Archives for Christian - Page 320

Christian

Pew: More Sermons Endorse Clinton

By Kate Shellnutt Fewer pastors are politically engaged this election; fewer still are speaking for Trump from the pulpit. The candidate behind the biggest Republican push to allow pastors to back politicians from the pulpit has received fewer sermon endorsements than his presidential opponent, who favors the current ban. According to a new Pew Research survey, 1 percent of churchgoers said their pastor has spoken positively of Donald Trump, compared to 6 percent who heard praise for Hillary Clinton. Trump was also the subject of more pastoral criticism: 7 percent said their leaders spoke against Trump and 4 percent against Clinton. Trump’s religious freedom platform centers around his promise to get rid of the Johnson Amendment, which bars churches and other tax-exempt non-profits from endorsing or disavowing candidates, but still allows them to speak generally about political issues. “After 30 years of the so-called conservative leaders who have been elected by evangelicals, none of them thought to advocate for the repeal of the Johnson amendment, giving evangelical leaders political free speech,” Jerry Falwell Jr., Liberty University president and early Trump endorser, toldTime magazine. “ thinks it is going to be a revolution in the Christian world.” Even with the current the ban, which has been part of …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

Trends Among Growing Churches: Some Reflections on the Fastest Growing and Largest U.S. Churches

By Ed Stetzer Large and fast-growing churches make sacrifices for the kingdom of God. Outreach Magazine just released their Outreach 100 issue for 2013. LifeWay Research does the research for this issue. I was particularly encouraged to see the list focus especially on fastest growing churches. You can subscribe to the magazine here. Here is my article with a bit of analysis of some of the fastest-growing churches in America. —————————- Each year at LifeWay Research, we work together with Outreach Magazine to create the Outreach 100 listings of the country’s Fastest-Growing and Largest Churches. On one hand, these lists are one of the most anticipated things we do each year. People seem to eagerly await the lists so they can learn from these churches about what God is doing to build his kingdom across the United States. On the other hand, there are those who complain about the lists. They seem to think this is a way of exalting “big churches” in an effort to make them look better than the churches that are not on the list, when nothing could be further from the truth. Remember folks: facts are our friends. I love to learn. I have spent …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

We Need More Politics on Social Media, Not Less

By Alicia Rollins, guest writer How our feeds feed popular opinion. I hesitated to sign up for a Twitter account years ago, knowing I didn’t need anything else to distract or disconnect me from my real-life relationships. These common stigmas of social media began to fade when someone pointed out to me: “An important conversation is happening and will continue to happen whether you are there or not.” I quickly learned that she was right. On Twitter, I tapped into new perspectives. I found myself in communication overload, following significant conversations on politics, race, theology, and art. Jon Stewart once said that “the Internet is just a world passing around notes in the classroom.” Except this time, the messages don’t just come from our friends and neighbors, but also world leaders, celebrities, experts, and influencers. Surrounded by so many voices, how could any one of us make a difference? What do I possibly have to offer to these conversations? And given the potential for controversy, wouldn’t it be easier not to try? A few years of tweeting, retweeting, and replying later, I still find myself scrutinizing and questioning my participation in social media. I’m no expert, and I worry whether it’s actually wise to speak out on every …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

Eight Barriers To Multiplication, Part 2

By Daniel Im Is something stopping you from starting a new church plant? In the previous article, we addressed the first four barriers to multiplication: Fear Perceived and Actual Scarcity Bad Math Church Centricity In today’s article, we will address the next four barriers to multiplication. 5. Don’t See the Need for Multiplication Before churches can multiply, they need to see it first. The problem is, many churches don’t see the need for multiplication. They assume that multiplication is not for them. Their reasoning is predicated on the assumption that other churches will multiply. While they may understand the vision behind multiplication, they just don’t have a personal conviction to multiply. We believe every church should not only embrace a vision of multiplication, but personally engage in multiplication. Leaders do need to assume that even some of the most committed Christians will not have a pre-existing favorable disposition towards multiplication, and will see multiplication as the church’s responsibility and not theirs. This is why it’s vital to share the vision for multiplication, consistently, clearly,
 and in different forms and fashions each time. We saw this clearly in our research. You can click here to get the State of Church Planting Research Report …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

