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One-on-One with Jonathan Merritt on ‘Learning to Speak God from Scratch’ : Part 1

“Most Christians who speak God do so passively.”


Ed: Jonathan, you are (to quote Churchill) a “riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” When we first met, you were a teaching pastor at an evangelical megachurch, but I’ve seen you call yourself a “liberal Protestant” online. So, are you an evangelical, a mainline Protestant, or what?


Jonathan: Speaking of Christian words, you've used a lot of them here. As a result, answering your question requires a little bit of conversation and context, which I'm happy to provide.



I don't remember labeling myself a "liberal Protestant," but in many ways, that would be accurate. I've always been a part of the Protestant tradition, although I have a deep respect and fascination for the Roman Catholic Church and my spiritual director is a Jesuit priest.



Additionally, I'm somewhat liberal in many regards. I do not think that being a Christian means I have to dismiss the claims of science about issues like climate change or the origin of life, for example.



I wouldn't describe myself as "mainline Protestant" because that implies alignment with a church in a mainline denomination. I actively attend Trinity Grace Church in Tribeca in New York City, which is a Protestant church but not a mainline church.



People have also called me an "evangelical," and I've even called myself that on occasion. Defining what that means exactly is increasingly difficult. The meaning of a word has two parts: definition and connotation. The connotation of the word is synonymous with theological fundamentalism and uncritical Republicanism. I'm not evangelical if that's the case.



But by the best definition of "evangelical," which I argued at The Atlanticis Bebbington's ...

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One-on-One with Jonathan Merritt on ‘Learning to Speak God from Scratch’ : Part 2

“Missionaries would do well to spend more time learning from their newfound communities as they spend trying to teach them.”


Ed: You talked a lot about the importance of learning to speak of God, particularly as you went from the South to NYC. How did that change impact your relationships in NYC?


Jonathan: When I moved to New York City, I encountered an unexpected language barrier. I could still speak English, but I could no longer speak God. I couldn't have free-flowing conversations on spirituality and faith because I was encountering people who practiced different faiths or none at all.


And even many of my Christian friends didn't quite understand my religious jargon. The result was that my friendships became more shallow. We might talk about the weather or sports or maybe politics, but questions of meaning and purpose and the inner-life were largely avoided.


This is actually the experience many Americans are having. According to a study I conducted for the book with Barna Group, only seven percent of Americans say they have a spiritual or religious conversation on a regular basis. That's shocking given that nearly 71 percent of Americans claim to be Christian. The vast majority of our citizens do not often speak about the spirituality they claim is important to them.


Ed: You tied these things into research and missiology, so those parts interested me. What points or research are most important to you?


Jonathan: I was surprised that so few Americans talk about faith for sure. But a lot of us are nominally religious, as you know. I figured that most "practicing Christians," which is to say those who attend church regularly, would buck the trend. But I was wrong, wrong, wrong. Only 13 percent of practicing Christians—that's 1 in 8—say they have spiritual or religious conversations on a regular basis.


I was also ...

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https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/90070.jpg?w=460
https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2019/march/interview-jonathan-merritt-learning-to-speak-god-from-scrat.html
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China Shuts Down Another Big Beijing Church
« Reply #1218 on: April 01, 2019, 01:00:11 AM »
China Shuts Down Another Big Beijing Church

Shouwang Church, which famously kept meeting outdoors after losing its pastor and worship space, is the fourth major unregistered congregation to be forcibly closed in recent months.


Another prominent unregistered church in China, Shouwang Church in Beijing, was raided by Chinese police over the weekend and officially banned from gathering to worship.


Shouwang, which draws more than 1,000 attendees, is the fourth major underground congregation shut down by the Communist government over the past several months, as party leaders and heads of the state-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Movement intensify efforts to rid religious groups of Western influence and exert control to make them more Chinese.


Similar to earlier incidents at Early Rain Covenant Church in Sichuan, Zion Church in Beijing, and Rongguili Church in Guangzhou, officials interrupted Bible study gatherings at two Shouwang Church locations on Saturday, putting the activities to a halt, interrogating and briefly detaining dozens of attendees, and switching the locks of their buildings to keep them from returning, according to International Christian Concern (ICC).


The church had been charged with violating the country’s Regulations of Religious Affairs and Regulations on the Registration and Management of Social Organizations by operating without government registration.


Shouwang members refused to sign a document pledging to never attend the church again, and leaders said the church will continue to worship by adjusting meeting times and locations.


Throughout its 26-year history, Shouwang members have refused to come under Communist authority and persevered despite persecution, with their “underground” services forced outside when evicted from their buildings in 2009 and with their founding pastor Jin Tianming under house arrest since 2011.


“China’s oppression against house churches will not be loosened,” Bob Fu, ...

