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  • Listener Questions on Insurrection, Hellfire, Climate Change, and More...
    by Russell Moore on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    Russell Moore responds to your questions. How should Christians think about the insurrection at the Capitol one year later? What’s the point of reading those long genealogies in Scripture? Do leaders in ministry have to use social media? On this week’s Q&A episode of The Russell Moore Show, Moore answers these questions and more. Tune in for an episode that speaks to timely issues with timeless wisdom. How should Christians think about the insurrection at the Capitol one year later? Is it necessary to read the lineages in the Bible? How does Moore handle the challenges that come with speaking publicly, especially on social media? If a husband and wife have clear consciences about sterilization, and they agree that they aren’t going to have any children (or any more children), which spouse should undergo a procedure? Who is God, and how do I figure it out? How do I begin a gospel conversation with someone who doesn’t believe the Bible? What is a Christian perspective on climate change/the floods, fires, and droughts happening all over the world? Do you have a question for Russell Moore? Send it to questions@russellmoore.com. ---- “The Russell Moore Show” is a production of Christianity Today Chief Creative Officer: Erik Petrik Executive Producer and Host: Russell Moore Director of Podcasts: Mike Cosper Production Assistance: CoreMedia Coordinator: Beth Grabenkort Producer and Audio Mixing: Kevin Duthu Associate Producer: Abby Perry Theme Song: “Dusty Delta Day” by Lennon HuttonContinue reading...

  • Christians Are Going Back to Church—But Maybe Not the Same One
    by Melissa Morgan Kelley on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    Amid all the moves and changes of the past two years, many congregations saw turnover accelerate. Houston Northwest Church suffered heavy damage from Hurricane Harvey in 2017. By the time its flooded facilities were finally rebuilt a couple years ago, the congregation was only back at full capacity for six weeks before services were shut down by the pandemic. As the church endured one setback after another, senior pastor Steve Bezner has seen the flock ebb and flow. “About a third of our congregation worshiping in person are new faces,” he said. His church currently draws 1,600 attendees each week, including several hundred viewing online—not far from its pre-pandemic weekly average of 1,700. Bezner marvels at the number of members who left during the pandemic and the number of new people who have showed up to take their place. “It will make you believe in the preservation of the Holy Spirit,” the Houston pastor said. Member turnover is as common to the life cycle of a church as baptisms, weddings, and funerals. But the pandemic has accelerated people’s comings and goings and has required new strategies to welcome and assimilate new members into the church community. These tasks have been complicated by evolving COVID-19 precautions and the challenge of identifying who still belongs to the church, when many continue to worship online. “Not gathering stirred up these questions,” said Steve Smith, executive pastor of Highpoint Church in Naperville, Illinois. “The gospel hasn’t changed, and we are still Bible-centric, but how we engage people is changing.” COVID-19 has propelled people toward life change of all kinds over the past two years, including career shifts, new relationships, and relocation. Some changes have been out of necessity and some out of new priorities; ...Continue reading...

  • 9 in 10 Evangelicals Don’t Think Sermons Are Too Long
    by Kate Shellnutt on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    Even with recent divides in congregations, survey finds high levels of satisfaction among churchgoers. At a time when pastors feel particularly under pressure, here’s some good news from the pews: Evangelical churchgoers are pretty happy with how things are going at their churches. Most don’t think the sermons are too long; if anything, they’d like to see more in-depth teaching from leaders. They aren’t bothered by too many messages about giving. They don’t think social issues and politics play an outsized role in the teaching. That’s according to a new survey of evangelical churchgoers in the US, the Congregational Scorecard conducted by Grey Matter Research and Consulting and Infinity Concepts. Around three-quarters are satisfied with their congregation approach to various areas of church life and wouldn’t want it to change, the survey found. Among the findings: 85 percent are satisfied with the length of their sermons and how long the service runs. 88 percent are happy with how often the church asks for tithes and donations. 74 percent like the style of the service, while the remainder are split between some preferring more traditional and some preferring more contemporary. “By and large, churches are doing a pretty good job of giving evangelicals what they want to experience,” the researchers concluded. The survey focused on evangelicals by belief who attend worship services at least occasionally. Those who don’t think sermons are the right length are just as likely to say they want them longer as they are to want them shorter. A 2019 Pew Research Center analysis found that average evangelical sermon is 39 minutes long, while sermons in historically Black churches tend to be longer, around 54 minutes. There’s no single answer for the ideal sermon length, but Mark ...Continue reading...

