Featured Stories and Articles
Adding a Millennial to Your Church Staff - “Very few churches have senior pastors age 35 or younger, and most pastors on staff at a church under 35 are probably going to be youth pastors, which is fine. That’s normal… There isn’t a problem with a church not having many Millennials on its staff, because most of them are still pretty young—even as young as 15. I’m in the middle of the Millennial generation and I’m only 24, which is pretty young for a pastor of any type. The problem arises, however, when churches are unwilling to hire Millennials and the demographic of church leadership isn’t reflective of the community. If your church is large enough to have more than just a senior and an executive pastor, you should really consider hiring someone born between 1980-2000.”
Bobby Schuller Talks Candidly About Ministry and Family Dynamics - “Everybody thinks the Crystal Cathedral is the greatest thing my grandparents built, but it wasn’t. It was the Hour of Power. The huge reach of that ministry is amazing. The fact that God kept it intact is such a great thing. I miss the Crystal Cathedral, but honestly, my message is so grassroots and people-oriented that the design of the Crystal Cathedral, as amazing as it was, was probably not a good fit for me as a person. I was used to preaching barefoot in an American Legion Hall with no pulpit, Calvary Chapel-style. With the Crystal Cathedral I actually felt, in the brief time I was there, like I was a curator of a work of art of something. At some point, it’s almost like it’s a double-edged sword. It draws people. It gives you gravitas as a pastor. It also can be a distraction, I think, for people, where the real value can be put in the building rather than in your faith.”
The Most Important Skill Church Leaders Need - “What is the most important leadership skill in a church? For a pastor of students, kids, worship or a lead pastor to have? The most important leadership skill in any church is recruiting. Who you surround yourself with, who you put on a team, who you hire, who you make an elder. Nothing else matters or makes more of an impact on the life of your church than this. You might wonder, isn’t it prayer? Prayer isn’t a leadership skill. Prayer is a Christian skill. Prayer and the Holy Spirit makes or breaks your ministry. What I’m talking about are the things you as the leader can control and do.” Three problems churches have with this, and three ways to find the right people.
Baby Gone with the Bathwater - “John Shuck is a Presbyterian pastor in good standing who doesn’t believe a single thing you learned in Sunday school… John likes church. He likes singing hymns, dressing up in vestments, and drawing upon the ‘practices and products of our cultural tradition to create meaning in the present.’ …Evangelical preachers have always warned that once you start questioning the Bible there is no logical stopping point, and John Shuck just became exhibit A. Begin with questioning the virgin birth or the parting of the Red Sea and you will soon be giving the atheists practically nothing to disbelieve. The baby Jesus goes out with the bathwater and you’re stuck with ‘belief-less Christianity‘.”
On Hating Yourself - “I will admit that I am constantly struggling with self worth. I hate my sin, and I often feel like the worst sinner and the biggest hypocrite who ever lived. I don’t feel qualified or capable to do many of the things God calls me to do. Often times I look in the mirror and hate the person looking back. I beat myself up over every mistake I make and imperfection I have, regardless of how big or small. Without even realizing it I succumb to the sin of pride by constantly focusing on myself and how much I don’t like me, instead of keeping my focus where it should be.”
Sing It Like You Mean It - “If the Holy Spirit’s work in the hearts of His people to stir them up to sing God’s praises is one of the sweetest of all His works then why do so many congregants fail to sing with all of their heart in worship? …In many performance-driven congregations worship teams overpower congregational singing and the singing that happens is akin to the drowned out admiration singing at a concert. …Additionally, too many in our churches are overly self-conscious about what others will think of them if they sing too loudly or, at times, out of key. The messiness of congregational singing is part of the beauty of God using weak and broken people.” The author follows with 5 reasons to sing your heart out.
Sex Ed in Public Schools - “Christian parents would do well to lead the way through the panic and champion the teaching of age-appropriate basics about sex and reproduction and contraception in schools. We should also discuss it openly – without shame or (too much) embarrassment – in the home. This way, our kids can develop a solid theology of sex for themselves, a theology that recognizes sex as a good thing – a gift from God – and a theology immersed in grace. Such a perspective would grasp that when we – or others – misappropriate or misunderstand the gift of sex, it doesn’t forever tarnish or ruin. Sex – and our understanding of it – is never beyond redemption.”
Reading Dallas Willard - “Dallas Willard (1936-2013) has been one of the key evangelical interpreters and provocateurs regarding the important doctrine of formation into Christlikeness… Sometimes due to Willard’s spearheading the importance of spiritual practices among Protestants, he is viewed as having said little else on the topic of Christian formation (Richard Foster claimed that Willard was his mentor on that particular subject, in the acknowledgement section of Foster’s classic book, Celebration of Discipline, HarperSan Francisco, 1978). But there is much more.” Four themes, with quotation from four books.
More Faith-Based Cinema Fare to Follow - Basically, it’s a review of Do You Believe? but Variety’s first paragraph is telling: “The massive profits earned by last spring’s surprise hit God’s Not Dead have emboldened Christian production outfit Pure Flix to finance an entire slate of faith-based fare coming soon to a theater near you.” The review itself wasn’t so great.
In Memory of the Potluck Supper - “For many churches, those days are gone. In those places, the potluck is a thing of the past, something of an embarrassment from our history that we’d like to sweep under the rug. And that’s pretty sad… Food anxiety runs high in this country, and we’ve brought that into our churches… The church needs to eat together. That needs to be a basic part of who we are. And even though it’s inconvenient and messy, I think we need to share our own food, not just go to a restaurant. We need to be involved in the preparation and the clean up. We need to learn what other families find appealing. We need to look one another in the eye and say, ‘God gave me this, and I want to share it with you.'”
Paul is sorry he couldn’t top Wednesday’s T-Shirt link, but promises to keep trying.
- A South Pacific teaching trip to an island nation became a relief effort after Cyclone Pam devastated Vanuatu.
- Sermon of the Week: Willow’s Steve Carter on The Theology of Social Media. 40 great minutes.
- LifeWay has pulled 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper and other “heaven tourism” books after a 2014 SBC resolution that the scriptures are sufficient for what we need to know about the afterlife. (Question: Will LifeWay stick to that resolution when the DVD is released?)…
- …and a car crashed through the front window of a Family Christian store in Bartlett, TN when 10 customers, 2 staff and 2 children were inside. Remarkably, nobody was hurt.
- We often speak of the number 666 as the “mark of the beast” but some early manuscripts say the number is 616.
- Since when does Popular Mechanics cover Bible apps?
- Astronaut Chris Hadfield was a recent guest on Context with Lorna Dueck.
- With all the gay rights lawsuits against cake decorators, I’d like to go back in time and find the first person who ever used a cake piping tip to write something on food, and say, “Nooooooooooo!” Meanwhile, a suggested disclaimer: “Compliance with relevant statutory requirements does not necessarily constitute approval of the activities in question.”…
- …and then there are Gaybies, the children of gay couples. In an Aussie documentary, told from the perspective of four kids, faith enters the trailer at the :48 mark, where one of the kids is reading The Big Picture Story Bible and the local priest saying that “Mom is sinning against God.”
- If you have never heard Lacey Sturm’s story, she recently guested on Life Today.