Articles related to Jim Evans, Women in Ministry, Leadership


Deborah Exemplifies Foolishness of Complementarianism
Deborah Exemplifies Foolishness of Complementarianism

By: Molly T. Marshall
While complementarian theology maintains that women and men are essentially different, Deborah's story in Scripture doesn't fit this mold. Rather, she upends it with her leadership of God's people.

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3 Lessons from TN Baptists' Decision to Oust Church
3 Lessons from TN Baptists' Decision to Oust Church

By: Kelly Moreland Jones
Tennessee Baptists burst into applause after voting to not seat members of First Baptist of Jefferson City for the convention's annual meeting. Their reaction teaches us three lessons and provides four responses.

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Ministers Have Few Resources to Help with Ethical Issues
Ministers Have Few Resources to Help with Ethical Issues

By: Robert Creech and Joe Trull
With few resources available on ministerial ethics, ministers must still be ready to grapple with intricate moral problems and community conflicts as well as ethical dilemmas in their own churches and personal lives.

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State Baptist Group Rejects Church Led by Woman Pastor
State Baptist Group Rejects Church Led by Woman Pastor

By: Ircel Harrison
The Tennessee Baptist Convention has pulled the welcome mat from one of its member churches because the congregation called a woman to serve as their senior pastor.

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Why Your Church May Be Measuring the Wrong Info
Why Your Church May Be Measuring the Wrong Info

By: Mark Tidsworth
The common mistake of organizations, including churches and denominations, is spending most of their time trying to influence measurements they have little or no control over. It's time to take the lead.

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These Reformation Heroes Were Glossed Over by History
These Reformation Heroes Were Glossed Over by History

By: Pam Durso
Martin Luther's challenge in 1517 reshaped the 16th-century Christian landscape and continues to influence Christian life today. Women were active in this new movement, yet their names aren't in the history books.

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5 Areas That Can Strain Your Pastor's Mental Health
5 Areas That Can Strain Your Pastor's Mental Health

By: Barry Howard
While many hard-working pastors maintain good physical and spiritual habits, they can still neglect their mental health. Here are some practices that can help ministers strengthen their mental health.

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When Your Church's Focus is Out of Alignment
When Your Church's Focus is Out of Alignment

By: Bill Wilson
Healthy churches must constantly evaluate the balance between their internal and external focus. When a church spends its time primarily tending to its own needs, a fundamental problem of alignment exists.

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Vaclav Havel - The Moral Nature of Political Leadership
Vaclav Havel - The Moral Nature of Political Leadership

By: Gordon King
Vaclav Havel, former president of Czechoslovakia, emphasized the moral nature of genuine political leadership. As president, he believed he should stress the significance of moral values in all spheres of life.

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What's Your Legacy? Great Achievements or Fruitfulness
What's Your Legacy? Great Achievements or Fruitfulness

By: Ron Rolheiser
We all want to achieve great things in our lives. It gives us a good feeling and makes our families proud of us. Great achievements, however, don't necessarily make for great fruitfulness.

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3 Questions to Help You Grow Mentoring Relationships
3 Questions to Help You Grow Mentoring Relationships

By: Eileen Campbell-Reed
It is something most ministers want. And it can feel impossible to find. Yet seeking pastoral wisdom is vital for the work of the church and for leading people of faith. A mentor can help with your journey.

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Why Your Church May Be Inviting the Wrong People
Why Your Church May Be Inviting the Wrong People

By: Blake Hart
Church growth experts pen article after article about how to attract millennials to church, perhaps because these up-and-coming professionals have the means to pay the bills. But guess who Jesus says to invite?

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Church Has Long History of Women Preachers - Part 2
Church Has Long History of Women Preachers - Part 2

By: Beth Allison Barr
Despite the narrative from some quarters that female leadership in church is "disobeying the word of God," Baptist churches have allowed women to lead and preach. Case in point, First Baptist of Elm Mott, Texas.

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Church Has Long History of Women Preachers - Part 1
Church Has Long History of Women Preachers - Part 1

By: Beth Allison Barr
Conservative evangelicals are often ignorant of the long history of female leaders and preachers in Christian past. The female preachers they do know about are often negative examples.

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4 Reasons New Ministry Model is Picking Up Steam
4 Reasons New Ministry Model is Picking Up Steam

By: Ircel Harrison
Denominations have spent significant energy in differentiating between clergy and laity. However, as resources and membership decline, an emerging model of ministry will challenge our ideas about ministerial vocation.

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Why Your Church Needs a Purple Cow Ministry
Why Your Church Needs a Purple Cow Ministry

By: Dennis Bickers
Much of what churches do today often receives little notice because they've offered the same programs at the same times in the same ways as other churches. To help your church stand out, you need a purple cow.

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5 Steps to Transform Your Church into Disciple Developers
5 Steps to Transform Your Church into Disciple Developers

By: Mark Tidsworth
A central purpose of Christian churches is to develop people into disciple of Jesus, but our programs and events often aren't effective at achieving this goal. Here is a 5-step process to transform your church.

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Your Church's Future Relies on Imagination, Not Memories
Your Church's Future Relies on Imagination, Not Memories

By: Bill Wilson
It's important to appreciate your church's traditions, but if your church is going to have a future, members must be willing to engage their imaginations and push past the limitations of their memories.

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When People Talk, It Can Make or Break Your Church
When People Talk, It Can Make or Break Your Church

By: Bill Owen
Conversations can be powerful. They can make or break churches. Pastors should never underestimate the power of conversation, whether in the hallways, around the table or from the pulpit. It all matters.

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4 Ways Your Church Can Manage Irreconcilable Conflicts
4 Ways Your Church Can Manage Irreconcilable Conflicts

By: Joe LaGuardia
What happens when people in churches have irreconcilable differences that discernment cannot overcome? Scripture reveals 4 ways that such conflicts can lead to new seasons of ministry.

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When Faith Leaders Must Make a Crucial 'Pivot'
When Faith Leaders Must Make a Crucial 'Pivot'

By: Colin Harris
We know about the political pivot, when elected leaders transition a central campaign issue to the periphery as they begin to govern. Faith leaders must pivot too from their base of support to being a servant for all.

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4 Traps for Ministers and Their New Congregations
4 Traps for Ministers and Their New Congregations

By: Bill Wilson
The time when a new minister starts his or her ministry at a church may seem idyllic, but traps abound. Healthy churches and ministers pay attention to these potential trouble spots to avoid being snared.

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'The Invisible Women'
'The Invisible Women'

By: Mitch Carnell
Women play major roles in the Bible, but the male-dominated church mainly marginalizes their importance, asserts the author of 'The Invisible Women.' Jesus, however, reverses this practice.

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Women Ministers - Called By God, Gifted by God
Women Ministers - Called By God, Gifted by God

By: Roger Olson
Having women ministers is not evidence of a "liberal trend." Many conservative churches have accepted women in leadership roles. Christians who reject women ministers are usually quite inconsistent in practice.

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Proving Your Beliefs Aren't Merely Empty Words
Proving Your Beliefs Aren't Merely Empty Words

By: Leanna K. Fuller
Churches can disagree on many things, but most of us agree that racism is fundamentally wrong. Saying nothing is both a mark of privilege and a sign of complicity. This is a time for moral courage.

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Why the World Needs More Thoughtful Christians
Why the World Needs More Thoughtful Christians

By: Nathan Napier
Jesus' message may be simple, but Christians shouldn't be simple thinkers. We need more thoughtful Christians who can balance faith and reason outside the echo chambers of their churches or traditions.

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Why's Your Church Program Breaking Down? Science!
Why's Your Church Program Breaking Down? Science!

By: Joel Snider
Like an aging house in need of repair, even the best church programs break down and need retooling to restore their effectiveness. Why? Your high school physics class has the answer.

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Why That Sure-Fire Church Program Misses Your Target
Why That Sure-Fire Church Program Misses Your Target

By: Charles Revis
Your church needs a boost. That sure-fire program the successful megachurch is selling seems like just what you need. Here's why it's not going to work for you.

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Why Did Church Stop Being a Place to be Vulnerable?
Why Did Church Stop Being a Place to be Vulnerable?

By: Brent McDougal
God created the church so that we would bear one another's burdens and be vulnerable ourselves, but that's not how most churches work. Church is often the last place that someone can admit they need help.

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Why Some Church Members Need to Go to Arabia
Why Some Church Members Need to Go to Arabia

By: Bill Wilson
Much of what we call faith and commitment is actually a thin veneer of religious ritualism that wilts at the first hint of stress. A cure exists for this self-absorbed faith: You need to go to Arabia.

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4 Suggestions to Minister in the Meantime and Mean Time
4 Suggestions to Minister in the Meantime and Mean Time

By: Guy Sayles
Ministry happens in the meantime, the season of troubling transitions, and the mean time, when public debate has coarsened. Here are 4 ways you can navigate these difficult intervals.

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Finding Strength in Your Vulnerability
Finding Strength in Your Vulnerability

By: Brent McDougal
We live in a vulnerable world. Many people fear feeling unprotected and emotionally exposed. It's tempting to put up walls and hide behind them. Those walls ultimately destroy the very thing we want to protect.

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When Churches Scapegoat: Ugly, Expensive, Unchristian
When Churches Scapegoat: Ugly, Expensive, Unchristian

By: Bill Wilson
Dwindling attendance. Lower offerings. When the bottom line starts to slide, too many churches resort to a practice rooted in the Old Testament. It's called scapegoating.

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6 Ways You Can Reduce Pastoral Vulnerability
6 Ways You Can Reduce Pastoral Vulnerability

By: Mark Tidsworth
Given our larger cultural context of incivility and low regard for leadership in general, it's not surprising that pastors are more vulnerable than ever before. Here are 6 ways to reduce it.

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Smooth Sailing? Learning to Navigate Church Diversity
Smooth Sailing? Learning to Navigate Church Diversity

By: Barry Howard
Churches are more diverse than ever in many different ways. Whether or not that diversity has a positive or negative effect hinges on how ministers and ministry leaders navigate it.

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A Theme Rarely Heard in Pulpits: Mothering Like God
A Theme Rarely Heard in Pulpits: Mothering Like God

By: Kelly Moreland Jones
Even though God is described in ways as other than male in the Bible, you rarely hear texts preached or prayers addressed to anyone other than a male God. Is that a problem or an opportunity?

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Bivocational Ministry Can Take Emotional Toll on Ministers
Bivocational Ministry Can Take Emotional Toll on Ministers

By: Jay Lynn
Bivocational ministry is often seen as an ideal solution for struggling churches, but there's another side to this coin. While it may free churches from financial burdens, it presents emotional challenges for ministers.

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7 Pitfalls When Leading Your Church to Change
7 Pitfalls When Leading Your Church to Change

By: Mark Tidsworth
When leaders are ready to lead their congregations to make deep changes, they often underestimate the work that's involved. Leaders often launch change too soon. Here are 7 mistakes to avoid.

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Is Your Church Building Authentic Community for Women?
Is Your Church Building Authentic Community for Women?

By: Carra Greer
Many Baptist churches fall short when it comes to addressing issues that affect women. Here are 6 ideas to help your church open its doors to women who need support, understanding and community.

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4 Easy Ways to Support Your Church Staff
4 Easy Ways to Support Your Church Staff

By: Joe LaGuardia
When churches aren't adept in conflict management or basic communication skills, they risk abusing staff or draining them to the point of burnout. Here are 4 ways healthy churches support their staff.

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4 Differences Mark Pre-Easter vs Post-Easter Churches
4 Differences Mark Pre-Easter vs Post-Easter Churches

By: Bill Wilson
Pre-Easter churches are marked by discouragement, loss and despair while post-Easter churches are marked by confidence and hope. Is your church living on the right side of Easter?

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7 Healthy Habits of Congregations on Mission
7 Healthy Habits of Congregations on Mission

By: Bill Wilson
While building a congregation's life around a clear vision and purpose is easy to believe in, problems emerge when we talk about how to do it. Here are 7 habits of churches that are on mission.

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Building Up Church Members To Take On Ministry
Building Up Church Members To Take On Ministry

By: Sharon Prior
Many congregations expect their ministry staff to do almost everything, but hopefully those days are coming to an end. Ministers must develop a culture that helps members align their gifts with roles in the church.

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How Your Church Can Transform From Tepid to Robust
How Your Church Can Transform From Tepid to Robust

By: Mark Tidsworth
Some church leaders desire to keep as many people happy as often as possible, but this leads to a watered-down, tepid religion. Here's what your church needs to do to become a robust congregation.

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3 Major Temptations That Rural Ministers Battle
3 Major Temptations That Rural Ministers Battle

By: Jonathan Davis
Rural ministers have unique temptations that threaten to derail them. Unlike their big-city counterparts, these pastors of small-town churches must be on their guard for these temptations.

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Average Age of U.S. Protestant Pastors Trending Upward
Average Age of U.S. Protestant Pastors Trending Upward

By: EthicsDaily Staff
The average age of U.S. pastors is trending upward, moving from 44 years old in 1992 to 54 in 2017, says a new study released by Barna Group and Pepperdine University.

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While Size of Crowds Notable, They Prove Nothing
While Size of Crowds Notable, They Prove Nothing

By: Reggie Warren
Comparing crowd sizes became a surprising focal point following President Trump's inauguration. But what do they mean? Christians in the 21st century should know that the size of crowds mean little.

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Prophetic Priests and Priestly Prophets
Prophetic Priests and Priestly Prophets

By: Guy Sayles
While the priest's work is primarily within the church and the prophet's focus is most often beyond it, we're living in times when these distinctions are breaking down.

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Why You Can't Communicate Enough to Your Church
Why You Can't Communicate Enough to Your Church

By: Dennis Bickers
When churches face change, a leader can't make the mistake of a lack of communication. During change, communication is crucial. Most people in church will do the right thing when they have the right information.

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Does Your Church Need a Recombobulation Area?
Does Your Church Need a Recombobulation Area?

By: Bill Wilson
Going through airport security can leave people discombobulated. Similarly, many congregations are discombobulated by the challenges of being a 21st century church. We need a recombobulation area.

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Is Your Church Asking the Right Questions?
Is Your Church Asking the Right Questions?

By: Ircel Harrison
Many church leaders often review the health of their church with questions that are internally focused. While that's important, you can't stop there. You need to ask externally focused questions. Are you?

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Ways to Worship When Christmas Day Falls on Sunday
Ways to Worship When Christmas Day Falls on Sunday

By: Jerrod Hugenot
With a low church attendance expected when this Christmas Day arrives on a Sunday, what can smaller churches do? One solution could be this different way to try out a Christmas Day hymn sing.

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Why Your Sermon Must Differ From Fake News Sites
Why Your Sermon Must Differ From Fake News Sites

By: Dennis Bickers
With the viral popularity of fake news sites, people are inundated everyday with false, misleading and negative information. When they come to church, they need to hear a message filled with truth and hope.

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Faith-Based Hospital Sends Message of Gratitude to
Faith-Based Hospital Sends Message of Gratitude to "the Least" in Local Community

By: Don Sewell
For the fourth year in a row, 70 Baylor Scott & White Health employees handed out more than 500 Thanksgiving sack lunches to the marginalized.

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6 Lessons Your Church Can Learn from Sea Glass
6 Lessons Your Church Can Learn from Sea Glass

By: Bill Wilson
Pounded by the waves and roiled in the sand and stones, ordinary glass bottles and containers wash up on beaches, transformed into pieces of art. And they offer six illustrations for what it means to be the church.

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How Your Pastor Can Stay Grounded in Ministry
How Your Pastor Can Stay Grounded in Ministry

By: Dennis Bickers
Many pastors must report on the number of visits they make and committee meetings they attend. But to stay grounded, pastors must focus on the invisibles: prayer, Scripture reading and spiritual direction.

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Why Your Church Needs More Than One Theologian
Why Your Church Needs More Than One Theologian

By: Barry Howard
Your church will be healthier if members are equipped to be good theologians. There are two categories of theology: folk and academic theology. Both are extremely important to the health of the church.

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Christian Reaction to Election: Don't Lose Focus
Christian Reaction to Election: Don't Lose Focus

By: Larry Eubanks
A lot of U.S. Christians are concerned about who won the election - some are jubilant, others despairing. If you're enveloped by either, you've placed your hope in the wrong place and the wrong person.

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Is Your Church Culture Creating New Pastoral Leaders?
Is Your Church Culture Creating New Pastoral Leaders?

By: Bill Wilson
Where are our next pastoral leaders going to come from? They'll come from your church, but only if your church takes seriously their role in creating a healthy culture of call.

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Using the Latest Tools to Communicate the Gospel
Using the Latest Tools to Communicate the Gospel

By: Dennis Bickers
If you want to reach young adults, you won't do it by mailing them your monthly newsletter. That may have worked years ago, but churches must change their communication strategies to reflect the times.

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Beating Burnout: Why Every Moses Needs a Jethro
Beating Burnout: Why Every Moses Needs a Jethro

By: Jim Kelsey
Overcome by other tasks, some pastors lose that gripping purpose that once consumed their imagination and called forth the best they had to give. They need someone who can help them claim their original calling.

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Healthy Congregations Know When to Adapt - Part 2
Healthy Congregations Know When to Adapt - Part 2

By: Mark Tidsworth
Every church is engaging in the adaptive process, given the large-scale changes happening all around us. Some are intentional, some haphazard. Here are 7 types of churches positioned for adaptive change.

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Healthy Congregations Know When to Adapt - Part 1
Healthy Congregations Know When to Adapt - Part 1

By: Mark Tidsworth
While some churches want to cling onto their cherished practices or the way they've always done things, healthy churches learn to adapt. Here are 9 indicators your church faces roadblocks to change.

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Why Great Churches Are Like Your Best Vacation
Why Great Churches Are Like Your Best Vacation

By: Bill Wilson
Most churches are unable to offer a clear purpose that's shared and embraced with passion by many of their people. That's why pushing people to purpose is a necessary and invaluable process for leaders.

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5 Lessons Learned by a Local Church Pastor
5 Lessons Learned by a Local Church Pastor

By: Matt Sapp
Pastors have many lessons they've learned over the course of their ministry. One local pastor shares five of them. The first one? Slow and steady wins the race. Church work is no sprint.

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7 Signs of Movement-Focused Churches
7 Signs of Movement-Focused Churches

By: Bill Wilson
Healthy churches recognize that the era of programming is giving way to a season in which we rediscover our movement roots. Does your church still push programs or is it working to launch and sustain a movement?

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Should Pastors Endorse Presidential Candidates?
Should Pastors Endorse Presidential Candidates?

By: Brian Kaylor
Christians do not owe their chief loyalty to either political party. By publicly endorsing a candidate, pastors will tie their own credibility - and their churches' credibility and witness - to what that candidate says or does.

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Is Your Church Like Cut Flowers?
Is Your Church Like Cut Flowers?

By: Bill Wilson
Some churches are like cut flowers, beautiful but facing a future of slow decline. Churches should strive to be like garden perennials, springing up year after year, rather than "flash in the pan" annuals.

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4 Rules on Talking Politics in Sunday School
4 Rules on Talking Politics in Sunday School

By: Tony Brooks
If you lead a Sunday school class, your role is to discuss issues based on Scripture. As the political season heats up, discussion will turn toward politics. Here are 4 rules to manage those conversations.

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Setting Goals to Map Out Your Church's Future
Setting Goals to Map Out Your Church's Future

By: Ircel Harrison
Churches planning for the future need to set goals to map out how they'll reach their destination. There will always be those who resist goals. Here are ways to answer those objections.

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Reaffirming Church Unity Amid Diverse Political Views
Reaffirming Church Unity Amid Diverse Political Views

By: Danny Chisholm
Many churches are not uniform when it comes to political views. We are a tapestry of different political, social and theological positions. This political season, we must reaffirm what unifies us amid diverse views.

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Taking the Long View: Lessons from 17-Year Locusts
Taking the Long View: Lessons from 17-Year Locusts

By: Joel Snider
Our lives are consumed by the 'tyranny of the urgent,' those things that get in our way and demand attention. Instead, as the 17-year locust reminds us, the long view of life is the healthiest and most effective.

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Which Set of Questions Best Defines Your Church?
Which Set of Questions Best Defines Your Church?

By: Mark Tidsworth
When it comes to church, there are driving questions behind and underneath everything we do. Of these two question sets - one foundational, the other organizational - which one drives your church?

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When Anxiety Attacks: 3 Questions to Correct Your Course
When Anxiety Attacks: 3 Questions to Correct Your Course

By: Bill Wilson
Christians often talk about how God is always good yet live anxious and obsessed lives. That gap between rhetoric and actions is at the heart of the dysfunction of many local churches and individual Christians.

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12 Healthy Trends Emerging in Revitalizing Churches
12 Healthy Trends Emerging in Revitalizing Churches

By: Barry Howard
Does your church need to be revitalized? It is a process of restoring a healthy vision, good congregational morale and a sustainable model for engaging in mission and ministry. Here are 12 healthy trends.

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Spiritual Fitness Tracker: How to Get Your '10,000 Steps'
Spiritual Fitness Tracker: How to Get Your '10,000 Steps'

By: David Hull
Personal fitness trackers are in demand and are a great way to measure our fitness goals to reach 10,000 daily steps. What if you could wear a spiritual fitness tracker? What would it measure?

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Australian Baptist Leader's Long-Term, Healthy Ministry Tips
Australian Baptist Leader's Long-Term, Healthy Ministry Tips

By: EthicsDaily Staff
How does a pastor 'stay fresh' after a 40-year ministry with the same church? Bill Brown, senior pastor of Syndal Baptist Church in Australia, shared his insights in a video interview with EthicsDaily.com.

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Video Interviews Highlight Global Baptists
Video Interviews Highlight Global Baptists

By: EthicsDaily Staff
As Baptists from 50 nations gathered in Canada last week for the Baptists World Alliance annual gathering, EthicsDaily.com shot video interviews with Baptist leaders from around the globe.

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7 Changes the Future Holds for Local Churches
7 Changes the Future Holds for Local Churches

By: Dennis Bickers
Churches are in transition, similar to a trapeze artist who has let go of one swing and is suspended midair while the next swing approaches. Here are 7 changes the approaching future holds.

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'A Beautiful Constraint'
'A Beautiful Constraint'

By: Guy Sayles
Constraints can be 'beautiful' opportunities. When determination and commitment clash with limits and constraint, that energy can help us consider changes we've previously been unwilling to make.

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Millennials Will Soon Step into Church Leadership
Millennials Will Soon Step into Church Leadership

By: Dennis Bickers
Millennials will soon begin to step into leadership roles in every organization including churches. But they won't be content to manage like current leadership. They want to lead and make a difference.

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10 Reflections Gleaned from a Decade of Pastoring
10 Reflections Gleaned from a Decade of Pastoring

By: Chris Smith
Pastoring can be daunting, painful, disappointing and down-right depressing. It can also offer times of great fulfillment, joy, peace and gladness. Here are 10 lessons I've learned on the journey.

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10 Confessions of a Middle-Aged Pastor
10 Confessions of a Middle-Aged Pastor

By: Barry Howard
Confession is good for the soul, they say. So here are 10 confessions from one pastor about what he believes about church and ministry after 37 years of service.

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What's Your Church's Blind Spot?
What's Your Church's Blind Spot?

By: Bill Wilson
We all have blind spots, but so do our churches. Churches ignore their blind spots at their own peril; they are an early warning system for more complicated issues ahead.

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Why Women Matter in Church Leadership
Why Women Matter in Church Leadership

By: Jerrod Hugenot
While some Baptists claim that women should not be in church leadership, especially pastoral ministry, the truth is that without their leadership and commitment, churches would not have much left.

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Your Pastor as the Church's Chief Celebration Officer
Your Pastor as the Church's Chief Celebration Officer

By: Mark Tidsworth
Does your church celebrate the good things? An important element of pastoral leadership is to ask: How are we doing with celebrating God's good work in and through our congregations?

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When Your Church Dives into Despair, Try 20-Year Test
When Your Church Dives into Despair, Try 20-Year Test

By: Bill Wilson
A calamity arises in every church. Many react by proclaiming it's the worst thing to ever happen. Instead of bemoaning the church's imminent doom, those church folks need to take the 20-Year Test.

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Pastor as CEO? All the Perks; Zero Accountability
Pastor as CEO? All the Perks; Zero Accountability

By: Joe LaGuardia
Many in the pastoral profession desire all the perks of being a CEO in a local church but refuse to be held accountable to the same standards as CEOs in the business world.

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The Leadership Crisis Faced by Smaller Churches
The Leadership Crisis Faced by Smaller Churches

By: Dennis Bickers
Finding qualified persons for smaller churches is often a struggle. Unfortunately, many pastors refuse to serve smaller churches. For many of these churches, the answer may be sitting in their pews.

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Whose Heart Will You Wake Up Today?
Whose Heart Will You Wake Up Today?

By: Jim Kelsey
People with no interest in religious faith aren't bad or rejecters of God. They simply do not fully appreciate what lies dormant within them. We can wake up their hearts.

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An Example of Christian Leadership You're Not Expecting
An Example of Christian Leadership You're Not Expecting

By: Stuart Blythe
Think of models of leadership in the Bible and several names come to mind: Abraham, Joseph, David. Another individual in the Bible is a model leader, even though he's not foremost on many lists.

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8 Mistakes Ministers Make When Leading Adaptive Change
8 Mistakes Ministers Make When Leading Adaptive Change

By: Mark Tidsworth
Pastoral leaders are at their most vulnerable when attempting to lead major changes in their churches. Here are eight common pitfalls made by many ministers when initiating changes.

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Effective Pastoral Leadership Isn't What It Used To Be
Effective Pastoral Leadership Isn't What It Used To Be

By: Mark Tidsworth
How can pastors know if they're effective leaders? The answer may depend on the culture of their churches. Are they stable and content or adaptable and fluid? One needs a statesman, the other a movement leader.

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Standing Up to Rhetoric from Bullying Politicians
Standing Up to Rhetoric from Bullying Politicians

By: Sean McKenzie
Some political candidates are engaging in divisive rhetoric, notably against immigrants, as part of their grab for power. They are modern-day playground bullies, and we must stand up to them.

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7 Ways to Develop Leaders for Your Small Church
7 Ways to Develop Leaders for Your Small Church

By: Dennis Bickers
Leaders, including pastors, are responsible for growing other leaders. This is especially true in smaller churches because many of them struggle to find pastors.

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Decision Lessons for Pastors from President Bush
Decision Lessons for Pastors from President Bush

By: Dennis Bickers
Regardless of your feelings for President George W. Bush, his book, "Decision Points," highlights his thinking of some of the decisions in office. It's a good lesson for pastors who have to make tough decisions.

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4 Steps on How Pastors Should Handle Politics in Pulpit
4 Steps on How Pastors Should Handle Politics in Pulpit

By: Barry Howard
The pulpit is a place to accent the privilege and responsibility of choosing our leaders, not a place to dictate the decision. Here are four steps for pastors who want to encourage good citizenship from the pulpit.

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Does Your Church Care About Those Who Wander?
Does Your Church Care About Those Who Wander?

By: Bill Wilson
Rather than spending time judging others so that we feel better about ourselves, churches are called to go out and find those who have wandered from God's dream for their lives and bring them back.

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Can Civility Be Restored in American Politics?
Can Civility Be Restored in American Politics?

By: Robert Parham
Incivility and profanity are running rampant in the GOP primary season, with Donald Trump leading the pack. The same woes are surfacing on the Democratic side. Can churches help restore civility?

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The Dangers When Ministers Endorse Presidential Hopefuls
The Dangers When Ministers Endorse Presidential Hopefuls

By: Danny Chisholm
Ministers create inherent dangers when they endorse presidential candidates. It sets ministers up for disappointment, confuses and alienates laity and exaggerates pastors' influence.

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Every Church Must Adapt to Process of Change
Every Church Must Adapt to Process of Change

By: Mark Tidsworth
Recognize it or not, like it or not, all congregations are currently in the change process. The question then is about adaptation: How effectively will you navigate these white waters of change?

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7 Core Areas to Assess Your Church's Health
7 Core Areas to Assess Your Church's Health

By: Larry McSwain
How healthy is your church? That will vary based on several factors, including socioeconomic status and location. But here are seven core markers to see how your church fares during its checkup.

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10 Insights to Handle Church Conflict Agreeably
10 Insights to Handle Church Conflict Agreeably

By: Bill Wilson
Many clergy aren't prepared to navigate conflict and intense conversations. If that includes you, here are 10 insights to help you work through that next difficult round of criticism.

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10 Qualities for Our Nation's Next President
10 Qualities for Our Nation's Next President

By: Terry Austin
What personal traits and skills are important for the next president of the United States? No matter what their political party, we need someone with the qualities to identify the best approach to the issues.

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11 Characteristics the Church Needs in Leaders Today
11 Characteristics the Church Needs in Leaders Today

By: Renée Embree
To be effective in today's culture, the church desperately needs leaders with deep character and faithful competence to help the church go from where it is today to where it needs to be for tomorrow.

