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Does Your Church Talk About Prison?
« Reply #280 on: August 26, 2016, 07:01:12 AM »

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Does Your Church Talk About Prison?

The disparities in America's criminal justice system find an echo in which churches do, and don't, discuss the issue.


In a study of 1,000 mainline and evangelical pastors conducted by LifeWay Research this year, only 26 percent said they had addressed the country’s incarceration rates in the past six months.


Four out of five pastors (83%) said they had visited a correctional facility, and about three out of four pastors whose churches averaged 250 or more attendees reported that individual members were ministering to those in correctional facilities (80%), the families of the incarcerated (73%), and those coming home (78%). But these same churches were far less likely to have formal programs: Just over half (53%) said a team from their church worked in correctional facilities. About 1 in 4 churches had a formal ministry to families of incarcerated people (24%) and people leaving correctional facilities (22%).


Responses varied dramatically by race. One third of African American pastors (32%) reported mentioning mass incarceration in the last month, compared with only 7 percent of whites. White pastors were most likely to say that they had never addressed it in a sermon (41%).


That’s partially because of their audience: About one third of African American pastors (29%) estimated that 10 percent or more of their church’s attendees currently had an incarcerated family member. Fewer than 1 in 10 white pastors (8%) said the same.


About one third of churches overall said that no one in their congregation had been previously incarcerated. That was more likely to be true for majority-white churches (33%) than majority-black churches (19%).


Overall, however, Karen Swanson, director of the Institute for Prison Ministries at the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, thinks these latter numbers are too high. Instead, it’s likely ...

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http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/september/does-your-church-talk-about-prison.html
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CFamily

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A Splintered Boko Haram Becomes an Even Greater Threat to Christians
« Reply #281 on: August 27, 2016, 07:08:36 AM »
A Splintered Boko Haram Becomes an Even Greater Threat to Christians

The plight of the 218 kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls remains uncertain after a recent split in the world’s deadliest terrorist group.


A fracturing Boko Haram isn’t good news for the 218 mostly Christian schoolgirls who have been held captive since 2014.


In fact, militants killed 10 and kidnapped 13 more women and children from the primarily Christian village of Chibok on Saturday—the same place the girls are from. And a new video of the girls seems to signal new pressure on the Nigerian-based radical Islamist group.


Outside pressure comes from Nigeria’s military, which cracked down on Boko Haram’s territory in the northeast after the country elected Muhammadu Buhari as president in 2015. Buhari promised to dismantle Boko Haram within a year; although he hasn’t done so, military pressure on the terrorist group has increased and its territory has shrunk.


Buhari has also been working on his relationship with the United States, which stepped up military help to the area. Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Buhari in Nigeria this week; security concerns are on the agenda.


Boko Haram also faces internal fractioning. Earlier this month, ISIS backed a new leader for them. (Boko Haram transferred its loyalty from al Qaeda to ISIS last year.)


Abu Musab al Barawi, who is the son of Boko Haram founder Mohammed Yusuf, was reportedly chosen because he is less violent toward Muslims than his predecessor. He immediately promised to narrow the scope of attacks to Christians.


The militants will handle Christians by “booby-trapping and blowing up every church that we are able to reach, and killing all of those who we find from the citizens of the cross,” al Barawi reportedly told an Islamic newspaper.


But Abubakar Shekau, the previous head of Boko Haram, hasn’t stepped aside. In a new video, he called al Barnawi an infidel who ...

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http://www.christianitytoday.com/images/72507.jpg?w=460
https://www.yahoo.com/news/boko-haram-kills-10-abducts-13-near-chibok-195102712.html
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/31/buhari-crackdown-nigeria-fails-boko-haram
http://africanarguments.org/2016/08/05/what-led-is-to-announce-a-new-boko-haram-leader-here-are-two-clues-from-its-communications/
http://www.voanews.com/a/us-top-diplomat-kerry-visits-nigeria-amid-warming-relations/3474502.html
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-36973354
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-31784538
http://bigstory.ap.org/article/ba0559a21dcc42d0bf279f3aa199fa39/islamic-state-group-announces-new-boko-haram-leader
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CFamily

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The Pressure Of The Pastorate
« Reply #282 on: August 28, 2016, 07:11:23 AM »
The Pressure Of The Pastorate

In order to truly flourish, pastors need authentic and safe friendships.


