxing their guard. The best policy this Halloween is stay home and stay safe.

How Does COVID-19 Spread Differently Than The Flu?


There are some similarities between coronavirus and influenza transmission, but also a few scary and distinct differences.


Each year, scientists look to the Southern Hemisphere to get a clue as to how flu season up north might play out. The flu season below the equator, which typically runs June through August, gives us an idea of which strains are circulating and how intense the Northern Hemisphere’s flu season, which usually sees an uptick around early November, could be.

This year, the Southern Hemisphere saw a historically inactive flu season with “virtually no influenza circulation,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The reason for this, infectious disease experts say, lies in how similarly COVID-19 and the flu are transmitted and, therefore, prevented. The viruses primarily spread in the same ways. Thanks to all the precautions in place for the coronavirus — like mask-wearing, physical distancing, school closures and teleworking — the flu never really struck this year down under, compared to previous flu seasons.

But there are also some key differences in how the viruses spread. And knowing them could help you prevent the transmission of both and also make it easier to determine which one you have if you do get sick.

Here’s how the transmission modes of the two illnesses compare.... Read More

To ‘Celebrate’ or Not to Celebrate Halloween; That Is the Question


As Halloween 2020 approaches, many families want to know if it’s safe to let their children go trick-or-treating in the middle of a pandemic. There is no easy answer to this question, but here is some expert advice on how to make the experience as safe as possible. Read More

Tuesday's Catch: Thriving Small Churches and More


How A New Generation Is Changing What Quality Looks Like In A Thriving Small Church

Millennials are not the church of tomorrow. They’re raising families in and outside of our churches right now. Mostly outside of them. Unfortunately, some people have written off the current generation spiritually. That is a mistake – for the church and for them. Read More

The Blessings Of Low-Tech Church During A High-Tech Pandemic

How would our churches have adapted if this pandemic had happened just 20 years ago? What would we have done without ready access to internet-based technology? I’m convinced that whatever we would have done then, we should also be doing it now. Read More

Small Churches Can Thrive Even If They Don’t Become Big

“Why do you want churches to be small?” I hear that question a lot. My answer? I don’t want churches to be small. I want small churches to thrive! Wanting churches to be small is like wanting Hawaii to be sunny or vegetables to be nutritious. We don’t need to want it. That’s their normal state of being. Read More

How to Know if You Are Connecting With Online Viewers

If your church has gone online, Carey Nieuwhof has identified 5 online benchmarks that your church nees to be tracking. Read More

The Alpha-Male Style in American Evangelicalism

A historian asks whether a warped view of masculine authority has corrupted our faith and political witness. Read More

Generosity During COVID-19

How do we care for the most vulnerable during COVID-19? Read More

Our Responsibility to Others

As followers of Christ, we have a unique responsibility to love and care for those in our community who are vulnerable and oppressed. Throughout the Old Testament and carrying over into the life and ministry of Jesus, we see a particular focus on children, the poor, the widowed, and the foreigner. This was completely counter-cultural then, and it’s completely counter-cultural now. Read More

Churchgoers Aren’t Able to Lift Every Voice and Sing during the Pandemic – Here’s Why That Matters

Because of COVID-19, churches no longer reverberate with song; hymnals are neatly stacked and projection screens blank. Even as church leaders plan for reopening, scientists warn that it might be too early to resume singing in groups. Read More

20 Truths from ‘Models of Evangelism’ by Priscilla Pope-Levison

“Christians inevitably are message bearers, and that message is full of beauty, peace, goodness, and salvation.” Read More

Why Many Americans Will Be Shocked On Election Day

Many Americans will be terribly and totally shocked by the election results. Why is this the case? Read More

Monday, October 26, 2020

Monday's Catch: Reopening Church Buildings and More


In this article the Rev. Kathy Noble describes what her denomination is doing. Read More

Why Reopening a Church is Different

Everywhere we turn, people are talking about reopening. Should churches simply follow the same guidelines regarding reopening as other institutions? I believe there are practical principles and theological reasons why reopening our church campuses requires a different kind of thinking. The church shouldn’t be looking to sidestep the guidelines. The church shouldn’t be simply reacting to what others are doing. The church should be leading the way by modeling a method of safety for others to follow. Read More

Using Phones to Worship Remotely

Plenty of resources can help United Methodist churches offer online worship that is accessible by computer, tablet or cellphone. However, offering only online worship services when people cannot come together due to the COVID-19 pandemic or for other reasons may not be the best option for every congregation. Read More
One resource that does not get much mention is the local radio station. Many rural areas do have a local radio station and many older people living in the area listen to the station.
The Influenced Will Be Like the Influencer

We are easily influenced. It is a feature of humanity (and not a bug) that we learn best by example, by imitation. We are natural imitators and thrive on a combination of formal instruction and observable example. It is little wonder then that we cast about for teachers, for mentors, for people who can influence us, people we can imitate. All the while we know that we must find truthful and trustworthy influencers. With this in mind, we’d do well to hear Jesus’s back-to-back warnings about the power and perils of influence in Luke 6. Read More

Sunday, October 25, 2020

All Hallows Evening Prayer for Sunday Evening (October 25, 2020) Now Online


The daily rhythm of praise and prayer has helped generations of Christians in difficult times like our own. It focuses our attention on what is most important—our relationship with God. Everything else in its time will fade away. But our relationship with God lasts forever.

