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samaritan

Source: Five Kids Is A Lot Of Kids » 3 Reasons I Quit Loving the Sinner and Hating the Sin

Me too. Its a horrible saying, its not in the Bible, and it allows for all kinds of self-righteous smugness that is contrary to how Jesus lived. My little rant being said, this is a very well thoughtout, Biblical response for all Christians in dialog and debate among ourselves and with our culture.

Check it out.

marriage debate

Source: Being A Pastor in a 5-4 World by Rev. Travis Garner | Greater Things Are Yet To Be Done

With the SCOTUS decision on marriage equality now a done deal, I have many friends celebrating the affirmation of legal marriage, including their own. Its a great day for them and I’m happy for them. In my denomination/tribe, we have been permitted to do same sex blessings since 2009 but those didn’t have any legal standing. Now it can be fully called marriage in our congregations that choose to do so, as the choice to do so remain a local congregation and pastoral choice.

At the same time, I have friends who are troubled by the decision. Some because it changes the tradition of church and culture for 2,000+ years and that radical of a shift is hard to understand and embrace. Others are troubled less by the legalization of same sex marriage but the judicial arguments supporting it, fearing it will dramatically change the role of the church in US culture. It could impact how much longer churches can maintain a not for profit status if they prohibit same sex marriage yet still act as agents of the state to perform legal marriages; the possible loss of the clergy housing allowance; and what is seen as a marginalization of Christianity in particular from the public square. Their concerns are not driven by bigotry or hatred but understandings of Christianity that are shared around the world and for centuries.

This article is helpful for me in that it addresses my role as pastor in this moment, which is bigger than just the marriage decision but also the ongoing discussions of race, religious freedom, national politics, and more. Our society seems more fragmented now than in decades and its being lived on in local congregations as well. As a pastor, I’m not first called to be a prophet or activist, I’m a shepherd and leader of a local gathering of Christians who are equally divided and flawed as I am. I’m not here to convince them to think like me. I’m here to point us all to living like Jesus, particularly in our differences. As Pastor Garner says in this brief blog, we live in a 5-4 world, not a 9-0. All are invited, disagreements and all, and together find a unity in Jesus that will still bind us together. Good insight.

Source: The church is not dying. It’s failing. There’s a difference. | Portfolio of Maggie Nancarrow

The conversation of the decline and future of the North American Church continues

c

Source: Christian: Are You Ready For Exile Stage Two? | Stephen McAlpine

One of the most challenging articles on the future of the church that I have read in a long time.

Dear Church, I happen to be one of those millennials you keep reading about. I don’t think you really know me. Let me tell you a few things.

Source: Dear Church: An open letter from one of those millennials you can’t figure out • Ponder Anew

One to ponder.

Many churches are just a few years away from dying and closing. Revitalization is an urgent need.

Source: Eight Common Characteristics of Successful Church Revitalizations

hipster jesus

Want millennials back in the pews? Stop trying to make church ‘cool.’ – The Washington Post.

Rachel Held Evans nails it again. Authenticity trumps cool for millennials.

bible

Are Christians Scheming Swindlers? – Bible Study and the Christian Life.

Another fascinating article that I want to come back to and say more. However, this Kierkegaard quote sums it up.

Søren Kierkegaard, the nineteenth-century Danish philosopher, commented on this disconnect between belief and practice, “The matter is quite simple. The bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world?”3

5 reasons why young people are seeking old ways of doing church. | Church in a Circle.

Its an ongoing trend that I need to ponder more.

bench

The Most Disturbing Trend Happening in Your Church in 2015 – Trending Christian Blog.

Specifically, in the last 2 years, I have see one common thread become a common rope. Its presence is now ubiquitous; every church I talk with mentions this problem…. I have never seen a problem discussed this commonly amid a diversity of church sizes and denominational affiliations.

“What is this one trend? It’s that your most committed people will attend worship services less frequently than ever in 2015. [Emphasis added.]

“What does this mean? Simply that people who use[d] to attend 4 times a month may only attend 3 times a month. Members who used to come twice a month will only come once a month.”

It is making weekly worship attendance a less relevant figure as you may have the same number of active people in other aspects of congregational life but in weekly worship, you now see up to 20% less people in the pews than three years ago.

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