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[Cfamily]Your Church Might Be A Country Club If… (Part 2)
« Reply #1552 on: February 09, 2020, 12:00:09 AM »

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Your Church Might Be A Country Club If… (Part 2)

Viewing the church or behaving as if the church is a country club distorts both the identity and the mission of the church.

In my previous post, I began outlining four identifiers that your church might be more like a country club than a church. Once again, I’m not knocking country club memberships. If you are a member of one, I give you permission to sing along with Travis Tritt—loud and proud—“I’m a member of a country club….”

But I fear that many believers view the church as a country club. Or at the very least, they practically behave as if the church was indeed a country club. Regardless, viewing the church or behaving as if the church is a country club distorts both the identity and the mission of the church.

Knowing the characteristics of a country club can help protect the church from becoming or being viewed as such.

Here are the remaining four identifiers that your church might be more of a country club that members pay for rather than the church that Jesus died for.

Fifth, your church might be a country club if your members worry about public disruption.

One of the benefits of being a member of a country club is that you don’t typically have to worry about the public infringing upon your property. In other words, the members of the club can enjoy the exclusivity of the club’s amenities.

They don’t have to vie for tee times, tables in the dining room, the pool, or the tennis courts. In short, they can enjoy their club with minimal crowd or public disruption.

Many churches, and church members, don’t like crowds—they don’t like newer people coming in and disrupting the way things are. They want their same parking spot for both their car and their rear. In addition, church members may fear that more newer people means more newer things.

In other words, if the public ...

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My Name Was on a Federal Most-Wanted List. Now It’s Written in the Book of Life.

When the authorities caught up with my financial shenanigans, I went on the run. But Christ caught up with me.

On September 13, 2013, I sat alone on the bunk in my cell, eating a cold egg sandwich at the federal correctional institution in Ray Brook, New York, a medium-security prison in the High Peaks region of the Adirondack Mountains near Lake Placid. It had been my home for 18 years.

I walked out of the prison reception building feeling almost numb. I was nervous waiting for my daughter Jessica and my sister Donna, who would drive me six hours to a halfway house in Boston. There was a bittersweet reunion in the parking lot, filled with hugging and crying.

I was 69 and had served my time without parole for serious financial crimes, catching the longest sentence ever for a white-collar crime in Massachusetts. Money had become my god.

Living the High Life

Growing up in East Boston, I never realized how poor my family was. My mother needed a job after Dad died of lung cancer when I was nine. She supported us four children working in a candy factory and earning $1.10 an hour.

Following high school, I joined the U.S. Air Force, serving four years and getting married along the way. A budding talent for finance led me to major in business at Holyoke Community College in Holyoke, Massachusetts; and then in accounting at American International College (AIC) in Springfield, Massachusetts. After graduating from AIC, I worked for an insurance company before joining the Polaroid Employees’ Federal Credit Union as controller. That decision spelled the beginning of the end.

In 1980, I helped launch the Digital Equipment Corporation’s Employees’ Federal Credit Union (DCU) as president and CEO. The business prospered, expanding to 20 branches, and I began investing in single-family rental homes and the stock market. Living the high ...

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[Cfamily]Loving Enemies Is Hard at Post-Impeachment Prayer Breakfast
« Reply #1554 on: February 11, 2020, 12:00:10 AM »
Loving Enemies Is Hard at Post-Impeachment Prayer Breakfast

Trump seems skeptical about Jesus' mandate.

Inside the International Ballroom at the Washington Hilton, the mood at the National Prayer Breakfast was half church service, half political rally.

The program began with a spirited rendition of Hank William’s “I Saw the Light,” led by members of the House of Representatives prayer breakfast group, followed by prayers from co-hosts Rep. John Moolenaar, a Republican from Michigan, and Rep. Tom Souzzi, a Democrat from New York.

Their prayers and opening remarks echoed the larger theme of the prayer breakfast this year, which centered on Jesus’s commandment to love your enemies.

The event’s keynote speaker, Harvard University professor and author Arthur Brooks urged those in attendance not to let their disagreements over politics lead to contempt. Brooks recalled speaking to a group of conservative activists and telling them their political opponents were neither evil nor stupid.

That line, he said, did not get much applause.

He went on to talk about being raised by Christian parents in Seattle who had progressive politics. His parents were neither evil nor stupid, he said. And he challenged listeners to remember their loved ones who have different points of view—and to stand up for those who would ridicule them.

