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[Cfamily]Weekend Edition - September 8, 2016
« Reply #304 on: September 16, 2016, 07:11:55 AM »

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Weekend Edition - September 8, 2016

Rural America and Trump, evangelism, small groups, a couple of creative church signs, and more.

I Overlooked the Rural Poor—Then Trump Came Along – Tish Harrison Warren

Keep Your Mouth Shut! – Lon Allison

White male leadership persists at evangelical ministries – Steve Rabey

3 Reasons Your Small Group Is Not the Church – Sam Allberry

Earlier This Week On The Exchange

Are You And Your Church Acting Like Sheep? An Invitation To Correctional Ministry

Eight Barriers To Multiplication, Part 1

36 Years Of Ministry: One-on-One With Erwin Lutzer

Recovering Prayer And Discernment In Our Agendas And Strategies

Church Signs

Is this a case of sensory overload?

And for those of us who don’t chase Pokemon, the first line is enough:

Ah yes, another take on Ephesians 6:10-18:

Thanks to Brian Hotrum, Anthony Stephens, and John Chambers for this week’s church sign. As always, you can tweet your church signs to @EdStetzer.

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Commentary: We’re So Unashamed We Wrote a Book on It. Three of Them, Actually

Christians still need a better understanding of the complexity of shame.

Our age is characterized by what psychotherapist Joseph Burgo called an “anti-shame zeitgeist.” The beloved researcher Brené Brown wrote two No. 1 New York Times bestsellers decrying shame, and her TED Talk, “The Power of Vulnerability,” has been watched more than 26 million times.

This year, the anti-shame revolution is front and center in Christian publishing, with three new Christian books all titled Unashamed. Go to your local Christian bookstore and ask for a copy of Unashamed, and you may hear, “Which one? Lecrae, Heather Davis Nelson, or Christine Caine? Take your pick.”

There is no shame in sharing a title, but this coincidence points to a marketing reality: becoming proudly unashamed is all the rage now.

Lecrae’s Unashamed is a memoir, and as a fan of his music, I couldn’t put it down. (My six-year-old’s most requested musical artists are Elsa and Lecrae.) Lecrae’s story is compelling and deals with different facets of shame. As a young boy, he confronted deep shame over his father’s abandonment; he also faced sexual abuse. Throughout the book, he returns to the theme of not quite fitting in—whether it be because he was an arty kid in a rough neighborhood or because he is now a successful Christian rapper who neither fits neatly into mainstream Christian music nor mainstream rap.

Caine’s Unashamed follows the Australian teacher and speaker’s two previous titles, Undaunted and Unstoppable. Her women’s ministry, Propel, also lists more than a dozen “un” terms to describe the woman they hope to encourage, including unashamed: “She does not minimize or hide who God has made her to be.” Caine’s book ...

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The State of The Church in America: When Numbers Point To A New Reality, Part 1

Before you dismiss research as unimportant, read this. If facts are our friends, then it's time we listen to them for the good of the Church in America.

The polls are in and the news is bad for the Church in America.

Christianity is on the decline, Americans have given up on God, and the “Nones”—those who have no religious ties—are on the rise. It is indeed true that parts of the Christian Church in America are struggling, while a growing number of Americans are far from God.

As the former head of a research firm that studies the church and culture, I often tell pastors and other Christian leaders that “facts are our friends.” Surveys and other polls are a bit like running a series of tests during an annual physical. The scale, stethoscope, and blood tests don’t lie. There is no positive spin on your increased weight, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

Research data gives us a realistic picture of our health—rather than the overly optimistic view we’d prefer.

What the Numbers Tell Us (If We Will Listen)

So what do the numbers tell us about the Church in America?

Overall, the Church’s influence on Americans is beginning to fade. A growing number of Americans have given up on God—or at least on organized religion. They have become “Nones,” a term popularized by Pew Research. And their numbers are growing.

Pew’s 2007 Religious Landscape study, which surveyed 35,000 respondents, found that about 16% of Americans claimed no religious affiliation. By 2015, that number had grown to 23%, almost one in four Americans.

Gallup, another well-respected national firm, gives a wider view of the rise of the Nones. In 1967, Gallup found that about 2% of Americans—or 1 out of every 50—claimed no religious preference. By 2014, that number had grown to 16%, or about 1 in 7.