All Hallows Murray offers its weekly services of Evening Prayer on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings with that thought in mind. It does not matter who you are, the walk of life from which you come, or where you are in your faith journey, these services are offered to help you to draw closer to God and to live in the way that God is calling you to live, at peace and in harmony with God and all humankind. May they prove a lasting blessing to you and to whoever with whom you share them.

The reading for this evening is:  
Matthew 10: 40-42.

 The homily for this evening is titled "A Cold Cup of Water."

The link to this evening’s service is:  https://allhallowsmurray.blogspot.com/2020/10/all-hallows-evening-prayer-for-sunday_25.html#more.

Please feel free to share this link with anyone whom you believe might benefit from the service.

If an ad plays when you open a link to a video in a new tab, click the refresh icon of your browser until the song appears.

Previous services are online at: https://allhallowsmurray.blogspot.com/.

An Epidemiologist Explains the New CDC guidance on 15 Minutes of Exposure and What It Means for You


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has new guidance clarifying what exactly “close contact” means when it comes to transmission of SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The previous guidance suggested that a close contact occurred when a person was within six feet of an infectious individual for 15 consecutive minutes. Now, the CDC is acknowledging that even brief contact can lead to transmission. Specifically, the new guidance suggests that those spending a total of 15 minutes of contact with an infectious person over the course of a 24-hour period should be considered in close contact.

Despite the change, most public health professionals have been clear for months that there is nothing magic about six feet. In the same way, there is nothing magic about 15 minutes. These should be used as rough estimates to indicate the types of contact that are relatively higher risk.

This new guidance, then, is an important recognition of the ease with which this virus can spread. It is not a dramatic reversal of CDC guidance, like those related to masks and the back-and-forth on testing of asymptomatic individuals.

This change reflects new evidence that has emerged. This change is an example of how science works. As an epidemiologist who studies respiratory virus transmission, I actually don’t think this change will greatly impact how we live our lives during the pandemic, but it does represent continued evidence of how easily this virus spreads. Read More

Also See:
Sick of COVID-19? Here’s Why You Might Have Pandemic Fatigue
Impatience: Why We Don't Want to Wait, and What We Can Do about It

Saturday, October 24, 2020

All Hallows Evening Prayer for Saturday Evening (October 24, 2020) Now Online

The daily rhythm of praise and prayer has helped generations of Christians in difficult times like our own. It focuses our attention on what is most important—our relationship with God. Everything else in its time will fade away. But our relationship with God lasts forever.

All Hallows Murray offers its weekly services of Evening Prayer on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings with that thought in mind. It does not matter who you are, the walk of life from which you come, or where you are in your faith journey, these services are offered to help you to draw closer to God and to live in the way that God is calling you to live, at peace and in harmony with God and all humankind. May they prove a lasting blessing to you and to whoever with whom you share them.

The reading for this evening is:  
Matthew 9: 35-38.

 The homily for this evening is titled "Harvest Time."

The link to this evening’s service is:  https://allhallowsmurray.blogspot.com/2020/10/all-hallows-evening-prayer-for-saturday_24.html#more

Please feel free to share this link with anyone whom you believe might benefit from the service.

If an ad plays when you open a link to a video in a new tab, click the refresh icon of your browser until the song appears.

Previous services are online at:  https://allhallowsmurray.blogspot.com/

Saturday Lagniappe: Look on the Bright Side and More


As difficult as this year has been, the healthy crisis, economic crisis, racial crisis, and political crisis are breaking up some very hard ground in the world, in the church, and in the hearts of individuals. There couldn’t be a better time to innovate. What needs to change in your church? Here are a few things that I’m seeing right now. Read More

Domestic Violence and COVID-19

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, stay-at-home orders have been in place in some states for over seven months. During this time, government officials have been forced to deal with a number of issues caused by these orders including a sharp rise in cases of domestic abuse. Read More

Your Church is Not a Stepping-Stone

Some pastors view churches as steps, stepping-stones to move up and up until you finally “arrive.” What about you? Read More

Don’t Quit, Recommit

In recent months, I have been coAs difficult as this year has been, there ntacted by over a dozen senior pastors who are considering resigning from their churches due to the stress, strain, and constant demands being placed on them. In this post, I want to provide a few simple recommendations for those who are in similar circumstances or encounter a ministry leader who is considering stepping away from the ministry. Read More

The Benefit of Mid-Week Services [Podcast]

Mid-week services are making a comeback as churches reopen. In fact, some churches are experiencing faster growth on Wednesday nights than on Sunday mornings. Listen Now

Evangelism Is Sharing an Experience, Not Closing a Deal

You were born again for evangelism. Jesus said if we follow Him, we will be fishers of men (Matthew 4:19). He also said we would receive the Holy Spirit and be His witnesses (Acts 1:8). Both of these passages remind us that Christians should be evangelists. Our witness to others, however, should be as a satisfied customer, not a commissioned salesperson. Read More

Mask Up, America


This week my county experienced the highest number of new COVID-19 cases in a week. The county health department reported 34 new cases on Tuesday and an additional 15 new cases on Friday--a total of 49 new cases. Most of these new cases are attributed to family and small gatherings in which people relax their guard against the virus. This fits with what has been described as a "distressing trend" nationally. 

