Category Archives: Ministry

Albert Mohler Blog: “Keeping the Evangel in Evangelism: Why Evangelicalism Can’t Abandon the Old, Old Story”

In this essay, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. reflects on the centrality and urgency of evangelism in a post-Christian world. Mohler writes:

“Historical evangelicalism has always valued both theological principle and vigorous evangelism. Indeed, we cannot be authentically and faithfully evangelical without holding both of these features in tandem. The unity between evangelical theology and evangelism is not forced or fabricated. Our theological convictions should irrevocably give birth to our evangelistic fervor.”

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April 17, 2018 Tuesday Berean Blast!

Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry – Normalizing Mysticism

Apr 16, 2018 09:50 am | Marsha West

 

Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry is nothing of the sort. It’s a sham. Just a way Bethel Church leaders have devised to get their hooks into people, especially undiscerning young people. If you’re unfamiliar with Bethel Church in Redding CA, the senior pastor is the notorious  “Apostle” Bill Johnson.  For reasons that will become clear, Bethel’s considered […]

The post Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry – Normalizing Mysticism appeared first on Berean Research.


You Can’t Love Jesus with a Heart Full of Hate: 7 Reasons to Love and Forgive Your Enemies

Apr 14, 2018 09:15 am | Marsha West

 

Bible study author, speaker and blogger Michelle Lesley offers 7 reasons God gives us in His Word to love and forgive our enemies. Here’s one example: You Can’t Love Jesus With A Heart Full Of Unforgiveness. The reason she gives is that “Your enemy – that person you hate and refuse to forgive because he hurt you […]

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I’m old enough to remember when “evangelical” was a bad word

Apr 13, 2018 10:05 am | Marsha West

 

According to Jesse Johnson “evangelical suffers from an ambiguity largely owning to its diversity. The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) is different than the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, yet members of both would sign the Manhattan Declaration. If you believe the gospel and the fundamentals (inerrancy, virgin birth, bodily resurrection, personal conversion, etc.), does that make you evangelical? There is […]

The post I’m old enough to remember when “evangelical” was a bad word appeared first on Berean Research.


How To Do Online Discernment Ministry, part 1

Apr 12, 2018 09:20 am | Marsha West

 

No matter if you are in your pew listening to a sermon, choosing a book at the Christian bookstore, or reading some essays online, you need discernment to determine if what you are absorbing aligns with God’s word or is a lie designed to incrementally steer you away from the narrow path. In this 2 […]

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Hybels steps down from Willow Creek following allegations of misconduct

Apr 10, 2018 10:26 pm | Berean Admin

 

From the Chicago Tribune: Forty-two years after founding one of the nation’s most influential evangelical megachurches, the Rev. Bill Hybels told his congregation Tuesday night that he would step down from the helm of Willow Creek Community Church six months ahead of schedule. His departure comes less than a month after a Chicago Tribune investigation […]

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Francis Chan: “God Might Kill You If You Criticize Church Leaders”

Apr 10, 2018 04:02 pm | Marsha West

 

During a recent speaking engagement,* popular preacher and author Francis Chan told the group that God will destroy anyone who questions or criticizes the teachings of Christian leaders. Steven Kozar of Messed Up Church has the story which includes a must watch video of Bethel’s guest speaker so that we can see for ourselves that […]

The post Francis Chan: “God Might Kill You If You Criticize Church Leaders” appeared first on Berean Research.


 

God Determines How We Do Church — Pulpit & Pen

Today’s modern American Evangelical church is often an example of how we should NOT be “doing” church. Church leaders, Pastors, and Elders have often transformed how the church is done to capitulate to society. Sacrificing what should be done for what is popular and crowd-pleasing. Paul Washer addresses the topic of how Christians should be…

via God Determines How We Do Church — Pulpit & Pen

All the Messages and Panels from T4G posted in order

https://player.vimeo.com/video/264621513

The messages from T4G are already posted on the T4G website. All the plenary sessions and the panels posted in order below. Lig Duncan’s is one you’ll want to listen to, so I featured it above.

https://player.vimeo.com/video/264308282

https://player.vimeo.com/video/264315328

https://player.vimeo.com/video/264326037

https://player.vimeo.com/video/264350899

https://player.vimeo.com/video/264356256

https://player.vimeo.com/video/264437032

https://player.vimeo.com/video/264476858

https://player.vimeo.com/video/264542072

https://player.vimeo.com/video/264542226

https://player.vimeo.com/video/264621513

https://player.vimeo.com/video/264633726

https://player.vimeo.com/video/264641696

https://player.vimeo.com/video/264674255

https://player.vimeo.com/video/264678728

https://player.vimeo.com/video/264688416

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Pulpit & Pen: The SBC Should Not Want Black Leadership

The Southern Baptist Convention should not want black leaders. The Southern Baptist Convention should not want white leaders. The Southern Baptist Convention should not want Eskimo leaders, Pygmy  leaders, or polka-dotted leaders. The Southern Baptist Convention should want godly leaders. And that, it seems, is in the shortest supply of all.

