Archives For Culture

Nice ShoesIt’s no secret that millennials aren’t exactly flocking to churches these days. There are theories and statistics, but the fact remains the same: Our churches aren’t a place millennials tend to call home.

Instead of tackling the problem on a grand scale—instead of diving into theories and ideas as to the cause and the solution—I want to move in closer, to what millennials need from us in our churches today. While I’m not a millennial, and while this is not a comprehensive list, these thoughts are derived from some of the conversations I’ve had with millennials about this very topic.

1. A realism about the state of the world

I once heard someone say that churches have a tendency to put bandaids over bullet wounds, treating serious problems, hurts, and issues like they can be solved with a parable and a pat on the back.

Millennials aren’t so easily pacified.

Millennials, as a rule, tend to be activists—aware of the hurt in the world and passionate about solving it. One of the chief complaints I hear millennials give about churches is that they’re out of touch with the realities of the world and that they’re…

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Campus ClosedInterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) has been, in modern campus terminology, “derecognized” by California State University schools. Basically, they will no longer be arecognized campus organization on any of the 23 schools in that system. IVCF has been derecognized because they require their leaders to have Christian beliefs.

It’s not just InterVarsity that will be impacted. Following the same logic, any group that insists on requiring its leaders to follow an agreed upon set of guiding beliefs is no longer kosher (irony intended) at California’s state universities. This will impact many other faith-based organizations with actual, well, faith-based beliefs. Presumably, even People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals would have to allow Oscar Meyer to lead their campus chapters.

Only in a modern American university would this make any sense.

Now, it’s not persecution. Christians are not banned. People can share their faith. But, now, what we once called “equal access” has taken another hit—people of faith do not have equal access to the university community, like the environmentalist club, the LGBT organization, or the chess club.

The university system has decided that speech with beliefs that undergird it—and shape how it is organized—has…

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Truett CathyOn Monday, September 8, 2014, Truett Cathy was called home to heaven.

Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A, was a giant of a man in so many ways: a godly man, a wise husband and father, a business genius, a creative innovator, a humble servant of Jesus Christ with rock-ribbed integrity, a generous philanthropist, and one who loved greatly, cared deeply for the poor, especially disadvantaged kids, and used his life and work to benefit others.

Most people, of course, have heard of Chick-fil-A, but few got to see the Cathy family up close, and marvel at this family dynasty of Christian faith. Truett and Jeanette’s legacy will live on through the great godly character and values they instilled in their children Trudy, Bubba (Don) and Dan. It’s been my privilege and honor to be a family friend of these dear people, their wonderful spouses, kids, and grandkids.

Truett was a man truly who lived his faith, welcoming the homeless into his own home, improving the lives of thousands of disadvantaged kids , and giving them help and hope. Even after becoming a billionaire CEO, Truett continued to teach his weekly Sunday School…

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Forgive UsAs American culture has become less deferential, not to mention at times more hostile, to traditional Christianity, a variety of theories as to what has gone wrong and how it should be fixed have been set forth. The four authors of “Forgive Us” – Mae Elise Cannon, Lisa Sharon Harper, Troy Jackson, and Soong-Chan Rah — suggest that the anger that many have for the American church is justified. In that vein, they have penned this work as an expression of repentance, asking both God and people to forgive the church for various sins.

While such a call to repentance and confession is not entirely unusual, their particular vantage point may be to many readers, as “Forgive Us” expresses repentance from the perspective of the evangelical left. Over the last several decades, those of evangelical faith who hold more liberal political views have been frustrated by the dominance of the religious right in public awareness of evangelical political engagement. Recent years have brought more awareness to the fact that some evangelicals hold liberal political views and tend to engage the culture in more collectivist terms, with a greater…

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Mike Brown, an unarmed 18 year-old, black teenager was recently shot and killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis.

This is a sad, horrific, and an all too familiar ugly story.

DIFFERENT WORLDS

We don’t know all the details of what went down in Ferguson, but what we do know is that black evangelicals and white evangelicals interpret these types of situations very differently.

What if black and white evangelicals attended multi-ethnic churches instead of segregated ones?

If this Christ-exalting life were to become our reality, we could address racism, oppression, and injustice together.

What if black and white evangelicals and other evangelical ethnicities shared life with each other in a local church community and heard each other’s stories and walked in each other’s shoes?

If this Christ-exalting life were to become our reality, I believe our suspicions and mistrust of one another would be abandoned and replaced with love for one another.

