Archives for Christian - Page 313

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Planting an Immigrant Church in America's Whitest City

By D. L. Mayfield Meet the retiree-turned-pastor who’s creating a home for Portland’s Arabic Christians. Portland, Oregon has a reputation for being liberal, un-churched, and filled to the brim with under-employed hipsters. While the majority of the city may be white, well-educated, and obsessed with pour-over coffee and small-batch pickles, on its edges one finds a diversity of experience, race, class, and culture. It’s in these neighborhoods on the fringe that recently arrived refugees and immigrants often land, looking for affordable housing and employment. But life is hard in a place where there are little to no nearby services, slow bus lines, and few English classes offered. Most church planters and pastors may focus on reaching the postmodern and the non-religious, but the surrounding suburbs are full of nearly empty churches and thousands of people who are suffering from isolation. Many people are struggling to survive, often outside of the view of the rest of the city. Pastor John Baskaron understands what it feels like to not belong. A native Egyptian who emigrated to the United States in 1972, Baskaron is the head pastor of Portland’s Arabic Christian Church, which was the first of its kind in all of Oregon. For decades, Baskaron was a successful businessman, …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Race in America: Pushing Forward on the Heels of the ‘Voiceless’

By Leroy Barber Co-founder and director of the Voices Project and college pastor at Kilns College It seems that when certain people are threatened, that the standard protocol is to declare a state of emergency. My belief, along with many others, is that we have a state of emergency and it is for the dignity of Black lives. The uprising in Charlotte last month is a reminder that we are in a critical and urgent time. Many people want to push the attention towards the few who use violence as their voice. I pray God can save us from this trap that moves the focus from justice to sensationalism, from the cry of multitudes to the shouts of the few. The emergency in Charlotte is less about broken glass and more about Black communities that are tired of seeing daughters and sons killed. The emergency is that gentrification, the displacement of poor communities at the mercy of economic interests, is wiping out entire communities. The emergency is that schools in minority neighborhoods are under-funded, under-staffed, and under-supported, resulting in a pipeline to prison. Unrest over the circumstances is buzzing through the streets, reverberating across national news channels, and seeping into every part of American social life… and hopefully we …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Fruitful Near-Culture Church Planters: A Qualitative Study (Part 2)

By Gene Daniels and Pam Arlund A survey of near-culture church planters Fruitful Near-Culture Workers Use a Variety of Ministry Methods The near-culture workers we interviewed personified one of our Fruitful Practice statements in the area of communication methods: “Fruitful workers use a variety of approaches in sharing the gospel.” All of those we interviewed were skilled at selecting which of various approaches would be best for each situation. Also, we found it interesting that none of the interviews specifically mentioned any of the methods which are making the rounds among Western agencies for sharing Jesus with Muslims (e.g., Camel method, T4T, Any3, Discovery Bible Studies, Simply the Story, etc.). It is likely that at least some of them were using one or more of those methods or were aware of these methods, but none felt any of these important enough to mention by name. And while some interviews mentioned activities that sounded similar to these well-known methodologies, we cannot be sure whether they had been taught the methods mentioned here or simply discovered them on their own. What was clear, however, was that these workers did not feel it necessary, or even beneficial, to use only one method when sharing the gospel. No one directly said, “I use different methods …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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The Surprising Theological Possibilities of Virtual Reality

By C. T. Casberg VR’s greatest strength is not escapism, but empathy. The future arrived in a cardboard sleeve just before lunch on a rainy Wednesday morning. I don’t believe the delivery woman knew what she had in her hands—otherwise, she might not have dropped the parcel in a pile of soggy leaves and then vanished up the driveway with no more ceremony than a perfunctory rap on the door. I brought the future inside, followed the assembly instructions, and strapped it to my face. Moments later, I was yelping and flailing my legs as computer-generated seagulls flocked towards me on a stony cliffside in virtual reality. The future is not as graceful as I imagined. In the eyes of some industry observers, 2016 is the “year of virtual reality” for tech and entertainment. Three high-profile virtual reality (VR) consumer devices launched this year, each promising to deliver immersive visual and aural experiences that radically change the way we consume our media. Oculus Rift, Facebook’s $2 billion investment, released earlier this year, as did the Vive, produced by hardware manufacturer HTC and videogame developer Valve. Sony released its PlayStation VR accessory for the PlayStation 4 on October 13, which will likely be featured front …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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What Do White Evangelicals Owe People of Color in Trump’s America They Helped Create?