The Southern Baptist Convention should not want black leadership. The very idea is doctrinally bothersome, theologically incoherent, ethnically untenable, and morally perverse.

After the MLK50 veneration conference, hosted by The Social Gospel Coalition and the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), Southern Baptists are calling for the white-guilted apologies offered to the world on behalf of past Southern Baptist sins to be proven by appointing black leaders to two openings at Southern Baptist entities. Both the International Mission Board (IMB), upon the resignation of David Platt, and the Presidency/CEO of the Executive Board of the SBC, upon the resignation of Frank Page, have openings which some feel should be filled based not upon the content of one’s character, but by the color of their skin.

I’m offering a few thoughts on the subject of filling race-based denominational appointment vacancies for barter here in the Marketplace of Ideas.

First, I understand the manufactured excitement that comes from a conference like MLK50, which was organized and hosted by radical Cultural Marxists and mission-drifting Critical Race Theorists. Neither The Gospel Coalition nor the ERLC are primarily religious organizations; they are political organizations funded by leftist billionaires and unsuspecting small-time donors whose chief ambition is to radically revolutionize the way evangelical Christians think about race and to change the political alliance between conservatism and Christianity. The Gospel Coalition (TGC) was founded by Tim Keller, a Marxist who self-professes to be influenced by the Frankfurt School of Social Theory, as written about in detail in E.S. William’s book, The New Calvinists. Daily on the cyber-pages of TGC, the ideas of intersectionality, globalism, and social justice are regularly promoted. They do so in the name of Jesus and the Gospel, which I find especially repugnant. Under the guise of being theologically astute, under the faux-imagery of Gospel-promotion, TGC promotes Affirmative Action, open borders and amnesty, reparations, and even lent their blog for explicit endorsements of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race. Russell Moore at the ERLC works for the George Soros-funded Evangelical Immigration Table, calls border walls a “golden calf” (likening it to idolatry), and is a former Democratic staffer who never left the Democratic party. It should only be expected that any bastardized offspring of these two organizations should bear the DNA of progressivism. Any conference hosted by the two organizations – especially that designed to venerate a Communist whoremonger who denied the deity of Christ and His resurrection, should certainly be expected to create an army of Useful Idiots eager to atone for sins they didn’t commit and vicariously apologize for sins of others. This is, after all, the goal of intersectionality.

Second, for the life of me, I cannot understand how four thousand people could gather in the name of Martin Luther King and Jesus (which is as absurd as gathering in the name of Mahatma Gandhi and Jesus) and overlook the message of King. In a disgraceful treatment of King’s actual legacy – as shameful as walking across his grave – MLK50 used his decaying, rotting corpse as a means to a political end that King himself would have opposed. Although King was funded by and sympathetic to economic Marxism, he promoted the notion of “color-blindness,” which both the ERLC and The Gospel Coalition have told us in recent days is “racist.” King, in spite of all of his theological and moral failings, taught that the difference between black and white was little more than color. MLK50 taught that racial differences were not only non-superficial but to assume them superficial is in itself racist. The greatest irony of all is that MLK50 would likely have been opposed by Martin Luther King, as much as Al Sharpton would be making King roll over in the grave, if corpses could respond to sacrilege. King wrote in his famous I Have a Dream speech:

“I have a dream, my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” and the desire to “transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood…And when this happens…and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’”

King, of course, was paraphrasing Scripture he didn’t believe inerrant, but did look to it for a degree of inspiration. King was echoing the words of Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” King was echoing the words of Colossians 3:11, “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.”  King was echoing the words of 1 Corinthians 12:13, “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

Of course, the Scripture speaks of integrated harmony for those who are in Christ, but King’s paraphrase was not far off base. There are only two races on the planet; there is the race of Adam, in which all die, and there is a race of Christ, in which all will live. We are not baptized as black men, white men, or red men. We are baptized as men, and we are made alive in the representative of men, Jesus Christ. The very notion promoted by MLK50 and now being lauded in the Southern Baptist blogosphere is as repugnant to King as it is to the Apostle Paul who wrote those three passages.