News: Evangelicals' Favorite Heresies Revisited by Researchers

By Caleb Lindgren Second study examines what Americans believe about 47 theological statements. How well does the average American understand basic Christian doctrine? For that matter, how about the average evangelical? Perhaps not all that differently. And perhaps it matters how the questions are asked. Reprising their ground-breaking study from two years ago, LifeWay Research and Ligonier Ministries released an update today on the state of American theology in 2016. Researchers surveyed 3,000 adults to measure their agreement with a set of 47 statements about Christian theology—everything from the divinity of Christ to the nature of salvation to the importance of regular church attendance. About two-thirds of Americans said that God accepts the worship of Christians, Jews, and Muslims (64%); around the same number agreed strongly or somewhat that there is one true God (69%), that he is perfect (65%), and that he still answers prayers (66%). Of the 3,000 respondents, LifeWay identified 586 as evangelicals by belief: those who strongly agreed that the Bible is the highest authority for Christian belief; that personal evangelism is very important; that Jesus’ death on the cross was the only way to cancel the penalty of sin; and that trusting in Jesus is the only way to eternal salvation. In …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

'Birth of a Nation' Releases to Mixed Reviews and Moral Dilemmas

Things we’re reading and discussing this week. This week, the much-discussed Nat Turner biopic Birth of a Nation released to mixed reviews, partially on account of the controversy surrounding director Nate Parker’s past in the months before the release, partially on account of the film’s disputed artistic merits. CT interviewed Parker about his Christian faith this summer, then discussed whether rape accusations against Parker should deter moviegoers from watching his film, especially as it includes at least one graphic rape scene. Vinson Cunningham, writing for The New Yorker, argued that the film “is not worth the efforts of its defenders” for its problematic depiction of women: It’s hard even to call it a successful attempt at propaganda. The early euphoria surrounding the movie was prompted by the way it seemed to answer the demands of its time, sublimating the eye-for-an-eye Old Testament ethos of such fiery agitators as Stokely Carmichael and Elijah Muhammad into the safer precincts of the screen. That fire was checked by a different political imperative: the need to listen to and respect the stories of women who have suffered at the hands of men. . . . Women, in this film, …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

How I Stopped Seeing Privilege in Black and White

By Dorcas Cheng-Tozun What God taught this second-generation, child of immigrants about the nuance of status. When I moved to Kenya earlier this year, I became white, powerful, and unfathomably wealthy. My little family of three lives in a five-bedroom home, and we employ a fulltime house helper and driver—all for less than we paid in rent in Silicon Valley. We have every comfort we could possibly want in a country in which 77 percent of the population doesn’t have access to electricity and 37 percent don’t have safe drinking water. As an Asian American who grew up in an immigrant, lower-middle-class family, this is the most privileged I have ever been. The everyday struggles of the majority of Kenyans—against unemployment, poverty, corruption, extrajudicial police killings, and more—are not struggles that I will likely have to face here. In this warm and polite culture, I am treated with extra respect because of the lightness of my skin and the depth of my wallet. It feels strange. Despite my discomfort with the idea, I cannot deny the abundance of my resources compared to those around me. When our helper tells me about her longstanding toothache, or when she muses how nice it …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

After Trump, Should Evangelical Christians Part Ways?

By Mark Galli The 2016 election has revealed afresh a deep fissure—and a great opportunity. Donald Trump is now the president-elect. This fact is deeply discouraging for some evangelical Christians. Many fear that Trump’s ascendency will only encourage racism and misogyny. Others see his election as a blow to immigration reform. Those concerned about religious liberty for all worry about the future of Muslims in our land. But Clinton’s loss, and by extension, Trump’s win, brings deep relief to other evangelical Christians. Many feared an acceleration of President Obama’s progressive policies, including the use of their tax dollars to make abortion even more accessible. They are weary of being labeled bigots for their views on human sexuality, and being increasingly subject to social and legal penalties for such. Initial reports suggest that four out of five white evangelical Christians voted for Trump, continuing their pattern of support for the Republican candidate in US presidential elections since the 1980s. Not all did so with enthusiasm, and for that matter, Trump received a higher percentage of black and Hispanic votes than did his predecessors, Republican candidates Mitt Romney and John McCain. Still, what makes this election different is how many prominent evangelical leaders—from the Southern Baptist Convention’s …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