Brooks also said Jesus asked his followers to love their enemies—not just tolerate them. Putting that into practice, he admitted, is hard. Brooks asked the crowd, “How many of you love somebody with whom you disagree politically?”

Many people in the audience raised their hands. Trump, sitting quietly a few feet away from Brooks, did not.

When Brooks finished his speech on mending political division by “loving your enemies,” the president, his voice hoarse, ...

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[Cfamily]27 Countries Join International Religious Freedom Alliance
« Reply #1555 on: February 12, 2020, 12:00:14 AM »
27 Countries Join International Religious Freedom Alliance

Poland will host the next IRF ministerial in Warsaw this summer.

WASHINGTON (RNS) — The United States has been joined by 26 other countries in a new International Religious Freedom Alliance that seeks to reduce religious persecution across the globe.

“Together, we say that freedom of religion or belief is not a Western ideal, but truly the bedrock of societies,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo yesterday at a dinner at the US State Department launching the alliance that will involve senior representatives of each government.

The alliance’s first meeting fell on the eve of the National Prayer Breakfast, which gathers international religious and diplomatic figures once a year to an event chaired by members of Congress and organized by the International Foundation, a Christian organization also known as The Family or The Fellowship.

Poland, one country in the alliance, announced in a joint statement with the State Department that the next Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom will be held July 14–16 in Warsaw.

“Building on the successes of the 2018 and 2019 ministerials hosted by the United States, the 2020 ministerial will allow countries to share different approaches, debate varying perspectives in the spirit of coherence and complementarity, and address challenges threatening the freedom of religion or belief,” the statement reads.

The two countries said participants at the Warsaw meeting will address “promoting inclusive dialogue to mobilize action and increase awareness regarding the scale of persecution against religion or belief worldwide.”

Besides Poland and the United States, the other founding countries of the International Religious Freedom Alliance are: Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, ...

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Source: 27 Countries Join International Religious Freedom Alliance

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[Cfamily]Acts 29 CEO Removed Amid ‘Accusations of Abusive Leadership’
« Reply #1556 on: February 13, 2020, 12:00:11 AM »
Acts 29 CEO Removed Amid  ‘Accusations of Abusive Leadership’

Steve Timmis was acclaimed for his model of close church community. But former members claim that inside The Crowded House, he resorted to bullying and control.

As CEO of Acts 29, Steve Timmis was an effective and respected leader. During his seven years at the helm, the church planting network rebounded from the fallout around its co-founder Mark Driscoll and expanded from 300 mostly US churches to 800 around the world.A gray-haired British pastor with sharp Bible teaching and deep passion for mission, Timmis was known for the model of intensive gospel community developed at his 120-person church in the middle of England, The Crowded House. He emphasized “ordinary life with gospel intentionality.”But while his international reputation grew, some who knew Timmis in his ordinary life—who prayed, fellowshipped, and evangelized with him in living rooms, offices, and pubs—saw a different side.

“People were and are afraid of Steve Timmis,” said Andy Stovell, a former elder who led alongside him for 14 years at The Crowded House in Sheffield.

Fifteen people who served under Timmis described to Christianity Today a pattern of spiritual abuse through bullying and intimidation, overbearing demands in the name of mission and discipline, rejection of critical feedback, and an expectation of unconditional loyalty.

In a letter to elders when he left in 2016, Stovell said, “I am not persuaded by the explanation that this is a case of strong leadership inevitably leading to some feathers being ruffled. People have been bruised by Steve’s style. People have become cowed due to it.”

Two weeks ago, internal reports raised similar concerns about Timmis’s leadership in Acts 29, and the board voted on Monday to remove him as CEO. Acts 29 president Matt Chandler announced the news in a video sent out to the network the following day, saying, “For ...

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Source: Acts 29 CEO Removed Amid  ‘Accusations of Abusive Leadership’

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[Cfamily]SBC Recalls ‘Year of Waking Up’ Since Abuse Investigation
« Reply #1557 on: February 14, 2020, 12:00:09 AM »
SBC Recalls ‘Year of Waking Up’ Since Abuse Investigation

Attention turns to a committee that could identify offending churches, a new measure put in place following the landmark Houston Chronicle series.

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has experienced unprecedented attention and pressure over its response to sexual abuse in the year following the debut of the Houston Chronicle’s “Abuse of Faith” series, which last February reported hundreds of sexual abuse cases within the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

“It has been a year of waking up,” SBC president J. D. Greear told Christianity Today. “Advocates and journalists have faithfully filled the role of helping us to see things we can’t unsee.”

