LOS ANGELES – Having personally attended more than 200 concerts and seen about 150 performers and performing groups, the Hillsong United event was the best I've ever witnessed. From the spectacular sound, lighting and staging, to the crowd participation – the experience was powerfully moving, and a time of corporate worship beyond words. Let's just say it was the largest and loudest "choir" I've ever heard.
More than 17,000 Hillsong fans sang, danced, and worshiped as one during a dynamic concert Thursday in which they were not only treated to one of the best Christian music-producing groups on the planet, but had the opportunity to be a part of a potentially historic film planned for release early next year.
As 12 cameras captured the worship concert, Pastor Brian Houston of the Sydney-based Hillsong Church, stood for much of the time with arms in the air, smiling ear-to-ear just above the floor-level seating from his front row seat. more >>
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 >>
I believe youth ministry is facing mission-drift when it comes to missions work. Far too many of our younger youth leaders view the "missionary" as an ancient relic of a bygone era whose place is as a dimly lit picture in the foyer of a steepled church on a "Go ye into all the world" wall. Missionaries are either ignored, marginalized or viewed as a necessity to pacify older tithers in the church and keep them happy.
But 50 years ago missionaries were considered the risk-takers, revolutionaries and radicals in the church who would go into the highways and byways of foreign countries risking life and limb for the sake of the gospel. That's a far cry from today where they are often relegated to, at best, well-meaning but ineffective peddlers of Christianity and, at worst, an evangelistic brand of white colonialists trying to impose an American way of ministry on a not-so-receptive audience.
Sadly, in years past, this stereo-type had been earned in some quadrants of missions work. Yes, there were (and in some cases still are) those missionaries who've done harm to the Name of Christ by preaching the right message in the wrong way. more >>
Although much has been reported regarding the ethics and legality behind the city of Houston's subpoena of five Houston-area pastors that had asked them to turn over all of their sermons that address homosexuality, gender identity, and the city's first openly-lesbian mayor, little attention has been given to who those five pastors actually are and the ministries they operate.
Although those five pastors, Steve Riggle, David Welch, Hernan Castaño, Khanh Huynh and Magda Hermida, were not technically parties of the lawsuit against the city's new equal rights ordinance that sparked the need for the subpoenas, they all participated in the coalition of 400 Houston area churches that stood in disapproval of the ordinance, which allows transgendered individuals to use public restrooms of the opposite gender.
Steve Riggle more >>
On one side of 34-year-old Anthony Dever's stage production company are clients like Guns N' Roses, Alice in Chains, and Dixie Chicks. On the other side of the company, named DPS Inc, are renowned Christian worship music teams such as Jesus Culture and Hillsong.
Dever, a devout Christian, has no problem explaining that his company serves two worlds.
"I call it a 50-50 split. We have our regular company, which is our base company, DPS Inc, and we also have our DPS House of Worship part," Dever told The Christian Post on the eve of providing the staging for a Hillsong event this week in Los Angeles that includes filming for the worship music giant's upcoming movie. more >>
Michelle Knight survived one of the worst ordeals at the hands of Ariel Castro, but the Christian woman says that she has forgiven her captor and rapist and will go on living her life.
Knight, who now goes by the name Lilly, was held captive by Castro for 11 years with two other girls. They managed to escape in 2013 and have largely avoided all contact with the press, but Knight has decided to stay in the limelight and tell her story, perhaps as an example of survival for others.
"I was able to forgive him," Knight said at Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin High School in Chadron, Ohio on Sunday. more >>