  • Gender Questions Should Send Us to Scripture
    by Thomas Schreiner on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    When it comes to the topic of gender roles, it all comes down to biblical interpretation. Many questions have recently been raised about complementarianism. We are keenly aware of the many stories of pastoral and spousal abuse—some of whom are noted complementarians. Such stories make many people wonder if complementarianism is simply a form of power grab, an attempt to hold onto male authority in order to exercise their selfish will. Cultural questions have been raised as well. Is the complementarian vision merely a product of white western culture—deriving from a patriarchal ethos and an American vision of the good life, entirely sundered from biblical witness? Or others have suggested the complementarian view solely represents the worldview of the Republican party, constituting a backlash to societal changes in the 1960’s. Or as one historian initially proposed, perhaps we have been more influenced by John Wayne than Jesus of Nazareth? All of the questions posed above are excellent, and we need to be open to critique and revision. I hope none of us would claim that we are perfect in our interpretation or implementation of what the scriptures teach on the relationship between men and women. There is always a danger that we have reacted to or imitated the society around us. We are all influenced by culture and should receive any critique that returns us to scriptural witness in good faith. We should listen charitably to brothers and sisters who view things differently—and none of us should be above reforming and nuancing our views. The matter is complex, however, and egalitarians must also be able to answer the questions that are posed to them. They are not immune to cultural forces either. The feminism of the 1960’s has shaped society in profound and enduring ways—both for good ...Continue reading...

  • Faith Leads Doctor Back to Zimbabwe
    by Ryan Truscott in Zimbabwe on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    Amid ongoing turmoil in national health system, orthopedic surgeon practices “practical Christianity.” Tongai Chitsamatanga just finished treating an 8-year-old with dislocated hips, two children with bone infections, and another two with clubfoot. It’s hard work, requiring great patience and greater skill. The 41-year-old doctor could be earning a lot more for his expertise at his old hospitals in Oxford and Derby, United Kingdom. But instead he is here, in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, in a 13-bed children’s hospital that opened in April 2021. He personally doesn’t think the decision is that hard to explain, though. “To me that is practical Christianity,” Chitsamatanga told CT. “Rather than saying you’re Christian and having nothing to show for it.” Chitsamatanga is one of just two pediatric orthopedic surgeons in a country of more than 15 million. The other, his colleague Rick Gardner, is an expatriate. The two work at CURE Zimbabwe, the only place in the country offering care for children with complicated conditions such as clubfoot, knock knees, and bowed legs. The newly opened children’s hospital, which has three operating theaters and an outpatient clinic, is one of eight that the Christian nonprofit CURE International operates around the world. Poor pay and working conditions have triggered an exodus of qualified health workers from Zimbabwe. More than 2,200, including doctors, nurses and pharmacists, left government service last year, according to the government's Health Services Board. The figure is more than double that of 2020, and nearly triple that of 2019. Last July, the city of Harare announced that 240 nurses had left its service and in October local reports said nine clinics had closed due to staff shortages. The situation is likely to worsen in the wake of the COVID-19 ...Continue reading...

  • Church Leaders Are Still Waiting for Volunteers to Come Back
    by Kate Shellnutt on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    Gallup survey found involvement in religious service dropped again in 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing many churches and ministries to rethink how they recruit, train, and maintain the fleet of volunteers they need. Volunteering for religious organizations dropped during the first year of the pandemic, when in-person services were canceled and outreach events were put on hold, and has continued to decline. According to Gallup, 35 percent of Americans reported volunteering for a religious organization last year, down from 38 percent in 2020 and 44 percent in 2017. “A recovery in volunteering may be more elusive as concerns about COVID-19 exposure and public health safety measures limit Americans’ willingness and ability to perform volunteer work,” the researchers wrote. A lot of churches saw their longtime, reliable volunteers back away from their roles because their age put them at risk, said Chuck Peters, director of the kids ministry team at Lifeway Christian Resources. Even those who remain willing to serve can be unpredictable; the likelihood of illness or exposure at home, especially during COVID-19 surges, has meant more volunteers are calling out sick when leaders are strapped for help. Plus, church attendance is down overall, though nearly all churches have reopened. In a Lifeway survey last spring, pastors listed committed volunteers among the biggest needs for their churches. Over three quarters of US pastors said they were concerned about developing leaders and volunteers, as well as people’s apathy and lack of commitment. Over two-thirds said training current leaders and volunteers was a concern. “A lot of churches lost their long-term, reliable, go-to people and were left with no one. That’s been the challenge. Where do you look ...Continue reading...

  • Your Pastor Cares When You Don’t Care
    by Aaron Earls - Lifeway Research on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    Apathy ranked as the single biggest pastoral concern in 2022. Pastors face unique difficulties inherent in their career, but what are their greatest needs? Pastors themselves say they’re most concerned about seeing their churchgoers grow spiritually and making connections with those outside of their churches. After speaking directly with pastors to gather their perspectives on their ministry and personal challenges, Lifeway Research surveyed 1,000 US pastors for the 2022 Greatest Needs of Pastors study to discover what they see as their most pressing issues. “The pre-existing challenges of ministry were amplified by COVID, and it’s important we lean in and listen closely to pastors,” said Ben Mandrell, president of Lifeway Christian Resources. “This project has shed light on critical needs they have and will point the way forward in how we partner with them to fuel their ministries and improve their health in multiple areas.” Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research, said his team began the study by speaking with more than 200 pastors, asking them to think beyond the current pandemic-related struggles and share some of the enduring needs of pastors and their churches today. “Their responses to the challenges they face and the areas that are most important for them were then presented to more than 200 additional pastors,” explained McConnell. “Based on those responses, 1,000 pastors were asked about almost four dozen needs to measure the extent to which each is something they need to address today.” Of the 44 needs identified by pastors and included in the study, 17 were selected by a majority as an issue they need to address. Developing leaders and volunteers: 77% Fostering connections with unchurched people: 76% People’s apathy or lack of commitment: 75% Continue reading...