Earlier this week the Centers on Disease Control expanded its definition of close contact, based upon new evidence as to how the COVID-19 coronavirus may be transmitted. This evidence highlights the importance of wearing face masks to prevent the spread of the virus. 

New research released on Friday concluded that  universal wearing of face masks could prevent as many as 130,000 deaths through the end of February. 

On Friday Dr. Anthony Fauci who has previously expressed reluctance to support a federal mask mandate said now may be the time to call for such a mandate. 

While President Trump at the last presidential debate on Tuesday claimed," we're rounding the corner" on the COVID-19 pandemic, the data does not support the president's contention

On Friday the United States set a daily record for COVID-19 cases for the second day in a row--more than 79,000 infections.

Americans need to take the COVID-19 coronavirus with the seriousness which that highly-infectious disease warrants. It is a deadly virus. 

It is time for Americans to mask up and to join the fight against COVID-19. The United States won World War II because everyone did their part. Everyone made sacrifices. It is time for everyone to do their part again. 

Friday, October 23, 2020

Policies, Persons, and Paths to Ruin


Pondering the Implications of the 2020 Election

This article is probably as close as you will get to an answer on how I will vote in the upcoming presidential election.

Probably?

Right. Only God knows what may happen in the next days.

Nothing I say here is intended to dictate how anyone else should vote, but rather to point to a perspective that seems to be neglected. Yes, this perspective sways my vote. But you need not be sinning if you weigh matters differently. Read More

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Of Course, It’s Not the Same

 

By Robin G. Jordan

While was looking for articles for today’s edition of Anglican’s Ablaze, I came across a David Qauod article, “It’s Just Not the Same,” promoting in-person services over online services. I have noted a spate of these articles on the internet, particularly since many churches which have reopened their buildings and have gone back to having in-person services are not experiencing the kind of attendance that they experienced before the COVID-19 pandemic. These articles appear to be intended to convince those church members and regular attendees that have not returned to church, they are missing out on something and should set aside their safety concerns and return on Sundays.

What is frequently overlooked in these articles is that online services are not really meant to replicate in-person services albeit some churches have attempted to do so. For one thing these attempts have shown that a number of elements in in-person services are either superfluous or they do not translate well to the internet. What may be meaningful to church members and regular attendees may in actuality serve no useful purpose and may be meaningless to visitors to a church’s online services. 

Wide angle shots of an empty sanctuary or sparsely filled pews detract from what otherwise might be a positive experience as do long shots of the pulpit, communion table, platform, or chancel. Lengthy pastoral prayers in the language of Zion on topics unrelated to current events and everyday life will not lead the online viewer into deeper prayer.

Based on what is happening in Europe, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and elsewhere, emphasizing physical gatherings may be premature. Europe and the United Kingdom are experiencing what is being described as a second wave of the COVID-19 coronavirus and COVID-19 cases are on the rise in the United States in all states except Hawaii. We have also entered the cold season of the year in which more people will be spending time indoors in close quarters with other people. It is also the holiday season where families and friends  traditionally gather together. We can expect a further increase in COVID-19 infection rates across the United States.

Rather than treating a church’s online services as the less important of the church’s Sunday and weekday worship offerings, churches may need to be improving the quality of their online services and expanding their outreach on the internet.

Here are some ideas that churches may want to try.

1. Keep all shots in the online service up close and tight. Avoid wide angle and long shots. Churches might consider pre-recording and editing online services.

2. Remember that the viewers are likely sitting in their living room or some other room in their home. They are not sitting in a nave, sanctuary, or worship center. Tailor the online services with where the viewers will be watching the service in mind. This may involve reducing the level of formaility.

3. Ditch the lengthy pastoral prayer. Employ guided prayer that engages the viewer. After the prayer leader gives a short bidding inviting the viewers to pray for a particular intention silently or aloud, the prayer leader pauses to allow the viewers time to pray. After a suitable period of time the prayer leader concludes the time of prayer for that intention with a brief prayer. More than one prayer leader may be used.

4. Post a phone number on the church website where viewers can send a text containing a prayer request or concern. Incorporate these prayer requests and concerns in the prayer time when they are appropriate for that time.

5. Scroll the lyrics of hymns and songs across the screen in large print. The viewers do not need to see the faces of the vocalists. Show a background slide or video clip while scrolling the lyrics.

