Category Archives: Ministry

How to Combat Biblical Illiteracy in the Church

“Two-thirds of young people are leaving the church largely because of unanswered questions about the Christian faith.” says Avery Foley of Answers In Genesis.  Foley has some good suggestions as to what we can do about this crisis in the visible Church. He writes:

Biblical illiteracy has become an epidemic across America. People, sadly including many professing Christians, simply don’t know what the Bible teaches and often hold to unbiblical or even heretical beliefs. For example, a recent study found that a mere 10% of Americans have a biblical worldview (despite 70% of Americans claiming the label of Christian). And the biblical teachings that the study considered part of a “biblical worldview” were the most basic of biblical beliefs, such as the personhood of the Holy Spirit or the existence of Satan. This study is a sad testament to the state of the American church.

What Can We Do?

What can parents, pastors, and Sunday school teachers do to combat biblical illiteracy? Here are a few ideas for how to instill a biblical worldview in the young people under your influence.

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Source: How to Combat Biblical Illiteracy in the Church

Pastors, don’t be a jerk. Be a shepherd.

Boyce College professor Denny Burk has a word of advice for pastors: A wise and courageous pastor will always remember the wisdom of Solomon when exhorting his people: “There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, But the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Prov.12:18). A good pastor is not going to use his words like a sword but like a scalpel. A sword and a scalpel are both made for cutting. But a sword is for killing. A scalpel is for healing. Even in confrontation, a pastor’s aim is not to deliver the coup de grâce but to heal.

Listen as Denny Burk offers appropriate ways for a pastor to treat family members. He writes:

The venting of the proverbial spleen seems to be the order of the day from cable news to social media and sometimes even in interpersonal interactions. We like to hear someone who agrees with our views “tell it like it is,” especially if the telling involves a few zingers against people whose views offend us. We thrive on this kind of outrage because it appeals to our sense of self-righteous indignation. It feels oh so good to be oh so right. And there’s nothing quite as satisfying as dressing down “those people” who don’t agree with us.

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Source: Pastors, don’t be a jerk. Be a shepherd.

Albert Mohler Blog: “‘As It Had Been the Face of an Angel’ — A Commission for God’s Messengers

This is the text of the commencement address preached by President R. Albert Mohler, Jr. at the May 19, 2017 commencement ceremony at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

“These graduates go out to build upon what others have already built. We will all build on the foundation someone else has laid. Even as the Lord grants opportunity to sow seed, we will spend much of our lives and ministries watering. The Christian ministry is not a career. It is a calling that originates in the sovereign majesty of God and is concluded only by the coming of the kingdom of the Lord, and of his Christ.”

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An Open Door Closes – Jan Markell

An Open Door Closes - Jan Markell

“We expect the postmoderns and the religious Left to distort truth, but in the last 20 years, evangelicals have been in the forefront of discouraging believers on these topics. I will now name some names that will cause many to unsubscribe from these emails. I am not attacking these individuals. I am just reporting on what they say.”

When I began Olive Tree Ministries years ago, I ministered in hundreds of churches, home fellowships, women’s groups, and even some men’s groups. Every week I would pile my small vehicle with a 12-string guitar, sound and audio-visual equipment, books, and a map, and head toward destinations large and small. My audiences were enthusiastic as I shared messages focusing on Bible prophecy, Israel, Israel in prophecy, Christ in the Passover, Jewish evangelism, and current events.
 
I could not keep up with the demand. I could have ministered 5-6 times a week. This was more than a decade after Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth.  That book opened the eyes of a lot of people and caused them to want more insight. Many thought end-time issues were irrelevant until John Darby in the 1800s. The one-third of the Bible that referenced prophecy was for real and could no longer be ignored. It was for today.
 
If church pulpits didn’t want me to talk about it, then I was invited to classes and retreats sponsored by churches from every denomination.
How Times Have Changed
Today about 90% of these doors have slammed shut. It is not just indifference, it is outright hostility towards topics that a few years ago generated great enthusiasm. Yes, there are small pockets of interest that remain but opportunities continue to shrink.

We are now in the days of 2 Peter 3:3: The mocking and scoffing generation as to end-time events. We are in a time when Israel has been so maligned that even within evangelicalism, she is seen as an “apartheid occupier” more than God’s Chosen People. Anti-Israel sentiment is global. Anti-Semitism is raging. Entire denominations are engaging in the Boycott, Divest, Sanction Movement that harms Israel economically.

If I were to still make my living by visiting churches across America tapping into these very same topics, I would be out of business.
 
