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Compelled to Share: Do You Have a Urgency to See Others Know the Love of Jesus?

I couldn’t not share of this great love I had just encountered because I couldn’t bear the thought of anyone else feeling like I had.

“That’s why Scripture exclaims, ‘A sight to take your breath away! Grand processions of people telling all the good things of God!’ But not everybody is ready for this, ready to see and hear and act. Isaiah asked what we all ask at one time or another: “Does anyone care, God? Is anyone listening and believing a word of it?” The point is: Before you trust, you have to listen. But unless Christ’s Word is preached, there’s nothing to listen to.” – Romans 10:15-17 (MSG)

It was a weekend in the middle of September, when the cornfields were nearing harvest but the weather was still warm and a fresh breeze was strongly blowing. To anyone else, it was a normal day in rural Illinois, but to me, it was so much more.

This weekend is when I went on a retreat hosted by a local church and experienced a personal encounter with the love of Jesus for the first time. I received Jesus’ love and forgiveness into my heart and life, forever changing my life’s trajectory both in this life and beyond.

I remember thinking to myself, How is it that I don’t remember anyone telling me of this great love of God before? I’d grown up in the church, but couldn’t recall ever really hearing of it—perhaps it was because of the veil over my heart and mind as scripture speaks of, or perhaps because I hadn’t really connected the dots on a personal level.

Maybe like me, you have heard someone close to you tell you that he or she doesn’t have to say “I love you” because you know that he or she does. It’s considered to be understood. It’s a given.

But as much as we may know our friends and family love us, we still need to hear it. Similarly, ...

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[Cfamily]One-on-One with Karl Vaters on ‘Small Church Essentials’
« Reply #897 on: May 23, 2018, 01:00:13 AM »
One-on-One with Karl Vaters on ‘Small Church Essentials’

Instead of striving for church growth, I encourage churches and pastors to work on increasing their capacity for effective ministry.

Ed: How did you come to write Small Church Essentials?

Karl: Small churches are, by far, the most common expression of the gathered body of Christ. But they are highly undervalued and grossly under-resourced. I know because I’ve been pastoring in small churches for most of my ministry, including the small church I’ve been at for the last 25 years.

Despite the fact that we’re a healthy, vibrant, worshipping, missional church in very populated area, we’ve remained small.

That so-called ‘failure’ caused so much frustration and discouragement that I almost left the pastoral ministry. Then, a friend and counselor encouraged me to find ways of measuring church effectiveness beyond the numbers. That led me to write my first book, The Grasshopper Myth.

As I’ve continued to study, write, speak, and have conversations with thousands of fellow small church pastors, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of how to do effective ministry within a small church context. The lessons from those interactions and my own experiences are the heartbeat of Small Church Essentials.

Ed: Why do you think it is so common for people to equate the size of a church with its level of health? Or as you put it, to filter everything through the “church growth lens.”

Karl: I think it’s based on some understandable, but faulty logic—namely, a healthy church will be fulfilling the Great Commission, which means it will grow numerically. That’s a reasonable theory. But any theory needs to be tested against reality. And when we do that, we discover that there are many churches who are fulfilling their role in the Great Commission without getting bigger for a wide variety of reasons.

Ed: How do you ...

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[Cfamily]You Keep Using That Word, ‘Christian’
« Reply #898 on: May 24, 2018, 01:00:12 AM »
You Keep Using That Word, ‘Christian’

Throughout American history, groups have given it different, often conflicting meanings. Can they all be right?

Lewis Carroll’s novel Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There contains a famous snippet of dialogue between a maddeningly vague Humpty Dumpty and an increasingly puzzled Alice. Humpty insists that by the word glory he means a powerful argument, and Alice counters that glory doesn’t mean that. Carroll describes what happens next:


“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”


“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”


“The question is,” said Humpty, “which is to be master—that is all.”

In Christian: The Politics of a Word in America, historian Matthew Bowman looks to tease out how religious groups in American history have defined, used, and even wielded the word Christian as a means of understanding themselves and pressing for their own idiosyncratic visions of genuine faith and healthy democracy. Like Humpty Dumpty, Bowman does not think there is a fixed definition of Christian to be right or wrong about. There are only different groups attempting to master the term for their own purposes.

