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[Cfamily]The Five R’s of Gospel-Centered Church Revitalization, Part 1
« Reply #920 on: June 15, 2018, 01:00:12 AM »

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The Five R’s of Gospel-Centered Church Revitalization, Part 1

We must never take our eyes off the need for church revitalization.

What does it mean to revitalize a church in a way that that is gospel centered? Let me share the five R’s of revitalization: reframing grace, realigning mission, recasting vision, remembering the journey, and renewing all things. Today, we will look at the first two.

First, reframe on grace

When we consider what good church revitalization looks like, we must ask God to reframe us on grace. I read an article a few years ago from a secular publication. In the article, someone was sharing that he had visited and became involved in a church, dropped out, and didn't have a spiritual transformation. Instead, this person felt like part of a multilevel marketing scheme.

That’s not the intended message, I assure you.

Let’s be honest: church revitalization does not come through you getting more volunteers into your spiritually tepid church. There must be a reframe on grace, and this is ultimately not something we do. We don’t try harder or recruit more people.

The gospel is not "you do"; the gospel is "Jesus did."

Because He has changed us, reshaped us, remade us, and transformed us, grace ought to overflow out of us.

I was on a plane recently flying to San Diego to speak at a meeting, and woman sat next to me. We started having a conversation that led to spiritual things. (To be honest, I tried to lead the conversation to spiritual things.) She started to talk about some of the bad experiences that she had had in church as a kid.

She called it a cult-like experience and she said she was now on a spiritual journey, exploring all kinds of different things like gurus and scriptures of other religions. I asked her, "Could it be that your experience of Christianity was just a warped, broken, ...

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[Cfamily]World Cup Evangelism Evades Russia’s Ban
« Reply #921 on: June 16, 2018, 01:00:15 AM »
World Cup Evangelism Evades Russia’s Ban

Banned from sharing the gospel at games, Protestants adopt a new missionary strategy.

When the biggest sporting event in the world—the World Cup—comes to a country with tight restrictions against missionary activity—Russia—ministries hoping to use the international gathering for evangelism have to get creative.

There will be no huge campaign to hand out soccer-themed tracts or testaments from street corners, as Christians did along Copacabana Beach in Brazil during the last tournament four years ago. Russia’s 2016 anti-evangelism regulations, part of its Yarovaya law, bar believers from sharing their faith outside of government-sanctioned church buildings. That applies to the dozen venues hosting World Cup games over the next month.

There won’t be scores of Christians flying in to partner in proselytization efforts, either. For several years, the government, with its ties to the Russian Orthodox Church, has shut down foreign missions groups, stopped issuing visas for missions workers, and threatened to deport visitors who violate the restrictions.

So since the law requires evangelism to be confined to officially recognized churches and to be led by Russian nationals, the country’s Protestant minority decided that’s what they’ll do. If they can’t reach out, they’ll get World Cup fans to come to them.

More than 400 evangelical congregations across Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and other host cities will open their buildings for game viewings and fellowship during the month-long international tournament.

Since many of the popular matches have sold out, the churches will offer fans a place to cheer on the Russian team (soccer is second only to hockey in popularity in the former Soviet state) on the big screen as well as snacks like popcorn and sunflower ...

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What Are Christian Apologetics, and How Do They Relate to the Gospel Anyways?

The greatest apologetic for faith is embedded in the gospel message itself.

Many Christians talk about Christian apologetics. Indeed, the topic is very interesting for Christians on many levels as we seek to gain confidence and assurance for our own faith. And, of course, apologetics also has great value for us as we seek to help seekers and doubters to get over the intellectual barriers keeping them from embracing faith in Christ.

But often, there is one great apologetic that gets neglected, and this concerns God’s love, forgiveness, and willingness to be Lord of our lives.

A brief look at apologetics

First, however, let me define and clarify terms. Apologia in classical times simply meant “defense”. In a court of law, an apologetic was the making of a defense for the defendant at trial. Such was the case of the Apology by Plato. He was setting forth the case made by Socrates during his trial before the court at Athens.

In Acts 7, Stephen makes a defense before his accusers in Jerusalem. And several times in the book of Acts, Paul sets out a defense before his accusers, not only for his actions as he traveled the world preaching the gospel, but also a defense for the gospel itself. He wanted people to see the reasonableness for faith in Christ.