By Ed Stetzer We carry each other’s burdens now so we can cry out with one voice for eternity. In 2010, visual artist Gene Schmidt embarked on a journey using Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, as his canvas. Schmidt used panels of scrap wood to recreate 1 Corinthians 13 and laid it out against buildings and along sidewalks throughout the city. His work of art is now displayed throughout Wheaton College’s campus. Every day, as I walk into the Billy Graham Center, I see a section of these scrap pieces. Here is the portion I see: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” Without love we have nothing as the Body of Christ. The past 48 hours I’ve done interviews with reporters asking, “Where do we go from here? Where does the Church go from here?” I’ve gotten tweets and emails and seen endless posts that have one common thread, which I believe is critical for us if we are truly to walk together as one in the coming days. This thread is the need for authentic repentance and reconciliation. A Deep Divide What was once perhaps in the background …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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The Bigger Story Behind Jen Hatmaker

By Kate Shellnutt The benefits and challenges of women’s ministry in the age of bestsellers, viral blog posts, and inspirational conferences. The most influential women’s leader at your church may be someone who has never stepped inside its sanctuary. It may be someone your pastor has never even heard of. “If you had to ask, ‘Who’s Jen Hatmaker?’ it’s time to be more directly invested in the spiritual nurture of half your church,” tweeted Jen Wilkin last month. The women’s ministry leader was responding to the wave of Christian reactions to news that LifeWay Christian Stores had stopped selling books by Hatmaker—one of the biggest writers and speakers among today’s generation of evangelical women—after she spoke out in support of same-sex marriage. Hatmaker’s popularity underscores how women’s ministry has transformed in the 21st century. Christian women increasingly look to nationally known figures for spiritual formation and inspiration—especially when they don’t see leaders who look like them stepping up in their own churches. While various evangelical subcultures may find different female teachers filling their social media feeds and Amazon recommendations (Austin-based Hatmaker seems especially popular among white women in the South and Midwest), the numbers show that the top names in women’s ministry rival or even …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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British Government Affirms Christmas at Work

By Kate Shellnutt New report details when workers’ faith expression is protected and when it can get them fired. British officials are encouraging the country to put Christ back in Christmas—even in their workplaces. “There are a lot of myths out there when it comes to dealing with religion at work. I want to put the record straight: It is OK to hold a party and send Christmas cards,” said David Isaac, chairman of the national Equality and Human Rights Commission. This week, Christians and politicians alike welcomed Isaac’s assurance following the growing prevalence of more generic terminology in public and office celebrations, such as “season’s greetings” and “Winterval.” “We have a very strong tradition in this country of religious tolerance and freedom of speech, and our Christian heritage is something we can all be proud of,” Prime Minister Theresa May responded. “We all want to ensure that people at work do feel able to speak about their faith and also feel able to speak quite freely about Christmas.” The equality commission also released Friday a new report on anti-discrimination law for British workplaces. The report assessed current government policies, finding mostly reasonable, balanced guidelines for religious expression in the workplace—though employers don’t …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Died: Doug Coe, Humble Faith in the Halls of Power

By Kate Shellnutt His Fellowship is the force behind DC discipleship and the National Prayer Breakfast. Doug Coe, the Washington DC pastor and power broker best known for organizing the network of Christian leaders responsible for the annual National Prayer Breakfast, died Tuesday afternoon. He was 88. His death, from “complications following a heart attack and stroke,” came just a few weeks after Coe attended the prayer breakfast’s 64th annual gathering. “Despite our personal sadness, we have joy in knowing that he is now with Jesus and at peace,” wrote Coe’s family in an announcement first posted by Patheos blogger Warren Throckmorton, and separately obtained and confirmed by CT. “All for which he gave his life and tirelessly revealed to so many makes complete sense to him now. He is with family and friends who have gone on before, perhaps saying, ‘See, I told you…’.” Coe led the Fellowship Foundation, often referred to as “The Fellowship” or “The Family,” a network of ministries and small groups that most famously included prayer groups for influencers on Capitol Hill. The gatherings are confidential, similar to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, to give participants a safe place to discuss faith without fear of political ramifications. The low-profile, secretive nature of …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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The Benefits of Having Other People Raise Your Kids