A SEGREGATED CHURCH

Sadly, only 13.7% of Evangelical churches in America are multi-ethnic. And according to Drs. Michael Emerson and Gerardo Marti in their article, “The Rise of the Diversity Expert,” many multi-ethnic, local…

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The violent scenes from Ferguson, Missouri, are not what most Americans expected to see in 2014 America. The simmering tensions in this town, following the shooting of an unarmed teenager, ought to remind the Body of Christ of our responsibility to model reconciliation in Christ.

We don’t yet know everything about what’s happened, or is happening, in Ferguson, but here’s what we do know. Michael Brown was shot and killed by police Saturday. Protests in the wake of this horrible death have been met with a virtually militarized response from law enforcement in the area.

Moreover, we know that the the myth of a “post-racial” America is contradicted by a criminal justice system in which young African-American men are, by almost any measure, disproportionately more likely to be arrested, sentenced, or even killed when compared to white peers. It’s not just the situation in which there’s disparity, but also even in the perception of the problem. A Pew study showed that when asked the question “Do police treat blacks less fairly?” 37 percent of whites said yes while 70 percent of African-Americans said yes.

Whatever the particulars…

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Robin WilliamsMost people are well aware of actor Robin Williams’ passing this week. The public outpouring from every sector is tremendous. This man touched a lot of people’s lives. Whether they embraced him as Mork from Ork, or “Captain, my captain,” or a DJ in Vietnam, or a loveable, hope-inspiring doctor in Patch Adams, Robin Williams connected deeply in a lighthearted way with such a broad cross section of people. His inner child was his outer adult, which shows bravery most of us lack. But, pastor, before Robin Williams appears in your sermon, here are a few things to consider:

1. Suicide has had a Personal Effect on Your Congregation.

Somehow, someway, everyone’s lives are touched by suicide. For me, it was a friend who took his life during the last week of Bible college, because he lived in such turmoil he could see no way forward. Most people don’t consider suicide, but some do. Some of the people who hear your words will see a friend or loved one in Robin Williams’ coffin. Others will see themselves.

If you send Robin Williams to Hell, you are also sending their loved ones there. If…

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The news stories and pictures of the border crisis in Texas all became personalized for me on Tuesday. The children and young people we saw are real children and real young people. We saw children from seven to seventeen years of age, from the countries of Honduras, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico.

Ronnie Floyd at the BorderOn Friday, July 11, I issued a Call to Prayer: Responding to the Crisis on the Texas Border, and addressed the border crisis as President of the Southern Baptist Convention. When I was called upon to accompany Dr. Russell Moore, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and Dr. Jim Richards, Executive Director of the Southern Baptists of Texas to the border of Texas, I cleared my calendar and joined them. Dr. Moore and I were together in McAllen, and Dr. Richards joined us in San Antonio. We were accompanied and escorted into these places by Mr. Ali Noorani, the Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum.

What Did We Do?

We began yesterday morning by touring a Texas Border Patrol facility in McAllen, Texas. Within twenty hours of entering our country, children are brought to facilities like…

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Helping Hands

It’s a moment many Christians have had to face: a family member’s announcement that he or she is gay.

Amid feelings of sorrow, guilt, fear and anger that families may experience surrounding such an announcement, biblical counseling experts say believers must have hope and realize that Jesus always changes those who come to Him in repentance and faith.

The “lie” that “change is impossible” for people who experience same-sex attraction “is an offense against the Gospel because change is Jesus’ gig,” Heath Lambert, assistant professor of biblical counseling at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told Baptist Press. “We need to be infusing people with hope. We need to be infusing them with the deep conviction that Jesus has been changing people for 2,000 years and He will change you if you have faith in Him.”

Lambert; John Babler, associate professor of counseling at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; and Sam Williams, professor of counseling at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, suggested several ways Christians can help family members struggling with same-sex attraction.

Develop a culture of honesty where family members can confess their sins and ask for help.

“In view of the mercy of God, if there is…

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Downtown

I talk with a lot of pastors and leaders. Pastors and leaders from different places and different sized places.

Specifically, as I talk to pastors and leaders in rural places, in small towns, across the country, I hear desperation in their voices about their community. You see, I’ve come to realize that pastor and leaders are wired for their community and context. The best leaders, are leading where they are because of a great call from God… because they’ve heard God tell them to lead where they are.

The small town pastor and leader is no different. These leaders aren’t leading in small towns because they can’t cut it in the big city. They’re leading in a small town because that is exactly the place God has called them.

These leaders are desperate for their town. They’re desperate to win people to Jesus.

The biggest concern these pastors often have? How they can grow their church. I hear so many “We don’t have the money to do that” and “I don’t want 9,000, I’d settle for 90″ comments.

What’s the key?

The same key that Jesus understood when he spoke in parables… you gotta know your culture…

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