Wow. I spoke with another friend and megachurch pastor who was removed from his church last month. As a leadership coach and pastor to pastors, it breaks my heart and causes me to lose sleep every time. What happened? Nothing really. Life. The gravitational pull. Pressure. Pride. That’s what happened.


At the end of the day, the ministry model so common in our day tends to lend itself for this to happen. One thing is sure...this is us, except by the grace of God. This is us, if we’re not careful. This is some of us if we keep going the way we’re going. To finish well, we will need to fight against the gravitational pull, and beat our bodies into submission.


This is our call: “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:27).


The #1 mistake I see pastors make is living in isolation. We don’t mean to, but we just get busy, overcommitted, overextended, exhausted, and sometimes even numb. After a long week of ministry, many of us just want to go home and binge on Netflix or self-medicate in some other way.


What’s missing in the lives of many megachurch pastors I know is genuine friendship, camaraderie, koinonia, and intimacy. We are missing relationships that are FOR us and WITH us, not just BEHIND us or UNDER us.


Jesus is our greatest example. Why did He pick the 12 apostles? Mark 3:14 tells us: “And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach…”


Even Jesus knew He needed people with Him and for Him. What do pastors really need? If there was one value I would list above all others it’s this: friends. Not acquaintances, ...

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The Louisiana Flooding: On The Ground With Relief Agencies And How You Can Get Involved

What's happening and how you can help.


Ed: How is your organization responding to the disaster in Louisiana right now?


Ross Johnson, Director of Disaster Response, Lutheran Church Missouri Synod:


Right now we're partnering with Lutheran congregations across Louisiana, particularly in Baton Rouge.


The first phase of our disaster response is to partner with local congregations that are going to be doing muck-out and dealing with immediate needs of people who have been affected by the flooding.


We're anticipating the first eight to ten weeks we're going to be bringing volunteer teams in. We already have volunteers who going to do the muck-out, tearing out the flooring and drywall. We're also giving out flood buckets and emergencies supplies. We have elders at our churches and congregational pastors who are doing spiritual care during the immediate phase.


We like to blend hands-on help along with spiritual care. I think that's one thing that makes a church-based response slightly different than government-based responses is we don't only help out with temporal needs, but we also help out with spiritual needs.


We find that oftentimes when somebody has gone through a traumatic event in their life and has enormous economic loss or has been displaced, that they also need spiritual care. We have elders and spiritual care leaders within our congregation that are visiting as well as mucking-out homes.


David Melber, Vice President, Send Relief (North American Mission Board):


Right now we are doing a lot of assessing. The expanse of the flooding has impacted somewhere near 100,000 homes, and the estimates are running right now between 250,000 and 350,000 people. It is a disaster of epic proportions in the fact that so many of the people who had their homes ...

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Source: The Louisiana Flooding: On The Ground With Relief Agencies And How You Can Get Involved

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http://www.lcms.org/disaster
https://www.namb.net/about/staff-directory/send-relief
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A Lament for Louisiana After the Floods
« Reply #284 on: August 30, 2016, 07:02:27 AM »
A Lament for Louisiana After the Floods

As I grieve the tragedy in my home state, I’ve found solace in a surprising place.


I was born and raised in southern Louisiana, and flooding was a fact of life in our low-slung neighborhood. A summer cloudburst could put us on the five o’clock news in New Orleans, and we’d see our neighbors swimming in the drainage ditches and floating in pirogues down the street. Because I was a kid, this was more exciting than dangerous. School would be cancelled, and my parents would make daiquiris. I used to dream of waking up underwater, the house rocking gently, the window covered in fishing net. Those dreams were never unpleasant.


Now I’m grown with my own kids, and I live 1,000 miles away in Northern Michigan. I watched this summer’s historic flood unfold on my laptop screen. But this wasn’t just a routine summer storm in a neighborhood prone to filling up like a bowl. This was a freak weather event called a monsoon depression, and it dumped unprecedented amounts of precipitation across the south of my home state, killing at least 13 and displacing tens of thousands. I watched in horror as one of my closest friends posted video updates to Facebook. Mild concerns about whether the canal behind her house would hold quickly became frantic expressions of disbelief as the water filled her house and she boarded a truck driven by the National Guard.


