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[Cfamily]How Churches Are Taking Responsibility and Acting Carefully
« Reply #1704 on: July 17, 2020, 01:00:39 AM »

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How Churches Are Taking Responsibility and Acting Carefully

While its fashionable among the media to cite outliers who spurn the guidelines for their state, more churches by far are following the model of Calvary Chapel in both caring for their community and honoring those in authority.

In the wake of the NY Times article which was critical of churches in the ongoing pandemic, I thought it would be helpful to offer examples of churches that are going above and beyond both to minister to their people and communities and to honor the guidelines in their various states.

Many churches have stepped back from meeting even with social distancing guidelines, moving back to online-only services because of the more recent spikes in cases in their state. A prominent example below comes from the particularly thorny circumstances found in California, where cases are setting all sorts of records in the wrong direction.

Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa, California (CCCM) has gone to extraordinary measures to do just this. CCCM is the mother church of the entire Calvary Chapel movement that has spread the gospel through churches around the globe.

After I spoke Sunday at The Hour of Power, I headed over to Calvary Chapel to see my friend (and a student in our grad program), Brian Broderson. When I saw what they were doing, I asked if I could get some pictures and Thom Walker, from their staff, went around taking some for me.

Now, a few notes before we jump in. First, they followed all the guidelines and even went above and beyond. The guidelines changed this week and they will adjust accordingly, so this is an example from last week and it may help you plan accorordingly. Second, we will see spread through churches— as we have through stores, homes, schools, and more. However, in my view, churches need to work the hardest and plan better than anyone else to show how we love and care for our people.

The Plan

Here was their plan. Executive pastor Jordan Taylor described the church's response (see accompanying pictures). They ...

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More Pastors Agree With Andy Stanley: No Worship Services Until 2021

Now 5 percent of church leaders say they don’t expect to reopen for the rest of the year.

When churches first canceled in-person worship services in March, virtually no pastors expected their sanctuary doors to still be closed at the end of the year. Those projections are quickly changing, with megachurch pastor Andy Stanley announcing Monday that his Atlanta-area multi-site church will not resume in-person worship services until 2021 due to the coronavirus risk.

North Point Community Church was the first major congregation to push back reopening plans as far as next year, but Stanley is not alone. In a Barna Group survey conducted over the past week, 5 percent of pastors said they didn’t expect to reopen this year. Just two months ago, none of the respondents were thinking it would be long.

For much of the pandemic, church reopening plans have shifted month to month or week to week, depending on regulations and local outbreaks.

North Point, which gathered 38,000 attendees across locations during a typical pre-pandemic weekend, had announced in May plans for an August 9 reopening; when church leaders decided they would need to delay beyond that date, they opted to postpone for at least six months rather than wait and see what happens with the virus in the fall.

“Wait and see puts the organization at the mercy of circumstances. Wait and see is no way to lead,” Stanley told CT. “People want certainty. We cannot provide certainty. Clarity is the next best thing.”

In the video announcement sent out to his congregation, Stanley explained that even if North Point resumed services, only a small portion of the church could or would attend, and the church could not guarantee safety from the virus. Holding Sunday gatherings would also put leaders in the logistically difficult position of contact-tracing ...

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When the Cultural Climate Gets Political, How Does the Church Stay Missional?

America is caught up (and has been for quite some time) in a culture war of the kind of nation it will be or become.

America is caught up (and has been for quite some time) in a culture war of the kind of nation it will be or become. In other words, it is a fight over the future vision of American life (Hunter, Culture Wars).

Given the nature of this culture war, sides are created, and partisan politics are born. There are four characteristics to partisan politics that create a politically toxic environment. They are:

(1) Disagreement over the good life

(2) Demonization of the other

(3) Discouragement (and Disenchantment) among the masses, and

(4) Division (Disunity) in the country.

Politics, in its broadest sense, is the activity through which people make, preserve, and amend the general rules under which they live. In other words, as Aristotle described it, politics is the affairs of the city-state. The city-state has four dimensions of its affairs: 1) Community, 2) Constitution, 3) Commander (ruler), and 4) Cause.

Aristotle taught that the city-state comes into being for the sake of life but exists for the sake of the “good” life.

I put “” around good because that’s the ground where partisan politics and thus the culture wars in America are raged.