Third, and this is the point of my contention, calling for vacancies in the SBC to be filled as proof of our repentance is morally obtuse. It is not wise, it is not thoughtful, and it is not original. It is racist. The echo-chamber and SBC pep-rally known as SBC Voices posted an article by Alan Cross entitled Why We Can’t Wait: The SBC’s Continual Need to Pursue Racial/Ethnic Diversity in Leadership. With all the short-lived but fiery enthusiasm of a youth group drop-out fresh out of church summer camp, Cross opined his thoughts after coming back from MLK50. And what did Cross come away with? Cross, proving that computers are not the only data processors that can be programmed, came away with the notion that to best live out the ethos of Martin Luther King, we need to promote people to denominational office NOT based upon the content of one’s character, but by the color of their skin. This is not genius; this is mentally deficient, morally deluded, and intellectually vapid. Cross writes:

Over the past 3 years since 2015, progress has been made. There have been more appointments, resolutions have been passed addressing white supremacy, and a heightened awareness has been raised of the need for Southern Baptists of all backgrounds to work together, serve together, and submit to one another as we all submit to and follow Jesus. We have seen progress with appointments and more of an open door for participation. I am grateful for this and what has come before. But, while good, this work is only seen as progress relative to the abysmal situation that preceded it.

Cross defeats his own argument in the course of giving it. The SBC nominated and elected Fred Luter as its first black president (largely based on the color of his skin). H.B. Charles was elected the first black president of the SBC Pastor’s Conference. Dwight McKissic – a Bernie Sander’s supporting racist who puts dead babies at the bottom of the list of his ethical priorities – strong-armed SBC leadership into condemning the “alt-right,” after holding up his own denomination in scorn to the national media as purportedly racist for not following through on his race-baiting, politically-motivated propaganda tactics. Just today it was reported that a Georgia church was unilaterally kicked out of its convention for not allowing a little black girl to use the restroom. Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary hosted a Malcom X read-in this year (good grief). Southern Baptist institutions like Ouachita Baptist University have a department of Social Justice, ostensibly funded by Clinton financier and globalist, James Riady. Cross needs to understand – as do all 45 of SBC Voices readers – that it will never be enough. The goal is not equality. Blacks and Whites are equal under both United States law and Southern Baptist polity. This is an undeniable fact. What racism remains is thoroughly repudiated and regularly expunged, and in a denomination with a tent as wide as the SBC, finding a church with truly “institutional racism” is rarer than finding Southern Baptist churches who handle snakes (that is not hyperbole). Neither is it unrealistic to say that being black in the Southern Baptist Convention (or any theologically conservative evangelical organization) is a matter of extreme privilege and puts one at the front of the line to share the spotlight. The reason it will never be good enough is because the goal is political. The goal is to change our worldview, our ideological positions, and even our theology.

Fourth, acting as though appointing minority ethnicities to denominational leadership would cure racism is woefully unbiblical. It is anti-gospel. Is racism not a sin? Is righteousness legislated? Is morality induced by executive fiat? Could that change hearts and minds? The answer to these questions is that racism is a sin, righteousness cannot be legislated, morality cannot be mandated by executive decision, and that hearts and minds aren’t changed by twisting arms to put men or women of color in charge our entities. Instead, appointing a person of minority status to a denominational position would be a worthless symbolic overture we’ve already done before, and done it again and again.

Fifth, acting as though appointing minority ethnicities to denominational leadership would cure racism grossly overlooks the real reason for the deficiency of minority leadership. Here are some inconvenient facts. Black churches are disproportionally rife with liberation theology. They are disproportionally tainted by Word-Faith, charismatic, and prosperity theology that is starkly at odds with traditional Southern Baptist values and doctrine. Black churches are disproportionally rife with many of the same family and cultural plagues of out-of-wedlock births, higher abortion rates, and fatherless homes as is the black community at large. Nothing in the groveling, pleading, bleeding commie-hearts on display at MLK50 even made a tangential effort to address the reason why there seem to be so few quality black leaders in the SBC; it is not racism. It is because there is, in reality, so few quality black leaders in the SBC. To propose filling agency positions with people merely based upon the color of one’s skin is not good for the denomination and it is not good for the black community because it doesn’t address the real reasons for those deficiencies which start with character and not with color.

