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Author Topic: Christianity Today Magazine - September 2019  (Read 513 times)

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patrick jane

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Christianity Today Magazine - September 2019
« on: September 03, 2019, 02:50:38 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2019/august/sharing-gospel-in-world-filled-with-good-news-messages.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+christianitytoday%2Fctmag+%28CT+Magazine%29






Sharing the Gospel in a World Filled with Good News Messages




Here are five elements that makes people share good news.

 
All people seem to possess an innate ability to share a gospel message. Whether it’s an exercise regimen, a holistic health remedy, a debt-reduction strategy, or any of a myriad of other supposed life-hacks, people of all personality types are bold and courageous when it comes to championing their good news message.

The words used give insight into the worshipful undertones they purport: “life-altering” and “transformative” seem to top the list. The relative value of such plans or products aside, the way they captivate our attention and our conversations provide insight into the lack of evangelistic fervor demonstrated by many supposed followers of Jesus.

What’s required for people to speak good news?

First, a shared need

The assumption driving good news messages is that all people have a common need, even those who might not know they do. People can relate to feeling fatigued from time to time, struggling with nagging health challenges, battling a pervasive mental fog, wishing their waistline was a bit smaller, or the fear of living paycheck to paycheck.

These challenges seem common, so when someone has an apparent solution to remedy one or more of these problems, it’s assumed that everyone else needs the answer as well. We’d be foolish or selfish to keep a message to ourselves if so many of our friends and family members are looking for answers to the same questions.

Could our evangelistic apathy be traced, at least in part, to a minimization of sin and the necessity of salvation from the wrath of God due to all sinners?

Second, personal transformation

Those gossiping their good news life-hacks have personally benefited from the message they share. For some, this benefit is financial. They communicate a message and receive financial benefit from a product’s sales. More often, such capitalistic impulses are not the primary driving impetus, however.

The good news bearer is testifying to an idea that has added value to his or her life—weight loss, mental focus, gut health, financial freedom. It’s not that these benefits don’t exist, but that those who are sharing the good news message have personally experienced these benefits.

But the good news doesn’t’ stop there. Often, these individuals will testify to the spill-over effect into other areas of life. Because of enhanced health, they are now better able to engage in the overall demands of life. Hence, their gospel message is life-altering in the truest sense of the word.

Is a lack of personal transformation at the root of our evangelistic apathy?

Third, focused conviction

These good news messages littering our daily conversations also point to the necessity of personal conviction. People speak about the good news message that they believe works. The goal isn’t merely physical health or financial freedom, but it is a particular pill, drink, bar, regime, budget, method, or tool that is thought to be the best route of getting to that goal.

Vague, theoretical aspirations don’t promote good news messages; instead, we need a specific answer to how people get to a desired end. We tell people about the path we’ve discovered in hopes that they will likewise choose the narrow way that we are convinced is the actual answer they need.

Is a lack of personal conviction that the good news of Jesus is the singular hope for the whole earth at the root of our evangelistic apathy?

Fourth, clear messaging

Good news requires sticky language and an intentional message. We don’t meander through life-altering, transformative truth claims; we declare them boldly.

The process of the message is the same every time. First, establish the need. Then, introduce the solution and demonstrate the transformation it brings. Finally, invite the listener to act.

Those who excel in their good news messages work this plan to perfection. Each day, each post, each coffee shop conversation is merely spinning back through these same three categories with different content. We link to articles, post pictures, share research, and give discounts following this Marketing 101 pathway. The repetition of a clear, compelling message allows hearers to understand the good news and exactly how they can get on board.

Is the fact that fewer church attendees are able to clearly articulate the message of Jesus and call others to repentance and faith at the root of our evangelistic apathy?

Finally, intentional relationships

The good news message run along relational networks. The first to learn of our life-hacks are those with the relational proximity to see the benefits firsthand. Our families, neighbors, co-workers, or classmates are around us enough to know whether or not something has genuinely been transformative.

From there, we venture out into secondary relationships via social media or broader relational networks. And, depending on the degree of zeal, good news messengers won’t be stopped by relational distance. A total stranger in a restaurant or in an adjacent seat on an airplane is likely to hear just how good our good news actually is.

Could it be that we are squandering the built-in relationships in our lives and wasting daily opportunities for good news snippets, thereby contributing to our evangelistic apathy?

One thing is certain: People will always speak of truth that transforms. It’s unavoidable.

The answer to evangelistic apathy isn’t an attempt to motivate passive people to speak of good news; the solution is to get all of us who are zealous to communicate good news to harness that energy and intentionality into winsome, consistent witness to the one Truth that’s truly transformative—not only for this life but the next as well.




Matt Rogers is a pastor at The Church at Cherrydale in Greenville, South Carolina. He has a Ph.D. in Applied Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Southeastern and an M.A. in Biblical Counseling from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.






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« Last Edit: October 04, 2019, 09:04:58 am by patrick jane »
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins, the gospel of our salvation, and repenting, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


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patrick jane

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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - September 2019
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2019, 03:49:07 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/september-web-only/hit-hard-pat-tammy-mcleod-football-brain-injury-trauma.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+christianitytoday%2Fctmag+%28CT+Magazine%29







When Trauma on the Field Creates Trauma in the Home





After their son suffered a devastating brain injury playing football, Pat and Tammy McLeod saw their marriage put to the test.


The family and friends of Zach McLeod gathered at a church in Boston for a solemn ceremony entitled “A Time to Mourn.” They watched a video of his life from birth until the devastating accident he suffered at age 16. Zach had been a gifted athlete, student leader, and beloved friend. His mother spoke of how much she missed hearing Zach’s prayers, thoughts, and dreams. Guests wrote down what they missed most about the young man they had known—the young man they would never see again.

Then, later that day, the same group reconvened. This time they celebrated a new life and watched a video showing milestones of progress. Who were they celebrating? Zach McLeod. In fact, Zach himself attended this ceremony, called “A Time to Dance.” He was elated to see so many friends and family members, to see and to hear their affirmations of what they appreciated about him.

If this sounds like a confusing day, not to mention an emotional whipsaw, welcome to the world of “ambiguous loss.” And welcome to Hit Hard: One Family’s Journey of Letting Go of What Was—and Learning to Live Well with What Is, a powerful new book by Zach’s parents, Pat and Tammy McLeod. Hit Hard deals with the messy contradictions of a life where suffering and joy are not strangers but siblings that share the same house.

The Language of Loss

Pat and Tammy were attending a ministry meeting when they received a nightmarish phone call. Their son Zach had sustained a catastrophic head injury in a high school football game. Zach survived, but today he speaks with great difficulty and requires 24/7 care. Pat and Tammy had to come to grips with the complex realities of taking care of him while parenting their other three children and juggling their careers in ministry. They both serve as chaplains for Cru, an interdenominational Christian ministry, at Harvard University. Tammy is also the director of College Ministry at Park Street Church in Boston.

The McLeods wrestled for a way to understand what they were experiencing. Alternating as authors, Pat and Tammy write about the same events from different points of view. Having and not having their son in the way they once did put them on what felt like opposing sides. Pat focused on the “have” part of that reality, while Tammy gravitated toward the “have not” end. As a result, they struggled to connect with one another in their grief. This book is as much about how a marriage survives in the wake of a crisis as it is about the ongoing trauma.

Because Hit Hard is so honest, it is also raw, intense, and messy. It is emotionally difficult and uncomfortable to read. The book takes readers through a series of traumatic events and explores how Pat and Tammy process each of them and the relational challenges that ensue. The details of their loss are heart-wrenching: Tammy gets cancer, and Zach sustains a second brain injury. For people who have endured trauma (or are enduring it still), the details of their journey may reopen wounds before providing hope.

The McLeods could not find language for what they were experiencing, which only deepened their sense of loss and isolation from their community and from one another. Their friends were unsure what to say. Should they share their joy that Zach had survived? Or grieve with them for the loss of the life that was?

Countless books and articles on grieving failed to speak to the McLeods’ circumstances. Finally they found a book by family therapist Pauline Boss called Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief. Putting a name to their experience was powerful. The words “ambiguous loss” validated their pain. They were not alone in their pain; it had a category of its own and was shared by others.

Boss describes two kinds of ambiguous loss. One is when the physical body is absent yet the person is psychologically present in the mind of the loved one. Examples of this include those missing because of war, natural disasters, kidnapping, adoption, or divorce. The other kind of loss happens when a person is bodily present but is not the same cognitively or emotionally. Examples of this kind of loss include people affected by Alzheimer’s, addiction, mental illness, or debilitating brain injury.

Boss wrote that to pursue closure is a fruitless endeavor. Fixing the ambiguity is often impossible. The goal then becomes how to live well with the ambiguous loss and increase tolerance for it. Tammy writes, “The secret to living well with ambiguous loss requires living well with both having and not having someone the way you once had them.” The McLeods needed to learn how to hold two opposing ideas in their minds at the same time. The Zach they had known was gone. A new Zach survived. They celebrated his survival but mourned what had happened to him.

Finding out that their grief had a name somehow changed things for the McLeods. It not only authenticated their pain but also clarified the source of the tension in their marriage. They realized their marital challenges had not been rooted in one spouse being right and the other being wrong. It was the ambiguity of the loss. Giving a name to their grief did not remove the debris, but it did throw light on the scene, so that they were less frequently tripping over things or bumping into each other in the dark.

