Joseph Wared, the director of Believe Out Loud has an op-ed piece in today’s Advocate.
I have no doubt that there are conservative Christian leaders who provide extraordinary ministry in the social justice arenas of their choosing. Reverend Giglio’s commendable work to combat human trafficking was the rationale for his selection. But our culture is shifting, and when it comes to LGBT equality, Americans expect more from our churches. The U.S. Episcopal Church, Metropolitan Community Churches, and the United Church of Christ are just a few of the denominations that are meeting this need.
Christians are consistently becoming more visible advocates for the full inclusion of our LGBT neighbors. Over the past few years I’ve had many conversations with friends and families, and I’ve seen folks move from antigay opinions to an unconditionally loving theology and everything in between.
Christianity does not have to be exclusive of LGBT equality, and when it is, people are leaving the church.
The Public Religion Research Institute found a significant increase in the number of college-age millennials who transitioned from being religiously affiliated in their childhood to religiously unaffiliated as young adults. A sizable majority view present-day Christianity as antigay and judgmental and believe that what makes America great is our openness to change and new ways of doing things.
As public opinion shifts, churches that do not fully affirm LGBT people will leave many in their flock behind. Scripture that is void of compassion is merely words, and our ability to have compassion for every human being is critical to our faith and in an increasingly diverse world.
If conservative Christians cannot stomach this evolution, they should not be surprised if progressive Christian traditions, like the U.S. Episcopal Church, gain more traction in society. For some, this is a necessary consequence to maintaining their biblical interpretation on homosexuality, but this shift should not be depicted as a decline of Christian beliefs in our society.
Thoughts? I definitely disagree… but agree that this is the way the culture is headed.
Not so sure that he’s right that people will leave churches in droves that take a Biblical stand on homosexuality.
What do YOU think?
One school district in California is mandating Yoga classes for their 5,000 students as a kind of “21st Century P. E.”. This has a handful of Christian parents upset.
Is Yoga something, as Christians and church leaders, to take a stand on? Mark Driscoll has said that he thinks Yoga is ‘demonic’?
Watch and listen as Matt Steen and I tackle this subject, and start the conversation…
(Length: 5 min 58 sec)
What do YOU think? Leave a text or video comment here…
I really like the post that Michael Lukaszewski posted yesterday. He talks about how pastors always think that the people in their churches are just like them.
The reality is… they’re not.
Here are some of Michael’s examples:
They don’t know who John Piper or Steven Furtick are. They are confused when you quote them without context.
They aren’t familiar with their Bibles. When you say, “You know…like it says in First Timothy,” they absolutely don’t know.
They don’t work in a Christian environment. They aren’t surrounded by Christians who love worship music and some have bosses who are jerks.
They don’t go to conferences. It’s a way of life for many church leaders, but the most people don’t do it.
They don’t go to church every week. This might be the biggest of all. You’re there every week; they are not.
Here some additional ones that I’d add:
1. They don’t have a clue what you do all week, and they probably think you make too much money.
2. They expect totally different things from you than the way you are spending your day today.
3. For 90% of your attenders, the next time they think about you or your church is the next Sunday morning or Saturday night… and the thought is “Am I going to get up and go to church?”
4. They think you’ve got a pretty easy job. You think you have the hardest job in the world.
What would YOU add to the list?
Ponder if you will the state of our world; and in particular the condition of America. Although one can easily argue the United States is still the greatest nation in the world and a country so many desire to come to— even risk their lives to enter into—there is no denying America’s social, moral and spiritual fabric continues to deteriorate at an accelerated pace. For many this is an alarming and discouraging trend.
Now consider the fact that 76% of Americans claim to be Christian, making the United States one of the highest per-capita Christian nations in the world. A nation full of Christians in a deteriorating society? If this indeed be the case then WHERE ARE THE CHRISTIANS? To solve this conundrum author Eric Shuster gives us a book that bears this question as its title with the promise of answers and unique journey for readers.
Where are the Christians? uses the classic format of who, what, where and how to explore Christianity and the dynamics that unite and divide the religion into the unrealized potential it suffers from today (thus the subtitle of the book—the Unrealized Potential of a Divided Religion). The book enlightens readers as to who the Christians are from a historical perspective; what a Christian is from a spiritual perspective; where the Christians are from a behavioral perspective; and how Christianity can be strengthened and more united from a societal perspective. Where are the Christians? examines hundreds of Biblical and scholarly sources, analyzing data from a multitude of studies leading to unique perspectives and solutions to the challenges facing Christianity in the modern era.
