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Steve Strang: After Election, Church Has Work To Do

When the votes were counted and it was clear Barack Obama had been re-elected, I felt a profound sense of sadness. That's because from my worldview as a charismatic Christian, Obama's policies represent everything wrong with America.

He claims to be a Christian and he seems to be a fine family man. The one time I met him he seemed thoroughly likable.  But Obama favors policies such as same-sex marriage and abortion on-demand. In addition, his policies seem to be eroding religious liberties at every turn.

He has been a weak leader by almost every measure—his taxing policies hurt an already weak economy; he promised many things he didn’t come close to delivering; and, from what I can tell, he not only botched protecting our consulate in Benghazi, Libya on Sept. 11, but then lied about the fact the attack was by a mob angered by an anti-Islamic video rather than by terrorists. read more

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R.T. Kendall: Why I'm Praying for God to Save Obama

I did not vote for Barack Obama. I am almost ashamed to admit I voted for a Mormon.

Until two weeks ago I decided not to vote at all, knowing as I do that Mormonism is shrouded in the demonic. But I rationalized that our national debt—and trend away from family values—warranted my vote for Mitt Romney.

In any case, Barack Obama won by a far greater majority than most of us predicted. It is my view that the Monster Storm had something to do with this. That said, God (for some reason) has allowed for President Obama to be our president for another four years. read more

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How to Respond to the Election Results

I’m writing this at 9 p.m. on election night, so I don’t know who’s going to win, but by the time you read this, you’ll probably know. I’m watching people meltdown on Twitter and Facebook, and it’s making me think about the relationship between politics and culture. No matter who wins, many of my readers will be thrilled, and just as many will be depressed. Either way, it’s worth remembering Scottish politician Andrew Fletcher’s quote: “Let me write the songs of a nation: I don’t care who writes its laws.”

Whatever happens with the election, if you’re an artist, filmmaker, pastor, writer, teacher, business person, leader – whatever, keep moving forward. Create. Spark visions. Inspire people. Speak the truth. The influence of culture is far more significant and life-changing than whoever sits in the White House.

Politics are important, no question. The direction of the country, the national debt, and national security are all critical issues. But as Confucius said: “To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.”

Start where you are, and make change happen. As R.R. Reno said in the magazine “First Things”: “At the end of the day, elections don’t shape or influence our cultural imaginations. It’s worth remembering that the future of America will turn on culture, not politics: the poetry of our moral and social imaginations, not punditry. So by all means vote, but don’t neglect the real and deeper sources of public life.”

Now get back out there in the fray and start creating … read more

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Michael Brown: Spiritual Revolution or Bust!

I am not in the least bit discouraged with the outcome of the presidential elections, and I write these words with faith in the presence of God.

Without a doubt, I have grave concerns about where our nation could be heading under four more years of President Obama and I grieve over the steady erosion of our liberties.

I am burdened by the deepening division within our country and troubled over real questions about our relationship with Israel along with issues concerning our national security. And I am pained by the fact that, for the first time, Americans voted to redefine marriage and make it genderless (and we did in all four states where this was on the ballot). read more

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Should a Christian Vote for Barack Obama?

Editor’s Note: The below article responds to the Rev. Dennis Dillon, publisher of The Christian Times, who recently wrote an article called, “Why Christians Should Vote for Barack Obama.” Mr. Dillon mentioned Bishop Mattera by name, attempting to rebut the Bishop’s piece, “Why Do So Many Believers Shun Biblical Values While Voting?

Before I respond to Mr. Dillon, let me preface it by saying that I do not like using a pen to debate someone who calls himself a brother. I would rather be face-to-face. Despite our disagreements, I trust that he is an honorable man who sincerely believes that he best represents Christ. But because the article he published singling me out and encouraging Christians to vote for Barack Obama was both theologically ignorant and politically naive, I must respond.

  read more

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Do You Reflect Your Neighborhood?

Six ways to better represent the diversity of your community

M
any Christians in the Western World have confused culturally determined expressions of the Christian faith with the faith itself.”

That quote from analyst Christian Schwarz, leader of the Natural Church Development movement, is all too telling. As our world becomes more diverse, we’ll need to examine our own “culturally determined expressions” of Christianity in light of the gospel.

Much of what we believe in the United States simply doesn’t make sense in other countries, which tells me we haven’t found a spiritual truth, but rather a Western approach to life. One of those areas, I believe, is our approach to leadership, specifically our leadership criteria. 

I doubt I have to tell you that your town or city is becoming more culturally and ethnically diverse by the day. Below are some ways your church can begin to reflect the cultural and ethnic diversity of its neighborhood and empower people from diverse walks of life to become the people God created them to be:

1) Diversify your leadership. Look around. Who is on your staff? A bunch of middle-aged white men? If you’re in a culturally diverse neighborhood—and you care about reaching the people in that neighborhood—consider looking for leaders with which your community can identify the next time you fill a staff position.

2) Recruit young. When you put young people into ministry, you plant seeds for your church’s future. The young people in your church already understand cultural diversity. Their schools are culturally and ethnically diverse. Train them as ministers, and they will make a difference.