Redeemed Ambiguity
In the beginning of the book, Tammy laments all of the things her son could never do again. He would never play football or sing with her, a hobby they enjoyed together. A scene at the end of the book illustrates how Tammy has made peace with their reality. Two hulking football players are holding Zach up as the three of them step onto the playing field. Zach is dressed in the team uniform, but he isn’t playing. His gait is not as smooth and his posture not as straight as the other players. But Zach is a leader in his own way. He sets an example by showing up and rising from every hard hit of life. He plays a motivational presence on the field and in the community.

Hit Hard can help those struggling with all kinds of grief, but especially those experiencing loss that has no clear end. Tammy felt understood when she read Boss’s words that living with continuous uncertainty and loss “is the most stressful kind of loss people can face.” The book can also help those who want to support someone experiencing a loss that feels complex, contradictory, and elusive. And lastly, it may assist marriages or other relationships in tension due to differences in how people process grief.

As Pat writes, “Ambiguous loss will probably always remain part of our family’s legacy. It will move in and out of the forefront, but never completely disappear. Like mountain hikers, we’re learning how to cinch our backpack straps tighter, adjust the weight so it doesn’t rub on already stressed spots, and keep climbing….Today we live in that redeemed ambiguity—incredible suffering and incredible love in the same messy world.”





Joyce Koo Dalrymple is a wife and mother, a minister of discipleship and women, and a former attorney.






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Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins, the gospel of our salvation, and repenting, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


Copyright Disclaimer: All audio and music belongs to the owner/creator. This is a non-profit. Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.

patrick jane

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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - September 2019
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2019, 11:50:17 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/september/dorian-bahamas-man-o-war-cay-churches-destroyed.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+christianitytoday%2Fctmag+%28CT+Magazine%29






Dorian Destroys Tiny Bahamas Island With 3 Churches and 300 People



Christian relief workers wait for floods to recede before they can make it to the hardest-hit places like Man-O-War Cay.


Since September 1, Pastor Randy Crowe has had limited contact with his former congregation on Man-O-War Cay, Bahamas. With no electricity, phones, or cellular service on the island, Crowe cannot reach anyone.

But during his one satellite call with a former congregant at New Life Bible Church, Crowe learned that the church he pastored for 12 years is gone, destroyed in the 200 miles-per-hour sustained winds surrounding the eye of the Category 5 storm.

The island, which has fewer than 300 residents, also endured tornadoes embedded in Dorian’s eye wall as the storm lumbered across the 700 islands that make up the Bahamas.

“Man-O-War Cay is decimated, just destroyed,” Crowe said.

CNN reported that Man-O-War Cay, part of the hardest-hit area of the Abaco Islands, suffered widespread damage to 90–100 percent of its buildings. There were three churches on the tiny island: New Life Bible Church, Church of God, and the Gospel Chapel.

New Life, covered in grey siding and flanked by palm trees, had been boarded up with plywood on each window along the sanctuary, in preparation for the storm, but it was not enough to hold back Dorian’s force.

“New Life and the cottage are all shuttered up,” read a final post on the church’s Facebook page before the storm. “The rest is in God’s hands.”

Having assisted with hurricane relief for every hurricane to hit the Bahamas since 1992, Crowe called Dorian the “worst one ever.”

With such severe infrastructure damage, Bahamian church leaders have not been able to contact fellow pastors in the US. The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship reports that it has not heard from the pastors of its nine churches in the Bahamas.

It took three days for any outsider to reach Man-O-War. Since the closest airport in Marsh Harbour is under two feet of water, Crowe must wait until the weekend to bring supplies in his Piper Cherokee 6 plane.

But once the airport reopens on nearby Abaco Island, Crowe plans to bring in emergency supplies like tarps, chainsaws, hygiene products, generators, powdered drinks, and ready-to-eat meals.

Soon he will organize teams to fly down and help clean up and rebuild with Island Outreach, the ministry he and his wife Paula founded four decades ago.

“Our efforts will focus on Marsh Harbor and Man-O-War Cay,” Crowe said. “There will be many trips. The first priority is to secure the houses and roofs and clear roadways while making sure everyone has food and water.”

Man-O-War Cay owes part of its quaint, remote feel to its Christian heritage. Because of the longtime presence of Brethren and Pentecostal churches on the island, it never legalized drinking, and without bars or hotels, never grew into a major tourist spot. (Many of the island’s residents are direct descendents of the earliest settlers, British Loyalists who moved to the Bahamas after the Revolutionary War.)

On the larger Grand Bahama island, reports already indicate that churches have opened as shelter, with Jubilee Cathedral housing 150 people.

Samaritan’s Purse landed in Nassau with relief supplies on Thursday, bringing shelter materials, water filters, and filtration units. Its disaster response team has a smaller plane and helicopter they hope to use to access harder-to-reach islands to continue to assess needs and distribute relief materials.

Crowe said Missionary Flights International also plans to fly supplies to Marsh Harbour when the airport reopens.

“We all work together because that’s what makes the body of Christ so good,” Crowe said. “We’re better together.”
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins, the gospel of our salvation, and repenting, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


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patrick jane

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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - September 2019
« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2019, 04:05:56 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2019/september/3-ways-to-view-scarcity-as-asset.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+christianitytoday%2Fctmag+%28CT+Magazine%29







Scarcity Brings Clarity: 3 Ways to View Scarcity as an Asset


Our clearest moments of thinking often come during times of less and loss.


Think about the times in your life when you have had the most vision and clarity on issues of importance. Likely, these haven’t come when you’ve been soaring high, soaking in an overflow of resources, everything at your fingertips.

No, most likely, if you are like me, you’ve noticed a trend that our clearest moments of thinking often come during times of less and loss—when we are running on empty and at the end of our resources.

One of the things I have experienced is that scarcity brings clarity. It’s during times of scarcity when I have also learned that I am the most effective leader. Scarcity forces us to consider options both in vision and strategy that we may not have necessarily seen before. We become more effective and efficient both in the short and the long term.

Scarcity forces clarity and from scarcity, we can actually retool an organization so that it is more effective and remains more focused in times of abundance. Prioritization is important at every moment, but prioritization is life-preserving in times of scarcity.

I remember when I came to the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College three years ago. At the time, to quote my boss, the Center was “on life support.” Instead of closing shop, we asked three key questions:

What could we best do?
What should we be doing?
What could only we do?
Our focus narrowed on a priority: gathering global leaders for greater gospel impact. Then we began to measure everything we did on the basis of our focus. In doing so, we became what Mr. Graham hoped we would become—a world hub of mission and evangelism..

Had it not been for that time of scarcity, we would not have been forced to assess clearly what we were working toward and discover how to best accomplish our goals.

Scarcity is rarely enjoyable to lead through. But when we understand these times as possible game-changers, we can actually discover that these are the times that change both us and our organizations.

Times of scarcity don’t always last, however, and they should lead to change and growth. To maximize our time as leaders during these scarcity moments, let me offer a few tips.

1. During times of scarcity, we must remember that we still have tools and resources with which we can work.
Look around and consider what you do have to work with. Who is there? What is your history? What tools do you have available? In these times, we must work exceptionally well with what we have. We must properly prioritize how we utilize our resources—whether those be money, people, time or property—for a more focused end goal.

2. Scarcity forces us to reevaluate where we are and where we are headed.
Perhaps our organization has tried to do too much. Perhaps we have lost focus of our end goal in an effort to grow and achieve great things. In times of plenty, it’s often difficult for organizations to see how off track they’ve gotten until it’s nearly too late to turn the ship around. This is why, for example, IBM doesn’t sell personal computers today. Once the leading provider of computers, IBM withered away because it was engaged in so many areas of work. Today, however, IBM is much more intentionally focused.

3. Scarcity causes us to look to other places for other resources.
We begin to see that it’s not all about us and we find creative ways to work together and to get what needs to be done accomplished. Too often, as organizations grow, they develop a mindset that begins to shut others out. Ever so slowly, silos develop, and the concept of shared resources and partnership are lost for the sake of greater growth. Scarcity allows us to look around and consider what others are doing and see potential for partnership that we otherwise would not have noticed.

If you are in a time of scarcity as an organization, don’t despair. Use this time as a transformation opportunity to take you and your team to the next level.






Ed Stetzerholds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College, serves as Dean of the School of Mission, Ministry, and Leadership at Wheaton College, is executive director of the Billy Graham Center, and publishes church leadership resources through Mission Group.





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Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins, the gospel of our salvation, and repenting, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - September 2019
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2019, 11:00:53 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/september-web-only/glenn-stanton-myth-dying-church-rick-richardson-you-found.html







Is American Christianity on Its Last Legs? The Data Say Otherwise.



Two new books push back on Chicken-Little narratives of evangelical decline.


When Christians write about the status and reputation of Christianity in American society, they usually focus on two questions: What is happening? What should be done?

Two recent books have taken up these questions in a markedly optimistic spirit: Glenn Stanton’s The Myth of the Dying Church: How Christianity is Actually Thriving in America and the World and Rick Richardson’s You Found Me: New Research on How Unchurched Nones, Millennials, and Irreligious are Surprisingly Open to Christian Faith.

The books share many similarities. Both make extensive use of survey findings and other types of data. Both are written by leaders at prominent evangelical organizations (Focus on the Family and The Billy Graham Center respectively). Both take a myth-busting approach to misconceptions about American Christianity. And both even use the story of Chicken Little to describe how Christians react to bad news about the faith.

Nonetheless, they are different books. With some exceptions, they address different aspects of Christianity in society. They also make different recommendations for how best to further its prospects.

Portrait of Resilience


In describing what is happening with the faith in America, Stanton focuses on the size and vitality of evangelical Christianity, especially as compared to mainline Protestantism.