How Did This Happen?
I’ve reported on Pastor Tom Hughes’ excellent article before about church indifference to eschatology. He pastors the Calvary Chapel 412 Church in San Jacinto, CA.  Tom writes that many pastors refuse to touch the topics of Bible prophecy and Israel because (1) They don’t understand it; (2) They fear offending members; (3) They are concerned about scaring people; (4) They fear losing the tithes if they talk about end-time events; (5) They are afraid of being identified with the “loony fringe” such as Harold Camping.

Consequently, 90% of our church pulpits today are totally silent on the good news that the King is coming. 

 
The Cry of the Young: Social Justice!!
 
As a young person, I loved these topics. Bible prophecy ignited my spiritual life which was slipping into complacency. My trip to Israel at age 30, plus my Jewish heritage, allowed me to have an all-new worldview that was actually Israel-centric because the Bible is Israel-centric!
The Pre-Trib Research Center has an excellent article written by Dr. James Showers on the eroding evangelical support for Israel.  He addresses one major area that is problematic: Young people are more troubled by injustice than they are inspired by Bible prophecy. They perceive some injustice and consider the “occupation” of the Palestinian territories. They have bought into the propaganda that Israel is an abuser of the Palestinians. I will list the Pied Pipers who have taught them this in a moment.
He suggests that the old adage that we support Israel “because the Bible tells me so” is over.  As a result, there is a trend among younger people to leave the evangelical nest previous young adults occupied to fit into their new postmodern worldview. Postmodern/Emergent leaders only reinforce this as across-the-board they are anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian, pro-Islam.
 
He accurately states that young adult evangelical events such as the Justice Conference, Empowered 21 and Catalyst have become pulpits for pro-Palestinian groups to come in the name of peace and blame the lack of peace on Israel. The Justice Conference emphasizes Leftist politics and features the likes of Marxist Cornell West. The annual Catalyst event will not have one Israel-friendly or prophecy-oriented representative.
 
Evangelicals Who Influence
We expect the postmoderns and the religious Left to distort truth, but in the last 20 years, evangelicals have been in the forefront of discouraging believers on these topics. I will now name some names that will cause many to unsubscribe from these emails. I am not attacking these individuals. I am just reporting on what they say.
Popular blogger Tim Challies wrote back on January 31 that there are seven “false teachers” in the church today. One category of false teacher he labels as “the Speculator.” He says that, “Today, as in every age, the ‘Speculator’ obsesses about end-times and somehow his failed predictions dissuade neither himself nor his followers.”
 
Dr. John Piper wrote in 2002 and again in 2014, “Israel has no warrant to a present experience of divine privilege when she is not keeping the covenant with God. Israel has no divine right to be in the land of promise when she is breaking the covenant of promise. For now, the people are at enmity with God in rejecting the gospel of Jesus Christ, their Messiah.”
Lynne Hybels, wife of Willow Creek’s Bill Hybels, has been an outspoken proponent of Palestinian issues and a prominent critic of Israel’s wall of partition. This was built some years ago to stop the slaughter of innocent Israelis by the Palestinians. She states, “I believe that the ongoing military occupation of the West Bank and the continuing blockade of Gaza is a violation of human rights; as such, it deeply harms the security, freedom, and dignity of both peoples.”
First, she states she is both “pro-Israel and pro-Palestine,” but then she suggests there be a one-state solution. She is deceived thinking that the Palestinians want to live in a peaceful co-existence with Israel. Her one-state solution would only be for the Palestinians. Hybels softened her tone after a visit to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial.
Pastor Brian Brodersen, son-in-law of Calvary Chapel’s founder Chuck Smith, recently told Calvary Chapel pastors to avoid the “gloom and doom” of eschatology. Calvary Chapel may be the last denomination in the world that has maintained an eternal perspective with an emphasis on end-time issues. Now they are encouraged to dump the topic and cater to younger people.
Pastor Rick Warren writes in his Purpose Driven Life book, “When the disciples wanted to talk about prophecy, Jesus switched the conversation to evangelism. He wanted them to concentrate on their mission in the world. Jesus said in essence, ‘The details of my return are none of your business. What is your business is the mission I have given you. Focus on that.’ If you want Jesus to come back sooner, focus on fulfilling your mission, not figuring out prophecy.” (See pages 285-286)
Author and columnist Jim Fletcher reached out to Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. He asked him about his views on eschatology and Israel. Moore declined and later blocked Fletcher on Twitter.
I have previously written that the Bible Answer Man, Hank Hanegraaff, states often on his call-in radio program that God’s Chosen People are only Christians. He says God is not a land-broker and suggests Israel does not belong to the Jews. Hank says the Rapture is “nonsense” and is forced into the biblical text. His listeners have had a nearly 30-year diatribe of error in these areas. Many have been turned off on these issues for life.
Space does not permit me to quote many other leading evangelicals and evangelical organizations who take negative positions on these topics. World Vision is just one organization that has been anti-Israel for decades. They were recently caught funneling their humanitarian funds to Hamas though they denied it.
Postmoderns and The Religious Left
 