Where are the Christians? contains 17 chapters arranged into four sections:
SECTION 1: WHO ARE THE CHRISTIANS?—a history: 4 chapters providing a concise history of Christianity spread across four distinct periods: Evangelization and Formation, Legitimacy and Codification, Corruption and Division, and Reform and Denominational Proliferation.
SECTION 2: WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN?—a definition: 4 chapters examining the definition of a Christian from the perspectives of the world, the Bible, landmark religious studies, and what Shuster refers to as Modern Day Pharisees.
SECTION 3: WHERE ARE THE CHRISTIANS?—a categorization: 5 chapters profiling the five types of modern Christians including a unique and enlightening exercise to help readers understand what type of Christian they are among the five.
SECTION 4 – HOW IS CHRISTIANITY TO UNITE?—a vision: 4 chapters describing the ways Christians in America can unite into a force for good by focusing on individuals, families, churches and communities.
To watch the book trailer, take a survey to find out what type of Christian you are, and to pre-order the book go
Should Hollywood and the Christian world ever collaborate and work together on faith-based films? Such an effort is being made with the feature film Les Miserables. Matt Steen and Todd Rhoades discuss whether or not this a good thing.
According to CNN:
The story in “Les Miserables” is heavy with Christian themes of grace, mercy and redemption. The line everyone seems to remember is “to love another person is to see the face of God.”
NBC Universal looked to capitalize on those components and promoted the film to pastors, Christian radio hosts and influence-makers in the Christian community.
The latest film adaptation of the musical is raking in the cash. As of Wednesday, NBC Universal reported, it had pulled in $80.57 million in 2,814 theaters. After winning Christmas Day, the film finished third in the box office totals over the weekend, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com, narrowly losing out to “The Hobbit” and “Django Unchained” despite being on significantly fewer screens.
“If you’re a Christian and you’re seeing this film, you can’t help but see these themes,” said Jonathan Bock, founder and president of Grace Hill Media, the firm hired for the targeted marketing campaign.
(Length: 5 min 40 sec)
Subscribe to MinistryBriefing on YouTube
What do YOU think? Leave a text or video comment here…
Westboro Baptist Church just protests another funeral or event and makes national headlines. Whether you like it or not… every time someone from Westboro Baptist Church goes out and does a protest with signs that read “God Hates Fags”, many people group them in with you and I as Christians.
And every time someone speaks to the media as a Christian, some people look and you and me and automatically assume that we think the same exact thing.
It could be on any issue: homosexuality, gun control… really any thing.
Let’s face it… the likes of Westboro Baptist are really our crazy uncle… you know, the one you’re always apologizing for… the one that says things you don’t agree with… the one that’s a jerk… the one that embarasses the life right out of you.
Matt Steen and I talk about this phenomenia… and how we should deal with our own ‘crazy uncles’.
(Length: 6 min 32 sec)
Subscribe to MinistryBriefing on YouTube
What do YOU think? Leave a text or video comment here…
At Mars Hill Church they have what they call a preacher’s “Qualifying Day”. This year they have about 50 elders at Mars Hill, and about that many more in training.
So they thought it would be fun to give them all a different text to preach a week ahead of time, then have a ‘preach off’ of sorts… They’ll show up to preach and be evaluated.
Well… only 3 will preach in the first round (date) of competition.
Mark Driscoll wrote on his blog:
This will be fun…for some of us. For our Mars Hill version of American Idol for preachers, I’ll play the part of Simon Cowell, minus the deep v-neck and British accent. Joining me on the judging panel will be Dr. Justin Holcomb who runsResurgence, Pastor Scott Thomas who runs Acts 29, and Pastor Dave Bruskas, the executive elder who oversees all our churches.
In anticipation of this event, I made a list of 16 things that I’m looking for in a preacher or teacher’s sermon:
1. Tell me about Jesus. Connect it all to Jesus. If you don’t mention Jesus a lot, you need to do something other than preach. And tell me that Jesus is a person, not just an idea. Help me to not only know him but to also like him.
2. Have one big idea. Hang all your other ideas on the one big idea. Otherwise, you will lose me or bore me.
3. Get my attention in the first 30 seconds without being gimmicky. Get to work. Don’t “blah blah blah” around, chitchat, or do announcements. That will make me start checking my phone. Get my attention, and let’s get to work.
