Category: Evangelism

Why Protestants should applaud Pope Francis’ U.S. visit

If the attention he's received over the summer is any indication, then Pope Francis' upcoming visit to the United States is likely to receive a great deal of media scrutiny. Just picture the scene as the supreme pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church heads to the highest halls of political power: the U.S. Congress and the United Nations. The pope's visit provides a good opportunity to reflect on the…  [more]

A pastor’s guide to surviving kickoff Sunday

As a brand-new minister, I was part of a small group of recent seminary graduates who met weekly with an incredibly wise retired pastor. One week we asked him, “If you could go back and do anything differently as a young pastor, what would it be?” “I would go out back of my church and sit in a chair and watch the grass grow more often,” he answered. We all expected something more practical or…  [more]

Jimmy Carter, at 90, on small churches, Bob Dylan and same-sex marriage

One of America’s most publicly Christian presidents, Jimmy Carter has continued to act in accordance with his faith since leaving the Oval Office in 1980. In his work with the Carter Center and Habitat for Humanity especially, he’s heeded the Bible’s call to meet the needs of the suffering. Carter recently gave an interview to The Atlantic on the occasion of his 27th book, A Full Life: Reflections…  [more]

The real challenge for the church after SCOTUS’ gay-marriage decision

The United States Supreme Court has declared same-sex marriage as the law of the land. That decision puts yet more pressure on conservative denominations like mine concerning how they will respond to new cultural realities. Can we hold on to our convictions and still engage the wider culture? I first read my church’s stance on homosexuality when I was in college in the 1980s. It struck me as highly progressive…  [more]

Comedy, community and church

I’m a big fan of comedy. The schedule on my DVR will tell you that when I want to relax at the end of a day, a sitcom or sketch show or comedy talk show is where I’m likely to turn. A few comments from comedians I appreciate lately have gotten me thinking about how the comedy I like the most creates a sense of relationship and community. It makes me, the audience member, feel like a friend and an…  [more]

Uncomfortable baking a cake for a gay wedding? “Bake for them two”

In Jesus’ time, the nation of Israel was under Roman rule. The Israelites were allowed to live there and practice their faith for the most part, but they had to pay taxes to Caesar and obey the Roman laws. To the Israelites, the Romans were evil and ungodly. They had no place ruling over God’s chosen people in God’s chosen nation. That land had been promised to Moses and his descendants when God…  [more]

The boy who cried heaven – and the belief industry that encouraged him

Last week, Tyndale House Publishers stopped production of The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven after Alex Malarkey, the boy in question, announced that he had made up the tale. Cheeky jokes about the family’s surname aside, this is a serious matter that shouldn't go gently away, but rather stand as a reminder of what it means to speak for and about God, the Christian life and the kingdom at hand. Years…  [more]

The kingdom of God is like a laundromat

“Don’t despise the small but significant act … learn to be symbol-makers and storytellers for the kingdom," says theologian N.T. Wright. A recent movement known as the Laundry Love Project seems to have taken these words to heart. In East Hollywood, Calif., an Episcopal priest described the laundry ministry this way: “It’s a simple, simple thing. It’s quarters and soap,…  [more]

Christian hospitality and the sharing economy

A recent Time article highlighted the legal issues faced by companies such as Airbnb, Uber and Lyft. These companies are part of the sharing economy, which uses technology to connect consumer demand with goods and services provided by individuals rather than traditional businesses. In my hometown of Grand Rapids, Mich., there’s been a good deal of argument between advocates and opponents of Airbnb, with city…  [more]

Jesus didn’t tap – but would He have even played?

As I child, I loved Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. The only coloring book I still remember owning was a Power Rangers collection as thick as a phone book. As a young boy I loved to play fight and invent invisible enemies I would defeat with my wickedly awesome fighting skills. My parents saw this as a stage and, sure enough, they were right. Despite my young obsession with the Power Rangers, I have never understood…  [more]

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