Paul would reference the prophetic passages of the Old Testament and showed how Jesus, in the days of the Incarnation, was the exact fulfillment of these prophecies. Furthermore, Paul appeals to the historicity of the resurrection of Christ from the dead, and the remarkable number of eyewitnesses who validated having seen the Resurrected Christ.

These were apologetic proofs for faith. Jesus was not only raised from the dead, but his resurrection validated both his deity and his message—somehow the death and Resurrection of Christ puts us ...

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[Cfamily]10 New or Lesser-Known Female Theologians Worth Knowing
« Reply #923 on: June 18, 2018, 01:00:14 AM »
10 New or Lesser-Known Female Theologians Worth Knowing

More and more evangelical women are pursuing higher education in theology. Here are a few you haven’t heard of yet.

This spring, InterVarsity Press launched the #ReadWomen project. We’d like to contribute to the discussion by introducing you to 10 female theologians on our radar. The obvious question, of course, is how we identified our curating criteria.

Although some might define theologian by strictly academic standards, we opted to use fairly broad parameters. We looked for women with MDiv degrees, minimally, who self-identify as theologians and are engaged with theology through writing, teaching, or conversation in the public square (in the form of a podcast, for example). We also selected theologians who are new to the field or otherwise unfamiliar to the majority of our Christianity Today readers. Although in a technical sense the study of theology is categorically distinct from pastoral ministry, nonetheless many of these women are actively applying their knowledge of theology to formal and informal ministries within academia and the broader church.

In the process of researching the list, we deliberately consulted with both female and male scholars (quoted here) who could speak from a position of expertise and articulate the unique accomplishments of these women. Although these names represent a small fraction of a large and growing pool of noteworthy female theologians, we hope to continue this conversation in the coming years by platforming other women. With that in mind, we’d like to hear from you. Email us and let us know whom you’re reading and listening to these days.

In no particular order, here are some of the new or lesser-known female theologians we’re excited about:

Amy Brown Hughes, assistant professor of theology, Gordon College

As a historical theologian, Amy Brown Hughes studies the interface ...

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Source: 10 New or Lesser-Known Female Theologians Worth Knowing

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World Refugee Day 2018: ‘Welcoming the Stranger’ Meets ‘Zero Tolerance’

Christians pray for asylum seekers and defend family unity amid US policy changes.

While the United States continues its “zero tolerance” crackdown on asylum seekers crossing the border, churches across the country and around the world are rallying to support millions displaced by the global refugee crisis.

This week, the Trump administration pulled protections for undocumented migrants fleeing domestic violence and gang violence, a population that includes Central American Christians who come to the US because they fear for their lives as unrest worsens in places like El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

Just as the government implements another new policy—the Justice Department’s recent decision to put children into government custody or foster care away from their detained parents—Christians are crying to God: Abba Father, we lift to you the precious refugee children who have become separated from their parents and family. Father God, please keep them safe and protect them from any kind of abuse. Help the children to be quickly reunited with their parents and family.

That prayer comes from the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA)’s World Refugee Sunday resources, to be used in participating churches this weekend and next weekend, timed around the United Nations’ annual World Refugee Day on June 20.

With over 65 million people forcibly displaced by conflict, violence, and persecution around the globe, WEA and partnering ministries encourage Christians to raise awareness, raise prayers, and themselves welcome the stranger.

In the US, evangelicals rallying for immigration reform—who have long called on the government to prioritize family unity and protections for persecuted Christians—have likewise become more vocal in their advocacy.

Among those directly impacted ...

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Source: World Refugee Day 2018: ‘Welcoming the Stranger’ Meets ‘Zero Tolerance’

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[Cfamily]The Best Gift for Dad This Father’s Day? Diaper Duty
« Reply #925 on: June 20, 2018, 01:00:17 AM »
The Best Gift for Dad This Father’s Day? Diaper Duty

I discovered the deepest joys of fatherhood in the mundane work of domestic life.

Attend church on Mother’s Day and you’ll hear how great mom is. Attend on Father’s Day and—if you hear anything about fathers at all—you’ll hear how today’s fathers need to step up and provide.

I suspect that the attitude we take toward these two holidays reveals something deeper: Christians praise Mom for serving well but criticize Dad because he’s not leading well. But I’ve begun to wonder if our inflexible parental gender roles come more from culture than from Scripture. Perhaps the best way for fathers to lead their homes spiritually is to embrace the work of the home rather than build an identity outside of it.