The Church’s Role in the American Culture Wars

What in the world is the church’s role in the American Culture Wars? I think this is the question the church has been trying to answer now for decades and will continue in the days and years ahead.

Does the church seek to “reclaim America” as some sort of a nostalgia campaign to restore America to some kind of Leave it to Beaver era? I hate to burst the bubble of those who think this way, but it “ain’t” happening. There are many reasons for this, but one in particular is that Evangelicalism ...

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[Cfamily]Atlanta Church Splits With SBC for Downplaying Racial Issues
« Reply #1707 on: July 20, 2020, 01:00:33 AM »
Atlanta Church Splits With SBC for Downplaying Racial Issues

Pastor John Onwuchekwa’s decision comes a year after Cornerstone Church received a $175K grant from the denomination to renovate its building.

For years, John Onwuchekwa was a rising star in the Southern Baptist Convention.

He attended a Southern Baptist seminary, spoke at the convention’s national pastors conference, was befriended by SBC leaders, started a new SBC church in the west end of Atlanta, and helped recruit other black pastors to do likewise.

Onwuchekwa was part of the family and destined for great things.

Then he wasn’t.

Last week, concerned about support for President Donald Trump among Southern Baptists and a lack of urgency in dealing with racial inequality, the pastor and his congregation decided it was time to leave.

“The SBC liked me,” he wrote, in announcing his decision to leave. “But I feel like they’ve failed people like me.”

In recent years, evangelical groups have invested heavily in helping start congregations among communities of color, hoping to reach new people at a time when the United States is becoming more ethnically diverse. More than half of new congregations started by the SBC’s North American Mission Board are diverse, according to an agency spokesman.

But the nation’s current political climate and national divides on matters of race may make it difficult for pastors like Onwuchekwa to ever feel truly at home. Yet financial ties to their denominations make it complicated to leave.

Onwuchekwa, who grew up in Houston, the son of Nigerian immigrants, said the SBC tried to make him feel welcome. But from the beginning, he had concerns.

“We got on the bus with skepticism, nine years ago,” he said.

In 2015, with help from several other churches, including an SBC congregation, and $18,000 of his own money, Onwuchekwa founded Cornerstone Church, a church plant in a predominantly ...

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[Cfamily]Interview: Calvary Chapel Reopens
« Reply #1708 on: July 21, 2020, 01:00:27 AM »
Interview: Calvary Chapel Reopens

I believe God is doing something in this moment that we can't see in the present, but we will see in due time.

Ed: Brian, your website declares, "We are open." Why are you and what does that mean for Calvary Chapel right now?

Brian: Following the governor's mandate in California, we shut down all in-person services for three months. When that lifted, we thought about how to do in-person services while recognizing most people at this point would prefer to meet online.

There were people who really wanted to get back to church, to be in a place where if they couldn't hug somebody, at least they could see another Christian and be with the family of God. With the restrictions and number limitations, we decided to accommodate as many as possible while creating a safe environment.

Jordan and Lance formulated a plan. We've been back about five or six weeks now. We navigate the changes as they come: the governor said no singing a couple of weeks ago, and a couple days ago we were not allowed to have indoor services. We have a large space, so now we are moving everything outdoors.

Ed: As you know, a lot of people aren't coming back. Maybe 15-20 percent will come. Why not just stay online?

Brian: We knew not everybody was going to come back, but some people did. We've got the energy, we've got the manpower, so let's do this, we decided. We felt like it was worth it. Maybe 20 percent or so of people have come back, maybe more if you consider those who come every other week. Everybody who has come back has been very thankful for the option.

Ed: How did you initially prepare?

Jordan: Six weeks ago, we planned to meet on our large practice football field. We saw the pictures of San Francisco parks with the spray-painted circles for social distancing. But officials told us no. So, our first iteration was to have a ...

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The Convergence of the Missio Dei and the Imago Dei: A Way to Understand Discipleship

If churches (and thus leaders) would understand discipleship in this way, I believe it would help reframe the insalubrious discipleship practices and programs seen today.

I’ve had many conversations over the years with people affiliated with the church where I’ve asked them, “Are you a Christian?” to which they would respond, “Yes, of course.” Following their admission, I would ask them, “How do you know that you are a Christian?”

This is where it got interesting. Overwhelmingly, the majority of the time people would respond, citing “Christian activity” like baptism, Bible reading, praying, attending church, and tithing.

