Columns on Church and Theology

4 Types of Leadership Needed in Missional Churches | Ircel Harrison, Leadership
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. Read More ...
Ircel Harrison

Each Christmas, We Celebrate Jesus the Refugee | Elijah Brown, Refugees, Christmas, Africa
Each Christmas, We Celebrate Jesus the Refugee
By: Elijah Brown
We often gloss over the part of the Christmas story when Joseph and Mary fled with Jesus to Egypt, becoming a refugee family. Whether we admit it or not, we celebrate Jesus the refugee every Christmas. Read More ...
Elijah Brown

If Magic Wands Were Real: 12 Wishes for Churches | Bill Wilson, Vision
If Magic Wands Were Real: 12 Wishes for Churches
By: Bill Wilson
I've fantasized about waving a magic wand over a church member, minister or congregation and making some desperately needed changes. If I had such a wand, here are 12 things I'd do. Read More ...
Bill Wilson

Why Christians Cannot Ignore Climate Change | John Weaver, Climate Change, Discipleship, Social Justice
Why Christians Cannot Ignore Climate Change
By: John Weaver
As climate change continues, it is the poorest in our world who will suffer the most. If we are to call ourselves a gospel people, we cannot ignore the condition and well being of creation. Read More ...
John Weaver

The Eucharist: A Call to Justice and the Poor | Ron Rolheiser, Lord's Supper, Social Justice
The Eucharist: A Call to Justice and the Poor
By: Ron Rolheiser
Some think that the practice of justice, especially social justice, is an optional part of being a Christian, mandated by political correctness rather than by the gospels. The Lord's Supper reminds us that is wrong. Read More ...
Ron Rolheiser

How Advent Prepares Us for the Day Ahead | Joe LaGuardia, Advent, Lectionary, Waiting, Day of the Lord
How Advent Prepares Us for the Day Ahead
By: Joe LaGuardia
Advent encourages anticipation and hope, reminding us that God expects to find us meeting the needs of victims of violence with a resolve that rests on the fact that God's future will call all creation to account. Read More ...
Joe LaGuardia

How Christians Should Engage Their Culture | Ircel Harrison, Apostle Paul, Leadership, Evangelism
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. Read More ...
Ircel Harrison

Christians Must Speak Truth to Counter Propaganda | James Gordon, Speech
Christians Must Speak Truth to Counter Propaganda
By: James Gordon
Some words have been hijacked to justify policies and attitudes that work against the common good. Christians must counter that propaganda with integrity. To ignore it erodes our witness. Read More ...
James Gordon

Are You Missing the Other Half of Advent? | Colin Harris, Advent, Discipleship
Are You Missing the Other Half of Advent?
By: Colin Harris
No matter how authentic and spectacular our Advent celebrations are, if we fail to embrace the life to which incarnation invites us, we have participated in only half of the celebration. Read More ...
Colin Harris

As Evangelism Implodes, Churches' Days Numbered | Bill Wilson, Evangelism
As Evangelism Implodes, Churches' Days Numbered
By: Bill Wilson
Nearly all churches' new converts are their own members' children. Because few congregations reach their unchurched communities, their days are numbered. It's simple math. Read More ...
Bill Wilson

Learning From Hymns When You Disagree with Lyrics | Roger Olson, Hymns, Theology, Worship
Learning From Hymns When You Disagree with Lyrics
By: Roger Olson
Worship planners and leaders must think of hymns as theological expressions and choose them with discernment, especially when the lyrics may be obscure to most people. Read More ...
Roger Olson

How Can the Church Bring Together Our Divided World? | Joe LaGuardia, Reconciliation, Peacemaking
How Can the Church Bring Together Our Divided World?
By: Joe LaGuardia
If the midterm elections revealed anything, it's that the U.S. is a divided nation. And that's an opportunity for the church as we transcend politics and seek to bring reconciliation. Read More ...
Joe LaGuardia

Why Churches Remain at Heart of Tackling Poverty | Jon Kuhrt, Poverty, Social Justice, Social Capital
Why Churches Remain at Heart of Tackling Poverty
By: Jon Kuhrt
Christians don't have a monopoly on making a difference to those in need, but even the most hard-bitten critics of Christianity have to admit that the church makes a massive contribution in combating poverty.  Read More ...
Jon Kuhrt

Vocational Ministry Takes Toll on Many Ministers | Travis Collins, Leadership, Stress
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. Read More ...
Travis Collins

What Your Church Needs for Healthy Growth | Bill Wilson, Thanksgiving, Thanksliving
What Your Church Needs for Healthy Growth
By: Bill Wilson
If your church wants to experience healthy growth, it won't be through new programs. Healthy churches grow when their members develop personal and powerful relationships. Read More ...
Bill Wilson