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Is Your Church's Ministry Aligned with Your Vision?
Is Your Church's Ministry Aligned with Your Vision?

By: Dennis Bickers
Most churches have no sense of a clear vision for ministry. And those that do typically have a vision that's so fuzzy or generic that it's unhelpful. Start the new year right with a clear vision.

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3 Ways Pastors Learn to Trust Their Churches
3 Ways Pastors Learn to Trust Their Churches

By: Mark Tidsworth
Trust is a two-way street. While much attention has focused on building the congregation's trust in the pastor, there's been less focus on building the pastor's trust in the church.

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When Speaking the Truth Isn't Always Appropriate
When Speaking the Truth Isn't Always Appropriate

By: Ron Rolheiser
Having the truth is one thing, speaking it in a place and a manner that's helpful is quite another. Simply put, it isn't always helpful or charitable or mature to throw a truth into someone's face.

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What Leaders Need to Help Thriving Churches Change
What Leaders Need to Help Thriving Churches Change

By: Paul Beasley-Murray
When a church needs to change, it requires careful preparation and persuasion. The wise leader needs to recognize that change in church life needs time and patience.

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5 Signs of Invigorated, Engaged Pastors
5 Signs of Invigorated, Engaged Pastors

By: Mark Tidsworth
Exceptional pastoral leaders are not few and far between. Everyone can be or become an effective pastoral leader. Here are five characteristics of invigorated and engaged clergy.

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The State of Clergy: Learned Helplessness
The State of Clergy: Learned Helplessness

By: Mark Tidsworth
Many clergy experience periods of learned helplessness, entrenched in their belief that nothing will change. How do you make sure it's only one stop on your vocational journey?

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How Ministers Can Beat Feelings of Exhaustion
How Ministers Can Beat Feelings of Exhaustion

By: Bill Wilson
Ministry leaders are marked by fatigue and weariness. Their work is both deeply rewarding and immensely frustrating. When you feel exhausted or isolated, find those folks who will lift you up.

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How Churches Can Measure Their Significance
How Churches Can Measure Their Significance

By: Griff Martin
Many churches are facing serious struggles or are in decline. Instead of measuring success by numbers, money, fame or power, churches must begin to measure their significance. Here's how.

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Lessons in Leadership from the Political Process
Lessons in Leadership from the Political Process

By: Guy Sayles
Our political process offers many valuable - albeit negative - lessons for church leaders. However, politics does teach us the importance of fashioning networks and coalitions, all for the common good.

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6 Ways to Make Your Ministry Last for Long Haul
6 Ways to Make Your Ministry Last for Long Haul

By: Dennis Bickers
Increasingly, many people leave the ministry before retirement. The average seminary grad exits within five years of graduating. These six practices will help you remain in ministry.

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The Most Important Staffing Position in Your Church
The Most Important Staffing Position in Your Church

By: Bill Wilson
Churches have succeeded by offering programs to attract folks to them, but those days are dying. Churches need someone to help them go to their communities.

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 3 Hard Realities about Your Church's Future
3 Hard Realities about Your Church's Future

By: Mark Tidsworth
When churches struggle to survive, its members want to save it. Such motives are natural and healthy. But we must face the reality that God's mission focuses on the world, not any individual church.

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Growing Potatoes on Mars: 12 Lessons for Your Church
Growing Potatoes on Mars: 12 Lessons for Your Church

By: Barry Howard
In the novel-turned-movie "The Martian," an astronaut stranded on Mars must learn to grow potatoes for his survival. His task illustrates 12 lessons for the church and its survival.

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6 Ways Your Church Should Invest in People
6 Ways Your Church Should Invest in People

By: Ircel Harrison
Church programs come and go. Buildings often become a burden rather than a resource. Strategies rise and fall. But churches wanting the best return on investment should focus on people. People will endure.

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The Reason Your Church Struggles with Growth
The Reason Your Church Struggles with Growth

By: Darren Blaney
Why do so many churches not grow? Most would rather keep the peace and let malcontents rule the day. Healthy churches and leaders know how to manage conflict.

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3 Things that Pope Francis Taught Us about Jesus
3 Things that Pope Francis Taught Us about Jesus

By: Elizabeth Evans Hagan
During his visit to the U.S., Pope Francis proved once again he was a refreshing man of the people. He modeled how Jesus loves unconditionally, isn't afraid to do the work and calls us to elevate the unseen.

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The Secret to Pull Your Small Church Out of Mediocrity
The Secret to Pull Your Small Church Out of Mediocrity

By: Dennis Bickers
Smaller churches offer all kinds of excuses why some programs or ministries are not effective; the bottom line is they just do not have the resources to do more than a few things.

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Shaping Theological Ideas to Meet Daily Life's Needs
Shaping Theological Ideas to Meet Daily Life's Needs

By: Zach Dawes
To ensure a vibrant Christian witness, academic theologians and congregational ministers must continually work together to bridge the gap between doctrine and daily life.

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How Your Church Resembles New-Car Technology
How Your Church Resembles New-Car Technology

By: Matt Sapp
People love technology that makes a car safer, more reliable or more comfortable. But if new technology isn't directly applied to the car's core purpose, most folks can take it or leave it. It's the same with the church.

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8 Questions for Churches Stuck in 'Post-Everything' Mode
8 Questions for Churches Stuck in 'Post-Everything' Mode

By: Mark Tidsworth
We seem to live in a "post-this," "post-that" and "post-everything" culture. Instead of lamenting the demise of church-as-we-have-known-it, can churches learn how to connect with culture?

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Why God Wants Your Church to Grow
Why God Wants Your Church to Grow

By: Paul Beasley-Murray
While it's true that church isn't all about the numbers, there's nothing wrong in reflecting on how we can be more effective in growing churches. God wants churches to grow.

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3 Questions About What Matters at Your Church
3 Questions About What Matters at Your Church

By: John Rackley
Does your church live out God's mission for it or does your church exist to find new members to keep it going? Here are three questions to help you determine if your vision is out of focus.

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5 Things Pastors Need to Stop Doing Now
5 Things Pastors Need to Stop Doing Now

By: Bill Owen
Being an effective pastor is not easy. Even outstanding pastors face days where self-doubt, fear and uncertainty nip at their heels. When those days come, here are five things you need to stop doing.

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5 Keys to Help Your Church Achieve Grander Vision
5 Keys to Help Your Church Achieve Grander Vision

By: Matt Sapp
Churches have been reluctant to embrace new vision at the speed necessary to keep up with the shifting culture - and we're seeing rapid church decline as the inevitable result.

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How to Change Your Church When They Resist Change
How to Change Your Church When They Resist Change

By: Dennis Bickers
Most church members are very content with the status quo and resistant to change. If you want change in your church, you need to identify the ones that want change and groom them for leadership.

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Helping Church Leaders Recover from Leadership Scars
Helping Church Leaders Recover from Leadership Scars

By: Guy Sayles
Many church leaders, both clergy and laity, have leadership scars, difficult reminders of wounds they received when they attempted to offer their leadership gifts. We need to help them heal.

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Is Your Church Fragile or Agile?
Is Your Church Fragile or Agile?

By: Bill Wilson
Developing a church vision statement shouldn't be a cumbersome task. A lean final document can emphasize future direction and leave much of the implementation for future teams to decide.

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Horizontal and Vertical Churches: Where's the Balance?
Horizontal and Vertical Churches: Where's the Balance?

By: Roger Olson
Some churches relate to God horizontally through fellowship and healthy relationships; other relate to God vertically through worship and spiritual practices. They key is to find the balance.

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Churches Need Realistic Expectations for Pastor
Churches Need Realistic Expectations for Pastor

By: Joe LaGuardia
Full-time pastoral ministry is one of the last professions in which a person has to be competent in multiple skill sets while being paid a salary well below that of other professions.

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The 3 Balancing Acts of Leadership
The 3 Balancing Acts of Leadership

By: Kevin Hagan
If you want to be a leader who fulfills your promises and accomplishes tasks in line with the mission of your organization, then you must start with clarity. Here are three balancing acts every leader faces.

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4 Ways Your Church Can Enlarge Its 'Bandwidth'
4 Ways Your Church Can Enlarge Its 'Bandwidth'

By: Larry McSwain
What's your church's bandwidth? We're not talking about your computers or anything technical. Every congregation has a certain amount of bandwidth in fulfilling its dreams for the future.

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3 Principles Church Leaders Can Learn from Machiavelli
3 Principles Church Leaders Can Learn from Machiavelli

By: Terrell Carter
Church leaders face an increasing maze of challenges in a society growing more secular. While he had his flaws, Machiavelli has three pieces of advice that are relevant for local church leaders.

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Coach's 3-Prong Philosophy Applies to Churches
Coach's 3-Prong Philosophy Applies to Churches

By: Guy Sayles
Legendary UNC Coach Dean Smith had a three-prong philosophy for his teams: play hard, play smart, play together. And that's not a bad philosophy for churches, too.

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4 Ways Your Church Can Be a Healthy Family
4 Ways Your Church Can Be a Healthy Family

By: Joel Snider
Those attributes that make healthy family relationships also create healthy church relationships. Here are four ways your church can model healthy family dynamics in the congregation.

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Where Smaller Churches Can Find Their Next Pastor
Where Smaller Churches Can Find Their Next Pastor

By: Dennis Bickers
Some congregations spend too much time looking for persons with degrees and formal education. The next pastor or staff member of your small church may be already sitting in your pews.

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Why Many Churches Have a Common Core Christianity
Why Many Churches Have a Common Core Christianity

By: Joe LaGuardia
Common Core provides national benchmarks for students. With so many churchgoers lacking basic bible knowledge, many churches must take a Common Core approach from the pulpit.

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Building Bridges with Asset-Based Pastoral Leadership
Building Bridges with Asset-Based Pastoral Leadership

By: Rhonda Abbott Blevins
Asset-based pastoral leadership begins with developing a simple habit: With each parishioner, find out something he or she could teach and something he or she wants to learn.

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No Matter Where You Serve in Church, We're All Together
No Matter Where You Serve in Church, We're All Together

By: David Fitch
Some folks serve their church in traditional organized functions; others serve outside the church walls. Both groups must come together in a way that's seamless and represents a whole of way of life.

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Will Your Church Turn the World Upside Down?
Will Your Church Turn the World Upside Down?

By: Bill Wilson
Turning the world upside down is risky business for churches. They must be ready to weigh new ideas, suggest alternatives, propose new methods or raise questions. And some folks won't like it.

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2 Important Skills for Church Leaders
2 Important Skills for Church Leaders

By: Guy Sayles
Effective leaders need two important skills when leading a church. They need to be able to motivate members to take a hill and they need to be able to discern which hills to take.

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Why Pastors Must Accept and Live Within Their Limits
Why Pastors Must Accept and Live Within Their Limits

By: Danny Chisholm
Speed limit signs remind us of our limitations. One of the most difficult aspects of being a church minister is realizing that you have limits and must live within them.

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3 Steps That Flourishing Churches Will Take
3 Steps That Flourishing Churches Will Take

By: Mark Tidsworth
The North American Christian church is losing its cultural majority status and privilege, along with its influence in the public square. The churches that flourish will practice these three things.

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Does Your Church Function as a Green-Light Church?
Does Your Church Function as a Green-Light Church?

By: Bill Wilson
Churches used to be a source of entrepreneurship, but many have abandoned that spirit and are in survival mode. Instead of being a green-light church where ideas are born, they're stuck in yellow and red.

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Training the Church's Next Generation of Leaders
Training the Church's Next Generation of Leaders

By: Ircel Harrison
It's not enough to identify and disciple leaders for the church. Leaders need to invest their time to mentor young leaders who will in turn invest their time training the following generation.

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Your Church Must Choose: Window or Aisle Seat?
Your Church Must Choose: Window or Aisle Seat?

By: Bill Owen
You may feel cramped in the window seat of a flight, but you have a great view of the world. The aisle seat offers far more comfort. Metaphorically speaking, many churches prefer the aisle seat.

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Guardian or Gardener? Which Describes Your Church?
Guardian or Gardener? Which Describes Your Church?

By: David Hull
Churches are either guardians or gardeners. Is yours protecting the ministries that were planted yesterday or digging new soil, planting new seeds and pruning back the old so that new growth can occur?

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The Danger When Your Church Keeps Secrets
The Danger When Your Church Keeps Secrets

By: Dennis Bickers
Church leaders sometimes keep secrets from congregations, often thinking they are protecting the church. When those secrets are exposed, trust is broken. Here's how to rebuild that trust.

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How to Lose the Next Generation of Church Leaders
How to Lose the Next Generation of Church Leaders

By: Ircel Harrison
If your congregation wants to enlist and nurture a new generation of church leaders, it won't happen by putting them on committees, especially if most of those assignments don't provide any sense of fulfillment.

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Why Some Successful Pastors See Themselves Negatively
Why Some Successful Pastors See Themselves Negatively

By: Mark Tidsworth
Some pastors tend to discount their competence and success. When pastors believe God has given them what they need in order to serve well, they lead more effectively.

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6 Ways for Ministers to Build Trust, Transparency
6 Ways for Ministers to Build Trust, Transparency

By: Paul Beasley-Murray
Pastors should be prepared to give an account of their ministry to the lay leaders of their churches. Here are six ways that pastors and churches can build trust and transparency.

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When a Church is Not Really a Church
When a Church is Not Really a Church
By: Larry Eubanks
The church needs to gather together, but they should be so much more than just people who gather for worship and prayer. The church is a group of people with a common mission out in the world.
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Despite What Churches Think, Bigger Isn't Better
Despite What Churches Think, Bigger Isn't Better

By: Colin Sedgwick
Too many pastors and church members believe that size is the supreme mark of "success" in church life. What if we made our true priority being the most loving, Spirit-filled or prayerful?

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How Your Church Can Help Our Society Trust Again
How Your Church Can Help Our Society Trust Again
By: Joe LaGuardia and Karen Woods
Clashes between protesters and police officers illustrate the growing distrust that rules our society. When distrust breeds disharmony and violence, how can churches step in to provide reconciliation?
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The Key to Successful Leadership in Small Churches
The Key to Successful Leadership in Small Churches

By: Dennis Bickers
To effectively lead a small church, you must first find out who are the influential members. In order to be effective, you must be willing to lead through the leaders.

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Measured Thought vs. Shooting from the Hip
Measured Thought vs. Shooting from the Hip
By: Colin Harris
Any faith can be guilty of horrendous atrocities; no faith can be rightly evaluated in terms of what extremists do in its name. When someone in authority gives this measured response, it's labeled as indecisive.
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When Ministers Ignore Ethical Boundaries
When Ministers Ignore Ethical Boundaries
By: Ircel Harrison
Certain boundary issues – money, relationships, time management –are often overlooked in ministerial training. Why do good leaders ignore common sense and fail to observe boundaries?
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The Two Most Dangerous Words Spoken in Church
The Two Most Dangerous Words Spoken in Church
By: Bill Wilson
Two words uttered back to back are the most dangerous in church. They indicate that we believe we are exceptions to the rule. But three steps can put us on the right track.
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Brian Williams and 8 Lessons in Leadership Credibility
Brian Williams and 8 Lessons in Leadership Credibility
By: Dennis Bickers
NBC's Brian Williams' situation offers an important reminder: To be successful in leadership, you must earn the trust of those you serve. Without credibility, you can't earn that trust.
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3 Habits to Help Your Church Develop Disciples
3 Habits to Help Your Church Develop Disciples
By: Mark Tidsworth
Developing each other and ourselves as disciples of Jesus Christ is one of the unique roles of God's church. Here are three ways your church can begin to develop disciples.
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8 Lessons Learned as EthicsDaily.com's Managing Editor
8 Lessons Learned as EthicsDaily.com's Managing Editor

By: Zach Dawes
After serving two years as EthicsDaily.com's managing editor, Zach Dawes shares eight leadership lessons he's learned. Some may apply to your area of service.

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3 Ways Pastors Earn the Right to Be Prophetic
3 Ways Pastors Earn the Right to Be Prophetic
By: Mark Tidsworth
When a pastor tells a church they're falling short of where they should be, is it out of frustration and anger or from a loving desire to speak a prophetic truth? Here are three ways to know.
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Why Americans are Wrong to Shrug Off Torture
Why Americans are Wrong to Shrug Off Torture

By: Zach Dawes
Most Americans believe our use of torture is justified, a survey found. But torture is always immoral, and information obtained through torture, even if it does save the lives of many, does not make it a moral act.

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Pope's Uncomfortable Truth Reminds Us Who We Are
Pope's Uncomfortable Truth Reminds Us Who We Are
By: Colin Harris
Pope Francis called on church leaders to engage in a radical recommitment to Christian justice and move away from comfort and privilege. His prophetic message should resonate with all faiths.
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How Your Church Will Benefit from Networking
How Your Church Will Benefit from Networking
By: Ircel Harrison
Networking – sharing information with others – is essential for leaders of 21st century organizations. Churches will reap the benefits if they find ways to institutionalize networking in their congregations.
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Advent: Perfect Time for Churches to Pursue Vision
Advent: Perfect Time for Churches to Pursue Vision
By: Bill Wilson
Healthy churches start with a powerful, shared vision that captures God's dream for them and then work tirelessly to embrace it across every aspect of congregational life.
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4 Types of Leadership Needed in Missional Churches
4 Types of Leadership Needed in Missional Churches
By: Ircel Harrison
God gives different abilities and gifts to each of us. Churches must rely on a diversity of leadership if they want to become truly missional. Here are four types of leadership they'll need.
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How Christians Should Engage Their Culture
How Christians Should Engage Their Culture
By: Ircel Harrison
When Christians respond to culture, they can curse the darkness or light a candle. Too often, they're trained to attack. Instead, we should engage the culture. The Apostle Paul shows us how.
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Vocational Ministry Takes Toll on Many Ministers
Vocational Ministry Takes Toll on Many Ministers

By: Travis Collins
The church needs servant leaders who are living out a biblical model for that ministry. Vocational ministry is hard and many ministers suffer abuse from churches, but they're not all innocent victims.

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The Type of Leadership Ferguson Needs Now
The Type of Leadership Ferguson Needs Now
By: Terrell Carter
In the aftermath of the decision to not indict Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown, the Ferguson community will seek out leaders. Here is who they need and don't need.
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The Need for a Seat at the Table in Ferguson
The Need for a Seat at the Table in Ferguson

By: Terrell Carter
To quell the civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, the perceived oppression must be acknowledged by all parties. Leaders must be transparent and offer a seat at the decision-making table to community members.

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Personality-Driven Churches Can't Thrive for Long Term
Personality-Driven Churches Can't Thrive for Long Term
By: Brock Ratcliff
A church should not break apart when a pastor leaves, yet many large churches are built around a single personality. When church members don't have a sense of ownership, they're rendered to consumer status.
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5 Dangerous Paths for Ministers Under Pressure
5 Dangerous Paths for Ministers Under Pressure
By: Bill Wilson
While everyone wrestles with some degree of career frustration, clergy are increasingly identified as especially prone to struggle. When the pressure is too great, these five paths lead to devastation.
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When It's OK for Your Pastor to Break Confidentiality
When It's OK for Your Pastor to Break Confidentiality
By: Reggie Warren
If ministers can't keep confidences in the churches where they serve, trust is quickly broken. But there are times when a minister must go public with information someone wants kept secret.
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Top 10 Reasons This Will Never Work: Leading Change in Church
Top 10 Reasons This Will Never Work: Leading Change in Church
By: David Fitch
If churches are reluctant to do one thing, it's change. And pastors have heard every reason imaginable why doing something new will never work. Here is one pastor's list of the top 10 excuses.
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7 Tips to Help Burned-Out Pastors
7 Tips to Help Burned-Out Pastors
By: Griff Martin
More often than not, pastors are tired and burned out from their church ministries rather than content and satisfied. Can this trend turn around? Consider this confession from a happy pastor.
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What Kind of Leader Does Your Church Need?
What Kind of Leader Does Your Church Need?

By: Darren Blaney
The Bible isn't concerned about churches being led by charismatic leaders sharing the vision and achieving goals. Its focus is on godly men and women helping others become godly men and women.

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Forcing New Ministry Methods into Old Structures
Forcing New Ministry Methods into Old Structures
By: Ircel Harrison
When new ways of doing ministry are forced into yesterday's old models, only waste and damage can result. The Bible did warn us what happens when we pour new wine into old wineskins.
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3 Ways You Can Live by the Compass, Not the Clock
3 Ways You Can Live by the Compass, Not the Clock
By: Bill Wilson
Most people – and churches – live by the clock, racing from event to event to meet expectations. Instead, we need to live by the compass, learning to anticipate and reflect, rather than react.
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These Stats Shine Light on Local Church Health
These Stats Shine Light on Local Church Health
By: Bill Wilson
While the sobering statistics and gloomy projections about the health of the local church have clergy and lay leaders wringing their hands, don't neglect these hopeful trends.
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6 Lessons I Learned Returning to the Pastorate
6 Lessons I Learned Returning to the Pastorate
By: Ronnie Brewer
After spending almost three years in denominational work, a minister transitioned back to pastor a local church. The six lessons he learned may also apply to other churches.
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What Your Congregation Can Learn from Common Core
What Your Congregation Can Learn from Common Core
By: Brock Ratcliff
Contrary to what others may think, Common Core is not an invasion by the federal government into our children's classrooms. And Common Core has a lesson for your church.
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3 Ways You Can Help Ferguson's Residents
3 Ways You Can Help Ferguson's Residents
By: Terrell Carter
Life for residents in Ferguson, Missouri, has slowed to somewhat of a grinding and frustrating halt. What can we do to help the people who live there? Consider these three things.
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Let's Reserve Martyrdom for Real Martyrs
Let's Reserve Martyrdom for Real Martyrs
By: Bill Wilson
We're tempted to see our own issues as supremely important, but we would be wise to remember that many other folks are facing far more challenging difficulties in their own lives.
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Does Your Church Have a Trusting Leadership Culture?
Does Your Church Have a Trusting Leadership Culture?
By: Bill Wilson
The hardest part of ministry for many leaders is staff trust. While no magic pill will solve the issue, there are best practices and habits that can create a healthier church culture.
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Asking Wrong Questions About Bivocational Ministry
Asking Wrong Questions About Bivocational Ministry
By: Dennis Bickers
Many people have misconceptions about bivocational ministry, even seminary students. Here are some of the wrong questions that church members and leaders often ask.
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The Most Critical Time in the Life of Small Churches
The Most Critical Time in the Life of Small Churches
By: Dennis Bickers
When smaller churches search for a new pastor, they often want to fill the void as quickly as possible. They're better off without a pastor for a longer time than to call the wrong person.
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How to Ensure Your Church Staff is the Right Size
How to Ensure Your Church Staff is the Right Size
By: Larry McSwain
With the majority of churches plateaued or declining, congregations need to do some fresh thinking about how to realign their staffing levels so they remain healthy and effective.
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People Rarely Radically Change; They Need Nudges
People Rarely Radically Change; They Need Nudges
By: Bob Browning
Church members can take a frustratingly long time to make decisions that change their personal lives as well as the church. Don't expect overnight transformations. Learn to nudge people a little at a time.
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Why Churches Need But Don't Want Revitalization
Why Churches Need But Don't Want Revitalization
By: Dennis Bickers
Most churches are either declining or plateaued and need to be revitalized. However, church revitalization requires a willingness to change, and change does not come easy for many churches.
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How to Overcome the Challenges of Church Leadership
How to Overcome the Challenges of Church Leadership
By: Dennis Bickers
Ministers are called to the greatest opportunity that exists, but that doesn't mean the work comes without challenges. Here's how you can transform those challenges into joyful opportunities.
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How Will Your Church Respond to the Fire Below?
How Will Your Church Respond to the Fire Below?
By: Bill Wilson
Burning platform syndrome. It's what organizations go through as they consider change. We jump off the "platform" when the pain or danger of staying exceeds the pain or danger of making a change.
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Women's Inequality: From the Pulpit and Beyond
Women's Inequality: From the Pulpit and Beyond
By: Seth Vopat
It's hard enough to understand the reluctance by many to accept female pastors, but the inequality of women has consequences that reach well beyond the pulpit.
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Despite Naysayers, Women Served in Ministry for Centuries
Despite Naysayers, Women Served in Ministry for Centuries
By: Joe LaGuardia
Even though some haven't welcomed women in ministry in recent years, women have been included in leadership in Baptist life since the 1600s. And they'll continue to bless the church for years to come.
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7 Suggestions for Pastors Leaving Their Churches
7 Suggestions for Pastors Leaving Their Churches
By: Mark Tidsworth
Leaving a church for retirement or another ministry is a hard transition. Pastors must be able to let go and trust their church into God's care as expressed through the next pastors and staff members.
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Why Your Minister Should Be Like Your Physical Therapist
Why Your Minister Should Be Like Your Physical Therapist
By: Bill Wilson
A good pastor is like a physical therapist. Both push you to do things you often don't want to do, but they know that what you need is more important than what you want.
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William Tolbert Jr.'s Triple Legacy to Liberia
William Tolbert Jr.'s Triple Legacy to Liberia

By: Richard Wilson
William Tolbert Jr., leader of Liberia and former Baptist World Alliance president, was assassinated in 1980, but his legacy lives on through the Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary's lecture series.

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Why Many Churches Aren't Developing Effective Leaders
Why Many Churches Aren't Developing Effective Leaders
By: Dennis Bickers
Nothing good can happen in organizations without effective leaders. For churches to enjoy an effective ministry over years, future leaders must be filling its pipeline in various stages of development.
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Effective Church Leaders Must Anticipate Change
Effective Church Leaders Must Anticipate Change
By: Ircel Harrison
Church leaders must be able to look to the future and assess what changes are waiting on the horizon. That means instead of sitting back and being reactive, a leader needs to be "preactive."
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Who Needs You to be a Good Shepherd?
There are times when all of us are sheep in need of a shepherd. Be careful who you listen to and follow. [ ]On the other hand, there are times when we are called upon to be shepherds who take care of sheep. As parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches, administrators, ministers, business owners, civic and church leaders, we must be careful how we lead those who look to us for guidance and protection. As Christians, we never have permission to ignore their needs or exploit them. As good shepherds, our priority is to build healthy families and communities where everyone is valued, treated with respect and encouraged to achieve their potential.
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Like Gardens, Healthy Churches Have Loving Caretakers
Like Gardens, Healthy Churches Have Loving Caretakers
By: Bill Wilson
If churches are like gardens, then those who serve in them – laity and clergy alike – are the gardeners. Are we willing to work together to ensure the growth of a healthy church?
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Who Leads Your Church: Wizard of Oz or Dorothy?
Who Leads Your Church: Wizard of Oz or Dorothy?

By: Zach Dawes
Too many churches follow the Wizard of Oz leadership model of a larger-than-life character hiding behind a curtain. Instead, author Brian McLaren says, your church needs a Dorothy.