By Sharon Hodde Miller Why doing it all alone isn’t the best (or most biblical) parenting strategy. I sat across from my husband with tears in my eyes as I confessed my horrible failure. I needed my son to spend more time in childcare, and it felt like a personal deficiency. I only have one kid, after all, so why couldn’t I keep up? Why couldn’t I be like those other, better mothers, who dutifully tend to their many children all day long, all on their own? I needed help—more help than I was getting—and I was ashamed to finally say it out loud. Up until this summer, my husband and I had both been full-time students, splitting our days with our young son. When my husband took a full-time job as a pastor, we settled into more traditional roles. For the first time since our son was born, my husband worked, I stayed at home, and my struggle began. For months, I was ashamed to admit that I couldn’t do it all; I couldn’t finish my dissertation, write, manage our home, tend to my faith, and make every second of my son’s days “count.” I felt trapped, but what were my options? Our son was …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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The Unremarkable Call to Love Our Gay Neighbors

By Karen Swallow Prior Glenn Stanton shows how friendship and biblical fidelity belong together. Not long ago, a former student of mine wrote an article for The Atlantic describing his experience coming out as gay at Liberty University, the evangelical school where I teach. He described how, after confiding his secret to me, I responded by saying, “I love you.” After the story was published, I received messages from across the country, some taking issue with my response, some affirming it. Either way, the messages indicated that assuring a gay student at a Christian university that he was loved was somehow remarkable. Perhaps, then, the most helpful feature of Glenn T. Stanton’s book Loving My (LGBT) Neighbor: Being Friends in Grace & Truth (Moody Publishers) is simply that it exists. Stanton is director for family formation studies at Focus on the Family. The Southern Poverty Law Center (which supports gay rights) lists the Colorado Springs organization as one of a dozen major groups that allegedly “help drive the Religious Right’s anti-gay crusade.” It’s noteworthy, then, to encounter a Focus on the Family scholar—someone known for debating LGBT advocates across the country—who authored a book calling Christians to love, befriend, and respect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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The Alternative Music Label That Shaped Evangelical Culture

By Joel Heng Hartse Tooth & Nail Records let Christian teenagers be both safe and subversive. Like every theological tradition, US evangelicalism is as much a subculture as it is a set of beliefs. It’s a community built on shared practices and products, and few have been more commercially successful in the past decades than contemporary Christian music (CCM). That phrase may evoke squeaky-clean pop playing in the minivans of many an evangelical childhood. But as those children of the ’80s and ’90s came of age, many of them began looking for something more potent. For them, the Christian music worth listening to came from a record label called Tooth & Nail. Since 1994, out of a nondescript office building in an upper-middle-class Seattle neighborhood, Tooth & Nail and its associated imprints have released 600 albums by 200 bands. There’s the wall-of-sound guitar sludge of Starflyer 59’s “Blue Collar Love” and the raucous anarchy of MxPx’s “Punk Rawk Show”; the paranoid shouts of Roadside Monument and the high-energy ska of the O.C. Supertones; the guttural growls of Underoath and Norma Jean; the strained emotion of Pedro the Lion and the Juliana Theory. To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Tooth & Nail has commissioned a short documentary, No …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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My Boring Christian Testimony

By Megan Hill How I know it’s nonetheless real. The December issue marks two years since we launched Testimony, CT’s back-page feature spotlighting stories of conversion to Christ. One of our most popular features, we’ve heard from ex-atheists, ex-Muslims, and ex–bank robbers, from football stars to LDS Church escapees to media pundits visited by Jesus in a Taiwan hotel. We celebrate both the dramatic and the normal, day-to-day ways Jesus reaches us, precisely because it is Jesus doing the reaching. In Christ, no testimony, including the following from Megan Hill, is unremarkable. — Katelyn Beaty, managing editor, CT magazine I have no memory of becoming a Christian. I didn’t pray a prayer or walk an aisle or have a eureka moment. In fact, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t love the Lord Jesus. My Christian testimony—the story of how I came to faith—is downright boring. I was born in 1978 and raised in Connecticut by godly Presbyterian parents. I ate my peanut-butter sandwiches with a prayer of thanks, recited answers at bedtime from the children’s catechism, and the songs I remember my dad singing to me invariably were from either the Beatles or the hymnal. But mine was not merely a private religion. Church life …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Microfinance Is a Women’s Issue

