In Case You Missed It

At The Intersect Project, Diane Ellis explained why she and her husband decided to homeschool as a missionary couple.

Back in seminary, my husband and I began to think about options for educating our children. In the forefront of our minds was our desire to serve the Lord in overseas missions. We knew at least for the foreseeable future that we would be moving around quite a bit before settling at the place where God would lead us.

 

At that time, homeschooling was just beginning to become popular, and there were limited options for curriculum. But after doing some research and spending time in prayer, we decided to give it a try for one year. Not only did we want to be intimately involved in the spiritual and academic formation of our children, we also wanted to give them a stable learning environment that would not change every few months. My husband was pastoring a church during those days, and homeschooling was perfect for our lifestyle. We had flexibility to schedule the children’s education around his ministry and travels, and could take full advantage of opportunities for field trips, homeschool co-op meetings, park days, music lessons and sports activities in the community. Our children were able to actively participate in our ministry, whether visiting the nursing home, accompanying dad on visits, or spending time at the park with a family needing encouragement during the week.

 

Each year for several years, we re-evaluated our decision to homeschool. We wanted to make sure our children were getting a great education, that we were adequately involved in the community and church, that we had a balance of relationships with believers and unbelievers, and that we were not missing some key components in our children’s development. What started out as a one-year probationary period turned into 25 years of teaching and supervising our children through their formative years.

 

We eventually moved our family to Brazil, where we have served as missionaries for 22 years. We never did find that place to “settle,” as we have moved nearly every five years to new locations, not including our furloughs back to the US for sharing our ministry. But homeschooling was a constant in our children’s lives, which prepared them for college and life after college.

 

Aaron Earls posted an article at his personal blog The Wardrobe Door discussing how C. S. Lewis warned us about non-denominationalism. Aaron writes:

While most branches of American Christianity are shrinking, one strand continues to grow—non-denominationalism. But is that the most healthy situation for the faith?

 

According to a newly released Gallup poll, the percentage of Americans who identify with a Protestant denomination has fallen 20 percentage points in just 16 years, from 50 percent in 2000 to 30 percent in 2016.

 

Meanwhile, those who claim to be a non-denominational Christian have almost doubled in the same time frame, from 9 percent to 17 percent.

 

The future continues to look less and less tied to denominational affiliation. Among college freshmen, “other Christian” has jumped 10 points in the past 20 years—the only affiliation to see significant growth.

 

Today, 15 percent of college freshman identify that way, second only to Catholic at 23 percent, which fell 13 points.

 

Dr. Benjamin Quinn posted an article at The Intersect Project reminding seminary students not to waste the jobs they have right now.

As a professor at the College at Southeastern and Southeastern Seminary, I have the privilege of working with students, many of whom are preparing for a future in vocational ministry.

 

Many of my students work during their time here in Wake Forest. They serve as janitors, waitresses, store clerks, IT — anything to pay the bills and support their families.

 

I like to ask them about their work. Occasionally, students will say something like, “I’m just doing this job until I can get a ministry position.” They view their work now as nothing more than a means to a paycheck. They’re biding their time until they get a job with a church.

 

Sometimes, the implications are more severe. “If I just had a job in the church or an easy position,” they think, “I wouldn’t have to put up with all these knuckleheads I have to work with.”

 

Do you resonate with these statements? Are you, too, biding your time until you get a ministry job? Do you grow weary of working with difficult people? If so, I want to urge you to reconsider.

 

At his personal blog, Sam Rainer discussed why sermon preparation is not devotional time.

Every Monday morning, I swivel in my desk chair—praying, pondering. Yellow legal pads fill with chicken scratch in a language only I understand. About fifty Mondays a year, around 3:00 p.m., I start to wonder if I’ll have anything worthwhile to say the following Sunday. The other two Mondays I’m on vacation.

 

I know it’s the Holy Spirit, but many weeks it feels like sheer luck. My sermon comes together, and cogent points begin to form. I’ve heard of some pastors using their sermon preparation as a devotional time. For me, that could never happen. I sweat too much when I write sermons. I’d get dehydrated.

 

Sermon preparation is not—and should not—be used as devotion time. Sermon writing is devotional to an extent. Both involve prayer. Both elevate Scripture. Both require the work of the Holy Spirit. But they are different.

 

Dr. Bruce Ashford shared a post at his blog discussing how Lesslie Newbigin changed his way of thinking.

As a Christian citizen of the United States, it is clear to me that I am living in an increasingly post-Christian society. The majority of Americans no longer consider traditional Christian doctrine (e.g. original sin) or traditional Christian ethics (e.g. sexual morality) plausible in the modern world. Christians who do not abandon these beliefs are increasingly considered morally inferior or even hateful.

Given the fact that the United States is a democratic republic, the beliefs of citizens affect the lives of other citizens socially, culturally, and politically. This reality makes it increasingly important for us as Christians to figure out the best way to comport ourselves in the public square. I consider three thinkers especially helpful for this task: Richard John Neuhaus, Lesslie Newbigin, and Abraham Kuyper. In this post, I wish to articulate what it is about Newbigin’s life and writings that is helpful for us in our 21stcentury American context.