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Why Churches Can't Do Ministry the Way They Used To
Why Churches Can't Do Ministry the Way They Used To
By: Dennis Bickers
If they want to successfully impact a changing world for Jesus Christ, pastors and churches must continually reinvent themselves. Churches will either continue to reinvent themselves or they will die.
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3 Ways Your Church Can Flourish Like a Garden
3 Ways Your Church Can Flourish Like a Garden
By: Bill Wilson
The garden is a powerful biblical theme. Jesus taught many lessons involving plants, growth, agriculture and gardening. Here are three ways your church can be like an abundant garden.
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Why Churches Need a Theology of Prophetic Engagement
Why Churches Need a Theology of Prophetic Engagement
By: Elie Haddad
For Christian churches serving in a place where the majority of people are not Christians, it's vital to discover why God has placed them where they are and how they can reach their communities.
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3 Ways for Your Church to Navigate the Giants
3 Ways for Your Church to Navigate the Giants
By: Bill Wilson
Your church may face seemingly insurmountable obstacles, like the giants in the land that sparked fear in most of the Israelites. Here are three things you need to navigate those obstacles.
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6 Signs Your Congregation Doesn't Smell Right
6 Signs Your Congregation Doesn't Smell Right
By: Bill Wilson
What kind of aroma does your church culture have? Here are six ways to tell if your congregational culture has the sweet smell of success or stinks to high heaven.
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Why Smaller Churches Must Focus on Unique Vision
Why Smaller Churches Must Focus on Unique Vision
By: Dennis Bickers
Many smaller churches feel they must compete with larger ones. Churches, however, are not called to duplicate the ministries of others, but to focus on the unique vision God has for them.
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Why Your Church Needs to Stop Counting People
Why Your Church Needs to Stop Counting People
By: Joe LaGuardia
Churches often measure their growth by how many people they get in the pews on Sunday morning, but is that really the best way to measure the spiritual health of a congregation?
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When Worlds Unravel, God Knits Something New
When Worlds Unravel, God Knits Something New
By: Greg Mamula
Christian churches across North America have served a great purpose for the past 50 to 75 years. That world's been unraveling over the past few decades. God is knitting something new. Will we be ready?
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6 Things Your Church Has in Common with Universities
6 Things Your Church Has in Common with Universities
By: Bill Wilson
Any church leader paying attention to the stresses and strains upon their local church should model themselves after universities. Their similarities can help your church chart its future.
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What Can Your Church Learn from America's Cities?
What Can Your Church Learn from America's Cities?
By: Bill Wilson
If your church faces an uncertain future like so many others, look for examples of others who have met challenges and turned them into opportunities for success. And remember these 6 lessons.
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4 Signs Your Church Has Slipped into Survival Mode
4 Signs Your Church Has Slipped into Survival Mode
By: Randy Hyde
When a church exists in survival mode, it won't have the energy and ability to engage in visionary thinking. And that's the place where a church is able to change lives. So where are you?
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7 Steps to Increase Your Self-Discipline in Ministry
7 Steps to Increase Your Self-Discipline in Ministry
By: Mark Tidsworth
One of the nice benefits of serving as a pastor or church staff member is the control you have over your schedule, but it's also a contributing factor to the need for high levels of self-discipline.
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Why Your Church Benefits When You Build Consensus
Why Your Church Benefits When You Build Consensus
By: Nick Lear
While it may be easier to ask for forgiveness than seek permission, it's not a good leadership model for churches. It's worth the time to explain decisions and let people suggest alternatives.
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Attendance Alone Doesn't Reflect Your Church's Vitality
Attendance Alone Doesn't Reflect Your Church's Vitality
By: Bill Wilson
When a church's weekly average attendance drops, leaders look for someone to blame. Rather than scapegoating, churches must rethink how they connect with people.
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Why Your Church Should Consider an Older Pastor
Why Your Church Should Consider an Older Pastor
By: Dennis Bickers
When searching for a new pastor, many churches automatically exclude older candidates. It's a huge mistake to believe that all older pastors cannot effectively lead a church in today's society.
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Wake Up! How to Know When Your Church Veers Off Course
Wake Up! How to Know When Your Church Veers Off Course
By: Bill Wilson
Has your church drifted off the path that God intended for you to travel? Maybe what your congregation needs is a rumble strip to get you back on course.
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Women in Ministry: We're Here to Stay
Women in Ministry: We're Here to Stay
By: Naomi King Walker
Qualified and called women ministers permeate every area of Baptist life, yet many still enjoy far fewer opportunities than their male counterparts. The attitudes of churches are evolving. Has yours?
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Churches Struggling with Headwinds are Ready to Fly
Churches Struggling with Headwinds are Ready to Fly
By: Bill Wilson
Resistance from headwinds helps airplanes generate the lift needed to take off. When your church encounters struggles, it's ready to take off and fly as it works through the difficulties. 
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What Does the Future Look Like for Smaller Churches?
What Does the Future Look Like for Smaller Churches?
By: Dennis Bickers
Whether you like it or not, changes are coming for your smaller church. The wise congregation will weigh the options and pick the model that makes the most sense for them.
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For Effective Change, Leaders Must Walk the Talk
For Effective Change, Leaders Must Walk the Talk
By:  Dennis Bickers
When a church goes through change, it's vital for pastors and lay leaders to model that change. Failure to do so means others in the church are not going to change either.
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Why Your Ministry Should Behave Like a Lava Lamp
Why Your Ministry Should Behave Like a Lava Lamp
By: Greg Mamula
As churches respond to the leading of the Spirit, they're much like the wax in a lava lamp. As they are heated and cooled on the teachings of Christ, they are flexible and fluid.
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Why Many Pastors Will Need to Reinvent Themselves
Why Many Pastors Will Need to Reinvent Themselves
More churches in all denominations are turning to bivocational pastors. While pastors could once assume that they could secure a fully funded ministry position, that's no longer a safe assumption.
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Why Your Church Should Deep-Six Those Sign-Up Sheets
Why Your Church Should Deep-Six Those Sign-Up Sheets
Finding volunteers by posting a sign-up sheet on the church bulletin board has seen its day. Let's stop depending on volunteers and become more intentional about developing leaders.
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When Churches Transition to Bivocational Ministry
When Churches Transition to Bivocational Ministry
More churches are likely to transition from a full-time pastor to a bivocational minister. To succeed with this change, both the pastor and the congregation must change expectations.
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5 Ethical Standards for Christian Outreach
5 Ethical Standards for Christian Outreach
From ousting a Muslim who tried to attend a women's conference to giving away cars to attend church on Easter, should there be ethical standards for Christian outreach? Consider these five.
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3 Lessons from Three Decades of Ministry, Marriage
3 Lessons from Three Decades of Ministry, Marriage
Just like marriage, all the training in the world can't prepare you for leading a church. You have to live it. Here are three lessons from three decades of ministry and marriage.
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3 Ways Your Church Can Stay Focused on Its Vision
3 Ways Your Church Can Stay Focused on Its Vision
When a church establishes a new and fresher vision, they stick with it for a season before slipping back into their old, destructive patterns. Here are three ways to stay focused on your vision.
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7 Ways to Introduce Advent to Your Congregation
7 Ways to Introduce Advent to Your Congregation
Introducing Advent to congregations who haven't observed the season can be challenging. Few churches respond quickly to change. Here are seven ways to help.
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Reformation Teaches Us the Power of Preaching
Reformation Teaches Us the Power of Preaching
The Protestant Reformation would not have been possible without the emergence of inspiring preachers. To bring about such needed shifts today, the role of the pulpit is a critical place to begin.
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How Bivocational Pastors Can Benefit from Coaching
How Bivocational Pastors Can Benefit from Coaching

Bivocational pastors can benefit from coaching sessions because they are a source of encouragement and helps them to step back and look at their overall ministry.

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5 Essential Tools to Make Your Ministry Healthier
5 Essential Tools to Make Your Ministry Healthier
Healthy clergy are always on the lookout for best practices that breathe life into their ministries and, thus, their places of service. Here are five practices that can help.
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10-Point Checklist to Keep Your Church from Death Spiral
10-Point Checklist to Keep Your Church from Death Spiral
When visibility is low, pilots can suffer from spatial disorientation and are in danger of flying their planes into the ground. Churches can suffer from a similar disorientation. Here's how to handle it.
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3 Ways Churches Can Return to Their True Mission
3 Ways Churches Can Return to Their True Mission
Thousands of churches have lost their moorings in terms of their purpose, forgetting they exist to embody in all they do the will of God for the world. Here's how they can get back on track.
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4 Levels of Trust Churches Need for Effective Stewardship
4 Levels of Trust Churches Need for Effective Stewardship
Trust must extend to every aspect of the church, including the character and commitment of the pastor, staff and others who manage financial resources.
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7 Reasons Smaller Churches Struggle and Close
7 Reasons Smaller Churches Struggle and Close
Many smaller U.S. churches are near the end of their ministries, with thousands of them expected to close every year. Here are seven reasons for the trend, and a hope on how it can be prevented.
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Leading Congregations – A Calling, Not a Career
Leading Congregations – A Calling, Not a Career
Church leaders who follow Jesus' summons to "follow me" understand that the primary task of leadership is to encourage all of God's people to become followers, too.
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10 Thoughts for Realistic Expectations for Music Ministry
10 Thoughts for Realistic Expectations for Music Ministry
Many who lead in music and worship ministry are the recipients of an obscene amount of vitriol, anger, criticism and unreasonable expectations. Here are 10 thoughts to keep expectations realistic.
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Breaking News: Pastor Accepts Call to Smaller Church
Breaking News: Pastor Accepts Call to Smaller Church
Pastors typically don't accept calls to smaller churches. Some pastors, however, feel God calling them to smaller churches. If it happens to you, it's an incredible ministry opportunity.
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A More Fitting Metaphor for Pastors – as Artisans
A More Fitting Metaphor for Pastors – as Artisans
We've used a lot of metaphors to describe church leaders – shepherd, physician, CEO – but what artisan? Artisans were skilled masters who produced beautiful and functional work.
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5 Ways to Plug in Church Members for Service
5 Ways to Plug in Church Members for Service
When church members say they can't find a place to plug in, it may have more to do with the way the church empowers members than with the lack of available opportunities.
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5 Unhealthy Expectations Small Churches Have for Pastors
5 Unhealthy Expectations Small Churches Have for Pastors
Many smaller churches are increasingly becoming bivocational. Many of those churches have unrealistic expectations for their next pastor. Here are five of the most common.
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Seeking God's Will at Your Church? Get a Shredder
Seeking God's Will at Your Church? Get a Shredder
We all have lots of ideas about how church ought to be run – great ideas. But we need to come to the place where we realize God wants our hearts before he wants our ideas.
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4 Lessons on Transferring Leadership in Churches
4 Lessons on Transferring Leadership in Churches
Transferring from one leader to the next in churches isn't always neat or simple, but church leaders can benefit from the lessons of Elisha's succession to Elijah.
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10 Lessons Learned on Life after Pastoral Ministry
10 Lessons Learned on Life after Pastoral Ministry
The life of a pastor looks different when the pastor is now in the pew. Here are 10 things learned about pastoral ministry from someone who no longer pastors a congregation.
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Why Pastors Should Consider Smaller Churches
Why Pastors Should Consider Smaller Churches
It can be easy for pastors to be tempted by the idea that moving to bigger churches is a sign of ministry success. But smaller churches have much to offer, too.
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Culture Bombards Women with Unattainable Images
Culture Bombards Women with Unattainable Images
From a disturbingly young age, every mirror culture can provide a woman tells her that it is the shape, size, look, feel, smell and taste of her body that gives her value. Even in church.
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Balancing the Tension Between Pastor, Prophet Roles
Balancing the Tension Between Pastor, Prophet Roles
For pastors and laypersons alike, balancing a spirit of sensitivity and compassion while speaking prophetically about today's issues isn't easy. Being one often risks the other.
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How You Can Tell the Emperor He Has No Clothes
How You Can Tell the Emperor He Has No Clothes
Providing another viewpoint to someone in a position of power always carries risk. Here are some lessons for both sides to encourage open and honest communication.
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Are You Pursuing Success While Ignoring Signifcance?
Are You Pursuing Success While Ignoring Signifcance?
We often live our everyday lives outside the arena where God is at work. We keep busy with our consumer lifestyles, pursuit of pleasure and drive to appear successful.
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The Call to Leadership is Often Uncomfortable
The Call to Leadership is Often Uncomfortable
What makes a good leader? They help others move beyond themselves into the world that is around them. And that can sometimes be uncomfortable.
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3 Essentials for Effective Conflict Management
3 Essentials for Effective Conflict Management
No one can eliminate all conflict in a church, but motivated and effective leaders prevent much conflict from even developing. Here are three ways they do it.
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5 Ways Churches Can Curb Pastoral Abuse
5 Ways Churches Can Curb Pastoral Abuse
Pastoral abuse of any form occurs when pastors overstep their boundaries and view church members as a means to an end. Here are five ways the church can respond.
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10 Ways You Can Ruin Your Pastor's Sermons
10 Ways You Can Ruin Your Pastor's Sermons
If you want to encourage your pastor to deliver inspiring sermons, think about ways you can ensure awful messages every week – and let them suggest ways to promote positive results.
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Is Loyalty to MSNBC or Fox News More Critical to Church Membership Than 'Jesus is Lord'?
Is Loyalty to MSNBC or Fox News More Critical to Church Membership Than 'Jesus is Lord'?
How do you become a church member in today's politically charged culture? It's more about landing on the left or right side of politics than it is about being a child of God.
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Health Ministry Requires Healthy Ministers
Health Ministry Requires Healthy Ministers
Most clergy, and especially health ministers, struggle with internal stress. If you start to think of yourself as a catalyst, there are three ways you can lower that stress.
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7 Ways Your Church Can Respond to Tragedy
7 Ways Your Church Can Respond to Tragedy
Every day seems to bring news of a devastating disruption in some community's life. When news of disaster breaks in on us, here are seven things congregational leaders can do.
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When Church Conflict Erupts, We Blame Wrong Thing
When Church Conflict Erupts, We Blame Wrong Thing
Three churches in conflict from three different denominations. People in each one blamed denominational polity. The truth is often closer to our hearts than we want to admit.
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Moderate Baptists Make Slow Progress on Women Pastors
Moderate Baptists Make Slow Progress on Women Pastors
Moderate Baptists are making progress on accepting women as senior pastors, but it's painfully slow. Meanwhile, they lose gifted women who fulfill their calling in other churches.
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Women in Ministry Must Pave Way for Next Generation
Women in Ministry Must Pave Way for Next Generation
Women serving in the ministry know some ceilings won't be broken in their lifetimes. Yet they can join together and beat upon the glass ceiling to make a million cracks.
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Church Musicians – Worship Leaders or Performers?
Church Musicians – Worship Leaders or Performers?
As church musicians, the ultimate goal of presenting our best talents to God during worship is not to draw the spotlight on ourselves but to reflect the spotlight so that it shines on God.
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How Your Church Benefits From a Long-Term Pastor
How Your Church Benefits From a Long-Term Pastor
Most ministers rarely stay long at churches. Many move on in search of greener pastures. Many congregants feel they must defend their turf. What if those attitudes changed?
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How Your Church is Like the Corvette
How Your Church is Like the Corvette
The Corvette evokes great nostalgia and loyalty among a dwindling crowd. Designers must remain true to their traditional heritage while becoming relevant for the next generation. Sound familiar?
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Pope Francis Models Humility in World that Practices Humiliation
Pope Francis Models Humility in World that Practices Humiliation
In publicly identifying Christianity with humility, Pope Francis has shown the world another way – a way that stands in sharp contrast with the practice of humiliation.
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5 Ways Your Church Can Discern Future Trends
5 Ways Your Church Can Discern Future Trends
Everyone is searching for "the next big thing" that can empower the ministry of the church. How do we know if it's real or a bust? Five ideas can help you discern.
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4 Characteristics of Churches That Call New Leaders
4 Characteristics of Churches That Call New Leaders
Many congregations are so focused on survival that they've grown blind to the call to propagate and reproduce leaders, but they're putting their future at stake.
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Resistant or Resilient: Which Describes Your Church?
Resistant or Resilient: Which Describes Your Church?
As congregations age, most churches will face a turning point of sustainability in the near future. Whether they survive will depend on whether they're resistant or resilient.
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4 Steps to Help Lay Leaders Start New Churches
4 Steps to Help Lay Leaders Start New Churches
Can lay leaders successfully launch a new church? Here are four steps that an established congregation can follow to carry out a lay-led church start strategy.
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6 Steps to Lead Your Church Through Successful Change
6 Steps to Lead Your Church Through Successful Change
If there's one thing that doesn't change, it's that we all resist change. How do you help your church adjust when a major change needs to be made? Help them through these six stages.
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5 Skills Required for Today's Ministers
5 Skills Required for Today's Ministers
Seminaries aren't producing the kind of pastoral leaders that churches need. Here are five skills that ministers required to meet their faith communities' needs.
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4 Ways Your Church Can Become Whole-Hearted
4 Ways Your Church Can Become Whole-Hearted
Today's churches face significant headwind and many challenges. Half-heartedness can lead to irrelevance or even extinction. Here are 4 ways to "put your heart into it."
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Can You Evaluate Your Pastor's Effectiveness?
Can You Evaluate Your Pastor's Effectiveness?
There is no comprehensive and exhaustive clergy competency list. Since leadership in congregations is an extremely relevant issue, how do we make progress on it?
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7 Ways Your Church Can Become More Innovative
7 Ways Your Church Can Become More Innovative
Change isn't easy. When it happens in church, we either adapt to it or use it as a springboard for innovative and effective ministry. Here are 7 areas where that can happen.
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4 Habits to Build Healthy Leadership at Your Church
4 Habits to Build Healthy Leadership at Your Church
Is your church led by staff or controlled by staff? When staff leadership is unhealthy, it's often at the heart of church conflict. Try these 4 habits to build a healthier leadership culture.
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How Your Church Can Escape the Happiness Trap
How Your Church Can Escape the Happiness Trap
When church happiness is enshrined, God's Holy Spirit is constrained. Leaders' energy is consumed internally rather than in external ministry. The false god of happiness needs to go.
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How Ministers Can Make Themselves Indispensable
How Ministers Can Make Themselves Indispensable
Each of us is gifted by God in special ways. Take time to identify the things that you can do better, more effectively or with more ability than anyone else.
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Lottie Moon's Courageous Stand for Gender Equality
Lottie Moon's Courageous Stand for Gender Equality
Lottie Moon was one of the first single Baptist women to be appointed as a missionary – with the understanding she would be involved only in "women's work for women." She didn't listen.
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British Baptists: No Stained-Glass Ceiling for Women
British Baptists: No Stained-Glass Ceiling for Women
While British Baptists' record on women in ministry is far from perfect, they have affirmed the ministry of women in every aspect of their life together – and have done so for a long time.
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Constitutional Crisis in England's Church-State Relations?
Constitutional Crisis in England's Church-State Relations?
If the matter of women bishops remains unresolved and the conflict ratchets higher, is it possible that there could be a parting of the ways for the marriage of church and state in England?
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6 Silicon Valley Lessons for Ministry Entrepreneurs
6 Silicon Valley Lessons for Ministry Entrepreneurs
Ministry entrepreneurs learn not only from traditional Christian sources but from the marketplace as well. Consider these six lessons taken from Silicon Valley.
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Managing Church Conflicts When Both Sides Are Right
Managing Church Conflicts When Both Sides Are Right
Some church conflicts can't be resolved with traditional problem-solving skills. When both sides are right, healthy congregations know how to manage these polarities.
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Coptic and Anglican Leaders Chosen
Coptic and Anglican Leaders Chosen
Two new Christian leaders were chosen this month. Pope Tawadros II now leads the Coptic Church, and Bishop Justin Welby is the next Archbishop of Canterbury.
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Defy the Status Quo; Undo Something Today
Defy the Status Quo; Undo Something Today
Steve Jobs, Reed Hastings and Wendy Kopp all changed the status quo by challenging the way it worked with a new way of doing things. So what can you undo?
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7 Reasons Churches Face a Conflict Pandemic
7 Reasons Churches Face a Conflict Pandemic
Congregational conflict appears to be reaching pandemic levels. Here are the seven most popular culprits driving this surge followed by seven possible solutions.
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5 Ways Pastors Can Know It's Time to Move On
5 Ways Pastors Can Know It's Time to Move On
When should a pastor leave a church? When should he or she stick it out? All ministers wrestle with these questions. Here are five clues to determine if you should stay or go.
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Tinted Windows and Bodygaurd
Real power, the power of the kingdom, is found in humility, and in service to others.
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Healthy Church Teams Hold Each Other Accountable
Healthy Church Teams Hold Each Other Accountable
Many church staff members operate in a world void of accountability, but healthy ministerial teams develop good practices around holding one another accountable.
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Why It's Time for Your Church to Fail
Why It's Time for Your Church to Fail
If God's churches are going to be what the world needs, they're going to have to take some risks. And when you take risks, you need to learn from your failures.
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4 Indicators That Pastors are Fulfilling Their Passion
4 Indicators That Pastors are Fulfilling Their Passion
Passionate pastors are captivated by Christ. They not only admire and respect Jesus' ministry, they want to reflect the Spirit of Christ. Here are four ways that happens.
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4 Steps to Avoid a Church's Biggest Conflict
4 Steps to Avoid a Church's Biggest Conflict
One of the biggest conflicts in church life centers on staff. There are four steps – one in particular – that can put your church on the road to a healthy staff.
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Why Having It Your Way in Church is Deadly
Why Having It Your Way in Church is Deadly
Church members rarely argue about the real issue. Whether it's about the style of worship or the color of the carpets, most conflicts are really about getting our way.
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Skype Interview: Cindy Dawson Discusses Global Women
Skype Interview: Cindy Dawson Discusses Global Women
An ecumenical Christian nonprofit is dedicated to helping women around the globe to fulfill their unique purpose, the group's executive director tells EthicsDaily.com.
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6 Steps to Help Pastors Be Effective Leaders
6 Steps to Help Pastors Be Effective Leaders
Church staff members expect their leaders to identify a direction, set the pace and provide the resources and encouragement. If they fail, the situation can become very chaotic.
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5 Insights to Help Your Church Survive Change
5 Insights to Help Your Church Survive Change
Change is never easy for a church. We often cause havoc when we force change too quickly or expect 100 percent agreement. Here are five insights to help your church survive.
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21 Lessons in Politics from a Baptist Preacher
21 Lessons in Politics from a Baptist Preacher
Baptist churches are about the purest form of democracy around. Here are 21 lessons to help pastors hone their skills of diplomacy, bridge-building and persuasion.
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Trouble at Church? The Cavalry Ain't Coming
Trouble at Church? The Cavalry Ain't Coming
Healthy faith communities know the cavalry isn't riding to the rescue to solve their complex issues. Instead, they allow God to lead them into the depths of authentic faith.
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Would Jesus Attend Your Inwardly Focused Church?
Would Jesus Attend Your Inwardly Focused Church?
Churches that focus on themselves instead of their communities produce highly anxious leaders who fear offending their members and building churches Jesus wouldn't attend.
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What's The Most Important Part of Church?
What's The Most Important Part of Church?
What's the most crucial part of a church? Is it the buildings, budgets or perhaps programs? Could it be its "take" on finer points of doctrine? No, but read on for the answer.
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How Global Women Seeks to Transform the World
How Global Women Seeks to Transform the World
Founded in 2001, Global Women's vision is of a world where every woman is empowered by God's love, valued by her community and equipped to fulfill her unique purpose.
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Did Southern Baptists' Golden Era Trigger Today's Malaise?
Did Southern Baptists' Golden Era Trigger Today's Malaise?
With many churches in decline and as the neighborhood churches disappear, wouldn't it be nice to return to the golden era of Southern Baptist life? Not in a heartbeat, says one pastor.
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5 Issues That Bother Pastors About Search Committees
5 Issues That Bother Pastors About Search Committees
Search committees have a daunting task as they seek a pastor for their church. Often staffed by volunteers, they have limited time. Here are five issues they should address.
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4 Suggestions to Help Ministers of the Future
4 Suggestions to Help Ministers of the Future
What kind of skills will seminary students need if they want to be prepared to minister a decade from now? Here are four ways they can be effective in 2022.
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Why You Can't Live in the Good Old Days
Why You Can't Live in the Good Old Days
We often yearn for the way things used to be, but those days never existed. As one teacher reminded, the world always changes and is always the same. What matters is how we respond.
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Think Twice When You Find Buttons in Your Offering Plate
Think Twice When You Find Buttons in Your Offering Plate
Buttons in the offering plate? Surely, they have no value. We're quick to judge what has value. Why, for example, is the small-church pastor any less successful than the mega-church pastor?
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5 Statements That Mean Your Church is in Trouble
5 Statements That Mean Your Church is in Trouble
If you hear one of these five statements in your church, you can know your church is in trouble. And that may indicate that it's time to ask for an outside perspective.
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4 Pastors Describe a Healthy Search Process
4 Pastors Describe a Healthy Search Process
Searching for a new pastor is exhilarating and risky for congregations. Four pastors who recently made the transition share how your church can do it successfully.
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Help the Poor? Many Christians Prefer to Blame Them
Help the Poor? Many Christians Prefer to Blame Them
The myth that the poor get what they deserve has been around since Jesus' day. While too many Christians accept the myth, one group is taking steps to help poor women.
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When Senior Pastors Are in Over Their Heads
When Senior Pastors Are in Over Their Heads
As pastors move to larger churches, they find themselves in over their heads. The skills that carried them to senior leadership often stymie them as they take on a new level of responsibility.
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Celebrate Independence Day - for Christians
Celebrate Independence Day - for Christians

As we near the Fourth of July, how do Christians celebrate their true independence day? It begins by working for God's will on Earth, which means a place of shared abundance.