Bowman wisely acknowledges that he is not attempting a comprehensive history of Christian or American Christianity more broadly, but rather a selective and indeed eclectic account of several distinct groups. His case studies make for an interesting ride through some familiar and forgotten terrain in American religious history. Bowman begins his narrative after the Civil War by contrasting radical feminist and provocateur Victoria Woodhall’s Christianity with that of the Radical Republicans and Ulysses ...

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Goodbye, Calvin College: Christian Schools Play the ‘Name Game’

New offerings and global reach prompt more institutions to adopt “university” designation.

Almost 900 students graduated this past weekend from Calvin College, taking home diplomas that in just a couple years will be relics from the school’s history. Two weeks ago, the Christian liberal arts college announced plans to change its name to Calvin University by 2020.

Schools across the United States have gradually transitioned from college to university as a way to indicate graduate offerings and compete for clout in the packed higher education landscape—particularly with the influx of international students. Calvin is the latest in a string of evangelical colleges to make the move.

“This direction enables us to live into what has already been true about Calvin, and it will better position us for the innovative work that is necessary for the future,” said Calvin President Michael Le Roy in a press release. “We see this move providing a great opportunity to introduce more people to Calvin’s distinctive Christian mission.”

The Grand Rapids, Michigan, college launched its first graduate degree program in 1974. Informal talks of adopting the university designation have gone on for decades, formalizing over the past year with a unanimous vote from the faculty senate and the board of trustees.

But name changes are not merely branding moves requiring updated letterhead and new school T-shirts. Over the next two years, Calvin will make its change to a university official through legal and accrediting institutions, then will shift its governance structure. Unlike the streamlined college setup, universities typically have leadership in place for each of their schools and programs.

Counting Calvin’s upcoming name change, 15 percent of colleges affiliated with the Council for Christian ...

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[Cfamily]Paige Patterson Out After Southwestern Trustees Vote
« Reply #900 on: May 26, 2018, 01:00:12 AM »
Paige Patterson Out After Southwestern Trustees Vote

Decision follows Southern Baptist leader’s apology to women for past comments.

He clarified. He defended. He apologized. And now, after weeks of controversy, Southern Baptist icon Paige Patterson is no longer president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS).

School trustees announced early Wednesday morning that Patterson, one of the most powerful and influential figures in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), had become the seminary’s president emeritus overnight, appointing theology dean Jeffrey Bingham as interim president.

After deliberation that went on past 3 a.m., the board voted him into paid retirement, complete with an on-campus home where he and his wife can live as theologians-in-residence.

“After much prayer and a more than 13-hour discussion regarding challenges facing the Institution, including those of enrollment, financial, leadership and institutional identity, the Board determined to move in the direction of new leadership for the benefit of the future mission of the seminary,” they said in a statement.

Patterson becomes the second president in SWBTS history to be forced out of the role. The only other was Russell H. Dilday, who was dismissed in 1994 as part of the Conservative Resurgence, the wave of denominational leadership changes orchestrated by Patterson himself.

Decades after his rise within the SBC, the 75-year-old recently ended up in the center of #MeToo-era criticism targeting his approach to abuse, divorce, and women, which led to bigger questions over his efficacy at the helm of its second-largest seminary.

The board affirmed that Patterson had ultimately complied with reporting laws on assault and abuse. The outgoing president spent a few hours meeting with the trustees and with his own leadership cabinet during the long, contentious session ...

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[Cfamily]Fuller Seminary to Leave Pasadena Campus
« Reply #901 on: May 27, 2018, 01:00:12 AM »
Fuller Seminary to Leave Pasadena Campus

A challenging new landscape for Christian graduate education forces major moves.

Fuller Theological Seminary announced plans this week to sell its 70-year-old Pasadena, California, campus and move to a new location designed to facilitate its expanded online education offerings in the wake of shifting enrollment.

The decision to leave its main campus for a site in Pomona, California (about 30 miles away), follows downsizing efforts at the country’s largest multidenominational seminary, which last summer announced plans to close three of its eight satellite campuses and to cut degree options at two more.