6. Keep the service and the sermon reasonably short.

7. Hold regular online communion services. Individual pre-packed containers of the elements may be mailed or otherwise delivered to those who inform the church that they wish to participate in these services. Depending upon the theological tradition of the church these containers may be pre-sanctified or a short consecratory prayer may be said during the communion service. The containers are opened and the elements are consumed at the same time.

While viewers who have a vital faith may not be gathered in one place physically, they are united by the Holy Spirit to Jesus and to each other and comprise a spiritually gathering of God’ s people. A church’s physically gatherings are only the outward expression of this inward reality. It makes visible what otherwise would not be visible. A loose aggregate of people can gather in the same physical space and call themselves a church but unless they are united by the Holy Spirit to Jesus and to each other, they are not the Body of Christ. 

Being physically present with each other does not transform an aggregate of people into the Body of Christ. Spiritual union to Jesus and to each other, mediate by God’s indwelling presence, does. Those who have received the gift of the Holy Spirit are never separated from each other although there may be a great physical distance between them. They are united to their Lord and to each other by God’s presence within them. There is no such thing as a solo Christian.

If it is not a valid communion for a believing Christian to receive the consecrated elements alone in her living room, it is also not a valid communion for a sick or dying person to receive the elements from the reserved sacrament.

Thursday's Catch: The Essential Small Church and More


The body of Christ is made up of many parts. Various denominations, liturgies, styles, and sizes. And nowhere is that variety more evident, more delightful or (let’s be honest) more frustrating than in the amazing variety of small churches. Churches of all sizes have an important role to play. But small churches often get fewer resources and less attention than our large church counterparts, so it’s important to be reminded why small churches are just as vital to the body of Christ as big churches are. Here are 7 reasons.... Read More

5 New Realities of First Impressions

How do we welcome guests in the age of social distancing? I think there are at least five things to think about.... Read More

Stop Ignoring Toxic Leadeship in the Church

Whether one or millions follow you, how you live and lead matters. You and everyone you influence benefits when you wake up to the importance of shrinking your integrity gap. The converse is also true. Everyone in your leadership wake (especially you) pays when your gap grows, it’s only a matter of time. We define integrity as a commitment to continuing to shrink the gap between the values you preach and the values you actually practice. Read More

Should I Preach Without Notes?

There are three typical ways a preacher might preach: with a manuscript, with no notes, with some notes. Each approach has advantages and disadvantages. Read More

The Early Church Thrived Amid Secularism and Shows How We Can, Too

The pre-Christendom church managed to avoid both isolationism and accommodationism. Their model gives us a map for post-Christendom challenges. Read More

The Early Church Saw Itself as a Political Body. We Can Too.


A Christian vision of the public square starts with being a different kind of people. Read More

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Wednesday's Catch: Churches Regather to Low Attendance and More


The vast majority of U.S. Protestant churches say they are holding in-person services, but churchgoers have yet to attend in the numbers they did before the coronavirus pandemic struck. Read More
Churchgoers are not going to rush back to church with the number of COVID-19 cases on the rise in all states except Hawaii. The reluctance of a substantial number of people to return to church should not surprise us. Because one group of attendees is eager to return to church, we cannot assume that everyone else feels the same way. Some people may begin to trickle back once their safety concerns are addressed. Others may never come back at all.
8 Pandemic-Friendly Ways to Reach Your Low-Tech Members

COVID has brought many challenges to staying connected, and it can be especially difficult for churches to engage with members who don’t have internet or are uncomfortable with technology, social media, or smartphones. Often those groups include seniors or lower income individuals and families. But with a little creativity, personal touch, and, in some cases, old-school outreach methods, you can keep connected with all your members. Here are a few pandemic-friendly tips to help engage even your low-tech members. Read More

Setting Goals You’ll Reach (Part 1)

Research tells us that more people struggle with setting goals than they do accomplishing them. Sitting down and actually thinking about what God wants us to do with our lives is often the hardest part. Yet the biggest differentiator between those who were moderately successful in life and those who were highly successful is whether or not they had definable goals written down. Read More

Setting Goals You'll Reach (Part 2)

People only accomplish the goals they plan to accomplish. You probably have big plans to engage your community with the message of Jesus, but you need to back that vision up with tangible, written-down goals. Genesis 24 and the story of Eliezer provide a great model for us in developing and pursuing goals. Last week, I shared with you five steps to Eliezer’s goal-setting strategy. Here are five more.... Read More

6 Helpful Resources and Opportunities to Be Aware of

From the beginning of my starting this blog, I’ve wanted to help pastors and church leaders. Today, I’m listing and describing some resources that I think you and your church might find helpful. Thanks for taking the time to check them out! Read More

Francis Becomes 1st Pope to Endorse Same-Sex Civil Unions

Pope Francis endorsed same-sex civil unions for the first time as pope while being interviewed for the feature-length documentary “Francesco,” which premiered Wednesday at the Rome Film Festival. Read More

All Hallows Evening Prayer for Wednesday Evening (October 21, 2020) Now Online


The daily rhythm of praise and prayer has helped generations of Christians in difficult times like our own. It focuses our attention on what is most important—our relationship with God. Everything else in its time will fade away. But our relationship with God lasts forever.