Pew has also tracked the ...

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Source: The State of The Church in America: When Numbers Point To A New Reality, Part 1

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[Cfamily]Eight Barriers To Multiplication, Part 2
« Reply #307 on: September 19, 2016, 07:04:46 AM »
Eight Barriers To Multiplication, Part 2

Is something stopping you from starting a new church plant?

In the previous article, we addressed the first four barriers to multiplication:

  1. Fear

  3. Perceived and Actual Scarcity

  5. Bad Math

  7. Church Centricity

In today’s article, we will address the next four barriers to multiplication.

5. Don’t See the Need for Multiplication

Before churches can multiply, they need to see it first. The problem is, many churches don’t see the need for multiplication. They assume that multiplication is not for them. Their reasoning is predicated on the assumption that other churches will multiply. While they may understand the vision behind multiplication, they just don’t have a personal conviction to multiply.

We believe every church should not only embrace a vision of multiplication, but personally engage in multiplication. Leaders do need to assume that even some of the most committed Christians will not have a pre-existing favorable disposition towards multiplication, and will see multiplication as the church’s responsibility and not theirs. This is why it’s vital to share the vision for multiplication, consistently, clearly,? and in different forms and fashions each time.

We saw this clearly in our research. You can click here to get the State of Church Planting Research Report that this is based upon. Churches who regularly communicated a commitment to multiplication were more likely to multiply within their first five years than those who didn’t.

Until your church sees multiplication ?as a personal conviction that they should embrace and enact, you will ?be facing an uphill battle. So work on communicating Jesus’ commitment to multiplication to the entire congregation through different means, like vision talks, sermon illustrations, state of the union addresses, ...

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Source: Eight Barriers To Multiplication, Part 2

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The State of The Church in America: When Numbers Point To A New Reality, Part 2

Before you dismiss research as unimportant, read this. If facts are our friends, then it's time we listen to them for the good of the Church in America.

Mainline Protestants

Mainline Protestants (those in the United Methodist Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America [ELCA], Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church [U.S.A.], American Baptist Churches, United Church of Christ [UCC], and The Christian Church [Disciples of Christ]) have fared poorly in recent decades. While Christianity overall is not dying in America, Mainline Protestantism is getting closer. According to the GSS, 28% of Americans identified with a mainline church in 1972. By 2014, that number had dropped to 12.2%.

A recent report from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) corroborates this trend. The report looked at church statistics from 2002 to 2013. The denomination reported net membership losses each year. In 2002, the denomination shrank by 41,812 members. This number peaked in 2012 when they reported a net loss of 102,791.

Other Mainline denominations faced similar declines due to several factors, including aging membership, falling birthrates, a lack of theological clarity, and a shortage of new churches. Mainline Protestantism as a whole is hemorrhaging and is facing an existential crisis. If the current trajectory continues, some Mainline denominations could cease to exist in the next four to five decades.


Evangelicals have remained steady for the most part, according to the polls. The GSS found that evangelical affiliation and reported church attendance peaked in the 1980s and 1990s, then declined, then rebounded. In 1972, 17.1% of Americans self-identified as evangelical. In 2014, this percentage increased to 22.7. Similarly, the number of Americans regularly attending church increased from 7.9% to 12.5%.

Evangelicals are experiencing both a success story and a “glory days of old” ...

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Source: The State of The Church in America: When Numbers Point To A New Reality, Part 2

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[Cfamily]Disney Made a Film about a Ugandan Christian Female Chess Champion
« Reply #309 on: September 21, 2016, 07:07:14 AM »
Disney Made a Film about a Ugandan Christian Female Chess Champion

Movie one of three telling stories of sub-Saharan Africa this year.

If anyone might be forgiven for thinking God had abandoned her, it would be Phiona Mutesi.

Born into one of the poorest areas of Uganda and raised by a single mother whose husband died of AIDS, Mutesi had no reason to think that Disney would be making a movie of her life one day. Even when she screwed up the courage to enter Robert Katende’s sports mission and sat down to play chess for the first time, the actual Queen of Katwe would have had a hard time imagining herself the subject of a movie.