Why Christians Should Care for the Weak | Roger Olson, Kingdom of God, Economics, Capitalism, Social Justice
Why Christians Should Care for the Weak
By: Roger Olson
Our society worships the strong, the beautiful, the powerful and the rich and blames the poor, the disadvantaged and those who struggle to survive. Christianity turns that order upside down. Read More ...
Roger Olson

How Ethical Are Your Prayers? Part 2 | Rod Benson, Prayer
How Ethical Are Your Prayers? Part 2
By: Rod Benson
Ethical prayer is not about good technique but integrity and persistence. It is dangerous, exhilarating, countercultural and subversive. It is not preparation for an ethical life but ethics in action. Read More ...
Rod Benson

How Ethical Are Your Prayers? Part 1 | Rod Benson, Prayer
How Ethical Are Your Prayers? Part 1
By: Rod Benson
If we faithfully follow Jesus, our deepest and truest desires will find their expression in godly, countercultural, justice-shaped prayers passionately aligned to God's kingdom and mission. Read More ...
Rod Benson

Personality-Driven Churches Can't Thrive for Long Term | Brock Ratcliff, Mars Hill Church, Mega Churches, Leadership
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. Read More ...
Brock Ratcliff

How Lebanon's Compassion Makes a Difference | Helle Liht, Lebanese Society for Education and Social Development, Lebanon, Syria, Refugees, Compassion
How Lebanon's Compassion Makes a Difference
By: Helle Liht
Even as they recover from civil war followed by Syrian occupation, Lebanon's citizens are showing compassion as they reach out to their former oppressors who are fleeing war-torn Syria. Read More ...
Helle Liht

Nonprofits, Like Ethics Daily.com, Rely on Your Support | Zach Dawes, Giving, Music, Newspapers, Baptist Center for Ethics
Nonprofits, Like Ethics Daily.com, Rely on Your Support
By: Zach Dawes
Using resources without supporting the organizations providing them is a growing challenge in many industries. And it has long been a challenge for local churches and faith-based nonprofits. Read More ...
Zach Dawes

Why Some Christians Desire a Convenient Faith | Seth Vopat, Discipleship
Why Some Christians Desire a Convenient Faith
By: Seth Vopat
We define truth as an effort to make the world in Christ's image, but that concept is not found in the gospels. We want a convenient faith, which fits nicely into our overbooked schedules, not a faith that requires intention. Read More ...
Seth Vopat

Jonah's Problem: A God Who Won't Do As He's Told | James Gordon, Jonah, Compassion, Forgiveness
Jonah's Problem: A God Who Won't Do As He's Told
By: James Gordon
Jonah hated Nineveh; he wanted its violent inhabitants to get what they deserved. When Jonah fled rather than warn the city about its destruction, it was because he knew God wasn't in the hate business. Read More ...
James Gordon

How Many Smaller Churches Can Keep Their Doors Open | Dennis Bickers, Small Churches, Bivocational Ministry
How Many Smaller Churches Can Keep Their Doors Open
By: Dennis Bickers
Many smaller churches face a troubling future. Unless these congregations are willing to make significant changes, their death is almost inevitable. Read More ...
Dennis Bickers

5 Dangerous Paths for Ministers Under Pressure | Bill Wilson, Self Care, Leadership, Stress
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. Read More ...
Bill Wilson

Conversion: Aligning Our Lives with God's Kingdom | Rod Benson, Conversion, Discipleship
Conversion: Aligning Our Lives with God's Kingdom
By: Rod Benson
Conversion, which lies at the heart of evangelical faith and experience, is not primarily about escape from judgment in the afterlife, but about aligning our lives with the principles and priorities of God's kingdom. Read More ...
Rod Benson

What Does It Mean If You Follow "The Way of Jesus"? | David Fitch, Way of Jesus, Discipleship
What Does It Mean If You Follow "The Way of Jesus"?
By: David Fitch
The term "the way of Jesus" has become increasingly popular. While it's meant to emphasize practical everyday Christian life, different groups have co-opted it to mean different things. Read More ...
David Fitch

3 Reasons You Can Be Thankful During Bad Times | Alistair Brown, Thanksgiving, Thankfulness
3 Reasons You Can Be Thankful During Bad Times
By: Alistair Brown
We all face circumstances for which it's difficult to express thanks. When those bad times hit, these three thoughts will keep you focused on what doesn't change: God's constant love. Read More ...
Alistair Brown

How Ready Are You to Receive God's Inclusive Love? | Molly Marshall, Advent, Gospel of Matthew
How Ready Are You to Receive God's Inclusive Love?
By: Molly T. Marshall
God's love is broad and inclusive, yet human readiness to receive it matters. Although some live life without a sense of limits, serious disciples live out the gospel for the long haul. Read More ...
Molly T. Marshall

Why Do We Always Feel Like We Never Have Enough? | Nathan Napier, Stewardship
Why Do We Always Feel Like We Never Have Enough?
By: Nathan Napier
We all behave as if we don't have enough. However, if we live our lives under the conviction that the common good trumps individual benefit, we would discover that there's plenty to go around. Read More ...
Nathan Napier

Puzzling Advice Offered by the Apostle Paul | Colin Harris, Apostle Paul, Citizenship
Puzzling Advice Offered by the Apostle Paul
By: Colin Harris
The Apostle Paul's advice to early Christians was sometimes puzzling. Rather than apply his advice to contemporary issues, we should see his words have more to do with embracing an ethic of love. Read More ...
Colin Harris

How Lebanese Churches Help During Syrian Crisis | Rupen Das, Syria, Middle East, Lebanon, Refugees, Baptists
How Lebanese Churches Help During Syrian Crisis
By: Rupen Das
Syria occupied Lebanon for 20 years. The memory still burns in many Lebanese families. But when Syrian refugees cascaded into Lebanon to flee their nation's civil unrest, Lebanese churches had to make a choice. Read More ...
Rupen Das

Standing Up to Hate Against Our Muslim Neighbors | Elizabeth Evans Hagan, Baptists, Muslims, Reformation Day, Protestant Reformation
Standing Up to Hate Against Our Muslim Neighbors
By: Elizabeth Evans Hagan
We live in a Christian society and don't face the level of persecution that Paul faced. But we can stand up to hate against our Muslim neighbors, just like these Oklahoma University students did. Read More ...
Elizabeth Evans Hagan

How to Keep Your Faith from Wilting | Bill Wilson, Materialism, Stewardship, Discipleship
How to Keep Your Faith from Wilting
By: Bill Wilson
Much of what we call faith and commitment is actually a thin veneer of religious ritualism that withers at the first hint of stress. To hear the Spirit's voice, we need to go deeper. Like Paul, we need to go to Arabia. Read More ...
Bill Wilson

How Does Your Church Respond to Mental Illness? | Terrell Carter, Mental Health
How Does Your Church Respond to Mental Illness?
By: Terrell Carter
We are all equals created in God's image. Everyone deserves to be respected and cherished as precious children of God, including those who experience mental illness. Read More ...
Terrell Carter

If You Really Want to Make Your Pastor's Day, Try This | Barry Howard, Pastor Appreciation, Encouragement
If You Really Want to Make Your Pastor's Day, Try This
By: Barry Howard
Pastors have been showered with thank-you notes, homemade goodies and gift cards during Pastor Appreciation Month. But there's one thing you can do to ensure your pastor feels appreciated. Read More ...
Barry Howard

4 Ideas to Guide Your Church Budget | Matt Sapp, Tithing, Budgeting, Discipleship, Charitable Giving
4 Ideas to Guide Your Church Budget
By: Matt Sapp
It's budget time for most churches. This is a time for spiritual self-assessment as your church organizes your plans to accomplish God's dreams. What does your budget say about your priorities? Read More ...
Matt Sapp

When It's OK for Your Pastor to Break Confidentiality | Reggie Warren, Confidentiality, Leadership
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. Read More ...
Reggie Warren

2 Lessons from the Life of an Unlikely Friend | Terry Austin, Civility
2 Lessons from the Life of an Unlikely Friend
By: Terry Austin
Omer Ritchie's death saddened everyone in our little church. His friendship was a powerful demonstration of how Christians can love one another in spite of theological differences. Read More ...
Terry Austin

How Small, Bivocational Churches Serve Their Communities | Dennis Bickers, Bivocational Ministry, Small Churches, Social Capital, Community Needs
How Small, Bivocational Churches Serve Their Communities
By: Dennis Bickers
Some churches may be smaller in size and rely on bivocational leadership, but that doesn't mean they're not effective. Here are some smaller churches that intentionally serve their communities. Read More ...
Dennis Bickers

Orthodoxy and Heresy: Theology's Odd Couple | Colin Harris, Orthodoxy, Heresy
Orthodoxy and Heresy: Theology's Odd Couple
By: Colin Harris
In the history of theology's evolving understanding of faith, it's relatively easy to see where features of yesterday's heresy become part of the next period's orthodoxy. And on the process goes. Read More ...
Colin Harris

3 Observations in the Medical Missionary Debate | Thomas Kidd, Medical Missions
3 Observations in the Medical Missionary Debate
By: Thomas Kidd
With the Ebola crisis flaring up in the news, the overseas work of medical missionaries has come under increasing scrutiny. Are these negative comments from certain observers valid? Read More ...
Thomas Kidd

Top 10 Reasons This Will Never Work: Leading Change in Church | David Fitch, Leadership, Change
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. Read More ...
David Fitch

