In Case You Missed It

In a recent article at the People’s Next Door, Keelan Cook poses the question: “If a lady in a hijab walked into your church, how would you respond?” Keelan writes:

I fear this post has the potential to ruffle feathers, but that is not my intent. Instead, my hope is that you will take the question in earnest in order to search your heart. I have been doing the same.

 

A while back, I ran across an article, in which a lady wore a Muslim head covering in order to gauge the response of a Christian church. She was a Christian, but she was curious what kind of response a Muslim, who may be interested in Christianity, would receive. The article was posted on the website for the Zwemer Center for Muslim Studies. The Zwemer Center is an academic center at Columbia International University, a fine Christian university, that exists to provide research and training concerning Christian witness to Muslims.  It is a good resource for the church.

 

According to the article, the experiment did not go well. To be fair, the article only mentions the incident briefly, and there is no way to know the details. I have no desire to beat this church up in a post, but it made me think about how most churches would respond in this instance. I would hope that most churches welcome strangers, even ones who are different than them. Unfortunately, I see the rhetoric swirling around in the United States today about immigration and refugees, and I fear the worst. I am afraid Christ’s church, scattered across the country in local congregations, may often be more influenced by this rhetoric than by the Scriptures on these issues.

 

In a recent post at his blog, Bruce Ashford lists 8 reasons why abortion is detrimental to society.

In the midst of the carnival-like atmosphere of the 2016 election cycle, evangelicals run the risk of allowing one thing to slip their attention: Hillary Clinton’s enthusiastic acceptance of Planned Parenthood’s endorsement and Planned Parenthood’s heightened efforts to expand its abortive territory.

 

In light of Planned Parenthood’s aspirations to recruit and train “tens of thousands” of persons to further its mission, how should evangelicals respond? In short, we should continue to seek both legal reform and cultural renewal, and should do so not only by articulating the Bible’s teaching about human dignity but also by enumerating the ways abortion corrupts society.

 

Brad Hambrick posted a helpful article about how he talked to his boys after the transgender talk at their public school. Brad writes:

My boys attend a local public elementary school. With the current debates that are occurring in North Carolina regarding legislation around transgenderism and public restrooms, the school’s CNN Kids news program did a story on the debate (May 10th edition). I read the video transcript and found the discussion on the role of public restrooms in modern politics to be interesting and informative.

 

Knowing that many other families will be having conversations around this subject, it seemed as though it would be beneficial to reflect on the conversation I had with my boys; not as a prototype to follow, but as a sample to vet.

 

Here are a few preliminary thoughts that I won’t go into in as much detail, but I believe are relevant.

 

In a recent article at the Intersect project, Nathaniel Williams discusses a homeless Gospel in a partisan world.

I’m accustomed to seeing Donald Trump Twitter tirades. I’m not, however, accustomed to seeing Southern Baptist theologians as the object of those tirades.

 

Opinions of Donald Trump aside, when was the last time a Republican Presidential nominee publicly went after an influential Evangelical leader? I can’t think of an example. Republicans used to actively court Evangelicals, not crucify them.

 

And the cordial feelings tended to be mutual. Though the Republican Party has never aligned perfectly with Christian teaching, conservative Evangelicals could generally rely on the party to produce candidates who valued life, character and religious freedom.

 

Yet that assumption has been slowly eroding, and Trump’s tweet seems to be the nail in the coffin. The gospel no longer fits neatly into a political party (if it ever did at all).

 

At his blog, Thom Rainer recently listed five questions prospective pastors rarely ask search committees (but should).

“This church is nothing like the search committee described. They said they were ready for change. They are, as long as it doesn’t affect them!”

 

The sentence is a direct quote from a pastor commenting on my blog. And many other pastors have expressed similar sentiments to me.

 

Of course, not all prospective pastors deal with pastor search committees. Still, the pastors inevitably have someone who interviews them, such as elders or judicatory bodies.

 

It is critical that prospective pastors ask questions about the church. There are five questions, however, which are rarely asked. These questions could be key toward avoiding some of the unpleasant surprises many pastors encounter.