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Have Southern Baptists Entered Witness Protection?
Have Southern Baptists Entered Witness Protection?
"Baptist" used to mean freedom, tolerance and autonomy. Now it means bigotry and partisan politics. And that's why so many Southern Baptist churches need to change their names.
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Dads Aren't Perfect but We're Grateful for Them
Dads Aren't Perfect but We're Grateful for Them
There are no perfect fathers. Some are more skilled than others, but all are flawed in some way. But this Father's Day, we remember that many of them taught us how to live.
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Different Motives Define Tale of Two Servants
Different Motives Define Tale of Two Servants
What's your motive when you serve others? The pages of the Bible reveal a tale of two servants. One whose motives were pure, and another with self-centered motives.
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Biography Recognizes Steve Jobs' Bright and Dark Sides
Biography Recognizes Steve Jobs' Bright and Dark Sides
Walter Isaacson's biography on Steve Jobs reminds us that a person can make a tremendous contribution to culture, business and society even if he isn't the nicest person in the room.
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Marginalizing Women in Church Betrays Gospel
Marginalizing Women in Church Betrays Gospel
Folks who are the most vocal about "living under biblical authority" often rely on obscure verses to keep women from exercising their leadership gifts in the church. It betrays the gospel.
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When the Broken-Hearted People Agree
When the Broken-Hearted People Agree
The tortured learn to keep silent in order to avoid the pain of the powers over them. Will we facilitate the silence or will we be ministers of grace to help the tortured find their voice?
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End-Time Doomsayers Make Islam Their New Anti-Christ
End-Time Doomsayers Make Islam Their New Anti-Christ
Some religious groups have a propensity for identifying their opponents with ultimate evil. And now, with the help of end-time doomsayers, Islam is the new agent of Armageddon.
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14 Pieces of Advice for New Ministers
14 Pieces of Advice for New Ministers
For new graduates ready to enter the ministry, the landscape is changing rapidly and difficult to navigate. Here are 14 thoughts to consider for the men and women starting their ministry.
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15 Characteristics of Great Church Leaders
15 Characteristics of Great Church Leaders
No matter where you travel on the planet, innovative church leaders have some common characteristics, including patience and optimism. Check out all 15.
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Women in Ministry Stepping Out of Shadows
Women in Ministry Stepping Out of Shadows
Long kept in the shadows by Baptist churches, women in ministry are moving into the spotlight. Participation in a program that highlights women in the pulpit has quadrupled in two years.
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Faith's Slow Retreat into Irrelevance
Faith's Slow Retreat into Irrelevance
When we allow faith to be redefined as scientific truth or political ideology, we subordinate it to these other realities. To continue down this path is to march our faith toward irrelevance.
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Lottie Moon Defied Male-Dominated Southern Baptists
Lottie Moon Defied Male-Dominated Southern Baptists
Lottie Moon, whose name and likeness are used by Southern Baptists to fuel fundraising efforts for foreign missions, was a "defiant pioneer" who saw no restrictions on women in ministry.
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A Lesson in Encouragement from the Fishing Hole
A Lesson in Encouragement from the Fishing Hole
Many people are trying to figure out how to live in a meaningful manner. They crave depth, purpose and faith. Can you bait the hook with some encouragement?
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The Danger of Unquestioned Religious Devotion
The Danger of Unquestioned Religious Devotion
Unquestioned religious devotion takes its toll in many ways. Sadly, people throughout history have never done so much wrong as they have done in the name of religious conviction.
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Being Thankful for Impact of an Opinionated Woman
Being Thankful for Impact of an Opinionated Woman
If something didn't work the way it should, Ethel would find out why and fix it. She was a formidable woman with strong opinions about everything. And you know what? She was right.
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Real Leaders Inspire Others to Do Better
Real Leaders Inspire Others to Do Better
In contrast to political opportunists, genuine leaders move us from apathy to engagement, from indifference to involvement, and from settling for the status quo to reaching for new realities.
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How Good Teachers Inspire Our Better Angels
How Good Teachers Inspire Our Better Angels
The children in our public schools come from every imaginable and unimaginable situation, but never underestimate the power of a good teacher to make a difference in their lives.
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CEO as Commander in Chief: A Workable Model?
CEO as Commander in Chief: A Workable Model?
With the GOP presidential nominee all but confirmed, U.S. voters will need to decide if the CEO model of leadership is what the nation requires at this moment in its history.
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Norquist's No-Tax Ideology Is Foolishness
Norquist's No-Tax Ideology Is Foolishness
Grover Norquist taps public resentment of taxes without a hint of his underlying opposition to Social Security, public education and all that makes middle-class prosperity possible.
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The Resurrection: Something to Prove or Experience?
The Resurrection: Something to Prove or Experience?
The four Gospels and Paul's accounts of Jesus' resurrection don't agree with each other. What do we do about that? We can try to reconcile it, reject it or experience it.
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Here's What You Should Not Do When Preaching
Here's What You Should Not Do When Preaching
Lots of people will tell you how to preach. But Lillian Daniel, senior minister of First Congregational Church in Glen Ellyn, Ill., recently shared tips on how not to preach.
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How Evangelicalism Has Watered Down the Gospel
How Evangelicalism Has Watered Down the Gospel
The throngs cheered as Jesus entered Jerusalem. But he soon disappointed them by not validating their nationalistic dreams, supporting their claims of exclusivity or endorsing their political exceptionalism.
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Are Churches Really Prepared for Future?
Are Churches Really Prepared for Future?
Church leadership in the 21st century involves making many decisions about the future of ministry, often against a backdrop of rapid change and poorly understood but increasingly challenging circumstances.
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The Predictions That Harold Camping Missed
The Predictions That Harold Camping Missed
Folks like Harold Camping may view the Bible as a cosmic crystal ball, but the true predictive power of Scripture is its foretelling of the consequences of human behavior.
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When Faith, Government Intersect for Common Good
When Faith, Government Intersect for Common Good
Our Constitution certainly mandates a separation of church and state – even if it doesn't use that language. However, no mandate separates faith from public life.
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What is Jesus' View on Women in Ministry?
What is Jesus' View on Women in Ministry?
Although conservative pastors and husbands advocate for male domination, Jesus' words and actions about women in ministry are clear: He didn't restrict women.
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Alabama Faith Leaders Urge Anti-Immigration Law's Repeal
Alabama Faith Leaders Urge Anti-Immigration Law's Repeal
Religious leaders in Alabama are urging state lawmakers to make the noble and honorable action of repealing the state's anti-immigration law, one of the harshest in the nation.
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Why Your Church Should Consider an Older Pastor
Why Your Church Should Consider an Older Pastor
Many pastor-search committees believe they need a young pastor to attract young families to their churches, but effectiveness and appeal to young adults have little to do with a pastor's age.
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Those Who Break Boundaries Give Us Courage
Those Who Break Boundaries Give Us Courage
Something innate in the human spirit drives us to reach beyond our boundaries. John Glenn broke one of those boundaries 50 years ago when he orbited the Earth.
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Is a Woman Preaching at Your Church This Month?
Is a Woman Preaching at Your Church This Month?
For many women, Martha Stearns Marshall Month may be the only time they preach for the entire year. And for many church members, it may be the only time they hear a female preach God's word.
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How Not to Attract Excellent Teachers
How Not to Attract Excellent Teachers
Calling it a biblical principle, an Alabama senator opposes raising teachers' salaries because it will attract people who are not called. But guess who voted for a raise for state lawmakers?
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Churches Using Old Answers for New Problems
Churches Using Old Answers for New Problems
In many churches, leaders deal with today's problems by going back to the answers that worked for them in the past. But old answers can never solve new problems.
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Bonhoeffer – A Faith That Stood Against Darkness
Bonhoeffer – A Faith That Stood Against Darkness
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who urged German Christians to stand against Nazi tyranny and violence, joined in a plot to assassinate Hitler – one of the more problematic elements of his life.
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Why God Doesn't Recognize Your Plans
Why God Doesn't Recognize Your Plans
We often make great plans about how we want to serve God – and then expect God to show up and bless them. Instead, we need to show up for God's plan.
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Your Church Lost Its Way? 6 Questions to Ask
Your Church Lost Its Way? 6 Questions to Ask
Churches and organizations don't always get in trouble for doing the wrong thing. Often, they'll lose their way when they try to do too many good things.
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Pastor Poised to Be First Black to Lead Baptists
NEW ORLEANS (RNS) Rev. Fred Luter told his African-American congregation that he will seek to become the first black man to lead the SBC.
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Church-State Separation: The Line's Easy to See
Church-State Separation: The Line's Easy to See
The line between responsible Christian citizenship and political partisanship isn't hard to define. People of faith need to bring their beliefs to bear on all matters of public life without violating church-state separation.
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Harsh Political Partisanship Feeds off Division
Harsh Political Partisanship Feeds off Division
Not long after President Obama concluded his State of the Union address, critics were denouncing him. Today's politics thrives off a hard-edged division that won't allow compromise.
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2012 Is About Leadership
2012 Is About Leadership
Leadership is the pole to which many issues are tethered in 2012. And for people of faith, the biblical witness provides the best record of the upside and downside of leadership in transition.
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Kansas Politician's Apology: Sorry You Were Offended
Kansas Politician's Apology: Sorry You Were Offended
A Kansas politician apologized for forwarding emails critical of President Obama. However, like many before him, he didn't apologize for what he said but for offending those who misinterpreted him.
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Why Presidential Hopefuls Must Feign Religious Piety
Why Presidential Hopefuls Must Feign Religious Piety
The presidential race is shaping up as an old-time religious revival. Sadly, many people of faith are willing to settle for token recognition while real issues, such as poverty and racism, are ignored.
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Where's Your Congregation's Focus: Inward or Outward?
Where's Your Congregation's Focus: Inward or Outward?
In healthy congregations and parishes, the gap between where we invest most of our resources and what we sense to be our essential calling is under constant evaluation. Where's your focus?
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Growth Transitions Can Challenge Congregations
Growth Transitions Can Challenge Congregations
As congregations grow, they must transition to different ways of organizing themselves. One of the most difficult transitions occurs when they move to groups leading different functions.
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For God So Loved Not Just You, But the World
For God So Loved Not Just You, But the World
Much of what passes for Christianity these days either has been thoroughly politicized or deeply privatized. God's interested in more than our spiritual journey; there's a world of needy people out there.
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How to Stretch Your Congregation to Change
How to Stretch Your Congregation to Change
Most faith leaders instinctively want to stretch their congregations in new directions, but creating the tension to move congregations toward that change is a challenge.
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Mixing Politics and Religion = Weakened Faith
Mixing Politics and Religion = Weakened Faith
Wanting to have their faith affirmed by political leaders, many Christians are content to redefine what it means to be Christian in overt political terms.
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What Has to Change for Your Resolutions to Succeed
What Has to Change for Your Resolutions to Succeed
We should resolve to do better in all areas of our lives. But when we fail to grow and learn from past experiences, we will make the same mistakes over and over again.
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This Christmas, Do You Know Where Jesus Is?
This Christmas, Do You Know Where Jesus Is?
The one who entered the world in weakness and vulnerability came to reveal a way of life that has the power to transform everything. But do Christians know where Jesus is?
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Where the War of Christmas is Really Lost
Where the War of Christmas is Really Lost
'Tis the season for certain faith ministries to declare that Christmas is under a full-scale assault, but the true war on Christmas isn't being lost because a store clerk wishes you a happy holiday.
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3 Temptations Faced by Christian Leaders
3 Temptations Faced by Christian Leaders
Contemporary Christian leaders face three temptations, the late Henri Nouwen said, and urged them to pursue "a life of downward mobility" embodied by prayer, vulnerability and trust.
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Small Churches, Can You Sustain New Programs?
Small Churches, Can You Sustain New Programs?
Small churches may be eager to launch new programs or ministries, but they need to ask an important question before they do. Can we sustain it?
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17 Ways to Avoid Invasion of the Pastor Snatchers
17 Ways to Avoid Invasion of the Pastor Snatchers
When you church needs a new pastor, a healthy search process will require patience, spiritual maturity and hard work. It's more than a recruitment search. Done poorly, it can be disastrous.
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Does God Pick the Winners in Football Games?
Does God Pick the Winners in Football Games?
God cares deeply about every facet of our existence, but does he care about our golf score as much as he cares about children's welfare? Does he care which side wins a football game?
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Recognizing Students' Needs in Theological Education
Recognizing Students' Needs in Theological Education
Affordable and accessible theological education starts with recognizing the needs of students and their churches and being able to provide the resources that speak to their context.
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NCC Leader to Step Down
(RNS) The National Council of Churches announced that General Secretary Michael Kinnamon is resigning due to health reasons.
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Overcoming Isolation and Fatigue in Ministry
Overcoming Isolation and Fatigue in Ministry
Ministry leaders today often wrestle with fatigue and weariness. To survive, they must acknowledge they can't do it alone and find others who will support and affirm them.
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Do Goodwill Baptists Welcome Women in Ministry?
Do Goodwill Baptists Welcome Women in Ministry?
Open-minded Baptists say they are open to women in ministry in all levels of leadership, but the statistics suggest otherwise. What's at stake for this discrepancy?
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Leaders vs. Managers: Which Are More Valuable?
Leaders vs. Managers: Which Are More Valuable?
Every organization has leaders and managers. Managers have the gifts to make things run smoothly. Visionary leaders move organizations to the next level. But which are more important?
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Three Ways to Lose the J-Word at Your Church
Three Ways to Lose the J-Word at Your Church
With the professionalizing of the clergy, an unfortunate and unbiblical dualism has arisen across the years. It's at the heart of one of the unhealthiest trends in modern congregational life.
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Avoiding the Iceberg: 6 Tips for Sinking Churches
Avoiding the Iceberg: 6 Tips for Sinking Churches
With the vast majority of churches in decline – some dramatically – many face a Titanic fate. Here are six steps you can put into practice to avoid your date with the iceberg.
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What Really Makes a Pastor a
What Really Makes a Pastor a "Big Dog"
How do pastors become really "big dogs" in the eyes of their church members? It's not how loud you bark that makes the difference; it's what you do over time.
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Jesus' Leadership Model: Servants Over CEOs
Jesus' Leadership Model: Servants Over CEOs
Jesus defines leadership by making it unmistakably clear that real leadership is a way of serving. And a servant leader is committed to the needs and potential of people.
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Why Our Churches Are Filled with
Why Our Churches Are Filled with "Ill" People
Not everyone who is ill is physically sick. Indeed, our churches seem to be brimming with ill-spirited people plagued by personal frustration, anxiety and unhappiness. Why are so few transformed by Christ?
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Four Ways That Leaders Learn Leadership
Four Ways That Leaders Learn Leadership
So how do you learn to be a leader? Using the challenges of their present assignments, effective leaders hone their leadership abilities and grow as leaders.
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How Does Someone Become a Leader?
How Does Someone Become a Leader?
Leadership is more than being placed in a position of authority. Leaders often emerge in times of change or crisis, and they've been good stewards of the resources given to them.
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Christian Women Take on Leadership in Arab World
Christian Women Take on Leadership in Arab World
Times are changing in the Arab world as more Christian women assume positions of leadership. But, as two women point out, more women need the courage to step out of their comfort zones.
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Outspoken Archbishop Takes the Reins in Philly
PHILADELPHIA (RNS) Archbishop Charles J. Chaput was installed as leader of the 1.5-million strong Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
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Four Leadership Lessons We Can Learn from Steve Jobs
Four Leadership Lessons We Can Learn from Steve Jobs
With Steve Jobs' announcing his resignation as Apple's CEO due to health issues, many are extolling his virtues as a visionary leader. Here are four lessons we can learn from him.
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Four Political Litmus Tests for the Common Good
Four Political Litmus Tests for the Common Good
Voter guides provided a litmus test to rate candidates on hot-button issues. Perhaps we need a new litmus test – one that rates candidates on what's best for the common good.
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At 39, Gordon President Leads Evangelical Up-and-comers
WENHAM, Mass. (RNS) Lindsay has been living the very phenomenon he’s studied in depth: evangelicals climbing the ranks of institutions and becoming elites.
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Africa's Hunger Crisis Reveals U.S. Leadership Crisis
Africa's Hunger Crisis Reveals U.S. Leadership Crisis
More than 11 million people in the Horn of Africa are expected to need food assistance until August 2012. And the lack of a U.S. response to this hunger crisis points to a failure in leadership.
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When the Swamp's on Fire: Navigating a Church Crisis
When the Swamp's on Fire: Navigating a Church Crisis
Sooner or later, most ministers will face a crisis that threatens to get out of control in a congregation's life. Here are five things to remember when the "swamp is on fire."
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"The Conscience of Alabama" Calls Out Injustice
For nearly 40 years, Wayne Flynt has confronted the racism and accompanying poverty in Alabama with a courageous and informed passion. Yet he remains an unassuming and soulful individual.
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Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Harper Lee
Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Harper Lee
Harper Lee's "To Kill A Mockingbird" profoundly challenged racism's empty mythology. Today, insecure majorities still view anyone different, including Hispanics and Muslims, as a threat.
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As Economy Declines, Who Ultimately Pays the Price?
As Economy Declines, Who Ultimately Pays the Price?
The economy continues to decline. Financial benefits shift to the wealthy. Charitable dollars continue to plummet. And those suffering the most will be the ones about whom Jesus was most concerned.
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Priest Won’t Stop Push for Women’s Ordination
(RNS) The Roman Catholic priest who faces expulsion from the priesthood for advocating for women to be ordained as priests is refusing to recant.
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Catholic Priest Faces Expulsion for Supporting Women’s Ordination
(RNS) A Roman Catholic priest who has campaigned for the ordination of women has been told he will be expelled if he does not publicly recant.
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An Interview with God:
An Interview with God: "Who Said I Endorsed Them?"
Granting a rare and brief "interview," God discusses politicians who say they're suited for office because they have a special relationship with God. Does the Almighty endorse?
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Head of Southern Christian Leadership Conference Dies
(RNS) The Rev. Howard Creecy Jr., chosen early this year as the new president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, died at the age of 57.
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Why Should Anyone Work for the Common Good?
Why Should Anyone Work for the Common Good?
Why work for the common good? Why not just watch out for you and yours? A commitment to the common good recognizes that the community as a whole benefits from services that help everyone.
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Knowing the Right Time for Career or Ministry Change
Knowing the Right Time for Career or Ministry Change
Do you sense it's time for a change in your ministry or career? How do you know when a change is the right path? Of the many reasons for change, one is good.
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When God Expects Us to Answer Our Prayers
When God Expects Us to Answer Our Prayers
As politicians call for prayer to end droughts and disasters, we should remember we have a role to play in the answers. If we've caused problems, such as altering weather patterns, we should fix them.
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Watkins Re-elected President of Disciples
(RNS) The Christian Church voted to re-elect the Rev. Sharon Watkins as head of the denomination capping off a weeklong assembly.
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Chaput Will Upend Convention in the Most Conventional of Cities
(RNS) The most obvious reason he was sent to take over the prestigious Archdiocese of Philadelphia was the clergy sexual abuse scandal.
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Six Reasons Why Successful Leaders Collaborate
Six Reasons Why Successful Leaders Collaborate
Some leaders prefer to go it alone. Although working with a group on any project can have pitfalls and frustrations, successful leaders know the value of collaboration. Here are six reasons.
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Battling Over the Meaning of the Bible's Words
Battling Over the Meaning of the Bible's Words
As language continues to evolve and as biblical scholars help us better understand the meaning of ancient words, Bible translations need to be updated. This presents a problem for those who adhere to inerrancy.
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The Two Most Dangerous Words You Can Say
The Two Most Dangerous Words You Can Say
People explain away the most obscene actions or attitudes with two words: Yes, but. These words reveal that we believe we are the exception to any rule. Fortunately, there's a solution.
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Is America Ready for a Mormon President?
Is America Ready for a Mormon President?
With its strong emphasis on family and the church's vigorous mission activity, the Church of Latter-Day Saints is one of the fastest-growing religions in the world. But is America ready for a Mormon president?
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Pastor Preaches Brotherly Love for his Co-pastor Sister
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (RNS) Decades ago, Daniel Parker would pretend to be a preacher, belting out sermons as he jumped up and down on his bed.
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Why Our Founders Favored Church-State Separation
Why Our Founders Favored Church-State Separation
The genius of our Founding Fathers is that they knew that religion, however positive and wholesome it can be, also serves as a divisive force for those who disagree with particular tenets of faith.
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How Long Do You Think Your Church Will Survive?
How Long Do You Think Your Church Will Survive?
Congregations, like marriages and other relationships, must come to the startling realization that the future is not a sure thing before they are willing to try something new or different.
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Why Jesus Rejects the Eye-For-Eye Mentality
Why Jesus Rejects the Eye-For-Eye Mentality
Violence is a vicious cycle. We have fought for so long against each other that warfare has become our natural state. But Jesus' call to nonviolent resistance to evil shows us the path to genuine humanity.
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Forgotten Past: Religious Minority to Oppressive Majority
Forgotten Past: Religious Minority to Oppressive Majority
As some Christians celebrate Alabama’s adoption of the harshest anti-immigration law in the nation, it’s clear they have forgotten their own roots as an oppressed religious minority.
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Two Kinds of Faith – Disembodied and Embodied
Two Kinds of Faith – Disembodied and Embodied
Faith can be classified into two major categories. Disembodied faith allows us to promote faith without really getting involved with people. Embodied faith is fleshed out and part of a community.
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The Greatest Lesson I Learned From My Dad
The Greatest Lesson I Learned From My Dad
Our parents are our first teachers, and their lessons are embedded deep in our souls. Of my dad's many lessons, I am particularly grateful that he taught me people are important.
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When Religious Values, Common Good Coincide
When Religious Values, Common Good Coincide
Catholic bishops recently took Speaker of the House John Boehner to task, claiming his congressional actions didn't uphold Catholic teachings. At what point do religious concerns become issues of the common good for society?
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Power of Community Can Address Hunger, Poverty
Power of Community Can Address Hunger, Poverty
When natural disasters strike, communities are quick to help their neighbors. That's humanity at its best. What will it take for us to respond to the "slow-motion" tragedies of hunger, lack of health care and loneliness?
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Four Traps That Await Clergy When They Move
Four Traps That Await Clergy When They Move
When ministers move to new congregations, they have to be careful to avoid some common traps that can ensnare their ministry. Healthy churches and ministers need to pay attention to these four trouble spots.
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The Example of Youth
I believe that most people have a dream, a vision, or an image of something that is big in their hearts.
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End-Of-World 'Prophets' Profit From Peoples' Fears
End-Of-World 'Prophets' Profit From Peoples' Fears
A radio evangelist predicted the world will end on Saturday. While end-time marketers have been making money by feeding off people’s fears for a long time, there’s another perspective.
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Two Kinds of Leaders: Shepherds and Thieves
Two Kinds of Leaders: Shepherds and Thieves
Jesus made it clear that he's the gate that protects the sheep. Those who lead his sheep fall in one of two categories – shepherds or thieves. Which leaders are today's sheep following?
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Does God Send Natural Disasters When Angered?
Does God Send Natural Disasters When Angered?
We ascribe to God a terrible anger that lashes out from time to time in the form of natural disasters. God is angered by our sinfulness, and a price must be paid. But another portrait of God is found in the Bible.
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What Jesus Really Wants Us To Pray For
What Jesus Really Wants Us To Pray For
Jesus taught us to pray so things here on earth will work like they do in heaven. What's not working? Three wars, for starters. Add poverty, hunger and an economic system that rewards the rich and punishes the poor.
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Need To Be a Better Listener? Try These Six Steps
Need To Be a Better Listener? Try These Six Steps
Nothing's more frustrating for people than to be invited to a "listening session" and walk away feeling they weren't heard. Listening requires patience. Here are six steps to help you.
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Subtle Barriers Can Hold Back Women Ministers
Subtle Barriers Can Hold Back Women Ministers
Even among individual Christians and churches that advocate for women in ministry, hierarchical thinking can subtly manifest itself as patriarchal attitudes of superiority.
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Resurrection: More Than Just Life After Death
Resurrection: More Than Just Life After Death
By raising Jesus from the dead, God defeated death and secured for all who have faith the gift of eternal life. And, unfortunately, that's where it stops for many Christians.
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As Self-Appointed Media Watchdog, AFA Goes On Attack
As Self-Appointed Media Watchdog, AFA Goes On Attack
The American Family Association, self-appointed watchdog of all things moral in the media, decrees what can and can't be watched. In their latest campaign, they give a tacit blessing to verbal abuse and other assaults.
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The
The "Christ-Haunted" Music of Kate Campbell
Although the Christian music industry won't have her, Kate Campbell's music, as reflected in songs like "Bear It Away," brings a prophetic insight into social issues.
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Four Ways for Ministers to Become Entrepreneurs
Four Ways for Ministers to Become Entrepreneurs
Ministers wear many hats in church, and one they need to add to their collection is entrepreneur. Here are four ways to add a healthy injection of the entrepreneurial spirit into the life of a congregation.
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Why We Need Less Charity, More Justice
Why We Need Less Charity, More Justice
We need more than charity if we want to make a meaningful difference to address poverty. When we work for justice, we can address the larger issues of taxation and education that keep poverty alive.
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Excommunicated Priest Now Faces Explusion
NEW ORLEANS (RNS) The Rev. Roy Bourgeois now faces expulsion from his religious order and from the priesthood over his support for the ordination of women.
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For Mormons, What Does Follow the Prophet Really Mean?
SALT LAKE CITY (RNS) Mormon leaders will offer sermons at an upcoming conference that many Mormons will treat like faxes from God.
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Prathia Hall: A Barrier-Breaking Woman Preacher
Prathia Hall: A Barrier-Breaking Woman Preacher
As a young woman in the civil rights movement, Prathia L. Hall was a barrier-breaking Baptist woman preacher, raising her fiery and focused voice in some of the movement's toughest battlegrounds.
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Where Santorum Falls Short on Church-State Separation
Where Santorum Falls Short on Church-State Separation
Rick Santorum, who is likely to seek the GOP nod for president, said fellow Catholic John F. Kennedy did "great damage" with his "radical" support for the separation of church and state. Kennedy gets it; Santorum doesn't.
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When Experience Becomes Monumentally Unhelpful
When Experience Becomes Monumentally Unhelpful
More often than not, relying on someone with experience is good for an organization. However, experience can hold an organization back and cripple our best hopes and dreams.
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Group Claims Environmentalists Belong to
Group Claims Environmentalists Belong to "Cult"
Efforts to save the environment and curb global warming are the result of "a cult" that worships the creation rather than God. That's the bizarre claim of a DVD series cosponsored by the Cornwall Alliance.
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Schuller Says He Wouldn’t Have OK’d Church’s Gay Covenant
(RNS) Schuller said he never would have approved a recent covenant choir members were asked to sign urging them to be Christian and heterosexual.
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Need New Ideas in Church? Ask Novices, Skeptics
Need New Ideas in Church? Ask Novices, Skeptics
Too often we are limited by our own experiences and preconceived ideas. We need people who can think "outside the box" and encourage us to do the same. But where do we find these people?
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Three Reasons Why One Pastor Advocates for Poor
Three Reasons Why One Pastor Advocates for Poor
God has a bias toward the poor. With the cards of social resources stacked against the weak and the vulnerable, God tries to balance the scales by being on the side of the most vulnerable – the biblical widow and orphan.
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Developing Leaders Who Will Change the World
Developing Leaders Who Will Change the World
How do you develop highly motivated church leaders? Send them to places where they can witness God at work in power. And that's what a British Baptist missionary agency has been doing for decades.
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What Would Jesus Cut From Federal Budget?
What Would Jesus Cut From Federal Budget?
The current conservative resurgence of anti-government spending is focused on monies that are intended for the poorest and most vulnerable of our society. Is this what Jesus would cut?
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How the United States Can Find Its Voice Again
How the United States Can Find Its Voice Again
Two extended wars and an unregulated banking system have just about brought the United States to its knees. Not a bad place to be if you happen to be a person of faith, but a tough place if you're part of a people of pride.
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Love Your Enemy? What Was Jesus Thinking?
Love Your Enemy? What Was Jesus Thinking?
As the Sermon on the Mount reveals, Jesus understood how to undermine oppressive power. So how do we apply Jesus' teachings in the U.S. when we more closely resemble the oppressor than the oppressed?
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Why Christians Shouldn't Flee From Public Schools
Why Christians Shouldn't Flee From Public Schools
Some segments of the Christian community believe public schools are waging war on their faith. Instead of fleeing, Christians should work with others to provide every child access to the best education possible.
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How Churches Can Plan for Their Next Minister
How Churches Can Plan for Their Next Minister
