Archives For Culture

Yesterday, I asked a group of pastors if they believe minister’s should address pop culture related topics in their messages. Over 1500 pastors responded to the survey. A whopping 74% of them said, “Yes”—ministers can and should talk about culture from the stage.

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Recently, I chatted with Ministry Pass’ Content Manager, Wade Bearden, about pop culture and the Bible. Along with leading our sermon series planning department, Wade is also a film critic in his spare time. His work has been featured on Christianity Today, RogerEbert.com, and ChristandPopCulture.com. He’s also gearing up to help launch a new podcast on film and television in the next few months.

Here’s a quick summary of our conversation about pastors and pop culture:

1. Jesus used the common imagery of his day to illustrate deep, spiritual truths, we should do the same. Seeds, sheep, and vineyards; Jesus utilized all of these pictures to help an ancient middle eastern culture understand the Kingdom of God. We too should leverage our contemporary culture’s interested in film, television, and art to communicate the message of the Bible. Films are modern day parables. Facebook is a contemporary…

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By Bob Smietana

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Christian broadcasters have a devoted following, with about two-thirds of weekly churchgoers and evangelicals saying they tune in to Christian radio and television on a regular basis.

Christian books have a similar use by churchgoers and evangelicals and Christian movies remain popular, with about 4 in 10 Americans having seen one in the last year.

But many Americans ignore Christian media.

Those are among the findings of a new study on the use of Christian media from Nashville-based LifeWay Research. The study, sponsored by the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), included an online survey of 2,252 Americans and a phone survey of 1,009 Americans.

“Christian media delivers teaching, music, and entertainment to a predominantly Christian constituency,” says Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research. “Not surprisingly, those who embrace Christian teaching will value and consume these the most.” Stetzer released the study’s findings during the NRB national convention in Nashville, February 24.

Researchers found demographic splits between those who frequently or sometimes listen to or watch Christian broadcasts and those who rarely or never tune in.

Self-identified evangelicals (69 percent), weekly church attenders (62 percent), and African-Americans (54 percent) are more likely to watch Christian television.

They are…

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Black History Month means different things to different people.

As a Nation we have a month of recognition and silence for the mighty men and women of color who paved the way for all of us. We recognize them for their hard work, tears, and for those who died fighting for equality for people of color. I am proud to be a man of color born in America.

As we take time to celebrate this notable occasion, I would like to share what Black History Month means to me.  For me, Black History Month is a time of reflection, rejoicing, and recommitting to reach the next generation.

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Black History Month is a Time of Reflection

Black History Month is a time to think about what it means to be an African American. We stand on the shoulders of giants who sacrificed to pave the way for a better tomorrow.  It is a time to reflect back on the activists and organizers of the past involved in the fight for racial equality. The direct action being utilized by pacifist groups, and the…

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isisA pastor friend told me last week that he had church members enraged with him when he suggested from the pulpit that we ought to pray for the salvation of Islamic State terrorists. The people in his church told him that he ought to be calling for justice against them, given their brutal murder of Christians, not for mercy.

I thought about my friend a few days ago when these murderous fiends beheaded 21 of our brothers and sisters in Christ because they refused to renounce the name of Jesus. I was not just angry; I was furious. Can such fury co-exist, though, with the Sermon on the Mount (Mat. 5-7)?  When we pray about such evil, how should we pray?

The complexity of the Christian calling in the world was seen even in social media. One friend of mine posted that the slaughter of Christians overseas calls for the world’s only remaining superpower to take action. Another said, quoting singer Toby Keith, that it was time to “light up their world like the Fourth of July.” To that, I say, “Amen.” Another friend, a former student of mine posted, “Oh, that there…

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Black History Month, also known as African-American History Month in America, is an annual observance in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom for remembrance of important people and events in the history of the African diaspora.

Research has found that the proportion of young people who are daily readers drops has dropped dramatically in recent years. According to some studies, since 1984, the percentage of 13-year-olds who are weekly readers dropped from 70% to 53%. Even worse, the percentage of 17-year-olds who are weekly readers fell from 64% to a startling 40%. It’s jarring news.  Therefore, I’m sharing my list of reading recommendations.  Here are a few titles that had an impact on my life and that every African-American should read.

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The Mis-Education of the Negro – Carter G. Woodson, Ph.D.

The thesis of Dr. Woodson’s book is that African-Americans of his day were being culturally indoctrinated, rather than taught, in American schools.  This conditioning, he claims, causes African-Americans to become dependent and to seek out inferior places in the greater society of which they are a part. He challenges his readers to become autodidacts and to “do for…

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At some level, all Christians want their churches to be influential in carrying out the work of God. One pathway to increased influence is a road we often overlook – the one behind us.

Looking back can be good. It can give us wisdom and perspective. It can also help us look forward to what God is doing next in your churches and ours.

This helpful book looks back at ten historic spiritual shifts of the last century and identifies a church closest to the center of each one. You may not have heard of these pioneering churches and their leaders, but we suspect you have been influenced by them far more than you realize. And we strongly suspect that after reading each of their stories, you’ll be glad you did – and you’ll have a better perspective on your own church and how God is at work in and around it.

