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[Cfamily]Americans Who Know Religion Best Hold Worse Views of Evangelicals
« Reply #1344 on: July 28, 2019, 07:06:58 AM »

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Americans Who Know Religion Best Hold Worse Views of Evangelicals

Pew: Religious literacy usually helps Americans appreciate other faiths. Evangelicals score highest when it comes to their own.

There’s an adage that sometimes comes up in the church: “You can’t love what you don’t know.”

Research has shown that people with the greatest understanding of other faiths tend to have more positive views of outside traditions. But a recent survey found one key exception: evangelical Protestants.

The people who know the most about religion—and scored the highest on Pew Research Center’s religious literacy quiz—actually had worse views of evangelicals than the average American or those with low scores.

“Higher scores on the overall (32- point) religious knowledge scale tend to be associated with warmer evaluations of most religious groups,” the researchers wrote. “One exception to this pattern is evangelical Christians, who are rated most warmly by those at the low end of the religious knowledge scale.

Meanwhile, evangelical Protestants actually know more than the average American about religion, due largely to their familiarity with their own faith. While few in the US can parse Protestant theology or define the prosperity gospel, evangelicals were among the top-performing faith groups in a religious literacy quiz, ranking after Jews, atheists, and agnostics and above other Christian affiliations and religious nones.

Evangelicals—in this survey, a multiethnic sample grouped by affiliation—know the Bible and Christianity better than anyone else, but when it comes to other traditions, their standings fall. Only evangelicals who said they regularly dedicated time to learning about world religions knew more than average about other faiths.

The issue of religious literacy matters more than ever in America’s pluralistic context, and evangelicals have ...

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[Cfamily]Can Willow Creek Find Closure After Bill Hybels?
« Reply #1345 on: July 29, 2019, 07:07:39 AM »
Can Willow Creek Find Closure After Bill Hybels?

The elders: There is “a fracture in our church marked by disbelief, confusion, fear, and hurt.”

Battered. Weary. Divided.

That’s how elder Shoji Boldt described Willow Creek Community Church at a service of worship and reflection on Tuesday night on the church's main campus in suburban South Barrington.

“We are a house divided on whether we need to dig in and why can't we just move on?” Boldt said.

The service, perhaps the first led by the church's elders, was the latest attempt by one of the nation's largest and most influential evangelical megachurches to move past the controversy surrounding founding pastor Bill Hybels.

Churchgoers packed out the South Barrington campus' smaller Lakeside Auditorium.

Elder Steve Kang said some there wondered why they still were talking about events that had happened in the past. But, Kang said, they weren't just there to apologize for Hybels and the church's handling of the allegations against its former pastor, but also to reconcile with God and with each other.

“God is calling us to return to the gospel of reconciliation — to make the main thing the main thing,” he said.

Allegations of sexual misconduct against Hybels have dominated the news about Willow Creek since they were made public in a March 2018 report in the Chicago Tribune.

Attendance and giving have dropped across the church’s eight Chicago-area campuses. Its entire elder board and the two pastors tasked with leading the church after Hybels retired early — lead pastor Heather Larson and lead teaching pastor Steve Carter — all have stepped down.

The Willow Creek Association, its network of churches around the world, rebranded as the Global Leadership Network as US viewers of its flagship Global Leadership Summit dropped, too.

After initial denials ...

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[Cfamily]Your Peak Life Now: How to Face Career Decline with Grace and Faith
« Reply #1346 on: July 30, 2019, 07:28:10 AM »
Your Peak Life Now: How to Face Career Decline with Grace and Faith

The best way to prepare for our inevitable demise is a healthy focus on death, discipleship, and worship.

I visited my hometown about a decade after I graduated high school and stopped at the local greasy spoon joint for a nostalgic junk food meal. I was surprised to see one of the most popular guys in school, star gymnast Tim, behind the counter taking orders. I asked him how long he’d been working there and he shrugged. “Guess I never left high school.”

When I used to bemoan the fact that I wasn’t one of the popular kids, my grandmother would shake her head and tell me, “You don’t want to peak too early in life.” Running into Tim seemed to affirm her words. But as Arthur Brooks reminds us in a recent Atlantic essay titled “Your Professional Decline Is Coming (Much) Sooner Than You Think,” holding onto our peak achievements isn’t just for aging high school gymnasts. Many of us anchor our identity in accomplishments, but when our careers fade—which they inevitably do—our sense of self-worth fades with it and leaves us floundering.

