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4 Ways Muslims’ Religious Freedom Fight Now Sounds Familiar to Evangelicals

The two faiths have endured similar legal backlash—underscoring the importance of advocating for religious freedom for all.

Religious freedom for Muslims in America has become a significant issue in recent years, as Asma Uddin details in her book When Islam Is Not a Religion. We have seen campaigns in various communities to block the construction of mosques, and spikes in vandalism and harassment against Muslims. (Read CT’s interview with Uddin here.)

The campaigns rest on claims that American Muslims incubate terrorism or plan to impose Sharia law, and that globally “Islam hates us,” as President Trump has said. Evangelical Christians help lead these campaigns. Anti-mosque rallies have featured sermons by pastors and hymn singing by demonstrators. Polls show white evangelicals “are more likely than any other Christian group to have low respect for Muslims,” reports Fuller Seminary professor Matthew Kaemingk.

I have written on religious liberty and advocated it in courts and legislatures for 25 years. The majority of my cases have involved Christian individuals or organizations. I want to explain why evangelical Christians have a stake in protecting the religious freedom of Muslims.

Above all, Christians should affirm everyone’s religious freedom as an aspect of human dignity: Every soul must be free to seek and respond to God. To affirm that, you do not have to say that all beliefs are true. You simply affirm that true faith can come only from God convicting the heart, not from government pressure. And the prerogative to judge souls belongs to God, not government.

Religious freedom for everyone rests also in the second great commandment, to love our neighbors as ourselves. We must treat others as we would wish to be treated. Jesus’s moral call is to identify with the neighbor.

In this instance, the Golden ...

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Source: 4 Ways Muslims’ Religious Freedom Fight Now Sounds Familiar to Evangelicals

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[Cfamily]One of My Biggest Recurring Mistakes in Ministry
« Reply #1393 on: September 14, 2019, 01:28:21 PM »
One of My Biggest Recurring Mistakes in Ministry

Maybe my story and honesty will help you avoid making the same mistakes.

About 25 years ago the folks at Leadership Network invited a group of “Young Leaders” to a gathering in Glen Eyrie, Colorado. The goal was that we would learn from each other, and Leadership Network would gather these lessons and share them with the church at large.

The motivation was pure, but the initial results were disastrous. They had done this same kind of gathering with older leaders and pastors and found it very fruitful. The gathering of younger leaders seemed to get stuck because most of us were arrogant, self-interested, and not quick to listen to others (we were young).

It became clear that this group was not going to humbly share from a place of transparency and generosity.

Near the end of the first day, the primary facilitator from Leadership Network tossed out the agenda and decided to ask us one surprising question: Would you be willing to share a big mistake or mess-up in your ministry?

For the next three hours, leader after leader shared honest stories of failed plans, flubbed efforts, and personal mistakes along the way. We laughed until tears flowed. The pretense and self-aggrandizement melted away.

We became friends. As a matter of fact, three of the leaders I met at that gathering remain my friends to this day.

As stories were shared, we began to learn from each other’s failings and struggles. We started to trust each other. We got past the insecure facades and saw people who were trying to serve Jesus and his church.

In that same spirit, let me share one of my biggest shortcomings in my 30 years of ministry. It is a pattern I have identified in the past year, and when I look backward, I can see that I have made the same mistake over and over again. Maybe my story and honesty will help you ...

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Source: One of My Biggest Recurring Mistakes in Ministry

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[Cfamily]Pastor and Mental Health Advocate Jarrid Wilson Dies by Suicide
« Reply #1394 on: September 15, 2019, 01:14:39 PM »
Pastor and Mental Health Advocate Jarrid Wilson Dies by Suicide

Before his death, he tweeted, “Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure suicidal thoughts.”

Jarrid Wilson, a California church leader, author, and mental health advocate, died by suicide Monday evening at age 30.

Wilson, known as a passionate preacher, most recently was an associate pastor at megachurch Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California. A co-founder of the mental health nonprofit Anthem of Hope, Wilson was open about his own depression, often posting on his social media accounts about his battles with the mental illness.

“At a time like this, there are just no words,” said Harvest senior pastor Greg Laurie.

“Sometimes people may think that as pastors or spiritual leaders we are somehow above the pain and struggles of everyday people. We are the ones who are supposed to have all the answers. But we do not,” Laurie said.

“At the end of the day, pastors are just people who need to reach out to God for his help and strength, each and every day,” he added.

His wife, Julianne Wilson, posted a photo tribute of her husband on Instagram. The photo slideshow shows him fishing “in his happy place.” She described her husband as “loving, giving, kind-hearted, encouraging, handsome, hilarious.”