“Just pray, y’all,” she signed off, her voice shaking. So I, dry and safe in my living room up north, lit my candles and prayed.


I didn’t leave Louisiana for any significant amount of time until I was well into adulthood. Where I come from, you grow up to live around the corner from your momma, but my momma died when I was 14. At 26, I moved to Pittsburgh for graduate school. I might as well have moved to the moon.


Those first ...

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http://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2016/august/lament-for-louisiana.html
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The Louisiana Flooding: On The Ground With Relief Agencies And Why Christians Are Uniquely Suited To Help

Why Christians are uniquely suited to help in times of disaster.


Ed: Why are Christians uniquely suited to help those impacted by the flooding?


Ross Johnson, Director of Disaster Response, Lutheran Church Missouri Synod: As Christians and congregations reach out, we're able to take care of spiritual and physical needs. FEMA and other organizations are very helpful with temporal needs, but they don’t offer spiritual care like local churches can. Congregations make a great hub of mercy and human care in their community. No one knows there community better than the local church or pastor, especially when a disaster happens and the majority of responders are from the outside, not always knowing the community’s history or culture.


Congregations were there before the tragedy and hopefully will be there for decades after the tragedy. After the first few weeks of the disaster, the congregation remains a hub of ministry, mercy, and outreach for the long term.


And it’s only the Church that has the voice of Christ which brings the peace that surpasses all understanding, whether it is to Christians or non-Christians. We have a phrase that we say: “Proclaiming the gospel even in the wake of a disaster."


Whatever opportunity that we have, we use it to share the good news for the hope that lies within. Our hope is not found in the things of this world that break and are destroyed, but rather, it's in the spiritual peace with God. I think the greatest disaster that one could go through is to die outside of the one true Christian faith.


David Melber, Vice President, Send Relief (North American Mission Board): In addition to the assessments, mud-outs, and feeding, we have a lot of chaplains here who will be ultimately ministering to the people who have lost everything they ...

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Source: The Louisiana Flooding: On The Ground With Relief Agencies And Why Christians Are Uniquely Suited To Help

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http://www.christianitytoday.com/images/72526.jpg?w=460
http://www.lcms.org/disaster
http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2016/august/louisiana-flooding-on-ground-with-relief-agencies-and-why-c.html
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The Louisiana Flooding, Part 3: On The Ground With Relief Agencies And How You Can Get Involved

More on what's happening and how you can help.


Ed: What is your organization doing right now to help those impacted by the flooding in Louisiana?


Tim Haas, Manager of U.S. Disaster Relief, Samaritan’s Purse: Samaritan’s Purse is leading volunteer teams to mud-out homes that have been flooded in this deadly event. That work includes taking out furniture, flooring, sheetrock, soaked insulation, so that the house can eventually dry out. Currently, we have two base locations of operation: one in Baton Rouge, the other in Lafayette. Our sites are designed to work 100 or more volunteers a day per site. We will be working for several weeks, even months from now to continue to give relief assistance to homeowners.


Kevin Watterson, Response Director, ReachGlobal (EFCA): We are currently gutting damaged homes, gutting and cleaning up a church in order to host volunteer groups, and collecting needed items to help families rebuild their homes when gutting is complete. We are mobilizing local churches in the area to serve with us until we get more volunteer teams from throughout the country.


Gary Fairchild, Director of Global Response, CAMA (the relief and development arm of the U.S. Alliance): CAMA has partnered with the Alliance Southern District to coordinate and assist in recovery efforts. Two small Alliance church plants are located in the disaster area: Burning Heart Fellowship in Greenwell Springs (near Baton Rouge) and New Hope Community Church in Gretna (just outside New Orleans). Both buildings were spared, but more than half of the folks they know in their communities experienced some sort of flooding.


Ed: What is the philosophy of disaster relief within your organization, and how long have you been engaging in relief efforts?


Haas: Samaritan’s Purse has been ...