Lovekindness: A Post-Election Path for Christians in America

By Barry H. Corey Democracy sees the value of dialogue for the common good. Where do we go from here? It is November 9, and after an exhaustingly long, divisive election that has at times felt apocalyptic, America now has a new President-elect, Donald Trump. But while there has been resolution to the long-contested question of who will occupy the White House come February, the problems that gave rise to (and were exacerbated by) this horrific election will not be gone from America. We are a nation divided. And the wedges were driven deeper by the vitriol of this campaign. We state our intractable views on everything from race to religion to class to sexuality to culture to Colin Kaepernick. Facebook used to be a place where friends shared updates and photos. Now, it’s a forum for overheated ranting among strangers. Sadly, Christian communities have been complicit in this culture of divisiveness. Whether the topic is Trump, transgenderism, or refugees, on any given day the Christian Twitterverse is barely distinguishable from any other angry subculture. American Christians, like all Americans, are being conditioned by the rhetoric of division. It’s the air we breathe on 24-hour cable news, on social media, and in the click-bait articles that favor unnuanced and …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

There's Still Hope for Our Politics

By Michael Wear But only if we plant our feet in the gospel. Perhaps there was a glimmer or two of the potential for better politics even in this presidential race. At the conclusion of the second presidential debate, in the midst of one of the most bitter, trivial, and personal campaigns in modern political history, the candidates were asked to name one positive thing they respect about their opponent. Donald Trump, refreshingly, took the opportunity to point out that Hillary Clinton “doesn’t quit. She doesn’t give up. I respect that. I tell it like it is. She’s a fighter.” Clinton had a particularly moving exchange with a ten-year old immigrant. When the young girl told the candidate through tears that she was scared her parents would be deported, Clinton called the girl over to sit on her lap. “I’m going to do everything I can so you don’t have to be scared,” she said. “And you don’t have to worry about what happens to your mom or your dad or anyone else. I feel really, really strongly, but you’re being very brave and you have to be brave for them too. Because they want you to be happy. Let me do the worrying. …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

You Are Plural

By Clayton Carlson Trillions of foreign creatures in and on our bodies shape our health, desires, and behavior. Here’s why they matter. Let us make humankind in our image,” said the triune God. And then he made us plural, too. “Male and female he created them,” but we are even more plural than that phrase indicates. Each of us is plural. We might picture our “self” as a single body. We know we’re a grand collection of cells, trillions of microscopic units that do everything from moving blood to processing nutrients into energy. But when we think about these cells, we take comfort that together they’re all one “me,” a huge organism sharing one DNA code that all started from one fertilized egg cell. True, we are that. But we are more: Each of us is a collection of communities, millions of millions of organisms working together, with very different DNA. We have about as many bacteria and other microbes in and on our bodies as we do human cells. For decades biologists estimated that we had about 10 times as many microbial cells as our own. But a new study found that the average man has about 39 trillion bacteria in his body and about …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

News: Why Many Colombian Protestants Opposed Peace with FARC Fighters

By Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra Three seminary leaders explain how believers balanced justice vs. grace. The longest-running conflict in the Western Hemisphere finally came to an end yesterday, after Colombia’s congress approved a peace deal with its largest guerrilla group. However, in order to do so, lawmakers skipped over Colombian voters, who last month narrowly rejected a similar peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The government has been battling the FARC since 1964, when a group of poor farmers and workers took up arms to resist inequality. Half a century later, voters in October rejected the measure by the smallest of margins: 49.78 percent voted Yes to peace, while 50.21 percent voted No. Faced with the choice of peace or justice, many Colombians objected to the government’s willingness to let most FARC soldiers walk free or reduce their sentences. And some evangelical leaders, sensitive to the recent legalization of same-sex marriage, spoke out against the deal’s “gender theory” language. While not all evangelicals voted against the measure, they were widely credited with turning the vote. The strength of the evangelical vote was surprising in the Latin American country, where 80 percent of the population is still …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