By the way, for the sake of the weeping and gnashing of teeth I can already hear, there are plenty of quality and qualified men of color who could run our convention entities (in the same way there are many – I presume – “good” Southern Baptist churches comprised of primarily of black people). The argument, of course, is that raising race to the preeminent qualification for appointment is as racist as it is unhelpful.

Sixth and finally, none of this conversation – that started by MLK50 or that is being finished in the blogosphere – has been stained with the blood of Jesus. None of it. Throwing in the word “gospel” once in a while doesn’t make something saturated with the Good News. The Gospel mandates that forgiveness is given upon repentance, and with forgiveness must come restoration. The “white community” has apologized – profusely – and it needs to be said in the most pastoral way possible that making forgiveness contingent upon giving denominational appointments, scholarships or reparations is sinful on the part of the black person withholding forgiveness. Repentance does not have to be “proven,” it has to be confessed, and not to give forgiveness when it is requested is as wicked as the sin of slavery.

In conclusion, when Paul told the Colossians, the Galatians and the Corinthians that there were no slaves or free men, male or female, or Jews or Greeks, he was not implying that these “classes” or categories did not exist. In fact, Paul reaffirms these classes in Colossians and Corinthians when he orders slaves to obey their masters, for masters to be kind to their slaves, for wives to submit to husbands and husbands to love their wives. It is perfectly acceptable to acknowledge that one man is black and another is white, that Caitlyn Jenner is actually a man and if you have an XX chromosome you’re a woman. Neither was Paul arguing that there weren’t people born Jews or born Greeks. Paul’s point is that there is ultimate equality in the singular baptism that we receive in Christ, because Christ wasn’t an atonement for classes of people, but for the whole swath of believing humanity.

What should make us weep is that MLK50 and the Critical Race Theory imposed upon this generation of evangelicals through TGC and ERLC has set back a Biblical perspective of race to at least the days of Martin Luther King’s assassination. Following the ultimate prohibition of the Jim Crow laws and granting of equal rights in the Civil Rights Movement, there was a time and place (believe it or not) that the “races” (as terrible a term as that is) had far more harmony than today. What we must understand is that the Cultural Marxists who operate the ERLC and TGC are intentionally sowing discord and division between the races to accomplish their ultimate political purposes.

The Southern Baptist Convention should not want black leaders. The Southern Baptist Convention should not want white leaders. The Southern Baptist Convention should not want Eskimo leaders, Pygmy  leaders, or polka-dotted leaders. The Southern Baptist Convention should want godly leaders. And that, it seems, is in the shortest supply of all.

The post The SBC Should Not Want Black Leadership appeared first on Pulpit & Pen.

The Dividing Line Webcast: White Supremacy, MLK Jr.’s Theology, Imputed Guilt by Race, Kyle Howard, Racialism

Spent the first hour going over developments over the past few days, including discussions of the Washington Rally with the National Council of Churches, the MLK50 Conference, Martin Luther King’s own professed theology, Thabiti Anyabwile’s imputation of guilt to our grandparents, and finally Kyle J. Howard’s public statement that he would not feel “safe” meeting with me alone “as a black man.” Then we opened the phones with all sorts of calls—none of which were on the topic of the first hour!

Weekly Watchman for 04/06/2018

Finding the Right Church, and Other Great Topics!

If your church has been veering away from traditional biblical doctrines and teachings, and you feel led to consider another church, what questions should you ask those pastors before becoming a member?

This is one of the questions one of our listeners posed this week. Other questions include:

Is God capable of hatred?
How can I defend hyper-feminism and the increasing demonization of men?
Are Christians required to tithe?
Our son’s youth pastor advised the kids to abstain from sex, but if they choose not to, they should take precautions. What?!
Can a person be “trapped” or born in the wrong body?
How do we refute the arguments of those who believe gender is fluid and can be (“assigned”) chosen?
What if my pastor doesn’t teach the Old Testament or prophecy?

Daily podcast, relevant articles on issues pertaining to Christians and more can be found on Stand Up For The Truth.

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Christian Alternatives to Public Education

It is pretty clear what Christian parents can expect if they send their children to government-run schools. Whatever basic Christian worldview their children have will be challenged and probably mocked, that is, if other kids find out they’re Christians. There’s also a very good chance that by the time they head off to college their children will want nothing to do with the Christian faith.

