Monthly Archives: April 2013

A Survey: 40+ and the Church

Michelle van Loon did a 10-question survey; she’s not a social scientist. Here’s her survey. Here are two summaries: one and two. These are her conclusions, and I ask:

What do you think?

I’ve already noted that I’m not a social scientist or a statistician. But the number of the responses, and the fact that so many people took the time to add thoughtful comments (127 so far) has led me to a few conclusions:
The volume of response I’m receiving to this little survey tells me that people want to talk about these issues. Church leaders, are you listening?
A downshift in church attendance and program involvement by those who’ve moved second adulthood does not equal an abandonment of faith.Unfortunately, many churches only have two categories for attenders: “the committed” and “the not-so-committed”, and the sorting mechanism is based on affirming those who show up consistently and participate in church programming. That’s certainly understandable, but it doesn’t affirm the lifestyle realities that those in the second half face, such as caring for aging parents, grandchildren or a spouse; and increased travel or work responsibilities. Those at midlife and beyond long for community, and it will take creativity and energy to find new models to facilitate this.
Many who no longer attend church have been scarred by toxic church politics. In order to save their faith and sanity, they’ve left the institutional church. There is a need for gracious, healing ministry to these beloved brothers and sisters. It may not happen in the four walls of the church, but reaching out to some of the leavers with a goal of honor their battle scars (instead of shaming them for leaving!) is kingdom work 101.
Because about two-thirds of my respondents were female, I received a number of comments noting that some women did not feel welcomed or valued in their churches. While other women found a place of meaningful ministry in mentoring younger women, planning teas or giving younger women a break from nursery duty, these comments demonstrate that there are precious few other growth and serving options for gifted older women in many churches.
I was quite surprised by the number of respondents who told me that they do not believe their local church is their primary place of spiritual nurture. They’ve found other venues and groups where they can “get fed” and serve others. On one hand, this is a positive thing, as the church wasn’t meant to be a destination, but a launch pad. On the other hand, it is worth noting that the local church may not be doing such a hot job at cultivating community.

Congress Calls Upon Army to Rescind Brief Classifying Christianity as ‘Religious Extremism’

(CN) — Over 40 United States Congressmen have signed a letter calling upon the secretary of the Army to rescind a briefing by an instructor who classified evangelical Christianity and other faiths as “religious extremism” next to Al Qaeda and Hamas.

As previously reported, the training session occurred a year ago in Pennsylvania, and involved an Army Reserve unit that was receiving training on worldwide religious extremism. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) obtained a copy of the Power Point presentation, which includes a slide that lists 18 religious groups that the instructor deemed to be extremist. While it is not known whether the groups were ordered in relation to their severity, evangelical Christianity appears first on the list, followed by the Muslim Brotherhood, Ultra-Orthodox Judaism, a group called “Christian Identity,” Al Qaeda and Hamas.

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Obama Bashes Pro-Life Americans, Praises Planned Parenthood During Speech: ‘God Bless You’

(CN) — Barack Obama came out swinging against pro-life Americans in a speech Friday morning to approximately 1,000 Planned Parenthood supporters, while defending the abortion giant with fervor.

“The fact is, after decades of progress, there’s still those who want to turn back the clock to policies more suited to the 1950s than the 21st Century,” Obama declared to those gathered, who greeted him with loud cheers. “And they’ve been involved in an orchestrated and historic effort to roll back basic rights when it comes to women’s health.”

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The Socially Acceptable Sin – It’s everywhere in our society and churches, yet almost never talked about.

This is a well-written and thought-provoking article: “In practice, there are some sins that are socially acceptable, even in the Church. There’s one sin in particular that has pervaded our society and churches so silently we hardly give it a second thought, and that is the constant hunt for more over what is enough.”

Of Food and Feeding – James Emery White

How many times have you heard the line, “I need to go where I’m fed.” Or it’s corollaries,

“I wasn’t being fed.”

“I just wasn’t growing there.”

“I just needed some meat.”

“I wanted something more in-depth.”

So what’s up?

Two things:

First, spiritual narcissism.

There is a consumer mentality within the Christian subculture that views the church as a feeding station that exists for no other reason than to keep them stimulated, titillated, and…yes, fed. This is, of course, a highly subjective assessment, and turns “teaching” into little more than a food bar as we search for what we like to eat in order to put it on our plate. Even worse is how this “feeding” often results in little more than weight–gain as opposed to fuel and challenge for missional exertion.

