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[Cfamily]Being Salt and Light in the Middle of a Twitter Mob
« Reply #1000 on: September 04, 2018, 01:00:15 AM »

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Being Salt and Light in the Middle of a Twitter Mob

Social media can be a dark and divisive place. That doesn’t mean we should simply withdraw.

Reading Jaron Lanier’s Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now wasn’t the first time I’ve been advised to delete my accounts. I’ve been told this many times before, less out of concern for my emotional safety and more out of frustration and anger. The most noteworthy time, I’d attempted to inject a little bit about the nature of human dignity into a Twitterverse that was, at the time, reveling in a video of someone sucker-punching a neo-Nazi.

Of course, what was meant as a humble (okay, maybe not-so-humble) reminder of human dignity was interpreted instead as a coy defense of bigotry. My actual argument was quite the opposite: Dignity is such a crucial, fundamental quality of the human person that totally reprehensible views—even dangerous views—do not justify a unilateral act of violence.

Soon enough, Twitter at-large saw my tweet plucked away from the tweets that instigated the argument in the first place, outside the context of my own Twitter account. It was retweeted by more than a few popular activists, with frustrated and insinuating commentary. At that point, the ball was rolling, and it could not be stopped.

An Attack on Our Souls

Lanier, a pioneer in virtual reality technology, confesses to grave doubts about the world he and other Silicon Valley dreamers have created: “We have given up our connection to context. Social media mashes up meaning. Whatever you say will be contextualized and given meaning by the way algorithms, crowds, and crowds of fake people who are actually algorithms mash it up with what other people say.”

In other words, my somewhat innocent, if careless attempt to inject balance into a loaded discussion was never going to ...

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[Cfamily]Preparing the Next Generation of Christian Humanitarian & Disaster Leaders
« Reply #1001 on: September 05, 2018, 01:00:18 AM »
Preparing the Next Generation of Christian Humanitarian & Disaster Leaders

Wheaton College’s Humanitarian Disaster Institute welcomes first M.A. students to campus.

Almost a year ago, we announced the launch of our new M.A. in Humanitarian & Disaster Leadershipat Wheaton College Graduate School, and this month we were able to welcome our first cohort of students on campus.

The goal of this program is “to prepare the next generation of humanitarian and disaster professionals to lead with faith and humility, utilize evidence-based practice, and serve the most vulnerable and the Church globally.”

This program, which is part of the newly launched School of Mission, Ministry, and Leadership, comes from the Humanitarian Disaster Institute (HDI), the first faith-based academic disaster research center in the country. HDI’s mission is to help the church prepare and care for a disaster-filled world.

We could not be more excited about the 18 students who make up this first-ever cohort. They bring with them a wealth of experiences, backgrounds, passions, and dreams, and it's incredible to see just how clearly God has directed each of their paths to bring them to this program.

We look forward to sharing their stories over the coming weeks and months, and to seeing how they are shaped as they prepare to go out and serve the church and the vulnerable around the world.

“I am so impressed by the quality of this group of students,” said Kent Annan, who as Director of Humanitarian & Disaster Leadership provides leadership for the M.A. program. “From the moment they arrived on campus, it was clear that they not only are passionate about loving and serving the vulnerable, but are intellectually curious about understanding the complexity of how to do this well.”

HDI Founder and Executive Director Dr. Jamie Aten added,

The diversity of experiences that this ...

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[Cfamily]Interview: God Calls Me to Motherhood and Art. How Do I Do Both?
« Reply #1002 on: September 06, 2018, 01:00:12 AM »
Interview: God Calls Me to Motherhood and Art. How Do I Do Both?

The cofounder of a new art and vocation institute in South Carolina aims to address the intersection of faith, family, creativity, and calling.

This summer, the Leaf Institute of Art and Vocation, a nonprofit aimed at integrating art education, vocational formation, and the Christian faith, opened its doors in Greenville, South Carolina. Located in the growing arts district of this mid-sized Southern town, Leaf’s faith-driven mission sets it apart from surrounding studios. Its cofounder, Michelle B. Radford, is an educator and studio artist, as well as a mother to young children.

Instead of viewing motherhood as a barrier to her artistic calling, Radford has learned to embrace the inherent tension between the work of raising a family and the work of creating fine art—a tension that in many ways undergirds the vocational focus of Leaf Institute itself. CT spoke with Radford about the vision behind her new project, the struggle between community and creation, and the subterranean logic of her multiple callings.