By Ashley Dickens, guest writer How our philanthropy can empower our sisters across the globe. While we continue to “lean in” and fight for gender parity at work, it’s important to recognize the position of privilege American women have in the marketplace, simply by virtue of living in this country. Women in the U.S. are rising in the workforce, at every level. They’re starting businesses and working their way up to executive-level positions. As a result, according to the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, women control more wealth in the United States today than ever before. To state the obvious: We hold immense financial resources in our hands, particularly in comparison to women in the developing world. Our wealth gives us more chances to give, to invest in fellow mothers, wives, and sisters by bringing them the opportunity to work and earn. “I’m not sure Western women understand the power of restored dignity through work,” wrote Christian author, Jen Hatmaker. “We often disparage work, a luxury of the already empowered. But in a context like Rwanda, work is honorable and coveted, strong and transformative. It literally changes lives.” When we look at the lives of impoverished women around the world—far more likely than men to be …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Duke vs. Franklin Graham: Which Christian Spaces Are Off-Limits to Muslim Worship?

By Morgan Lee Call-to-prayer controversy at university chapel prompts debate over sharing sacred space. Duke University’s reversal of today’s plan to broadcast the Muslim call to prayer from its historic chapel tower has reinvigorated a debate over shared worship space. The Durham, North Carolina-based school had authorized Muslim students to recite the three-minute chant from Duke Chapel on Friday, the weekly day of assembly in Islam, but rescinded the decision this week, following criticism and citing a “serious and credible security threat.” Franklin Graham, whose ministries (Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association) are headquartered in North Carolina, attacked the university’s decision and condemned the use of a Christian space by members of another faith. “It’s wrong because it’s a different god,” Graham said. “Using the bell tower, that signifies worship of Jesus Christ. Using (it) as a minaret is wrong.” Muslim students had gathered for jummah prayers in the chapel’s basement for years, according to CNN reports. The chapel’s website describes it as “a Christian church of uniquely interdenominational character and purpose,” welcoming people of “all faiths and circumstances.” However, the dean of Duke Divinity School, Richard Hays, raised concerns about the use of the chapel for the Muslim call to prayer …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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First Female Coach Enters the ‘Man’s World’ of the NFL

By Valerie Dunham, guest writer Welcome to the big leagues, Jen Welter. If you do a Google image search for Jen Welter, the pictures are striking. Beneath the bulky helmet and facemask, her bright red lips and expertly made-up eyes pop. She curls a muscled bicep just enough to indicate strength and power. The feminine tone of her face seems to war with her masculine set of muscles. This is the woman who made history last week when she became NFL’s female coach. Welter was picked up by the Arizona Cardinals as an assistant coaching intern, scheduled to work with the organization’s inside linebackers during training camp and the pre-season. As Welter puts it, “It’s exciting to show not only women and girls, but pretty much everyone that anything is possible.” For years, media, fans, and NFL insiders speculated whether or not a woman could ever join the ranks of an NFL coaching staff. Many were, and remain, skeptical. As Mike Francesa put it on his daily talk show, “I did not think, folks, that I would see a female coach in the NFL… It’s not that she can’t know the x’s and o’s—it’s not about the x’s and o’s. It’s about the idea …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Maze Runner to God

By Samantha Blythe Wrong turns and dead ends punctuated by unexpected grace. We started to publish this delightful testimony as a serial, and then belatedly realized that the narrative flow was lost in breaking the story into parts every other day. Here now is the full version without even page breaks. The piece is much longer than our usual fare, so you may want to print it or save it to your favorite online reader after you’ve read for a bit. It is still organized by the phases that Samantha describes. Enjoy. –The Editors. The Formation Phase There was a life, phase after phase, Which oft felt like running a maze But no matter how odd, ‘twas all planned out by God, to Whom be all glory and praise. One of my earliest memories is of my five-year-old self, coming home from school a few months after my parents divorced. There was a goldfish in a bowl on the kitchen counter, with a note saying something like, “I thought you might like this. Love, Dad.” I hadn’t seen my dad for weeks, and I don’t think the slimy little guy or gal was much consolation. I remember having to flush it down the toilet a few weeks later. I …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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20 Truths from Sticking Points by Haydn Shaw