Stanton marshals an impressive array of evidence. He emphasizes Christian affiliation rates, giving special attention to what’s happening with young people. He also examines a wide range of other topics, including charitable giving, church construction, missionary efforts, youth ministries, Christian colleges, and Christian publishing.

The story that emerges from Stanton’s overview is that evangelical Christianity is doing rather well for itself. Where it is not increasing, it is holding steady. As Stanton writes, “Churches that are faithfully preaching, teaching, and practicing Biblical truths and conservative theology are holding stable overall. In some areas, they are seeing growth.”

In contrast, the fortunes of mainline Protestantism in America are falling fast. Its long decline has been documented before, and Stanton updates our understanding of it. As he puts it, “people are leaving those churches like the buildings are on fire.”

Stanton’s portrait of resilience is one more strike against the widely held narrative of evangelical failure. This failure narrative is surprisingly resilient. It spreads in the minds of Christians like dandelions. After reading Stanton’s analysis, it’s clear that Christianity is not on its last legs.

Richardson, in You Found Me, has a different focus on what is happening. In 2016, the Billy Graham Center commissioned a survey of 2,000 Americans who don’t actively participate in religion—the “unchurched.” The survey asked these people about how they perceive Christians and Christianity. This included their view of Christianity, their willingness to talk about faith matters with Christians, how they would respond to being invited to a church event, and which types of invitations would they be most willing to accept.

Analyzing these data, Richardson finds that many unchurched Americans think well of Christians and are open to engaging matters of faith. For example, 42 percent of the unchurched think that Christianity is good for society, 33 percent admire their Christians friends’ faith, and up to 67 percent would be willing to attend a church event (depending on the type of event). Richardson concludes that the unchurched include “a massive number of people who are open to being invited, persuaded, and connected to a local congregation.”

Richardson’s analysis counters misconceptions about the unchurched. Christians commonly overestimate the hostility of the unchurched in matters of faith. We can slip into viewing them as mini-versions of Richard Dawkins—hostile to all things Christian. If this is true, why would we want to talk with them about our faith? It would be asking for rejection. Instead, Richardson’s findings invite us to share our faith openly, lovingly, and without fear. Not all of them will constructively engage us, of course, but many will.

Measures of Success
Turning from the question of where things stand to the question of what should be done in response, Stanton examines how Christian parents can effectively pass on their faith to their children. Drawing on research studies of young people transitioning into adulthood, he identifies multiple practices for fostering faith in children. It starts with a healthy, warm, and secure parent-child relationship. In this context, parents can lead their children into Christian practices such as prayer and reading Scripture. They can train them to see God’s work in everyday life, to handle their doubts without abandoning their faith, and even to face persecution.

Stanton’s discussion of parenting is very helpful. I wish I could have read it when our children were young. It identifies best practices for raising children in the faith. Christian parents care deeply about doing this, and Stanton gives hope that it can be done successfully. As he puts it, “passing faith to our kids is neither a crapshoot nor rocket science.”

Richardson takes on the issue of sharing faith with our unchurched neighbors. He offers practical guidelines for individual Christians, church leaders, and entire congregations. Particularly useful is Richardson’s treatment of evangelism by congregations. He describes the ideal congregation as a “conversion community”: It is steadily growing, it has recent converts attending its services, and it integrates evangelistic outreach into all its activities.

These characteristics come from data collected by the Billy Graham Center in a large-scale survey of several thousand Protestant churches in the United States. Richardson ranks these churches by their growth rates due to conversion. He then looks for the unique characteristics of the churches that rank the highest. From these, he makes recommendations for how churches can reach out to their local communities.

Among churches that succeed at evangelism, Richardson discerns two key characteristics. Frst, they develop a culture of innovation, frequently inviting the unchurched to church events. Importantly, the congregation leaders themselves lead the way in inviting others. And second, they develop a culture of hospitality, meeting the needs of people outside the church, whether they are physical, social, or emotional needs. Richardson shares many stories of people finding the love of God through a church’s hospitality. As one woman expressed it, the church to which she was invited “showed us so much love, unconditional love.”

Some Small Concerns
These two books complement each other well. Stanton goes deep into what’s happening with religion in society; Richardson gives insight into the thinking of the unchurched. Stanton advises parents; Richardson gives strategies to church leaders and congregations.

But even good books leave us wanting more, and these are no exception. Stanton gives a thorough description of how different Christian traditions are changing, but he gives much less attention to why these changes are taking place. For the United States, he briefly reviews the relative appeal of conservative, demanding theologies versus liberal, laissez-faire theologies. Presumably, there are also other factors at work as well. Stanton does give a fuller explanation as to why Christianity is spreading in the Global South.

A concern with Stanton’s book is the uniformity of his evidence. All of his statistics show that evangelical Christianity is holding steady or growing. It’s my experience as a researcher that social data are rarely this consistent in their message. Instead, they are like unruly children, going in many directions at once. Stanton has the overall story absolutely right. However, I assume that continued research on this issue will add qualifications and exceptions to this overall pattern of ongoing evangelical success.

Richardson and the Billy Graham Center should be commended for their innovative data collection. It’s exciting. Their data give us a rich understanding of both the perceptions of the unchurched and the practices of congregations that evangelize effectively. While Richardson identifies principles of effective outreach, it would be helpful to have more guidance on how to implement these principles. Knowing what to do and actually getting yourself to do it are two different things—both for individuals and groups. Richardson offers some preliminary thoughts on executing these principles. More would be useful.

A concern with Richardson’s book is a byproduct of its wide-ranging nature. It addresses many different themes—social trends, people’s attitudes, leadership development, and congregational practices. It draws evidence from multiple sources—survey data, Biblical principles, and personal stories. It would be difficult, with all of these components, to construct a tight, coherent narrative for the reader. It’s not always clear that Richardson does so. At some points, the presentation of the material, as well as the analysis of the data, felt underdeveloped.

Taking the Next Step
In reviewing these books, allow me to make an important but entirely unfair (I’ll explain why) observation about their use of data. Both use data to formulate strategies that should work. But neither actually uses data to test if these strategies really do work. This would require randomized evaluation studies. It is the difference between thinking that a medicine should work and actually giving it to people to carefully measure what happens. This leaves us with promising—but unproven—theories.

Here is why this observation is unfair. No one in American Christianity, to my knowledge, is doing this type of evaluation research. It’s common with other organizations, such as international aid programs, but it hasn’t found its way into Christianity yet.

Nonetheless, this type of research is entirely doable. It can cost less than a survey, and its results are crucial for knowing which strategies of Christian growth really work. Think of all the medicines found to be ineffective once tested. This type of evaluation research is the gold standard. Something as important as sharing the faith deserves this quality of evaluation.

But regardless of whether these authors, or the organizations for which they work, ever take the next step and directly test their recommended actions, these books give us deeper insight into what’s happening with Christianity and what might be done in response.





Bradley Wright is a sociologist at the University of Connecticut. He is the author of Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites...and Other Lies You've Been Told: A Sociologist Shatters Myths From the Secular and Christian Media (Bethany House).





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Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins, the gospel of our salvation, and repenting, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


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patrick jane

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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - September 2019
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2019, 07:17:44 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2019/september/maranatha-mission-maranatha-moments-in-world-filled-with-tr.html







Maranatha & Mission: Maranatha Moments in a World Filled with Tragedy




Sometimes "Come, Lord Jesus" is all we can say—and that's okay.


Years ago, I remember a Chris Rice song that resonated with my soul. It was called “Hallelujahs.” It described scenarios of life, like experiencing a purple sky to close the day, wading in the surf to see dolphins play, and tasting the salt while watching the dancing waves. At the end of the refrain, these words would echo throughout the song, “And my soul wells up with hallelujahs.”

Yes, there are certainly times throughout life where my soul wells up with hallelujahs—with “Praise the Lord!” However, I have also experienced my fair share of instances where my soul wells up with Maranathas!

Have you ever found yourself crying out, “Maranatha?” Maranatha is an Aramaic word used in 1 Corinthians 16:22 that can mean, “Our Lord, Come!” or “Come, Lord Jesus!” Interestingly, as Trevin Wax notes, this second interpretation wasn’t widely used until the last couple of centuries. In fact, as he notes, throughout the ages, Maranatha has been mainly used as a declaration, “Our Lord has come.”

Both are appropriate, but one version finds itself on the minds and lips of people when faced with life’s pains and sufferings. This week has been one of those weeks where “Maranatha” has been uttered from the lips of many, including myself.

I found myself crying out “Maranatha!” as I scrolled through the feeds that marked the 18th anniversary of 9/11—the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil. The devastation caused by those acts of terrorism almost 20 years ago will be forever stitched in our minds: planes flying into towers, people jumping from buildings, dust filling the city air, lifeless bodies under piled rubble, and grieving families and friends who in a twinkling of an eye lost husband, wife, parent, or child.

In addition to the anniversary of 9/11, the evangelical world experienced the loss of a prominent young church leader and mental health advocate who died by suicide—Jarrid Wilson, a man who loved Jesus and people, and who had dedicated his life to helping those in need. Jarrid preached messages, wrote books, and faithfully ministered to a broken world, only to find himself losing the battle (but not losing the war).

Having heard the news while driving, I had to wait until I stopped to see it for myself. As I sat and scrolled through the feeds, my heart was broken and grieving over what I read. There were so many comments that expressed heartbreak, grief, sadness, and lament.

The most jarring comment was a twitter post from Jarrid himself the day of his passing. As somewhat of a last, parting words of this life, he posted,

Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure suicidal thoughts. Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure depression. Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure PTSD. Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure anxiety. But that doesn’t mean Jesus doesn’t offer us companionship and comfort. He ALWAYS does that.