“No more pain, my jerry, no more struggle. You are made complete and you are finally free,” she wrote in the caption.

“Suicide doesn’t get the last word. I won’t let it. You always said “Hope Gets the last word. Jesus does,” she added.

News of Wilson’s passing followed a series of tweets the young pastor posted throughout the day Monday that dealt with suicide, including a post encouraging followers to remember that even though loving Jesus doesn’t cure illnesses such as depression, PTSD or anxiety, Jesus does ...

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Source: Pastor and Mental Health Advocate Jarrid Wilson Dies by Suicide

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[Cfamily]A Pastor Dies By Suicide: Three Things We All Need to Know
« Reply #1395 on: September 16, 2019, 01:04:26 PM »
A Pastor Dies By Suicide: Three Things We All Need to Know

As many of us learned of Jarrid Wilson’s suicide, I’m reminded that pastors (and Christians) are not immune, and being honest about that is good for all of us.

A pastor died by suicide.

That’s a sentence that might cause us to look twice.

We don’t expect pastors to take their own lives. They help people with their lives.

They talk about new life. They don’t end their own.

And yet another tragedy happened. Yet another well-known pastor—Jarrid Wilson—died by suicide.

Every suicide shocks us, but when a well-known pastor (or any Christian public figure) takes his or her own life, it causes questions to arise.

Perhaps it should. Perhaps in some ways it brings us back to the reality of who pastors are and what they do. Perhaps the tragedy is compounded even more by the fact that so many of us are hearing about it on World Suicide Prevention Day.

World Suicide Prevention Day

When I woke up this morning, I hadn't actually planned to write an article on suicide. I debated it, but decided simply to tweet later in the day about this important day.

But then I read about my friend Jarrid, a pastor and mental health advocate. So instead, I want to share some thoughts that, I hope, might be of some encouragement to pastors and church leaders.

Let me first say that many people have written many helpful things about suicide today, and they're worthy of our reading and our attention. Some of them are by Christian leaders, and I often look to Rick and Kay Warren for what they might share. (See their comments here.)

I’ve written about the church and suicide before as well.

But there are countless resources out there written from outside the Christian community as well.

Regrettably, one of the realities of the evangelical community is our hesitancy to look outside of our community for help. But truth be told—and I can attest from this very reality in my own extended ...

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Source: A Pastor Dies By Suicide: Three Things We All Need to Know

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[Cfamily]Four Ways New Hispanic Churches Are Challenging Church Planting in America
« Reply #1396 on: September 17, 2019, 01:08:06 PM »
Four Ways New Hispanic Churches Are Challenging Church Planting in America

We are witnessing the de-Europeanization of American Christianity.

I live in Aurora, IL, located 40 miles west of Chicago, where the population hovers around 200,000 people. SmartAsset recently named it 2019’s Best City for Living the American Dream, where rankings are based on home-buying and the economic mobility of residents.[i]

So then it should come as no shock that Aurora has a high concentration of immigrants, where 42 percent of residents are Hispanic or Latino. In Aurora and other cities all across North America, the “Americanization” of immigrant communities, particularly Hispanic, has created tremendous opportunity not just for personal economic advancement, but also for greater kingdom advancement.

On July 23, 2019, the results from the Hispanic Church Planting Research were released at the Church Planting Leadership Fellowship. The project was commissioned by the Send Institute through a partnership of multiple denominations—with LifeWay Research fielding the survey—to better understand the state of new churches started by or started for Hispanic Americans.

The vast majority of those who participated in the survey (offered in both Spanish and English) were Hispanic immigrant pastors and church planters.

Christianity Today covered the preliminary findings in their article, Latino Immigrants Are Evangelizing America. However, the title of LifeWay Research’s press release captures succinctly the primary finding: New Hispanic Churches Often Do More With Less. The major reveal was this:


Hispanic immigrant church plants, compared to the national average, receive less outside financial support yet experience similar church growth.

Scott McConnell, Executive Director of LifeWay Research, says it this way, “Though new Hispanic church works start out ...

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Source: Four Ways New Hispanic Churches Are Challenging Church Planting in America

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[Cfamily]A Reproducible Lifestyle and the De-emphasis of Clergy Can Lead to Movement
« Reply #1397 on: September 18, 2019, 01:20:55 PM »
A Reproducible Lifestyle and the De-emphasis of Clergy Can Lead to Movement

Two things leaders can do to keep Jesus the center of a missional movement.

In the years leading up to prohibition in America, opinions on alcohol changed dramatically.

Within years, people went from enjoying alcohol to arguing that it should be completely banned. Small, anti-alcohol groups grew in popularity and shared their ideas with others.

