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An Evangelical’s Guide to the Enneagram

By John Starke What’s behind the popular self-assessment tool making its way to your church. Tools are fashioned in the image of their user. Hammers are productive in the hands of carpenters and malignant in the hands of an angry mob. Spiritual tools are a little more complicated than material tools, because souls are complicated. Prayer walking, guided meditation, and lectio divina can wield wonders in the hands of a mature Christian, counselor, or spiritual director. They can also wield destruction in the hands of someone who has only read a pamphlet or written a blog post. Like every tool, a popular self-assessment test known as the Enneagram has the capacity to heal or to harm, depending on how it’s used. In the first Enneagram resource from an evangelical publisher, InterVarsity Press’s new release The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery, coauthor Ian Morgan Cron calls new Enneagram fans “number thumpers.” They “run around typing people and pets, hacking off family members, and alienating people who have no idea what they’re jabbering about,” he writes. The Enneagram is not a spiritual tool, per se, but it is increasingly being used as one in church classes and faith-based counseling settings. Its origins are obscure. …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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No, Evangelical Does not Mean "White Republican Who Supports Trump"

By Ed Stetzer Labels matter. So do definitions. Evangelicals are best defined by their beliefs. Having worked in church and culture research for over a decade, I can tell you that one of the most-asked questions is about the category of Evangelicals. It has been this way for a long time, but this election has brought it to the top of everyone’s list. With 4 of 5 white Evangelicals voting for Donald Trump, everyone both inside and outside of Christianity is trying to understand just who this group is. And among those self-identifying Evangelicals who did not support Donald Trump, many are wondering how they can share the same label. This is the moment when more people than ever are asking, what exactly is an “Evangelical” Christian? And, Evangelical does not mean “White Republican Who Supports Trump.” Evangelical? Some have said they don’t want to use the label anymore, embaressed because of its identification with Donald Trump. But, that’s backwards. It’s not the label that supported Trump, it’s people—white Evangelicals, primarily. But, it’s not politics that unite all Evangelicals, it’s the gospel. You see, most Evangelicals did not support Donald Trump; it was white Evangelicals that did. Yes, researches say “Evangelical,” and that’s a demographic catagorty, but usually they mean “White …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Recommended Church Planting Books: New and Old

By Daniel Im “Read two old books for every new one.” Today, more than ever, we have an abundance of digital resources, webinars, training videos, and templates for church planting. However, as you might already know, not all resources are created equal. (That’s why Ed Stetzer and I created and lead NewChurches.com together—an online hub for church multiplication.) Having said that, there really is nothing that replaces a good book! I love what the great theologian J.I. Packer says about books, “Read two old books for every new one.” Or how about this quote from Francis Bacon, “Some books are to be tested, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.” While less books on church planting are being published today than in years past, there is still a steady stream of new books coming out on a regular basis. The purpose of today’s article is not to create some sort of bestseller list or rank some church planting books higher than others, but rather to give you perspective on five new and five old church planting books you should be aware of. Five Old Church Planting Books Moore, Ralph. How to Multiply Your Church: The Most Effective Way to Grow. …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Review: The End of the Tour

By Jackson Cuidon In the David Foster Wallace biopic, the author’s own words are the best part. mpaa rating:R (For some language, including sexual references.) Genre:Drama Directed By: James Ponsoldt Run Time: 1 hour 46 minutes Cast: Anna Chlumsky, Jesse Eisenberg, Jason Segel, Mamie Gummer Theatre Release:July 31, 2015 by A24 The End of the Tour—based on the hybrid transcript/non-fiction Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself by David Lipsky—shows that author David Foster Wallace is easy to represent in the abstract. In the wake of his suicide, Wallace left behind thousands of pages of fiction and non-fiction, as well as at least three collections of interviews (based on the contents of my bookshelves alone), from which to glean a rough impression of the depressive, genius author. The film maybe hopes to reflect the mind of Wallace, and director James Ponsoldt decides that the best way to go about this is to have Jason Segel read quotes from Lipsky’s transcript. The result is simultaneously accurate and unremarkable. Segel portrays Wallace as schlubby, attention-shy, and a combination of externally friendly and closed-off; Jesse Eisenberg, playing Lipsky, plays Jesse Eisenberg. The plot is both pretty bare and kind of structurally cringe-worthy. Lipsky—himself a struggling NYC-based author—decides to interview Wallace for …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Contextualize. Don’t Merely Evangelize.