But second, it reveals a fundamental breakdown in how “feeding”, at its best, should be taking place.

While pastors are charged to teach and lead, that is not where discipleship and challenge is meant solely to reside. The nature of healthy, biblical community – as painted in the New Testament – comes through the “one-anothers.”

For example:

*love one another (John 13:34)

*bear with and forgive one another (Colossians 3:13)

*encourage and build up one another (I Thessalonians 5:11)

*spur one another…encourage one another (Hebrews 10:24-25)

*confess sin to one another…pray for one another (James 5:16)

That sounds to me like discipleship is a communal effort, with every participant having a clear sense of communal responsibility.

Yet according to a new LifeWay Research survey, almost three out of every four churchgoers say that while they have significant relationships with people at church, less than half are intentionally helping other believers grow in their faith.

Digging further into the study, existing churchgoers don’t make an effort to press into new relationships (only 1 in 6 strongly agreed that they try), and almost one out of every three say they do nothing to help others grow.

In other words, we are not very “one-anothering.”

So the next time you hear someone say, “I’m not being fed,” ask them what they’ve done to feed themselves, or even more pressing, whether they’ve put into play all that they’ve already been served.

Actually, that would be snarky. But I give you permission to think it.

But here’s one question you should ask – and not of them, but of yourself:

What have I done to help feed those younger believers who really need it?

James Emery White


Ross Rankin, “Survey: Many at church not helping others grow,” Baptist Press, April 25, 2013, read online.

Editor’s Note

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His newly released book is The Church in an Age of Crisis: 25 New Realities Facing Christianity (Baker Press). To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, log-on to, where you can post your comments on this blog, view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.

Is There a Distinctively “Christian” Way to Be a Bus Driver?

In addressing this question, I decided to give the ubiquitous “Christian plumber” a break. He always shows up in this discussion for some reason. So we’ll let the Christian bus driver sit behind the wheel today. I wonder if the framing of this question in this way can at times reinforce ambiguity. My sense is that often a singular question …
April 26 Friday –

Love Your Neighbors– Even the Muslim Ones, An Expanded Versions of My Column in Today’s USAToday

A condensed version of this post first appeared as an opinion column in USAToday. You can read it here. The longer version has some other information that I thought my blog readers would find helpful. For many Americans, their knowledge of Muslims is what they see on television news rather than what they know from experience. Yet, forming a view …

April 26 Friday

Benny Hinn’s Request for $2.5 million Shows the Prosperity Gospel for What is Really Is

After all these years of preaching how if you financially support his ministry, Benny Hinn now says he is $2.5 million in debt and he wants his supporters to dig him out. So let me get this straight. After preaching things like, “Imagine not dreading going to the mailbox, no bills piling up on your counter, and no calls from …

April 27   Saturday –

Mental Illness & Medication vs. Spiritual Struggles & Biblical Counseling

Christians have to break the stigma and the shame of mental illness. Tweet This! These past few weeks have been very trying. From deaths of people who inspired us to yet another reminder that we are not completely immune from the horrible acts of others, grief seems to be everywhere we turn. Earlier this month, we spent a lot of …

April 26   Friday –

Sunday Morning Sermon: A Renowned Scientist Tenderly Explains His Faith

Every Sunday we feature a brief “sermon” from an unlikely source. This week we feature Francis Collins, the geneticist who led the Human Genome Project. Collins came to faith later in life and in this interview with CNN, talks about why. I’ll chime in after the video. Just the other day my girlfriend and I were paddling across a lake …

April 28   Sunday –

9 Things You Should Know About Planned Parenthood

Today, President Obama will give a speech at Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s 75th anniversary gala, making him the first sitting president to address the group. Here are nine things you should know about the nation’s largest abortion provider. 1. Planned Parenthood Federation of America has 95 affiliates and 865 health centers, according to its latest annual report, which covers …

April 26   Friday –


What is “rule-igion”? We know the word “religion” is belief in and worship of God. “Rule-igion” is the idea that a right relationship with God is earned through rule-keeping. “Rule-igion” says that we have to climb our way up to God. In other words, it’s through our performance and obedience and good deeds that we earn God’s love and favor …

April 28   Sunday –

What is the best safe-guard against false teaching?

What is the best safe-guard against false teaching? Beyond all doubt the regular study of the word of God, with prayer for the teaching of the Holy Spirit. The Bible was given to be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. (Psalm. 119:105.) The man who reads it aright will never be allowed greatly to err. …

April 28   Sunday –

Principles for Living to God’s Glory: Exaltation

by John MacArthur

The clear testimony of Scripture is that it is enough; that it alone equips us “for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Believers don’t require supplemental volumes to deal with new, modern issues and activities about which God’s Word is silent.