All Hallows Murray offers its weekly services of Evening Prayer on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings with that thought in mind. It does not matter who you are, the walk of life from which you come, or where you are in your faith journey, these services are offered to help you to draw closer to God and to live in the way that God is calling you to live, at peace and in harmony with God and all humankind. May they prove a lasting blessing to you and to whoever with whom you share them.

The reading for this evening is:  
Matthew 8: 18-22.

 The homily for this evening is titled "All to Jesus."

The link to this evening’s service is:  https://allhallowsmurray.blogspot.com/2020/10/all-hallows-evening-prayer-for_21.html#more

Please feel free to share this link with anyone whom you believe might benefit from the service.

If an ad plays when you open a link to a video in a new tab, click the refresh icon of your browser until the song appears.

Previous services are online at:  https://allhallowsmurray.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Tuesday's Catch: Cultural Burnout and More


How to Minister to a Culture That Is Burning Out


What can you do to point toward a solution, rather than be part of the problem? Read More 

The Case for Civility

What if digital technologies and upward mobility have displaced and isolated us because we find their moral demands on our relationships much easier than the demands of true civility? What if the path to a more humane, more real, and spiritually healthier culture is the path toward self-denying, other-preferring practices of Christian civility? Read More
Christians are not the only ones who practiced civility in Western culture.Indeed the disappearance of civility may be an indicator of the erosion of Western culture. Asian cultures have historically placed a high value upon harmonious relations betweeb all levels of society. As I am learning in my Japanese language class, the language itself of an Asian nation may reinforce such values. On the other hand, contemporary English, the English of everyday speech, no longer reinforces civility. This may be in part due to the language of social groupings that placed less value on civility having displaced the language of social groupings that did value civility. The language of what might bedescribed as the lower echelons of our society has become mainstream and those echelons do not value civility but the opposite--coarseness and rudeness. The declining influence of Christianity with its emphasis on showing respect for others in our culture may partially account for this development. The language of the street has displaced the language of the drawing room and the Sunday School class. One might describe it as the "barbarianization" of the language. It may itself be an indicator of the decline of Western culture.
The Most Powerful Factor in Determining Belief [Podcast]

Imagine you spent countless hours studying scientific and philosophical objections to Christianity. You enrolled in the classes. You read the books. You practiced the arguments. And you found out that no one really cared. Watch Podcast or Read Transcript

6 Important Factors To Re-Open Your Church Well

Churches don’t simply re-open, and you’re done. Re-opening is a process, and it could be a long one depending on when we finally get to the post COVID era. It requires a new leadership mindset. As long as culture and circumstances keep changing, the church continues its re-opening process. Read More

5 Core Qualities of Leadership Confidence

The moment you step up to lead, you immediately discover your level of confidence. And the question that comes up is why? Read More

How Culture Shapes Sermons

Recent books on culturally distinct preaching challenge misconceptions and equip diverse pastors to better address a multiethnic world. Read More

8 Reasons It’s Tough for Some Folks to Hear Us When We Preach

Not everyone listens to us when we preach, even when we’re in the same room. Here are some reasons some people struggle to listen... Read More

It’s Time to Start Limiting Your Zoom Meetings

According to a Microsoft study, the longer the meeting goes, the worse the results. Read More

Monday, October 19, 2020

The COVID-19 Pandemic: A Test of Compassion


Some Christians view COVID-19 pandemic as a test of faith. I have different take. I see COVID-19 pandemic as a test of compassion. 

I majored in history the first time I attended university and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree. Studying history in university sharpened my interest in the study of epidemics. According to family tradition an ancestor of my grandfather, my mother’s father, ferried food and other supplies into London by barge during the Great Plague and for that service was honored by the Lord Mayor of London with the key to the city. This tradition may have prompted my interest in the subject.

During recorded history and earlier the British Isles has been afflicted by a number of epidemics. The bubonic plague and smallpox were just two of them. According to contemporary descriptions of the disease it may have experience an outbreak of Ebola or some other viral hemorrhagic fever in the fifth or sixth century. With the beginning of the Industrial Age the White Death, tuberculosis, would become widespread in England.

The United States has also had its share of epidemics. Measles, diphtheria, and other diseases that the European explorers and settlers brought with them from the Old World decimated the Native American inhabitants of the New World. Whole populations were wiped out. There were outbreaks of cholera, typhus, and yellow fever in the United States until the early twentieth century. The last major yellow fever outbreak occurred in New Orleans in 1905.

Until the introduction of spraying with DDT after World War II, the only preventive measures that Americans could to take to prevent an outbreak was to drain any standing water where the mosquitoes which carried the disease bred or to cover it with oil to suffocate the mosquito larva, to install fine mesh screens on windows and doors and to sleep under mosquito nets hung over their beds. These measures involved people changing the way that they behaved.