Jim Fletcher also writes about leftists like Shane Claiborne. Fletcher writes, “Typically pro-Palestinian activists like Shane Claiborne portray Israelis as Nazi-like oppressors of the downtrodden Palestinians. It’s all a toxic stew of political and religious claptrap designed to turn more Millennials against the Jewish state.”
Every other year the patriarchs of the religious Left such as Jim Wallis and Tony Campolo, as well as ardent anti-Israel speakers and writers such as Wheaton’s Gary Burge and the U.K.’s Stephen Sizer, gather at the Christ at the Checkpoint conference for a solemn assembly of Israel-bashing. Lynne Hybels is also a frequent speaker at this pretty shameful event.
Emergent Church leaders are far more interested in yoking with Rome than considering the things to come or looking at Israel-related issues. This is preparing them to receive a counterfeit Christ.
Dispensationalism Declines
 
Eschatology and pro-Israel sentiment have always found a home within Dispensationalism. Twentieth Century teachers John Walvoord, Dwight Pentecost, Tim LaHaye, Hal Lindsey, Chuck Missler, Mark Hitchcock, Ron Rhodes, Dave Reagan, Thomas Ice, Ed Hindson, and many more, have educated millions.
 
The rise of Amillennialism, Preterism, Dominion/Kingdom Now Theologies — and what often comes with them, Replacement Theology — are crowding out Dispensationalism. Dr. Jim Showers says, “Dispensationalism has become a dirty word in many corners of Christian higher education.”
Showers continues, “The next generation of ministry leaders, at best, sees no value in studying future prophecy and, at worst, views it with disfavor or as something to be avoided entirely.” He suggests even those who hold to Dispensationalism and a Christian Zionist view of Israel, born out of a literal interpretation of the Bible, are distancing themselves from these topics.
At a time in history when headlines are at best maddening and bleak, the very theologies that make sense of them are declining in favor of theologies that fill pews and offering plates.
This ministry encourages you to tell the inconvenient truth as it concerns our times no matter how unpopular it makes you. God will honor you some day.
But the conclusion here is that the days are gone when
to be an evangelical Christian was nearly synonymous with being pro-Israel and pro-prophecy. It’s a new day and not a happy one. Yes, the Bible states that Israel will be on her own someday (Zechariah 12:3), but watching the process unfold remains heartbreaking.
In spite of this, the King is still coming, stage-setting signs are escalating, a trumpet is about to sound, the Church will vanish, and the hoofbeats of the Four Horsemen will be heard in the distance.
Let your voice be heard!

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Shepherds’ Conference 2017

“We preach Christ” was the theme of this year’s Shepherds’ Conference.  Over 4500 men from 67 countries gathered for four days of preaching, fellowship, and singing at Grace Community Church in Los Angeles. Speakers included John MacArthur, Albert Mohler, Ligon Duncan, Steve Lawson, Mark Dever, Stephen Nichols, Paul Washer, Tom Pennington, Phil Johnson and many others. The messages they delivered were related to who Christ is and why He must be the focus of pastoral preaching. The podcasts are now available on GTY’s website.   View article →

Barna Update | Pastors and Parents Differ on Youth Ministry Goals

The tug-of-war between a parent’s protective instincts and their desire to raise fearless kids is felt in youth ministries. In partnership with Youth Specialties and YouthWorks, Barna conducted a major study on the state of youth ministry in the United States, looking at the expectations of pastors, youth leaders and parents.

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Right Thinking in a Church Gone Astray

The Master’s Seminary is pleased to announce the publication of a new book, Right Thinking in a Church Gone Astray.

This volume serves as a sequel to Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong.