Christians must be willing to pursue contextualization for reasons other than evangelism. As I waited for my plane, I was stumped by what I was looking at. If Chinese understood the English on the KFC sign, no one would want to eat there. It simply read, “finger lickin’ good.” For anyone who knows Chinese culture, this slogan would be like Colgate advertising that it will make our teeth “toilet bowl white.” Uh, maybe that’s true but no one will want to buy something that promises to give me a potty mouth. You see, Chinese people don’t like eating with their fingers. In fact, many Western burger restaurants offer gloves for people to eat their sandwiches. Why then is KFC so successful in China? At one level, it is a famous western restaurant and eating there shows you have a comfortable income. However, KFC’s real secret to success is found elsewhere. KFC knows how to contextualize its product. If you don’t want fries, you can order rice porridge, corn, or egg and tart congee. Instead of chicken, customers can buy fish and shrimp sandwiches. Fortunately for KFC, contextualization is about more than good marketing slogan. Creative communication attracts people to something novel, but in the …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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History’s Biggest Heresies

By Compiled by Kevin P. Emmert False teachings condemned by the church. On the Trinity Modalism Who taught it? Sabellius (3rd century) What is it? God is only one divine being, who plays different roles at different times. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not distinct persons of the same essence, but different modes or expressions of a single person. Modalism naturally leads to Patripassianism—the belief that the Father literally suffered on the cross. Key text? Philippians 2:6: “. . . being in the form of God . . .” Where does it show up today? Oneness Pentecostalism believes that God’s three modes of existence can act simultaneously, though God is still only one person. Subordinationism Who taught it? Eusebius of Caesarea (263–339) What is it? The Son and the Spirit are divine persons, distinct from the Father but inferior to him. All three persons are truly God, but they exist in a hierarchy of power and authority. Key text? Matthew 26:39: “. . . not as I will, but as you will.” Where does it show up today? According to a 2014 LifeWay Research study, 22 percent of evangelicals believe the Father is more divine than the Son. On Jesus Christ Arianism Who taught it? Arius (c. 256–336) What is it? The Son as Word (Logos, in …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Chuck Colson Was Not a Culture Warrior

By Owen Strachan And anyway, he stopped “winning” his battles a long time ago. Winning,” football coach Vince Lombardi once said, “is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing.” Chuck Colson was not much good at football, but he was good at winning. He puckishly turned down Harvard, excelled at Brown, became a Marine, worked for the Assistant Secretary of the Navy in procurement, had three lovely children, practiced lucrative law, and capped it all off by serving his country as Special Counsel to President Richard Nixon (1969-73). This was an impressive winning streak, and he did it all by age 38. As a young man, Colson had already stockpiled a lifetime worth of achievement. In his black Brooks Brothers suits, he fit the profile of the classic D. C. powerbroker—young, influential, and untouchable. Until he wasn’t. ‘I Would Walk Over My Grandmother’ Colson played hardball. During his time in Nixon’s administration, he targeted the President’s enemies, at one point spearheading a smear campaign of Daniel Ellsberg, leaker of the “Pentagon Papers.” The staffer became known as “Nixon’s hatchet man,” a sobriquet that followed him the rest of his life. The hatchet man did not know it all, though. When Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Immanuel: Is God Still With Us?

By Max Lucado Absolutely. And in the most active way possible. God fights for you. Is that news to you? Have you forgotten this following the heartbreaking events in San Bernardino? Has the threat of ISIS made God seem powerless? Do you wonder why God isn’t fixing the world? During this Christmas season, you’ve almost certainly been reminded of Immanuel, which means God is with us. Maybe you’ve heard about the God who made you, watches you, directs you, knows you. But the God who fights for you? Who blazes the trail ahead of you? Who defends you? Who collapses walls and defeats kings? Did you know that God is fighting for you? That “with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles” (2 Chron. 32:8)? That “our God will fight for us” (Neh. 4:20)? That the Lord will “fight against those who fight against ” (Ps. 35:1)? Did you catch that? Not only does God promise to be with us, but he promises to fight for us. For you. God fights for you. Let those four words sink in for a moment. God. The CEO, President, King, Supreme Ruler, Absolute Monarch, Czar, Emperor, and Raja of all history. He runs interference and …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Why Are Christian Guys Silent About Abstinence?