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https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/march/sinicization-china-wants-christianity-churches-more-chinese.html
https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2018/december/china-churches-early-rain-rongguili-wang-yi-samuel-lamb.html
https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2018/september/china-bans-zion-beijing-house-church-surveillance-ezra-jin.html
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Why the Admissions Scandal Is Every Parent’s Problem
« Reply #1219 on: April 02, 2019, 01:00:22 AM »
Why the Admissions Scandal Is Every Parent’s Problem

College bribery cases point to a common idol.


The recent college admissions scandal has all the elements of a sensational, headline-grabbing story: Rich and famous parents paying bribes. Coaches encouraging fabricated athletic success. Prestigious colleges caught in the crosshairs. And now the potential of class action lawsuits brought against some of our nation’s most elite universities.


While it’s easy to criticize the parents implicated in the scandal, my hunch is that most of us with kids under 30 have taken at least a few steps down the trail of overparenting. Our excessive parenting may not be as obvious and hopefully isn’t illegal. But a recent national study of over 1,100 parents of 18–28 year-olds showcases the common parental tendency to step in to improve our kids’ options.


According to the study, over three-fourths (76%) of parents remind their adult children of upcoming deadlines. Almost that many (74%) are scheduling doctor’s appointments for their 20-somethings, 15% have called or texted their child to make sure they don’t sleep through a class or test, and 8% have contacted a professor or administrator to discuss their child’s college performance or grades. No wonder colleges today are allocating personnel and developing policies to help extricate parents from their students’ daily rhythms and routines.


Over-involved parents of every stripe tend to focus on two outcomes—academic success and economic success, presuming the former leads to the latter. “Getting ahead” easily becomes an idol. For Christian parents, however, success is not the end goal (even if it is the outcome). Instead, we’re called to a simple-but-challenging counter-narrative: to help our kids grow in Christ, ...

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https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/25/us/college-admission-scandal-boston.html
https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2019/03/14/suit-alleges-universities-connected-bribery-cheating-scandal-failed-give-honest-applicants-fair-review/?utm_term=.7b75b01f963a
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/13/upshot/parenting-new-norms-grown-children-extremes.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share
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Black and Evangelical: Why I Keep the Label
« Reply #1220 on: April 03, 2019, 01:00:08 AM »
Black and Evangelical: Why I Keep the Label

A conversation with an incredulous friend gave me a chance to tell my story.


I am both black and evangelical.


Two years ago I was challenged on these dual allegiances because they have been deemed mutually exclusive. It was during the 2016 presidential campaign and I was online registering for the annual conference of the Evangelical Theological Society. A friend was nearby and, upon noticing what I was doing, exclaimed, “You’re an evangelical?!”


It was a challenging question. For some it would seem odd. My friend is seminary-trained, robustly academic, and his theology abides squarely within the pale of historic Christian orthodoxy. He would seem to be the quintessential evangelical. In spite of this, he has chosen to cast off the label.


Why? Because he is African American and acutely aware of the intricacies associated with being both black and evangelical. He is unsettled by the bifurcation of the gospel and social ethics. In his estimation, the division is the byproduct of privilege and is a reductionistic understanding of the church’s mission. While he concedes that evangelicalism is a theological movement, he contends that it has been shaped by the dominant culture. The movement has a cultural identity that debases him based on his ethnicity. Consequently, he has chosen to uphold his theological identity while eschewing the term evangelical and its baggage. In contrast, I have concluded that preserving my theological identity obliges me to redeem the term and unpack the movement’s baggage.


In my opinion, my friend deserved a response. His confusion is understandable because he knows that I affirm his assessment. I too have been wounded by evangelicalism’s posture toward social ethics. But I have concluded that an exodus of ethnic minorities amounts to segregation ...

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When Was Your Church’s Last Haystack Prayer Meeting?
« Reply #1221 on: April 04, 2019, 01:00:11 AM »
When Was Your Church’s Last Haystack Prayer Meeting?

Many evangelical mission organizations trace their history back to the Haystack Prayer Meeting.


On a balmy Saturday afternoon in August of 1806, five students from the Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, gathered in a field for a prayer meeting.


Suddenly, a fierce thunderstorm broke above them. Caught unprotected from the storm’s winds and lightning strikes, the students turned to the nearest shelter at hand—a large haystack.


There, huddled under hundreds of pounds of cattle fodder, the students carried on with their meeting. One of them, Samuel Mills, laid the groundwork for a vision to reach South Asia with the gospel. But the students did not forget their own backyard: reaching America remained in their hearts.


That gathering became known as the “Haystack Prayer Meeting.” Out of that meeting emerged the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, founded in 1810.


One of the first sending agencies in America, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, galvanized the modern missionary movement. The board sent dozens of Americans across the ocean, including Adoniram Judson, who would be called the father of Baptist missions.