My response is a resounding, AMEN!

But it is the irony of his words and parting action that wells up in my soul a Maranatha! I get how the weight of this world and the struggle with illness and disease can crush the drive to live. And therefore, I couldn’t help but cry out “Maranatha!” over and over. Lord Jesus, come! Lord Jesus, come!

Have you been there? Are you there? If so, it is perfectly acceptable for there to be dry moments and seasons where no Hallelujahs flow from our tongues. It is alright if we somberly sit and utter groanings of Maranatha. This makes me think of Romans 8:22–23, where Paul writes,

For we know that the whole of creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

We live in a world filled with compounding brokenness, hurt, pain, and suffering. It’s not like we face oneexperience of hurt and pain; Oh no, we face a life filled with such. Sexual brokenness, divorce, betrayal, abuse, violence, discrimination, racism, poverty, abandonment, addiction, illness, disease, and more—not to mention death. We are victims of multiple counts of pain and suffering. In short, the fallen world, the opportunistic enemy, and the fleshly nature of sin lay claim to many a victim—everyone included; yes, even pastors.

As believers, we believe Jesus is in the process of making all things new. But there are times where our hopeful knowing gives way to our groanings of “Hurry up!” In those times, the struggle with life is just too real. We are simply too overwhelmed with the ugliness and darkness of life, and therefore we cry out—maybe with more of a tonal demand—"Maranatha!”

While we groan, we wait. Will Jesus answer our prayer? Will he, at that moment, physically come and make all things new? In all likelihood, possibly not. But one day he will.

In the meantime, what do we do?

When nothing but Maranatha comes from our lips, where should our minds and hearts go?

Let me share a couple of thoughts.

First, we can attune our minds to the empathetic yet finished work of Jesus.

The eternal God made flesh entered into the fray of humanity, bore the cross for our sins as he absorbed the wrath of God on our behalf. In clothing himself in humanity, Jesus experienced life, and thus pain, in a fallen world. He experienced betrayal, disease, poverty, abuse, violence, hatred, and even deaths of loved ones.

By taking upon himself the sin of humanity, he entered and endured the greatest of all pains—the wrath of God—and thus, separation from the Father. So, when it comes to our Maranatha moments, we can rest assured that Jesus knows and understands where we are. And his empathetic and yet finished work becomes the fuel for the courage to face another day.

Second, we can attune our hearts to focus on the hope of glory.

One of my favorite passages on this is 2 Corinthians 4:17–18, where Paul writes, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.”

Regarding this passage, John Piper says,

Not only is all your affliction momentary, not only is all your affliction light in comparison to eternity and the glory there, but all of it is totally meaningful. . . . Every millisecond of your pain—from fallen nature or fallen man—every millisecond of your misery in the path of obedience is producing a peculiar glory you will get because of that suffering.

In short, Jesus is in the process of making all things new, and somehow, in some way, even though we cannot see it, God is in the Maranatha moments preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.

In closing, depravity casts a long and dark shadow. When that shadow hits our lives, Maranatha may be the only word welling up in our soul. And that is perfectly ok.

But as you sit in your Maranatha moments, let the Spirit speak hope and peace that Jesus is indeed in the process of making all things new. As a result, you can also whisper to your soul, as the old hymn writer Horatio Spafford quipped, “It is well with my soul.”






Josh Laxton currently serves as the Assistant Director of the Billy Graham Center, Lausanne North American Coordinator at Wheaton College, and a co-host of the new podcast, Living in the Land of Oz. He has a Ph.D. in North American Missiology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.





Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins, the gospel of our salvation, and repenting, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


Copyright Disclaimer: All audio and music belongs to the owner/creator. This is a non-profit. Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.

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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - September 2019
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2019, 10:59:32 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2019/september/maranatha-mission-maranatha-moments-in-world-filled-with-tr.html







Maranatha & Mission: Maranatha Moments in a World Filled with Tragedy




Sometimes "Come, Lord Jesus" is all we can say—and that's okay.


Years ago, I remember a Chris Rice song that resonated with my soul. It was called “Hallelujahs.” It described scenarios of life, like experiencing a purple sky to close the day, wading in the surf to see dolphins play, and tasting the salt while watching the dancing waves. At the end of the refrain, these words would echo throughout the song, “And my soul wells up with hallelujahs.”

Yes, there are certainly times throughout life where my soul wells up with hallelujahs—with “Praise the Lord!” However, I have also experienced my fair share of instances where my soul wells up with Maranathas!

Have you ever found yourself crying out, “Maranatha?” Maranatha is an Aramaic word used in 1 Corinthians 16:22 that can mean, “Our Lord, Come!” or “Come, Lord Jesus!” Interestingly, as Trevin Wax notes, this second interpretation wasn’t widely used until the last couple of centuries. In fact, as he notes, throughout the ages, Maranatha has been mainly used as a declaration, “Our Lord has come.”

Both are appropriate, but one version finds itself on the minds and lips of people when faced with life’s pains and sufferings. This week has been one of those weeks where “Maranatha” has been uttered from the lips of many, including myself.

I found myself crying out “Maranatha!” as I scrolled through the feeds that marked the 18th anniversary of 9/11—the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil. The devastation caused by those acts of terrorism almost 20 years ago will be forever stitched in our minds: planes flying into towers, people jumping from buildings, dust filling the city air, lifeless bodies under piled rubble, and grieving families and friends who in a twinkling of an eye lost husband, wife, parent, or child.

In addition to the anniversary of 9/11, the evangelical world experienced the loss of a prominent young church leader and mental health advocate who died by suicide—Jarrid Wilson, a man who loved Jesus and people, and who had dedicated his life to helping those in need. Jarrid preached messages, wrote books, and faithfully ministered to a broken world, only to find himself losing the battle (but not losing the war).

Having heard the news while driving, I had to wait until I stopped to see it for myself. As I sat and scrolled through the feeds, my heart was broken and grieving over what I read. There were so many comments that expressed heartbreak, grief, sadness, and lament.

The most jarring comment was a twitter post from Jarrid himself the day of his passing. As somewhat of a last, parting words of this life, he posted,

Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure suicidal thoughts. Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure depression. Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure PTSD. Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure anxiety. But that doesn’t mean Jesus doesn’t offer us companionship and comfort. He ALWAYS does that.

My response is a resounding, AMEN!

But it is the irony of his words and parting action that wells up in my soul a Maranatha! I get how the weight of this world and the struggle with illness and disease can crush the drive to live. And therefore, I couldn’t help but cry out “Maranatha!” over and over. Lord Jesus, come! Lord Jesus, come!

Have you been there? Are you there? If so, it is perfectly acceptable for there to be dry moments and seasons where no Hallelujahs flow from our tongues. It is alright if we somberly sit and utter groanings of Maranatha. This makes me think of Romans 8:22–23, where Paul writes,

For we know that the whole of creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

We live in a world filled with compounding brokenness, hurt, pain, and suffering. It’s not like we face oneexperience of hurt and pain; Oh no, we face a life filled with such. Sexual brokenness, divorce, betrayal, abuse, violence, discrimination, racism, poverty, abandonment, addiction, illness, disease, and more—not to mention death. We are victims of multiple counts of pain and suffering. In short, the fallen world, the opportunistic enemy, and the fleshly nature of sin lay claim to many a victim—everyone included; yes, even pastors.

As believers, we believe Jesus is in the process of making all things new. But there are times where our hopeful knowing gives way to our groanings of “Hurry up!” In those times, the struggle with life is just too real. We are simply too overwhelmed with the ugliness and darkness of life, and therefore we cry out—maybe with more of a tonal demand—"Maranatha!”

While we groan, we wait. Will Jesus answer our prayer? Will he, at that moment, physically come and make all things new? In all likelihood, possibly not. But one day he will.

In the meantime, what do we do?

When nothing but Maranatha comes from our lips, where should our minds and hearts go?

Let me share a couple of thoughts.

First, we can attune our minds to the empathetic yet finished work of Jesus.

The eternal God made flesh entered into the fray of humanity, bore the cross for our sins as he absorbed the wrath of God on our behalf. In clothing himself in humanity, Jesus experienced life, and thus pain, in a fallen world. He experienced betrayal, disease, poverty, abuse, violence, hatred, and even deaths of loved ones.

By taking upon himself the sin of humanity, he entered and endured the greatest of all pains—the wrath of God—and thus, separation from the Father. So, when it comes to our Maranatha moments, we can rest assured that Jesus knows and understands where we are. And his empathetic and yet finished work becomes the fuel for the courage to face another day.

Second, we can attune our hearts to focus on the hope of glory.

One of my favorite passages on this is 2 Corinthians 4:17–18, where Paul writes, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.”

Regarding this passage, John Piper says,

Not only is all your affliction momentary, not only is all your affliction light in comparison to eternity and the glory there, but all of it is totally meaningful. . . . Every millisecond of your pain—from fallen nature or fallen man—every millisecond of your misery in the path of obedience is producing a peculiar glory you will get because of that suffering.

In short, Jesus is in the process of making all things new, and somehow, in some way, even though we cannot see it, God is in the Maranatha moments preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.

In closing, depravity casts a long and dark shadow. When that shadow hits our lives, Maranatha may be the only word welling up in our soul. And that is perfectly ok.

But as you sit in your Maranatha moments, let the Spirit speak hope and peace that Jesus is indeed in the process of making all things new. As a result, you can also whisper to your soul, as the old hymn writer Horatio Spafford quipped, “It is well with my soul.”






Josh Laxton currently serves as the Assistant Director of the Billy Graham Center, Lausanne North American Coordinator at Wheaton College, and a co-host of the new podcast, Living in the Land of Oz. He has a Ph.D. in North American Missiology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

what a pic?