By Cody Hill, guest writer When we don’t talk about male virginity, we imply that it’s not important. In an age of sexual exploration and broad acceptance of sexual activity, virginity has held on to its stigma—and not just if you’re Tim Tebow. Ask any 20-something guy trying to save sex for marriage. Even as our culture increasingly emphasizes individual choice and freedom, encouraging young people to honor their bodies and wait until they are ready before having sex, most of that messaging isn’t geared toward my demographic. People largely assume that all college-aged men have already had sex, since most of them have. And here’s the thing: Even as a male student at a conservative Christian university, I still see male virginity carry a stigma. That’s how pervasive our society’s messaging about sex is. While my school’s policies prohibit sexual contact between unmarried students, that doesn’t mean all of us toe the line without a struggle. I’ve watched friends encounter a wide range of expectations and backgrounds while dating. One friend was interested in a woman at school here, and things progressed until he discovered that she wanted only a physical relationship. He felt ashamed that he had to break things off, and some of …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Forgiver Feted

A snapshot of Christian witness in the world (as it appeared in our January/February issue). India: In 1999, dozens of Hindu extremists attacked Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons in their sleep, burning them alive. Yet his widow, Gladys, forgave the attackers and continued the couple’s ministry to lepers. In November, she received the prestigious Mother Teresa Memorial International Award for Social Justice. Previous winners include the Dalai Lama, Malala Yousafzai, and “Machine Gun Preacher” Sam Childers. … …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Court: Turkey Failed Malatya Martyrs and Must Pay Back Their Families

By Morning Star News But it’s not quite the good news Turkish Christians have been waiting for since 2007. The Turkish government neglected its duty to protect three Christians who were tortured and killed in 2007, a Turkish court ruled on Tuesday. The Malatya Administrative Court has ordered the government to pay damages to the victims’ families, after ruling that the Turkish interior ministry and Malatya governor’s office ignored reliable intelligence that Turkish nationalists were targeting the three Christians days prior to their murder. Five young men with alleged links to Turkish nationalists killed three Christians on April 18, 2007, in the office of the Zirve Publishing House in Malatya in southeastern Turkey. Ugur Yüksel, 32, and Necati Aydin, 36, both Turkish converts from Islam, and Tilmann Geske, 45, a German national, were bound, interrogated about their Christian activities, and then mutilated and killed with knives, according to court evidence. According to several Christians close to the victims, one or more of the accused suspects cultivated relationships with the three Christians, one even going so far as to pose as a new convert to the Christian faith. The court ordered the interior ministry to pay the families close to 1 million Turkish lira (US$333,980) in damages. Susanne Geske …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Mandarin Moment: Should US Churches Switch from Spanish-Language Services?

By Morgan Lee China has overtaken Mexico as the No. 1 sender of legal immigrants to America. Fred Biby thought his congregation was missing an opportunity. Dozens of Chinese immigrants were sending their children to Bridges Community Church’s preschool. But the Fremont, California, church wasn’t engaging the adults. So the associate pastor teamed up with the preschool to promote Bridges’ Sunday morning services and outreach events in Mandarin. A Mandarin-language small group formed, and 15 years later, Bridges is a congregation of about 100, with a Mandarin-language pastor on its payroll. Biby’s initiative aligned with broader demographic trends: in 2013, China overtook Mexico as the No. 1 sender of legal immigrants to the United States. When Latino immigration spiked in past decades, many Anglo congregations launched Spanish-language ministries. Should US churches now devote more resources to the Chinese? And will the bilingual ministry learning curve be faster this time? Experts agree that churches won’t be able to cut and paste from their Spanish ministries. For example, since two-thirds of Mexican immigrants live in poverty and half lack health insurance, many churches offer social services like food pantries and ESL classes. But only one-third of Chinese immigrants live in poverty, and more than half are college graduates (compared …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Why You Can Still Bet Your Life on Christ