4. Bring me along theologically and emotionally. Preaching is not a commentary. Commentaries are boring for even nerds to read. Your job is to do the nerd work and bring it to life. Raise your voice, grab my affections, and bring the living Word.
5. Make me like you, trust you, and respect you so that I can’t dismiss you. If you want me to follow you, you have to get me to that point.
6. Avoid Christian jargon and explain your terms. The average person has no idea what fellowship means, or even God for that matter. So, tell us what you’re talking about and don’t assume we have your vocabulary.
7. Don’t have points as much as a direction and destination. Take me somewhere. Take me to a place of conviction, compassion, conversion, etc.
8. Don’t show me how smart you are, because it makes me feel dumb. I assume you’re smart since you’re standing up talking and we’re all sitting down listening. If you quote words in some language I don’t know, or quote dead guys to show you’re a genius, that makes me feel dumb, which doesn’t serve me well. Don’t come off like that kid in school that the rest of us wanted to give a wedgie to every time they raised their hand.
9. Invite lost people to salvation. Some people in the seats aren’t Christians. So, tell them how to become one. Talk about sin, Jesus, and repentance. At some point in every sermon just do that. If you do, people will bring lost friends. Don’t be a coward.
10. Whether it feels like a wedding or a funeral, be emotionally engaging and compelling. Some sermons are a funeral—convicting, deep, hard hitting, and life shattering. Other sermons are a wedding—exciting, compelling, encouraging, and motivating. Pick an emotional path. Have an emotional trajectory to the sermon, not just a theological point. If you pass the audition and get to preach publicly, have the entire service flow emotionally. If we do wedding songs after a funeral sermon, I’m emotionally confused. Likewise, if we’re singing melancholy hymns after a big motivational sermon, I’m also emotionally confused. So, you and the guy in skinny jeans with the guitar have got to get this figured out together.
You can find the last 6 here: 16 Things I look for in a Preacher | Pastor Mark.
Do you have what it takes to be a pastor in the 21st century? Pastor Bob Robert writes:
So . . . . what kind of pastor are you? I was on a phone call with 15 exceptional pastors of large congregations across the U.S. this week. Each had grown their church, each has been “successful” in the traditional ways of defining that – but each felt uneasy about where the church is and where things are going. It’s as if there is this “church” cliff – that everyone acknowledges but not for sure what to do. For the most part it’s addressed by “style” of church and “where & how” the church meets and “what” the church does, etc., I do not believe these are the right questions – or at least not the ones to start with. I don’t think we’re asking the right questions. If our answers don’t connect with our context – our answers won’t matter.
Here are some things that pastors will need to concentrate on to be effective leaders:
1. A 21st century pastor must be a globalist. The world is all of our “parish” – and we must understand it. To try to show up and preach, yet know nothing of global culture, traditions, history, economics, the society we are working in, is “religion abuse” – it’s not about us doing our thing – but being the hands and heart of Jesus to people. I’ve seen it first hand, we Christians has actually done damage to the spread of the Gospel by how we connect. BUT NOT JUST IN A “GO GLOBAL” perspective – also to acknowledge and do ministry in light of the fact that the whole world is listening on the internet to you – that global migration, trends, culture is now impacting us. Our 20 somethings are being called the 1st American global generation. Like modernity, postmodernity, etc., globalization is the syncristic philosophy impacting the church everywhere. (This was in my book “Glocalization.”)
2. A 21st century pastor has to be a community developer. It was Robert Lewis who asked the question years ago, “If the church were absent from the community would it be missed?” Most of the time it wouldn’t except for the worship service for the people who attend it. I’ve seen several movies lately and all the churches do adds in the theatre. Most were all the same, “We care about you” and a selling of the Sunday event. With the “global” “justice” generation – they want to hear about a church that “cares about the city” as well. (I wrote about this in my book Realtime Connections.)
3. A 21t century pastor has to be a discipler. There are global templates of what this looks like – many of us have stumbled onto the same one. It involves three things simultaneously: interactive relationship with God, transparent connections with one another, and glocal impact or people using their jobs to serve. (This was in Transformation that I wrote about.)