Luther Rice, another of its early members, founded the college that became the prestigious George Washington University and played a pivotal role in creating the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in America.


At the place where the meeting occurred, a monument stands today commemorating this historic moment. At the top of the monument is the phrase, “THE FIELD IS THE WORLD.” Underneath those words, it says, “The birthplace of American foreign missions. 1806.”


Today, many historians would tell you that, in some way, virtually all mission organizations trace their history back to the Haystack ...

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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/afWfKQ5MwIc/when-was-your-churchs-last-haystack-prayer-meeting.html
https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/90080.jpg?w=460
https://www.lutherrice.edu/about-us/historical-example.cms
https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2019/march/when-was-your-churchs-last-haystack-prayer-meeting.html
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Jesus’ Life Chosen for Two Very Different TV Series
« Reply #1222 on: April 05, 2019, 01:00:10 AM »
Jesus’ Life Chosen for Two Very Different TV Series

One is scholarly with a big cable budget, the other is gritty and crowdfunded.


This month brings two profoundly different takes on the biblical Gospels to the small screen. In Jesus: His Life, which premiered Monday and runs through Easter, History seeks to commemorate the Lenten season with a reverent, fast-paced, inclusive miniseries.


“The story of Jesus is one of the cornerstones of Western civilization,” says Mary Donahue, executive producer of the series and senior vice president of programming for History. “Our production partners at Nutopia came to us with this new angle on the life of Jesus. As a network always looking for fresh ways to tell great stories, we were fascinated by the concept.”


History’s docudrama series combines dramatic vignettes filmed on location in Morocco with a wide spectrum of talking-head faith scholars. Its narrative scenes bring to life first-century Judea with desert vistas, elaborate palace sets, and other fitting locales over eight episodes.


Meanwhile, the other TV project has less emphasis on visual spectacle and more on character development. Independent show The Chosen is already turning heads in Hollywood. When upstart platform VidAngel Studios pitched the concept to followers online, they brought in $11 million—a new crowdfunding record for any media project.


Debuting online April 15, The Chosen will reimagine the radical ministry of Christ upending societal norms in a multi-season show. Creators aim for it to be faithful to the biblical text while gritty in tone. “A lot of Jesus projects on-screen are intentionally formal, which often means emotionally detached and less human,” says writer/director Dallas Jenkins.


“We’re striving in this show to lift the curtain and get to what is authentic and real,” ...

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Source: Jesus’ Life Chosen for Two Very Different TV Series

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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/AeAeRsvKcM0/jesus-his-life-history-chosen-tv-series-vidangel.html
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https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/march-web-only/jesus-his-life-history-chosen-tv-series-vidangel.html
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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?a=AeAeRsvKcM0:xczY6ouibL8:F7zBnMyn0Lo
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http://www.1faith.co.uk/family-home-forum/?action=post

CFamily

  • Guest
Wheaton's New Partnership with Christ Fellowship Miami: How You Can Earn Your M.A.

These new Master's students will study in Chicago in the summer and Miami in the winter.


Today, I’m glad to share that Wheaton College has partnered with Christ Fellowship Church in Miami, Florida, to create a unique learning opportunity for Christian leaders and pastors to deepen their skills in preaching and inspire their congregations as they lead from the pulpit.


This is not just for people in Miami, but for all over. It just happens to be in Miami… in January… so there’s that.


The Christ Fellowship Miami cohort is a group of like-minded Christian leaders who will undertake the M.A. in Ministry Leadership program together. This program allows pastors to grow in their biblical knowledge and leadership skills as they continue to lead from the pulpit. It’s designed to help any church leader translate theology into compelling expository sermons.


The cohort model offers a unique opportunity for pastors to support and learn from one another. Most cohorts include 15-25 students, and they often become a tight-knit community over the course of the program.


Rick Blackwood will teach in the program, having written on expository preaching and serving as the lead pastor of Christ Fellowship Miami, a multisite church of almost 10,000 weekly attendees in multiple campuses across Miami. He is the author of The Power of Multisensory Preaching and Teaching: Increase Attention, Comprehension, and Retention.


“We can’t be more excited about a partnership with such a well-regarded institution as the Wheaton College Graduate School,” said Blackwood. “This will be a blessing to leaders from all over, but even more so because of the engagement in our Miami context.”


Although M.A. students share the same hunger for growing in biblical knowledge, they also bring a variety of ...

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Source: Wheaton's New Partnership with Christ Fellowship Miami: How You Can Earn Your M.A.

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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/T3ey9rgW7KI/new-cohort-partnership-christ-fellowship-miami-ministry.html
https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/90130.jpg?w=460
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http://www.1faith.co.uk/family-home-forum/?action=post

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