By Michael Rota An updated version of Pascal’s wager offers a powerful argument for Christian commitment. Many Christians believe in God fundamentally because they sense his presence. But what if you don’t sense his presence? Or what if it comes and goes—at times deserting you and leaving you doubting? What should we do when certainty proves elusive? Should we commit to living a devout Christian life only if we are absolutely convinced that Christianity is true? Blaise Pascal, a 17th-century thinker, famously addressed these very questions. An influential mathematician, scientist, and inventor, Pascal was also deeply religious. In his early 30s, he had a religious experience so powerful that he kept a written description of it stitched into his coat until his death at 39. Pascal left behind a major, unfinished work of apologetics, but notes for the project were found among his belongings, compiled by editors, and published as the Pensées. In one of his notes, Pascal makes several attempts at a pragmatic argument that one should commit to living a devout Christian life even without certainty that God exists. “Pascal’s wager,” as the argument is called, can be summed up in a single sentence: For those who choose the way of Jesus, there is …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Saturday is for Seminars—Disaster Relief Conference

By Ed Stetzer Disaster Relief and Amplify Let me share two conferences coming up on the Wheaton College campus this summer! Caring for the Vulnerable, June 7-10, 2016—Wheaton, IL Click this link to register for Caring for the Vulnerable Disaster Ministry Conference. Amplify Conference, June 28-30, 2016—Wheaton, Illinois Click here to register for the Amplify Conference. Coming Soon June 13, 2016Southern Baptist Convention Pastor’s Conference St. Louis, MO June 28-30, 2016Amplify Conference Wheaton, IL July 18, 2016Church of God General Assembly Nashville, TN August 12-13, 2016Gideons Global Impact Conference Toronto, Ontario, CA September 9, 2016Capacity Conference Atlanta, GA September 16, 2016American Association of Christian Counselors National Meeting Dallas, TX September 30, 2016MissioNexus Louisville, KY … …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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How Grandparenting Redeemed Our Family

By Erin Wyble Newcomb, guest writer This Father’s Day, I celebrate my parents’ choice to move close to my kids. “We’re playing huckle-buckle-beanstalk!” My six-year-old beamed at me, bouncing on the balls of her feet. My younger daughter skipped around the living room. In the kitchen, my mother pulled a small, plastic princess doll out of the sugar canister and dusted off the toy. “I found her!” she called out, laughing. I stood in the doorway smiling, even though I’d never heard of the game before. My mother walked over to greet me, shrugging her shoulders. “It’s a silly game my sisters and I used to play,” she said. “I don’t remember why we named it that.” My parents recently bought a house in our neighborhood to be close to me, my husband, and our two daughters, their only grandchildren. No longer serving in the “sandwich generation” role of caring for their own aging parents, my parents are exercising their freedom by spending their golden years close to my girls. They’re part of a growing trend. As Harriet Edleson writes in The New York Times, geographic distance is a major factor in family relationships these days. “With families increasingly far-flung,” she writes, “those who want to …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Churches in America—Part 2

By Ed Stetzer Mainline Protestantism as a whole is hemorrhaging. Mainline Protestants Mainline Protestants (those in the United Methodist Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America , Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church , American Baptist Churches, United Church of Christ , and The Christian Church ) have fared poorly in recent decades. While Christianity overall is not dying in America, Mainline Protestantism is getting closer. According to the GSS, 28% of Americans identified with a mainline church in 1972. By 2014, that number had dropped to 12.2%. A recent report from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) corroborates this trend. The report looked at church statistics from 2002 to 2013. The denomination reported net membership losses each year. In 2002, the denomination shrank by 41,812 members. This number peaked in 2012 when they reported a net loss of 102,791. Other Mainline denominations faced similar declines due to several factors, including aging membership, falling birthrates, a lack of theological clarity, and a shortage of new churches. Mainline Protestantism as a whole is hemorrhaging and is facing an existential crisis. If the current trajectory continues, some Mainline denominations could cease to exist in the next four to five decades. Evangelicals Evangelicals have remained steady for the most part, according to the polls. …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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How a French Atheist Becomes a Theologian