4. A 21st century pastor has to be a diplomat. Anyone who works globally will have to interact with gatekeepers regardless of their rank. Protocol is no longer something just for diplomats – but for businessmen, educators, medical – and yes – the pastorate – especially the pastorate. How do you relate to others? How do you communicate? How do you put your best foot forward? (Bold as Love)
5. A 21st century pastor has to be an opportunity seizer. The greatest things that will happen in the 21st century will not be from purpose statements like the 20th century. Instead, they will come from leaves blowing everywhere from everywhere and the pastor will have to seize what comes in front of them. There are no rules for how the world is operating – we are in a new era and phase. We need to go back to the book of ACTS of the HOLY SPIRIT and stay in step with the Spirit. I am living proof of this – I would not have even known how to have planned to be involved in the things I am today – neither did my background prepare me. (Bold as Love)
// Bob also thinks that the 21st century pastor must be a people releaser, a communication specialist, and a bridge builder… Read more now: WHAT KIND OF PASTOR ARE YOU IN THE 21ST CENTURY.
Here’s an interesting article by AP Religion Writer Rachel Zoll highlighting the work of the Metropolitan Community Churches denomination. Most of you know this movement as the first real gay friendly denomination. This is an interesting article because it gives, from their perspective, the advances that the church has made in the area of homosexuality. Here’s a bit of the piece:
On that Sunday in 1968 when Troy Perry borrowed a minister’s robe and started a church for gays in his living room, the world was a very different place.
Perry’s Metropolitan Community Churches was then a lone spiritual refuge for openly gay Christians, an idea so far from the mainstream that the founders were often chased from places where they tried to worship. Four decades later, some of the most historically important American denominations, which had routinely expelled gays and lesbians, are welcoming them instead.
MCC now has a presence in dozens of U.S. states as well as overseas, reporting a total membership of more than 240 congregations and ministries. But as acceptance of same-sex relationships grows — gay and lesbian clergy in many Protestant traditions no longer have to hide their partners or lose their careers, and Christians can often worship openly with their same-gender spouses in the mainline Protestant churches where they were raised — the fellowship is at a crossroads.
Is a gay-centered Christian church needed anymore?
“There are many more options than there used to be,” said the Rev. Nancy Wilson, moderator, or leader, of the Metropolitan Community Churches. “But there is not a mass exodus.”
The denomination has never been gays-only. But for a long time, straight allies were scarce.
The founding congregation, MCC of Los Angeles, opened a year before the Stonewall riots in New York. Few people had ever heard the argument that the Bible sanctioned same-gender relationships and no one of any influence in the religious world was saying it. MCC congregations became targets of arson, violence, pickets and, in at least one case, a vice squad.
Al Smithson, a founder in 1969 of the fellowship’s San Diego church, said his pastor would point to Orange County’s famous Crystal Cathedral and joke that he was praying for a bulletproof version.
The church today is a bit more diverse. MCC pastors say they see a growing number of straight friends and relatives of gays and lesbians among their new congregants, along with heterosexual parents who want their children raised in a gay-affirming environment. While some MCC congregations haven’t changed much over the decades, Wilson said, many are emphasizing a broad social justice agenda including serving the homeless and poor.
A respected Southern Baptist pastor and author says “wimpy” pastors and laypersons are the reason Christians are losing the culture war.
Why are many Christian leaders silent when religious freedom comes under attack? That question was raised Tuesday evening by Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly and posed to Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church Dallas and author of How Can I Know: Answers to Life’s 7 Most Important Questions.
“I think one reason is a lot of Christian leaders have the wrong idea about Jesus,” Jeffress replied when asked the question. “They see Jesus as this little, wimpy guy who walked around plucking daisies and eating birdseed and saying nice things, but never doing anything controversial. The fact is, Jesus did confront his culture with truth — and he ended up being crucified because of it.”
The Dallas pastor chastised pastors who shy away from controversy.
“Wimpy pastors produce wimpy Christians — and that is why we are losing this culture war,” he emphasized.
“I believe it’s time for pastors to say, You know, I don’t care about controversy, I don’t care whether I’m going to lose church members, I don’t care about building a big church. I’m going to stand for truth regardless of what happens.”
Jeffress — who also reprimanded school districts and elected officials for caving in — contends secularists are going to take over if pastors and Christians continue to refuse to stand up and wage the necessary battle to secure their constitutional rights.
TWO WEEKS FREE: This week's top 50 stories for pastors & church leaders... Subscribe today and get your first two weeks FREE!
Switch to our mobile site