By Ed Stetzer Relating across generational lines can be difficult. How do people of varying ages understand each other better? 1. In previous eras, there were only three generations. The oldest generation had the money and made the decisions, and the younger generation of adults raised the children and did what the older generation asked them to until their parents died, and then their turn came to be in control. Changes in families and churches came slowly and naturally, with little disruption. (13) 2. But today, for the first time in history, we have five generations in our families, churches, and communities. (13) 3. Generational intelligence doesn’t make the key teaching of Jesus to “love one another” easy, but it does make it easier. (19) 4. Each generation has spiritual strengths and temptations that were shaped by the ideas and images of the times in which they grew up. (30) 5. We’ve been telling young people for twenty years that their generation could be the difference makers, that their lives could be big and they are dreaming too small. It’s time to tell their grandparents the same thing. (39) 6. Individualism brought God close, hyper-individualism applied a consumer’s attitude toward churches, and it has stunted Boomers spiritual growth. (55) 7. …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Who Are You Calling a Deadly Sin?

By Melissa Steffan The sloth’s slowness is its virtue. At the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., there lives a three-toed sloth. Specifically, this sloth occupies a box in the Small Mammal House. At least, that’s where the sloth has been every single time I have visited the zoo, and I have been five times over the past two years. Of course, the sloth does leave his box; friends sometimes send me cellphone photos and videos, capturing the sloth while he hangs from a tree branch or climbs around—but in spite of my best efforts, I’ve never seen him outside the box. And after two years of trying, I don’t want to. It’s hard to explain, but you have to start way, way back in time. Paleontologists have identified at least 23 different kinds and sizes of prehistoric sloths, but the most impressive of these is Megatherium. Its name stems from the Greek words mega , meaning “great,” and therion , “beast”—and rightly so. Megatherium was the size of a modern-day elephant, weighing up to six or seven metric tons. Standing on its hind legs, Megatherium could reach a height of more than 20 feet. It towered over most other mammals, except mammoths and mastodons. Megatherium was indeed a great …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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That Stat that Says Pastors are All Miserable and Want to Quit (Part 2)

By Ed Stetzer Stop spreading statistics that, if they were right in the first place, are over 20 years old—even the man who did the study agrees! Ed Stetzer: Were you upset with my article dealing with your statistics? Jerry Frear: Well, no. I chuckle every time I see them now because my study from 1992 is 23 years old. I would certainly hope there would be changes after more than 20 years of “pastor appreciation” and the spotlight that was shone on the ministry. Focus on the Family finally did a division of pastoral ministry care following the study. Now, a lot of denominations have someone at the district level responsible for pastoral care. With all of this going on, I would hope that the numbers were better. I’m pleased that Clergy Appreciation has stuck around, other people care about it, and there’s a legacy with it. But I would hope that after 25 years of advocating for those in ministry that the numbers have turned around in some way shape or form. I think your article was great. I’ve been waiting for somebody to write an article like that for at least ten years. Because I don’t know of any other statistical survey that’s quoted as …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Review: Trumbo

By Alissa Wilkinson The story of the celebrated and blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter boasts a star-studded cast but a half-baked script. mpaa rating:R (For language including some sexual references.) Genre:Comedy, Drama Theatre Release:November 06, 2015 by Bleecker Street Media “You write every scene brilliantly,” Otto Preminger (Christian Berkel) half-jokes to Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) on the porch of his house, where they’ve been working on the script of the 1960 film Exodus. “And I will direct unevenly.” The quip would function almost too well as a cipher for what happened with Trumbo, except the screenplay isn’t brilliant, either. It has its moments. Once in a while, it’s fantastic. But Trumbo mostly suffers from the now agreed-upon affliction we might call Important Biopic Syndrome, in which all the material that makes for a good movie gets vacuumed up by the things which the movie must signal to us are Important (lest we miss them) via musical cues and circular pans. Moments of political courage, for instance. Especially regarding the First Amendment. Arguments with the family. Epiphanies. Stupidities. One-ups. Sometimes, unfortunately, even jokes. The movie tells the story of Dalton Trumbo, which is both interesting and historically important, especially if that name means nothing to you. Trumbo …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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