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Source: The Louisiana Flooding, Part 3: On The Ground With Relief Agencies And How You Can Get Involved

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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/76pNgVUq6Bo/louisiana-flooding-part-3-on-ground-with-relief-agencies-an.html
http://www.christianitytoday.com/images/72564.jpg?w=460
https://www.samaritanspurse.org/article/serving-as-christs-hands-and-feet-in-flooded-louisiana/
https://go.efca.org/ministries/reachglobal
http://camaservices.org/
http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2016/august/louisiana-flooding-part-3-on-ground-with-relief-agencies-an.html
http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?a=76pNgVUq6Bo:NjB6BwYk3pU:yIl2AUoC8zA
http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?d=yIl2AUoC8zA
http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?a=76pNgVUq6Bo:NjB6BwYk3pU:F7zBnMyn0Lo
http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?i=76pNgVUq6Bo:NjB6BwYk3pU:F7zBnMyn0Lo
http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?a=76pNgVUq6Bo:NjB6BwYk3pU:V_sGLiPBpWU
http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?i=76pNgVUq6Bo:NjB6BwYk3pU:V_sGLiPBpWU
http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?a=76pNgVUq6Bo:NjB6BwYk3pU:qj6IDK7rITs
http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?d=qj6IDK7rITs
http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?a=76pNgVUq6Bo:NjB6BwYk3pU:gIN9vFwOqvQ
http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?i=76pNgVUq6Bo:NjB6BwYk3pU:gIN9vFwOqvQ
http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?a=76pNgVUq6Bo:NjB6BwYk3pU:bcOpcFrp8Mo
http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?d=bcOpcFrp8Mo
http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~4/76pNgVUq6Bo
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Teens Read Bible More During the School Year
« Reply #287 on: September 02, 2016, 07:00:25 AM »
Teens Read Bible More During the School Year

The latest study from Barna also shows how many teens think the Bible offers hope, and whether their house rules are influenced by Scripture.


Most practicing Protestant teenagers—those who identify as Protestant, attend church at least once a month, and say their faith is very important in their lives—who read their Bible do so the same amount all year long (73%), much like all Bible-reading American teens (69%).


Of those who are left, 18 percent of practicing Protestant teens read more during the school year; only half that amount read more during the unstructured summer (9%). Those numbers echo across all teens (21% read more during school, 10% in the summer) and non-practicing Christian teens (19% read more in the school year, 10% in the summer).


Those findings come from the second annual poll of how more than 1,000 teens ages 13 to 17 interact with the Bible, commissioned by the American Bible Society and conducted by the Barna Group in May.


Though there are fewer of them (16%, compared to 20% in 2015), practicing Protestant teens look a lot like they did last year. Slightly fewer said the Bible contains everything needed for a meaningful life (85%, down from 88%) and said they read their Bible every day (12%, down from 16%). A few more said they had read a liturgical text in the last week (14%, up from 10%).


The survey also asked brand-new questions, including whether teens saw their parents reading the Bible. Half of practicing Protestants (49%) said their parents read Scripture regularly; another 42 percent said sometimes.


Teens whose parents read the Bible regularly are more likely to read it themselves, Barna told CT. Among teens who say their parents read the Bible regularly or sometimes, 45 percent report reading from the Bible at least once a week, compared to just 5 percent of teens whose parents do not read it regularly.


Of the teens who read ...

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Source: Teens Read Bible More During the School Year

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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/UhwCNjYvQhQ/teens-read-bible-more-during-school-year.html
http://www.christianitytoday.com/images/72642.jpg?w=460
http://www.americanbible.org/features/teen-state-of-the-bible
http://www.americanbible.org/uploads/content/Teens_State_of_the_Bible_2015_Report.pdf
http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2016/august/teens-read-bible-more-during-school-year.html
http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?a=UhwCNjYvQhQ:72KvYv8RBag:yIl2AUoC8zA
http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?d=yIl2AUoC8zA
http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?a=UhwCNjYvQhQ:72KvYv8RBag:F7zBnMyn0Lo
http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?i=UhwCNjYvQhQ:72KvYv8RBag:F7zBnMyn0Lo
http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?a=UhwCNjYvQhQ:72KvYv8RBag:V_sGLiPBpWU
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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?a=UhwCNjYvQhQ:72KvYv8RBag:qj6IDK7rITs
http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?d=qj6IDK7rITs
http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?a=UhwCNjYvQhQ:72KvYv8RBag:gIN9vFwOqvQ
http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?i=UhwCNjYvQhQ:72KvYv8RBag:gIN9vFwOqvQ
http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?a=UhwCNjYvQhQ:72KvYv8RBag:bcOpcFrp8Mo
http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?d=bcOpcFrp8Mo
http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~4/UhwCNjYvQhQ
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