Former megachurch pastor and best-selling author Rob Bell has come out in support of same-sex marriage, saying during a recent stop on his book tour that he is "for marriage. I am for fidelity. I am for love, whether it's a man and woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man."
The former pastor and founder of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Mich., made the comment during a guest appearance this past Sunday at The Forum at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco to discuss his new book, What We Talk About When We Talk About God.
Grace Cathedral is the Episcopal Cathedral of the Diocese of California and describes itself as "an iconic house of prayer for all" and is home to an "inclusive congregation." The congregation's dean, the Very Rev. Dr. Jane Shaw, moderated The Forum discussion before a live audience. more >>
Avoiding the temptation of building one's own identity by copying any of today's cultural icons is a matter of making the right decision, says Pastor Miles McPherson of Rock Church in San Diego.
"I think we have to decide in whose image we were made in the first place," McPherson told The Christian Post on Friday. "If you have come to a conclusion that you remain in society, that is changing, then you should copy it, but the problem that you are going to have is that you are going to be constantly changing and never discover who you really are – versus accepting the fact that you were made in the image of an eternal God who has an eternal plan for your life and it doesn't change."
McPherson, who recently released his book, God in the Mirror – Discovering Who You Were Created to Be, believes that people in our culture have an identity crisis about who they are supposed to be and they are striving to be something they were never created to be. more >>
"National Autism Awareness Month" is in April and Lakewood Church, led by Pastor Joel Osteen, plans to cut the ribbon for its newest special needs facility next month in Miami, Fla., one of several U.S. and global locations that will see the expansion of the ministry's Champions Clubs, a special needs program for children and teens.
The megachurch, which draws 40,000 weekly worshippers to its Houston, Texas arena, developed a ministry in 2008 for families with special needs children who find it challenging to attend church on a regular basis. The Houston location, which consists of an educational room, a physical therapy room and a sensory room, serves more than 300 special needs families every week. more >>
Jack Schaap, former pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Ind., is facing at least 10 years in prison and an additional 10 years of supervision upon release for taking a teen girl across state lines for sex. Lurid details of the illicit relationship have been revealed as the minister awaits sentencing, which is expected next week.
Schaap's attorney and state prosecutors worked out a plea deal after the married father of two pleaded guilty last year to the federal offense, although he claimed he had no idea that it was illegal to transport the minor, an FBC member who was 16 at the time, out of state for sex.
As part of the sentencing process, a memorandum was presented to the court by prosecutors that revealed the content of some of the 637 text messages exchanged between Schaap, 55, and the unnamed 17-year-old parishioner who had initially turned to the minister for counseling. Among those messages, sent between June 21 and July 21, were texts from Schaap claiming that Jesus Christ had sanctioned their relationship, the Chicago Tribune reports. more >>
ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Andy Stanley, senior pastor of North Point Community Church and founder of North Point Ministries, spoke to pastors and ministry leaders gathered at the Drive Conference in Alpharetta, Ga., Tuesday morning about the importance of creating a church template and culture which unchurched people find appealing, engaging, and helpful, with the ultimate goal of leading them to Jesus Christ.
"While we don't tailor the content for unbelievers, we do tailor the experience for them," explained Stanley to the nearly 2,500 in attendance and hundreds more watching online around the world. In a message titled, "Rules of Engagement," he highlighted the need for pastors to "stay at the epicenter of what is happening culturally" and develop a strategy to improve and adapt their approach to ministry.
"People are not on a truth quest; they are on a happiness quest," he said. "They will continue to attend your church – even if they don't share your beliefs – as long as they find the content engaging and helpful." Stanley described how the North Point Ministries model to "engage, involve, and challenge people" is designed to introduce them to a relationship with Jesus and emphasized that "the ultimate win is life change." more >>
Evangelist Greg Laurie and his congregation plan to celebrate a milestone observance this coming weekend (March 16,17) in honor of four decades of ministry led by the Harvest church and crusades leader.
"Looking back," says Laurie, whose church is based in Riverside, Calif., "I can see God's hand at work from the very beginning. It has always been a part of God's plan for us to know Him and make Him known."
As the church observes its 40th anniversary with "ReEnvision Weekend," it plans to look ahead at what the future may hold. more >>