Asking 'Why Me, God?' But in a Different Way

By Peter W. Chin The question “Why me, God?” can be a lament, but also an expression of gratitude. I have much to be thankful for this year. January will mark five years since my wife’s breast cancer surgery, after which her chances of recurrence drop significantly. Thinking back to the frightening months following my wife’s initial diagnosis, I remember that many doubts and questions dominated my mind. But no question was more paralyzing and difficult to answer than this one, as well as its myriad variations: “Why me, God?” “God, why did you let my wife get sick with breast cancer? Did we do something wrong? What had we done to deserve this?” “God, why did you let my church plant close down? Am I a terrible pastor, a failure?” “God, why have I been unemployed for so long? How am I going to provide for my family, how am I going to afford insurance in case my wife gets sick again?” “Why God? Why me?” These are questions that every person asks themselves at some point in their lives. But what sets these questions apart are that they are not just personal but theological in nature, and so lay bare our understanding of self, of God, and …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

America the Beautiful, America the Violent

By Peter W. Chin Ferguson may be about race, but it is also about violence. And we should have something to say about both. Let me be clear: I believe that Ferguson is about race. I know that many people disagree with that statement, that Officer Darren Wilson’s actions were not ostensibly motivated by race, and so could not have been racist. But racism goes beyond an individual’s prejudice against people of a different color. It is a historical reality that goes back to the inception of this country, and exists not only in people’s minds but in the halls of our most powerful institutions. So even if an event is not directly motivated by personal prejudice, it can still be about race. I think Lecrae put it far better than I ever could: When people say “why are you making this a racial thing?” They’ve unknowingly answered their own question. —@lecrae, November 25, 2014 Come to think of it, Lecrae says everything far better than I ever could. But what I find strange about Ferguson is that no one is addressing the overarching theme to this entire tragedy: violence. Surely that is the common thread that ties all of these stories together: a young black …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

"What Annoys You About Me?"

By Patton Dodd What we can learn when our kids point out our faults. A Small Talk guest post by Patton Dodd. With three weeks left in our Small Talk series, I am delighted to welcome Patton Dodd, editor of OnFaith, to share his thoughts on what he has learned through his children: One morning early this fall, my 11-year old daughter and I started listing the things we like least about each other. I cannot recall how we got to that place in the conversation, but when you’re talking to Isabel, conversations can go weird places. So, for whatever reason, we were talking and one of us came upon the notion that it would be a fine time to list the key annoyances in our relationship, from our respective points of view. After some No, you go volleying, I went first: “You talk way too fast.” She really does, and the factthatshetotallygetsitfromme does not make it any less annoying. Isabel can turn your average 25-word comment into a couple blurry syllables. “You already tell me that all the time,” she said. “Fine,” I said. “You next. What annoys you about me?” “Well,” she began, great relish in her voice, “the FIRST THING is: You always …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

Evangelical Sex Talk Is About Much More Than Sex

By Christine J. Gardner Our views on life inside the bedroom can shape our approach to life outside the bedroom. Evangelicals have long been known for their ability to sanctify popular culture for religious purposes. Popular culture’s obsession with sex is no exception, which raises an evangelistic question: How do we make the gospel winsome to a society steeped in sex? Our answer, according to a new book, has been to affirm that great sex in marriage testifies to the good news of the gospel. We sanctify sex, promising better sex when the Bible is the primary guide. In Saving Sex: Sexuality and Salvation in American Evangelicalism, Amy DeRogatis, professor of religion and American studies at Michigan State University, explores a variety of texts, including evangelical sex manuals, sermons, and purity events. DeRogatis shows how evangelicals’ differing (and often competing) views of sex are about much more than sex: Ultimately, they point toward differing strains of evangelical belief, and differing modes of interacting with secular society. Sex and Salvation The book begins with an overview of the purity movement for evangelical teens. DeRogatis moves quickly through a variety of familiar themes: the fairy-tale narrative and gender roles, True Love Waits purity events, courtship, modesty as a power source …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

