"The Religious Right is dead," proclaim political analysts on both the conservative right and liberal left. Phrases like "Post-Christian America" and "Post-Evangelical culture" abound. Yet, a mere two decades ago, these accusations would have gone unspoken. Perhaps it is time to consider if something, indeed, has gone wrong within the Evangelical community.
It is true that a fast-growing separation between the traditional moral values of Evangelicals and their twenty-something kids – the Millennial generation – exists. An Evangelical identity crisis is certainly underway, but that does not mean it is time to write our eulogy just yet.
Evidence pointing to a fast-growing spiritual and moral decline cannot be ignored. Baptists are America's largest Evangelical bloc. Yet, many young Baptists are abandoning their traditional values, largely admitting that they no longer see church as a relevant part of their lives. During his remarks to the 2001 SBC Executive Committee, SBC Vice President at the time, T. C. Pinckney, made an astonishing admission. He stated that research revealed approximately 70 percent of teens involved in a Baptist youth group were leaving the church within their first two years of college. more >>
Social networking has a reputation. A lot of people make assumptions about it. Such as, "social networking is for narcissists," or " social networking is shallow and prevents us from going deep." I'm a guy who loves social networking and even wrote a book about it. But I agree with people who say these things. Let me explain.
While I do believe that her modern technology and culture have afforded us tools we've never had before for sharing the gospel, forging relationships, and making a difference in the world, I also believe that modern technology has brought a whole new set of risks with it. Of course, I would say that about the technology of any era.
As far as I am concerned, the Internet and the social networking platforms that exist on it are tools. Therefore, it's all in how we use the tools. Social networking can be used for good or for bad. And it can bring out the worst of us and the best of us. But so that we don't throw the baby out with the bathwater, let me emphatically say that social networking is absolutely a tool that modern Christians need to be using to share the good news of Jesus. We simply need to be on guard. more >>
For many years, I have told students in our ministry school that the greatest challenge they will face is not learning to teach or preach well, or to administrate or evangelize or walk in the Spirit's power or raise funds, or whatever else is needed for effective ministry.
Instead, the greatest challenge for those of us in ministry, not to mention for all believers, is to maintain a solid, consistent, personal devotional life. Failing there, we fail where it counts the most. And yet the more successful the ministry, the harder it can be to break away from the demands and the busyness and simply focus our attention on meeting with the Lord.
Recently, after completing another whirlwind ministry schedule (teaching from 9-6 for three straight days, doing two hours of live radio in the middle of two of those days, plus writing at night), I met with two of our grads who had with them a book called Personal Revival, written by my friend S. J. Hill. They reminded me that I had written the Foreword to the book, and so I opened it, saying to them half-jokingly that I wanted to see if I was convicted by my own words. I was! more >>
An established executive in branding and marketing in the retail world, Sam Smith realized the need for compassionate, yet professional business acumen within ministry leadership and coined the term "Optimizing Ministry."
Sam used that focus to achieve record results in fundraising and volunteer support as the CEO at Mercy Ships. He was then approached by Medical Ministry International (www.mmint.org) and is now able to make an even larger impact on the poor as CEO of that global organization. MMI has staff and programs in more than 22 countries that utilize health centers, residency training, and medical teams to serve the poor using Jesus as their guide. Sam is the author of the book, "When Love Heals" and blogs at sam-smith.net. Recently, I interviewed Sam about his insights on leadership and international ministry:
Phil Cooke: You're a nonprofit leader with a long background in business. Has that been a help or hindrance? more >>
Pastors, by and large, are beginning to catch on. To reach the current culture, which is shaped in large part by its technology, we have to go digital.
This is nothing new. To reach 17th and 18th century people, you needed to use a printing press. To reach the culture of the 20th century, you needed to utilize mass media such as radio, television, or direct mail and advertising. And to reach people today, you use social networking.
But we still have a partly legitimate fear about using social technologies too heavily. We fear we will lose our edge when it comes to "real life," face-to-face relational ministry. We fear that we'll neglect those who don't use or like smart phones, that our relationships will become shallow, and that in our effort to "keep up" with the latest technologies, we'll drift from our long-held traditions and theological moorings. more >>
A veterans organization has called for a congressional hearing on certain activities at the Department of Veterans Affairs, alleging that the government entity is violating religious freedom.
The Louisiana-based group Military-Veterans Advocacy, Inc. sent a letter last week to Congressman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), who chairs the Committee on Veterans Affairs.
Written by retired Navy Commander and Executive Director of Military-Veterans Advocacy J. B. Wells, the letter says that "the curtailment of religious freedom is widespread within the Department." more >>