What one learns from the study of epidemics is the significant role that human behavior plays in the spread of diseases. Indeed, human behavior plays a key role in the transmission of diseases like COVID-19. One of the reasons that Africa experiences outbreaks of Ebola is the practice of eating bush meat. Bush meat is meat from wild animals like monkeys that carry the Ebola virus. Another reason is the custom of relatives washing the corpse of an Ebola victim before burying it. In handling the corpse, the relatives contract the disease.

If we are to reduce the spread of COVID-19, we need to change our behavior. Wearing a face mask, maintaining a distance, limiting the size of our gatherings, holding our gatherings outdoors or in well-ventilated spaces, washing our hands, avoiding the kinds of activities that increase our respiration rate and our inhalation and exhalation of droplets and airborne particles containing the COVID-19 coronavirus, and having separate entrances and exits will reduce the spread of the virus—from ourselves to others, from our church to our community.

Putting these precautionary measures into practice and making a habit of them, not only in our church but also in our community is a way that we show compassion for others, the kind of compassion that Jesus commands us to show. “Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.” The face mask may be uncomfortable and inconvenient. We may draw hostile stares. But what we suffer will be little compared to what Jesus suffered for us.

When we view the pandemic as a test of faith, we focus on ourselves, on what God will do for us as a reward for our faith. When we see the pandemic as a test of compassion, we focus on others, on what God will do through us. God sometimes works through miracles. But more often he works through ordinary means. We may be the very means through whom God has chosen to work. We may be the instruments of his grace, of his loving care, to our community and beyond.

Monday's Catch: COVID-19 Controversies in Churches and More


They contact our team daily. They want to make the right decision, but it seems that any decision gets them in trouble. Pastors in churches around the world are, like all of us, navigating a new reality. It’s not a new normal; it is truly a new reality. These pastors, of course, have never been confronted with these types of controversies. They love their church members, but the church members are not always loving them back. Here are the six most common controversies we are hearing from pastors as they contact Church Answers. The list, of course, is not exhaustive nor is it mutually exclusive. Read More

People Will Leave Your Church

People are leaving your church. I’ve read that more people leave during the fall than any other season. This isn’t because people become wanderlust; rather, most physical relocations due to work or some other issue are made during the summer before the fall school season begins. It takes a few months to find a new church home, so fall is a heightened time of transition. But I’ve also read that more people are leaving during the pandemic than ever before. There are lots of reasons the pandemic is accelerating people’s “fall” transitions. Read More 

Biblical Freedom and the Unmasking of Evangelical

There are two competing ideas on personal liberty that inspire two vastly different understandings of the fundamental nature of freedom. One was recorded 2000 years ago and has guided Christ followers from countless cultures through a myriad of history’s most tumultuous moments. The other is comparatively much younger, more culturally constricted, and considerably less charitable. Read More

Paul Tripp on 12 Leadership Principles for the Local Church

Video introductions to Paul Tripp’s book, Lead: 12 Gospel Principles for Leadership in the Church (Crossway, 2020). Watch Now

Sunday, October 18, 2020

All Hallows Evening Prayer for Sunday Evening (October 18, 2020) Now Online

 


The daily rhythm of praise and prayer has helped generations of Christians in difficult times like our own. It focuses our attention on what is most important—our relationship with God. Everything else in its time will fade away. But our relationship with God lasts forever.

All Hallows Murray offers its weekly services of Evening Prayer on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings with that thought in mind. It does not matter who you are, the walk of life from which you come, or where you are in your faith journey, these services are offered to help you to draw closer to God and to live in the way that God is calling you to live, at peace and in harmony with God and all humankind. May they prove a lasting blessing to you and to whoever with whom you share them.

The reading for this evening is:  
Matthew 7:24-29

 The homily for this evening is titled "Jesus--the Rock on Which the Wise Build

The link to this evening’s service is:  https://allhallowsmurray.blogspot.com/2020/10/all-hallows-evening-prayer-for-sunday_18.html#more

Please feel free to share this link with anyone whom you believe might benefit from the service.

If an ad plays when you open a link to a video in a new tab, click the refresh icon of your browser until the song appears.

Previous services are online at:   https://allhallowsmurray.blogspot.com/

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Saturday Lagniappe: Online Benchmarks Churches Should Start Measuring and More


How do you measure what happened at church last weekend? How do you know that you’re actually making progress? If the goal is to turn online views into real relationships and actual discipleship, any idea what to look for to know if that’s actually happening? Read More

7 Things Every Leader Should Be Preparing for Now

While no one knows the future, that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare. And while I have no greater insight into the future than you do, here are 7 things I’m planning around as 2021 approaches. I’ll also share a short action step with each insight. Read More

5 Leadership Hacks You Can't Afford to Miss

Sometimes leadership can seem so overwhelming. In reality, though, there are some leadership hacks that make it simpler than it first appears. In many ways, great leaders master some very basic things that other people miss. The advice in this post is so simple you might be thinking “well, my mother used to tell me to do that”. Maybe that’s the point. Read More

How to Connect with the People Watching Your Church Online and Why So Many Church Leaders Resist Tech [Podcast] 