Discovering God's Dream for Your Life | Bill Wilson, God's Will
Discovering God's Dream for Your Life
By: Bill Wilson
We speak of God's will as though it was something he hides or does not want us to know, but the Bible is clear that God's will is knowable and available to all. What is God's dream for you? Read More ...
Bill Wilson

5 Ways Your Church Can Respond to Ebola Crisis | Elijah Brown, Ebola Virus
5 Ways Your Church Can Respond to Ebola Crisis
By: Elijah Brown
The worst Ebola outbreak since the 1970s is ravaging West Africa. Rather than be part of the hysteria, your church can be part of the solution by considering these five action items. Read More ...
Elijah Brown

7 Tips to Help Burned-Out Pastors | Griff Martin, Leadership, Contentment, Calling
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. Read More ...
Griff Martin

Jesus Loved the Poor. Why Don't Some of His Followers? | Mike Harton, Discipleship, Immigration, Public Transportation, Social Justice
Jesus Loved the Poor. Why Don't Some of His Followers?
By: Mike Harton
Jesus spent most of his time on this earth ministering to the poor and disenfranchised. However, when it comes to issues affecting the poor today, many of his followers show little sympathy. Read More ...
Mike Harton

Why Every Christian Needs a Little Reverie | James Gordon, Sabbath
Why Every Christian Needs a Little Reverie
By: James Gordon
Reverie allows you to be lost in your own thoughts, to take time to rest the mind and slow the body. It's an important part of our Christian walk, but we're often too busy to bother with it. Read More ...
James Gordon

Nearly 50% of Pastors Rarely Address Domestic Violence | Elijah Brown, Domestic Violence
Nearly 50% of Pastors Rarely Address Domestic Violence
By: Elijah Brown
Domestic violence is sin, affecting one in three women. A person engaging in verbal, sexual or domestic abuse has broken faith with their spouse. So why are half our pulpits silent? Read More ...
Elijah Brown

3 Truths That Church-Hoppers Forget | Joe LaGuardia, Church attendance, Discipleship
3 Truths That Church-Hoppers Forget
By: Joe LaGuardia
The fastest growing churches are those with contemporary worship, a founding pastor or both. Church attendance, however, is at an all-time low. That's what happens when many of us hop from church to church. Read More ...
Joe LaGuardia

ISIS, Bombings and the Prince of Peace | Matt Sapp, ISIS, Peacemaking, Syria
ISIS, Bombings and the Prince of Peace
By: Matt Sapp
With bombs falling on Syria, how should followers of Christ respond? We have a responsibility to resist the temptation toward violence and vengeance, which draws us away from love of neighbor. Read More ...
Matt Sapp

Global Christians Call Attention to Human Trafficking on Freedom Sunday | Zach Dawes, Human Trafficking, Freedom Sunday
Global Christians Call Attention to Human Trafficking on Freedom Sunday
By: Zach Dawes
Your church can join global Christians on Oct. 19 in calling attention to human trafficking and working to curb its spread. Read More ...
Zach Dawes

Jesus' Litmus Test: How Do You React to Opposition? | Ron Rolheiser, Forgiveness, Loving Enemies
Jesus' Litmus Test: How Do You React to Opposition?
By: Ron Rolheiser
When we perceive a threat, we instinctually attack instead of seeking dialogue. We see it in politics, our communities and our churches. Natural instinct doesn't easily honor the gospel, but that's the test. Read More ...
Ron Rolheiser

3 Ways You Can Live by the Compass, Not the Clock | Bill Wilson, Leadership, Direction
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. Read More ...
Bill Wilson

Forcing New Ministry Methods into Old Structures | Ircel Harrison, Innovation, Leadership
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. Read More ...
Ircel Harrison

I Survived a Short Term Mission Trip to Honduras! | Brian Howell, Sightings, Short Term Missions

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I Survived a Short Term Mission Trip to Honduras!
By: Brian Howell (The Martin Marty Center: Sightings)
Combining adventure tourism with Christian charity, short-term mission trips have exploded in popularity in the past 20 years. Are they more than mere Christian tourism? Read More ...
Brian Howell (The Martin Marty Center: Sightings)

What It Takes to Model Humility | Molly Marshall, Humility, Philippians
What It Takes to Model Humility
By: Molly Marshall
What does it take to model humility? Described as the master virtue, it requires a generous hospitality and the willingness to find those tasks that no one else is eager to do. Read More ...
Molly Marshall

Early Church Offers Important Evangelism Lessons | Zach Dawes, Evangelism, Baptists
Early Church Offers Important Evangelism Lessons
By: Zach Dawes
Faced with declining attendance and budgets, churches must seek a new way to live out evangelism that doesn't rely on the "if you build it, they will come" mindset. The early church can guide us. Read More ...
Zach Dawes