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Living a Life of Unconditional Forgiveness

In the current vitriolic and polarizing culture-war atmosphere, a Sermon on the Mount emphasis of giving mercy, going the second mile, turning the other cheek, and forgiving “70 times seven” would serve the cause of Christ far better than an angry stance that smacks of, "We’re Christians and we’re not going to take it anymore."

Recently I was at a stoplight, and the car in front of me had a bumper sticker that read: “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.” The statement is attributed to Mahatma Gandhi. Of course it’s overstated and far too much of a glaring generalization. But I find little comfort in that. read more

Dr Rutland

Attend National Institute of Christian Leadership With Dr. Mark Rutland

Are you a leader who needs a transformational change in your life and ministry? Do you need to make a directional turn to take your ministry to the next level?

Dr. Mark Rutland believes in transformational change, and he knows that leadership training isn’t something you do just once—it is a process. That is why he has launched the National Institute of Christian Leadership, a yearlong program designed to help you take your ministry to the next level. For much less than you would pay for a university degree, you get high-level leadership training.

Click here to read more and to sign up for these four sets of classes that run through 2011.  read more

Winter 2010 MT cover

New 'Ministry Today' Is in the Mail Now

It's in the mail—and it's good. The Winter 2011 issue of Ministry Today was guest-edited by pastor Robert Morris.  He shares how his Gateway Church in Dallas has learned the secret of "the blessed life" by being a "giving church."

Robert tells how he has created a "culture of giving," and several of his key pastoral staff write about worship, children's ministry, church governance and more. He also talks about the importance of evangelism "to the Jew first."

You won't want to miss it. Later in January, Robert will be on our weekly conference call. read more

Faith Frederick

Dr. Faith Fredrick to Talk Today About Higher Education

Dr. Faith Fredrick is the co-founder and president of Faith Christian University in Orlando, Fla.

The conference call is on Tuesday, Jan. 4, at 4 p.m. EST (3 p.m. CST, 2 p.m. MST, 1 p.m. PST). Dial (712) 432-1000 and access code 576530984#.

Founded in 1996, Faith Christian University offers Bible, ministry instruction and training in a dynamic, anointed, Word of Faith environment. This mission has now progressed beyond the walls of the main campus in Orlando, Fla., to include a complete online Bible and ministry training school called FCU Live Online.

It is a Web-based, virtual university where, through state-of-the-art Internet technology, the student is brought into the classroom via their computer to view the same anointed instruction anytime, anywhere, 24/7. Dr. Fredrick will talk about the importance of continuing education for those in ministry and how to benefit from what Faith Christian University has to offer.

Dr. Fredrick has three grown daughters, all active in ministry. The best known is Martha Munizzi, the singer-song writer whose songs such as "Because of Who You Are" are sung around the world. We'll also ask her about her daughters, and you can call in to ask questions of your own. read more

Kansas Town Taxes Church Attendance

 The Kansas city of Mission is working to make sure churches in its area understand that there are two things certain in life: death and taxes—even in the sanctuary.

 Mission implemented a property tax in the name of a “driveway fee” in efforts to evade having to grant tax exemptions to two local churches, according to the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF). ADF filed a suit on behalf of the churches, First Baptist Church of Mission and The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

 The driveway tax—which bills property owners based on the number of trips in and out of their driveways—is similar to other fees that supreme courts in Idaho and Florida have struck down. In the case of Mission, the city has labeled the driveway tax as a “fee” and is charging churches, nonprofit organizations and charities that are ordinarily exempt from property taxes under state law. The city assessed the church property and parsonage of First Baptist Church nearly $1,000. read more

Francis Chan Steps Down, Moves to Asia

 Francis Chan has picked up and moved his family to Asia. Chan pastored the 4,000-member Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, Calif. Chan was making quite a name for himself in Christian circles, penning two best-selling books, including Crazy Love and Forgotten God, and authoring a DVD teaching series. But he has resigned and left for an unnamed country in Asia. Chan reportedly told his church that he “wanted to disappear for a while” in late September.