There are alternatives. Why send your children to reputable Christian schools or take a step of faith and homeschool? But many parents are intimidated by what they perceive to be a tremendous commitment of time or money needed for homeschooling their children.

We discuss a new Christian Home School Organization to offer assistance to parents who choose to home school their children. We talk with Andrew Pudewa, director of the Institute for Excellence in Writing, who is very involved in the advancement of quality homeschooling. He will be speaking at the Wisconsin Homeschool conference April 20-21 in Milwaukee.

In our first segment, we check in with Julaine Appling of Wisconsin Family Council to discuss the recent election of a liberal Wisconsin Supreme Court justice. We also address disturbing trends we see in government, as well as a dangerous ordinance in Milwaukee that will prevent Christian churches and counselors from helping young people who are confused about their sexuality or gender identification.

Daily podcast, relevant articles on issues pertaining to Christians and more can be found on Stand Up For The Truth.

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The Cesspool of American Pop Culture

In previous generations, children could just enjoy being young and relatively carefree. They were able to actually go outside and play and put off until later the responsibilities and pressures of adulthood. But today’s children have not only become addicted to social media, but also political pawns of the left, helping advance the culture of sin and depravity. Hollywood and government schools are submerging young minds into a world view that directly opposes God and His Word.  In the coming years, as this younger generation becomes adults and leaders in society, we will see the damage that was done.

Tina Griffin, Counter Culture Mom, joins us to expose some of he darkness and look at ways parents can be educated about pop culture and protect our children from a world looking to destroy them spiritually.

And in our final segments, we address the continued censoring of Christian messages on Facebook, and a report of a child being sexually assaulted in a bathroom of a Target Department Store.  Target was one of the first department store chains to allow people to go into the bathroom or changing room of their choice, depending on what gender they “felt like” on any particular day.  Are these stories being covered up at the risk of our children being sexually manipulated and attacked?

Daily podcast, relevant articles on issues pertaining to Christians and more can be found on Stand Up For The Truth.

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Living in Prophetic Times

Why don’t we talk about prophecy more than we do? Nearly one third of the Bible is prophecy. Today’s guest says we are living in the most prophetic times since Jesus Christ Himself lived on earth. Things seem to be falling into place as the world rushes toward a one world government and evil continues to grow, God, His Word, and His people are hated more and more each day.

What are some of the specific biblical prophesies we might be witnessing in our life times? And what does the Bible teach about Elohim and the Nephilim in the Old Testament? Pastor and best-selling author, Carl Gallups joins us to discuss his latest book, Gods and Thrones.

Daily podcast, relevant articles on issues pertaining to Christians and more can be found on Stand Up For The Truth.

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Confronting the Destructive Lies of Transgenderism with Truth and Compassion

The times in which we live as disciples of Jesus Christ grow more and more bizarre just as the Bible told us they would. Ten years ago, which of us would have ever thought a defining issue in society and even in some churches would be whether God really made humans male or female?

But we are witnessing a growing number of people, including professing Christians wondering if gender might be fluid. How do we respond to this crisis about identity? The Bible teaches us to speak the truth with love and compassion for the lost. But how do we respond when no matter how compassionate and loving we are, some react with accusations of bigotry?

Dr. Ryan Anderson wrote a groundbreaking book on the subject titled When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Movement. He joins us to help us understand this groundbreaking issue and how Christians should respond.

Daily podcast, relevant articles on issues pertaining to Christians and more can be found on Stand Up For The Truth.

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Grace Community Church Venue CANCELED for Gospel Coalition Conference

A graphic from TGC website for its West Coast conference, which has yet to be updated with the change of venue.

Developing: Grace Community Church (GCC), home congregation of Pastor John MacArthur, has canceled the church property and facilities as a venue for the West Coast Gospel Coalition Conference.

John MacArthur and leadership at GCC have faced increasing criticism in recent days from many who are critical of the problematic theological trajectory of The Gospel Coalition. Phil Johnson, director of MacArthur’s Grace to You Ministry, announced via his social media platforms prior to Resurrection weekend that the elders at GCC were united in their concern about the conference plans, as promoted by The Gospel Coalition (TGC) website.