Churches rarely do a good job in planning for their next pastor. When long-time pastors leave, they are usually followed by a person who is competent but doesn't last long.
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Imitate Christ? Let's Not Get Carried Away
Imitate Christ? Let's Not Get Carried Away
Some people, even Christians, don't want to imitate Christ. To do so would mean following his radical ethic of love, his call to nonviolence and his message about sharing with the poor and practicing forgiveness.
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How to Fulfill the Greatest Commandment
How to Fulfill the Greatest Commandment
The bold ethical challenge to love God and neighbor is reduced to a lowest common denominator of personal piety in many faith communities. But the biblical expectation laid on people of faith is to seek a just community.
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Former UCC President Suspended After Affair
(RNS) The former president of the UCC has been suspended for one year and ordered to undergo a program of growth.
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Political Right's Perverted Liturgy: No Taxes
Political Right's Perverted Liturgy: No Taxes
Schools may falter, the elderly and ill may suffer and our children may be trapped in poverty, but none of that seems to sway the political right from its single-minded mantra of no taxes.
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Faith-Based Programs – No Magical Cure
Faith-Based Programs – No Magical Cure
Supporters of faith-based programs would argue that religious groups are better suited than the government to deliver social services. But faith is not a magical social ointment; it is a way of living in relationship with God.
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Clergy Answer King’s 1963 Letter from Birmingham Jail
(RNS) A coalition of Christian churches answered the Rev. Martin Luther King’s 1963 “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”
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Knowing When It's Time to Move On
Knowing When It's Time to Move On
While many leaders know when it's time to move on and let others take the reins, a few stay too long or leave too quickly. Two football players help illustrate both of these points.
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Social Gospel Squares with Jesus' Teachings
Social Gospel Squares with Jesus' Teachings
Is the gospel purely personal, having only to do with individual salvation and life after death? Or is there a social component to the gospel? Does Jesus' message say anything about economics and politics?
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Missouri Synod President to Keep Preaching Skills Polished
ST. LOUIS (RNS) The Rev. Matthew Harrison will serve a local church in addition to his role as President.
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Hopes – Not Resolutions – For the New Year
Hopes – Not Resolutions – For the New Year
Many of us make resolutions for the chance to make things better than they were. In addition to our personal resolutions, let's commit ourselves to a few hopes for our nation and our world in the new year.
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Christmas Prayer Confesses Our Love of Violence
Christmas Prayer Confesses Our Love of Violence
The birth of Jesus represents the supreme effort on God's part to reshape our flawed humanity back into his own image. If we would only accept as true the things Jesus had to say to us, what a different world this might be.
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Why 'E Pluribus Unum' Is a Better National Motto
Why 'E Pluribus Unum' Is a Better National Motto
President Obama drew criticism for saying "E Pluribus Unum" rather than "In God We Trust" is the national motto. While Congress OK'd "In God We Trust" as a knee-jerk reaction to McCarthyism, Obama knows his history.
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When Joy is Hard to Find During Christmas
When Joy is Hard to Find During Christmas
The losses we carry seem heavier for some reason when the Christmas lights go up and the music begins. Without denying our sadness, we can choose to give the joy of the moment its proper place.
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Let There Be Peace
he peace God promises will be characterized by socially just leadership, fellowship built on genuine harmony, and the humbling and liberating work of repentance.
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Ordination Practices: Following Christ or Tradition?
Ordination Practices: Following Christ or Tradition?
Baptists have never had consistent criteria for ordaining deacons, ministers or pastors, but the perception of ordination for many of them has shifted from a recognition of servanthood to a position of authority and power.
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Why the Christmas Season is Like Lucy the Camel
Why the Christmas Season is Like Lucy the Camel
During Christmas we sing about peace on earth and deliver food and clothing to the poor. All that changes after the holiday. The meaning of Christmas is a lot like Lucy the Camel – trotted out a few days every year for show.
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Why Retail Stores Are Where We Really Worship
Why Retail Stores Are Where We Really Worship
Why all the hullabaloo when retail store employees proclaim "Happy Holidays" to shoppers? Pressuring retail outlets to say "Merry Christmas" does nothing to advance the meaning of Christmas.
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Vatican, China Clash over Bishop’s Ordination
HONG KONG (RNS/ENInews) Vatican and Hong Kong cardinals criticized the ordination of a Catholic bishop without Vatican approval.
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Georgia Baptists' Anger over Women Pastors
Georgia Baptists' Anger over Women Pastors
The Georgia Baptist Convention has ousted a church from their ranks because the congregation has a woman as co-pastor. If the state's Baptists really have a problem, perhaps they should have voted God out.
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How Do We Live Out God's Will on Earth?
How Do We Live Out God's Will on Earth?
When we pray for God's will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven, how in heaven's name can we ever know what that would look like? The question of what God wants has an answer in the writings of the prophet Micah.
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Mormons Soften Language on Gays
(RNS) A newly published compilation of guidelines used worldwide by leaders of the Mormon Church has softened the language about gay Mormons.
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When Christians Favor Retribution Over Forgiveness
When Christians Favor Retribution Over Forgiveness
Most Americans feel the need for more forgiveness in their lives yet many of them believe some behaviors can't be forgiven. Perhaps we can't experience forgiveness because we won't grant it to others.
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Blessed Are The Poor? Jesus Can't Be Serious
Blessed Are The Poor? Jesus Can't Be Serious
Some believe the needs of the poor are draining away our meager resources and that people are poor because of bad choices or sinful lives. So why does Jesus tell us that the poor are blessed?
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Forbes Names Pope World’s Fifth Most Powerful Figure
(RNS) Pope Benedict XVI won the No. 5 spot in a list of the world’s most powerful people.
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Unanimous Baptists – Isn't That an Oxymoron?
Unanimous Baptists – Isn't That an Oxymoron?
Why do many Baptist churches insist on unanimous recommendations from their pastor search committees? Many are insecure and don't want potential challenges to their recommendations on the church floor.
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Bishop Compares Fight over Female Bishops to World War II
LONDON (RNS) A bishop has triggered fury by likening the debate over allowing female bishops to the “serious threat” of warfare.
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In Middle East, Religion Has Added to the Conflict
In Middle East, Religion Has Added to the Conflict
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a political issue and should be worked out using political and diplomatic resources, not theological debate. Religion, in this case, has contributed more to the problem rather than the solution.
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On Calling Women Pastors: Say One Thing, Do Another
On Calling Women Pastors: Say One Thing, Do Another
It's time for moderate Baptists who claim they support women pastors to quit paying lip service to the notion and actually call a woman. When will they be ready to give women a chance?
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Why Young Adults Reject Conservative Christianity
Why Young Adults Reject Conservative Christianity
Two political science experts warned that young people are rejecting conservative Christianity – and in big numbers. Many have been turned away by the politics of anti-homosexuality.
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Last Holdout Episcopal Diocese Ordains Female Priest
(RNS) Women have been ordained as priests in all 110 dioceses of the Episcopal Church.
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The Real Tragedy of State-Sanctioned Gambling
The Real Tragedy of State-Sanctioned Gambling
Those who oppose gambling as a moral concern need to help legislators have the backbone necessary to reform our tax system and raise adequate taxes for schools and other services.
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How to Succeed in Ministry? Ask Your Orthodontist
How to Succeed in Ministry? Ask Your Orthodontist
The key to ministry success is identifying the most strategic issue and resolving it. As orthodontists know, it takes constant pressure applied at just the right place.
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Tax Exemption – Not a Right But a Privilege
Tax Exemption – Not a Right But a Privilege
An Oklahoma pastor intentionally broke the law by endorsing a candidate for governor from the pulpit. Nothing prohibits churches from endorsing candidates – as long as they are willing to give up their tax-exempt privilege.
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How Ministry Success is Like Golfer's $11 Million Shot
How Ministry Success is Like Golfer's $11 Million Shot
How did Jim Furyk's pull off an unbelievable shot out of a wet sand bunker that helped him win more than $11 million? A lot of behind-the-scenes practice led up to that moment. Success in ministry is the same way.
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Top Canadian Orthodox Bishop on Leave for Misconduct
TORONTO (RNS) One of Canada’s top Eastern Orthodox hierarchs has resigned his duties and been granted a leave of absence.
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Understanding the Lost Politics of Jesus
Understanding the Lost Politics of Jesus
One of the great losses to Christianity over the past few decades is an adequate understanding of Jesus' politics. Jesus wanted his followers to have an identity based on the values of God's kingdom rather than Caesar's empire.
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Va. Imam Named Head of Largest Muslim Group
(RNS) The Islamic Society of North America named a gregarious Sudanese-born Virginia imam as its new president.
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Long Denies False Allegations
(RNS) Pastor Bishop Eddie Long has decried the “false allegations” lodged against him.
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Candidate's Bogus Claim: Hitler Favored Church-State Separation
Candidate's Bogus Claim: Hitler Favored Church-State Separation
A GOP candidate for the U.S. House claimed Hitler was the inventor, or at least the champion, of separating church and state, but it's not true. Hitler sought to nationalize the Christian church.
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Embattled Philadelphia Bishop Says He Won’t Resign
(RNS) The embattled Episcopal bishop of Philadelphia is defiantly refusing to resign.
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Religious Freedom in U.S. is For Everyone, Not Some
Religious Freedom in U.S. is For Everyone, Not Some
Angry protests over an Islamic center near Ground Zero. A Florida pastor threatens to burn the Quran. If we don't guarantee religious freedom for all, we betray the genius that lies behind the U.S. Constitution.
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Churches Have Different Cultures but Common Mission
Churches Have Different Cultures but Common Mission
Every congregation has a unique culture. For church leaders, this means they must become social anthropologists who must peel back the layers of authority, custom and process to really understand their congregations.
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Obama Rumors? Beck as Moses? Catching Up After Time Off
Obama Rumors? Beck as Moses? Catching Up After Time Off
During 13 weeks of sabbatical, it was hard not to write about a provocative news story or someone in religious life doing something bizarre. Now, with the R&R over, several things really need to be addressed.
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Prominent Faith Leaders Denounce Islamophobia
WASHINGTON (RNS) Three dozen faith leaders issued a declaration denouncing anti-Muslim bigotry.
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Ways That You Can Recognize True Leadership
Ways That You Can Recognize True Leadership
They don't ask others to do what they are not already doing. They determine for themselves they will tell the truth. They seek to elevate others to achieve success. Who are they? They're true leaders.
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Former United Church of Christ President Admits Affair
(RNS) The former president of the UCC is divorcing his wife and is in a committed relationship with a former co-worker.
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Gradually Clearing the Path for Women in Ministry
Gradually Clearing the Path for Women in Ministry
Blazing the trail for women to serve in the ministry hasn't been easy, but the path has fewer rocks and ruts than it did years ago. For today's young women, the journey is a little smoother. And that makes it worth it.
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Financial Woes Lead to President’s Resignation at Methodist College
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (RNS) Trustees at Birmingham-Southern College accepted the resignation of President David Pollick.
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American Buddhist Godfather Robert Aitken Dies at 93
(RNS) Robert Aitken Roshi, pioneer in bringing Zen Buddhism to the West, died at age 93.
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Kenyan Church Leaders Defend Opposition to Constitution
NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS/ENInews) Kenyan church leaders have rejected calls for an apology after they campaigned against a new constitution.
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Church of God Says Women Can Be Leaders but Not Bishops
(RNS) The Church of God has decided to permit women to serve on local church councils but they cannot be ordained as bishops.
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Mountains Hold Physical and Cultural Challenges
Mountains Hold Physical and Cultural Challenges
Mountains seem to beckon us to climb them. They pose a daunting physical challenge for the daring among us, and a few others also find cultural and spiritual tests awaiting them.
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Catholic Patriarch Blasts Israel for Allowing Gay Parade
JERUSALEM (RNS) The Catholic Church’s highest official in the Holy Land sharply criticized Israeli authorities for permitting a gay pride parade.
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Predicting the Future? No Easy Task for Leaders
Predicting the Future? No Easy Task for Leaders
No one knows what the future holds. That's why every organization, including the church, needs courageous leaders who will encourage openness and trust that will allow stakeholders to talk, dream and innovate.
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BWA Meets, Seasoned Leaders Speak to 21st Century Future of Baptists
BWA Meets, Seasoned Leaders Speak to 21st Century Future of Baptists
With Baptists celebrating 400 years of history and with global Baptists meeting for the BWA Congress, several seasoned Baptists share their views on the direction Baptists should take in their future.
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Finding Courage to Challenge Churches' Patriarchy
Finding Courage to Challenge Churches' Patriarchy
Churches seem to be the most formidable institutional structures resistant to egalitarian roles for women. To reform it, God needs people to challenge the religious powers that be and become instruments of peace.
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Women in Ministry – Right, Inevitable, Overdue
Women in Ministry – Right, Inevitable, Overdue
Men have long held senior leadership roles in the church and fulfilled the pastoral role. What continues to keep Baptists and some evangelicals from accepting women in Christian leadership, especially as pastors?
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Why Do Churches Follow CEO Leadership Model?
Why Do Churches Follow CEO Leadership Model?
The corporate CEO tends to be associated with unbridled greed, hedonistic lifestyles, raw exercise of power and smug self-confidence. And yet this CEO model has carried over to various forms of Christian ministry.
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Even Columnists Need to Take a Sabbath
Even Columnists Need to Take a Sabbath
The Sabbath is a time of rest and reflection. It's a chance to connect with God and a time to reflect on what it means to be a human being in this world God has made.
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Baptist's Call for Gender Equality in Early 1900s
Baptist's Call for Gender Equality in Early 1900s
Some conservatives say it is God's intention that women should be "submissive" to men, but a Baptist woman from the early 1900s saw it differently when she proclaimed that women were created as equal to men.
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What's Disappearing in Churches? The Middle
What's Disappearing in Churches? The Middle
Church life in modern America is characterized by the loss of a "consensus in the middle" and the growing influence of the extremes. With a weakened middle, many churches experience greater instability.
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 Part 2: Carter's Steady Pursuit of Peace, Justice
Part 2: Carter's Steady Pursuit of Peace, Justice
After leaving the White House, President Jimmy Carter decided to put his faith and his political visibility to work in the cause of justice, promoting democracy in places no one dreamed democracy was even possible.
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Part 1: Jimmy Carter Melded Religion, Politics
Part 1: Jimmy Carter Melded Religion, Politics
Jimmy Carter made being "born again" a campaign issue in 1976, vowing that his faith would help him govern. In the aftermath of Watergate, the American people were looking for someone they could trust.
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When Churches Deny Full Equality to Women
When Churches Deny Full Equality to Women
The Rev. Janine Denomme, who devoted her life to the Catholic Church and had been ordained as a priest, died on May 17. That ordination was grounds to deny her a Roman Catholic burial at her local parish.
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How Small Churches Can Find Qualified Ministers
How Small Churches Can Find Qualified Ministers
While there is a surplus of ministers wanting a shrinking pool of big-church jobs, many small churches have difficulty attracting a decent pastor. They could have an easier time if they didn't eliminate half the candidates.
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Enforcing Commandments as Law of Land
Enforcing Commandments as Law of Land
Sarah Palin says the law in America should be based on the Ten Commandments. While some parts of the Law of Moses are the law of the land, enforcing the others are going to be tricky.
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Muslim Stories About Obama, Seminary Leader
Muslim Stories About Obama, Seminary Leader
Some people believe that President Obama is a secret Muslim no matter how much evidence exists about his faith in Christ. Meanwhile, Liberty University's president appears to have exaggerated his Muslim roots.
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Baptist Organizational Leaders Voice Anxiety, See Abundance
Baptist Organizational Leaders Voice Anxiety, See Abundance
Anxiety and abundance were two themes that emerged during a retreat of organizational leaders related to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Baptists should rejoice at the challenges and prioritize the opportunities.
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National Day of Prayer: Facts and Fiction
National Day of Prayer: Facts and Fiction
As the National Day of Prayer approaches this Thursday, let's correct a few distortions. President Obama, for example, is not trying to cancel the day. That's a rumor rooted in the nonsense that he's not a Christian.
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One Woman's Mission to India's Poor
One Woman's Mission to India's Poor
Lepers. Orphans. HIV patients. Prisoners. The elderly. Marginalized youth. They are among the poorest of the poor in India. And Leena Lavanya forges her own path to minister to all of them.
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Some Equate Gospel with Subjugating Women
Some Equate Gospel with Subjugating Women
Some Southern Baptists claim that preventing women from serving as pastors is defending the gospel. When did Jesus proclaim that the good news of the Kingdom of God is that women should not exercise authority over men?
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Obeying God's Word – When It Suits Them
Obeying God's Word – When It Suits Them
When Baptist leaders explain how they can justify banning women preachers, they often shrug and say that's what God's word says. By selectively embracing the Bible literally, they are impeding God's working in our world.
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Faith and Science: Not an Either/Or Choice
Faith and Science: Not an Either/Or Choice
Can the Bible be read seriously without being read literally? The unnecessary conflict between faith and science is wreaking havoc on both faith and science.
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When Injustice Strikes, 'Make Them Hear You'
When Injustice Strikes, 'Make Them Hear You'
The Georgia Baptist Convention is preparing to sever ties with a church that called a woman as co-pastor. Why doesn't the church break ties on its own? That may be easier to do, but something bigger is at stake.
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Defeating Racism at the Spiritual Level
Defeating Racism at the Spiritual Level
While racial discrimination is no longer legal, we've got a long way to go. As a spiritual disorder, racism is so deeply rooted in us that nothing short of a conversion experience can change a person's mind and heart.
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Fewer Ministers Plan to Serve in Churches
Fewer Ministers Plan to Serve in Churches
Churches in America may be facing a dramatic shortage of ministers in the coming years. Less than a third of students now attending seminary intend to minister to congregations.
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Why We Still Choose Barabbas Today
Why We Still Choose Barabbas Today
The Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, made a show each year at the Passover of releasing one prisoner as a goodwill gesture. One year, he had two candidates: Barabbas and Jesus. Even today, we make the wrong choice.
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Women Pastors: Baptists' Loss Is Others' Gain
Women Pastors: Baptists' Loss Is Others' Gain
In too many Baptist circles today, the calling of a woman to pastoral ministry is still denied or dismissed. Yet, in churches where the principle of the autonomy of the local church is truly cherished, miracles occur.
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Hijacking Faith to Fit Science, Politics
Hijacking Faith to Fit Science, Politics
Redefining faith as scientific truth or political ideology subordinates faith to these other realities. Out of a desire to have faith validated and affirmed by wider culture, some are allowing their beliefs to be hijacked.
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Temptations Lurk in Ministry Transitions
Temptations Lurk in Ministry Transitions
Too often, leadership transitions in church can take on the look and feel of political transitions. Unlike politicians, we need to recognize ministry is not about creating our own legacies
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Socialism? No, It's Being Good Neighbors
Socialism? No, It's Being Good Neighbors
It's time and past time to lay aside our paranoia about government and figure out how we are going to care for the poor, the sick and weak in our midst. That's not socialism; it's neighborly-ism.
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When Church and State Should Interact
When Church and State Should Interact
Separating church from state does not mean our public life should be void of faith. Since the days of the biblical prophets, the voice of faith has called for justice and peace in our common existence.
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Opposing Gambling for Wrong Reason
Opposing Gambling for Wrong Reason
Alabama's governor is on a crusade against gambling, but is it for the right reason? Do Christians oppose gambling because they want to control bad behavior or because it preys on the poor?
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 This Old House: A Constitution-Reform Parable
This Old House: A Constitution-Reform Parable
Once, there was a village called Alabama. Its villagers learned that the house that protected their children, the elderly and the poor was old and needed repair. Read what happens in this modern-day parable.
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New Constitution Overdue for Alabama
New Constitution Overdue for Alabama
Once again, political leaders in Alabama have introduced bills to give the state's citizens a voice in rewriting the constitution. Similar efforts have failed in the past, even though it's past time for a new constitution.
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"Voice From the Past" Advises Barack Obama
President Obama receives a lot of advice, including this letter from a voice from the past. "Mo Amramson" was also in charge of leading a multitude of people through troubling times.
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Woman Preacher's Legacy Spans Generations
Woman Preacher's Legacy Spans Generations
The last seven generations of the Cartledge family have been Baptists. And it all started because of a seemingly unfortunate incident and a woman preacher's spirited defense in 1770.
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Left Turn: Some Evangelicals Shun Rigid Ideology
Left Turn: Some Evangelicals Shun Rigid Ideology
Are some evangelicals moving away from the political and theological right wing? The New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good seeks to be above ideology rather than subservient to it.
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 If You're Going to Preach, Be Like Buster
If You're Going to Preach, Be Like Buster
My grandfather had a certain contempt for preachers. When he learned I was going to become one, he begged me to reconsider. And when he realized I was determined, his advice was simple: Be like Buster.
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Where Is God When We Suffer?
Where Is God When We Suffer?
If God's all powerful, why wouldn't he stop suffering? If he's good, why would he allow it? As we view the devastating images from Haiti, these questions have no satisfying answer, but we must still ask.
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Who is Pat Robertson Hearing? GOD or GOP?
Who is Pat Robertson Hearing? GOD or GOP?
Every year, Pat Robertson proclaims what God has told him will happen in the coming year. But Robertson's batting average isn't good. Maybe that's because instead of listening to GOD, he's more in tune with the GOP.
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Alabama Nonprofit Advocates for Poor
Alabama Nonprofit Advocates for Poor
What does it mean to do justice? Ask a nonprofit group like Alabama Arise. Its annual list of issues affecting the state's poor, coupled with strategies to address them, is a reflection on how to do justice.
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Seasonal Charity: A Doorway to Biblical Justice
Seasonal Charity: A Doorway to Biblical Justice
Poverty won't yield to charity alone. There aren't enough soup kitchens and shelters in the whole country to begin to make a dent in America's poverty. To make a difference, we need a commitment to justice.
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What Would Make Jesus Happy on His Birthday?
What Would Make Jesus Happy on His Birthday?
When Jesus looks at the earth at the time of year when many of us celebrate his birth, is he dismayed by the materialism and self-righteousness he sees? Maybe his thoughts would be something like this.
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Christmas Hymn Reminds Us Separation Won't Last
Christmas Hymn Reminds Us Separation Won't Last
Sobering words from a joyful Christmas hymn remind us of the divisions that have separated us since The Fall. Imagine if we were able to eliminate all the artificial distinctions that divide us.
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Just War Theory: A Time for Careful Evaluation
Just War Theory: A Time for Careful Evaluation
Just war theory goes back to the fourth-century theologian Augustine and was developed to help leaders carefully evaluate the circumstances before going to war. Are the wars we wage based on a just cause?
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Doesn't Add Up: Calculating Exactly How Many Are Saved
Doesn't Add Up: Calculating Exactly How Many Are Saved
A Kentucky Baptist official recently said that 2,587,995 Kentuckians "are lost without Christ." Can we really calculate the precise number of "lost" people? Or is this more evangelical arrogance?
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Advent is Most Satisfying Way to Celebrate Jesus' Birth
Advent is Most Satisfying Way to Celebrate Jesus' Birth
Many churches will mark the beginning of Advent on Sunday, a month-long reflection on the meaning of Jesus' birth. It's far more significant than simply encouraging retail outlets to say "Merry Christmas."
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Judge Hits the Brakes on Christian License Plates
Judge Hits the Brakes on Christian License Plates
A judge rules that South Carolina's plan to allow license plates that promoted Christianity was unconstitutional. It was the right call. After all, Jesus didn't say they shall know you by your advertising.
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The Price of Greed: Desire for More Consumes Us
The Price of Greed: Desire for More Consumes Us
We were told in the 1980s that greed is good. However, greed makes us less human. In the anxious quest for more and more stuff, we become like the commodities we consume.
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Sharing God's Concern for Poor Means Fairer Taxes
Sharing God's Concern for Poor Means Fairer Taxes
Many people of faith are acutely aware of God's stance toward the poor. However, our expressions of charity alone will not suffice. We must change the very structures that overtax the poor.
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 If Women Ruled: Great Examples Always Have Exception
If Women Ruled: Great Examples Always Have Exception
Some recent inspiring stories in the news have indicated that this world might indeed be a better place if women ruled it. Of course, every rule has an exception. Bosnia's Iron Lady proves it.
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The Dream Continues: More Work Needed to End Racism
The Dream Continues: More Work Needed to End Racism
Racial discrimination and segregation are no longer legal, but Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream of seeing a nation united rather than divided by race has not made as much progress. It's a spiritual problem.
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America Founded as Christian Nation? Author Busts Myth
America Founded as Christian Nation? Author Busts Myth
While Dan Brown's new novel may not be as controversial as "The da Vinci Code," the author seems determined to annihilate the myth that America was founded as a Christian nation. He may be doing us a favor.
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Bible Too Liberal? Conservative Bible Project Will Fix It
Bible Too Liberal? Conservative Bible Project Will Fix It
The Conservative Bible Project believes modern translations of the Bible, and even some textual matters, are tainted with a liberal bias. Their plan is to rewrite the Bible so it reflects a more conservative viewpoint.
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Dearly Departed: The Separation of Church and Jesus
Dearly Departed: The Separation of Church and Jesus
Minorities in church. Rushing to war. Alleviating poverty. For some Christians, certain areas of life are simply too important to run the risk of Jesus meddling with them.
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Can't We Steal a Little Money to Pay for Health Care?
Can't We Steal a Little Money to Pay for Health Care?
I have written a few columns suggesting that health-care reform is a moral imperative. One reader said I was promoting the idea of the government stealing our money. Let's think about that.
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When Calamity Strikes: Is God Our Punisher or Healer?
When Calamity Strikes: Is God Our Punisher or Healer?
Some ministers are quick to see God's judgment in calamity, but they work from an incomplete picture of God. As a result, they teach too many people to live under God's scorn rather than his grace.
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Stance Against Health Care Resurrects Religious Right
Stance Against Health Care Resurrects Religious Right
The Religious Right was in tatters last year, but health-care reform has given these religious naysayers, posing as spokespersons for Jesus, something new to which they can say "no."
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The Last Word: Controlling Translations of the Bible
The Last Word: Controlling Translations of the Bible
The New International Version Bible is set for an update, and a translation battle is brewing. Whoever controls the words used in a translation controls how we are able to think about theological issues.
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Who Needs Police? Law Says People Must Trust God
Who Needs Police? Law Says People Must Trust God
A judge rightly struck down a Kentucky law that said its citizens could only be safe unless they believed in God. Why do people write into law what can only be embraced by faith?
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Who's Going To Be the Anti-Christ Today?
Who's Going To Be the Anti-Christ Today?
In the '70s, author Hal Lindsey pegged the Soviet Union as the agent of the anti-Christ. But the Soviet Union fell, and Christian doomsayers eventually made Islam their new anti-Christ.
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What's Really Motivating Angry Town-Hall Mobs?
What's Really Motivating Angry Town-Hall Mobs?
Members of Congress holding town hall meetings on health care reform are being shouted down by angry mobs of constituents. Pure paranoia? Not really. It's displaced racism.
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What Drives Your Church? 'Come and See' or 'Go and Tell'
What Drives Your Church? 'Come and See' or 'Go and Tell'
Your church receives a $3,000 gift and comes up with two ways to spend the money. What the leaders decide may indicate the philosophy that drives your church.
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Clergy Letter Project: Science, Bible Can Co-Exist
Clergy Letter Project: Science, Bible Can Co-Exist
The Clergy Letter Project began when a biologist and several clergy wrote a statement affirming the teaching of evolution. Nearly 12,000 Christian clergy have now signed the letter.
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Baptists Called to Promote Civility, Cooperation
Baptists Called to Promote Civility, Cooperation
Baptists must treat each other with respect and civility even when there are disagreements over issues, an Oklahoma pastor and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter both urged.
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Diverse Faith Groups Rally for Health Care
Diverse Faith Groups Rally for Health Care
While the clock is ticking on President Obama's health care reform plan, a strong push in support of reform is coming from a diverse coalition of faith communities.
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Hate Crimes Bill Won't Restrict Sermons
Hate Crimes Bill Won't Restrict Sermons
A pending hate crimes bill is causing some Christian conservatives to fret, but there's no reason to fear that preachers' right to speak freely will be restricted.
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Is Blaming Men for Inequitable Treatment of Women Good Theology?
Is Blaming Men for Inequitable Treatment of Women Good Theology?
It's not just the leaders of the male-dominated Southern Baptist Convention that stifle women. Those who disagree but remain silent are also culpable.
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Defining Words' Meaning is Path to Control
Defining Words' Meaning is Path to Control
Humpty Dumpty's smarter than we think. To win control, you need to be the one to define what words mean – even if you have to take them out of context.
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First Rule of Falling Leaders: Blame Something
First Rule of Falling Leaders: Blame Something
Rather than accept responsibility for setbacks, some leaders prefer to pass the buck to external factors or other people. (At least, that's what the liberal media want you to believe.)
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Baptists: Muslims Part of Extended Family
Baptists: Muslims Part of Extended Family
Baptists should approach Muslims with compassion and friendship. The first step in showing genuine love for another person is to accept them as they are.
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 Independence Day: When Poverty Loosened Grip on Family
Independence Day: When Poverty Loosened Grip on Family