Here’s the problem: none of these activities make one a Christian. Yet, it seems that the church groomed a generation to think that way—whether intentionally or unintentionally. Therefore, we are now dealing with a Christian generation who understands Christian maturation more as assembly-line activities (or doing) rather than identity-forming awareness (or becoming).

What makes someone a Christian—a believer or follower of Christ—is his or her faith in the Lord Jesus to save them from their sin and to become his or her King. The reason I know that I am a Christian is because of a conscious decision I made around 30 years ago to confess my sins, to turn away from my sin of living life according to Josh, and to turn to Jesus as my Savior and King.

That’s how I know I am a Christian. And it is who I am that now informs and gives shape and formation to what I do (or how I live).

I want to share two baselines for helping churches and believers understand a foundation of discipleship and then offer up a definition and description of discipleship in an effort to help shape the discipleship conversation in the church.

Humanity’s Shattered Image

Almost every single person reading this article ...

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[Cfamily]6 Reasons Christians Worldwide Thank God for J.I. Packer
« Reply #1710 on: July 23, 2020, 01:00:19 AM »
6 Reasons Christians Worldwide Thank God for J.I. Packer

As an evangelical leader in the Global South, I see how Packer brought credibility and renewal to churches in Sri Lanka and other nations.

Often when the church in the West commemorates the giants it produced, it forgets the contribution these leaders made to the church in the Global South, and the part they played in the renewal our churches are experiencing today.

We have just seen the passing away of another of those giants: J. I. Packer. This is a personal reflection on his impact on my life, and I believe on the lives of many Christians in the majority world:

1) Demonstrating the Intellectual Credibility of Evangelical Theology

My first encounter with Packer was when he visited Sri Lanka around 1970. I was a university student and he stayed in my parents’ home. The church in Sri Lanka at that time was in a situation of retreat. Numbers were going down. There were only a very few small, openly evangelical denominations. Christians were suffering from “post-colonial blues” with the accompanying embarrassment of being the religion of those who had ruled us. Liberal theology was the dominant position of most of the church’s hierarchy. We were made to feel that we had committed intellectual suicide because of our belief in the trustworthiness of scripture including miracles, eternal hell, and the absolute uniqueness of Christ.

During this critical time in our history, three Western evangelical scholars visited Sri Lanka: John Stott, Carl F. H. Henry, and Packer. Listening to them, we realized that there were brilliant scholars who still believed fully in the scriptures. We were encouraged in our resolve to remain committed to orthodox theology. Fifty years later, I still remember Packer’s talk on the inspiration of Scripture using a passage from Jeremiah.

2) Defending the Inerrancy of Scripture

I went for theological studies to the US ...

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Growing Young and Growing Old: The Legacies of John Lewis and J.I. Packer

The maturity of youth and the vibrancy of age both serve the true needs of our day.

“The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old.” Prov. 20:29

Within a span of 24 hours, we learned of the deaths of two titanic figures—civil rights leader and United States Congressman John Lewis, and evangelical theologian J.I. Packer. Both were old—Lewis was 80 and Packer 93—but upon reflection, I couldn’t help but see each, in my own imagination, at radically different periods in life. With Lewis, I saw the smiling, young civil rights worker in the mug shot after his arrest in Mississippi. With Packer, I saw the frail, wizened theologian ambling through a library, a stack of books precariously cradled in his arms.

Lewis and Packer were both young once. Any who paid attention likely recall images of each from their youth—Lewis at the 1963 March on Washington, or Packer as a young scholar at Oxford. What intrigued me, however, was how the first image in my mind was of Lewis as the strident and exuberant demonstrator and of Packer as the elderly sage. I could envision the old John Lewis to be sure, but I had to work my way there from the past. For Packer, it was the reverse. Some of this is due, no doubt, to the primary callings of each. Lewis was a thinker and a politician, but his primary mark was as an activist. Most of us came to know Packer by reading his books on the authority of the Bible, or knowing God, or on the Puritans, or by reading his columns in Christianity Today.

But there’s more to it.

Our knowledge of these two stalwarts comes to us in the guise of what popular culture would call an “origin story.” In the narrative version of Lewis’s life—at least as we know it—a signature moment ...

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Source: Growing Young and Growing Old: The Legacies of John Lewis and J.I. Packer

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