The altar call is an appeal in which the speaker invites attendees to come forward as a way of acknowledging their decision to follow Christ. Many consider Charles Finney (1792-1875) to be the founder of the altar call even though early Methodist used a similar approach known as the "mourners bench."
I have had the privilege of working on the field at large stadium events where altar calls have been given, and I have also offered many appeals to come forward as well, primarily in the early years of my ministry.
Let me begin by saying that anytime we give an honest appeal for a person to turn to God, it's a good thing. But in our zeal to "get people into the kingdom," we sometimes run the risk of offering false assurance. This is a very real danger in the church today. Many come forward after a sermon, but do they change? Often, it's the "I'll give Jesus a try" attitude, rather than a broken heart desperately seeking a Savior — the American gospel versus the true gospel. more >>
Within the last few weeks, we have seen a lot of commentary on Bart Campolo, a former United Methodist youth pastor and son of famous liberal evangelical speaker and author Tony Campolo, leaving Christianity to become a devotee of "secular humanism." Before his "deconversion," Bart became semi-famous in his own right in some Christian circles, among other things founding the Mission Year young-adult service organization.
Ed Stetzer wrote a thoughtful piece for Christianity Today on how evangelical Christians can react in a constructive and loving way. Another wayward son of a famous evangelical, the ever-nuanced Franky Schaeffer, responded by blasting that centrist evangelical magazine as "the disgusting reactionaries of Bob Jones ilk, just dressed better" and Stetzer as a "smarmy prick."
My interest here is neither in second-guessing the senior Campolos' parenting nor in determining if their son was, according to Christ's parable of the sower, a "path person," a "rocky soil person" or a "thornbush person." more >>
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has about 15 million followers worldwide, recently blasted the "magic underwear" moniker ascribed by non-Mormons to the sacred undergarments worn by the faithful as "inaccurate" and "offensive."
"Many faithful Latter-day Saints wear a garment under their clothing that has deep religious significance. Similar in design to ordinary modest underclothing, it comes in two pieces and is usually referred to as the 'temple garment,'" explained a video posted to the Mormon Newsroom channel on YouTube on the weekend.
"Some people incorrectly refer to temple garments as magical or 'magic underwear.' These words are not only inaccurate but also offensive to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There is nothing magical or mystical about temple garments, and church members ask for the same degree of respect and sensitivity that would be afforded to any other faith by people of goodwill," it continued. more >>
Comedian Amy Poehler is producing a new church-based comedy for NBC, reports have revealed.
Poehler, star of "Saturday Night Live" and "Parks and Recreation" has enjoyed great success on both series and will now try her hand at producing when she begins working with "Parks and Recreation" co-executive producer Aisha Muharrar. The show has already been given a pilot by NBC, which counts Poehler as one of its leading ladies.
According to reports, the show will feature a storyline surrounding a young woman who considers herself agnostic. The woman then inherits a church and a group of strong-willed characters who make up the community. Muharrar is actually writing the material, which does not have working name just yet. Poehler, Muharrar, and 3Arts's Dave Becky are all co-producing the series. more >>
Two web series focusing on the lives of pastors have caught on with viewers and won awards, showing a shift in viewing from mainstream TV to online viewing.
The first series "Plant" is a mockumentary web series filmed in New York City. The show follows the lives of Rev. Todd Lawn and his wife Tammy as they leave the safety of the suburbs to develop a new ministry in the heart of the city. However, things are not quite as they seem in the city, and the pastor must deal with the threats from the pastor of a mega-church who wants his job. It's a "David vs. Goliath" story told in a modern day setting.
"Plant" was recognized for Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Writing at the Los Angeles Web Series Festival. Actresses Liz Days, Susannah Jones, and Peggy Queener were also recognized, as was writer Andrew Nielson. more >>
Dutch Christians have boycotted a Netherlands church for displaying an exhibit they believe encourages anti-Semitism.
Named "Room No. 4" the exhibit was brought to Utrecht's Domkerk Church, one of the Netherlands best-known places of worship, by the Dutch Coalition for Palestinian Children in Israeli Detention. The exhibit features adult models tied up in ropes to portray jailed Palestinian children who are in Israeli detention facilities.
Earlier this month, Hebe Kohlbrugge, a member of the church, joined other Christians in the protest by boycotting the exhibit due to what he believes to be a permeating anti-Jewish sentiment from the piece. more >>