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Through the Eyes of a Woman: What I’ve Learned Over the Past 15 Years on Gender, Leadership, and the Church, Part 1

Our faith leads men and women to know and grow in the knowledge of Christ.

I remember the conversation like it was yesterday.

I was two weeks into my new job working at an evangelical organization and I was sitting down with my boss. Up to this point, my background was in the secular marketplace—I was a journalist working at a newspaper and holding a number of additional jobs. I had come to faith only three years earlier and was thrilled about the new opportunities I was being given.

The conversation began like this: “Laurie, you are a very smart person and we are very excited you are here as we believe you have much to contribute.”

Great! I thought.

“But I have to warn you that you have four things working against you—you’re young, you’re blond, you’re short, and you’re female.”

What kind of pep talk was this? I remember thinking.

“These are things that won’t necessarily play in your favor,” he continued.

Being new at the job and relatively new to the evangelical world, I didn’t know how to respond. His comments, which at the time made me concerned as to what I had gotten myself into, were, in hindsight, my boss’s way of preparing me for some realities which lay ahead.

By the end of that first year, I had indeed experienced what I can only call a “secondary” status in my new world. I quickly learned that if I was to excel in my position, I would need to take on a humble and quiet leadership that elevated others and minimized my own successes and skills.

Subtly, I began to believe that these different traits—young, blond (well, that might have been slightly manufactured), short, and female—were flaws I had to endure.

As I finished up graduate school, I was struck with this reality as well when ...

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Source: Through the Eyes of a Woman: What I’ve Learned Over the Past 15 Years on Gender, Leadership, and the Church, Part 1

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[Cfamily]Shaming Can't Fix Racism. But Guilt Can.
« Reply #1713 on: July 26, 2020, 01:00:15 AM »
Shaming Can't Fix Racism. But Guilt Can.

Guilt is about action with a clear path to redemption. Shame leaves us stuck in our sin.

In the days following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, a swift substitution occurred on my social media feeds. Out went updates from my loved ones’ lives. In came reshares from strangers’ accounts, posts about racial disparities in policing, and about racism in America more broadly.

Initially, I was thrilled to see this. I’ve written on policing, including its racial dynamics, for the better part of a decade. Whenever enthusiasm for changing our criminal justice system has ebbed, I’ve asked why and wondered if white Americans will ever make a durable commitment to reform. Maybe this time was different, and that commitment had occurred.

But then the conversation shifted. Informed by sources like Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility, which topped bestseller lists all summer, the posts developed a tic of shame. One popular post particularly struck me. The image itself calls for nuance and discretion in grappling with racism. Then there’s the caption. White people “can never ‘get it right’ in this conversation,” it says. “White people are the oppressors and benefit from oppression itself—for us to get racial justice ‘right’ is, by definition of our whiteness, impossible.”

I started noticing this framing all over. Well-intended white Christians newly in pursuit of racial justice, adopting the language of our national conversation on race, began to speak of racism as an irreparable sin. They talked of racism as a stain on the souls of white people that cannot be washed away. Though rarely so blunt as that caption, much of the content I encountered reduced down to basically: “White people like you and me are inherently, ...

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Source: Shaming Can't Fix Racism. But Guilt Can.

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[Cfamily]Bible Reading Drops During Social Distancing
« Reply #1714 on: July 27, 2020, 01:00:20 AM »
Bible Reading Drops During Social Distancing

Daily engagement had already been declining, but worsened during the pandemic, according to the annual State of the Bible report.

The COVID-19 pandemic is shifting Americans’ Bible engagement, with many who are socially distanced from their spiritual communities turning to Scripture less and those who have lost loved ones to the virus reading it more.

Between early 2019 and 2020, the percentage of US adults who say they use the Bible daily dropped from 14 percent to 9 percent, according to the State of the Bible 2020 report released today by the Barna Group and the American Bible Society (ABS).

A decrease of 5 percentage points in a single year was unprecedented in the annual survey’s 10-year history; between 2011 and 2019, daily Bible readers had basically held steady at an average of 13.7 percent of the population.

But the decline continued during the initial months of the coronavirus pandemic, and by June, the percentage of daily Bible users had dropped to 8.5 percent.

Amid the pandemic, a larger decline occurred among the Americans who say their choices and relationships are shaped by the Bible, a group ABS calls “Bible engaged.” In January, 27.8 percent of American adults were Bible engaged. By June, after months of quarantine and church closures, that figure was down to 22.6 percent.