What’s the significance of the name, and what do you hope to accomplish with the organization?

We have a two-part focus: We are providing classes, workshops, and one-on-one coaching for those who want serious training in drawing and painting and art and design. And then we also are holding events and discussions, trying to provide resources for those who want to integrate their faith and their work.
The name “Leaf Institute” comes from J. R. R. Tolkien's short story “Leaf by Niggle.” Niggle is a painter, but he has a hard time completing a large painting of a tree because he is distracted by his neighbors, his civic responsibilities, and his own idleness. He ends up not finishing the painting, and in the afterlife, he’s ushered into a world that contains a tree, a real tree, just like the one he had imagined ...

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[Cfamily]Nominal Christians: Some Stats from the U.K. from Broad Application
« Reply #1003 on: September 07, 2018, 01:00:14 AM »
Nominal Christians: Some Stats from the U.K. from Broad Application

How do we reach people who are nominally Christian?

As a result of the Lausanne Consultation that took place in Pataya, Thailand, in June 1980, where many gathered to consider issues connected with global evangelization, several booklets emerged with titles such as Nominal Christians among Roman Catholics, ... among the Orthodox,... among Protestants, as well as others looking at Traditional Religionists in various countries and continents. The first International Lausanne Consultation on Nominalism took place in England in December 1998, and the Second Consultation was held in March 2018, in Rome.

But what is nominality?

The concepts of “nominal Christian” and “notional Christian” have been around for a long time, but have largely dropped from extensive use in the last few years. Nominal Christians were originally defined as those people who “were church members and believed in God but who never attended church(except perhaps at Christmas or Easter),”while notional Christians were those who “believed in God but who never attended church and do not necessarily make any effort to follow the Christian ethic (perhaps because they confuse ‘Christianity’ with ‘Britishness’).”

Numbers for both were estimated along the following lines for the U.K.:

The figures in Columns A and F total 100%, representing the entire population. Column A is the total of Columns B, C, D and E; Column F is the total of Columns G and H. Regular churchgoers are the total of Columns B and C (from Church Censuses, the split relying on sample surveys). Church members are the total of Columns C and D (the total coming from published figures summarizing the many individual denominations). None of these definitions are watertight. Figures for ...

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Source: Nominal Christians: Some Stats from the U.K. from Broad Application

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[Cfamily]A Letter to the Church on Moral Failure and Misconduct
« Reply #1004 on: September 08, 2018, 01:00:16 AM »
A Letter to the Church on Moral Failure and Misconduct

This is a very hard season for the church in America, and frankly, a season in which many cannot yet see the end in sight.

I regularly receive notes from pastors and church members around the country on how to deal with the moral failures and abuses of so many leaders in the church today.

A few quick notes of clarification are needed here: the rash of leaders that we have seen fall within the past year and a half or so have nearly all engaged in moral failure. They have made wrong decisions regarding the proper and biblical way to act as leaders.

But, some have also abused power, which I’ve addressed quite often. There is a difference. It’s important to note this, even though my focus in this article is on how we might respond. YOu see, people are hurting in many churches, and leaders either often don’t know or aren’t responding as they ought to those who have serious questions and concerns.

This is unacceptable, and it’s time for change.

So in this article I am addressing both how to deal with moral failures, as well as how to respond when those include abuse and victimization.

I am seeing two extremes happening as a response to this continual stream of news: Camp one is placing their proverbial fingers in their ears in denial over the serious and deeply troubling condition of many in the church today and camp two is standing with one foot out the door of the church, ready to shake the dust off their feet and walk out, unable to deal with so much silent sin.

I understand both sides. This is a very hard season for many churches, and frankly, a season in which many cannot yet see the end in sight.

It’s a time of lament.

As a Christian leader who has sought to live in a way that brings honor to God (though too many times I fail), it pains me over and over as I see colleagues fall as a result of unaccountability, pride, ...

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[Cfamily]Why You Can’t Name the Virtues
« Reply #1005 on: September 09, 2018, 01:00:14 AM »
Why You Can’t Name the Virtues

Our culture has abandoned a wealth of teaching on character formation. Let’s revive these lost arts.

For the past several decades, American evangelicalism has been concerned about morality—and for good reason. Sexual promiscuity, pornography, abortion, divorce, materialism, racism, and countless other ills so permeate our culture—even among the churched—that they seem to be the rule rather than the exception.

