A Southern Baptist church in California has broken with the denomination's stance on homosexuality and has decided to accept the LGBT community without judgment. The church made the change after its lead pastor announced that he no longer holds to the teaching that homosexuality is a sin.
Danny Cortez, who leads New Heart Community Church in La Mirada, explained his journey in a letter to progressive Christian blogger John Shore, founder of Unfundamentalist Christians, last month. At the end of that journey, his son came out to him as gay.
"I recently became gay affirming after a 15-year journey of having multiple people in my congregation come out to me every year," Cortez wrote. After reading many of Shore's writings and hearing testimony from gay friends who felt marginalized, Cortez said his "eyes became open to the injustice that the church has wrought" and in August 2013, he said he "realized I no longer believed in the traditional teachings regarding homosexuality." more >>
The Southern Baptist Convention's North American Mission Board will focus part of its efforts on planting churches in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, with the aim of reaching nearly six million people.
In order to implement its plan, organizers are recruiting Southern Baptist churches to partner and commit to the vision of planting and multiplying churches over the next five years.
"We're focusing on D.C. because the Gospel is declining as D.C. grows in size and influence, so we want to provide a growing Gospel witness," Clint Clifton, city coordinator for the Send North America: D.C., told The Christian Post. more >>
The membership of the Southern Baptist Convention has declined among their churches for the seventh straight year, according to a LifeWay Christian Resources annual report.
The total membership of the SBC stood at 15.7 million at the end of last year, down from nearly 15.9 million in 2012, the report released on Wednesday showed.
"I am grieved we are clearly losing our evangelistic effectiveness," said Thom S. Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, in a statement. "I continue to pray for revival and a renewed passion for the Great Commission in our churches. May God renew all of us, including me, with a greater heart for the lost." more >>
Soong-Chan Rah and I have been writing and speaking about race and evangelicalism trends for decades. That work culminated in a project we started called Gospel and Race because we believe, as the data indicates, that the future of American evangelicalism will be diversely Asian American, Hispanic, and African American in its public expression, if it's going to have a future at all.
I'm not quite sure how to say this, and I'm not trying to be a offensive or cause trouble, but several of us are wondering if our Southern Baptist friends can stop conflating issues in their own denomination with "evangelicalism" or "the American Church" or "The Church" in general. For example, many Southern Baptist writers (current and former) posting at Religion News Service, major blogging websites, research organizations, conferences, etc. have been writing on the issue of Millennials leaving the church. It turns out, that this is not an evangelical problem nor an American church problem, but a white problem in certain circles. Asian American, Hispanic, and African American Millennials are growing in number. Black Millennials are not leaving the church.
"One of the dangers of being the majority culture is that you become complacent and you don't listen," says Derwin Gray Pastor of Transformation Church on this issue. "You think your problems are everyone else's problem." more >>
In the wake of three high-profile departures from the Reformed community, The Gospel Coalition, its founders have asked for prayer for their organization and have chosen to focus on doctrinal differences as an explanation rather than a controversy surrounding some of its council members.
"Pray for us that moves and changes like these will be marked on all sides by the startling, visible graciousness that should be present in all saved by grace," wrote New York City's Redeemer Presbyterian Pastor Tim Keller and Canadian Reformed theologian D. A. Carson in a statement released on Wednesday.
Over the weekend, the names of two members of the TGC council with backgrounds in Sovereign Grace Ministries, C. J. Mahaney and Joshua Harris, were removed from the site's list of leaders. more >>
Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore has called upon U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to use his influence to halt the execution of pregnant Sudanese woman Mariam Yahya Ibrahim, calling the act "abhorrent" and one that "should be condemned outrightly by the leadership of the United States government."
"I encourage you to personally denounce the sentencing of Mariam Ibrahim as cruel and inhumane, to demand her release, and to use the diplomatic influence of the State Department to advocate for this most fundamental human right, the freedom of religion and belief," Moore wrote in a statement released this week.
Ibrahim, 28, was sentenced to 100 lashes on May 15 by the court that ruled she had converted from Islam to Christianity and that her marriage was void as she had married a Christian man. The mother of a 20-month-old toddler has been told that she will be allowed to give birth before she is executed. more >>