Sources have reported certain concerns regarding TGC conference speakers not personally approved by Dr. MacArthur or GCC leadership, and certain doctrinal or worldview differences between the two organizations. These concerns do not include Kevin DeYoung or Alistair Begg, who were the two primary conference speakers other than Dr. MacArthur himself.

Phil Johnson announced that GCC would not be allowing TGC to use its facility for their West Coast Conference approximately an hour ago, via Twitter. Johnson also claims, in the social media thread, that a more thorough statement will be forthcoming.

Sources also reveal that GCC leadership was concerned almost as soon as the public pronouncement of the conference by TGC was made, long before any criticism of GCC was made public. As Johnson said in his pre-Easter tweet, patience was requested over Resurrection weekend to allow communication between the church and TGC and to settle the matter in an amicable way.

We are pleased that Grace Community Church and the always-admirable Dr. John MacArthur will not be taking part in the Gospel Coalition’s West Coast Conference.

The post Grace Community Church Venue CANCELED for Gospel Coalition Conferenceappeared first on Pulpit & Pen.

6 Questions I’m Hearing Again from Young People Raised in Evangelical Churches

I heard these questions from young people in the 1980s, but they tended to die down (at least among young people in my denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, who were then in the midst of our conservative resurgence). With no desire to use this post to enter into theological debates, I want to review some of the same questions I’m beginning to hear again—often, among college students raised in Christian homes.

  1. “How do I know the Bible is true?” Few young people I know are willing to accept their parent’s faith at face value. They respect the Bible, but that doesn’t mean they always accept it as truth.
  2. “If God is love, won’t He accept love in any relationship?” Some young folks accept the Bible’s description of God as love, but they turn to other sources to define that love. They thus broaden their definition beyond biblical parameters.
  3. “Does it really matter whether I go to church?” “If my faith is between me and God,” some say, “I don’t really need to be part of a church.” A spirit of individualism overshadows any sense of needing other believers as witnesses and encouragers.
  4. “Might there be more than one way to God?” Often raised among followers of other world faiths, many young people struggle understanding why God would judge their friends and classmates.
  5. “Who cares what denomination the church is?” The question is an honest one for a generation raised in local churches that often themselves exhibited little denominational connection or loyalty.
  6. “How do I know if this whole ‘religion thing’ isn’t just manmade?” They hear that thinking from others at times, and few believers have taken the time to try to answer that question.

Maybe these questions aren’t so new after all. Perhaps they’re simply a reminder of an important truth for church leaders: just because we tried to answer the questions in one generation doesn’t mean they won’t come around again. And, if we aren’t willing to hear and tackle the questions, we’ll lose another generation.

Source: 6 Questions I’m Hearing Again from Young People Raised in Evangelical Churches

18 Questions about Faith and Mental Illness

How should we understand the effects of the Fall on the mind and brain? We know our bodies age and die. We know all of our organs are susceptible to disease and deterioration. We have “norms” for the frequency, duration, onset, and prognosis of these effects of the Fall; what are the equivalent expectations for the mind and brain?

When engaging a difficult and highly personal subject, it is better to start with good questions than a list of answers. The better our questions are, the more responsibly we will utilize the answers of which we are confidant, the more humbly we will approach areas of uncertainty, and the more we will honor one another in the process of learning.

As I’ve read, counseled, and thought about the subject of mental illness, here are some of the questions that have emerged.

The purpose of these questions is to expand our thinking about mental illness. We all bring a “theory of mental illness” to this discussion. This theory, whether we can articulate it or not, shapes the questions we ask. Exposing ourselves to important questions from other perspectives is the first step in becoming more holistic in our approach.

Don’t allow these questions to overwhelm you. All of these questions existed before you read them. Speaking them didn’t create them. Actually, an appropriate response to this list would be the generation of more questions. Take a moment to write down the additional questions you have.

