In Case You Missed It

At The Intersect Project, Christy Britton explained how with human trafficking, awareness is only the beginning.

January 11 is Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Human trafficking may seem like an abstract topic. But millions of vulnerable people are bought, sold and kept in captivity all over the world — even in your city. Human trafficking is modern-day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.

 

As image bearers of the God of justice (Isaiah 30:18), we reflect his heart for the oppressed. It’s our responsibility to be aware of the plight of captives and labor for their freedom.

 

This month social media and news outlets are sharing statistics and stories aimed at drawing your attention to the presence of human slavery in our world today. While awareness is critical, it’s just the beginning of our fight to end the global slave trade.

 

International Justice Mission (IJM) president, Gary Haugen, says, “Nothing happens just because we are aware of modern-day slavery, but nothing will ever happen until we are.”

 

At the Center for Great Commission Studies, Alvin Reid shared how to give an effective missions testimony.

I’m fresh off a couple of mission trips this past summer, one to Chicago and another to Kiev, Ukraine. Early this fall, we heard testimonies from members of our Young Pros ministry from these and several other trips. I LOVE such testimonies. I love hearing about how people are taking the gospel around the world.

 

But there’s a problem. We’ve all been there–the missionary testimony is perhaps enthusiastic, but definitely rambling. The person sharing is not a public speaker, after all (in most cases), and so he/she tends to be a bit scattered. I’ve been guilty myself. How do we stay focused and give effective testimonies briefly – to allow others to share as well – and powerfully?

 

The Intersect Project interviewed Lauren Pratt about serving the church with the written word.

Some vocations allow you to clearly see how God uses your work for his glory. A surgeon saves lives.A teacher prepares children for a lifetime of learning. A construction worker builds homes that provide shelter from the elements.

 

In other vocations, the connection seems less clear. What if your work involves typing words on a screen? What if you spend most of your working hours in an office, scribbling on a notepad or moving words around in sentences?

 

Lauren Pratt is the News and Information Specialist at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and many of her days involve such tasks. Recently, we had a chance to chat with Lauren about writing. In our conversation, you’ll see how God can use her work for his glory — and how he can use yours, too. Here’s our conversation.

 

In a recent article at his blog, Thom Rainer shared about the new normal for church security.

We recently experienced a new tipping point for church security.

 

A tipping point is the critical juncture in evolving developments that leads to a new and, often, irreversible state. We call that new state “the new normal.”

 

In church security we have witnessed two major tipping points. Though child sex abuse in churches was not new, it reached a new level of awareness and response when Pope John Paul II called an emergency meeting with the U. S. cardinals in 2002. We knew then the issue was serious and pervasive.

 

We reached a second major tipping point in November 2017 with the church shootings at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Among the 26 people killed were nine members of one family. Church leaders and members across the nation began to realize that if it can happen in Sutherland Springs, it can happen anywhere.

 

I recently conducted a social media survey to ask church leaders and members to share what their churches were doing for church security. I then went to the Church Answers community (ChurchAnswers.com) for more in-depth responses. Here are some realities of the new normal as articulated by these respondents.

 

At his personal blog, Chuck Lawless shared ten ways to spend more time with God.

I don’t know many church leaders who think they spend sufficient time with God. Our lives are busy, and it’s tough to add more responsibilities to our plate. Here, though, are some ways to spend more time with God, beginning today.

In Case You Missed It

This week at the Intersect Project, Ashley Gorman shared two articles discussing smartphones, screen-time and if we are using technology well.

Your Smartphone is a Tool. Do you use it well?

Recent posts on the Intersect blog have opened our eyes to the various ways technology has impacted daily human life. Notice the term human life is used here—not Christian life, or American life, or male life, or female life, or church life, or righteous life, or unrighteous life, or any other subset of life we could think of. Technology is an equal opportunity life-changer, and rains down on the just and the unjust alike, all around the globe. The smartphone is obviously the most common vehicle of this impact.

6 Ways to Steward Your Weekly Screen Time.

In a separate post, I explain that technology is best used in moderation. Here are some helpful tips and tools to help you and your family steward your weekly screen time.

 

Throughout this week the news of the horrific tragedy which occurred in Las Vegas Sunday night has spread, and has sparked questions about how we should respond as Christians, and how we should think about these types of tragedies as Christians. Here are a few posts which might be helpful in answering any lingering questions you might have.

Russell Moore: Where Is God in a Mass Shooting?

Ken Keathley: “Killing Spree” Killers: There Is No Fear of God Before Their Eyes

Bruce Ashford: Christians, Here Are Five Ways to Respond to the Las Vegas Shootings

Scott Hildreth: Mayhem and the Mission

 

Thom Rainer shared a post at his website discussing ten ways to bring joy to your pastor.

In some ways, I don’t like the official designation of October to be pastor appreciation month.

 

I really wish we showed appreciation to pastors all the time. But like many other points of recognition, it does serve as a reminder that we are blessed by our pastors and their ministries.

 

So how can you bring joy to your pastor? My list of ten is based on the interactions I have with thousands of pastors every year. Some of the affirmations are letters. Many of them have no monetary cost. All of them will be greatly appreciated.

 

At his personal website, Dr. Bruce Ashford shared the reply to a letter written to him by a young Christian college student trying to think through the issue of abortion.