Grills will smoke and fireworks will pop as Americans celebrate Independence Day this weekend. Ten years ago, a poor family from Mexico celebrated a different kind of independence day.

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Down on Today's Youth? Try Spending a Week with 500 of Them
Down on Today's Youth? Try Spending a Week with 500 of Them
So you think today's young people are hopeless? Maybe you should spend a week with nearly 500 of them at the annual Lott Carey Youth Seminar. You'll find visionaries who believe God will do more than we can ever imagine.
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America as Melting Pot? We're Really More of a Tossed Salad
America as Melting Pot? We're Really More of a Tossed Salad
America has been described as a melting pot, a place where people from diverse backgrounds merge into one. However, we are often more like a tossed salad, with unique pieces of cultural heritage clearly visible and intact.
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Young Leaders Staying Home From SBC's Annual Meeting
Young Leaders Staying Home From SBC's Annual Meeting
When the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting begins today, leaders expect one trend to continue: Few young leaders will attend. One young pastor says many of his peers don't want to be associated with the SBC brand.
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South Carolina Minister Nominated to Serve as CBF Moderator-Elect
South Carolina Minister Nominated to Serve as CBF Moderator-Elect
Christy McMillin-Goodwin, associate minister for education and missions at Oakland Baptist Church in Rock Hill, S.C., has been nominated as moderator-elect for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
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 Would a Baptist Church by Any Other Name Smell as Sweet?
Would a Baptist Church by Any Other Name Smell as Sweet?
Some churches have removed Baptist from their names, but others seek to reclaim the meaning of the name. Many principles of historical Baptist theology and polity offer a solid basis for citizenship in a free and diverse society.
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Best Pastors Are More Than Skilled Leaders – They're Artists
Best Pastors Are More Than Skilled Leaders – They're Artists
Church leaders need to be more than good managers who grasp the mechanics of running a congregation. They need to be artists who understand discernment, composition, arrangement, timing, imagination and presentation.
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Like Other Justices, Sotomayor's Perspective Will Sway Decisions
Like Other Justices, Sotomayor's Perspective Will Sway Decisions
Charged with being "racist" for a remark she made in 2001, Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor was simply acknowledging that perspective can be important. Like every other justice, her experiences inform her perspective.
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Pastor and Former SBC Vice Pres Prays for President's Death
Pastor and Former SBC Vice Pres Prays for President's Death
Wiley Drake, former second vice president of the SBC, let it be known that he was praying for President Obama to die. Is praying for someone's death consistent with the values and truth that Jesus embodied in his life and ministry?
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'Leaders Who Last'
'Leaders Who Last'
Margaret Marcuson's "Leaders Who Last" does not offer a quick fix or even guarantee success for clergy running on empty on ministry treadmills. If one theme pervades the book it is this: improving leadership is hard work and it takes time.
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Surprise Package: Some SBC Churches Drop
Surprise Package: Some SBC Churches Drop "Baptist" from Name
Why are some Southern Baptist churches reluctant to use Baptist in their name? To the church-hunter who has already disavowed the denomination, it's like the joy from receiving a pretty package – until you see what's inside.
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Absolute Religious Rhetoric Leads to Violent Behavior
Absolute Religious Rhetoric Leads to Violent Behavior
It's tempting to dismiss the murder of Dr. George Tiller as the behavior of a deranged person, but the highly charged religious rhetoric that informs much of the pro-life movement will not allow for that explanation alone.
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A Bible for America Reveals Spiritual Arrogance and Ignorance
A Bible for America Reveals Spiritual Arrogance and Ignorance
"The American Patriot's Bible" places Scripture alongside American history. Millions of Christians, however, aren't Americans. It is arrogant to think America commands some unique position in relation to the Christian message.
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Top 10 Reasons Not to Display the Ten Commandments
Top 10 Reasons Not to Display the Ten Commandments
Officials in White County, Georgia, placed the Ten Commandments on display in their courthouse with other historical documents. Here are 10 reasons why government displays of the Ten Commandments are a bad idea.
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All Too Often, We're Eager to Accept Bogus Info at Face Value
All Too Often, We're Eager to Accept Bogus Info at Face Value
What causes so many otherwise intelligent folk to ardently embrace and believe disinformation? Perhaps it's because these little nuggets of lunacy serve as proof that their view of the world is absolutely right.
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No Matter Who's in Charge, Total Power Often Corrupts
No Matter Who's in Charge, Total Power Often Corrupts
Our nation is at its best when we have leadership that appreciates the value of bipartisan power and the presence of an opposing party that can call for accountability. Whenever one party holds the power, disaster looms.
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Evangelicals' Support of Torture Reveals Double Failure
Evangelicals' Support of Torture Reveals Double Failure
Nearly 62 percent of white evangelical Christians believe that torturing suspected terrorists is often or sometimes justified, marking the failure of two great traditions that at one time were the foundation of American society.
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Christians Have No Reason to Fear Public Education
Christians Have No Reason to Fear Public Education
Many parents, especially Christians, are convinced that public schools are waging war on their values. While some have turned to home schooling, a case can be made for Christians to keep their children in public schools.
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Americans' Confidence in Religious Leaders at All-Time Low
Americans' Confidence in Religious Leaders at All-Time Low
Used car salesmen and members of Congress need to slide over and make room. A new study finds that only one out of five Americans have a "great deal" of confidence in leaders of religious institutions.
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McCain's Strategist: GOP Should Support Gay Marriage
McCain's Strategist: GOP Should Support Gay Marriage
The Republican strategist who ran John McCain's presidential campaign says supporting gay marriage fits with the party's belief in personal responsibility. How Christian conservatives will react is far from clear.
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Finding a Church is Never Easy, Especially if You're President
Finding a Church is Never Easy, Especially if You're President
Searching for a church home is a big decision. It's even tougher when the entire nation's watching you. No matter what church the First Family joins, for some it will be the wrong choice. Maybe we should let them worship in peace.
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God's Comeback: Editors Claim Rise in Faith Will Help Economy
God's Comeback: Editors Claim Rise in Faith Will Help Economy
Fewer Americans claiming to be Christian may reflect a move away from church politics and denominationalism. Despite the downward trend, two economists say a return to faith is near and will be good for business.
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Women Ministers Form Support Group in Arkansas
Women Ministers Form Support Group in Arkansas
Carolyn Staley, minister of education at Pulaski Heights Baptist Church in Little Rock, Ark., has organized an Arkansas Chapter of Baptist Women in Ministry. Some of her members can't be named publicly.
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Palm Sunday's Lesson: Jesus Doesn't Fit Our Mold
Palm Sunday's Lesson: Jesus Doesn't Fit Our Mold
At the time of Jesus, Israel had been the pawn of one great kingdom or another for nearly 600 years. Those who hailed Jesus' arrival into Jerusalem with cloaks and tree branches hoped for a great king to set them free.
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Alabama Voters May Have Their Say on Rewriting Constitution
Alabama Voters May Have Their Say on Rewriting Constitution
Alabama politicians have dodged the opportunity to allow Alabama voters to decide whether or not to hold a constitutional convention. This year may be different.
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Today’s Leadership Thrives on Relationships, Core Values
Today’s Leadership Thrives on Relationships, Core Values
The mechanistic leadership model stifled creativity, meaning and relationships for everyone except those at the top. The new organic model is built on a core of spirituality and relationships.
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Diversity Reigns Among So-Called Liberal Clergy
Diversity Reigns Among So-Called Liberal Clergy
Categorizing people by means of narrow labels is just another way of not having to think deeply about them.
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We Lost the Ideal of Collective Responsibility
We Lost the Ideal of Collective Responsibility
So long as we persist in holding on to the idea that government is some sort of alien power, is in fact our adversary, we will live as a nation divided against itself.
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Baptists Bet Casinos, not Taxes, Are Moral Issue
Baptists Bet Casinos, not Taxes, Are Moral Issue
Religious groups are more than eager to love their neighbors when it comes to regulating personal behavior. But when it comes time to take on the big issues of social and economic injustice, conservative Christians begin to sound more like a certain character in one of Jesus' parables.
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 Al Mohler Stokes Division with Comments on Evolution
Al Mohler Stokes Division with Comments on Evolution
This past week marked the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin. All across the country there were celebrations and denunciations—not by the same people, of course.
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Office of Faith-Based Initiatives Should Disappear
Office of Faith-Based Initiatives Should Disappear
For my part the office could simply go away. If we want to spend money to help people, then create the Office of Helping People in America, and then go do it. The work is not going to be any more effective if it is done under the auspices of a church or any less effective because it is being done by secular professionals.
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Baptists in Search of Unity
Baptists in Search of Unity
It is an ambitious and even audacious idea. But it is a hopeful one. For too long we have skirted the edges of disaster existing as "us and them." It's time, not just for Baptists, but for everyone, to find a way just to be us.
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God As Athletic Director
God As Athletic Director
The theology at work here goes something like this: When you win God is with you, but when you lose, you are on your own. Of course, it doesn't always work out so well for winners.
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See Neighbor As Kin or Nothing Will Change
Morale alone will not fix what is broken in our country. But without some sense of common purpose, some level of hope, some willingness to embrace our neighbor as our kin, nothing is going to change anyway.
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Want to Be Biblical? Approve Prayers at Inaugurations
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Inauguration Reminds Us of What Prayer Is, Isn’t
Prayer is not ceremonial. Prayers offered at public events like football games, graduations and presidential inaugurations are mere ceremony. They are prelude to something else that is the main event. If Jesus is right and prayer is actually a conversation we can have with God, then we have no business reducing it down to the level of a starter pistol at a foot race.
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Change Comes Slowly, but Surely
In November, Sen. Barack Obama entered into history as the first African American to be elected president of the United States. Next Tuesday he will take the oath of office and become the 44th president of our country.
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Faith Makeup of Congress Reflects That of Country
That diversity will be on full display as the 111th Congress convenes and begins its work. According to recent analysis by Congressional Quarterly and the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, the new Congress' religious diversity is significantly representative of the diversity that exists in the country as a whole.
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Ministry Leaders Must Contextualize
Recently, I wrote that an effective ministry entrepreneur needs to acquire specific knowledge, cultivate certain values and develop competent skills to be effective in ministry. Two of these skills are being able to read or discern the culture in which one ministers and then to use that culture to influence belief.
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Honk If You Love Jesus
Late last month a federal judge issued a temporary order against the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles for issuing a faith-based car tag with the words "I Believe" featured prominently. The judge is of the opinion that the tag unconstitutionally promotes Christianity. The state attorney general disagrees, and so Jesus will have yet another day in court.
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Hopes and Prayers for the New Year
I am praying and hoping that we find a way to get our troops out of Iraq. I know I already said that, but we really need to get our folks home.
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A Christmas Prayer
The birth of Jesus represents the supreme effort on your part to re-shape our flawed humanity back into your own image. If we would only accept as true the things Jesus had to say to us, what a different world this might be.
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The Impulse to Silence Dissent
Silencing dissent is just about the most un-American, and un-Christian, thing imaginable. Our Constitution was written by a host of rowdy and intelligent dissenters. And nearly every hero of our faith started off as a dissenter.
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'Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney'
You'll understand why places like Disney are case studies in remarkability when you read Creating Magic. For a company that big to be that good for that long, great leaders have to be at the helm of every aspect of the operation.
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Female Baptist Pastor in South Africa Loves on the Edge
Cheryl Allen is a senior pastor because she literally has gone where no man would go.
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Making Risky Decisions
Help can come from many sources, and true leaders are not always the people up front waving their arms. As we can learn from Naaman's experience, slaves can give great advice to generals, and servants can know better than kings what needs to be done.
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What the U.S. Recession Reveals About Leadership
Hardly anything has been reported about how religious leaders are responding to the economic crisis, or even their present failure to be as forceful on behalf of the vulnerable as they have tried to be when working to influence elections and boost the political clout of their religious constituencies.
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I Was Just Quoting Jesus
I recently wrote a column suggesting that as Christians we could do a better job finding ways to collectively provide assistance to the least of these among us. The responses were swift and angry. I was accused of distorting the Bible in order to advance a liberal socialist agenda. I thought I was just quoting Jesus.
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Analyzing the Religious Vote
Religion has played a pivotal role in every election in this country since 1976. That remains true for our most recent presidential race as well. Even though the U.S. Constitution does not allow a religious test for public office, religious voters put the full force of their faith to work in deciding who would get their vote.
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Passing Along the Leadership Mantle
A smooth transition sends clear messages about the health and future of the group, while a rocky transition can handicap the new leader and set the group or organization back significantly. We need to be deliberate and biblical about leadership transitions.
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Experiencing Burnout
Even leaders who have experienced God's providence and power in amazing and unmistakable ways can give in to periods of fear, despair and darkness.
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So You Want to Be a Preacher
I never took a class in preaching; I don't remember anyone talking to me about preaching; I am sure I did not read anything about preaching. Given this, it is a wonder that anybody had the grit to sit through one of my so-called sermons.
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Seasonal Mood Swings
Why only at the apex of our material pursuits do we suddenly notice our struggling neighbors? Could it be that our temporary bouts of charity are really efforts to atone for a life of meaningless consumption?
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Failed Leaders Reject Truthful Messages
For any leader with eyes to see and ears to hear, this story from the 1800s continues to speak loudly of the danger of depending on the counsel of yes-men. For when "the lie" is shattered by reality, the leader is left standing naked and exposed before the world.
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Baptist Pastors Gauge Year-End Giving in Deepening Financial Crisis
Among several belt-tightening measures, First Baptist Church of Dalton instituted a spending freeze, assuming that year-end stock gifts and other profit-sharing donations will come in below last year's metrics. The church's staff has been asked to carry out missions on a low-cost or no-cost basis, and to look for cost recovery everywhere they can.
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How to Network at a Conference
Offering a meaningful and unique compliment will go a lot further than, "You're from Milwaukee? I had a layover there once." Yeah—you and millions of others. But only a few people said they liked my cufflinks.
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What Are Sermons Worth?
During my first semester at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in the fall of 1979 I had the privilege of taking a course on Job that was taught by Dr. Clyde Francisco. One day Dr. Francisco was talking about the 1974 tornados that had caused so much destruction in Louisville. His garage had been hit and he was working with a claims adjustor to determine the value of the garage contents, which included what Dr. Francisco described as a "sack of sermons."
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Don't Perpetuate Economic Injustice
How can it be possible that so many people who claim allegiance to Jesus can be so complacent about the plight of the poor? How can they ignore what Jesus said about loving our neighbor?
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Failed Leaders Create False Gods
Obsessed with his Model T design, Henry Ford permitted no modifications or improvements for twenty years. When his designers surprised him one day with a prototype of an updated model, Ford literally ripped off its doors and proceeded to demolish the car with his bare hands.
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Racism Is a Sin
Three older pastors took me aside to offer some well-intentioned advice. In summary, they told me I wouldn't get far in ministry if I challenged racism. They defended their racist humor, insisting they meant no harm, declaring it was simply part of culture.
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The Audacity of Hope
Something of an awakening occurred among many of the faithful. It's almost as if scales fell from their eyes and they saw that they were not really being represented by conservative politicians so much as they were being pandered to by them.
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Failed Leaders Ignore the People
Transitions in power are much like passing a baton in a relay race. The relay teams that win are often not the swiftest but the ones who have learned to negotiate and properly execute the exchange. It requires teamwork, communication, humility and sacrifice in order for the team to succeed.
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Failed Leaders Turn From God
Those in leadership roles are most often already burning the candle at both ends. This constant being on the run results not only in physical fatigue, but also mental and spiritual fatigue. Fatigue is something that leaders must be careful to avoid, because when it comes, one's leadership may not be in line with God's guidance and will ...
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Vote Twice, at Least
Our county has such immense power, influence, and control over the lives of other nations and peoples that it would be unjust and irresponsible for individual Americans to vote only on their own self-identity and self interest within a national context.
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David's Advice for Presidential Candidates: Part Two
The David we find in 2 Samuel 11-20 is a man who loses focus, loses his leadership ability, and ultimately loses both his kingdom and much of his legacy.
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David's Advice for Presidential Candidates: Part One
Could our current presidential candidates learn anything from the biblical example of David, either before or after he became king?
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Halloween As Prelude to Christmas Demise
Halloween serves as a warning to those Christians who would gladly give over the particulars of their faith into the hands of culture.
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Faithful Leaders Call for High Moral Standards
Juxtaposing this image of accomplishment against the tears of a broken person and shattered family reveals the superficial nature of politics and leadership. Admissions of weakness are the death knell of a public servant. They are fodder for opponents to start a raging fire of public anger designed to raise new leaders.
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Three Questions for a Meaningful Career
I'll never forget the guttural moan of the woman across the aisle from me, in seat 26D. It was nearly primal, a combination of bass, regret, woe, shame and despair. I can't blame her. I'd do the same thing if I realized I was at 15,000 feet on my way to the wrong city.
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Don't Be 'Incurious'
How can one sit at the intersection of faith and life and not be curious?
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Faithful Leaders Make Worship a Priority
Most of us need a place—a physical yet sacred space—where we can go to devote ourselves to a focused encounter with the very presence of God. Jesus himself spent considerable time around the Temple in Jerusalem. He recognized and utilized its value as a center for the people of God to encounter the life-changing presence of God.
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Be the Answer to Your Prayer
What is the real purpose of a National Day of Prayer? I have often been puzzled by efforts to get large numbers of people praying about something. Is the assumption being made that God only responds to a critical mass of people praying. That until a certain number is reached, God will not act?
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Faithful Leaders Practice the Gift of Wisdom
To some, Solomon's request for wisdom was admirable, and God's decision to grant him this and the wealth he did not ask for was a confirmation of the goodness of his request. To others, his response was manipulative.
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Church Tax Exemption Isn't a Right
This past Sunday 33 pastors from all across the country deliberately broke the law. Prompted by the Alliance Defense Fund, a socially conservative legal consortium based in Arizona, these pastors stood in their pulpits and endorsed political candidates.
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Faithful Leaders Discern the Lord's Wisdom
Like many Americans, our presidents have expressed their dependence on God and sought God's blessing. Some presidents have been very private about their faith. Others have been accused of parading their piety. Of course, discerning Christians listen to pious presidential statements with caution, hoping for integrity and watching for evidence of authentic faith in personal practices and public policies.
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Who Would Jesus Torture?
Would Jesus condone torture if it yielded information that might prevent a terrorist attack? Anyone who has studied the life and teachings of Jesus closely, really thought about the red-letter parts of the New Testament, would answer, no.
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The Southern Baptist Convention is not a Cult, We Just Sometimes Act Like We Are
Over this past weekend, the most read article on Foxnews.com was entitled "Magazines Featuring Female Pastors Pulled From Shelves, 'Treated Like Pornography.'"
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Report: LifeWay Pulls Magazine Featuring Women Preachers
LifeWay Christian Stores reportedly pulled a Christian magazine from its racks because five smiling women on its cover are pastors.
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Jesus for President
What would happen if Jesus came to 21st century America, performed a couple of low-key miracles just to get folks talking, then announced he was running for president of the United States?
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Weather Politics, Weather Theology
Sometime around the middle of August, James Dobson's Focus on the Family released a video urging Christians to pray for rain. Not rain to end the drought in the Southeast and other places, but rain to drown out a political message. The video encouraged Christians to pray for rain during Barak Obama's acceptance speech at Invesco Field in Denver on the last night of the Democratic National Convention.
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Diversity and Particularity
We live as a people in the midst of great diversity. We are diverse in age and gender and race and religion, especially religion. Even among Christians there is great variety. When we factor in the many other religious expressions in America, we are as one scholar put it "awash in a sea of faith." And that doesn't even take into account the many people who have no faith at all.
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Christian Leaders as Power Brokers
It sounds like the beginning of a corny joke: Two Christian guys walk into a Baptist church and tell the pastor they want him to help one of them become president of the United States.
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Understanding the Times, and What We Should Do
On Saturday I met with the Coordinating Council of the Tennessee Cooperative Baptist Fellowship for the last time. Here are the challenges I presented.
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Enter the Antichrist
Mark Twain once wrote, "I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's."
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How Churches Might Face the Coming Crises
An earlier column talked about several converging crises--energy, economy and environment. Since then the price of gas has gone down! Proof that I was wrong. Not!
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Back to School
As summer slowly grinds to a steamy close, children and young people around the country are gearing up to go back to school. For most of them that means public school.
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Churches at the End of Oil and Other Crises
Last November, I posed the question in a blog, "If gas hits $4/gal, what will your church do?" We are beyond $4/gallon gas now, and the future looks different than we ever thought it would just a couple of years back. But, there are other crises which will affect churches in the next few years:
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Ready, Set, Pray
For years now the Fredericksburg, Va., city council has started their monthly meetings with prayer. Working through a pre-established rotation, each council member takes a turn seeking guidance from a higher power for the council to do its work.
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Ready, Set, Pray
For years now the Fredericksburg, Va., city council has started their monthly meetings with prayer. Working through a pre-established rotation, each council member takes a turn seeking guidance from a higher power for the council to do its work.
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History, Faith and Politics
The decades between 1970 and 2020 will eventually be seen as one of the most significant periods of our history, especially in regard to the interplay between politics and religion. And the 2008 presidential campaign may well serve as an object lesson for the whole period.
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Academic Credentials of Conservative Canadian Leaders Questioned
Top leaders of a conservative activist group often quoted in Canadian media as representing Judeo-Christian moral values pad their resumes with degrees from unaccredited schools.
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Making Interruptions Into a Ministry
It's not unusual to get a phone call and be asked, "Are you busy?" Now that question is tricky. Of course I stay busy. If I'm in the office, I'm not doing crossword puzzles.
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Quarter-Life Crisis
I'm 26 years old and I have, thankfully, already passed through my quarter life crisis.
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The Future of Faith-Based Initiatives
It is probably too early to speculate how history will rate George W. Bush's tenure as president. There will obviously be many words written about Sept. 11, the war in Iraq, tax cuts for the rich, the polarization of the country along partisan lines, the disputed 2000 election, and so on. The most problematic piece for me will be his legacy with the faith community.
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Do You Love the Church?
During the Friday evening worship service at the CBF annual meeting in Memphis, the CBF director of missional church ministries began his presentation by saying, "I love church." He then invited the participants to repeat the phrase in unison. I'm not much into cheerleading, so I didn't open my mouth. I just couldn't bring myself to say the words. Let me tell you why.
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How America Lost Its Soul
It was a noble experiment; risky but worth the risk. Human beings have inalienable rights, Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence. A declaration of human rights.
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Great Preachers Wear Dresses
What do Karen Armstrong, Kathleen Norris and Anne Rice have in common? Actually, they share several similarities. They are all white women born in the 1940s who have been heavily influenced by the Catholic tradition and are prolific and acclaimed English-language authors.
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A New Name For Alabama's Education System
I want to propose a new name for Alabama's education system--one that more accurately portrays the true status of public education in our state. I propose we call our public schools "the Lazarus system."
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Hunt's Biography Updated, Canadian Religious Leader Comes Under Criticism for Diploma Mill
Southern Baptist Convention President Johnny Hunt's Web site has been updated to include two honorary degrees in his biographical sketch from schools identified by EthicsDaily.com as diploma mills.
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What Is Wrong with Diploma Mills?
Theological diploma mills are a significant problem of moral integrity. If ministers will take educational shortcuts and misrepresent their ministerial training, then they will probably cut corners and engage in deception on other church fronts. If prominent ministers claim honorary degrees from diploma mills, they validate these entities, making them credible options for younger ministers.
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Despite Setbacks, Study Says Baptist Women Making Gains in Ministry
Despite the Southern Baptist Convention's declaration eight years ago that the Bible forbids women from serving as pastors, the ranks of ordained Baptist clergywomen in the South are growing faster than ever, according to a new report.
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The Evidence of Things Not Seen
In March of this year, 11-year-old Kara Neumann of Weston, Wis., died as the result of a diabetic condition known as ketoacidosis. This condition is normally treatable with injections of insulin. When properly treated it is rarely fatal. But Kara's parents did not seek medical treatment for their daughter. Instead, they prayed.
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New SBC President Has a Resume Problem
The newly elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention has a credibility problem.
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Religious Politics as Spectacle
In our last episode of religion and politics on the campaign trail we left Sen. John McCain rejecting the endorsement of John Hagee. McCain found out that Hagee thought the Jews brought the Holocaust on themselves, because they would not leave Europe and move to Israel.
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McCain's Faithful Second Team
I am beginning to feel a little sorry for Sen. John McCain. He's done everything he is supposed to do. He beat out a large contingent of Republican presidential hopefuls fairly early allowing him to occupy the enviable position of presumptive Republican nominee for president for three months now. He's been scurrying about trying to rally the party behind him and all the other things the presumptive nominee does leading up to the Republican National Convention in September.
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Where is God in the Storm?
Somewhere a preacher is preaching. He shakes his fist at the ceiling as he describes the wrath of God. That wrath has come, he tells his attentive congregation, on the crest of a terrible storm. God has shown his power and his might by smashing a wall of wind and water into villages in the troubled country of Myanmar.
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The Fragmenting Christian Right
It appears that the Religious Right is coming undone. Having played a dominant role in national politics since the 1980s, it now appears that the key players will be sidelined during the upcoming presidential campaign. It also appears that some among the conservative Christian movement think the partisanship of the past decades have hurt the cause of Christianity overall.
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Render Unto the IRS
Kenyn Cureton is vice president for church ministries for the Family Research Council. The FRC is a right-wing religious organization that lobbies for the usual litany of right wing religious concerns-anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, prayer in schools and so on.
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Liberation Theology a Significant Theological Movement
The Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Sen. Barack Obama's former minister, continues to be a factor in the ongoing presidential campaign. His recent media blitz has put his theology and social views on the front burner. I find it interesting to hear his views characterized as representative of Black Liberation Theology.
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Struggling in Silence
Do you know which professional group in the United States experiences the highest rate of suicide? According to the most recent edition of Newsweek magazine, the highest rate of suicide in our country, higher than among any other professional group, occurs among doctors.
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Fundamentalists on the Left and Right
Chris Hedges has lived an interesting life so far. He is a graduate of Harvard divinity school and once considered a career in the ministry. He eventually ended up in journalism where he served for two decades as a foreign correspondent for The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News and National Public Radio. In 2002 he shared the Pulitzer Prize with a team of writers for coverage of global terrorism.
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Churches Use 'An Inconvenient Truth' as Teaching Tool
There's a valuable teaching tool for pastors and religious educators willing to take a little political risk: Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth," say two congregational leaders who have shown the film in Baptist churches.
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The Cost of War
There have been a lot of numbers thrown about recently regarding the cost of the war in Iraq. The estimates now suggest the war will run through trillions of dollars.
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Faith and Doubt
The Alabama Shakespeare Festival is currently offering an exceptional production of Tom Dudzick's humorous play, "Over the Tavern." The story line is about a Catholic family in the 1950s that literally lives over a tavern. The characters, Chester and Ellen, are struggling to raise their four children, including two teenagers, a son who has down syndrome and a son who doesn't want to be Catholic.
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Hate and the Pulpit
I know it's not new, I guess I am just more aware of it. But it does seem to be more prevalent. I am talking about anger and hate filled language spoken from American pulpits.
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Why I Believe in the Resurrection
Sunday Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection is viewed by believers just about everywhere as the foundation of Christianity. They assert that by raising Jesus from the dead God has defeated death and secured for all who have faith the gift of eternal life.
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Name Calling in the Name of Jesus
I've been following an interesting back and forth between two prominent American religious figures. The individuals involved are Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and Randall Balmer, an Episcopal priest and professor of American religious history at Columbia University.
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Emphasis Opens Doors for Baptist Women to Preach
"I'm here today because nobody calls me 'chicken,'" guest preacher Michelle McClendon said in a sermon Feb. 3 at Second Baptist Church in Lubbock, Texas.
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Extreme Religious Endorsements
Sen. Barack Obama recently received an endorsement from a controversial religious leader who promotes hate toward certain groups. Ironically, Sen. John McCain was endorsed by another religious leader who also promotes hate toward certain groups.
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Faith in America: Believers on Pilgrimage
The Los Angeles Times recently featured a new study from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. The results offer a snapshot of faith in America--although "home movie," might be a more accurate description of the report. People of faith in America are on the move--it's like a pilgrimage.
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A New Voice for the Faithful
The expression, "there at the beginning," took on special meaning for me this past week. I was witness to the birth of a new movement in Alabama, a movement which has the potential to redefine the way faith communities confront social concerns in our state. The movement has a name: the Alabama Faith Council.
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Al Gore the Prophet
From time to time throughout this long presidential campaign, I have heard several people say they wish Al Gore would get into the race. I am not one of them. I don't want the former vice president to run for president, because it would distract him from the important work he is doing in the cause of the environment. The consequences of that campaign have truly global significance.
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Reflections on a New Baptist Covenant
I was privileged this past week to participate in a truly historic event. Baptist groups from all across North America, even from around the world, gathered in Atlanta for a three-day show of Christian unity. The event, dubbed a New Baptist Covenant, brought together white Baptists, African-American Baptists, Hispanic Baptists, Asian Baptists and others. We all joined hands and lifted our voices praising God. And we prayed, prayed for a return to traditional Baptist principles.
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Living With Our Fallibility
It has been a pesky problem from the very beginning. Adam, who walked with God in the cool of the garden, could not follow one simple proscription. Abraham, called by God to be the progenitor of a great nation, lied about Sarah being his wife to save his own hide. Moses, chosen from among all the people of the world to receive God's law, could not follow simple instructions like hitting the rock once instead of twice. And let's not forget about King David. In a single stroke, David managed to mangle four of the Ten Commandments.
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Living With Our Fallibility
It has been a pesky problem from the very beginning. Adam, who walked with God in the cool of the garden, could not follow one simple proscription. Abraham, called by God to be the progenitor of a great nation, lied about Sarah being his wife to save his own hide. Moses, chosen from among all the people of the world to receive God's law, could not follow simple instructions like hitting the rock once instead of twice. And let's not forget about King David. In a single stroke, David managed to mangle four of the Ten Commandments.
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Life Lessons From Father to Son
After 31 years as a parent you would think I would have some sense of competence about the task. Well, I don't. If anything, as time goes along, I feel more perplexed than ever.
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In Memory Of Martin Luther King
In his elegant little book, "Finally Comes the Poet," Walter Brueggemann writes that the task of the preacher is to be "a voice that shatters settled reality and evokes new possibilities." If he is right about that, then no preacher in the last century has been more effective than Martin Luther King, Jr. His words helped shatter the settled reality of segregation. He also gave voice to the possibility of what he called the "beloved community."
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Al Mohler for President--of the SBC
Amidst the intense campaigning for the presidency of the United States, there is a smaller yet significant campaign of another type taking shape--the campaign for president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
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One Nation, Indivisible?
Over the holidays my wife and I enjoyed watching the movie classic "The Bells of St. Mary's." It's not really a Christmas movie, but it has all the themes of faith and grace that we celebrate during the season, and the story has a nice holiday feel to it.
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New Year Hopes and Wishes
I don't do New Year's resolutions anymore. However, I do have a few New Year's hopes and wishes.
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Seasonal Charity and Biblical Justice
The holiday season from Thanksgiving to Christmas is the most intensely charitable time of the whole year. Church and civic groups gather clothes, food, and toys for needy families. Volunteers make their way to homeless shelters and soup kitchens. Busy shoppers dutifully drop their change into Salvation Army buckets.
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Who Is Jesus?
As we make our way to Christmas Day when millions of Christians worldwide celebrate the birth of Jesus, perhaps it's worth asking, "Who is Jesus?"
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Is Violence Among Humans Inevitable?
This Christmas season has been tragically scarred by a series of senseless violent acts. Shopping malls and churches are the latest venues for troubled individuals to take out their frustrations on the innocent.
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A Parable of Christmas for Our Time
I have been trying to come up with a parable for the Christmas season. I wanted to write a story that would capture the mood of this strange religious time we live in. But before I could even get my imagination cranked, reality came along with something much better than any thing I might dream up.
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The Link Between Politics and Religion
Nearly every week someone complains that my column is not about "faith matters." The accusation is that I write more about politics than faith and should therefore call the column "political matters."
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In Search Of Christmas
Now that Thanksgiving is over it's time to begin preparing for Christmas in earnest. Unfortunately with the arrival of the season also comes the accompanying lunacy. I refer of course to the annual battle to save Christmas. The decision by many retailers to use the inclusive language of "Happy Holidays," rather than "Merry Christmas," has become the latest battleground for conservative Christians' war on culture.
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Torture and the Appearance of Evil
Perception is reality. It's not the only reality, but it is real to the one perceiving it. Perceptions can change, but until they do, what someone perceives as being real is real--to them.
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Baptist Women in Ministry Sponsors Day for Women to Preach
Baptist Women in Ministry is hoping to nearly double participation in a second annual day for women to preach in Baptist churches early next year.
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A Crisis of Faith
Since the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan, conservative evangelicals have served as a formidable political force. Comprising over one the third of the electorate, evangelicals voting in concert have faithfully delivered numerous victories to conservative candidates.
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A Crisis of Faith
Since the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan, conservative evangelicals have served as a formidable political force. Comprising over one the third of the electorate, evangelicals voting in concert have faithfully delivered numerous victories to conservative candidates.
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It Starts When You're Always Afraid
Fear is a great motivator. Nothing gets folks moving like a good jolt to the adrenal system. Marketing gurus understand this very well. That's why so much of what we are offered for consumption, from mouthwash to politics, is wrapped in fear.
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A Place for Jesus in the Church?
A Web-based group calling themselves TopVerse.com recently conducted a survey asking Christians to identify their favorite verses. The reason for the survey was to speed up an online search feature offered at the site.
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American Baptist Treasures
While I grew up Baptist, I did not grow up American Baptist. Coming from outside 25 years ago, my perspective may be different from those who have always been here. They may not see or recognize the four treasures I have discovered in American Baptist life. Those treasures are very concrete practices, not abstract principles.
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Separation of Church, Government Good for Both
One of the most frustrating things I encounter as a minister is the realization that many if not most Christian people do not appreciate the idea of a separation of church and government. In fact, not only do they not appreciate the idea, many vehemently oppose the notion. Which is terribly troubling because separation is a good thing--for the church and the government.
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Reaching Young People At All Costs?
Having served as a pastor now for over 30 years, I have seen every sort of outreach gimmick you can imagine. Churches have been willing to do almost anything to get people into church, especially young people.
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Prominent SBC Pastor Survives Ouster Vote
A prominent Southern Baptist Convention pastor being sued by parishioners who accuse him of misspending church money and withholding financial records kept his job Sunday in a confidence vote, the latest round in a publicized dispute dividing a high-profile Tennessee mega-church.
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A War For Oil
From the very beginning of the war in Iraq, faith leaders, and others, have raised concerns that the conflict did not meet the criteria for a "just war." Just-war theory has been taking shape for centuries. In its present form there are a minimum of five conditions to be met in order for an armed conflict to be considered "just."
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Guidelines for the Political 'Crazy Season'
What's a Christian to do during the political "crazy season"--i.e. the race for the presidency of the United States? When asked, I usually answer in terms of what a Christian should and should not do.
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Preachers Are What's Wrong With the World
"Preachers," said Lewis Perkins, "are what's wrong with the world."
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Is Atheism On The Increase?
According to a recent article in the "Washington Post," atheism is on the rise in America. Margaret Downey, president of the Atheist Alliance International, reports that her organization's membership has doubled in the last year. She also reports that the Alliance's annual convention already has a 500-person waiting list.
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The Role of Religion in Politics
I was privileged recently to participate in a project sponsored by the Baptist Center for Ethics. The BCE folks pulled together six ministers and four politicians, along with some other interested parties, and encouraged them to talk about "the rightful role of religion in politics." The result is a 36-minute DVD entitled "Golden Rule Politics."
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Praying For The Lottery
This past week the multi-state MegaMillions lottery reached $330 million. On Saturday morning, there were four winners. One of them, Elwood "Bunky" Bartlett of Nottingham, Md., believes his good fortune was the result of prayer.
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When We Pray For Our Enemies, What Do We Say?
One of the most difficult things Jesus ever said was "love your enemies." And he didn't stop there. Jesus also said "pray for those who persecute you," and then you will be like God. So it would appear that Jesus wants us to pray for our enemies because that is what God does.
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Christianity and Capitalism
The only history we have of earliest Christianity is found in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. Written by the same person who wrote the Gospel of Luke, the book of Acts opens with Jesus' ascension and concludes with Paul's arrival in Rome. The book ends up being mostly about Paul, but several chapters are devoted to the first followers and their life in Jerusalem.
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The Virtue of Tolerance
Simple toleration of someone or some idea is not the ideal expressed in our founding documents. In America we don't promote tolerance among religions; we practice "religious freedom."
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Fear and Trembling Among the Faithful
I've never met Brent Beasley, senior pastor at Second Baptist Church in Memphis, Tenn., but I have become a huge fan. In a recent column at Ethicsdaily.com, Beasley asks the question, "Why are Christians so prone to fear?"
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Praying For Rain
Alabama, along with several other places in the country, is suffering through one of the worst droughts in decades. Agribusiness, whether it takes the form of cattle or produce, is dependent on water. And agribusiness is big business in Alabama.
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The Offense of Fantasy
With seven bestsellers in the series, and five blockbuster movies, like it or not, Harry Potter is here to stay. And there are those who are not happy about that. Many Christian parents and church leaders fear that Harry's popularity promotes witchcraft and paganism among young people.
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What Would Jesus Do?
The language of my faith is replete with appeals for believers to "be faithful to Jesus." Other words include "faithful follower," "loyal disciple" and "let Jesus be Lord of your life."
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Who Would Jesus Stone?
A tragedy of biblical proportions occurred in Iran this past week, according to an Associated Press report. A man convicted of adultery was stoned to death in a village in the northern part of the country.A tragedy of biblical proportions occurred in Iran this past week, according to an Associated Press report. A man convicted of adultery was stoned to death in a village in the northern part of the country.
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From Faith Comes Certainty
A thoughtful piece on President Bush's present state of mind caught my attention this past week. Written by Peter Baker, a staff writer at the Washington Post, the title asserts "a president besieged and isolated, yet at ease."
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Born on the Fourth of July
This coming week we celebrate the 231st anniversary of the founding of our nation. All across our land there will be fireworks and parades commemorating our successful fight to free ourselves from British rule. And it is absolutely fitting and proper that we should remember our national story. I just wish we remembered it better, and more of it.
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A Political Shift for Southern Baptists?
For the past three decades Southern Baptists have been, for the most part, faithful political conservatives. Like other believers on the religious right, culture-war issues have made them reliable supporters of the Republican Party. This party loyalty has been especially evident during the annual Southern Baptist Convention. Visits and calls from sitting presidents have become routine. President Bush beamed in this year via satellite.
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Has America Become an Empire?
Has America become an Empire? With the demise of the old Soviet Union, America certainly exists as the only remaining super power in the world. And that is a unique place to be, uncharted waters in many ways. For nearly our entire history we have either been underdogs who bravely faced up to super powers, or were one among others. Now, we stand alone.
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Apology for Slavery Just a Step
The decision by the Alabama Legislature to pass a resolution apologizing for our state's role in slavery has provoked mixed responses. Some hail it as a step forward in healing a wound from our troubled past. Others see the move as too little to late. Still others want to know why we are apologizing for something someone else did wrong.
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Jurassic Park Meets Noah's Ark
A new museum in Petersburg, Ky., is attempting to bring together faith and science in an interesting way. Calling their endeavor "Creation Museum," promoters hope to use the museum to celebrate God as creator--which is a good thing.
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The Gift Of Memory
We were fortunate some years back to be in Washington D.C. when the United States Holocaust Museum opened. We stood in line for hours to get tickets, and hours more to get in. Hundreds and hundreds of people were there to see and remember.
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Jerry Falwell's Legacy--A Politicized Faith
The death of Jerry Falwell marks a significant milestone in one of the most interesting periods in American Christian history. Falwell was the result of a particular social and religious evolution that greatly impacted faith in America. He also lived long enough to actually contribute to that evolution.
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What Preachers Will or Won't Say
A new book by a Baptist minister is sure to stir debate among Christians of every stripe. According to Oliver "Buzz" Thomas, author of the book, there are "10 things your minister wants to tell you, but can't because he needs his job." By the way, that's the title.
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Fear, Arrogance and Ignorance
There is a wonderful scene in the movie "Bull Durham" in which a seasoned catcher is trying to mature an impetuous though talented young pitcher. The catcher says, "You've got to play this game with fear and arrogance." Trying to deliberately yank the chain of his mentor the pitcher replies, "Right, fear and ignorance."
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In Violence We Trust
The tragic shooting at Virginia Tech has left us numb. It is difficult to understand how such a horrific event could take place with no apparent meaning behind it.
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An Emerging Christianity
Christians may believe that they are participants in a "faith once delivered to the saints," but the shape of that faith has varied greatly through the centuries. From the stately and ornate forms of Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism, to the humble and plain worship of the Amish, Jesus is followed and revered in a myriad of ways. In fact, so great is the diversity of forms within Christianity, it may be more appropriate to refer to them in the plural--Christianities.
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The Bible, Science and Homosexuality
For some time now a contentious battle over homosexuality has raged in our country. The war has been fought primarily on three fronts: religion, politics, and science. Religion and politics are by far the most volatile, and the most destructive. Some of the language used by segments of the faith community to wage their part of the war comes very close to dehumanizing gays and lesbians.
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Let the People Decide
The minister who mentored me used to say, "Jim, don't be afraid to trust the people."
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The Moral Dilemma of Homelessness
It is a familiar scene. You are walking along a busy sidewalk when suddenly a shabbily dressed man or woman approaches and asks for any loose change. What do you do? We have all been told that any money we give goes for drugs or alcohol. We are also told that giving them money only encourages their begging behaviors ensuring they will never seek honest work.
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Resurrection in the Present Tense
The first time I met Carl he was dying of cancer. At least, that's what everyone told me.
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The Sermon on the Mount, American Style
The Sermon on the Mount is regarded by most Christians as the heart of Jesus' teaching. Unfortunately, what Jesus has to say there has not been overwhelmingly embraced by much of the Christian community in America. Perhaps it is time to update the sermon so that it is more in line with American culture. Maybe something like this:
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The Values Of The Values Voter
A new Associated Press-Ipsos poll is yielding important information that will likely have great significance for the so-called "values voter," and those organizations that promote values voting.
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Putting God In A Box
Just when you thought it was safe to go out and enjoy a religious holiday again, two filmmakers come along claiming to have found the tomb of Jesus. This latest effort at Christian-baiting may not rise to the level of the annual battle over saying "Merry Christmas," but that won't keep the moviemakers or Christian advocacy groups that will rise to defend the faith from making a lot of money from it.
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A Faithful Response to the War
Here's what we know. First, our reasons for going to war in Iraq were almost entirely based on fabrications and fantasies. There were no weapons of mass destruction, there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 attacks, and there was no threat of Iraq acquiring nuclear weapons.
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A Pound And A Half of Flesh
In Alabama, if you are convicted of a felony and sent to prison, not only do you lose your freedom for the duration of your sentence, but you also lose your citizenship--even after you have served your term. In Alabama, and a few other states, even after you have served your term and are released from prison, you still can't vote.
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The Cult of Celebrity
The way the old joke goes, eventually everyone gets 15 minutes of fame. For Anna Nicole Smith, she got a bit more than 15 minutes, though some of it has followed her to the grave.
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Science, Faith and Politics
From Africa comes a story of an interesting convergence of science, faith and politics. The national museum in Kenya is planning to display what is known as Turkana Boy--the skeletal remains of a young male who lived during the Pleistocene age--roughly 1.6 million years ago. It is hailed by scientists as one of the world's most famous and important fossil discoveries. Turkana Boy represents the most complete skeleton of a prehistoric human ever found.
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Onward Christian Warmongers
A faith-based group calling itself "Christians Reviving America's Values," or CRAVE, is concerned about the way the war in Iraq is being fought. As a Christian group we might think they are alarmed by the level of violence. Or maybe they are worried about the use of weaponry that unintentionally, yet inevitably injures and kills civilians. Or maybe, in the spirit of many Christian leaders over the centuries, they believe that war itself represents a failure of Christian ideals.
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Building a Big Baptist Tent
The word "Baptist," and especially Southern Baptist, is for many a synonym for Republican politics. Many Baptist leaders such as Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, have enjoyed unparalleled access to the White House and the ear of the president. They have played a key role in setting the conservative political agenda, and have been instrumental in keeping Republicans in power.
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Peace Or Trouble Maker?
Since leaving office in 1981, Jimmy Carter has been by far our most active former president. His efforts through the Carter Center to help fledgling democracies, and his support of poverty initiatives and other humanitarian concerns helped him win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.
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In Memory Of Martin Luther King
In his elegant little book, "Finally Comes the Poet," Walter Brueggemann writes that the task of the preacher is to be "a voice that shatters settled reality and evokes new possibilities."
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The Power of a Pardon
The recent death of Gerald R. Ford, the 38th president of the United States, has given us an opportunity to reflect on his presidency and on the circumstances that brought him to office in the first place.
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Hopes And Prayers For The New Year
The New Year has become a time for us to gather up our hopes and prayers for the coming year and express them in resolutions. The idea of "New" seems to lay out the prospect for something different, something better. I confess to being a resolution maker.
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Christmas in the South
Christmas in the South is unlike Christmas anywhere else in America. While obviously there are many common factors that show up in Christmas festivities nationwide, there are features of a southern Christmas celebration which are truly unique.
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The Spirituality of Congress
We may enjoy some level of separation of church and state in this country, but there hardly exists anywhere a separation of faith from public office. There is spiritual vitality in virtually every branch of government. From President Bush's heart-warming Methodism, all the way to the disciplined Catholicism of Justices Alito, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas and Roberts, faith and government are linked arm in arm.
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How Many Christians Does It Take To Make A Coalition?
In July of this year, the Christian Coalition of America elected Florida megachurch pastor Joel C. Hunter to serve as the group's new president. He was slated to take over the job from Roberta Combs who will continue to serve as chair of the Coalition's board of directors. Hunter's appointment was made public in October and he was to begin serving in January.
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Bacon Eaters And Greedy Gossips
North Carolina Baptists, meeting in their annual convention a few weeks ago, changed the way they determine membership for churches in their convention. In addition to things like believing in God, Jesus and the Bible, North Carolina Baptists also added a statement about homosexuality. Any church that affirms a homosexual lifestyle cannot be a member of the convention. And if already a member, the convention has the right to expel an offending church.
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A Modest Christmas Proposal
With Thanksgiving Day behind us, we now enter the Christmas season at full gallop. Of course, Christmas has been peeking out here and there since Halloween, but now it's official. It's all here--the shopping, the lights, the traffic, the music and the controversy. Controversy? Yes, sadly it's true.
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An Open Letter to the Governor of Alabama
Dear Gov. Riley: Congratulations on your re-election. Your 58 percent margin is the largest since 1982, when Alabama governor races started being competitive. For my part, I'm glad you won. You have demonstrated understanding about the needs of the poor in our state and have taken significant steps to address their needs.
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Scientists Come Out Swinging and Praying
One of the bad things about war is that it is almost impossible to wage one without demonizing the opposition. This is true in actual wars where people get killed, and it's true in wars of words where people just get insulted.
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Unnecessary Divisions in the Body of Christ
With mid-term elections just a day away, every political action group in America is working full throttle to get out the vote for their candidate, party and favorite issue. Not least among these politically active are members of the Christian community--from the left and the right.
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The Last Temptation of the Church
A new book out claims the Bush administration has used its unique and highly visible connections to conservative evangelicals merely for political gain.
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Communities of Faith Must Speak
We have reached a critical and increasingly tragic crossroads in the war with Iraq. We know now that there was no real justification for launching the war in the first place. Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, as apparently many people in the government and the military knew before hand. And there was no connection between Iraq and the Sept. 11 attacks.
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Murder in a One-Room School House
Nothing captures America's sense of longing for a simpler time quite like the idea of a one-room school house. That is at least part of the reason why the horror that took place this past week at an Amish school in Pennsylvania was so devastating. The murder of children is reason enough for grief and anger. But for the assault to take place in a setting seen by many as the embodiment of a time of innocence now past, creates in us an acute sense of loss.
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The Do's And Don'ts Of Church Politics
With midterm elections just around the corner, political activity is rumbling towards a resounding crescendo. Included among this political chorale are voices from various elements of the faith community. The political hymn singing of faith groups has become one of the mainstays of the political season.
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Marks Of An Authentic Church
Jesus said that we would be known by our love. Lately though, we people of faith, Christians in particular, are better known for our politics.
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Can Baptists Save The World?
Is it possible that Southern Baptists could be the key to saving the world? E. O. Wilson seems to think so. Wilson, in case you don't know, is an Alabama native and former Southern Baptist layman. He is now one of foremost experts in the field of entomology. He is also the creator of his own sub-discipline in biological research known as sociobiology. And apparently he believes Southern Baptists can help save the world.
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The Lasting Effects of September 11