The book’s contributors are comprised of TMS professors and/or pastors at Grace Community Church. Here is a list of the chapters included in this volume:

Foreword by John MacArthur

Section 1: The Church and Contemporary Issues

Chapter 1: When the Church Goes Astray: Evangelicalism’s Misguided Quest for Popularity and Prestige (Nathan Busenitz)

Chapter 2: Rock-Star Religion: Countering the Church’s Celebrity Culture (Tom Patton)

Chapter 3: The Crescent and the Cross: Engaging Muslims for the Sake of the Gospel (William D. Barrick)

Chapter 4: When Truth Meets Love: The Church’s Response to Homosexuality (Alex Montoya)

Chapter 5: Is This Jesus Calling? Evaluating a Bestselling Book in Light of Biblical Truth (Jesse Johnson)

Section 2: The Church and Sound Doctrine

Chapter 6: Who’s In Charge of Your Church? Submitting to the Headship of Christ in Everything (Michael Mahoney)

Chapter 7: Nothing But the Truth: Why We Cannot Compromise Our Commitment to Scripture (Abner Chou)

Chapter 8: The Hallmarks of Heresy: Discerning the Difference Between Doctrinal Confusion and False Teaching (Michael Riccardi)

Chapter 9: The Charismatic Question: Are the Miraculous Gifts Still in Operation Today? (Nathan Busenitz)

Chapter 10: Things That Should Not Be Forgotten: Why Church Leaders Should Care about Church History (Nathan Busenitz)

Section 3: The Church and the Great Commission

Chapter 11: To the Ends of the Earth: God’s Global Agenda to Reach the Lost (Irv Busenitz)

Chapter 12: Compassion Without Compromise: Thinking About Social Justice in Light of the Great Commission (Jesse Johnson)

Chapter 13: Fit for the Master’s Use: Proclaiming the Gospel from a Platform of Personal Piety (Carl Hargrove)

Chapter 14: Global Risk Assessment: Threatening Trends Within Evangelical Missions (Mark Tatlock)

Chapter 15: To the Praise of His Glory: A Call to Remember the Church’s Ultimate Priority (James Mook)

The post Right Thinking in a Church Gone Astray appeared first on The Master’s Seminary.

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How the Entitlement Mentality Crept into Our Churches

In 1974 Burger King made a bold move to take market share from McDonald’s. At the time, McDonald’s made burgers en masse. If you wanted a special order, you had to wait interminably while it was cooked separately.

I remember. I’m a ketchup-only kind of guy.

So Burger King announced that each order would be cooked at the time of the order the way the customer wanted. Their new slogan was “Have It Your Way.” Burger King, at least at the time, understood the consumer entitlement mentality.

So what does this story have to do with our churches?

It provides a brief historical backdrop of the mentality that has crept into our churches, where many of our members think church is a place where I can always “have it my way.” For now, let me share some key reasons many of our congregations have become more like country clubs than churches, a place where some members demand their way instead of serving and self-sacrificing.

  1. Failure to state clearly the expectations of church membership on the front end. A membership class, or some similar entry point into churches, should not only give information about the church, it should provide expectations about membership. Membership without expectations becomes membership with entitlements.
  2. Failure to make certain as possible that members are Christians. Sadly, we church leaders often neglect to discuss the spiritual conditions of prospective members. Are they truly followers of Christ? As a result, many of our churches have unregenerate members.
  3. Seeking numerical growth at all costs. We certainly should be Great Commission churches. We certainly should be inviting people and sharing the gospel. But if our end goal is numbers, we will make compromising statements to bring people into our churches. We should seek to grow our churches out of obedience to God, not to create our own kingdoms.
  4. Failure to remind the congregation regularly what it means to be a part of the body of Christ. All of us church members have the potential to lapse into self-serving, entitlement members. We all need to be reminded that church membership is not about perks and privileges, but serving and sacrifice. I have been encouraged to see many churches have annual renewal and commitment services.
  5. Allowing the most entitled members into positions of key leadership in the church. One of the more common manifestations of an entitled church member is a person who seeks to gain power and leadership positions in a church so he or she can control and get his or her own way. We yield to them too often because they might be big givers or because we don’t have the fortitude to resist their bullying behavior.
  6. Failure to deal with difficult issues. Church leaders too often are conflict avoiders. And while we shouldn’t pick a fight over every issue of minutia, neither should we allow a pervasive culture of entitlement, bullying, and manipulation to grow unabated. A problem not handled now is a larger problem later.

The biblical mandate for local congregations is counter-cultural. In many passages of the New Testament, such as 1 Corinthians 12, we are clearly taught that members are to be sacrificial, giving, and serving.

Such a mentality goes counter to the culture in which the church ministers.

Church is not about having it our way.

It’s about bringing glory to God by having it His way.