But moral choices flow from moral character. Perhaps if we wish to reform morality, we should turn more attention to the formation of character.

Of course, everyone agrees that good character is a desirable thing. But “good character” today has been largely boiled down to being honest, hard-working, and sexually abstinent until marriage. Our culture, including the church, has abandoned a wealth of teaching about character formation that contributes not only to the flourishing of individuals but to the whole of society as well. It’s time to recover that ancient wisdom.

Sometimes Christians emphasize a rule-based or outcomes-based ethic, and although rules and outcomes can certainly be helpful in making ethical decisions, good character is a more essential and durable predictor of true virtue.

As I explain in my new book, On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life in Great Books, so-called “virtue ethics” began with the pagan Greek philosopher Aristotle, who studied the human qualities that help us to flourish. Aristotle could see the uniqueness in human beings—what we as Christians recognize as God’s image within us. Aristotle called the qualities that make people excel “human virtues.” Among the virtues he identified are justice, magnanimity, courage, temperance, friendship, and honorableness. He believed that these and other character qualities are the ...

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[Cfamily]Five Necessary Characteristics for a Church Revitalizer
« Reply #1006 on: September 10, 2018, 01:00:13 AM »
Five Necessary Characteristics for a Church Revitalizer

What makes a pastor or a church planter great at what they do is not always the same as what allows a church revitalizer to excel.

People like to lump church planters and church revitalizers together. However, condensing them down to a single category can be unhelpful. What makes a pastor or a church planter great at what they do is not always the same as what allows a church revitalizer to excel. Church revitalizers must have a unique set of skills that are necessary for them to be successful in their roles. Below are five necessary characteristics for a church revitalizer.

First, church revitalizers must have a willingness to have longevity

When it comes to church revitalization, a lot of people give up too soon and too fast. A church revitalizer needs to have a willingness to have longevity because it will take time to work through some things. People can be resistant to change, and church revitalizers must be willing to wait those people out.

They must be willing to walk slowly with people along the journey towards revitalization. In the vast majority of cases, a church isn’t going to spring into new, vibrant life overnight.

Second, church revitalizers must have relational patience

If you’re planting a church, you do not necessarily have to be relationally patient. A church planter can come into an area and do their thing, and if people don’t respond, they can move on. But in church revitalization, it is essential to be relationally patient. Church revitalizers need to take time with people and love people who don’t always agree with them.

They must remember that a church member disagreeing with them is not the same thing as disagreeing with God. There will be people who have different views, approaches, and philosophies. A church revitalizer needs to have the patience to take time to weigh all of those opinions. They have to learn ...

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[Cfamily]The Philadelphia Eagles Get the ‘God Squad’ Treatment
« Reply #1007 on: September 11, 2018, 01:00:15 AM »
The Philadelphia Eagles Get the ‘God Squad’ Treatment

A reporter’s inside look at the team’s Christian culture repeats some characteristic flaws of evangelical writing on sports.

The annals of football are filled with “God squads,” teams with widely publicized reputations for Christian faith. As far back as the 1890s, Yale football enthusiasts attributed the team’s success to the number of “praying men” on the squad. The undefeated 1954 UCLA team, with over half the starting lineup involved with Campus Crusade for Christ, was nicknamed the “Eleven from Heaven.”

And professional football has had plenty of teams with strong Christian contingents, too: the Baltimore Colts of the late 1960s, the Miami Dolphins of the early 1970s, the Washington Redskins of the 1980s and early 1990s, the St. Louis Rams circa 1999, and the Seattle Seahawks circa 2013, to name just a few. It would probably be more newsworthy if a successful football team did not have a handful of outspoken Christians than if it had a team full of them.

Still, despite the ubiquity of Christianity within football, in recent years the Philadelphia Eagles have stood out, especially after a viral 2016 video of five Eagles players getting baptized in the team’s cold tub. The video spurred ESPN to cover the strong presence of evangelical religiosity on the team. And the following year the Eagles’ reputation for conspicuous evangelical Christianity grew alongside their win totals, culminating with a Super Bowl victory and a slew of shout-outs to God in the post-game interviews.

With Eagles’ testimonies already blanketing television, social media, newspapers, magazines, websites, and even Bible apps, it is only fitting that the team receives the evangelical book treatment. Rob Maaddi’s Birds of Pray: The Story of the Philadelphia Eagles’ Faith, Brotherhood, and Super Bowl Victory ...

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