Archives For Culture

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The “Dones.” It’s a term sociologists and researchers use to describe those who are done with church. The Dones were once part of a church, but have become disillusioned for a variety of reasons and have decided to be spiritual without the help of a local congregation. And the Dones are growing in number.

I’m a Pastor, and I’ve seen the church from every angle. I’ve been a church kid, a kid whose family left the church, and a young adult who found my way back to the church. I’ve been the Pastor of smaller, more traditional churches, on staff at a megachurch, and a planter of a new church unlike any other I’ve ever been part of. And there have been, in my twenty years of ministry, quite a few Sunday nights when I’ve felt the desire to be Done again.

But I’m here. And I’m committed. And I’ll share why, but first, I want to address some of the most common reasons you might think you’re Done with the church.

“The Church Is So Judgmental”

Guilty. The church in America has had a history of perpetuating an us-versus-them mentality toward people who…

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Bible Museum

Our world is shaped by innovation—the newest iPhone, the latest Netflix show or the most current social media app. It’s hard to imagine a world without these devices, but iPhones have only been around since 2007, unlimited streaming on Netflix came the year after and Facebook is a young company at just eleven years old.

The world before this unlimited access to information now seems archaic, but staring at “devices” all day can prevent us from seeing the bigger picture. The bright light of the screen can be more than a little blinding.

Fortunately, there are remedies for this. Increasingly, many American families have employed restraints like digital curfews, no more screen time after, say, 9 PM. Others make a more substantial effort to reconnect with the larger community by joining clubs or leagues.

Museums, however, offer us the best opportunity to shed our often streamlined worldview to better connect with history and understand current events in a way that can impact and shape our lives. While technology has made amazing advances that have changed the way we learn about the world, nothing can come close to the total immersion we can experience at a museum.

In Washington, D. C., considered by some to be the museum capital of…

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I used to go to church to make fun of Pastors. No joke. I would take notes as they preached and wait behind to tell them the 15 ways they were wrong. Not only that, but I used to read the Bible only to look for contradictions in order to argue Christians out of their faith. Sometimes it even worked, sadly.

Now most atheists aren’t this way, but some of them have strong opinions about religion, God, and the people who follow Him. Which is why it’s important that we – as Christians – minimize our mistakes when we do get the opportunity to talk with them about Christ.

Two Things:

Before we get into the 5 mistakes, I do want to mention two things:

First, for the material in this post I will be drawing mainly from three different sources: my time as an atheist; my mistakes in talking with atheists after becoming a Christian; and the wisdom of those who graciously gave their opinions and experiences on this topic – thank you!

Second, I want to assert that ‘talking to atheists’ means a respectful and wanted conversation by two or more people that have…

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Culture Wars

By Tim Harlow

Life on MissionI believe that God puts us where He wants us. I know that’s an obvious opening statement, but that means that I actually believe that God put me in Chicagoland in 2015 because He gave me certain gifts and abilities that He wants me to use.  I don’t think I would have fit in as a preacher in Mayberry in the 1960s. I just could not have dealt with the legalism. I would have probably opted for Woodstock.

I was recently at an event where I heard a lot of well-meaning Christian leaders talking about “taking our culture back.” There are many church leaders who would love to bring back the “moral majority” to America. And while I hate what immorality does to people’s lives and also to the heart of God, my study of church history shows me that Christianity is usually most potent when it comes in from the outside. Jesus didn’t call us to be the majority of the earth.

He called us to be the salt and light.

I want to lead the Christians who are cellphone lights in a movie theater. Do you know what I…

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As I’ve said before, Christianity is not dying; nominal Christianity is.

Today, Pew Research Center released a report drawing a variety of headlines—everything from “Christianity faces sharp decline as Americans are becoming even less affiliated with religion” to “Pew: Evangelicals Stay Strong as Christianity Crumbles in America.”

So what are we supposed to think of Christianity in America?

The nominals are becoming the nones, and the convictional are remaining committed.

The big trends are clear, the nominals are becoming the nones, yet the convictional are remaining committed.

In other words, Americans whose Christianity was nominal—in name only—are casting aside the name. They are now aligning publicly with what they’ve actually not believed all along.

The percentage of convictional Christians remains rather steady, but because the nominal Christians now are unaffiliated the overall percentage of self-identified Christians is decline. This overall decline is what Pew shows—and I expect it to accelarate.

As I have said before, not one serious researcher thinks Christianity in America is dying. What we see from Pew is not the death-knell of Christianity, but another indication that Christianity in America is being refined.