Blade
1 Cor 15:3-4.."For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:"

Acts 17:11.."These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."

patrick jane

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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - September 2019
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2019, 12:01:42 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/september/chick-fil-bill-texas-san-antonio-lawsuit-airport-ban.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+christianitytoday%2Fctmag+%28CT+Magazine%29







Faithful Chick-fil-A Fans Sue San Antonio Over Airport Ban


A new religious liberty law in Texas bars the government from penalizing over charitable donations.


Less than a week after Texas enacted the so-called Save Chick-fil-A bill—which prohibits government entities from taking adverse action against a person based on their support of religious organizations—five San Antonio Christians sued the city over its decision to exclude Chick-fil-A from its airport due to the chain’s donations to evangelical charities.

The lawsuit, filed in September by members of the conservative Christian San Antonio Family Association, asks the court to declare San Antonio has violated state law; prevent the city from keeping the chain from its airport concessions; and prohibit officials from taking “any adverse action” based “wholly or partly” on a person or group’s “support for religious organizations that oppose homosexual behavior.”

Texas’ Governor Greg Abbott himself has defended Chick-fil-A, saying, “No business should be discriminated against simply because its owners donate to a church, the Salvation Army, or other religious organization. Texas protects religious liberty.”

But the city objects to the suit’s claims, in part because Abbott’s new state law, which was passed in June and enacted in September, was not in effect when the city council decided back in March to remove Chick-fil-A as a vendor in a planned airport expansion.

Laura Mayes, a spokesperson for the city of San Antonio, told the Texas Tribune, “Among the many weaknesses in [the plaintiffs’] case, they are trying to rely on a law that did not exist when Council voted on the airport concessions contract. We will seek a quick resolution from the court.”

In moving to exclude the chicken chain, Councilman Roberto Treviño called it “a company with a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior.” Councilman Manny Pelaez seconded the motion, saying “Chick-fil-A corporate has been funding anti-LGBTQ organizations.” The restaurant chain is “for many people,” he said moments later, “a symbol of hate.” Pelaez also objected to Chick-fil-A’s policy of closing on Sundays.

The lawsuit alleges the decision to exclude Chick-fil-A was based at least in part on its contributions and support for religious organizations, “including the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA).”

Chick-Fil-A’s charitable activity has been a point of controversy since at least 2012. Although the restaurant chain stopped giving to some organizations that oppose same-sex marriage, like the Family Research Council, it has continued to draw criticism for contributions to groups like FCA and the Salvation Army, which hold traditional views of human sexuality though they are not focused on political action.

On its website, the Chick-fil-A Foundation states it gave $1.6 million to FCA in 2017 “to fund sports camps and school programs for inner city youth.” The same year, it gave $150,000 to the Salvation Army.

Evangelicals in particular appreciate the Christian identity and values espoused by the popular restaurant chain, founded by the late Truett Cathy, a faithful Baptist. In a brand study by Morning Consult, 62 percent of evangelicals said Chick-fil-A had a positive impact on their community, compared to 48 percent of Americans on average.

Politicians in Boston, San Francisco, and Chicago have attempted to block the opening of Chick-fil-A locations in their cities based on similar criticism over charitable giving and LGBT stances. In upstate New York earlier this year, Chick-fil-A was disinvited from opening a location at the Buffalo airport. University of Kansas faculty objected in August to the university’s relationship with Chick-fil-A, calling the chain “a bastion of bigotry.”

Chick-fil-A said in an April statement, “Recent coverage about Chick-fil-A continues to drive an inaccurate narrative about our brand.”

"We want to make it clear that our sole focus is on providing delicious food and welcoming everyone—not being a part of a national political conversation,” Chick-fil-A said. “We do not have a political or social agenda. More than 145,000 people from different backgrounds and beliefs represent the Chick-fil-A brand. We embrace all people, regardless of religion, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”

The controversy over Texas’ “Save Chick-fil-A” bill reflects growing tensions between religious and LGBT rights.

As Vox wrote, “The bill’s supporters say it’s a way of protecting businesses’ First Amendment rights — but opponents say it could give private businesses legal sanction for discriminating against LGBTQ customers or staff under the guise of free speech.” Similar lines of argument have come up in the high-profile cases involving religious freedom protections for Christian wedding vendors who decline to participate in same-sex weddings.

In related news, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the city of San Antonio in June for access to records related to Chick-fil-A’s exclusion from the airport. He is conducting his own investigation into the matter.




David Roach is a writer in Nashville, Tennessee.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins, the gospel of our salvation, and repenting, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


Copyright Disclaimer: All audio and music belongs to the owner/creator. This is a non-profit. Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.

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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - September 2019
« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2019, 06:18:22 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/september/chick-fil-bill-texas-san-antonio-lawsuit-airport-ban.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+christianitytoday%2Fctmag+%28CT+Magazine%29







Faithful Chick-fil-A Fans Sue San Antonio Over Airport Ban


A new religious liberty law in Texas bars the government from penalizing over charitable donations.


Less than a week after Texas enacted the so-called Save Chick-fil-A bill—which prohibits government entities from taking adverse action against a person based on their support of religious organizations—five San Antonio Christians sued the city over its decision to exclude Chick-fil-A from its airport due to the chain’s donations to evangelical charities.

The lawsuit, filed in September by members of the conservative Christian San Antonio Family Association, asks the court to declare San Antonio has violated state law; prevent the city from keeping the chain from its airport concessions; and prohibit officials from taking “any adverse action” based “wholly or partly” on a person or group’s “support for religious organizations that oppose homosexual behavior.”

Texas’ Governor Greg Abbott himself has defended Chick-fil-A, saying, “No business should be discriminated against simply because its owners donate to a church, the Salvation Army, or other religious organization. Texas protects religious liberty.”

But the city objects to the suit’s claims, in part because Abbott’s new state law, which was passed in June and enacted in September, was not in effect when the city council decided back in March to remove Chick-fil-A as a vendor in a planned airport expansion.

Laura Mayes, a spokesperson for the city of San Antonio, told the Texas Tribune, “Among the many weaknesses in [the plaintiffs’] case, they are trying to rely on a law that did not exist when Council voted on the airport concessions contract. We will seek a quick resolution from the court.”

In moving to exclude the chicken chain, Councilman Roberto Treviño called it “a company with a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior.” Councilman Manny Pelaez seconded the motion, saying “Chick-fil-A corporate has been funding anti-LGBTQ organizations.” The restaurant chain is “for many people,” he said moments later, “a symbol of hate.” Pelaez also objected to Chick-fil-A’s policy of closing on Sundays.

The lawsuit alleges the decision to exclude Chick-fil-A was based at least in part on its contributions and support for religious organizations, “including the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA).”

Chick-Fil-A’s charitable activity has been a point of controversy since at least 2012. Although the restaurant chain stopped giving to some organizations that oppose same-sex marriage, like the Family Research Council, it has continued to draw criticism for contributions to groups like FCA and the Salvation Army, which hold traditional views of human sexuality though they are not focused on political action.

On its website, the Chick-fil-A Foundation states it gave $1.6 million to FCA in 2017 “to fund sports camps and school programs for inner city youth.” The same year, it gave $150,000 to the Salvation Army.

Evangelicals in particular appreciate the Christian identity and values espoused by the popular restaurant chain, founded by the late Truett Cathy, a faithful Baptist. In a brand study by Morning Consult, 62 percent of evangelicals said Chick-fil-A had a positive impact on their community, compared to 48 percent of Americans on average.

Politicians in Boston, San Francisco, and Chicago have attempted to block the opening of Chick-fil-A locations in their cities based on similar criticism over charitable giving and LGBT stances. In upstate New York earlier this year, Chick-fil-A was disinvited from opening a location at the Buffalo airport. University of Kansas faculty objected in August to the university’s relationship with Chick-fil-A, calling the chain “a bastion of bigotry.”

Chick-fil-A said in an April statement, “Recent coverage about Chick-fil-A continues to drive an inaccurate narrative about our brand.”

"We want to make it clear that our sole focus is on providing delicious food and welcoming everyone—not being a part of a national political conversation,” Chick-fil-A said. “We do not have a political or social agenda. More than 145,000 people from different backgrounds and beliefs represent the Chick-fil-A brand. We embrace all people, regardless of religion, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”

The controversy over Texas’ “Save Chick-fil-A” bill reflects growing tensions between religious and LGBT rights.

As Vox wrote, “The bill’s supporters say it’s a way of protecting businesses’ First Amendment rights — but opponents say it could give private businesses legal sanction for discriminating against LGBTQ customers or staff under the guise of free speech.” Similar lines of argument have come up in the high-profile cases involving religious freedom protections for Christian wedding vendors who decline to participate in same-sex weddings.

In related news, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the city of San Antonio in June for access to records related to Chick-fil-A’s exclusion from the airport. He is conducting his own investigation into the matter.




David Roach is a writer in Nashville, Tennessee.

Hope He wins.
1 Cor 15:3-4.."For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:"

Acts 17:11.."These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."

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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - September 2019
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2019, 08:42:16 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/september/trump-un-speech-religious-freedom-private-business-coalitio.html





In UN Speech, Trump Announces New Religious Freedom Initiatives



Cheering US faith principles, the president pledges new funds and business support to curb persecution.


Speaking before the United Nations today, President Trump praised the country’s religious freedom record and cited figures that suggest the rest of the world has much work to do, as he announced new funding to protect religious sites as well as business partnerships to fuel the cause.