Silicon Valley titan Pat Gelsinger, the CEO of VMWare and former CTO of Intel, and Scott Beck, who scaled Blockbuster Video, Boston Market, Einstein Brothers Bagels and Ancestry.com, and is the Founder of Gloo, talk about how the future church can use technology to reach people and connect people. Listen Now

The Church Recovery Process Out of COVID

The post-COVID recovery will take years, not months, in many small churches. Karl Vaters shares some key ways churches can begin the recovery process. Listen Now

5 Myths about Pastoral Leadership

Preaching isn’t the primary calling of the pastor—shepherding is. Jesus’s charge to Peter was “feed my sheep” and “tend my sheep” (John 21:15). The shepherd’s job description is to “care for the church of God” (Acts 20:28). Preaching is a primary means to a greater end—the end of pastoring! Read More

Why Your Character is Crucial, and How to Develop It

Competence may get you in the door, but character keeps you in the room. Character is core to who you are as a leader, whether or not people trust you, and your overall effectiveness for the good of others. Let’s be blunt. People simply will not follow anyone they don’t trust. Being really good at what you do is critical, but character is the bottom line for a spiritual leader. Read More

Survey: Evangelical Teens Differ from Other Christian Teens

In almost every area of a recent survey, evangelicals stand apart from other teens in both religious belief and also practice. Read More

All Hallows Evening Prayer for Saturday Evening (October 17, 2020) Now Online

The daily rhythm of praise and prayer has helped generations of Christians in difficult times like our own. It focuses our attention on what is most important—our relationship with God. Everything else in its time will fade away. But our relationship with God lasts forever.

All Hallows Murray offers its weekly services of Evening Prayer on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings with that thought in mind. It does not matter who you are, the walk of life from which you come, or where you are in your faith journey, these services are offered to help you to draw closer to God and to live in the way that God is calling you to live, at peace and in harmony with God and all humankind. May they prove a lasting blessing to you and to whoever with whom you share them.

The reading for this evening is:  
Matthew 7: 21-23.

The homily for this evening is titled "The Way into God's Kingdom."

The link to this evening’s service is: https://allhallowsmurray.blogspot.com/2020/10/all-hallows-evening-prayer-for-saturday_17.html#more

Please feel free to share this link with anyone whom you believe might benefit from the service.

If an ad plays when you open a link to a video in a new tab, click the refresh icon of your browser until the song appears.

Previous services are online at:  https://allhallowsmurray.blogspot.com/

Friday, October 16, 2020

A Plea to Pastors in the Midst of a Pandemic


Here in western Kentucky they have a number of descriptions for people like Sean Feucht. “Dang fool” is one of the kinder ones. Both Kentucky and neighboring Tennessee are seeing a rise in new COVID-19 cases. In Tennessee the smaller counties are particularly hard hit.

Sean Feucht rolled into Nashville this past Sunday and held a large gathering for which he had no permit from the health authorities, a gathering where the attendees were jampacked together and few masks were visible.

Chances are that people from Kentucky as well as Tennessee attended that gathering. Chances are that a number of them were infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus and chances are that a number of them who were not infected with the virus when they arrived were infected with it when they left. They took the virus home to granny and grandpa and to the daughter, sister, niece, or cousin who is expecting her first child.

The Jackson Purchase where I live is about a two-hour drive from Nashville. Chances are that people from the Purchase attended that gathering. Chances are that they did not self-isolate when they returned from Nashville. Chances are that they will be shopping for groceries in the supermarket this coming Saturday without a mask. Chances are that they will be in church this coming Sunday if their church has reopened its building. Chances are that they will be barbecuing with family and friends on Sunday afternoon. And the COVID-19 infection rate will keep going up and up.

Who will they have to blame but themselves if granny gets real sick, grandpa dies, and Cousin Annie’s baby is born with birth defects. They were the ones who decided to attend the gathering. No one forced them to go.

As for Sean Feucht, he will be in another city and another state holding another gathering at which the COVID-19 coronavirus will be spread. 

What is in these gatherings for Feucht. He claims that he is advocating for religious freedom. But to my mind he is getting a lot of publicity and attention from these gatherings. I would not put it past him that he is eyeing another run for political office. There is a lot of ways for making a name for yourself if that is what you want to do, ways that do not involve endangering the lives of others.

Jesus did not exactly have kind words for the Pharisees who did things to draw attention to themselves. He told his followers that the Pharisees would receive their reward in this life and not in the next. Their reward would be the admiration and attention of those who lacked discernment and could not see through what Pharisees were doing.

Pastor, don’t let yourself and your congregation be fooled and misled by people like Sean Feucht. Granny, grandpa, and Cousin Annie and her newborn are precious souls for whom our Lord suffered and died on the cross. Do not let people like Sean Feucht do them harm.

Friday's Catch: Effective Engagement and More


Most of today's articles fall into the category of current events that affect local churches--the COVID-19 pandemic, what may become a superspreading event in a part of the South that is seeing a rise in the number of COVI-19 cases, and the United States' rising poverty rate. 