Brooks, a social scientist and former president of the American Enterprise Institute, notes that many of us will have the most productive years of our work lives between ages 30 and 50. After that, we begin a long, slow slide into professional irrelevance. Certainly there are exceptions to the rule. However, while we can expect to make meaningful contributions in the workplace after age 50, we likely won’t be climbing the success ladder at the same rate we once did. And how we navigate that decline can make or break our retirement years.

The more your identity is linked to achievement, says Brooks, the greater the sense of loss when your career downshifts or ends. “Abundant evidence suggests that the waning of ability ...

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[Cfamily]Latino Immigrants Are Evangelizing America
« Reply #1347 on: July 31, 2019, 07:13:56 AM »
Latino Immigrants Are Evangelizing America

Despite financial and immigration hurdles, ministries led by first-generation pastors are more effective than the average church plant, according to a new LifeWay study.

First-generation immigrants are leading the Latino evangelical expansion in the US—drawing in more unchurched believers and new converts than the average church plant, despite having smaller congregations, less funding, and tensions surrounding US immigration policy.

The study—sponsored by the Send Institute at Wheaton College’s Billy Graham Center, funded by 12 denominations, and fielded by LifeWay Research—surveyed 218 Hispanic church plants along with “new ministry expressions” such as added campuses or church mergers. It found that 80 percent of their founding or lead pastors were born outside the US, as were two-thirds of their members on average.

The research was presented to 120 church planters and ministry leaders—half Latinos—from 65 denominations at a summit at Wheaton College on Tuesday. It comes as the increasing flow of Latino immigrants to the US has sparked heated policy debate. (Note: In this article, Hispanic refers to the churches surveyed by LifeWay, while Latino refers people of Latin American descent, including from Brazil and Haiti.)

The Latino population is growing, especially in the South, where 59 percent of the 218 new congregations surveyed are located (half are Southern Baptist). And the evangelical faith is growing with it.

New Hispanic ministries saw an average of 53 first-time professions of faith over their first four years, according to the survey. Though they are typically smaller than the average church plant, they have about the same number of new converts per year, making them “evangelistically more effective per capita,” said LifeWay Research executive director Scott McConnell.

A quarter of attendees in new Hispanic congregations ...

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[Cfamily]Remembering Rob Moll
« Reply #1348 on: August 01, 2019, 07:01:24 AM »
Remembering Rob Moll

Our friend and coworker had joyfully prepared for his tragic death.

Last week, my dear friend and former CT colleague Rob Moll died from a fall while hiking in Mount Rainier National Park. He was only 41 and leaves behind a wife, four young children, other family members, and many friends across a wide range of organizations.

After serving on CT’s staff as an editor for six years, he continued to write for us as he moved to World Vision U.S., Opportunity International, Eventide Funds, and other organizations. His interests, like those of all great journalists, were varied. He cared deeply about theology and wise investing, about scientific findings’ implications for Christian discipleship, and about effective large-scale strategies for economic development. In one of our recent conversations, he talked enthusiastically—with his unique, infectious laugh—about management theories as he sketched out what he hoped would be his third book: The Spiritual Disciplines of Your Career.

But it’s one interest of his I’ve been thinking a lot about this week. For years, Rob thought a lot about death. He volunteered as a hospice chaplain and took a part-time job at a funeral home even before he decided to write his first book, The Art of Dying. Why, I wondered, was such a young guy so interested in learning how to die well? Isn’t that something to think about after midlife? Few healthy and athletic 41-year-olds are as prepared for their death as Rob was. Few are so aware of their own mortality, their short time on earth, and the opportunity to seize our brief moment here with joy, curiosity, and rich relationships.

I am in deep grief over Rob’s death. Other than my wife, the person I’d most like to talk to about it is Rob himself. He’d have some ...

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[Cfamily]Both Purity Culture and Hook-Up Culture Failed Me
« Reply #1349 on: August 02, 2019, 07:02:52 AM »
Both Purity Culture and Hook-Up Culture Failed Me

Then I found church fellowship.

For evangelicals, the conversation about sexual purity in a libertine age is a perennial one. The purity culture of the ’90s, in particular, casts a long shadow and cycles through the public square on a regular basis. One of the architects of the movement, Joshua Harris, recently announced his departure from faith. As part of an ongoing “deconstruction process,” as he calls it, his rejection of Christian purity culture (a few years ago) was one of many steps that led—not causally but sequentially—to his rejection of faith itself.

