The number of Catholic priests, lay leaders, and missionaries assassinated increased last year, according to a report by an Italian Catholic organization. Twenty-two Catholic church leaders and faithful were murdered in 2013, reported the Fides News Agency of Rome.
This number was comprised of 19 priests, 1 nun, and two lay leaders. It is an increase from 2012, which had a total of 12 murders.
"As it has been for some time, Fides' list does not only include missionaries ad gentes in the strict sense, but all pastoral care workers who died violent deaths," reads a Fides article. "We do not propose to use the term 'martyrs', if not in its etymological meaning of 'witnesses' since it is up to the Church to judge their possible merits and also because of the [scarcity] of available information in most cases, with regard to their life and even the circumstances of their death." more >>
Dr. Joe Hellerman has just released his new book Embracing Shared Ministry: Power and Status in the Early Church and Why it Matters Today. His doctoral research dealt with the social history of the early Christians, and he has authored five books. In addition to a full time schedule teaching at Biola University's Talbot School of Theology, he's a team pastor at Oceanside Christian Fellowship in El Segundo, California. I recently caught up with Joe to ask him about how the early church dealt with issues like power and status and what it can teach Church leaders today.
Q: Your new book is Embracing Shared Ministry: Power and Status in the Early Church and Why it Matters Today. As the title describes, it's about power and status in the early Church. Why is that important for church leaders today?
Joe Hellerman: It is "social given" among human beings that "wherever two or more are gathered," leaders will emerge who will exercise power and authority over others in the groups they lead. This is true in every culture, in just about any social setting, including the church. God created us this way, and he made provisions for this very phenomenon in the Bible, by establishing church offices, along with necessary qualifications and character qualities for church leaders. Since the use (and abuse) of power tends to manifest itself somewhat differently at different times and places, it is important regularly to return to the Bible's teaching on the proper use of power and authority in order to evaluate current tendencies and practices. more >>
Benjamin Houston, pastor at Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia and son of its founders Brian and Bobbie Houston, has announced that the first gathering for the new church plant in Los Angeles he is leading with his wife will take place at the end of January.
"We are going to be having our first HILLSONG LA GATHERING in just a few weeks time on Monday January 27th," Houston announced in an email sent to followers on Friday. "We are just finalizing some of the details but will update you ASAP (through) email and social media. It would be a great opportunity to meet you and for you to meet others who could potentially make up our church."
Houston, in his early 30s, also shared that he, his wife, Lucille and their three children have "literally just moved out of our house," as shown in a photo the Hillsong LA pastor published on Instagram. The Houstons fly to Los Angeles on Jan. 6, but will have to return to Sydney in February for an extended time due to visa issues and scheduled events, he explained. more >>
King Leonidas (the famous Spartan leader of the "300" who defended Greece against the Persian invasion at Thermopylae) has got nothing on Abram who was called on by God to face an overwhelming and daunting assault by evil upon his family and region. This story sizzles. It reads like a Hollywood script but its biblical history is recorded for our benefit if we have the courage to apply it as a model and pattern of leadership put there by God. Without delay, let's roll the film and deconstruct some lessons that are powerful for us as pastors as we battle against evil in our cities.
The four evil kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away. They also carried off Abram's nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom. When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his own household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and other people." Genesis 14:14-16 NIV
Impressive. more >>
Although his physical appearance denied that he once played in the NFL, Pastor Ken Hutcherson, reduced by the ravages of the cancer he fought for more than a decade, looked at me as I entered the room for his men's discipleship meeting on a Monday night in early November with the eyes of his former linebacker self – he read me like he was gauging a quarterback about to take a snap.
"Hutch," sitting at the table with about two dozen men, was disarmingly gentle in his demeanor. However, one thing was certain, the leader of Antioch Bible Church in Kirkland, Wash., had the cutting edge sharpness of a sword when it came time to studying and diving deep into the word of God with his men.
Without doubt, the mightiest thought the mind can entertain is the thought of God, and the weightiest word in any language is its word for God. Thought and speech are God's gifts to creatures made in His image; these are intimately associated with Him and impossible apart from Him. It is highly significant that the first word was the Word: "And the Word was with God, and the Word was God." We may speak because God spoke. In Him word and idea are indivisible. more >>
On Wednesday, Dr. Ken Hutcherson, founding pastor of Antioch Bible Church in Kirkland, WA, passed through the gates of glory after a more than ten year battle with cancer. What you may not know is that Ken played a major role in the formation of the vision, and ultimately the church that Linda and I planted in 2001: the Mosaic Church of Central Arkansas.
Here's just part of the story, excerpted from my book, Building a Healthy Multi-ethnic Church.
It was the spring of 1993, and I had two options. After ten years of full-time ministry as a youth pastor, two dynamic churches had each invited me to join their staff teams to oversee student ministries. more >>