“This study supports the idea that the church plays a significant role in benefitting people’s wellbeing and Scripture engagement,” said John Farquhar Plake, ABS director of ministry intelligence. “To increase Scripture engagement, we must increase relational connections with one another through the church. The pandemic—and now this survey—have shown that when relational church engagement goes up, so does Scripture engagement, but when it goes down, Scripture engagement drops with it.”

Overall, about a fifth ...

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Source: Bible Reading Drops During Social Distancing

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Through the Eyes of a Woman: What I’ve Learned Over the Past 15 Years on Gender, Leadership, and the Church, Part 2

As a woman who has felt disappointment more than once in the church, my hope nevertheless remains strong.

In Part 1, I talked about my own journey of entering the evangelical world as a female. Sure, there have been challenges, but moreso, I’ve learned a few lessons that I hope will encourage women to live into their calling and encourage male leaders to provide space for that to happen.

And here’s the thing: as long as women are exposed to a secondary status in our evangelical subcultures, it is impossible for all of us to experience the sense of authentic love we are all meant to have towards another. The prejudice I experienced in those early days in the evangelical world were disheartening. They impacted my leadership and my faith in real ways.

This may sound negative. But it’s not.

In fact, that secondary status that I have felt in countless ways over the years has made the face of Christ clearer to me. It’s made his mission in my life more focused and his leadership style more attainable. Because as I’ve drawn near to him with the hard questions like What is it about this evangelical bubble I entered? I’ve heard his answers—some of which have shocked me; others which have inspired me.

Let me share just a few key observations gleaned over the past 15 years.

First, a true leader in Christ’s church is marked by servanthood.

All four Gospels scream of the servant heart of Jesus. As cornerstone and head, his model and his alone is the only one to look towards. Any leadership style built on a foundation of ego and self-promotion and grandeur is antithetical to the call of the shepherds of the church.

Only a long and thoughtful assessment of the difficult questions such as “What do I get up for in the morning?” “What is my ultimate goal?” and “What do I want ...

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Source: Through the Eyes of a Woman: What I’ve Learned Over the Past 15 Years on Gender, Leadership, and the Church, Part 2

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The Growth of Our Multiracial and Multiethnic Churches: An Honest Assessment

In other words, when it comes to churches being part of the solution to racial injustice instead of an ongoing problem, NPR would have us believe that the glass remains half empty.

Last Friday (July 17, 2020), NPR’s All Things Considered, aired an 8-minute feature titled, “Multiracial Congregations May Not Bridge Racial Divide.” The narration begins, “As America turns its attention to the work of overcoming racial injustice the role of churches comes into focus.”

Fair enough.

Yet the general tone and direction of Tom Gjelten’s piece is set in the next sentence:


“Christianity at times has accommodated racism rather than opposing it and some efforts of churches to promote reconciliation have run into obstacles.”

In other words, when it comes to churches being part of the solution to racial injustice, not an ongoing problem, NPR would have us believe that the glass remains half empty.

Of course, some on Twitter were quick to advance the negativity.

In response, I replied: “Too bad: interviews/articles like this seem bent to discredit as well as to ignore some 20+ years of progress to date. It’s unrealistic to expect an 18yo to be fully mature. So many strong and healthy multiethnic works ignored as well as good pastors actually doing the work. #smh”

It’s no secret. Throughout American history, some who have called themselves Christians (not necessarily Christianity) as well as churches they’ve attended have been more inclined to perpetuate racism rather than oppose it. And yes, of course… There are challenges to building and leading a healthy multiethnic church. Indeed, I’ve written an entire book on how to overcome the obstacles.

Nevertheless, while Gjelten’s piece is informative it is woefully incomplete. Among other things, throughout the entire 8-minute segment he:

  • Cites the latest research without providing full context

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Source: The Growth of Our Multiracial and Multiethnic Churches: An Honest Assessment

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Hagia Sophia’s Muslim Prayers Evoke Ottoman Treatment of Armenians

As Turkish president Erdo?an joins hundreds in celebration, Christians in the diaspora mourn their lost homeland and cultural heritage.

Declared a mosque in principle, Hagia Sophia is now a mosque in practice.

Following his decree earlier this month, Turkish President Recep Erdoğan’s joined a coronavirus-limited 500 worshipers to perform Friday prayers in the sixth-century Byzantine basilica, underneath the covered frescoes of Jesus and the Virgin Mary.

Hundreds more gathered outside.