The news left me feeling hollow. As I’ve watched Harris’ story unfold through the years, I’ve seen aspects of my own life mirrored in his. Yet while my story starts in a similar place, it travels in the opposite direction toward a reconstruction of faith. I, too, rejected purity culture but in its stead, I discovered a deeper commitment to the beautiful orthodoxy of Christian faith, a deeper appreciation of the doctrine of the Incarnation, and a deeper love of the church.

The story starts in my teen years. Along with a lot of other young men and women in evangelicalism, I was carried along by the tide of the purity movement and saw it as an expression of personal piety and devotion to faith. My actions, however, were almost entirely driven by future outcomes. In other words, I expected a marital relationship down the road, and I was afraid of ruining my chance at a perfect one. I took a vow to abstain from sex until marriage and wore a ring on the fourth finger of my left hand. When I started hanging out with a guy in high school, I refrained from holding hands with him, because I believed it was a short road from intertwining fingers to winding up in ...

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[Cfamily]Are We Morally Distressed by What is Taking Place on Our Border?
« Reply #1350 on: August 03, 2019, 07:00:52 AM »
Are We Morally Distressed by What is Taking Place on Our Border?

The UN Declaration of Human Rights guarantees everyone asylum protection, but moreover, Jesus commands us to go the extra mile.

Jesus was a baby born in the Middle East who became a refugee in Africa because of the rage of a mad king. As a migrant who took shelter in a foreign country, he understood the ambivalence of living in the shadows. I can’t think of a better way of lifting Jesus high than saving refugees who are in peril.

As an urban pastor and Harvard-trained ethicist, I am morally distressed about the way we are treating the most vulnerable in our country. How we treat the powerless compared with the way we treat the most powerful reflects both our present collective moral consciousness, and our future moral trajectory.

What happened to the light Lady Liberty shone so brightly from the shores of New York Harbor? It is a light that once lit up the whole world, as those fleeing violence, tyranny and religious persecution were embraced in her arms. Today, this light is under threat of being extinguished by a new vision that prefers walls to bridges.

As ambassadors of God’s kingdom, we are called to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God, as Micah compels us (6:8). What then can we do?

First, let’s resist relying on anecdotes, and work instead to get an accurate picture of the issues surrounding immigration.

G.K. Chesterton once remarked, “It isn't that they can't see the solution. It is that they can't see the problem.” Hasty conclusions are often the product of superficial analyses. As Chesterton notes, the problem can stem from a shallow understanding of a particular situation.

The president has declared a national emergency on the southern border, despite the fact that in 2017 his own State Department said no terrorists were found entering the U.S from the southern border. Similarly, ...

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Carol Swain Worked to Hold Politicians Accountable. Then She Felt God Call Her to Run.

The former Vanderbilt political science professor is in the race to become the first conservative African American to lead Nashville.

Carol Swain said she would never run for mayor of Nashville, but then a friend called her on Easter last year and addressed each of her objections.

So the retired Vanderbilt University political science and law professor prayed about entering the race.

“I got down on my knees that night and prayed,” she said in an interview with Christianity Today. “When I awakened, my mind was flooded with policy ideas for Nashville. So I jumped out of bed and started writing what became my blueprint for Nashville.”

Swain called her friend the next morning and told him she had changed her mind. She was in.

For Swain, change has been a recurring theme in her life. She went from low-income single mother to Ivy League academic, from Democrat to Republican media commentator, and from Jehovah’s Witness turned non-churchgoer to committed follower of Christ.

Now in her second run for mayor in as many years, change is a hallmark of Swain’s campaign. In an August 1 election, she hopes to become Nashville’s first African American mayor and its first conservative mayor in decades. Still, she wonders whether the Southern city’s Christians see her as the change agent some have long prayed for.

From poverty to Princeton

Swain, 65, grew up amid rural poverty in Virginia, with no indoor plumbing and just two beds to share with her 11 siblings. When it snowed, they skipped school for lack of money to buy boots. One year, she missed 80 days, Swain said in a profile published by the Nashville Tennessean.

She dropped out of school in eighth grade, married at 16, and became a mother before she was 20. Eventually, she found herself a twice-divorced mother of two who reported abuse in both marriages. Her third child died. ...

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