  1. Is mental illness a flaw in character or chemistry? Is this the best way to frame the question? What do we lose when we fall into the trap of either-or thinking?
  2. Why do we think of genetic influences as if they negate the role of the will or personal choice? Substance abuse can have a clear genetic predisposition, but every addiction program – even those most committed to a disease model – appeal to the will as a key component to sobriety.
  3. In the modern psychological proverb, “The genes load the gun, and the environment pulls the trigger,” where is the person? How do we best understand the interplay of predisposition (genetics), influences (environment), and the individual making choices (person)?
  4. What percent of those who struggle with “normal sorrow” are labeled as clinically depressed? What percentage of those who think their sorrow is normal are actually clinically depressed? How do we communicate effectively when the same word – depression – has both a clinical and popular usage?
  5. Would we want to eradicate all anxiety and depression if we were medically capable of doing so? What would we lose, that was good about life and relationships, if these unpleasant emotions were eradicated from human experience? Would that be heaven-on-earth or have unintended consequences that are greater than our current dilemma?
  6. Can we have a “weak” brain—one given to problematic emotions or difficulty discerning reality—and a “strong” soul—one with a deep and genuine love for God? If we say “yes” to this question in areas like intelligence (e.g., low IQ and strong faith), would there be any reason to say “no” about those things described as mental illness? C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity says, “Most of the man’s psychological makeup is probably due to his body: when his body dies all that will fall off him, and the real central man, the thing that chose, that made the best or the worst of this raw material, will stand naked. All sorts of nice things we thought our own, but which were really due to a good digestion, will fall off some of us; all sorts of nasty things which were due to complexes or bad health will fall off others. We shall then, for the first time, see every one as he really was. There will be surprises (p. 91-92).”

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Albert Mohler Blog: “All Other Ground is Sinking Sand: A Portrait of Theological Disaster”

In this essay, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. writes about the CBF’s recent decision on hiring LGBT individuals in ministry positions. Mohler writes:

“The report, “Honoring Autonomy & Reflecting the Fellowship,” has infuriated LGBTQ proponents and alienated more conservative churches. Its recommendations offer a ridiculous and unstable policy. The report and related news reports reveal that the proposed policy will allow for the hiring of openly-LGBT CBF personnel in some positions, but not in positions of leadership or missionary field assignment. The new policy, if adopted, would create a dual morality — one for an estimated 80% of CBF staff and the other for supervisory staff and field personnel. The two moralities, contradictory by definition, would supposedly co-exist within one structure.”

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Get Ready, Youth Group Leaders: Teens Twice as Likely to Identify as Atheist or LGBT

This generation is more sensitive to LGBT issues overall, with 37 percent saying their gender and sexuality is “very important” to their sense of self, compared to 28 percent of their Gen X parents.

Imagine Generation Z—the 70 million kids born between 1999 and 2015—and you probably picture them staring at their devices. A bunch of app-savvy, tech-addicted teens who never knew a time before smartphones.

Half of Protestant youth pastors consider technology and social media the defining factor of this latest generation, but a new study released today by Barna Group sheds new light on striking social and demographic trends: Teenagers in Gen Z are at least twice as likely as American adults to identify as LGBT or as atheist.

These are important markers of identity among the youngest segment of America, and pose new ministry challenges for the church.

While the latest Gallup poll reported only 4.1 percent of Americans—and 7.3 percent of millennials—identify as LGBT, Barna found that 12 percent of Gen Z teens described their sexual orientation as something other than heterosexual, with 7 percent identifying as bisexual.

This generation is more sensitive to LGBT issues overall, with 37 percent saying their gender and sexuality is “very important” to their sense of self, compared to 28 percent of their Gen X parents.

Additionally, about a third of teens know someone who is transgender, and the majority (69%) say it’s acceptable to be born one gender and to feel like another.

Though teens exploring sexual identity have long been a part American churches and youth groups, they haven’t always been this open about their identity and willing to address it so transparently.

“It is a new challenge for student ministry leaders, because there is more discussion in the public square regarding LGBT issues,” Ben Trueblood, director of student ministry for LifeWay Christian Resources, told CT.

“In the past, it was possible for difficult issues like this to be brushed aside or go unaddressed entirely. But that approach cripples the purpose of student ministry,” he said. “Now, student ministry leaders are forced to teach what the Bible says on these issues, as well as equip teenagers to respond biblically.”

Today’s teens need that direction from church leaders as they grow more likely to identify as atheist and less likely to identify as Christian than their parents and older peers.

Among Gen Z members between 13 and 18 years old, 13 percent consider themselves atheists, compared to just 6 percent of adults overall.

Meanwhile, 59 percent of Gen Z identifies as Christian, compared to 68 percent of adults. Only 1 in 11 teens is considered by Barna to be an “engaged Christian,” a category the research organization uses for those whose beliefs and practices are shaped by their faith (i.e., not “Christian in name only”).

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The post Get Ready, Youth Group Leaders: Teens Twice as Likely to Identify as Atheist or LGBT appeared first on The Aquila Report.