As such, let me share three takeaways from…

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America is in its worst condition in our generation. Politically, our government has been paralyzed by partisanship. Culturally, we’re becoming more and more secular. And internationally, our reputation has never been lower.

America needs healing.

We need healing in our economy. We need healing in our businesses. We need healing in our schools. We need healing in our marriages and our families. And, most of all, we need healing in our hearts.

But our wounds are not fatal. I’m very hopeful. My hope is not based upon some vague wish. It’s rooted in the Word of God. It’s rooted in the belief that even when life is tough, God is good and he has a plan and purpose for our lives and for our country.

So what will it take to heal our land?

Almost 3,000 years ago God made a promise to King Solomon that’s particularly appropriate for us to internalize today. It’s a promise that he has made to all of us – even 21st century America. God says, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I…

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Baltimore

Our television screens glow with images of criminal rioting and assault on police officers in the streets of Baltimore. This is in the aftermath of the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody, despite the pleas from Gray’s family for calm. The horrific scene seems to bring out the worst ideological responses from divergent corners. Some, wrongly, excuse the rioting, pointing out the issues leading up to it as justifying such criminality. On the other side, some suggest, wrongly, that such rioting is part and parcel of what peaceful protesters are about, distracting from the very real systemic issues that must be addressed. But behind all of this is a question the church must ask: what does Baltimore need in a time such as this?

There’s no question that Baltimore needs order and restraint of violence. There’s no question that Baltimore needs investigation and justice in the untimely death of Freddie Gray. There’s no question that Baltimore suffers from poverty, racial injustice, family breakdown, illegal drugs, gang activity, and a thousand other ailments. Government, civil society, law enforcement, and community organizations must confront all of these. But I would argue that the primary…

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Dr. Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in North Texas, will lead the country in prayer as Honorary Chairman for the 2015 National Day of Prayer next month.

A minister for more than four decades, Dr. Graham leads the nearly 40,000-member Prestonwood Baptist Church, which includes three locations in the Dallas area. He is also the voice of PowerPoint Ministries, a radio and television broadcast ministry that shares the message of the Gospel proclaimed from the Prestonwood pulpit throughout the world.

The National Day of Prayer Task Force, led by Shirley Dobson, named Dr. Graham as chair for the 64th annual prayer event on Thursday, May 7, in Washington, D.C.

“I’m so pleased to have Pastor Jack Graham serving with me as our 2015 Honorary Chairman,” Mrs. Dobson said. “And together, we are calling our great nation to repentance and prayer.”

Mrs. Dobson said the theme this year is Lord, Hear Our Cry, drawn from 1 Kings 8:28.

“We would like to invite all Christians to cry out together with us on May 7,” she said, “asking God to bring us spiritual awakening in…

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prayformarriage

The Supreme Court will soon decide whether states can legally choose to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. It is a watershed moment in our nation’s history. As an organization, we have filed briefs with the court, argued in public and in private about why marriage, defined as the union of one man and one woman, matters as a social good, and more than I have space to list in one post. But beyond all this we as Christians and churches need to pray—because marriage is not just another culture war issue.

As Christians we know that it is not even possible for any government to actually redefine what God has defined from eternity. Marriage is about more than registering relationships at a courthouse. Marriage is about the common good and flourishing of society, but is also an icon of the union between Christ and his church, embedded in the creation (Eph. 5:22-31). Without a Christian vision of marriage, we have no Christian vision of the gospel.

As a church we need to pray that marriage will not be treated as if it were a tattered house standing in the way…

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By Lisa Green

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Although most Americans believe church is on the decline, the overwhelming majority say they find value in attending.

A new survey from Nashville-based LifeWay Research reveals an upbeat attitude toward churchgoing. Two-thirds of Americans think attendance is admirable, and nearly 9 in 10 call it acceptable. Only 11 percent consider church useless.

Even nonreligious people have favorable opinions. Eighty percent believe church attendance is acceptable, and 43 percent label it admirable. Just 29 percent call it useless.

Yet more Americans believe the church is dying than thriving, according to the LifeWay study. Researchers asked 1,000 Americans about their views in a phone survey from Sept. 19-28, 2014.

“Americans have a much more optimistic view of the people and practice of attending church than they do of the health of the church,” said Scott McConnell vice president of LifeWay Research. “Church attendance is much like regular exercise and driving the speed limit. People do not live out everything they admire.”

Confirming McConnell’s assertion that Americans’ churchgoing is at odds with their behavior, even on Easter, traditionally the best-attended Sunday of the year, large segments of the population say they don’t plan to attend,…

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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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Print

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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