 “Even in my own church I heard the words ‘Francis Chan’ more than I heard the words ‘Holy Spirit’,” CNN’s Belief Blog reports Chan as saying. “I think there has been too much emphasis on me. I want to be used by God, but I think we have this desire to make heroes out of people rather than following God and the Holy Spirit.”

 Chan is the founding pastor of Cornerstone Church, which he started in 1994. This is not the first time he has left the church. In May he left to work directly in mission with the poor locally and internationally. read more

25,000 Young Adults Gather at IHOP Conference

 It’s all about one thing at the International House of Prayer (IHOP) Young Adult Conference—and that’s Jesus. Dubbed onething, the annual worship and teaching conference is drawing 25,000 young adults to Kansas City Convention Center Dec. 28-31.

 “There are moments in history when a door for great change is blown wide open,” says Mike Bickle, conference founder and director of IHOP-KC (Kansas City). “We are in the early days of seeing sweeping changes that will confront the status quo in the church and in society. It is in these strategic moments that the disciples of Jesus will become the hinge of history, that pivotal point that determines which way the door will swing.”

Onething aims to help train and equip a generation to live the gospel of Jesus Christ and to love God and people with all their hearts. Young people are coming from across America and more than 50 countries, including South Korea, China, New Zealand, and many European and South American nations. read more

Kent Ingle Named President of Southeastern University

Southeastern University has named Kent Ingle its next president. The appointment ends a 20-month search for the 75-year-old Lakeland university’s new leader. Southeastern University is the Assemblies of God’s largest university.

Ingle, 48, is currently dean of the College of Ministry at Northwest University in Kirkland, Wash., another Assemblies of God school. He will take the reins as president of the private liberal arts school on Feb. 1.

Wayne Blackburn, a member of the Board of Regents who chaired the Presidential Search Committee, says Ingle’s recommendation came in the wake of grueling interviews and expansive evaluations by both the committee and SIMA International, an executive search firm retained for the hunt. read more

America Divided: 'Merry Christmas' or 'Happy Holidays'?

It’s no great revelation that Americans are divided over what greetings businesses should use during the December holiday season. But in case you had any doubts, a PRRI/RNS Religion News Survey has made it official.

 Forty-nine percent of Americans say stores should use “merry Christmas” this holiday season, compared to 44 percent who say that they should use more generic “happy holidays” or “season’s greetings” out of respect for people of different faiths. The survey reveals large religious, partisan and regional differences over the appropriateness of different holiday greetings.

 “Celebrations of the birth of Jesus in Christianity have always blended the explicitly religious with elements of the contemporary culture,” says Robert P. Jones, CEO of PRRI. “That roughly equal numbers of Americans both read the story of the birth of Jesus from the Bible and the story of Santa Claus in ’Twas the Night Before Christmas is a continuation of that tradition.” read more

A Pastor Tells Why Some Don't Believe

On Aug. 27, 2010, I watched a miracle happen. There are all kinds of miracles, from the unforgettable birth of a child, to the eternal, grace-filled miracle of someone giving their heart to Jesus, which is the greatest miracle of all. I have seen both and I bow before God in thanks. But on this particular night, I saw another miracle, something I had heard about, but had never witnessed. I saw the lame walk. And so did hundreds of other people in the room. Since that night, more than 160,000 other people have also been witnesses to that same miracle through the Internet.

 On Monday, Aug. 23, I called my friend Bishop Levy Knox and asked if he had been to the meetings in downtown Mobile, Ala., that had now been named the Bay of the Holy Spirit Revival. Levy had just returned from a trip out of the country, and he had not yet attended, though he wanted to given a long relationship with Pastor John Kilpatrick, in whose church the meetings had begun. That same church, Church of His Presence, was now graciously hosting these citywide meetings every Thursday through Saturday evenings. Levy said that he would check with his wife, Delia, and possibly meet me there on Friday. read more

ORU's Mart Green Backs Effort to Accelerate Bible Translations

 The businessman whose family’s $70 million gift lifted Oral Roberts University (ORU) out of debt is backing a cooperative effort to digitize Bible content and speed the pace at which translations are completed.

 Every Tribe Every Nation plans to initially put 160 existing texts into digital format, although Mart Green said the process for converting several thousand will likely take 20 to 25 years.