At the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, it is hard not to ask "What is different now?" Other than the obvious changes brought about by increased airport security, daily "alert updates," and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, has anything really changed?

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On Jesus And Keeping The Rules
For over two weeks now, Elvira Arellano, has taken shelter in a United Methodist Church in Chicago. Arellano sought sanctuary in the church when she learned that Federal officials planned to deport her back to Mexico. She has lived illegally in the United States for over seven years.
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Christian Coalition: A Question Of Integrity
You can always tell when it's election time in Alabama. The red, white, and blue "vote for me" signs start popping up along the highways. Television ads with their mind numbing "I am more conservative than my opponent" mantra start hitting the airways. And the Christian Coalition mails out their candidate surveys.
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Staying On Message With Jesus
A group calling themselves Conservative Christians of Alabama was recently encouraged by their leader to "intimidate" the city council of Huntsville. That word, "intimidate," is the word they used.
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Left Behind Or Led Astray?
Let's define success. The Left Behind series, written by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins has now sold over 60 million copies. There are 11 sequels to the original novel, and three prequels. The series has also spawned a children's series with nearly 40 different titles.
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The Right And Left Hand Of God
For some time now, groups like the Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family, the American Family Association, the Family Research Council, have served as a conduit for funneling a particular political agenda into the hearts and minds of many Christians.
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The Left Hand Of God
"The unholy alliance of the political Right and Religious Right threatens to destroy the America we love. It also threatens to generate a popular revulsion against God and religion by identifying them with militarism, ecological irresponsibility, fundamentalist antagonism to science and rational thought, and insensitivity to the needs of the poor and the powerless."
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The End Of Faith
Sam Harris, philosopher and doctoral student in the field of neuroscience, has written a devastating book about faith--devastating, that is, to faith.
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The Voice of Faith Necessary in Social Issues
Christian groups in America have a long history of political activism. The issues may change from one generation to the next, but the impulse to reform society seems a constant feature of faith.
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Faith Versus Science, The Latest Chapter
Ever since Copernicus proposed that the earth was not the center of the universe, people of faith have been at odds with people of science. Whether true or not, the story of Galileo challenging the church's official position that the earth was the center illustrates the conflict dramatically.
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Faith Versus Science, The Latest Chapter
Ever since Copernicus proposed that the earth was not the center of the universe, people of faith have been at odds with people of science. Whether true or not, the story of Galileo challenging the church's official position that the earth was the center illustrates the conflict dramatically.
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The View From The Sidelines
Years ago, priest and writer Henri Nouwen was serving as chaplain on a Dutch cruise ship making its way to Rotterdam. They were in a thick fog. Everyone was edgy and nervous as the ship crept along virtually blind in the water. The captain was pacing back and forth, anxiously trying to get through the fog without slamming into anything.
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Vote For Jesus
The primaries are now over and the main races are set for November. Marriage is also safe. With the Marriage Protection amendment to the Alabama state constitution, marriages in our state are now secure from the ravages of the so-called "gay agenda." We haven't figured out yet how to save marriage from what actually threatens marriage—I guess that will require yet another amendment in some future campaign.
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A Christ-Haunted Culture
Southern literary icon, Flannery O'Connor once said: "By and large, people in the South still conceive of humanity in theological terms. While the South is hardly Christ-centered, it is most certainly Christ-haunted."
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Forgive Us Our Debts

"The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is servant to the lender." Anyone who has ever been in debt has experienced the truth of this biblical proverb. And let's be honest with each other--debt is something we know about.