By Guillaume Bignon Inside my own revolution. If French atheists rarely become evangelical Christians, how much rarer it is for one to become an evangelical Christian theologian. So what happened? One might argue that with 66 million French people, I’m just a fluke, an anomaly. I am inclined to see it as the work of a God who says, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy” (Rom. 9:15). Hearing the facts may help you decide for yourself. I grew up in a wonderfully loving family in France, near Paris. We were Catholic, a religious expression that seemed to arise more out of tradition and perhaps superstition than conviction. As soon as I was old enough to tell my parents I didn’t believe any of it, I stopped going to Mass. I pursued my own happiness on all fronts, benefiting from my parents’ loving dedication. It allowed me to do well at school, learn to play the piano, and get involved in many sports. I studied math, physics, and engineering in college, graduated from a respected engineering school, and landed a job as a computer scientist in finance. On the sports front, after I grew to be 6 feet 4 inches and discovered I …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Pew: Most Evangelicals Will Vote Trump, But Not For Trump

By Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra With half of voters dissatisfied with both presidential candidates, white evangelicals primarily plan to oppose Clinton. More than three-quarters of self-identified white evangelicals plan to vote for Donald Trump in the fall (78%). But they aren’t happy about it. According to a Pew Research Center survey of 1,655 registered voters released today, more than half of white evangelicals said they weren’t satisfied with their ballot options (55%), reflecting the feeling of Americans at large (58%). And 45 percent of white evangelicals said they meant their vote as opposition to Hillary Clinton, not as an endorsement of Trump. In stark contrast are black Protestants, two-thirds of whom are evangelicals (according to Pew). Almost 90 percent said they would be casting a vote for Clinton in the fall (89%), and 60 percent said they were satisfied with their choices. Half of black Protestant voters said their vote was in support of Clinton (53%), while one-third said they were voting against Trump (34%). This preference lines up with African Americans at large, who favor Clinton. Black Protestant voters diverge from the much larger group of white evangelicals, who make up one out of five registered voters and one out of three Republicans. “Despite the professed wariness toward …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Full Bellies, Thankful Hearts

By Rob Moll God designed your stomach and your heart to be intimately connected. “Eat your food!” That’s what many of us were told as children. “There are starving children in Africa.” It turns out, however, that we can better contemplate the needs of starving children once our own bellies are full. Especially at this time of year, it might seem incongruous to think of those in need while we load up on Thanksgiving goodies for ourselves. I know I feel a twinge of guilt while rushing out the grocery store and past the food drive donation box. Yet gratitude and compassion go hand in hand with full bellies. Recent studies show that we find it easier to turn our eyes to those who are less fortunate when we have enjoyed some abundance ourselves. As Christians, we are designed to both enjoy and share God’s good creation with gratitude and compassion. As we contemplate our own prosperity, it can prompt us to better love others. One recent study found that people were more generous toward others when they had recently experienced the satisfaction of a need. Comparing hungry people with recently fed people, researchers found that those who had just eaten after being hungry were more …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Common Ground for Christians and Common Core

By Liz Riggs, guest writer A teacher’s perspective on how higher standards serve poor students. As a former public school teacher, I have taught both the traditional state standards and Common Core aligned standards. I have dug deeply into both, researched their effectiveness, and watched them play out in my classroom. Outside of school, I have observed the vitriol over Common Core. I have read the think pieces and mocking Facebook posts. I have seen caring, concerned Christians suggest that these standards will not benefit American kids. And I have keep wondering: Why are so many people reacting this way? Where’s the misunderstanding? Sometimes, we don’t recognize our privilege amidst the broken system; other times, we seek nostalgia and familiarity over innovation and change. And, all too often, we forget the millions of students in poverty whose need for reform might be greater than our own. It makes sense to begin by clarifying the idea of standards. Unlike a curriculum, teaching method, or educational approach, a standard does not dictate how or what a teacher must teach. Instead, it describes a skill for students to master. The difference between Common Core and many state standards is simply the level of rigor, complexity and higher …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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