It is hard to imagine anyone more qualified to identify and describe these trends and the personalities behind them than our friend, mentor, co-author and fellow researcher Elmer Towns. Starting in the 1960s he became the nation’s leading figure in…

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TVI “accidentally” became a TV evangelist two years ago after pulpit-filling for my grandfather’s nearly empty and bankrupt Crystal Cathedral church in Southern California. Since then our team has done a lot to revitalize both our church and its TV ministry — The Hour of Power.

In the process I have discovered the reality of TV evangelism world, and trust me — it has been an adventure. Out of that experience, our new producer, Phil Cooke (who has worked with many of the most successful media ministries in the world) and I have put together this list of five things you probably don’t know about TV evangelists.

1. The day of “big time TV evangelists” is coming to an end — which is good.

The media world has changed dramatically over the last 25 years, and the digital revolution has transformed the way Christians use the media.  While television is more important than ever for sharing the Christian message, most leaders are focusing online, using social media, podcasts, and other digital tools. Those who continue to use TV will be vital, but they won’t have the profile the previous generation of TV preachers had…

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OscarsRecently, as I’ve been speaking at conferences and events around the world I’ve been urging Christians to stop looking at Hollywood as the enemy, and start looking at Hollywood as a mission field. After all, what if Christians stopped just criticizing, and actually started praying for the most influential industry in the world? Something amazing might happen. But that’s long been the focus of two very effective ministry organizations based in Hollywood: The Hollywood Prayer Network and Mastermedia International. Now, both organizations are asking churches to do something many would never expect:

On Academy Awards night – February 22nd – have an “Oscar Party” at your church.

Yes – you read that correctly. As Dr. Larry Poland, founder of Mastermedia International stated in a recent email blast:

Would you like to see how God could use you and your church to impact Hollywood for good? To impact media eternally? Well, it could happen through prayer . . . in your church!

What if Hollywood’s biggest day of the year was also your church’s biggest day of prayer . . . for media and entertainment?

What if pastors and congregations and Sunday school…

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Rick Warren Martin Luther King JrOne of the greatest privileges of my life was being invited by Dr. King’s children and family to preach from the same pulpit that he preached from at the great Ebenezer Baptist Church , the congregation Dr. King pastored in Atlanta. The occasion was the 40th Anniversary of Dr. King’s death, and the family told me that I was the first white preacher to preach there.

People forget that, first and foremost, Martin Luther King was a PASTOR, He was not a politician. He was a Baptist minister of the Gospel, and a pastor of a local church. Everything he did to promote freedom, justice, and racial equality flowed out of his understanding of God’s Word. I have read hundreds of his sermons and they are rich biblical content.

Hanging on the wall of my study is hand typed and signed note from Dr. King. It hangs next to a handwritten note from Mother Teresa and a letter of encouragement from Billy Graham. Each of these 3 Christian leaders left their mark on me as I was a young man.

In honor of Pastor Martin Luther King…

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Go see Selma. Angie and I caught it on Saturday night and were moved by its message. Be prepared for Lyndon Johnson’s profanity and some scenes that are shockingly violent. Both represent realities of the era. Here’s the trailer…

Dr. King has been an inspiration to me for a number of years because of his intense passion for seeing a world where color no longer divides humanity. One doesn’t have to read much of the New Testament to discover that this was certainly a priority of Jesus as well. His new Kingdom would be one in which “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28 NLT)

This verse, and plenty of others, aren’t about denying the physical realities of variances in our skin pigmentation or the anatomical differences between male and female. The bigger point is that when confronted with Christ, we must acknowledge the universality of certain characteristics on a spiritual level.

  • We are ALL created equal in worth and dignity, in God’s image.
  • We are ALL sinners in need of the redemptive grace of God.
  • We are ALL made acceptable to…

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The Supreme Court announced today that they are taking cases on whether same-sex marriage is a constitutional right. Effectively, this means that the highest court in the land will decide, this year, whether marriage, as defined for thousands of years, will exist in our country any longer. Here’s what we should keep in mind.

First of all, this is not something we should shrug off. Marriage isn’t merely a matter of personal import or private behavior. States recognize marriage for a reason, and that reason is that sexuality between a man and a woman can, and often does, result in children. The state has an interest in seeing to it that, wherever possible, every child has both a mother and a father. The state doesn’t create this reality. It merely recognizes it, and attempts to hold husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, accountable to their vows and to their responsibilities. In every aspect of the Sexual Revolution, from the divorce culture to cohabitation to casual sex to the abortion revolution, children have borne the burden.

If the Court finds a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, we will have a generation of confusion about what marriage…

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by Tom Strode

The Southern Baptist Convention’s ethics entity has announced a summit on race relations in the wake of grand jury decisions regarding police killings of black men that have provoked widespread protests and a nationwide discussion.

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission will hold a leadership summit with the theme “The Gospel and Racial Reconciliation” March 26-27 in Nashville, it announced Thursday (Dec. 11). The ERLC previously had announced the topic of its second annual leadership summit on the same dates would be developing a pro-life ethic but changed the topic in response to recent events.

On Dec. 3, a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict a white police officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner despite a widely viewed video of the incident. The failure to indict also occurred in spite of a ruling by the New York City medical examiner’s office that Garner’s death was a homicide.

That decision in a New York City borough followed by only nine days a St. Louis County grand jury’s refusal to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. No incriminating video existed of Brown’s August death in…

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