Monday, February 11, 2013

Lecrae, Matt Redman among 2013 Grammy Winners

Reagan Symposium Tackles Once-Taboo Topics

VBB and VOM combine connections to 'sneak' Bibles into enemy territory

International (MNN) ― Ministries are teaming up to bring God's Word into a Muslim-dominated country with a history of persecuting Christians.
If it sounds dangerous, that's because it is.
"Pastors and evangelists are killed regularly in this country. Christians are persecuted. Sometimes Christian girls are forced to marry Muslim men," says Patrick Klein with Vision Beyond Borders (VBB).
He doesn't disclose the nation's name because terrorist acts are a daily occurrence, and religious persecution is rampant. Christ-followers comprise only about 2% of the population in this country, or roughly 3 million people.


10 Reflections on a Decade of Church Consulting

By Chuck Lawless
I love the local church. It’s God’s church, despite its flaws. For ten years, I’ve had the privilege of consulting with churches seeking to grow. Here are my reflections of those years – one reflection for each year.
If you’re a pastor in a struggling church, be sure to read to the end.  I think you’ll find hope there.
  1. Churches often wait too long to address decline. Some churches don’t do regular checkups, and thus they have no means of knowing they’re sick. Others recognize the symptoms but choose to ignore them. By the time they admit decline, the pattern is so entrenched that reversing the trend is not easy.
  2. Statistics really are helpful. I realize that numbers can become an idol—and that we must fight against—but numbers do tell us something. Most often, they tell us to ask more “why” questions. Why has the church declined in attendance for five years? Why did the church reach 50 people last year, but attendance grew by only fifteen? Why has worship attendance in the second service plateaued?

How Can Short-Term Missions Best Advance God's Mission?

Author Brian Howell says we should start with a robust reconciliation theology.

It's a relatively common sight at the airport: the conclusion of a short-term mission trip. A dozen suburban teenagers wearing matching yellow T-shirts talk about two weeks of manual labor at an orphanage and share iPhone photos of their trip to the jungle. Wheaton College anthropologist Brian M. Howell has puzzled over this phenomenon. Is it about service, tourism, personal pilgrimage, or something else completely? Are short-term missions even missions at all? Freelance writer Jeff Haanen spoke with Howell, author of Short-term Mission: An Ethnography of Christian Travel Narrative and Experience (IVP Academic), about how Christians justify short-term mission trips, the problem with these stories, and how churches can do short-term missions better.
As an anthropologist, why write a book on short-term missions?
When I started teaching in the 1990s, I asked students about their cross-cultural experiences. Some hadn't done anything, or some maybe had taken a cruise. But when I came to Wheaton College and asked the same questions, I would get stories about northern Ghana, Mongolia, the Czech Republic—places people don't normally go on vacation. Short-term missions had exploded, and all these students had gone on short-term mission trips.

ACLU Seeks Removal of Ohio School's Jesus Portrait

By DAN SEWELL Associated Press

A portrait of Jesus that hangs prominently in an entranceway at a rural Ohio public school is in violation of the U.S. Constitution and should be removed, a federal lawsuit filed Thursday says.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation say the large portrait at Jackson Middle School unconstitutionally promotes religion. The two groups seek a court order requiring the school to remove the portrait and prohibiting its re-hanging or any substantially similar display in the future.


Granddaughters of Westboro Baptist Church founder quit church, apologize for ‘hurt’

For all of her adult life and much of her childhood, Megan Phelps-Roper picketed funerals, condemned gays, and said she earnestly believed that most Americans were destined for hell.
But on Wednesday, the 27-year-old granddaughter of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps publicly said goodbye to all that.
“We know that we’ve done and said things that hurt people,” Megan and her sister Grace wrote in a statement announcing their split from the church. “Inflicting pain on others wasn’t the goal, but it was one of the outcomes. We wish it weren’t so, and regret that hurt.”
The Westboro Baptist Church may be the most controversial religious group in the country. By some accounts, it’s not a religious group at all -- the Southern Poverty Law Center has called it “the most obnoxious and rabid hate group in America,” and a White House petition urging the government to label it as such earned more than 330,000 signatures in January.