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Unpopular the Movie is devastating in a good way, as the Gospel always is (Video)

Red Grace media has published Unpopular The Movie, and it’s wonderful. This half hour movie is Christ-centric, accurate, clear, and presents the Gospel in a devastatingly biblical way. When you hear/read the Gospel, unvarnished and with open ears and open eyes, it singes the heart and devastates the soul. It is incendiary. Even as a long-saved person, it will try your emotions, and bring you low. We ALL need The Gospel.

Here, Emilio Ramos, Dr James White, and Paul Washer quietly discuss The Gospel. The background music is unobtrusive, the setting is thoughtful, and the presentation of the Gospel is accurate and beautiful. The movie is as much for the saints as it is an evangelism tool for the unsaved. Here is Red Grace Media’s synopsis:Unpopular The Movie is a Evangelism resource for the church. Unpopular is a gospel presentation by Emilio Ramos, Dr James White of Aomin.org, and Paul Washer from Heart Cry Missionary Society. Unpopular is meant to serve as a tool to evangelize non-Christians with the gospel of Jesus Christ. To stay up to date visit http://www.unpopularthemovie.com

Mr Ramos said,

We live in a culture that glorifies sin. That trivializes sin, that makes sin less heinous than it is. It is very deceptive to look at sin in a way that makes sense to us. If we see ourselves in the way that the culture tells us to see ourselves, then man can remedy his condition through technique. But if we see ourselves the way the Bible tells us we really are, then the only remedy for our sin is the work of the Savior.

This is good. Watch it!

Sin, repentance, the cross…are the most upsetting and controversial doctrines on the entire earth. They are presented here, along with God’s love and mercy.

Listen and watch for yourself. We all need the Gospel, all the time. Let its truth and the majesty of a holy and righteous God who accepts sinners into His family through His slain and resurrected Son, Jesus. Then share.

—————————————

Further Reading

The Gospel According to Jesus, by John MacArthur

Source: Unpopular the Movie is devastating in a good way, as the Gospel always is

Cru gives students free tickets, mixed messages about The Shack

Amy Spreeman has the story:

Should Christians ever use and consume entertaining apostasy like the heretical The Shack movie to witness to those who aren’t Christians?

Cru™ (Formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ), is promoting its free ticket giveaway to college students to see the film and take their friends. And in an almost apologetic way, the ticket site includes a caveat stating that Cru “does not endorse the movie.” That’s the small-font italicized quip at the very bottom of the website’s page. A footnote.

Free tickets. Not endorsing.

Without giving any warning or explanation as to why they don’t endorse, the site provides four videos from Cru and Family Life leadership clearly endorsing and encouraging movie lovers to not miss this “wonderful” film.

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When Christians Act Like Mormons

Jordan Standridge shares his concern that in their approach to evangelism, many evangelicals actually look more like Joseph Smith than Jesus. In this piece over at The Cripplegate, Standridge lays out three areas in particular where Christians are tempted to behave like Mormons. He writes:

The other day I was getting ready to take the kids to our park when there was a knock on the door. Thinking it was a present from Amazon, I looked out only to find an even greater present: three Mormon missionaries. I’m sure you’ve experienced this. A long time goes by before your last visit and you start getting excited about the next time Mormons come knocking at your door. Every time I see Mormons, I get this sudden urge to talk to them. And every time I walk away discouraged and saddened for how blinding their religion is. And the cycle continues. Over the last few years, I’ve had many interactions with Mormon “elders.”

Mormons are usually very sweet people. They genuinely believe their religion, and they do believe that what they teach is the truth. They believe their religion is best and that you will be happiest if you follow it. But what is fascinating is the training that they receive before coming to your door. They are taught to focus on the positives. They are all about image and the way they present themselves. They are, in fact, salesmen, and they sell their product through smiles and offering “hope.” Over the last couple of years, I’ve asked Mormons what they are selling. I say, “Ok, you guys have come all the way to my house and to my door, what do you guys want me to do?” “What are you guys offering?” and whether it was Virginia, California or a random Chick-Fil-A in Georgia, they all said, “Happiness in this life and hope for the next!”

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See our Research Paper on Mormonism

Responding to Frank Turek’s Defense of Andy Stanley

Went almost a full two hours today reading through and responding to Frank Turek’s 9/8 article in defense of Andy Stanley’s comments about the Bible and the resurrection.  Much important information on the foundational and fundamental differences between the evidentialist/minimalist approach and a full-orbed biblical apologetic.

https://www.sermonaudio.com/saplayer/player_embed.asp?SID=92216184475

Here is the YouTube link:

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