“Our nation was founded on the idea that our rights do not come from government, but from God,” said Trump. “Regrettably, the freedom enjoyed in America is rare in the world.”

Trump said he had asked Vice President Mike Pence to double-check the figure of 80 percent of the world’s population living in areas that restrict religious freedom. According to Pew Research, 83 percent of the population lives in places with “high” or “very high” restrictions, mostly targeting religious minorities.

“Today, with one clear voice, the US calls on the nations of the world to end religious persecution,” Trump said.

Pence stated that Trump was the first world leader to chair a meeting on religious freedom at the United Nations.

Seeking international consensus on religious freedom, he called out Iran, Iraq, China, Venezuela, and Nicaragua for their violations and mentioned the terrorist tragedies that struck down Jews in Pittsburgh, Muslims in New Zealand, and Christians in Sri Lanka.

Under Trump’s leadership, Pence said, the United States passed the Genocide Recovery and Persecution Response Act to protect religious minorities in the Middle East, and the State Department’s International Religious Freedom Fund dispersed 435 rapid response grants since 2018, aiding 2,000 victims of persecution. A year ago, the Trump administration doubled its funding for Christians and religious minorities returning to Iraq.

“As President, protecting religious freedom is one of my highest priorities, and always has been,” said Trump, who today pledged an additional $25 million to protect religious sites and relics around the world that are under threat. He urged the global community join in “measures to prevent the intentional destruction of religious sites and relics,” including attacks on houses of worship.

A number of evangelical leaders cheered his remarks, including Franklin Graham and Cissie Graham Lynch of Samaritan’s Purse, who attended the UN event in person. Trump called Graham “instrumental” and praised his involvement in disaster relief. Graham thanked the President for “shining a spotlight on this critical issue.”

Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee president Ronnie Floyd, one of Trump’s evangelical advisors, also celebrated the UN speech in comments to Baptist Press.

“I applaud today's call to broaden international support for the protection of religious freedom,” said Floyd. “It is time to bring an end to religious persecution and do all we can to see crimes cease against people of faith. I am grateful for President Trump speaking and leading in this global effort.”

In particular, Trump announced plans for a first-of-its-kind coalition of US businesses that would take a proactive role to defend religious freedom.

“This initiative will encourage the private sector to protect people of all faiths in the workplace,” he said. (The Trump administration has strengthened conscience protections for government employees, such as those who wish to decline participation in medical procedures such as abortions for religious reasons.)

He did not offer further details on the business coalition or who would be involved beyond describing “great business leaders, great people of strength.”

“Freedom of religion and belief can contribute to a rich pluralism that is itself associated with economic growth,” said Brian Grim, president of the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation, which organized a sideline meeting at the Harvard Club with US Ambassador at large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback. “Indeed, the active participation of religious minorities in society often boosts economic innovation.”

Grim cited research showing that since the 2008 financial crisis, GDP growth rates where religious freedom increased grew at about double the rate where it decreased.

President Trump’s speech at the UN contrasts with his general approach to deprioritize international cooperation. He has pulled the United States out of several United Nations initiatives, including its Human Rights Council, in 2018.

But in terms of religious freedom, Trump has been the most prominent American champion since Ronald Reagan, William Inboden told USA Today. “The Trump administration has, by and large, been pretty unilateralist,” said Inboden, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin who worked on international religious freedom issues for the George W. Bush administration. “But they’re taking a very multilateral approach on international religious freedom.”

This past July the US State Department convened its second annual Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, attended by around 100 national foreign delegations. Since then, United Kingdom, Germany, Mongolia, and Taiwan have created special religious freedom ambassadors. Nigeria, Colombia, Ukraine, and Sudan are slated to host regional religious freedom roundtable meetings. And Poland spearheaded a UN initiative to establish a day for the international body to honor victims of religious persecution.

Trump brought domestic politics into his speech when welcoming Andrew Brunson. The pastor held two years in Turkey was freed in 2018 through Trump’s high-profile negotiation with Turkish President Erdogan, who was also in attendance. Trump said Erdogan has since “become a friend.” But of President Obama, he said, “I don’t think the previous administration tried too hard.”

Some commentators are critical of Trump’s approach. “This is a play for the evangelical crowd in the United States,” Ned Price, a spokesman for the National Security Council under President Barack Obama, said in USA Today. “This is a play for the conservative movement here at home, which will surely be energized and galvanized by this even as it probably won’t register all that much with most Americans.”

Others criticized Trump for using religious freedom to upstage another UN meeting on climate change, held the same day. “Not participating and yet showing up at the building is throwing down a gauntlet,” David Waskow, director of the International Climate Initiative at the World Resources Institute, said in the Guardian’s report. “It’s most importantly a snub to the young people pleading for action on climate change. It’s up to the rest of the world to get on with its business.”

Evangelical leaders like Tony Perkins, chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom and president of Family Research Council, defended the President’s religious freedom emphasis on Fox News, saying, “This is the president kind of putting down a marker ... advancing religious freedom. This is a step forward with very tangible markers in terms of protecting people of faith.”

Other critics claim Trump’s commitment is empty since the President put less pressure on nations like Russia and Saudi Arabia. And a day before the UN gathering, Trump shared a stage with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Houston, where 50,000 mostly Indian Americans cheered a leader panned by many for his pro-Hindu nationalist policies, to the detriment of Muslim and Christian minorities.

“This [UN meeting] is yet another example of Trump putting the show before the substance,” Brett Bruen, director of global engagement in the Obama administration, told USA Today.

The UN secretary-general António Guterres, seated to Trump’s right, thanked the President for his focus on religious freedom and praised the recent efforts of Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Ahmed al-Tayyib, to promote religious peace and fraternity. He announced two new UN initiatives to support religious freedom—a strategy against hate speech and an action plan to protect houses of worship.

“Too often people in positions of power preach diversity while silencing, shunning, or censoring the faithful," Trump said. "True tolerance means respecting the right of all people to express their de eply held religious beliefs. “I ask all nations to join us in this urgent moral duty.”




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patrick jane

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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - September 2019
« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2019, 11:37:46 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/september-web-only/guilt-by-association-love-enemies.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+christianitytoday%2Fctmag+%28CT+Magazine%29







Let’s Stop Playing Guilt-by-Association Games



If we are called to love our enemies, how much more should we love people with whom we have strong disagreements?


He talks about racism a lot lately and has bought into this ‘cultural Marxism’ nonsense.”

“She’s raised some concerns about the social justice movement. She must be a white supremacist.”

“He liked that author’s Facebook status. I think he’s walking away from his faith.”

“Her books are sold in airports, and I’m skeptical about books sold in airports.”

I have seen these and similar statements made and labels hurled online (yes, even the last one about airport books). Since the election of 2016, guilt-by-association tactics like these have only worsened. “Guilt by association” occurs when guilt is ascribed to someone not because of evidence but because of his or her association (real or perceived) with a person or group.

Associations are not always bad. Psychologists use the word “schema” to “refer to patterns of thoughts and behaviors, built up over time, that people use to process information quickly and effortlessly as they interact with the world,” as Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff write in The Coddling of the American Mind.

God gives us wisdom and discernment to form accurate associations when a person’s consistent words and behavior over time reveal those associations to be true. (In the words of Maya Angelou, “when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”)

Jesus talked about such consistency in terms of fruit: “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?” (Matt. 7:15-16). Associations are fair and cautions are warranted when someone consistently bears fruit inconsistent with the teachings of scripture.

But we are also in the middle of a very polarizing moment in our nation’s history and must be aware of its influence on our ability to think. I have noticed an uptick of guilt-by-association tactics employed on the Internet, and they are tempting when all around us people are dividing along tribal lines. But I am afraid this makes us as Christians poor thinkers and neighbors when we give in to guilt-by-association tactics too hastily.

Schemas of association
We train our eyes to see and tune our ears to hear certain words, phrases, or names that signal to us who’s in the “ingroup” or “outgroup.” Thinking is social. We cannot avoid this, and Alan Jacobs explains why in his book How to Think:

To think independently of other human beings is impossible, and if it were possible it would be undesirable. Thinking is necessarily, thoroughly, and wonderfully social. Everything you think is a response to what someone else has thought and said. And when people commend someone for “thinking for herself” they usually mean “ceasing to sound like people I dislike and starting to sound more like people I approve of.”

This is a point worth dwelling on. How often do we say “she really thinks for herself” when someone rejects views that we hold? No: when someone departs from what we believe to be the True Path our tendency is to look for bad influences. She’s fallen under the spell of so-and-so. She’s been reading too much X or listening to too much Y or watching too much Z.

When we only think in these terms, our schemas of association tell us which words, individuals, or groups to be leery of with little thought given to whether the content of their message is actually true or false.

I recently heard someone reference Luke 20:1-8 as an example of this phenomenon, and the groupthink involved in this passage had not before crossed my mind:

One day as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple courts and proclaiming the good news, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to him. “Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this authority?” He replied, “I also will ask you a question. Tell me: John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin?” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ all the people will stone us, because they are persuaded that John was a prophet.” So they answered, “We don’t know where it was from.” Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

As the chief priests and scribes discussed Jesus’ question of whether John the Baptist was “from heaven or from man,” notice how they never asked, “What is true? Was John the Baptist sent from God or man?” Instead, they deliberated their answer in terms of who it might associate them with. They were so concerned about which “tribe” others might perceive them to belong to that they never got at the truth, either of Jesus’ question or their own.