In Case You Missed It

In a recent post at the Peoples Next Door, Lauren Ballard explains how regular people can minister to internationals. Lauren writes:

I want to share part of my story on how I began to engage internationals and how you can too. When I started at seminary in the Fall of 2013, sadly the thought of engaging the nations in Raleigh was not on my radar. The Lord began to soften my heart and open my eyes to the fact that the nations are coming to us and I needed to do something about it. At church one Sunday someone announced the opportunity to get involved in ministering to Muslims. This sparked my interest, but I didn’t know how to get started. You may be thinking the same thing. For example, you see a Muslim lady in line at the store and want to strike up a conversation but don’t know where to start.

Let me tell you about three ways I engage internationals here in Raleigh: eyebrow threading shops, ethnic restaurants, and mosques/temples.

You don’t think your job matters? In this article Nathaniel Williams explains why it does.

My toddler occasionally watches Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. (If you haven’t seen it, think animated Mr. Rogers with a preschool tiger.) One day I heard the characters singing this jingle:

Everyone’s job is important. We all help… in different ways.

My ears perked up, so I sat down to watch alongside my son. I learned that Daniel wanted to be the line leader. But when he received a different classroom job, he was disappointed. By the end of the episode, he learned that some classroom jobs are less glamorous, but all of them are important.

This lesson is simple enough. So simple, in fact, that the show’s creators put it to music. But believing that everyone’s job is important is painfully hard to put into practice.

In a recent article at The Anxious Bench, Thomas Kidd explains why the Founding Fathers spoke the King James Bible. Dr. Kidd writes:

One of the besetting problems of “Christian America” history writing is that it often interprets biblical quotes from the Founders as evidence that they were personally devout. Sometimes personally devout Founders did also speak in the language of the King James Bible, of course. But a broader range of Founding Fathers – including the skeptical Benjamin Franklin – spoke in the language of the King James because it was the coin of the realm. Even people who had little formal education, like Franklin, (the devout) Patrick Henry, or (the Calvinist-leaning skeptic) Abraham Lincoln thoroughly knew their Bibles from childhood, and spoke its language. So when you observe someone in America before 1877 speaking in the Bible’s phrases, you need to know more about that person before you can declare them a believing Christian.

Keelan Cook recently explained in a recent post why in the context of urban missions, the suburbs still matter.

We talk a lot about cities nowadays, and we should. The world is now more urban than not, and that does not look to change any time soon. The Great Commission is increasingly an urban mission. That being said, I think some of the language we use at times to showcase the importance of cities may cause people to overlook the complexity of the average US urban center.

Cities are engines of commerce, culture, and influence, we say. Cities emanate culture outward to the surrounding areas, regions, and even the world. Cities shape the world. While this is all true, if we are not careful, our description is a little too flat. The flow of culture, influence, and people is not one-directional.

Certainly, cities have a disproportionate influence compared to rural and even suburban areas. Think of the influence of Hollywood or Madison Avenue. It is no secret that advertising tells people what they want before they want it. In this regard, cities drive culture on a large scale. However, cities cannot do this alone. At least in America, cities need their suburbs.

Suburbs are important too.

Cities cannot exist without their suburbs. Because of the way cities developed in the United States (think about the automobile), most of our cities need suburbs to supply them people. Yes, many center cities are experiencing population growth right now, but the vast amount of commerce in cities depends on the large workforce that exists around its beltway. Not only do these people work in the city, they support the city by shopping and playing there. This is a bigger deal concerning culture and commerce than one would first think. If culture pushes out from the cities, then many of the people making decisions about it are actually suburbanites. That means this relationship is not as one-way as many claim.

At The Front Porch blog, Thabiti Anyabwile discusses the difference between a healthy church and a peaceful church.

I love the Church. And because I love the Church, I long for both her health and her peace. Sometimes in discussions with other people who love the Church, I find myself in some disagreement. Sometimes the disagreements are major and substantial—we see the world very differently. Sometimes the disagreements are matters of degree or emphasis—we see the world largely the same way but we lean in different directions.

I’ve sometimes been puzzled about why people who love the Church and want its health and peace find themselves at odds. This morning I’m convinced that sometimes the disagreements arise because we can use “health” and “peace” as synonyms when they’re not.