International condemnation resounded after the Turkish Council of State ruled to revert the UNESCO World Heritage Site back to its Islamic status. Conquered in 1453 by Ottoman sultan Mehmed II, the massive church was turned into a museum by the founder of the modern Turkish republic, Kamal Ataturk, in 1934.

Underreported in much of the criticism was a wider complaint.

“The action of the Turkish government evokes heavy memories on the desecration and destruction of holy sites of the Armenian people and other Christian nations by the Ottoman government for centuries,” said Garegin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians.

There are an estimated 11 million Armenians worldwide, including 3 million in their modern nation-state.

Representing the diaspora from the Holy See of Cilicia, in Lebanon, Catholicos Aram I went into more detail.

“Soon after the Armenian Genocide, Turkey confiscated thousands of Armenian churches and transformed them into bars, coffee shops, and public parks,” he said, “ignoring the reactions and appeals of the international community.”

As Erdoğan is doing again now—and not just to the Hagia Sophia.

Turkey has assured the frescoes will be uncovered for all visitors (3.7 million last year) outside of prayer times—and now without a museum entry fee. More than 400 other churches continue to ...

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Source: Hagia Sophia’s Muslim Prayers Evoke Ottoman Treatment of Armenians

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[Cfamily]Churches Plan to Host Students During Remote Learning
« Reply #1718 on: July 31, 2020, 01:00:28 AM »
Churches Plan to Host Students During Remote Learning

In some communities, empty buildings and eager youth ministers offer safe places and supervision for families facing school closures.

Remote learning will be the rule for schoolchildren in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, for at least nine weeks this fall as the city tries to stem a surging coronavirus caseload.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll all be staying home. Some could be in church instead.

That’s the vision at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, one of several churches in Winston-Salem hoping to host remote-learning sites for small groups of socially distanced kids.

If the bishop approves the idea, as many as 30 students would gather daily—spread across three buildings at St. Timothy’s campus—in the mornings.

Church volunteers would enforce health protocols, tutor, and lead prayers to begin and end the day.

“We know in our faith that it’s not good for us to be alone,” said St. Timothy’s Rector, Steven Rice, in a reference to the line in Genesis. “Some socialization among people of their own age will be a great benefit (to the students). And if both parents have to work, at least half the day is better than nothing.”

From Connecticut to Hawaii, congregations are seeking ways to support families still smarting from last spring’s sudden adjustment to home-based learning during the pandemic lockdown. They’re exploring how underutilized church buildings might be put to a new use that allows education to continue while freeing up parents to work and attend to other responsibilities.

Proposals range from hosting students during online classes to providing study hall space for them to work independently.

In such efforts, youth ministry experts see a promising opportunity.

“This is a way of reimagining children’s and youth ministry during a pandemic in a really ...

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Source: Churches Plan to Host Students During Remote Learning

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‘The Blessing’ Sung Around the World: 100 Virtual Choirs Spread Worship Anthem

How a familiar Old Testament benediction became a viral hit during the pandemic.

Just a couple of weeks before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the US, Kari Jobe held a songwriting session with her husband, Cody Carnes, and Elevation Worship’s Steven Furtick and Chris Brown. Together, they set to music one of the Bible’s best-known benedictions, Numbers 6:24–26:


The Lord bless you

and keep you;

the Lord make his face shine on you

and be gracious to you;

the Lord turn his face toward you

and give you peace.

When they introduced “The Blessing” at an Elevation Church campus near Charlotte, North Carolina, on March 1, Jobe told worshipers that the lyrics represent “the heart of the Father over us as his kids” and invited them to receive the song as “a blessing over you and your family and your children.”

They had no idea how many Christians would want to hear and sing out those words as the pandemic spread in the months to come. In just five months, “The Blessing” has become a chart-topping hit and viral sensation covered by more than 100 virtual choirs around the globe.

“Because this song is based on Scripture, the message is timeless, and we wanted to release it as quick as we could knowing the effect it could have on people ’s hearts and spirits immediately, as it did ours,” Jobe told The Christian Beat. “God knew it would be something we could hold onto during a season of our lives that ’s full of uncertainties and unknowns.”

The 12-minute video of the  live performance at Elevation premiered on March 6 and has over 21 million views. One of those early viewers was Alan Hannah, assistant lead pastor at Allegheny Center Alliance Church in Pittsburgh, who helped organize the first virtual choir to ...

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Source: ‘The Blessing’ Sung Around the World: 100 Virtual Choirs Spread Worship Anthem

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