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Teacher’s Lawsuit Reflects Evangelical Educators’ Dilemma Over Transgender Pronouns

A fired French instructor says the school board’s policy didn’t allow for compromise.


When Virginia public school teacher Peter Vlaming cited his Christian faith as the reason he declined to reference a transgender student with new pronouns, a school administrator replied that his “personal religious beliefs end at the school door,” according to a lawsuit filed last week.


Now a state court will decide whether that’s true as it adjudicates the dispute over Vlaming’s termination, and evangelical educators across the country—who face similar dilemmas in their own classrooms and hallways—will be watching for the outcome.


This case represents a growing legal clash between Christian teachers and policies around transgender students, who have recently fought for greater rights and recognition in schools. (Over the summer, a transgender teen in Vlaming’s home state won his case against a school bathroom policy that barred him from using restrooms that correspond with his new gender identity.)


Opposing school administrators on principle has been “a massive spiritual gut-check,” Vlaming told Christianity Today.


“There was immense pressure to somehow go along [with school policy], but my conscience was clear,” he said in an email. “To just go along was to participate in something I knew was wrong. In moments like those you ask yourself, ‘Am I really going to live in accordance with what I know to be the truth?’ Not in my own strength. So, I asked God for the grace to carry whatever cross he gives me.”


Vlaming’s termination in December as a French teacher at West Point (Virginia) High School came after he agreed to call a transgender ninth-grader by a new male name but declined to use male pronouns to reference the student, according ...

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https://www.adflegal.org/detailspages/press-release-details/va-teacher-fired-for-declining-to-refer-to-female-student-with-male-pronouns-files-suit
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/09/us/virginia-transgender-bathroom-policy.html
https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/october/va-teacher-fired-transgender-pronouns-dilemma.html
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He Got High and Broke Into a Church. Months Later, He Was Baptized There.

An Arkansas Baptist church opted to forgive the man who caused $100,000 in damage.


February 28, 2019 was one of the worst days of 23-year-old Brenton Winn’s life. But it paved the way for one of the best.


Angry at God after he relapsed from an addiction to methamphetamines despite spending time at a faith-based recovery program, Winn knew nothing about Central Baptist Church of Conway, Arkansas, when he broke in that February evening.


High on drugs, Winn went on a rampage and destroyed $100,000 of church property, including laptops, cameras, and other electronics. He remembers little of that night, except that he felt desperate.


Six months later Winn stood in a baptismal pool at Central Baptist as Mike Lefler, the church’s associate pastor of ministries, celebrated the young man’s decision to follow Christ through baptism.


“As I’m starting to understand how God works, I’ve realized I didn’t pick the church that night. God picked me,” Winn said. “If it had been any other church, I think I’d be sitting in prison right now.”


Winn grew up in what he calls a “God-fearing” home. His mother and stepfather attended a Church of Christ congregation. At 14, he started experimenting with methamphetamines. By 16, he was taking drugs every day.


“Before I knew it, I had a full-blown drug addiction,” Winn said. “From the time I was 16 until a few months ago, my life was nothing but chaos, suicide attempts and brokenness.”


In 2016, Winn went into a two-week faith-based recovery program. For a year, he stayed off drugs and got a job at a local Lowe’s store. But in September of 2017, his cousin committed suicide. Devastated, he fell back into addiction. By last February, when he broke into the church, Winn was homeless and ...

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[Cfamily]Announcing the GC2 Summit on Leadership, Burnout, and Mental Health
« Reply #1426 on: October 17, 2019, 01:15:37 PM »
Announcing the GC2 Summit on Leadership, Burnout, and Mental Health

Join us December 6th as we face the hard truths and challenges of pastoral ministry.



Less than two years ago I wrote an article on The Problem of Suicide. In it, I stated:



 

Each year, 44,193 Americans die by suicide which, on average, amounts to 121 suicides per day. For many of us, these figures don’t feel too far off. We can picture the faces and remember the names of those in our own communities who’ve taken their own lives.

As a young pastor, I too came face to face with the harsh realities of suicide and the pain brought on by watching those I loved experience such deep suffering. Particularly, I remember a man named Jim in our congregation who was struggling with mental illness. For a while, he fought the good fight and did what he could to spend time in prayer and read Psalms to find comfort. Eventually, however, filled with despair, he took his own life.


 

I was devastated. At the time, I was unprepared, idealistic, and largely unsure how to handle the events that had just transpired in the church community I was shepherding. Unfortunately, I think many churches today fit that same description. They are trying to figure out how to help people struggling with mental illnesses and care for loved ones in the aftermath of loss but don’t really know quite what to do.