We Need to Reset the Rules of Cultural Engagement


The old, tried-and-true strategies don’t reflect the new world we live in. It’s time for an update. Read More

Health Officials Uneasy About Recent Worship Protest in Nashville

On Oct. 11, a large crowd, most of whom were not wearing masks, gathered in Nashville, Tennessee, for a worship protest led by political activist and worship leader Sean Feucht. Dr. Alex Jahangir, who is the chairman of Nashville’s Metro Coronavirus Task Force, has joined the Metro Public Health Department and Metro Interim Police Chief John Drake in voicing his dismay over Sunday’s gathering. Read More

Jesus Christ, Superspreader?

A conservative Christian preacher promised to bring “salvations, signs and wonders, and miracles” to Nashville on Sunday night when he hosted a mass religious gathering in the city’s Public Square Park downtown. The real miracle, however, will be if no one catches the coronavirus. Read More 

Nashville losing ground to COVID-19 as clusters arise among school-aged kids and families

After months of gaining ground on the coronavirus, Nashville saw a rise in infections and positive tests over the past two weeks, prompting concern that the city's fragile progress against the virus has begun to crack. Read More

The Great Barrington Declaration is an ethical nightmare

These scientists want more young, healthy people infected by the coronavirus. It’s a bad idea. Read More

Covid: Remdesivir 'has little or no effect' on survival, says WHO

Anti-viral drug remdesivir has little to no effect on Covid patients' chances of survival, a study from the World Health Organization (WHO) has found. Read More

Coronavirus: US poverty rises as aid winds down

Poverty rates in the US are rising, as government aid winds down despite ongoing economic distress caused by the pandemic. Nearly 8 million Americans - many of them children and minorities - have fallen into poverty since May, university researchers have said. Read More

What the Pandemic Taught Me about Preaching Preferences

Darron Edwards identifies three different environments to which his church has adapted—and shares wwhat he has learned through preaching in each one. Read More

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Thursday's Catch: Essential Practices for Church Revitalization in the COVID-19 Era and More


3 Areas in Which All Church Leaders Must Be Revitalizers


Pastor Rob Hurtgen is currently recovering from COVID-19. His ongoing recovery has prompted thoughts toward three essential practices for ministry and revitalization in his church. Read More

Delayed Medical Care--a Growing Problem in the United States in the COVID-19 Era

While many are delaying medical care due to concerns about contracting COVID-19, others are putting off treatment after losing both income and health insurance due to unemployment. Indeed, unemployment rates in many regions are as high as they’ve been since the Great Depression. The cost of these missed hospital and doctor visits may have long-term effects extending far beyond the pandemic. Read More
Delayed medical care is not a new problem. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, is exacerbating the problem. The Affordable Care Act was an attempt to eleviate the problem, making health care more affordable and more accessible to a larger segment of the population. Here in Kentucky the success of Affordable Care Act enrollments eliminated the need for a free clinic in my community. Since taking office four years ago President Trump has worked assiduously to dismantle the Affordable Care Act while offering nothing in its place. His approach to health care has at best been piecemeal, intended to garner votes rather than to address the health crisis in America.
Christian Musician Sean Feucht Brings COVID Worship Protest to Nashville, Had No Permit Say Health Officials

Despite local guidelines allowing faith groups to meet for worship, a barnstorming Christian musician played outdoors in Nashville to protest church closures. Read More

What Happened at the Council of Nicaea?

Where the books of the Bible chosen at the Council of Nicaea? Did the Roman Emperor Constantine suppress those gospels that emphasized the humanity of Christ? Wes Huff addresses these questions and more. Read More

What Does the Roman Catholic Church Believe About Justification?

The gospel of Jesus Christ is always at risk of distortion. It became distorted in the centuries leading up to the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century. It became distorted at innumerable other points of church history, and it is often distorted today. This is why Martin Luther said the gospel must be defended in every generation. It is the center point of attack by the forces of evil. They know that if they can get rid of the gospel, they can get rid of Christianity. Read More

Three Filters for Helping to Discern God’s Call

Sam Rainer shares three filters for early discernment: position, church, and place. These three frames can help narrow a calling. Read More

Are All Pastors Televangelists Now?

What Billy Graham, Fred Rogers, Mother Angelica, and others can teach us about delivering sermons to a camera. Read More

3 Things That Need to Change About How Our Kids Worship

Most of the time when we talk about worship for kids or youth ministry its most often in the context of practical tips. What songs are hot right now? Where can I get videos for this song? Most recently can I use worship songs that have copyright for our online services during COVID-19? What we fail to ask is why we worship and are we worshiping God in the way he desires to be worshiped. Read More

Don’t be Afraid to Pay for Social Media Ads

Social media platforms’ goals often do not align with most churches. For most churches, the goal of social media is getting the word out about their events and programs with the hope that the viewer will click on the social media and leave the platform to view the content on the church website. So how do we solve this problem? Read More

4 Ways Social Media Can Be Levereged for Discipleship

Social media can be a tool to broaden people’s mind instead of just narrowing their viewpoint to one side of the facts. Here are some ways you can share positive things to help encourage people in their walk with God. Read More