Mutesi is extremely soft-spoken, her quiet voice in contrast to her powerful game and the confident poise of the Hollywood glitterati that normally anchor studio press conferences and junkets. She is instinctively deferential when asked to talk about herself, a habit born, perhaps, out of years of struggle to survive. Tellingly, when asked to name her favorite moment in a film that documents many of her competitive successes, she cites two conversations with her coach: one when she asks to live with him and his wife temporarily, the other when she challenges one of his teachings.

“Where is my safe square?” Mutesi asks the man who taught her to see chess as a metaphor for life and believes it can be something more than simply a distraction from the grinding poverty and threats that surround her. For the real-life Mutesi, her safe square may not be on the chess board, but in the hands of a God in whom she has been steadfast in believing. When asked if she had any special message for Christian viewers of the film, she said simply, “He’s always there.”

For David Oyelowo, who plays Mutesi’s teacher, Robert Katende, it was important that the film of this young woman’s transformation be helmed ...

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Source: Disney Made a Film about a Ugandan Christian Female Chess Champion

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[Cfamily]Three Theological Reasons Why We Can't Afford Not to Pray for Each Other
« Reply #310 on: September 22, 2016, 07:08:32 AM »
Three Theological Reasons Why We Can't Afford Not to Pray for Each Other

Classic doctrines that show us why we must intercede for Christians who are struggling with sin.

I hate that sinking feeling I get when I first see the announcement that another evangelical leader has burnt out, had an affair, been defrocked for abuse, or been living a double life. It’s a strange sensation of disappointment, pity, rage, and fear. As a pastor, it’s a feeling that has grown all too familiar.

A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting in my office and an email notification popped up on the screen. Before I even clicked, I knew it was going to contain more disappointment. A member at church had fallen back into sin—again. Frustration washed over me as I began to imagine the conversation in my mind. It was one we’d had a dozen times.

For nearly ten minutes, I spun in my desk chair playing out the familiar scene line by line: I’ll open with this probing question, then I’ll bring up the sin and point to this Scripture, and after I’ve listened for a while I’ll really dig in hard this time because this is just unacceptable! Why does this member keep slipping back into the mud? I mean really, I’ve got better things to do than to deal with this problem for the hundredth time.

It was in that moment of exasperation that a thought caught me square across the jaw: Hold on. When was the last time I prayed for this member to persevere through temptation? Suddenly, my whole perspective changed. What if this member keeps falling into sin because I keep failing to pray?

We all know we ought to pray. The question is, how often to do we actually want to pray? If you are like me, Jesus put his finger on our pulse when he chided: “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41). So often it takes an unexpected crisis or some catastrophic fall into sin to jolts ...

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[Cfamily]Q+A: ‘To Joey, with Love’
« Reply #311 on: September 23, 2016, 07:01:12 AM »
Q+A: ‘To Joey, with Love’

Country musician Rory Feek shares about faith, heartbreak, and his new film.

Just two years ago, Joey and Rory Feek, better known as Joey + Rory, were on the top of the world. With their traditional sound, the award-winning country duo had carved out a niche for themselves in Nashville and released a number of popular albums. They lived on a beautiful farm in Tennessee, co-owned a restaurant, and had their own TV show. Their daughter, Indiana, had just been born. Though her Down syndrome diagnosis was unexpected, they welcomed her with joy.

Then Joey was diagnosed with cervical cancer, and their world was shaken.

Joey lived less than two years after her diagnosis, but she and her family filled those years with memorable moments and experiences, documented by Rory on his blog, This Life I Live. Rory’s new film, To Joey, with Love, tells the story of those final two years together. The film releases in movie theaters on September 20, and again on October 6, through Fathom Events.

I interviewed Rory about the film.

What gave you the idea to make a movie about Joey?

A few weeks after Joey's funeral service, I started going through all the footage that we had filmed over the last two and a half years, and it became immediately clear that what we had captured was more than just a bunch of home movies. Just like the story that Joey and I had been living and sharing through my blog, there was an even more powerful story in those clips that needed to be shared.

Joey was obviously a wonderful mother to Indiana, yet you say in your narration that she was afraid at first to become a mother. Where did those fears come from?

She had never really been around babies or children and didn’t really have any desire to be. It wasn’t in her DNA, or at least she didn’t think it was. All of it scared ...

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Source: Q+A: ‘To Joey, with Love’

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