Columns on Church and Theology

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

The Earth's Your Home. Why Not Take Care Of It? | Chuck Summers, Creation Care, Environment
The Earth's Your Home. Why Not Take Care Of It?
By: Chuck Summers
You cannot enjoy the blessing of home ownership unless you are willing to take on the responsibilities that come with it. We are blessed to call the earth home, so why don't we take care of it? Read More ...
Chuck Summers

How to Make the Transition to Bivocational Ministry | Dennis Bickers, Bivocational Ministry
How to Make the Transition to Bivocational Ministry
By: Dennis Bickers
Transitioning from being a fully funded pastor to a bivocational one is never easy, but it will give you opportunities to meet new people and minister to them in ways that serving in a church will not. Read More ...
Dennis Bickers

These Stats Shine Light on Local Church Health | Bill Wilson, Local Church, Leadership, Church Trends
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. Read More ...
Bill Wilson

Keeping Christian Social Action Work from Disintegrating | Jon Kuhrt, Social Capital, Community Engagement
Keeping Christian Social Action Work from Disintegrating
By: Jon Kuhrt
Churches excel at establishing social action projects. The big challenge is how these projects maintain a Christian ethos and continue to be explicit carriers of Christian hope. Read More ...
Jon Kuhrt

Why Your Church Needs to Learn How to Care | Joe LaGuardia, Pastoral Care, Compassion
Why Your Church Needs to Learn How to Care
By: Joe LaGuardia
Learning empathy and compassion are lessons that must be honed over time. They're not traits trait that we know just because we are human. And churches need to learn them too. Read More ...
Joe LaGuardia

4 Ways Your Church Can Pay Your Next Minister Fairly | Jerrod Hugenot, Church Finance, Clergy Compensation
4 Ways Your Church Can Pay Your Next Minister Fairly
By: Jerrod Hugenot
Unless they make an intentional effort, many churches set salary and compensation for their pastors in a vacuum. Here are steps you can take to ensure you offer a fair paycheck. Read More ...
Jerrod Hugenot

Is the New Testament More Important Than the Old? | Larry Eubanks, Scripture, New Testament, Old Testament
Is the New Testament More Important Than the Old?
By: Larry Eubanks
When we regard the New Testament as more important or relevant than the Old, we are acting as if we can jump into the middle of a movie and understand what is going on. It doesn't work. Read More ...
Larry Eubanks

How Common Core Can Teach Collaboration to Your Church | Brock Ratcliff, Collaboration, Community, Common Core
How Common Core Can Teach Collaboration to Your Church
By: Brock Ratcliff
Our churches would do well to see the team emphasis demonstrated in the spirit of Common Core as a reminder of our own cooperative call in the Kingdom of God. Read More ...
Brock Ratcliff

Why We Need to See Through Others' Eyes | Colin Harris, Empathy, Community, Image of God, Genesis
Why We Need to See Through Others' Eyes
By: Colin Harris
At the heart of the cruelty of today's religious extremism is its followers' belief that they see as God sees and that their will is God's will. Our world would be much better if we would see through others' eyes. Read More ...
Colin Harris

4 Reasons Your Church Can Stagnate and Die | Elijah Brown, Turkey, Church Health
4 Reasons Your Church Can Stagnate and Die
By: Elijah Brown
One of the most celebrated churches in the New Testament is no longer around today. How did it and other vibrant churches of that time die? The reasons can apply to today's churches as well. Read More ...
Elijah Brown

Religious Freedom: Making the World Safe for Diversity | Rick Love, Religious Freedom, Diversity, Interfaith Engagement
Religious Freedom: Making the World Safe for Diversity
By: Rick Love
Everyone struggles with diversity at some level. Diversity, however, is a fact of life in the 21st century, and America is one of the most religiously and ethnically diverse nations on earth. Read More ...
Rick Love

A Lesson from Ruth on Welcoming Refugees | Elijah Brown, Refugees, Humanitarian Aid, Immigration, Ruth
A Lesson from Ruth on Welcoming Refugees
By: Elijah Brown
As the Old Testament's Ruth shows us, people of faith should be among the first who follow the biblical narrative's call to welcome the refugees and displaced within our communities. Read More ...
Elijah Brown

Tree Trimming Offers Guidance for Christian Discipleship | Sara Powell, Discipleship
Tree Trimming Offers Guidance for Christian Discipleship
By: Sara Powell
When the electric company trims your trees, you may not like the end result but their work keeps electricity flowing when you need it. What trimming needs to take place in your life to let God work? Read More ...
Sara Powell

Connecting God's Kingdom to Your Daily Labors | Zach Dawes, Labor Day, Kingdom of God, Puritans, Walter Rauschenbusch
Connecting God's Kingdom to Your Daily Labors
By: Zach Dawes
How do you embody God's Kingdom in your day-to-day life? Labor Day offers you a time to reflect on this connection so the good news does not become disconnected from your life. Read More ...
Zach Dawes

Many Church Discipleship Programs Overlook This | Larry Eubanks, Creation Care, Discipleship
Many Church Discipleship Programs Overlook This
By: Larry Eubanks
Some church discipleship programs overlook an important task given to humans: to take care of God's creation. We are called to care for each other as well as the plants and animals in need of protection. Read More ...
Larry Eubanks

Value Your Church, Whatever Its Faults May Be | Colin Sedgwick, Community
Value Your Church, Whatever Its Faults May Be
By: Colin Sedgwick
Churches may have their faults, but one of the greatest joys and privileges of being a Christian is that you are a member of the family of God, gathered together with others in a local congregation. Read More ...
Colin Sedgwick

The Importance of Jesus' Faith in God | Drew Smith, Faith, Discipleship, Gospel of Mark
The Importance of Jesus' Faith in God
By: Drew Smith
Jesus' power to do miracles may be credited to his faith in God to work miracles through him. The Gospel of Mark shows Jesus as the example of faithful discipleship. Read More ...
Drew Smith

How Your Church Should Respond to Depression | Dennis Bickers, Depression
How Your Church Should Respond to Depression
By: Dennis Bickers
You might be surprised to find how many people in your church are struggling with depression and are afraid to say anything for fear of being judged. Churches need to be part of the solution. Read More ...
Dennis Bickers