“In the last few years we have been through meticulous financial excavation, budget scrutiny, and painful cuts as we’ve navigated an increasingly challenging and disrupted higher education landscape,” wrote Fuller president Mark Labberton in a letter released Tuesday.

“Trustees, senior leadership, faculty, staff, students, and friends of Fuller spent months in due diligence and fasting and prayer, convinced that theological education is just as necessary for this new era as ever, but knowing we must take bold risks and have a bold vision in order to transform.”

While the number of full-time students at Fuller’s main and regional locations has dropped, enrollment in online classes rose by 50 percent over four years and began outnumbering all other campuses in fall 2016, provost Joel Green noted last year.

Fuller has watched the popularity of its online classes grow by 16 percent a year. The seminary has already doubled-down on online, hybrid, and nontraditional programs and promises that the upcoming transition will continue to expand options for “traditional degree education, formation experiences, professional certificates, and resources.”

It’s the ...

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[Cfamily]On the Removal of Paige Patterson and Next Steps for the SBC
« Reply #902 on: May 28, 2018, 01:00:11 AM »
On the Removal of Paige Patterson and Next Steps for the SBC

Hard times require honest conversations.

Three weeks ago, I published an article that called on Paige Patterson to do the right thing for the Southern Baptist Convention and retire.

Between that article, and last night’s events, much has happened.

Beth Moore wrote in response about how she has been treated. Then, a group of SBC women spoke up. A group of men followed. And, yesterday, another woman spoke up with more disturbing allegations.

My Agenda

I’ve not written much more on this, because my focus is not on Paige Patterson; my focus was on the message that was being sent to (and about) women, and what was best for the SBC.

In my article, I wrote, “If Patterson preaches at the SBC, he will, because of his past work, get a standing ovation. Every news story will point to that moment, tie it together with the accusations against Paul Pressler, and say that Southern Baptists don’t take abuse seriously. And it’s not just a public relations crisis. It’s a message to women that we must not send.”

We have not even reached the SBC annual meeting, but since I wrote that article, Paige Patterson’s response has already created the incalculable damage about which I wrote. When he stated that he “[had] nothing to apologize for,” the future I feared became the present we watched unfold.

The SBC sent a message to women we did not want to send, about their value and our view of our friends and coworkers who are women, showing that, for many, it was not just a message, but it was reality.

The damage has been stunning.

But, thankfully, SBC women spoke up. They said, “Enough.” They led.


SBC entities (like Southwestern) are governed by trustees, who volunteer their time for an often thankless job. When people ...

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[Cfamily]Al Mohler: The Humiliation of the Southern Baptist Convention
« Reply #903 on: May 29, 2018, 01:00:13 AM »
Al Mohler: The Humiliation of the Southern Baptist Convention

Evangelicals, we can no longer say sexual misconduct is just a Roman Catholic problem.

The last few weeks have been excruciating for the Southern Baptist Convention and for the larger evangelical movement. It is as if bombs are dropping and God alone knows how many will fall and where they will land.

America’s largest evangelical denomination has been in the headlines day after day. The SBC is in the midst of its own horrifying #MeToo moment.

At one of our seminaries, controversy has centered on a president (now former president) whose sermon illustration from years ago included advice that a battered wife remain in the home and the marriage in hope of the conversion of her abusive husband. Other comments represented the objectification of a teenage girl. The issues only grew more urgent with the sense that the dated statements represented ongoing advice and counsel.

But the issues are far deeper and wider.

Sexual misconduct is as old as sin, but the avalanche of sexual misconduct that has come to light in recent weeks is almost too much to bear. These grievous revelations of sin have occurred in churches, in denominational ministries, and even in our seminaries.

We thought this was a Roman Catholic problem. The unbiblical requirement of priestly celibacy and the organized conspiracy of silence within the hierarchy helped to explain the cesspool of child sex abuse that has robbed the Roman Catholic Church of so much of its moral authority.

When people said that evangelicals had a similar crisis coming, it didn’t seem plausible—even to me. I have been president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for 25 years. I did not see this coming.

I was wrong. The judgment of God has come.

Judgment has now come to the house of the Southern Baptist Convention. The terrible swift sword of public humiliation ...

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Source: Al Mohler: The Humiliation of the Southern Baptist Convention

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