Guilt-by-association tactics usually make us think in terms of categories like “safe” or dangerous,” “liberal” or “conservative,” “Christian” or “non-Christian.” In a new book called Mama Bear Apologetics: Empowering Your Kids to Challenge Cultural Lies, Hillary Morgan Ferrer explains why teaching children to divide the world into categories like these hinders critical thinking, and this also holds true for adults:

The danger of dividing up the world into simplistic “safe” and “dangerous” or even “Christian” and “non-Christian” categories is that our kids will eventually (and perhaps accidentally) swallow a lie from something they thought was safe or Christian, or reject a truth from something they thought was dangerous or non-Christian… Why? Because it gives them the mistaken impression that as long as they categorize something correctly, they can turn their brains off and operate on autopilot.

As the saying goes, all truth is God’s truth. If we really want to think critically about the world and people around us, we must resist the temptation of easy categories and associations.

Witnesses to Truth
Guilt-by-association tactics also make us poor neighbors as Christians, because they make us poor witnesses to truth.

Isaiah 59:14 says, “So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter.” Christians are called to be truth tellers in the public square, and this includes accurately representing others’ views, even when we disagree with them, and refusing to participate in the spread of “fake news.”

Employing guilt-by-association tactics that are inaccurate is a way of “giving false testimony against your neighbor” online (Exodus 20:16). We are sometimes all too ready to impute guilt on others, even though we would never want others to do it to us.

But there is another way guilt-by-association tactics make us poor neighbors.

A couple of weeks ago a blog circulated on Twitter, calling for a Christian leader to clarify her position on gay marriage, in part, because of her “public affection and admiration” for people on the other side of the debate.

I truly understand the desire for people to clarify their beliefs, but guilt-by-association tactics such as this one are an uncharitable means for asking they do so. We’ve lost sight of what it means to love our neighbors when we assume someone’s beliefs because of their kindness and charity towards those we perceive to be “on the other side.”

Jesus calls us to love our enemies (Matt. 5:43-48). If we are called to love even enemies, how much more should we love people with whom we have strong disagreements?

I am often tempted to withhold compassion and charity from those with whom I disagree, whether out of frustration with them or fear of what others might think. When the lure of guilt-by-association tactics is strong, God always brings to my mind the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10.

Someone who knew the Old Testament very well asked Jesus what he should do to have eternal life. When Jesus told him to love God and his neighbor, he responded: “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29). Rather than answering him directly, Jesus told a parable about a “good Samaritan” who stopped and cared for a man beaten by robbers and left to die by the road, after two others had passed by him. Jesus then asked the man, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” (Luke 10:36).

We are often like the man asking Jesus how we determine who is our neighbor: “Jesus, just tell us what boxes they should check before we extend our grief, compassion, and charity.” But Jesus didn’t define “neighbor” like this man wanted, and he doesn’t do it for us. Instead, he flips the question around and asks, “Are you going to be the neighbor?”

Guilt-by-association tactics are tempting, especially online. In How to Think, Jacobs writes, “The person who genuinely wants to think will have to develop strategies for recognizing the subtlest of social pressures, confronting the pull of the ingroup and disgust for the outgroup.”

For the Christian, a commitment to the truth both about God and reality and love for neighbor are both good strategies to start with when we open Twitter or Facebook and set out to think.





Lanie Anderson is a writer, speaker, and wife currently pursuing an M.Div. in Christian Apologetics from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. She lives in Oxford, Mississippi, with her husband and their dog. This post originally appeared on her blog, lanieanderson.com.



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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - September 2019
« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2019, 10:54:16 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/september-web-only/twentysomething-soul-clydesdale-garces-foley.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+christianitytoday%2Fctmag+%28CT+Magazine%29






Another Look at the ‘Least Religious Generation’




American twentysomethings have their frustrations with the church, but they are far more faith-friendly than commonly supposed.


Narratives of decline surround American evangelicalism and American religion more broadly. Within these narratives, a special sort of skepticism is reserved for twentysomethings. Much has been said about their flight from the pews, the rise of the “nones,” and the lack of institutional commitment among millennials. While we’ve been wringing our hands about the millennial generation, we must acknowledge that Generation Z snuck up on us. They are increasingly filling the ranks of the twentysomething cohort.

As a Gen Xer, I remember a similar fretting for my generation of youth. We were the “latchkey kids”: A lack of supervision inevitably turned us into the sort of rebellious teens depicted in films like The Breakfast Club.

Given the relative novelty of emerging adulthood as a developmental stage, it’s easy to come down hard on twentysomethings. This new phase in the American experience, marked by delays in attaining traditional markers of adulthood (marriage, home ownership, full-time employment, and so on), provides fodder for sweeping critiques of twentysomethings, including their faith.

In The Twentysomething Soul: Understanding the Religious and Secular Lives of American Young Adults, sociologist Tim Clydesdale and religion scholar Kathleen Garces-Foley acknowledge the prevailing stereotypes: “Today’s twentysomethings,” they write, “have been labeled the ‘lost generation’—for their presumed inability to identify and lead fulfilling lives, ‘kidults’—for their alleged refusal to ‘grow up’ and accept adult responsibilities—and the ‘least religious generation’—for their purported disinterest in religion and spirituality.”

Are twentysomethings really such a “lost generation?” Clydesdale and Graces-Foley give us reasons to be much more hopeful.

Original Research
There are plenty of recent books covering the lives, experiences, and perceptions of twentysomethings, addressed to their parents, to curious outsiders, or to members of that age cohort itself. Good examples include The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter—And How to Make the Most of Them Now by Meg Jay, and How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success by Julie Lythcott-Haims.

On the subject of young adults’ faith lives specifically, research from The Barna Group, led by David Kinnaman, has yielded important volumes like unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity…and Why it Matters, You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving Church…and Rethinking Faith, and Churchless: Understanding Today’s Unchurched and How to Connect with Them.

The Twentysomething Soul widens the scope of this discussion with the authors’ original research, which draws from hundreds of interviews and thousands of surveys of twentysomethings across the nation. Their analysis focuses on the 91 percent of American twentysomethings who identify as either Christian (Catholic, evangelical, or mainline Protestant) or “religiously unaffiliated.” (Twentysomethings of other faith traditions are not considered in this book.) Clydesdale and Garces-Foley distill their work into seven major claims:

Contrary to popular opinion, the beliefs and practices of American twentysomethings reveal far more continuity than decline.
One in three twentysomethings attend worship regularly, but they cluster within young-adult friendly congregations.
The religiously unaffiliated are a diverse group, consisting of atheists, agnostics, and believers.
Today’s American twentysomethings adopt one of four approaches to faith: They prioritize it, they reject it, they sideline it, or they practice an “eclectic spirituality.”
American twentysomething spirituality groups into two camps: traditionally religious and nontraditional.
Those American twentysomethings who prioritize religious and spiritual life are more likely to engage in a certain set of practices: marriage, parenthood, college graduation, employment, voting, community engagement, and social involvement.
American twentysomethings view institutions differently than their elders: As the authors explain, “Today’s twentysomethings experience the world less as sets of institutions prescribing standard life scripts and more as nodes on a network from which they can freely choose cultural symbols, strategies, and interpretations.”
The book devotes a chapter to each Christian subgroup and an additional chapter to the religiously unaffiliated. Within each Christian subgroup, the authors further disperse twentysomethings into three categories: active, nominal, and estranged. Such a framework provides a more nuanced understanding of each subgroup, countering the notion that evangelicals are more active than their Catholic or mainline Protestant peers.

As a group, twentysomethings are a thoughtful, religious, and praying tribe. Clydesdale and Garces-Foley find that among their respondents, two out of three evangelicals, one out of three mainline Protestants, and two out of five Catholics attend worship services regularly. They are right to highlight this as “a remarkable rate of voluntary attendance—especially when we consider that twentysomethings are the least well-established in their work lives of all adults and have the fewest discretionary hours and dollars of all adults.”

For evangelicals, The Twentysomething Soul provides insight into the lives and faith commitments of our Catholic and mainline brothers and sisters, offering a perspective we too often lack. In addition, the authors’ treatment of evangelicalism takes the reader beyond the anecdotal to listen to the voices of American twentysomething evangelicals, carefully analyzing the complexity without wandering into political polarization or theological debate.

Highlights within their findings include much worth celebrating. Among their respondents, three out of 10 identify as evangelicals. Compared to the other Christian subgroups, evangelicals can claim the highest percentage of black young adults. Eight out of 10 evangelical twentysomethings pray at least weekly. Ninety-seven percent believe in God with certainty. Those that self-report as evangelicals attend worship regularly. “Active” evangelicals seek out church communities when they relocate. Based on the authors’ findings, evangelicals seem poised to hold their numbers over the next few decades.

However, there are also areas for concern. While evangelicals are the most “religiously fervent” of the Christian subgroups, 50 percent are labeled “nominal”. Most twentysomething evangelicals worship in churches without great racial diversity, and most attend a smaller number of young-adult friendly congregations. Twentysomething evangelicals are decidedly unhappy with the image of religion their spokespersons relay to the public. Evangelical leaders should take note.

Vibrant and Diverse
As someone who also studies twentysomethings, I’m appreciative of the authors’ thorough and hopeful work. They portray a vibrant and diverse young evangelicalism that counters many portrayals. But this vibrancy and complexity is less apparent in the evangelical churches and institutions that evangelical twentysomethings are seeking. I find an expectant hope in today’s twentysomething evangelicals: They aren’t ready (for the most part) to give up on the church, despite their frustrations.

We already know from Census Bureau data that Generation Z is the most diverse generation in American history. Barna Group data tell us that the church’s lack of diversity is a stumbling block to church engagement from members of Generation Z. This raises an important point. Too often, when American evangelicalism is discussed, it’s a conversation about white evangelicals. Clydesdale and Garces-Foley clearly see a young generation of American evangelicals that exhibits a much broader diversity. This is where my hope lies for the future of evangelicalism: in a diverse, fervent group of Christ-followers poised to reflect God’s kingdom.

