Showing posts from October, 2015
Not every church is destined to become big, not even in large population centers, because not everyone wants to attend a large church. The answer is to become a healthier and smarter small church.  - Karl Vaters
Oprah Winfrey’s OWN channel tonight (8 p.m. Eastern time) premieres an ambitious documentary series called “Belief,” dedicated to exploring the power of religion as a force for good across the globe. At a time when many people in Western countries criticize religion as hypocritical, divisive or dangerous, and while large numbers are rejecting religion altogether, Winfrey’s project is a worthy reminder to viewers that religion can heal, restore and transform — and not only fracture. For this reason alone, the show “Belief” deserves respectful attention as it provides a much-needed alternative narrative to the increasing public disdain of faith. But there is a second, and perhaps more radical, reason that “Belief” stands out as a compelling television event. “Belief” is not a standard world religions course that teaches the great global faiths by focusing on religious leaders, institutions, dogma or customary religious practices and rituals. Instead, the show delves into the territory …

Our Beautiful, Broken Christian Ancestors As a Southerner, I have to grapple with my forebears’ tainted legacy. As a believer, I have to do the same. Tish Harrison Warren/ OCTOBER 13, 2015

I am a seventh-generation Texan who has ancestors from all over the South. When I think of the South, I see my grandmother’s hands, gnarled with arthritis—hands that picked and shelled native pecans and mastered a rolling pin. I imagine my great-grandfather’s dusty feet as he walked from Arkansas to the Gulf Coast looking for cheap land, a kid leading a milk cow. I think of live oaks and tall pines, Jekyll Island and the Blue Ridge Mountains, Walker Percy and Flannery O’Connor, bourbon and fried okra. I also think of my ancestors from Mississippi—small-scale cotton farmers who owned slaves. I think of the graveyard where my parents will be buried, where, according to local lore, slaveholders and slaves are buried side by side. I think of Jesse Washington, a teenager who in 1916 was lynched an hour from where I live. I think of segregation, Jim Crow, and redlining. This, also, is part of my culture and story, even part of me, my blood, and my kin. Both the North and the South practiced…

11 Christian Missionaries Crucified and Beheaded

At several steps on their path to death by beheading and crucifixion last month, 11 indigenous Christian workers near Aleppo, Syria, had the option to leave the area and live. The 12-year-old son of a ministry team leader also could have spared his life by denying Christ. The indigenous missionaries were not required to stay at their ministry base in a village near Aleppo, Syria; rather, the ministry director who trained them had entreated them to leave. As the Islamic State (ISIS), other rebel groups and Syrian government forces turned Aleppo into a war zone of carnage and destruction, ISIS took over several outlying villages. The Syrian ministry workers in those villages chose to stay in order to provide aid in the name of Christ to survivors. "I asked them to leave, but I gave them the freedom to choose," said the ministry director, his voice tremulous as he recalled their horrific deaths. "As their leader, I s…

10 Things Every Christian Should Know About Their LGBT Neighbors By Glenn Stanton

The church, in its 2,000-year+ history, has never been here before. What do we do with gay, lesbian and trangender folks who come to our churches? What about all the talk to be “welcoming and affirming”? The coming generations will be looking to us as to how we responded to this emerging challenge. It is something we can’t ignore or just wish would go away. So what to do? Here are 10 truths all Christians must keep in mind as we interact with these neighbors. The overarching truth that we must always keep in mind, especially for Christians, is this: They are really no different than you or me. Beyond this foundation, we must both practice and teach our congregations these 10 things. 1. We are all loved by God. Christ didn’t hang on the cross for “these” people and not for “those” people. He didn’t do so for some more than others—or for those who really need it. We all really need it, and His love for all is why He died for all. No exceptions. Your LGBT neighbor is no less worthy of Go…