Before and since that time I have written often on mental illness among church leaders in particular, most recently upon the passing of Jarrid Wilson. Jarrid and I were friends. More and more we are hearing about church leaders struggling—in their leadership, in their personal lives, in their understanding of themselves and our world.


We are struggling emotionally, spiritually, and physically. This is in no small part due to growing awareness that the demands on pastors and church leaders today are outpacing the self care ...

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https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2017/november/problem-of-suicide-how-is-church-caring-for-those-impacted.html
https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/
https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2019/september/pastor-dies-by-suicide-three-things-we-all-need-to-know.html
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[Cfamily]Missionary Insights into the Mind of the Unchurched in the Heartland
« Reply #1427 on: October 18, 2019, 01:11:21 PM »
Missionary Insights into the Mind of the Unchurched in the Heartland

In Oklahoma, a person’s ideas about faith more likely come from media than from the Bible.


When missiologists study North America, they usually use research conducted on a national scale to reveal cultural trends that shape ministry strategy locally. But recently, research was conducted in the heartland state of Oklahoma that is revealing insights that might shed light on what the unchurched think in other places as well.


A survey of 1,000 Oklahomans was conducted online using a curated scientific sample of the state’s estimated 2.3 million unchurched. Respondents were asked a wide variety of questions, including queries about their religious participation, esoteric and spiritual beliefs, worldview paradigms, and demographics.


A clear picture of the state’s unchurched emerged and was developed into a book, Hidden Harvest: Discovering Oklahoma’s Unchurched. The book is free and available to anyone online as an e-book download. Here are a few key findings.


A Snapshot of Religious Participation in Oklahoma


When most people think of Oklahoma, they might be tempted to think that state has been reached, or is over-churched. With what seems like a church on every corner, surely almost everyone there is a believer. But research reveals a different reality.


Statewide totals from the survey clarifies the spiritual orientation of the state, revealing that only 40 percent of Oklahomans have regular involvement with church, 31 percent were formerly involved with church, 23 percent are unaffiliated with any religion, and approximately 6 percent of the state’s unchurched are inactive members of a religious group other than Christianity.


The survey segmented the responses and identified two main groups of unchurched: the Nones and the Dechurched. The two groups are defined by the research:


The Dechurched: People ...

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https://www.hiddenharvestresearch.com
https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2019/october/missionary-insights-into-mind-of-unchurched-in-heartland.html
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[Cfamily]Faith-Based Show ‘Vindication’ Displays Realities of Sexual Abuse
« Reply #1428 on: October 19, 2019, 01:06:55 PM »
Faith-Based Show ‘Vindication’ Displays Realities of Sexual Abuse

The Amazon Prime series is personal for its starring actress Emma Elle Roberts.


Editor’s note: There are a few spoilers ahead for the Amazon Prime show Vindication.


In a time when the American church is grappling with a steady flow of sexual abuse allegations, the co-star of a new faith-based TV show says she relied heavily on personal experience and her faith to approach the topic with gravitas.


Independently produced Amazon Prime crime drama series Vindication premiered late this summer and revolves around skeptical police investigator Gary Travis, portrayed by Breaking Bad alum Todd Terry.


The show begins as a toned-down police procedural, though the detective’s family life becomes more integral with each consecutive episode. Family tensions hit a climax in episode eight when Travis’s estranged college-aged daughter Katie (Emma Elle Roberts) has returned home to reveal her pregnancy. Viewers learn along with Travis that Katie had been raped.


Actress Emma Elle Roberts shared that the scene mirrors her own life. She was violated as a teen, in events that still have a ripple effect a decade later.


“I had a really hard experience where I was taken advantage of when I was about 17,” Roberts said in a phone interview from Los Angeles. “To be able to retell that story and know where it’s going, it was actually really cathartic for me.”


While she appeared in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay and Insurgent, Roberts has often chosen roles that reflect her evangelical beliefs. In the recent pro-life film Unplanned, her character stands outside a local Planned Parenthood facility to pray for those entering the clinic.


Now her latest role depicts redemption—with a personal slant. “There’s a lot that I relate to with Katie,” she said. “In Revelation, ...

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[Cfamily]The Early Church Thrived Amid Secularism and Shows How We Can, Too
« Reply #1429 on: October 20, 2019, 01:03:33 PM »
The Early Church Thrived Amid Secularism and Shows How We Can, Too

The pre-Christendom church managed to avoid both isolationism and accommodationism. Their model gives us a map for post-Christendom challenges.