If twentysomethings are diverse, complex, religiously minded and spirituality oriented, then evangelical churches and institutions must engage this group more effectively. The authors highlight a few evangelical congregations as exemplars. They profile New Life Fellowship Church in New York City, a multi-racial congregation perhaps best-known for the leadership of its founding pastor, Pete Scazzero, and his many books relating faith and emotional health. They also explore the multi-generational nature of the Consolidated Baptist Church, a historically black congregation in Lexington, Kentucky. These, however, are more the exception than the rule.

The church can’t bemoan twentysomethings’ lack of religious interest. Perhaps it’s more accurate to conclude that the church is frustrated with how twentysomethings want to express that interest and experience the spiritual search that accompanies it. This is where the dissonance lives.

The Twentysomething Soul is a helpful, broad-based study on the religious lives of American twentysomethings. It’s best, however, to consider it a baseline study, which means further exploration is both required and encouraged. The book provides a general hope that would be enhanced and clarified by exploring some additional questions. How, for instance, are American twentysomething evangelicals engaging the pressing social issues of our day, in areas like sexuality, abortion, and political affiliation? And how can we measure their involvement in churches beyond the metric of attendance—inquiring, say, into rates of leadership, volunteerism, and giving?

These are crucial questions beyond the scope of this book. However, they are essential to understanding evangelicalism in America. I kept pondering them as I studied the data. I hope The Twentysomething Soul inspires further research that helps us fill in the gaps, for the sake of both scholarly clarity and the future of the church.





Drew Moser is dean of student engagement and an associate professor of higher education and student development at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana. He is a co-author of Ready or Not: Leaning into Life in Our Twenties (NavPress) and a co-editor of Campus Life: In Search of Community (IVP Academic).





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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - September 2019
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2019, 07:18:54 pm »



https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2019/september/history-is-important-in-times-of-despair.html



History Is Important in Times of Despair




God has already revealed himself in Christ, and Christ promises to be with us.


“I just don’t believe anymore.” These were the last words I would have thought would come out of my long-time prayer partner’s mouth. Yes, she has had some challenges recently, but nothing compared to past trials. This phone call was different. The exhaustion and unbelief was palpable.

If we are honest, we have all been there—moments or even seasons of doubt and utter disbelief in God. I felt a wave of doubt this summer when ministering to children at an inner-city summer camp. I listened to children share about their horrific abuse, hunger, and absence of safety in the home.

To see a young person break down in tears and say “I feel forgotten” is heartrending. Then to come home to the nightly news of mass shootings in multiple cities and hurricanes ripping through communities…even the person with the strongest of faith can cry out, “God, where are you?”

Most people would agree that our world is groaning. During these times, one can wonder Is God real? Or perhaps, If God is real, is God good? I often hear people say, “I wish God would reveal himself to me. I wish He would speak to me and show me the way.”

With confidence, followers of Jesus can answer, “He has and he will.”

The challenges of our world reaffirm that our one and only hope is Jesus.

In our pluralistic climate, Jesus is often relegated to one of the many options of gurus or religious leaders one can follow to get a sense of peace and fulfillment. The Christian faith at best is touted as one of the many paths to God – “if one is into God at all.”

Oftentimes, followers of Jesus are deemed wishful thinkers, delusional, and those in need of a crutch. “You follow Jesus, I do yoga. It is all the same.”

This is not to mention our consumeristic, materialistic secular world that is making its case for our attention on a moment-by-moment basis, bombarding us with advertisements ringing in our pockets and alerting our wrists.

According to Forbes, “Digital marketing experts estimate that most Americans are exposed to around 4,000-10,000 ads each day.”[1]

In the midst of this swirl of confusion, Jesus says, “I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

The New Testament understanding of faith was never a blind leap into the dark abyss of unknowing; quite the opposite. The New Testament Greek words for faith (pistis) and believe (pisteuo) means “to trust, to commit to, to put your weight down on.”

Since the resurrection of Jesus, notions of faith and belief are and always have been a step into the ultimate reality. The first apostles believed so much in the reality of Jesus of Nazareth’s life, death, and resurrection that they staked their very lives on it—and we can too.

So How Do We Live in Hope?

We must, first and foremost, recall history. Renown church historian and current President of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Dr. Scott Sunquist, is known to say “history is very important.”

The Israelites were well versed at recalling their history. God commissioned Joshua to make remembrance stones and called Israelites to celebrate feasts which recall God’s action in human history.

Every Passover Seder reminds the Jewish people of the faithfulness of Jehovah God over the centuries. Many Psalms begin with lament but end with praise as the psalmist recalls God’s faithfulness throughout history.

Psalm 22 begins “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”Then the psalmist begins to recall God’s goodness and deliverance, “In you, Lord, our ancestors trusted;and you delivered them.”

After remembering, the psalmist breaks into praise, “I shall live for him. Posterity will serve him;future generations will be told about the Lord, and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,saying that he has done it.”

Especially in our pluralistic, relativistic, and often despondent culture, Jesus followers need to take time to remember and recall God acting in human history. We must affirm our faith that:

1 – God is real.

And

2 – God revealed himself fully in the historical figure, Jesus of Nazareth. In Jesus, we see the full goodness, justice, power, and lavish love of God.

Here are some pointers to remind us:

The fact of the world. As Gottfried Leibniz posed, “Why is there something instead of nothing?” The mere fact that the world exists points to a creator God. Renown Cambridge Mathematical Physicist John Polkinghorn argues that in order for the world as we know it to come into being, billions of constants had to be finely tuned. If any had been off a fraction, the world would not exist.
The design of the world. It is difficult to observe the intricate design of the world and throw it all up to random chance. Think of the complex intricate focusing equipment of the human eye and the uniqueness of each human thumbprint. Picture the beauty of nature: a sunset and the intricacies of a leaf. It is highly unconvincing to say it has no designer and that it is all random.
Personhood. What about human reason? Human creativity? Personality? Can the impersonal create the personal? Could our human intelligence have come from cold matter? Our ability to reason, imagine, create, and make decisions points to the existence of an ultimate intelligence.
Values. Where do values we cherish such as truth, beauty, goodness, creativity, and love come from? If they just come from within ourselves, why do we all value them (granted in different ways in different cultures, but there does seem to be much common ground)?
Conscience. Every human being has a sense of right and wrong. Most humans have this instinctive sense of the “ought.” But where does the “ought” within us come from?
Religion. Wherever you go, in every culture, there is belief in God. Why is there this concept of God in the first place? Why is it that humans have this instinct to worship something beyond ourselves.
History. Over and again, archeological findings corroborate the biblical narrative of a creator God who is faithful, compassionate, just, merciful, and actively involved in human history. This is not a made-up fairy tale. It is an account of events that occurred in real time and real space.
Jesus Christ. The BEST evidence for the existence of God is the person of Jesus Christ who revealed God to the world. Jesus is God with skin—fully human and fully divine. (Philippians 2) The Gospels proclaim that God actually came to earth and walked among us.
What do we see in this Jesus? It is important to remember his miraculous birth,first and foremost.

Second, his unparalleled teachings turned concepts of power on its head and have been at the center of many social reform movements in human history, including our own civil rights movement. His call to love God, neighbor, and self. There has been no rival to the teaching of Jesus.

Third, his perfect life of LOVE is unmatchable. No human being has lived a perfect life of love like Jesus. John, his closest companion said about us, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). And later, he says of Jesus, “In him was no sin” (1 John 3:5). He loved so radically that although he was God, he washed his disciple’s feet. He treated all with dignity in a highly fractionalized culture. Even while being crucified, Jesus said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Fourth, his miracles and power healed many. There is not one person Jesus turned away who asked for healing. We see the profound compassion of God in Jesus. He drove out demons, opened blind eyes, transformed lives, calmed storms, and fed thousands.

Fifth, he was the fulfillment of prophecy. Scholars highlight that over 322 prophecies in the Old Testament were fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Sixth,Jesus’ claims and actions were reserved for God alone.Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30) and “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). Jesus forgave sins, received worship, and said he would be the final judge—all actions reserved for God.

Finally, he was raised from the dead. Jesus broke the death barrier. He died on the cross, suffering the most brutal death, and rose again so we could live. Jesus freed us from sin and death. It is the historical reality of the resurrection that affirms the divinity of Jesus. We have:

eye witness accounts of the resurrected Jesus;
apostles who were all martyred except one for proclaiming this truth;
the day of worship that had been the same for thousands of years changed from Saturday to Sunday;
a movement that sparked the greatest shift in human history when the exponential growth of the apostolic church came into being.
The best news of all is that this historical Jesus is alive and seated at the right hand of the Father and is still revealing himself to human hearts to this very day.

So when we have moments of doubt, let us remember: that (1) God is real; (2) God is good and we see him fully in the person of Jesus; and (3) God is alive. We can know him and his love and power every day of our lives into eternity.

History is important. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Let us REJOICE and spread the good news!






[1] www.forbes.com, Finding Brand Success in a Digital World, John Simpson, August 25, 2017
Carrie Boren Headington is the founder of The Good News Initiative, which provides resources in evangelism. She works with all Christian denominations and serves as Canon for Evangelism in the Episcopal Diocese of Diocese of Dallas and Consulting Evangelist for Revivals for The Episcopal Church engaging in evangelistic speaking, apologetics, and equipping congregations to be the hands, feet, and mouthpieces for God in their communities.




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