God’s Defense Attorney

By Bret Mavrich Millionaire lawyer Mark Lanier moonlights as a Sunday school teacher. Around Christmas, Mark Lanier becomes like the teetotaling Baptist brother of infamous party host Jay Gatsby. Every year since 1994, Lanier’s 35-acre estate in northwest Houston is opened to thousands of colleagues, political connections, family, and friends. Visitors survey the landmarks: a replica of a 6th-century Byzantine chapel, a theological library modeled after seven Oxford libraries, and a Noahide menagerie that includes lemurs and kangaroos alongside their more pedestrian counterparts like sheep and goats. Guests ride a model train among other carnival rides brought in for the event, where Sting, Bon Jovi, Rascal Flatts, and prescandal Miley Cyrus have all performed for as many as 10,000 people. And like Gatsby, Lanier is shrouded in mystery. I first meet him at a dinner in his home, part of a weekend of events culminating in a lecture by Lanier himself. He welcomes 100 of us one by one, flashing a boyish grin and tossing his hair back into place. Virtually everyone at dinner knows only pieces and rumors. I meet college friends of Lanier’s who are visiting his estate for the first time. Dining across from me is an …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

What Kids Have Taught Us About What Matters Most

By Amy Julia Becker Moms, dads, and a godmother reflecting on the big things small voices help them understand. Over the course of eight weeks this fall, eight diverse and talented writers contributed their perspective on what the children in their lives (moms, dads, and a godmother) have taught them about “what matters most.” To conclude the series, here they are: “What Annoys You About Me?”, Patton Dodd. What we can learn when our kids point out our faults. “I need to make sure those I love know I love them just as they are, especially when I’m revising everything else. Someday, perhaps we’ll all get the ultimate upgrade we’re hoping for, but in the meantime, living with the likes of Bel is upgrade enough for me.” Talking with Kids about the Problem of Evil, Jennifer Grant A mother’s wisdom poured out to her eldest son. “Ultimately, I knew I could no longer tell him what to think or what to do, regardless of how much he trust he places in me. Like it was when he was very young, my job was to listen to him, tell him about my own experiences of God’s presence, and let him continue on his own faith journey. And trust that …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

Why Russia’s Evangelicals Thank God for Putin

By Mark R. Elliott Despite the Crimea takeover and Ukraine conflict, many church leaders are grateful for Putin’s leadership. Evangelicals in Russia have become ardent fans of President Vladimir Putin because of Russia’s efforts to maintain its influence in Ukraine, its takeover of Crimea in 2014, and the widespread Russian belief that the West is to blame for the present economic woes on the home front. This realization dawned on me during my November visit to Russia. The evidence is hard to ignore. Meeting in St. Petersburg back in May, the official Congress of the Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists ended their meetings with a strong endorsement of Putin just two months after brutal conflict broke out in eastern Ukraine. Addressing Putin, they said, “We express to you sincere appreciation for your labor in the post of president. . . . We reaffirm our principled loyalty with respect to state authority, based on the unchanged words of the Bible, ‘Let every soul be in subjection to the higher powers: for there is no power but of God; and the powers that be are ordained of God’ (Rom. 13:1, ASV).” The evangelical congress also directly challenged the legitimacy of Ukraine’s Maidan Revolution and the February 2014 overthrow of pro-Russian …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

When Jesus Says, ‘Don’t Follow Me’

By Jeff Strong And, instead, return to where you came from. “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” —Luke 2:20 “And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.” —Matthew 2:12 This year as I read and prayed through the Christmas story again and again, one dimension that I’d never noticed before caught my attention. The second chapters of both Luke’s and Matthew’s gospels reveal a theme of post-Christmas returning. After their respective epiphanies, we read that both the Magi and the shepherds returned. Returned to what? They returned to their vocations and their normal, everyday lives. How strange would that have been? The shepherds had seen the glories of heaven, heard the songs of angels, and been led to the manger of the Christ child. The Magi had experienced their own awe-inspiring, star-guided vision leading them to the new King. And now both groups find themselves returning to the lives they once knew. But they couldn’t have returned the same. When you encounter the Christ child, there is no going back. You return, but you return …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »