The head of a large missionary organization told me that they are being sued by two of their members. These people had earlier dedicated their lives to missions.
Now they have various ailments. One man has ulcers. A woman, who lived in the tropics, has skin cancer. A "Christian" lawyer, hearing of their problems, advised them to sue the missionary organization. Their afflictions, he says, are "job related."
The mission director shook his head. "They were willing to give their lives—but I guess that didn't include stomach and skin." The missionaries and their lawyer have been infected with what Paul called "the spirit of the world" (1 Cor. 2:12).
Despite the classic Pentecostal definition, worldliness (the Greek word is kosmos) is far more than cosmetics. It is also more than R-rated movies or X-rated prostitutes. Worldliness is focusing on the things of time rather than things eternal.
A time-honored tradition, VBS has changed with the times to bring God’s unchanging Word to a tech-savvy younger generation. We talked to the creators of this summer’s offerings to bring you insights and information for fostering an experience with eternal impact.
Chances are if you’re around a kid growing up in today’s high-tech culture you’re well aware that the younger generation is beyond proficient in technology. Most kids can navigate an iPhone or iPad to find and play their favorite game, log in to a website on a laptop computer, and with a few clicks of a TV remote and Wii controller hit a home run, throw a slider or practice their golf swing—all without adult guidance.
Reaching kids in the 21st century has indeed become a moving target. So as your church starts to think about finding connection points to unchurched families, kids and their changing culture should be of utmost consideration. Fortunately, the publishers of Vacation Bible School (VBS) curricula are giving churches a fighting chance, providing material infused with digital elements that share the unchanging message of the Good News. We talked with five VBS publishers about what churches can expect from this year’s offerings.
What is it, how is it cultivated and what is the impact? Perimeter Church Pastor Randy Pope shares his church’s journey toward developing mature believers.
If you were asked to name three or four of your church’s best offerings for the spiritual formation of your people, what would they be? If you’re like most leaders, you’d list sermons, seminars, Sunday school classes, small groups. But are those programs really helping people become mature and equipped in Christ? They weren’t at my church. So we went on a discovery process that led us to a startling, yet simple solution. Notice I said simple—not easy!
For most of my 35 years of ministry, I’ve taken an annual study leave to evaluate my life, family and ministry. While I was away one year assessing the ministry of Perimeter Church, I began to realize that while we had been applauded and recognized for doing good things and being successful, in reality we were drawing a target around an arrow once it had been shot. We had been lauded for how far we had been shooting our arrow. But how foolish we had been to celebrate an aimless shot where the target is determined by the shot.
Seven strength-builders can equip believers to withstand life’s stressors and storms
When I was a boy I lived in a community where a tract of affordable houses had been built. From the outside they looked simple, yet attractive. By all appearances it seemed that these families were living the American Dream of home ownership. But this dream eventually became a nightmare.
You see, there was a problem. The foundations these homes were built on were compromised. They simply weren’t strong enough to deal with the stress placed on them. Over time the effects of shifting soil and changing temperatures took their toll and these foundations began to crack. As they cracked, these houses began to come apart. Ceilings separated, cabinets began to pull away from the walls, floors buckled.
Even though most of these homes were nicely appointed, inside and out, none of that could mask the fact that these homes were built on faulty foundations. Any structure is only as strong as what it is built on.
If you want to learn about engaging the culture, go to New York City, stand in Times Square and simply look around. In fact, try not to look around. The multitude of flashing iconic images representing the latest music, art, movies, fashion and personalities virtually scream in your ear, every day influencing an increasingly homogenized global culture. Just like earthquakes can produce massive waves that travel thousands of miles from their origin, Manhattan produces a cultural tsunami that reaches all the way to Manila.
A recent meeting in New York with an executive from a major TV network confirmed my sense that as Christians, we are still lagging behind in the culture wars. In essence, this producer told me, “Christians aren’t shaping the culture in America; the culture is shaping them.”