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Parental Guidance And Matters Of Faith
In what is becoming the latest clash between fundamentalist Christianity and the rest of the world, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) recently assigned a PG rating to an explicitly Christian film. The movie, "Facing the Giants," is the story of a football team with a losing record that suddenly gets turned around and starts winning when the coach finds God.
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The Protection of Marriage
I am not usually given to making predictions about future events, but I feel fairly safe with this one: There will never be an amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining what marriage is supposed to look like.
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The Gift Of Memory
We were fortunate some years back to be in Washington D.C. when the United States Holocaust Museum opened. We stood in line for hours to get tickets, and hours more to get in. Hundreds and hundreds of people were there to see and remember.
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Fact, Fiction And Faith
With the movie version of Dan Brown's novel "The DaVinci Code" about to debut, all the anxiety that accompanied the book's success is back. Of course, we must account for the success, and the fact is, it's a pretty good mystery action story. But that is not all there is to it. Helping to fuel record sales and fuel the controversy is the book's unique plot. The story is carried along on the back of a particular interpretation of Christian history.
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The Ups And Downs Of Mothers' Day
This Sunday churches around the country will incorporate into their services of worship some sort of recognition of the role of motherhood. In fact, so powerful is the emotional pull of this holiday that even some congregations that closely follow the liturgy of the church year will be forced to at least offer a passing nod to the office of Mom.
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Misusing Jesus' Name
I am tempted to file a defamation of character lawsuit on behalf of Jesus. I wish Jesus would do it himself, but I know he won't. He would much prefer that we win people over to his viewpoint by preaching his word and following his example. And that's fine as far as it goes.
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Believing or Not Believing the Bible
We are in the midst of the Easter season. Christians everywhere continue to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. We have heard the Gospel stories about the crucifixion and the empty tomb and continue to hear with gladness words like, "Death has been swallowed up in victory."
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Faithful Support For Public Education
Public education has been under assault for some time now from segments of the Christian community. That's why it is all the more amazing to learn that a Baptist entity has decided that instead of attacking public schools and undermining the morale of teachers and administrators, why not affirm the work of those who teach our children, and ask God to bless their efforts.
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The Meaning of Easter
Listening to the many Easter sermons that will likely be preached this Sunday, a person might get the idea that the central question surrounding the resurrection of Jesus is whether or not it actually happened. Preachers across the land will dwell at length on the significance of the empty tomb and how its vacancy proves that Jesus was raised from the dead. The goal, of course, is to change the minds of those who doubt. For with doubt removed, faith will be born—at least that's the hope.
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Budgets and Taxes as Moral Issues
In his best-selling book "God's Politics," Jim Wallis argues that governmental budgets and tax policies are moral issues. The reason why? Because the way communities raise revenue, normally in the form of taxes, and how that money is spent in the form of programs and services, affect people's lives. That means budgets have moral consequences. The moral standard for Wallis, of course, is the biblical vision of economic justice.
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The Politics Of Jesus
Nearly every week I hear from readers with the complaint that I am writing politics under the guise of religious commentary. It's a fair observation though I am almost tempted to say, "Yeah, but the other guy started it!"
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The Children of Abraham
The ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine stands as one of the most difficult, and most deadly, political conundrums we face as the human community. At every corner peace is stymied by tightly held absolutes. Israel absolutely devoted to defending itself against all incursions—no matter what. Palestine absolutely determined to take back land they claim was stolen from them—at any cost. The clash of these absolutes has left both sides bloody.
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Is America Ready For A Mormon President?
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also known as the Mormon Church, is America's own home grown religion. Founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith, the Mormon movement began by embracing all that was already present in the American religious experience via Christianity.
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Lent Is a Time for Restoring Authentic Faith
For millions of Christians this past week marked the beginning of our most Holy season--Easter. We start with Ash Wednesday, a day devoted to recalling God's embrace of our humanity. Many believers wear the mark of the cross, made with ash and oil, as a reminder of just how costly God's grace has been. We hear the words as the ash is applied, "Remember, you are dust."
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Going To The Whip
Laura Hildebrand, author of the award winning book about the legendary, Seabiscuit, has emerged as an outspoken critic of the riding crop or "whip," when used to enhance race horse performance.
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If It's Broken, Then Let's Really Fix It
Gov. Bob Riley deserves a lot of credit for trying to do something about Alabama's grossly unfair income tax structure. The fact that we begin assessing income tax on a family of four that earns as little as $4,600 is a tragedy. So the governor's desire to fix it is admirable. Unfortunately in fixing one thing there is danger he is going to break something else—public education.
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Who Would Burn a Church and Why
Once again churches are being burned in Alabama. Nine so far, but with great fear that there will be more. We've seen this before in the 1990's, rural churches, mostly African-American congregations, torched and left in ruins.
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Memories of a Great Soul
I was fortunate this past week to have been in a meeting with Gardner Taylor, pastor emeritus of Brooklyn's Concord Baptist Church. For nearly 50 years, this eloquent and wise minister guided a diverse congregation through some of the most tumultuous times our nation has endured.
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'The Left Hand Of God'
"The unholy alliance of the political Right and Religious Right threatens to destroy the America we love. It also threatens to generate a popular revulsion against God and religion by identifying them with militarism, ecological irresponsibility, fundamentalist antagonism to science and rational thought, and insensitivity to the needs of the poor and the powerless."
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If or When the Wall Comes Down
The confirmation of Judge Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court seems a virtual certainty. Even if Senate Democrats stage a filibuster, which at this point seems unlikely, they cannot ultimately stop the confirmation.
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Christians Are Not a Persecuted Minority
Nothing has become more tiresome in recent years than the incessant claim by many conservative Christians that they are being persecuted. Every time a church/state issue comes to the fore, a gaggle of Christian activists show up preening in front of television cameras and whining about the war on Christianity. It's a plot, they tell us, perpetrated by the ACLU and God-haters everywhere, to remove any sign of Christianity from culture.
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The Battle for the Bible
In the week before Christmas a federal appeals court delivered the folks of Mercer County, Ky., a dubious present. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a display of the Ten Commandments featured in the county courthouse since 2001 could remain—it did not violate the U.S. Constitution.
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Hope for the New Year
I have become fairly cynical about New Year's resolutions—at least as they pertain to me. Too many broken promises, too many false starts. Now instead of resolutions I make a New Year's wish list. Like, I wish I would exercise more, and so on.
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Happy Birthday Jesus
The scene takes place in heaven just at the conclusion of a surprise birthday celebration for Jesus. Several heavenly luminaries have just treated Jesus to cake and ice cream. As the party breaks up, Jesus and Gabriel are speaking to each other.
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The Hope Of Christmas
For years we have used the Advent wreath as a way of deepening our understanding of the meaning of Christmas. Each Sunday during the Advent season we pause, light a candle, and reflect on what Christmas really means.
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Waiting for the Promised Peace
Despite the ongoing and pointless controversy over "Merry Christmas" versus "Happy Holidays," the air is filled with the noise of Christians giving voice to the joy and excitement of the Christian season.
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Who Took Christ Out Of Christmas?
Now that Thanksgiving Day has passed, we face the single most commercialized event in our culture, even more than the Super Bowl. Christmas time is upon us. And when I say commercial, it is serious business. Many stores will see 20 to 30 percent of their annual sales take place in the next 30 days.
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Social Change and the Supreme Court
While it would not appear at first glance that there is a connection between legendary civil rights activist Rosa Parks and Samuel Alito, President Bush's nomination for the U.S. Supreme Court, I believe there is a connection, and an important one.
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To Be or Not to Be Tax Exempt
All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, Calif., is in hot water with the IRS. On Oct. 31, 2004—the Sunday before Election Day last year, the former rector of the church, Rev. George F. Regas, preached a vigorous anti-war sermon.
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Who Would Jesus Torture?
The issue of torture is very much on the mind of Congress, the Defense Department, and the White House these days. A $440 billion defense bill currently making its way through House of Representatives has an amendment attached written by Senator John McCain—someone who learned about torture while a prisoner of war during the Vietnam era.
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Holy Terror and Halloween
Halloween is here and as always there seems to be something for everyone. Kids get candy, big kids get beer and folks of all ages give expression to their alter egos by means of outrageous costumes.
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A Campaign of Faithfulness
The decision by former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore to enter the race to be Alabama's next governor ensures that the campaign will be filled with lots of God talk. Though Moore has stated the Ten Commandments will not be part of his campaign, it will be hard for him to keep that promise. After all, the only reason he has a platform from which to run for governor is the notoriety created by his public stand on the issue.
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Were You In Church Last Sunday?
Pollsters have been asking people about their church attendance for years now. Gallup polls, the Barna group, the Institute for Social Research all reach the same conclusion. About 42 percent of Americans attended worship somewhere in the last seven days.
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Virtues and Vices
The dictionary defines "virtue" as having to do with moral excellence, righteousness and goodness. I bring this up because William Bennett, America's self-appointed guru of virtue demonstrated on his radio show last week that he may need a virtue refresher course.
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House Action Blurs Line Between Church and State
The U.S. House of Representatives voted recently to allow religious social-service providers that receive federal money to discriminate in hiring on the basis of religion. At issue, of course, is current federal law that prohibits any discrimination in hiring. But when faith groups get into the mix, things get a little lumpy.
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What Was The Sin Of Sodom?
Wiley Bennett, pastor of Woodland Hill Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas, welcomed Katrina evacuees into his community with these words on the message sign in front of his church: "The Big Easy is the modern day Sodom and Gomorrah."
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The Bible and Public Education
Few issues have been more contentious than the debate surrounding prayer and Bible reading in public schools. When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1962 that teacher led prayer was unconstitutional, conservative Christians began to shout "God has been removed from the classroom," and "children should be allowed to pray." Never mind how puny this makes God seem, as long as there are algebra tests, there will be prayer in school.
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Twin Tragedies Reveal the Need for Community
We find ourselves wedged between twin tragedies this week. The wound of Katrina is still fresh and bleeding. Order is slowly beginning to appear out of the chaos, but painfully slow. The grisly business of counting up the dead is the most recent piece of the storm's destruction.
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Where is God in the Storm?
Somewhere a preacher is preaching. He shakes his fist at the ceiling as he describes the wrath of God. That wrath has come, he tells his attentive congregation, on the crest of a terrible storm named Katrina. God has shown his power and his might by smashing a wall of wind and water into cities along the Gulf Coast.
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The Politics of Evolution
President Bush announced recently that he believed "intelligent design" should be taught alongside evolution in public schools. With school districts in many parts of the country embroiled in legal battles relating to the teaching of evolution versus some form of creationism, the president's comments give new life to an already lively debate.
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The Quest for a Manlier Church
David Murrow, an award winning television producer and devoted Christian, is worried about men not coming to church. Not just any men—but real men.
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A Christian Nation
If America is a Christian nation, as many claim, what does that mean? How do we go about equating a particular religion to a particular political arrangement?
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Called To A Higher Standard
There is hypocrisy and then there is hypocrisy--and then there is this. Two conservative Christian groups are warning the U.S. Senate that Supreme Court Justice nominee John Roberts should not be subjected to any sort of religious litmus test.
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Jesus at the OK Corral
Pat Robertson, founder and host of the "700 Club," demonstrated this past week just how far right wing Christianity has drifted from the teachings of Jesus. During a recent telecast, Robertson said that he believes the United States should assassinate Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela.
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Trying To Find A Place For Jesus In The Church
Theological competition between Christian groups has been part of the faith landscape from the beginning. From Gentiles to apostolic authority, from Latin to Greek Bibles, Christians have always been able to find stuff to disagree about.
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Saying Yes and Saying No
The nation waited anxiously for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on a recent slate of cases involving public displays of the Ten Commandments. It was hoped that the court would finally render a decision that would put to rest, one way or the other, the controversy surrounding public displays of religious Scripture and symbols.
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Born On the Fourth of July
We were born as a nation on the fourth of July 229 years ago. We celebrate this beginning annually with fireworks and flag displays and a faithful re-telling of the story. We pay homage to our founders—to their vision and courage.
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Billy Graham's Final Crusade
Billy Graham may be preaching his final evangelistic campaign this weekend. If that is so, his career will conclude where it began. His first national crusade was held at Madison Square Garden in 1957.
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People of the Book
The Pentagon confirmed recently that for the past two and half years, military personnel assigned to the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba have on occasion defaced copies of the Quran—the Muslim holy book. The Pentagon identified more than a half-dozen cases in which guards ripped out pages or scribbled obscenities in the margins.
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People of the Book
The Pentagon confirmed recently that for the past two and half years, military personnel assigned to the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba have on occasion defaced copies of the Quran—the Muslim holy book. The Pentagon identified more than a half-dozen cases in which guards ripped out pages or scribbled obscenities in the margins.
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Ordinary Sinners
The debate surrounding homosexuality has become one of the most contentious and divisive in the history of the church. Not since the debate over Jesus' divinity in the fourth century, or the infallibility of the pope in the 16th century, or the issue of slavery in the 19th century has there been so much heat generated by a debate—and so little light.
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A Kind Word Turns Away Violence
No one dreamed it would end the way it did. When convicted rapist Brian Nichols was brought to the Fulton County Court House for a hearing this past March, he managed to snatch the side arm from a deputy sheriff and then brutally murder a superior court judge, a court reporter and another deputy sheriff.
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So Help Me God
In his new book, "So Help Me God," Judge Roy Moore makes the claim that he is bound by his oath as a public official, by the very words "so help me God," to acknowledge God as the foundation of our government.
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How Many Idealists Does It Take To Change The World?
How many idealists does it take to change the world? According to Bread for the World, it only takes one.
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A Church Torn Asunder
Unless you have lived through a church fight it's hard to understand just how painful they can be. The wounds inflicted in the course of a nasty faith feud can take years to heal.
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The Weird Things People Believe
I never cease to be amazed by the weird things people are willing to believe. For some time now I have kept two Web sites handy--Symantec.com and Snopes.com—just for the occasional reality check.
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Filibusters and Faith
This is a tough time to be a judge in America. Big names from the world of religion and politics claim that the judiciary is "out of control." These judicial reformers are working overtime to, in their words, give the courts back to the people. What they are really doing, however, is working to build a partisan court that will support their right-wing agenda.
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Challenges the Next Pope Will Face
The death of Pope John Paul II creates a huge vacuum not only in the Roman Catholic Church, but also in the wider world of moral discourse.
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Guess Who is Coming to Prayer Meeting
In a recent column I wrote about prayer at presidential inaugurations and suggested that if we must pray ceremonially, those prayers should reflect America's religious diversity. In other words, prayers at inaugurations should probably not end with "in the name that is above every name, Jesus."
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Praying In Jesus' Name
Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, senior minister of the Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston, has offered the benediction at both of President Bush's inaugurations. After the 2001 prayer, Rev. Caldwell was sharply criticized for saying at the end of the prayer "in the name that is above every name, Jesus. Amen."
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An Easter Prayer
The resurrection of Jesus is for most Christians the defining moment in the Christian faith. Without the resurrection Jesus would have been just a hapless victim of tyranny. His message of love, forgiveness and hope would have been dumped along with his body. His words would have been long forgotten along with his name.
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Sheep in a World of Wolves
The faith tradition I love and have given the last 25 years of my life to serve is under assault. Wolves in sheep's clothing have slipped into the fold and are systematically shearing the faithful to the bone.
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Ten Reasons Not To Display the Ten Commandments
After avoiding the issue for about as long as possible, the Supreme Court will finally take on public displays of the Ten Commandments. The high court will review two cases this term, one involving a monument on the Texas Capitol grounds and the other a posting of the Ten Commandments in Kentucky courthouses. A decision should be rendered by the end of the term in late June.
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Creating a Culture of Life
During President Bush's address to the 2005 Washington March for Life last month, he praised the efforts of anti-abortion activists thanking them for "the civil way you have engaged one of America's most contentious issues."
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The Bible, Marriage and Politics
Alabama State Representative Alvin Holmes is offering $5,000 to anyone who can show him in the Bible where it states that marriage is only between a man and a woman. The offer comes in response to the state legislature's consideration of a ban on homosexual marriage.
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A Proper Public Faithfulness
In the past few years the identity of the religious right has crystallized around the issues of abortion and homosexual marriage. These two issues have made political activists out of many ordinary believers.
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Faith Is Not a Lonely Hunter
A reader chided me recently for promoting what he called a social gospel. It's a complaint I have heard before. The social gospel is the idea that the church should make social applications of the teaching of Jesus Christ.
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The Campaign for Jesus
Early signals seem to indicate that Judge Roy Moore will run for governor of Alabama. It is the political nightmare both parties in the state have been having since Judge Moore was forced to step down as Chief Justice of Alabama's Supreme Court for failing to obey a federal court order.
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The Power of the Majority
Next week President Bush will raise his hand and receive the oath of office. He will promise to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." Afterwards, as is the tradition, Mr. Bush will deliver an inaugural address.
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Evangelism and the Hope of a Better World
Let's assume for a moment that evangelicals are right when they say that Jesus is the full and final revelation of God and that having a personal relationship with Jesus is the only way to have eternal life. Let's also assume for a moment that evangelicals are also right about morality. They believe that the Bible reveals a code of moral conduct that covers everything from the meaning of marriage right down to the way we spend our free time.
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Finding God in a World Of Tragedy
In the midst of our Christmas and New Year's celebration, tragedy has struck. A massive earthquake, reportedly the fourth largest in recorded history, has devastated central Asia and portions of India. Tens of thousands are known dead. One report estimates that over a third of the dead are children.
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Far as the Curse is Found
My favorite Christmas hymn is "Joy to the World." Written by Isaac Watts in the 18th century, the music of this hymn is lively and triumphant. It captures well the celebratory spirit of the season.
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Wrapped in the Robes of Politics
My Uncle Will called me this week. He was very excited.
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'Tis The Season, For What?
This Christmas we may need to re-write one of our most familiar holiday songs. Instead of, "'Tis the season to be jolly," it may be necessary to sing "'Tis the season to be silly."
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Seasonal Mood Swings
Not once did I think about going to the mall at midnight on Thanksgiving Day—but there were many, many who did. And they didn't just go and leisurely shop. No, these were more like shopping storm troopers battering down the doors of their favorite stores.
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Hunting Down a Moral America
While deer hunting early one December morning with my uncle we kicked up a big buck in some thick brush. We raised our shotguns and fired at almost the same instant. As the buck went down my uncle began to shout, "I got him, I got him."
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God Save America
During a recent road trip a billboard caught my attention. The sign featured a billowing American flag as background with the words "God Save America" blazing across the red, white and blue.
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Saving Us From 'Saving Private Ryan'
Local ABC affiliates in at least eight states chose not to air the network broadcast of "Saving Private Ryan" during Veterans Day week.
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Mending the Breach
Voter turnout this past Tuesday reached record numbers. Clearly Americans have demonstrated a vigorous interest in the outcome of this presidential election. They may have been motivated by different issues, but voters were motivated. Campaign managers and candidates on all sides have actively promoted and exploited this motivation.
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The Ghost of Halloween's Future
Halloween is upon us. The holiday falls on a Sunday this year and since some folks are a bit squeamish about Halloween in the first place, many communities are observing the day on Saturday night. So, either Saturday or Sunday, depending on where you live, get ready for an army of children and young people dressed in costumes ranging from the cute to the bizarre.
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The Quest for A Christian America
As we enter the final weeks of the presidential campaign we can expect the "faith faction" to intensity their activities. The faith faction is an amalgam of conservative Christians, mostly evangelicals, who hold strong positions on a narrow range of social issue concerns. The list includes school vouchers, prayer in schools, public religious displays, taxes, and added just for this year's campaign, gay marriage.
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Should Convicted Felons Have Voting Rights?
On Election Day this year nearly 5 million Americans will be blocked from participating in the presidential election. The barrier will not be complicated voting machines or butterfly ballots. The barrier will be the law. At least 10 states prohibit convicted felons from voting--even after they have served their full sentence.
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Worthy of the Name Christian
It was disclosed recently that the Christian Coalition of Alabama has been taking money from Indian gambling interests to oppose gambling initiatives in Alabama. In a scheme worthy of Colombian drug lords, money was filtered through Washington lobbyists who in turn gave it to the consulting firm of Ralph Reed, former national leader of the Christian Coalition. From there the money found its way to the Alabama chapter of the Christian Coalition.
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In Search Of Healing, and Hope
This Saturday marks the third anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. We continue to mourn not only the tragic loss of life, but also the loss of innocence.
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A Faithful Response to the Problem of Poverty
According to a Census Bureau report released last week, nearly 36 million Americans now live in poverty. This figure represents over a 12 percent increase from 2003. In fact, the poverty rate has been growing at a rate over 12 percent for the past three years.
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Evangelicalism Should Wield Two-Edged Sword
Tony Campolo, professor and Christian preacher, believes evangelicalism has been hijacked. He makes his case in a provocative new book entitled Speaking My Mind. Campolo argues that evangelicals became captive to an alien agenda when they allowed outside influences, political and cultural, to shape their thought and guide their activities.
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The Religion of Politics
The election season is upon us. The red, white and blue streamers are out. The "vote for" whomever signs are up. There are songs of partisan loyalty in the air. The news networks are firing up their huge electronic map which will soon demonstrate with red states and blue states that we are as divided as we ever have been. A history professor I know predicts that the 2004 campaign will be the most bitter and most divisive in over 200 years.
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On Being Christian and American
Is it possible to be a Christian and not be an American? The question on the surface seems absurd. There are Christians in every corner of the world. And where there are not Christians there are Christian missionaries diligently preaching the gospel. It would seem self-evident that a person can be a Christian and a citizen of whatever country they happen to live in. After all, immigration does not normally accompany baptism.
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Does Religion Really Work?
Does religion really work? I'm using the word "work" in the most pragmatic sense. Is there a measurable way of proving that people of faith live longer, live better, have better marriages, are financially successful, have fewer problems with their children, are free from drugs and alcohol, and never lose their temper and hurt other people. Does it work?
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Managing Dissent
The Democratic National Convention in Boston last week was devoid of drama. The nominees were already decided, and there was no fierce floor fighting over the party platform. Everything was a done deal before the first red, white, or blue balloon was inflated.
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A New Bishop with an Old Idea for a New Day
The North Alabama Conference of United Methodists will soon have a new bishop in place. He is well known in Christian circles, especially among clergy. His views are innovative and yet in many ways traditional. You might say he's a new Bishop with an old idea for a new day.
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Holiday Inn Express Theology
In philosophy it's known as "misplaced authority." I prefer calling it "the Holiday Inn Express experience." You know the ads. Staying at a Holiday Inn Express is such a smart travel move that those who stay there are able to perform wonders outside their normal area of expertise.
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Fleecing the Flock
It may be that President Bush and his re-election campaign have finally found the limits of evangelical good will. The president's high-profile faith and open acknowledgement of Jesus as his favorite political philosopher has endeared him to evangelicals all across the country. His efforts to institute faith-based alternatives for social programs has also been warmly received among his evangelical following.
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The Death of Civility
The coarser side of American politics was on view recently as Vice President Cheney and Sen. Patrick Leahy engaged in a brief exchange on the floor of the U.S. Senate. During the heated discussion the vice president used an expletive that is most often excluded from polite conversation, as well as public debate.
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A Model For Christian And Jewish Relations
It has to be one of the most frustrating political and religious conundrums ever encountered. For centuries now relations between Jews and Christians have rocked back and forth, from bad to horrible. The horrible occurred during our darker moments when Christians labeled Jews "Christ-killers" and used that charge to justify violence against Jewish people.
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Fact, Fiction, and Faith
For months now Dan Brown's novel The DaVinci Code has topped the best-seller list. There are a couple of reasons. For one thing, it's a pretty good mystery action story. But that is not all that's going on. Helping to fuel record sales is the book's unique plot. The story is carried along on the back of a unique interpretation of Christian history.
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The Politics of Communion
Father Michael Sheridan, Bishop of Colorado, has raised the role of faith in politics to a new level of complexity. He announced recently that Catholics who vote for candidates who support issues such as abortion rights, stem-cell research, gay marriage and euthanasia should be barred from receiving Holy Communion.
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Southern Baptists Retreat From Bold Mission Thrust
As Southern Baptists gather in Indianapolis in a couple of weeks for their annual convention, one item of business will be a resolution which launches a full scale assault on public education.
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Room For Us All
This past week marked the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. In announcing the unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruling that effectively ended legalized racial segregation in our culture, Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote: "We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal."
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Stealing Jesus
Mel Gibson's movie "The Passion of the Christ" continues to set box office records. Hyped as one of the most powerful evangelistic tools ever made, a big chunk of Gibson's earnings are the direct result of church activity. Congregations across the country have bought thousands of tickets and literally bussed people to theaters to see the film.
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Becoming What We Hate
The images from the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq this past week were shocking. Photos of Iraqi prisoners being subjected to humiliation and abuse in the presence of smiling American soldiers sent shock waves of anger and protest both in the Arab world, but also in the United States as well. We are supposed to be the good guys. We don't do things like this. We would be incensed if this sort of abuse were perpetrated against our own soldiers.
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The Ten Commandments Movement
Judge Roy Moore may no longer be front page news, but his strange political theology has spawned a movement that seems to be gaining headway every day. With the judge as the frequent headliner, leaders within the Christian Right are organizing Ten Commandment rallies all across the country. This is no trifling movement. A rally in Dallas recently drew more that 5,000 people.
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Theologian in Chief
As president, Mr. Bush commands the armed forces of the United States. His title in this function is "commander in chief." As a Christian, Mr. Bush says he takes his faith in Jesus seriously. However, the office of president does not confer any special status to believers. In other words, Mr. Bush is not "theologian in chief." Although it appears that may not be entirely clear to him.
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Why I Believe in the Resurrection
This Sunday Christians around the world will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. The Resurrection is viewed by believers just about everywhere as the foundation of Christianity. They assert that by raising Jesus from the dead God has defeated death and secured for all who have faith the gift of eternal life.
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Taking God's Name In Vain
After a tortuous legal journey, the United States Supreme Court has finally heard Elk Grove Unified School District versus Newdow--better known as the "under God" case. A decision is expected later this spring.
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Christians and Public Schools
A rough and rocky relationship has existed for some time now between segments of the Christian community and public schools. Growing partly out of integration, but also a clash with science, there are many believers who are convinced that public schools are waging war on their faith. The usual suspects are secular humanism, evolution and moral relativism--the triple threat!
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The Separation of Church and Jesus
Several years ago a friend of mine was working as a youth minister for a church that was exuberantly evangelistic. The pastor spoke eloquently and often about "winning the world for Christ." Unfortunately, the community around the church was "in transition." That's code for white families moving out and people of color moving in.
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The Seductive Power of the Super Church
Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ," with its dramatic portrayal of Jesus' death and suffering, has dominated the box office for weeks. But it isn't the only religious art making the rounds.
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The Separation of Jesus From Life
Mel Gibson's new movie, "The Passion," is stirring considerable interest. Pre-release publicity has focused on concerns that the movie may spark an increase in anti-Semitism—especially in Europe. There, for centuries, Jews have been demonized as "Christ killers." Blaming the Jews exclusively for Jesus' death is not only bad history, but also bad theology. The New Testament makes it pretty clear that all of us share in the blame. In fact, that is where Gibson puts himself in the movie—as a Roman executioner.
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Children and Crime in American Culture
It was hardly a century ago that social activists launched a crusade to save children from the exploitation of industry. Children, some as young as 9 years old, were often forced to work 10 and 12 hour shifts in America's factories and foundries. Even in rural areas many children were expected to work along side adults bringing in the harvest.
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Super Bowl Obscenities
Janet Jackson's breast-baring stunt during this year's Super Bowl has outraged viewers, religious leaders, family groups and politicians.
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Undoing the New Deal
There is growing interest in President Bush's call for "faith based initiatives." The idea is to create partnerships between government and religious groups to help people in need. The idea is not entirely new. In 1996 when then President Bill Clinton signed the Welfare Reform Act, a "charitable choice" provision was included that made it possible for faith groups to compete for government grants to provide certain social services. The provision required that these religious groups form separate and secular non-profit entities to administer these services.
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The Faith-Based Initiative of Martin Luther King

President Bush announced last week a dramatic expansion of his "faith-based initiatives" plan. These initiatives, which have been the centerpiece of Mr. Bush's domestic social agenda, are aimed at channeling tax dollars to faith groups who provide certain social services. Speaking from the pulpit of the Union Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in New Orleans, the president tried to create a link between his initiatives idea and the work of Dr. Martin Luther King. The president said, "Dr. King understood that faith is a power greater than all others."

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Candidates Hit the Sawdust Trail
The 2004 presidential race is shaping up to be as much an old time religious revival as it is a political contest. Informed by consultants that 62 percent of American voters prefer candidates with religious convictions, Democratic presidential hopefuls are boning up on their pious platitudes. President Bush, of course, already has credibility on this issue with his open embrace of Christianity.
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Not a Time for Silencing Dissent
As a Christian and a Baptist, protest is my middle name—as in Protestant. We have as part of our spiritual DNA a history of dissenting against the majority opinion. In the 16th century we dissented against the hegemony of the Church in England insisting on the right to pursue our own path towards God. Quite a few of those dissenters were lost in the fires of persecution.
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Mad Cows and the Silence of the Lambs
There was a farmer once who got into trouble with his church. The incident took place in the days when farmers milked their own cows and delivered the milk to the dairy in big tin cans. Dairies back then had to be cautious not to buy contaminated milk. If a farmer wasn't careful, the cans would get tainted with manure and the whole batch would be thrown out. When this happened, dairy managers would paint a large red "X" on the contaminated can. This was a huge embarrassment to the farmer, not to mention the financial loss.
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Christmas Prayer
Lord, first of all, thank you for the careful and creative way in which you have designed this world. You have made this planet a marvelous place, filled with life and beauty. It is a privilege to recognize that we humans are a part of your amazing invention.
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It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like…What?
Something of a mini-Holy War is raging in Palm Beach, Fla. Two residents of the exclusive resort area are suing the city claiming their rights have been violated by city officials. The two plaintiffs are angry because the city, which allows Jewish Menorahs to be displayed in several public locations, will not allow a Christian Nativity scene to be set up in the same locations.
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How the Mighty Have Fallen, and May Fall
The visual images of Saddam Hussein after his capture contrast sharply with the carefully controlled images we had all seen prior to the war. Before the war, we saw Saddam amble regally among his people, larger than life, the very picture of power and control. Now the images are of a bearded and scruffy Saddam, a vagabond refugee, stripped of power and reduced to the status of mere mortal.
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A Thanksgiving Tradition
Her name was Irene, though we all called her Miss Irene. She was the oldest member of our church. She had survived all her friends, all of her sisters and brothers, two children, and finally her husband. His death really took something out of her.
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A Thanksgiving Tradition
Her name was Irene, though we all called her Miss Irene. She was the oldest member of our church. She had survived all her friends, all of her sisters and brothers, two children, and finally her husband. His death really took something out of her.
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Mistakes Of The Right, Mistakes Of The Left
A new organization has been formed to counter the activities of groups such as the Christian Coalition, the Family Research Council and the Traditional Values Coalition. Calling themselves the Clergy Leadership Network, this new group plans to promote an agenda that is "expressly religious and expressly partisan."
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Judged By The Judge
One thing you hardly ever hear is that Alabama Baptists are soft on Scripture. We get knocked around for a lot of things we do, but hardly ever our commitment to the Bible. Now, that has changed. As hard as it may be to believe, Judge Roy Moore has found it necessary to chastise Alabama Baptists for "inconsistent theology" in their stand on the Ten Commandments.
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Being in the Right Is Not Always Popular
Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor has the toughest job in America, says Jim Evans.
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Faith And The End Of The World
The blockbuster sci-fi thriller The Matrix reached its conclusion last week with the release of Matrix Revolutions, the third and final installment in the series. The films have generated considerable interest, not just because of the stunning visual effects, but also because of an ambitious spiritual content.
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If or When the Wall Comes Down
The struggle to maintain a proper wall of separation between church and state has reached a precarious crossroads. Today we must ask whether to use "if" or "when." It makes a difference.
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Celebrity Politicians Come Into Their Own
In a world where life sometimes imitates art, Arnold Schwarzenegger, an actor with no previous political experience or apparent political interest, is now governor-elect of California.
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The Violent Take It Away
Kate Campbell was in Birmingham recently. A country singer with a soulful voice and distinctly Baptist theology, Campbell was in town to lend support to the Perry County initiative known as "Sowing Seeds of Hope."
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The Way of NASCAR
According to a recent National Public Radio report, several Democratic presidential hopefuls are looking for ways to reach a previously untapped source of potential voters that has been identified in the world of stock car racing. They have dubbed this potential voter group "NASCAR Dads." This is not an insignificant group. NASCAR attracts over 75 million fans nationwide.
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Was Jesus A Marxist?
Alabama's Republican Governor, Bob Riley, recently led an unsuccessful effort to reform the state's regressive tax structure and raise needed funds for state services. He cast the struggle in moral terms arguing that Alabama's present tax arrangement unfairly burdens the poor. Many leaders from within the faith community joined in the effort.
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Is Christianity An Oppressed Minority?
Recently hundreds of Christians gathered on the steps of the state judicial building in Montgomery, Ala., to offer support to Judge Roy Moore and his 5,300-pound monument to the Ten Commandments. They were also there to protest a federal court order that had the monument removed.
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The Danger Of Unchecked Authority
Watching Judge Moore over the past few months has reminded me of the Christian philosopher Pascal. He wrote that humans "never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction." In other words, there is no one more dangerous than a person convinced they are right about God, and everyone else is wrong.
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The Sermon On The Mount: American Style
The Sermon on the Mount is regarded by most Christians as the heart of Jesus' teaching. Unfortunately, what Jesus has to say there has not been overwhelmingly embraced by much of the Christian community in America. Perhaps it is time to update the sermon so that it is more in line with American culture. Maybe something like this:
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Who Owns The Ten Commandments?
One of the more curious features of the Ten Commandment controversy is the discovery that Chief Justice Roy Moore has a copyright on the monument. The copyright symbol is not readily visible. You have to walk to the rear of the monument and look down on the base to find it, but it is there. There are three names chiseled into the granite beside the copyright symbol. They are: Richard Hahnemann, the sculptor who made the monument; Stephen Melchoir, Justice Moore's attorney; and of course Roy S. Moore.
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Tax reform and church-state separation
One of the most contentious political issues we face these days is trying to understand how we in the faith community can find legitimate and satisfying ways to publicly express our faith without crossing the line separating church from state. Recent events in Alabama offer a rare opportunity to see this struggle in a fresh light.
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Harry Potter As Teacher Of Christian Values
Well, he's back. Harry Potter, the wily young wizard featured in four best-selling novels and two hit movies, is back in a fifth novel, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The 870-page tome from author J. K. Rowling is poised to become the biggest seller in the series. So far Harry has sold over 200 million copies world wide.
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Captain America and the Crusade Against Evil
One of the most striking visual images in the recent war with Iraq was the spectacle of President Bush arriving in a fighter jet to greet the crew of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln.
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The Divine Right Of Kings
The western world was dominated for centuries by an idea known as "the divine right of kings." The idea that kings rule on earth as God's representatives comes from the Apostle Paul who wrote: "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God."
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'Awe' Wrong Word for Bombing Campaign
The deadly force that fell from the sky over Baghdad was entirely of this world. It was neither life-giving nor life-affirming. And however necessary the onslaught may have been, its effect was awful, not awe-inspiring.
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Choosing Barabbas Puts Someone on a Cross
We have found ourselves facing some crisis that forced us to choose either a Barabbas-like solution or the Jesus option. So far, we have not fared any better than that first Good Friday crowd. We keep choosing violence over peace, death over life, and hate over love.
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Former Reporter Runs Biblical Shell Game
What Drosnin offers is not Bible study, but superstition dressed as science. In the old days, it was known as selling "snake oil."
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Do Faiths Play a Trump Card of Science?
Science has given evangelical critics a powerful trump card for disputing Mormon faith claims.
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Forgive Us Our Debts
It seems particularly cruel to charge exorbitant fees to families and individuals already struggling financially. The Bible pronounces stern judgment on those who exploit the poor for profit. That same judgment falls on those who stand silent and let it happen.
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The Quest for a Christian America
Investing our hope in the symbols and practices of our faith is a good thing. Healing and transformation can and do follow their proper use. But they cannot be forced into service.
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Would Jesus Go to War?
The religious leaders who placed the ad acknowledge that Saddam Hussein is a cruel tyrant. But they also assert that "a war on the country he rules is not a just war."
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Evangelicals Turn Good News Into Bad
In what is clearly one of the most dramatic reversals in history, evangelicals have transformed the meaning of good news into bad news. The very word "evangel" rings in the ears of non-believers as some sort of curse. Evangel now means God has come to condemn us, not to save us.
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Whose God Are We Under?
During their annual convention in November, Alabama Baptists adopted a resolution affirming the words "under God" as part of the pledge of allegiance.
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Christian Coalition Predicts an Uprising
Cut off from our traditional sources of reflection, people of faith get confused about what is right and wrong. Trying to honor a piece of Scripture, we become unfaithful to the rest of it. Hardly knowing how we even got there, we find ourselves in blatant conflict with traditional Christian ethical behavior.
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Where Have All the Followers Gone?
Instead of ignoring these dissenters, or isolating them as irrelevant complainers, church leaders might do well to listen to them. It would not be the first time in the history of the church that a disgruntled minority was right and church officials wrong.
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The Search for Certainty
Authentic faith does not emerge because of facts or evidence. The journey of faith follows paths other than the ones taken by history and science. Or as Jesus put it to an early skeptic: "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe."
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No Law Prohibits Carter's Expression of Faith
Mr. Carter doesn't quote a whole bunch of Scripture when he makes a speech. But as you listen to his speeches, you get the feeling that Scripture has shaped and molded his thinking.
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The Trial That Should Never Have Been
It is unfortunate that determining the proper use of Scripture has been placed in the hands of the courts. In allowing this to happen, the faith community is guilty of a serious breach of trust. It is an indication of how far we have drifted from our proper purpose and authentic identity as a worshiping and praying community.
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Is Bigger Really Better?
In our culture there's not much demand for a God whose interests are for the poor and needy, or who sends rain on the just and the unjust. It's hard to market a God who calls for sacrificial service and for loving our neighbor and our enemy.
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Greed Results in Idolatry
Greed moves something else into God's place. Our stuff becomes the source of life. We live to get and have more and more things. And these things, we believe, add meaning to our lives.
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Churches Face Minister Shortage
It's strange that churches are finding their young and faithful leaving the church in order to fulfill their callings. It's enough to make us wonder if churches have been hammering one thing, while God wanted something else entirely.
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Jesus, Lost in the Marketplace
The problem is not where the Gospel goes, but what form it takes. Jesus certainly did take his message to the centers of economic influence. When he got there, however, he didn't open a booth.
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Politics in Sheep's Clothing
The idea of candidates stumping about from church to church, leaving worship with their pockets full of consecrated dollars, may turn out be the shell game of all time.
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The Concept of a Just War
Momentum seems to be building for a war with Iraq. The Bush Administration has been strategically leaking information for some time now. These leaks serve several purposes, one of which is to measure public opinion about the idea. Administration officials are anxious to know what questions a war with Iraq is likely to provoke.
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The Enduring Legacy of Sept. 11

In the days and weeks immediately following September 11, we had a chance to witness a sense of national unity, and even national community, not evident in this country in a long time. In the face of terrible pain and unbelievable loss, there was a flicker of hope. In our experience of oneness as a people, we found strength to believe we would survive and overcome.

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The View from the Sidelines
In The Wounded Healer, Henri Nouwen recalls a striking incident from several years ago. He was serving as chaplain on a Dutch cruise ship making its way to Rotterdam. They were in a thick fog. Everyone was edgy and nervous as the ship crept along virtually blind in the water.
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