  • Died: George O. Wood, Who Led the Assemblies of God into Growth
    by Daniel Silliman on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    As general superintendent, he brought women and minorities into leadership, added “compassion” to the denomination’s constitution, and set ambitious goals for church planting. Assemblies of God leader George O. Wood, who encouraged expansive growth in the Pentecostal denomination through a commitment to diversity, conservative doctrine, and church planting, has died at the age of 80. Wood served as general superintendent of the General Council of Assemblies of God from 2007 to 2017. In that decade, the denomination grew to a record 3.24 million members, and cumulatively added more than 660 congregations, according AG News. And the Assemblies grew more diverse—both in the pews and at the leadership level, as Wood worked to make sure more women, minorities, and people under 40 had prominent roles in directing the denomination’s future. When he began as general superintendent, the executive presbytery was made up of 14 white men. When he left, it had expanded to 21 seats, with seven occupied by racial minorities and two by women. The denomination itself—historically white—was about 42 percent minority when Wood retired. “He had a unique ability to open doors for young people, women, and ethnic minorities by providing them a meaningful seat at the table,” Doug Clay, Wood’s successor as general superintendent, told AG News. “That has been a major force behind our growth in each of those areas.” Wood, for his part, attributed his vision to the Pentecostal tradition of being flexible when it is important to be flexible and firm when it is important to be firm. “We have been flexible when it comes to culture—music, dress, pulpit attire,” he told Religion News Service in 2013. “While remaining consistent on that which has not changed, which is doctrine.” George Oliver Wood was born to missionaries George Roy Wood and Elizabeth ...Continue reading...

  • The Case for Not Treating NFTs as a Scam
    by Stephen McCaskell and Patrick Miller on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    Proprietary gifs may seem silly, but Christians have reasons to think about digital ownership. “Why would I buy a jpeg I can copy and paste for free?” That is how most conversations about NFTs (non-fungible tokens) begin. And it makes perfect sense. People are purchasing NBA clips for thousands of dollars—which can be streamed without cost on YouTube. “Crypto degens” are changing their Twitter profile pictures to pixelated cryptopunks to signal their membership in a new libertarian world order. As the NFT market soars to a value of $7 billion, it’s been compared to the dot com bubble, where speculation-fueled investment flooded the market. However, before you write off NFTs, revisit David Letterman speaking to Bill Gates about the internet in 1995. Letterman poked fun at Gates, mocking people who were excited about the internet’s ability to broadcast baseball games. Letterman smiled and asked, “Does radio ring a bell?” Gates tried to explain the difference between radio and the internet by pointing out that baseball fans could listen to the game whenever they want, not just live. But Letterman wasn’t impressed—“Do tape recorders ring a bell?” he asked. Or recall the time when Katie Couric and the entire Today Show crew made fun of “@” symbols and asked, “Can you explain what internet is?” Or remember Newsweek’s notorious 1995 editorial headline that read, “The internet? Bah!” Christians especially did not begin to think seriously about the internet (or its successor, social media), until well after they were adopted at a popular level. Pastors did not prepare their congregations for the promises and pitfalls of the web. This left Christians caught up in the cultural tide, lacking discernment and wisdom ...Continue reading...

  • The Potter’s House Denver Sells Property, Goes Virtual
    by Megan Fowler on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    The congregation in T. D. Jakes’s network is one of the biggest to shutter its doors due to COVID-19 constraints. Online church and virtual campuses have become mainstays during the pandemic, and one Denver-area megachurch is making virtual services its only options—for good. Last week, The Denver Post reported that The Potter’s House Denver will sell its property in Arapahoe County and continue to worship exclusively online. The church—led by the daughter and son-in-law of T. D. Jakes—is one of the first and most prominent megachurches to move one of its locations online permanently without operating other in-person campuses in an area. “COVID-19 forced every church in America to rethink how to best serve their parishioners and the broader community,” pastor Touré Roberts told the Post. “Due to the inability to gather and the economic instability of the pandemic, our church, like many other churches in the nation, experienced declining donations.” As a result, The Potter’s House Denver decided to abandon its 32-acre property and 137,000-square-foot building, first built in 1989 and the church’s home since 2011. Another pastor at the Denver campus said the church had averaged 10,000 worshipers in live attendance and 300,000 weekly YouTube views. Roberts cited the building’s condition and need of repairs, saying, “We decided that the best way forward would be to sell the property, continue our online offering that had proven a successful alternative and maintain our hands-on community outreach operations.” Even with another round of COVID-19 infections disrupting services, experts don’t predict that many others will follow suit. “Black churches … whether historical African or classically evangelical traditions, emphasize not forsaking assembling ...Continue reading...