Greear said there is a “growing awareness within our denomination that the evangelical church has many areas for growth in how we prevent and care for abuse.”

SBC leaders and victims’ advocates agree there’s a lot more waking up to do. People inside and outside the denomination are waiting to see if measures enacted at last year’s annual meeting—including a newly reconstituted committee to review reports of churches that have mishandled abuse—will be effective. The new credentials committee is slated to meet and share from its findings later this month.

The SBC had addressed sexual abuse previously. The convention’s website had featured a page with “resources for sexual abuse prevention,” and the denominational publication SBC LIFE produced a special report in 2008 on protecting children from sexual abuse. As president, Greear launched a Sexual Abuse Advisory Study in 2018 in conjunction with the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), and that same year SBC Executive Committee chairman Mike Stone said combating abuse would be an emphasis of his.

But the Chronicle’s reporting spurred a heightened ...

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Source: SBC Recalls ‘Year of Waking Up’ Since Abuse Investigation

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[Cfamily]Billie Eilish Can Help Us Understand Teenage Anxiety
« Reply #1558 on: February 15, 2020, 12:00:11 AM »
Billie Eilish Can Help Us Understand Teenage Anxiety

The Grammy-award winning teen’s dark music can help us have necessary conversations with our children.

Before Billie Eilish swept the Grammys last month, she had largely flown under the radar of anyone over the age of 21. But at (barely) 18 years old, Eilish made history as the youngest solo artist to win album of the year. That might not raise eyebrows if she hadn’t also swept four other Grammy categories: best new artist, song of the year, record of the year, and best pop vocal album.

Onstage at the awards, Eilish repeatedly suggested that other nominees deserved these honors more. In one of several surprise acceptance speeches made with Eilish, her brother, songwriter and producer Finneas flatly offered, “We didn’t think it would win anything ever. We wrote an album about depression, and suicidal thoughts, and climate change, and being the bad guy—whatever that means—and we stand up here confused and grateful.”

If you’ve actually listened to a song or two, you might be confused, too. Eilish’s music is unusual. Adults are kind of weirded out by it. We don’t get it. And that’s precisely the point.

It’s also why teenagers love her.

In 2019 she raked in accolades as Rolling Stone’s Teen of the Year, MTV Video Music Award’s Best New Artist, and two Teen Music Awards. While adults arguably run all of the awards machines, it’s Eilish’s young fan base who fuel her success. They’re captivated by the way she breaks most female pop-star norms.

My 17-year-old daughter was unsurprised that Eilish swept the awards, calling her music “different from everything you hear on the radio.” Which is also part of the deal—Eilish’s music largely became popular before broad radio play, in the teen-driven platforms adults often miss. ...

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Source: Billie Eilish Can Help Us Understand Teenage Anxiety

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Google, Tyson, and Target Rank as Top Corporations for Religious Inclusion

List highlights the minority of Fortune 100 companies that include faith in diversity initiatives.

Karen Diefendorf starts her days at Tyson Foods by checking in with the human resources and nursing staff at the Springdale, Arkansas, facility. After getting any personnel updates and taking care of emails, she puts on personal protective equipment and hardhat affixed with her title: CHAPLAIN.

Diefendorf, who comes out of the independent Christian Churches and Churches of Christ movement, wore the chaplain badge during her 24-year career in the Army before she began her work at Tyson, where she now does daily rounds to meet with employees. It’s so noisy on the production floor that she relies on a thumbs up, thumbs down system to see who might need counsel, prayer, or guidance.

“If I get a thumb sideways, thumbs down, for sure I’m going to meet them in the break room and see what that’s about,” said Diefendorf, a graduate of Lincoln Christian College and Lincoln Christian Seminary. “If I need more than the 15-minute break or have multiple people I need to see, any chaplain is free to go to that person’s supervisor and work a time to get them off the line.”

Diefendorf leads a team of 100 chaplains—mostly Christian—who provide spiritual support to 122,000 Tyson employees at nearly 400 locations. Tyson’s chaplain program is unique among big companies, and it earned the food processing giant the No. 2 spot on the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation (RFBF)’s religious inclusion rankings, released last month.

HR experts consider chaplaincy a way for companies to see and support their employees as “whole people,” to signal that they don’t have to pretend to leave their hurt at home when they come to work. Done right, these programs—and ...

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Source: Google, Tyson, and Target Rank as Top Corporations for Religious Inclusion

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