I am a husband and father of two—a 4-year-old daughter and a 4-month-old son. I am also an employee at a church. Of those three, the first two are unique to me; no one else can be the husband to my wife or the father to my children. At home, I am irreplaceable.

My role as an employee, however, is different. If anyone calls me “irreplaceable” at work, I take it as well-intended flattery, but I don’t believe it. Unfortunately, this is more discipline than impulse for me. American culture works against our understanding of work as secondary to family. It elevates our jobs to such a status that what we do becomes who we are.

Our small talk drifts more naturally toward work (“So what do you do?”) rather than relationships (“So tell me about your parents.”). If you don’t have a job—or don’t have an impressive one—it’s hard to feel like you have much of an identity. No wonder so many women feel ashamed of being stay-at-home mothers.

Our attempts to elevate the domestic life, sadly, have often ...

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[Cfamily]The Gospel in Major City Centers
« Reply #926 on: June 21, 2018, 01:00:15 AM »
The Gospel in Major City Centers

What does it look like for church leaders in Chicagoland and other large cities to actually seek the peace and prosperity of the city?

Chicago has been my home town only for the past four years. I spent most of my adult life in Boston, the San Francisco Bay area, and the Inland Northwest. But perhaps since I grew up in the Midwest (Cleveland, Ohio), somehow Chicago feels even more like home than other places where I’ve lived much longer.

As a matter of fact, I think I am falling in love with the city!

My husband and I just spent a beautiful spring night downtown catching a Broadway show and dinner to celebrate our 44th wedding anniversary. That evening reinforced my infatuation with Chicago. The vibrancy of Chicago’s culture and business, its gorgeous architecture, fabulous food, top shelf entertainment options, and the diversity of its population—9.4 million people—are just a few of the things I love about it.

But let’s face it, even the most attractive love relationships we have (even if it’s with a city) have an unappealing side that prevents a five-star rating. In Chicagoland, as in other metropolitan areas, broken social structures are tearing apart communities and causing a plethora of serious problems.

Broken families. Fractured relationships. Racial divisions. Violence. (An estimated 1,000 gunshot murders occurred in the metro area in 2017.) Drugs. (About 1,500 people died from drug overdoses in Chicagoland last year.) Chicago is regularly on national news for having more than its share of violence, gangs and shootings.

Undoubtedly, more and more people in Chicago are also suffering from chronic loneliness. The health insurer Cigna just released a study revealing that loneliness is widespread in America. Nearly 50 percent of respondents in a nationwide survey reported that they feel alone or left out always or sometimes. ...

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Source: The Gospel in Major City Centers

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[Cfamily]Don’t Roll Your Eyes at Lies
« Reply #927 on: June 22, 2018, 01:00:15 AM »
Don’t Roll Your Eyes at Lies

An excerpt from "In His Image."

This morning, before I sat down to write, I took some time to respond to emails. This is a classic pattern of procrastination for me on a writing day. In my inbox was an invitation to an event that I did not want to attend. The host, sensing the RSVPs were coming in a little light, had asked the invitees their reasons for not wanting to come. I crafted a response about how my family already had plans that weekend and how sorry I was to have to miss.

This was a lie. Please don’t miss what I am saying: On the morning I set aside to write a chapter about the truthfulness of God, my first impulse was to misrepresent the truth. I deleted the response and sent one that, while still kindly and minimally worded, was at least honest. But I had to wonder if I would have acknowledged the prompting of my conscience had I not just spent several days researching the psychology of why we lie. How many times do I shade the truth without hesitation, even without any real awareness that I am doing so?

Of all verbal skills, lying comes to us early and easily. Researchers even regard it as a sign of normal cognitive development when it first begins to emerge during toddlerhood. Kind speech takes years to develop. Polite speech takes a thousand repetitions to ingrain in a child. But lying? It’s as if we are born with the seeds of deceptiveness ready to sprout in us at the first signs of vocabulary.

Because, let’s face it, that’s exactly how we’re born. Ever since the Father of Lies slithered into the garden and twisted the truth of the Father of Lights, humans have been speaking with the forked tongue of the Serpent.

Not surprisingly, humanity wasted no time adopting the speech patterns of the one to whom they had succumbed. ...

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Source: Don’t Roll Your Eyes at Lies

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