I attended seminary in the 1970s. I had to take several classes in the history of Christianity, though in those days it was called “church history.” My professor taught the course largely as a history of Christian thought. We studied orthodoxy and heresy in the early Christian period, monastic and scholastic theology in the medieval period, the Reformation controversies of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the evangelical awakenings of the eighteenth century, and the liberal theology of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well as its major twentieth-century critics (Barth and Bonhoeffer).


In general, we learned church history from a Christendom perspective. Questions of correct belief loomed largest, at least as I remember it. We studied it as a kind of history of the Christian family, which was our family.


In the beginning of my teaching career, I taught the history of Christianity in much the same way. My primary interest was Reformation theology and the evangelical awakenings, though I never totally neglected to tell the larger story. Students seemed interested enough, at least for a while.


But then students began to change, and their interests shifted. They started to question the attention to doctrinal precision that emerged during the Reformation period. They wondered about the emotion of the evangelical awakenings. Doctrinal faith seemed too abstract and narrow, emotive faith too fragile and insecure.


I was teaching a Christendom course, but my students were asking for something different. I discovered that they needed something different because they were (and still are) growing up in a world very different from the one that existed only a generation ago.


Together we—professor and students—found ...

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[Cfamily]Why Minority Churches Matter in the Multiethnic Church Discussion
« Reply #1430 on: October 21, 2019, 01:12:22 PM »
Why Minority Churches Matter in the Multiethnic Church Discussion

Minority churches can't be decimated in the name of building multiethnic churches.


When you say, “majority culture church” where I live, that means predominantly white—a majority white/Anglo/Caucasian cultural context. In that context, many churches are (rightly) trying to be more multicultural.


A multiethnic church is, usually, the best expression (and picture) of the kingdom of God and that vision of “every tongue, tribe, and nation” in the Book of Revelation. The multiethnic church matters.


Actaully, I will join over a thousand other people at the Mosaix Multiethnic Church conference in Dallas later this year. And, we’ve already announced an academic parntershp cohort with the Mosaix team.


In other words, we believe in the multiethnic church.


Minority Church


What about the minority church? Should the historic black church, the Hmong language church, and the Latino congregation all pursue that multiethnic expression of church?


Maybe.


In this article, ‘majority churches’ refer to American churches that are primarily white, as Caucasians make up the cultural majority in America. Minority churches are those whose population is primarily made up of people of non-white backgrounds.


So, if my church has to diversify, how come the black church does not?


Well, it may. And it is great if it does. But we also have to consider why it exists.


I once had an African American church leader say to me, “The only place I get to be myself is when I’m at my African American church on Sunday. I’ve got to put up with you white people all week. Leave me alone on Sunday.” Now, this leader and I are good friends, and he was (mostly) joking with me, but the deeper question at the core of his words struck me: How do we encourage and develop churches that look like a ...

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Source: Why Minority Churches Matter in the Multiethnic Church Discussion

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https://www.mosaix2019.com/
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https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2019/october/whats-so-great-about-multiethnic-minority-churches.html
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[Cfamily]Was Christ Tempted in Every Way?
« Reply #1431 on: October 22, 2019, 01:32:02 PM »
Was Christ Tempted in Every Way?

Making sense of Jesus’ humanity in light of fleshly temptations.


According to the writer to the Hebrews, “we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” (Heb. 4:15). The implications of this statement for Christian theology down through the centuries have been profound. Even today, many a sermon begins by reassuring the congregation that Jesus knows what it is like to undergo temptations as we do because he was like us in every way, sin excepted.


But how are we understand this claim? The Gospels only record temptations that are hard for many of us to relate to: an appeal for Jesus to jump off a building, for instance, or a prayer to avoid the cross. Seemingly absent are the more pedestrian temptations Christians undergo daily, temptations toward cheating, overindulgence, pride, corrupt sexuality, and the like. How should the assurance from Hebrews be of help to Christians today?


The Jesus of the New Testament Gospels was certainly a human being. Human beings are tempted. So he was tempted. That much is like us. Yet Christ is not merely human as we are. For the traditional Christian claim is that he is God incarnate. As Charles Wesley’s Christmas carol puts it, “veiled in flesh the Godhead see! Hail the incarnate Deity!”


But here is the rub: Scripture also says God cannot be tempted. “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone” (James 1:13). So we have a dilemma. On the one hand, Jesus is like us in every way, being tempted as we are yet without sin. On the other hand, God is incapable of being tempted. Yet Jesus is both fully divine and fully human. ...

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