 “This is driven by the sense of urgency in several areas,” said Green, who became chairman of ORU’s board of trustees three years ago after helping the school pay off $54 million in debt. “What’s front and center for me right now would be mobile. Every hour 1,000 people are downloading the Bible onto their iPhone.” read more

Friendships in Church Vital to Happiness, Study Says

Just how important is the friend factor at church? A study released in the December issue of the American Sociological Review finds that even going to church services several times a year can boost your sense of well-being—if you have a circle of friends there who you identify with belief-wise.

“Our study offers compelling evidence that it is the social aspects of religion rather than theology or spirituality that leads to life satisfaction,” says Chaeyoon Lim, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who led the study titled Religion, Social Networks and Life Satisfaction. “In particular, we find that friendships built in religious congregations are the secret ingredient in religion that makes people happier." read more

6 Major Patterns of Change in the U.S. Church

Change usually happens slowly in the church. But a review of the past year's research conducted by the Barna Group provides a time-lapse portrayal of how the religious environment in the U.S. is morphing into something new.

Analyzing insights drawn from more than 5,000 non-proprietary interviews conducted over the past 11 months, George Barna indicated that the following patterns were evident in the survey findings. read more

Attend Dr. Mark Rutland's Christian Leadership Institute

Excitement is high for the new venture we're doing with Dr. Mark Rutland and his National Institute of Christian Leadership. We talked about it for the first time last week during our conference call. Click here to listen to Dr. Rutland and Steve Strang discussing how this yearlong program of leadership training can change your life. You can also visit drmarkrutland.com to learn more. read more

Conference Call With Publisher Steve Strang

This Tuesday you can listen to someone who has built his life and organization by using goal-setting. Ministry Today Publisher Steve Strang will tell you how as a newspaper reporter he set a goal of publishing a national magazine in a local church and how his goals over the years have provided focus and discipline for growing in a tough industry.

You'll also learn how goal-setting continues to be a driving force during difficult financial times and the drastic change in technology his organization is coping with now. Steve will tell his story and answer your questions while challenging you to set goals as we approach the beginning of 2011.

Call in this Tuesday, Dec. 7 at 4 p.m. EST.

Dial-in #: 712-432-1000, Access Code: 572698168# read more

Christian Persecution Tops World List (Who Knew?)

Is Christianity the most persecuted religion in the world? Arguably so, numerous government and religious sources say. Yet among those most oblivious to the reality are, ironically, Christians in the West—where the notion of anti-Christian persecution is viewed as improbable, or worse, untrue. read more

Coca-Cola Donates Building to 'Fireproof' Church

The Coca-Cola Co. has donated its 60,000-square-foot former bottling plant in Albany, Ga., to Sherwood Baptist Church, owner of Sherwood Pictures, the film-production company that produced the successful movies Fireproof and Facing the Giants.

According to the Sherwood Baptist Church Facebook page, the church plans to use the facility as a community outreach center.

A post on Sherwood’s Facebook wall reads: read more

Conference Call With Dr. Mark Rutland

Dr. Mark Rutland will be the guest for our conference call on Tues., Nov 30, at 4 p.m. EDT. Here are the call instructions: Dial-in number: 712-432-1000, access code: 514743574#.

Dr. Rutland, president of Oral Roberts University (ORU), believes in transformational change.  With a history of successfully turning organizations around—from Calvary Assembly in Winter Park, Fla., to Southeastern University in Lakeland, Fla., to ORU—he knows that leadership training isn’t something you do just once; it is a process. He will talk about how you can be equipped for effective leadership. read more

'Accountability' Not So Hot With Churches

Many of the Bible's exhortations aren't very popular in today's world. But a new study by the Barna Group indicates that one of the least favorite biblical principles among Christians might be: "Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. " (Heb. 13:17). read more

Megachurches Growing Despite Poor Economy

Megachurches across the country are holding their own during uncertain economic times, a new survey shows.

Most megachurches continue to see attendance and giving rise, and the bigger the church is, the more likely it is to experience increases, Leadership Network reported in its 2010 Large Church Economic Outlook Report. read more

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