As anti-alcohol groups reached more people, opinions changed among the people, and prohibition was eventually passed by the government.

American change their mind slowly at first— and then it accelerates quickly. Take a look at this article (and the chart) “This is How Fast America Changes Its Mind.” Really— take a look. I’ll wait.

This is what happens with cultural movements: It starts with something small and ends with a tipping point that leads to change. As this change starts to occur, smaller groups of people begin to attract others, and more people respond to the movement.

Gospel Ministry

In some ways, this can be true of gospel ministry.

We often see people choose to follow Jesus the more they are surrounded by Christians who impact them in new ways. But there is one huge difference between cultural movements and gospel movements: Gospel movements are not about the leader. They are about Jesus.

Think about it. In Scripture, there is an emphasis on the failures of Jesus’ disciples and church leaders. It is not a coincidence that we learn so much about Peter’s stupidity and David’s foolishness. In fact, our exposure to the mistakes of leaders emphasizes the fact that Jesus is truly at the center of the gospel movement.

So, if leaders are not at the center of these movements, what is our role in a gospel movement? I think two things are key— reproducible disciples and de-emphasized clergy.

First, our words and ...

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Source: A Reproducible Lifestyle and the De-emphasis of Clergy Can Lead to Movement

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[Cfamily]Finding Grace in the Sunrise
« Reply #1398 on: September 19, 2019, 01:02:22 PM »
Finding Grace in the Sunrise

God’s people have often practiced sacred remembering. So should we.

One morning I boarded an early flight to Florida for a music gig. I stashed my guitar overhead, claimed a window seat, and turned up some ambient music in my headphones. My mind scrolled through the usual anxieties, like old tapes on repeat. From a west-facing window I found myself ruminating over some troubling circumstances that were pending resolution. My forehead rested on the window, surveying the gray, shadowed landscape.

It was dark as we ascended through heavy clouds. Most of the window shades were closed in the cabin. The light slowly began to change. A little time passed, then someone on the left side of the plane opened their shade across the aisle from me. The morning sun shot a blaze of pink light across my face. The sunlight lifted my spirits.

I looked back to see the view out the west-side window. It remained predominately dark. I had been so wrapped up in my tiny scope of vision that I hadn’t realized the sun had crept over the horizon. While one side of the aircraft was glowing with light, the other was still in the shadows. Perspective has a way of shifting our experience.

On any given day, I could make a list of my anxieties, but the morning light shining on the east side of that airplane reminds me that I could just as easily make a list of the good gifts that God has given me this week, this month, or this year. The people of God have long practiced this sacred remembering. We call it “practice” because we are forgetful people and we have a limited view of the whole picture.

In the words of the beloved hymn: “Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy help I’ve come, / And I hope by thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home.”

This second verse of “Come Thou Fount of ...

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Source: Finding Grace in the Sunrise

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[Cfamily]‘Evangelical’ Isn’t Code for White and Republican
« Reply #1399 on: September 21, 2019, 01:01:40 PM »
‘Evangelical’ Isn’t Code for White and Republican

The movement is richer and more diverse than media portrayals suggest.

There was a time when the term evangelical was a badge of honor, not a cause for embarrassment. In 1976, Newsweek magazine proclaimed “the year of the evangelical,” heralding the new prominence of theologically conservative Protestants with the cover story “Born Again!” At the time, evangelical churches were expanding rapidly, and the movement, which was still politically and theologically diverse, seemed well positioned not only for continued influence but also for a positive effect on the nation’s morals. With a newly elected evangelical Democrat ready to enter the White House—and with evangelicals of both parties embracing racial diversity, antipoverty programs, and a host of intellectual and artistic endeavors—evangelicalism hadn’t yet acquired its pejorative connotations.

Four decades later, this state of affairs is difficult to imagine. The political behavior, sexual peccadilloes, flamboyant posturing, and harsh rhetoric from some of America’s most prominent evangelicals have tarnished the movement’s reputation. For some, the nadir occurred in 2016, when 81 percent of white evangelical voters cast ballots for Donald Trump, with some Christians attempting to excuse his racially charged and sexually crude behavior.

Now that much of the public equates the term evangelical with the Republican Party and conservative politics, is rehabilitation possible? Perhaps, as Thomas Kidd suggests in Who Is an Evangelical? The History of a Movement in Crisis, it helps to step back and enlarge our field of vision. Seen only from the perspective of the 2016 election, alongside the internal disputes and stagnating membership numbers that have accompanied its increasingly negative ...

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Source: ‘Evangelical’ Isn’t Code for White and Republican

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