Recently I received a letter from a college student who had registered for a course in “reproductive rights” at a nearby university. Having recently become a Christian, he was revisiting the pro-choice position he’d held up until this point. In the letter, he asked for my evaluation of the pro-choice position. Given the fact that other people wrestle with this question, I thought I’d reproduce a small portion of my response to him.

 

At his blog, Chuck Lawless shared six ways for pastors to raise up the next generation of pastors and missionaries. Dr. Lawless writes:

I think most of us are missing it, pastors. My perception is that we give little attention to “calling out the called” among us; we instead lead reactively here, only talking to potential pastors and missionaries if they first come to us. I’m convinced some “called” folks remain in the pew as a consequence, neither understanding their calling nor knowing their pastor would be happy to talk with them. Here are some ways to fix this problem.

 

At the website of the North American Mission Board, Dr. Danny Akin shared five lessons he learned from Adrian Rogers.

No one has influenced and impacted my life like the “prince of preachers,” the man known as Adrian Rogers. Dr. Rogers was one of the most popular and influential preachers and pastors of the latter half of the 20th century. He was known for expository preaching, evangelistic passion, love for the nations and his uncompromising commitment to the Bible as the infallible and inerrant Word of God. His ministry spanned over 50 years, and he was pivotal in the conservative resurgence within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). I have the joy of serving at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, because of Adrian Rogers.

 

Last weekend, Southeastern Seminary hosted the 9th annual 9Marks at Southeastern conference. Here is a recap.

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary hosted the ninth year of the 9Marks conference on Sept. 29-30 of which 747 pastors, ministry leaders and students attended and more than 900 viewed the conference via Facebook live stream. The conference centered on the topic of church leadership and attendees heard from speakers Mark Dever, Jeramie Rinne, Danny Akin, Thabiti Anyabwile, Burk Parsons and H.B. Charles.

In Case You Missed It

At The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commision, Jimmy Scroggins shared eight suggestions for handling patriotism and the gospel in American churches.

I serve as a pastor in a multicultural church in a multicultural city where many attendees are not American citizens. While I still want to incorporate patriotic elements in our worship services from time to time, I want to be careful not to explicitly or implicitly conflate American patriotism with the gospel of Jesus. Over the years, I have developed some thoughts about how to do this in an appropriate way. Perhaps you will find the following to be helpful.

 

Thom Rainer shared a post at his personal blog this week discussing five surprising discoveries about growing churches.

Do you want the bad news first or the good news first?

 

I always ask for the bad news first. I can’t enjoy the good news knowing that a report of bad news looms in the next few statements.

 

So I gave you some bad news in my Monday post. I shared with you the statistical reality of the death spiral. Once a church declines below 100 in average worship attendance, its rate of decline accelerates. In other words, the church declines faster and faster.

 

In this article, I share some good news. The news is about the growing churches in our study. As a review, you can look at the details of our research at my blog post on June 28, 2017. Simply stated, we conducted a random sample of 1,000 churches with data from 2013 and 2016. The margin of error of the research is +/- 3.1 percent. It’s an accurate study. It’s a very accurate study.

 

So let’s take a few moments and look at the churches whose average worship attendance grew from 2013 to 2016. Here are five of the surprising discoveries from this research.

 

At The Intersect Project, Dr. Chip McDaniel shared: “Education: A Modern-Day Jubilee

Every day, we face real-world economics issues such as poverty, systemic inequity in housing or farm loans, education or health care. Yet piecing together a Biblical teaching concerning such economic issues is a difficult task for a variety of reasons.

 

First, we tend to focus on what the Bible says about the spiritual side of our existence. Second, we have to wrestle with apparent contradictions. For example, how are we supposed to resolve the seeming contradiction in the teaching of selling all to give to the poor (Luke 18:22) with you always have the poor around (Mark 14:7) or the one who does not work should starve (2 Thess 3:10)?  Third, another difficulty arises when we try to factor in the Old Testament. Its teachings are certainly for our benefit, but so much of the content speaks to the physical aspects of Israel’s history. The Law is, after all, a founding document providing a framework for a physical nation — a constitution, if you will. So, it might seem even harder to develop concrete action steps from the Old Testament than the New Testament.

 

What I’d like to do in this article is to look at a specific Old Testament institution and see if there are any principles that might speak to our 21st century Western Church context. I suggest that the Old Testament practice of Jubilee might inform the present to a degree. I say principle and not directive because the transition between Old Testament practice and New Testament appropriation needs to pass through the filter of the shift between God’s dealing with a physical nation and His calling out of a spiritual nation (see 1 Peter 2:9). God is not expecting any nation today to observe a year of Jubilee.

Earlier this week, Dr. Bruce Ashford shared ten go-to books on religious liberty and its enemies.

Here are ten books I recommend to pastors, professors, and students who wish to gain a better understanding of religious liberty and the threats against it. I will describe each book and then rank its level of difficulty on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the most difficult. A Level 1 book is one you could give to any friend or family member. A Level 5 book is one that would be required in a PhD seminar. The list is also organized with the more accessible books at the beginning of the list and the more challenging books at the end.

 

At his personal blog, Chuck Lawless shared nine ways to be encouraged in difficult ministry days.

Ministry is tough. Sometimes, it’s difficult enough that we would back away were it not for our sense of calling. Here are some ways to be encouraged in even those hard days, though.