Instead, we need to carefully search Scripture for the kinds of eternal principles that will help us navigate life’s gray areas. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been examining many of those principles, trying to develop a biblical mindset for making gray-area decisions.

We considered the principles of edification (Will this activity produce spiritual benefit?), enslavement (Will this activity bring me into bondage?), entanglement (Will this activity build up my spiritual endurance, or will it entangle me in worldly distractions?), esteem (Will this activity benefit others or cause them to stumble?), endangerment (Will this activity train me to ignore my conscience?), and evangelism (Will this activity adorn the gospel or tarnish it?).

There’s a final principle we need to consider—one that summarizes and fulfills all the previous principles. It’s the principle of exaltation. When trying to determine how to behave in life’s gray areas, we must consider how our decisions exalt the Lord. We need to ask, Will this activity bring glory to God?

Paul declared, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). We were created to glorify God and worship Him forever. Because we have been transformed by His grace and transferred into His kingdom, pleasing Him is both our highest aim and our greatest delight (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:9).

Our heart’s cry is to glorify our Lord and Savior with our lives. So when it comes to dealing with gray areas, consider the question, Will God be glorified, praised, and exalted by my decision? We genuinely honor Him when we make choices that are consistent with the principles found in His Word. On the flip side, when we make foolish and sinful choices, our actions dishonor Him. If an activity will glorify God, do it. If it won’t, or if it’s questionable, then do something else.


(Adapted from Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong.)

Available online at:     COPYRIGHT ©2013 Grace to You

The Love God Hates

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 NASB)

One of the markers of genuineness in a Christian is separation from the World. This isn’t a physical removal from planet Earth or a disintegration of the body of a Christian. A genuine Christian’s character should be in a continual upgrade unto Christlikeness. That means that as he or she cooperates with God in their sanctification, working out their salvation with fear and trembling, their character will take on more and more of Christ’s character. They will love what He loves and hate…

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Rapper Shai Linne Explains Why He Named Names in ‘Fal$e Teacher$’

Rapper Shai Linne, who criticized the “prosperity gospel” and  identified popular televangelists like Joel Osteen, T.D.  Jakes, Paula White and Benny Hinn as its preachers in his new song “Fal$e  Teacher$,” explains why chose to name names despite knowing it was  “dangerous.”

“There’s always a danger in naming names,” agreed Linne, talking with Russell  Moore, Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice President for Academic  Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Moore hosted Linne  for his weekly podcast “The Cross & the Jukebox” on Friday, where they  talked about the song on the rapper’s upcoming album titled, Lyrical Theology Part I.

“Had I only mentioned the teaching and not particular teachers, there would  still be the possibility of agreeing with the song but assuming that this does  not apply to these particular people,” Linne said, and added that he made  efforts to be accurate and not to falsely label people.

Jesus said in Matthew 7:15, “Beware of the false prophets…,” Linne continued.  We need to be aware of actual people, and “there’s Biblical precedence for  naming names,” he said, adding he had watched the “prosperity gospel” teachers  over and over again, and heard their teachings back to back.


Isn’t it About Time That We Grow Up?

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. (1 Corinthians 13:11 NASB)

When the Lord circumcised my heart in August 2004, I was truly amazed at the level of spiritual discernment that came with that blessing. Leading up to this, God had drawn me ever deeper into our relationship. I had been in a deep, close, intimate walk with Him over a period of several weeks. I was fasting from anything that distracted me from my devotion to Him. I was praying, worshipping, studying my Bible, and researching doctrine, all in obedience to His drawing me to Him. Just a few days before Labor Day in 2004 I woke up one morning and knew that everything had changed. It was probably the most joyous and…

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U.S. Congresswoman Rebukes Americans for Lack of Outrage Over Abortion: ‘May God Forgive Us’

Christian News Network reports:

A United States Congresswoman rebuked Barack Obama, state government officials and the American public at large on Wednesday for their lack of outrage over the ongoing practice of abortion, especially in light of the trial of “House of Horrors” abortionist Kermit Gosnell.

“My heart breaks that our country has reached a point where we are all not outraged by a practice that ends a beating heart and takes the lives of the most vulnerable in our society,” Representative Diane Black of Tennessee declared on the House floor as the speaker’s gavel pounded to tell her that time was up. “May God forgive us.”