Mormon missionaries are breaking down their suit-donning, door-knocking stereotypes and replacing them with volunteering and charity work.
The community engagement efforts have come at a time when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) leadership has publicly recognized that many Americans feel uncomfortable letting strangers into their homes and where some local missions have already discontinued "tracting."
One less forward strategy was suggested by the Mormon mission in San Jose, Calif., which proposed that its missionaries do two hours a day, five days a week of nonproselytizing community service. (Missionaries are required only to do four hours worth of community service.) more >>
Theologian John Piper used the occasion of Martin Luther King Jr. Day to make a point about questions of racial diversity within the Church and to list how the apostles in biblical times handled the discussion of sin toward early churches – and to connect "Calvinist racism" to King's "alleged adultery."
In his blog post, "Calvinist Racism and King's Alleged Adultery – A Connection?" Piper writes, "The fact that I can use the term 'Calvinist racism' should make it clear that 'King's alleged adultery' does not exclude him from heroic standing in the cause of civil rights, any more than 'Calvinist racism' excludes me from loving Calvinism – and King.
"But there is a connection. It goes like this: Don't use a leader's sin to determine the truth of his ideas. Not King's. Not the Calvinist's. Not the Arminian's. And so on." more >>
Some things cannot be taught when it comes to taking on the role of a pastor's wife, says Christine Hoover, a Virginia church planter's wife. Nevertheless, she admits it would have been nice to know what she knows now since serving alongside her husband at the outset of their more than 10 years of ministry together.
"No one prepares you for the first time someone asks you a question you don't have a clue how to answer, the first time someone shares a deeply shocking experience they've had and you must respond, the first time someone criticizes your husband, or the first time you are treated differently because you're the pastor's wife. You step in blindly and find your way," writes Hoover in her blog.
The wife of Kyle Hoover, pastor of Charlottesville Community Church, now embraces the lessons she has learned along the way. However, when she was two years into her marriage and months into ministry with Kyle, she broke down after realizing ministry life was going to be difficult. more >>
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 >>