3) Create opportunities for leadership. Proactively look for and discover the talents and giftings of the people God has placed in your church. Get to know those who aren’t currently serving in ministry. Create, or better yet, empower them to create and lead ministries that match their passion and vision.

4) Tell the story. You know those giant screens in your sanctuary? Use them to share people’s stories. Tell the story of a guy in recovery (make sure he’s in a stable place) or the mom who didn’t think she could make it. Help the people in your congregation get to know each other outside the Sunday morning arm pump.

5) Work together. If cultural diversity has some real kickback in your church, start with the men. Enlist some of your key male leaders to be on a work team with other men from a different socio-economic grouping and ask them to work together for a few months. My experience has been that as groups work side-by-side and get to know each other, unity develops. Check back regularly to ensure cultural differences haven’t become the focus of the group.

6) Connect with the neighborhood. Sometimes the real problem is that your congregation isn’t a good representation of the neighborhood. If the people in your church are commuting and the people of the neighborhood are sleeping in on Sunday, you need to create opportunities for people in the neighborhood to feel welcomed. Find ways to celebrate what makes your neighborhood unique by connecting with the community and discovering their concerns.

God put your church in your location for a reason. He isn’t surprised that the neighborhood has changed; in fact, He wants to help you reach this new, diverse group of people. Leadership in mixed cultural situations can be challenging, but communication and an understanding of the strength that diversity brings will help you create a firm foundation for growth now and in the months and years to come. 

Your first step is to take an honest, hard look at the makeup of your church leadership, your congregation and the surrounding neighborhood. Does your leadership reflect the congregation? Is your congregation a fair representative of the community? Take these disparities to prayer and discover God’s starting point for your unique situation.
Kim Martinez is an ordained Assemblies of God pastor working primarily in urban areas. She has a master’s in Theology from Fuller Seminary and is a contributor to Linked2Leadership.com. Connect with her on her blog Deepimprints.com and on Twitter @KimMartinezread more
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Get a Life, Get a Sermon


Are your sermons as well-lived as they are well-studied?

Afew years ago I played hooky from our Saturday night service and hit the ski slopes with my son, Parker. It was the last weekend of the ski season, so it was our last chance to go after a life goal we share in common: learning to snowboard. It was an amazing day, but one moment is frozen in my mind forever.
We were riding up the chair lift when I had an epiphany. I realized that my life had completely revolved around National Community Church for the better part of a decade. In one respect, that's the price you pay when you plant a church. But it was as if the Holy Spirit said in no uncertain terms: "Get a life!"
Let me be blunt: If your life is boring your sermons will be too.
If you have no life outside of church—no hobbies, no friends, no interests, no goals—your illustrations will feel canned, your ap-plications theoretical instead of practical and your sermons will be lifeless instead of life-giving. read more
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Revival Generations

Today’s move of God is for tomorrow’s church, too

John Adams once said that “I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.” 

What a time to live in when you constantly hear about Stage 4 cancer getting healed, missing limbs growing back, marriages being restored, deaf ears opening up, blind eyes now seeing, cancellation of debt, children’s hearts turning back to their parents.

The church has a unique and tremendous opportunity to see the kingdom of God continue to touch our world in our time and to see it increase in the next generation. It’s important that we live our lives in such a way that will set up a generation we will never see for success. read more

Covenantal Alignment

Eight reasons Christians need to be active in standing with Israel

 

We as leaders find ourselves in a sobering moment in history, which calls us to take a stand with God’s covenants in the earth. It is our responsibility to do kingdom business until He comes (Luke 19:13).

More than 10 years ago, Robert Stearns asked me to join him in encouraging Christians to pray every year on the same day for the peace of Jerusalem. It is a daunting task to stir the global church to unity in prayer, but the millions of believers who now do just that the first Sunday of every October are proof that God’s grace is on this important issue.

The most essential things I could hope to pass on to the next generation of church leadership are these several reasons for standing with Israel: read more

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No Hiding Place

You can’t stand on the sidelines of the culture war

There are times in life when you can choose your own battles and times when your battles choose you. In 2007, my church was targeted by the homosexual community. A decision was made by our church leaders not to compromise our faith by allowing a memorial service, which would have emphasized and celebrated homosexuality, to be held in our sanctuary.

We did, however, reach out to the family with many acts of love, including paying for another venue to host the memorial service. In response, gay activists unleashed a barrage of attacks through email, blog sites and the media—intending to shame us into silence. I soon came to learn the importance of pastors and churches standing together in a bold front for righteousness and biblical morality in our communities.

One of the most effective strategies used to silence and defeat those who would stand for morality is isolation—making them feel as though they stand alone and public opinion is against them. I was amazed at how quickly the homosexual community was able to organize and mobilize its attack.

This strategy would not have been as effective if the body of Christ would have quickly shown its support and taken a stand with us for biblical morality. The silence of the church spoke volumes. The church should learn from those who oppose us. It’s time we get organized and be ready to mobilize when our values come under attack. read more

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