Yesterday, I published an essay on InfluenceMagazine.com entitled, “Leading the Church in a Polarized Era.” Here is the introduction:
Regardless of who wins the presidential election on November 8, you can be sure of one thing: Half of America will be disappointed with, if not outraged by, the results. In nearly 30 years of voting, I have never seen the electorate so polarized about candidates and issues. It has been said that war is the continuation of politics by other means. This year, reversing the terms of that statement seems truer: Politics is the continuation of war by other means.
I mention this not because I want to talk about politics per se but because I want to talk about leading a church in the current political environment. It would be naïve to think that we can avoid polarization entirely. After all, even Jesus said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). Sometimes, controversy is unavoidable.
By the same token, however, it would be presumptuous to think that we are always right in any given controversy. After all, when Jesus said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns” (Matthew 16:23), He was speaking to neither the devil nor the Pharisees. He was speaking to Peter, His own disciple, chief among the Apostles. Sometimes, we meet the enemy only to discover that it is us.
So, as ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, how do we lead our congregations—neither naively nor presumptuously—in this era of American polarization? Let me suggest that we need to pay attention to four things…
Read the whole thing at InfluenceMagazine.com.
From Enrichment Journal:
That’s a critical point for young women who are very sincere and see this servant model of leadership in Christ and are not comfortable with a rights issue. This has nothing to do with rights for men or women in ministry. That’s not the rationale for following Jesus in leadership in ministry. Don’t we cripple ourselves in the Kingdom by not empowering both men and women to use their God-given gifts?
Wood: I’ll tell you a sad story. Just a few months ago, a very competent, young, ordained, seminary-trained, female graduate interviewed for a pastoral position of a church of about 100 to 150 people. At the end of a process, the board said they were not going to recommend her election to the membership of the church. Two of the board members came to her privately and said, “You know, we all realize you’re the most qualified person to be pastor. But two of the board members are opposed to having a woman as pastor. Therefore, the person we’re going to recommend is not as qualified as you.”
My heart just sank at that. I thought, That is not right.
I feel passionate about changing the situation at the local level. Now, if the woman candidate had been less qualified than the male candidate, I would feel equally upset if they said, “We’re going to choose you because you’re a woman even though you’re less qualified.”
Either way, that has to be taken off the table. The bottom line is: Is this person qualified? Is she gifted? And what’s the Spirit saying? Let’s not use artificial, secular means for making decisions in the body of Christ.
From the article at Barna.org:
In Churchless, their first collaborative effort, Barna Group founder and former president, George Barna, and current Barna president and owner, David Kinnaman, take a look at the rising population of adults who do not attend church.
Based on two decades of Barna Group interviews with thousands of churchless men and women, the book outlines a profile of the unchurched and the cultural context that has led to the trend away from church.
“It’s critical to recognize these trends have a huge impact on how our churches and faith organizations work,” says David Kinnaman in a joint interview with George Barna. “It is harder today—based on this data—to go out and say ‘invite your friends to church.’ So recognizing the context in which these trends play out is very important for church leaders, and for us as researchers.”
According to the Churchless data, in the 1990s, 30% of the American population was unchurched. Today, two decades later, that percentage has risen to more than four in 10 Americans (43%).
“If we want to turn that trend around,” says George Barna, “we’ve got to understand what these people are thinking, what they’re doing, why they are making these particular choices, what we could do to actually serve them better, to understand them, to love them, to do everything we can to help them get closer to God. . . . Armed with this kind of information, it’s a lot more likely that you’ll come up with a strategy that enables you to have positive impact on the lives of such people.”
Kinnaman agrees, “Jesus asks us to be faithful wherever we are, in whatever context we are. So good information helps us to learn how to be faithful.”
George Barna & David Kinnaman on the Rise of the Churchless – Barna Group.
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In this video, Dr. George O. Wood speaks on the topic, “Praying in the Spirit.” His sermon was part of the Assemblies of God’s annual Prayer & Bible Conference, held this year at Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, Texas.
Pastor Dary Northrup of Timberline Church in Fort Collins, Colorado, is the 2013 Spiritual Emphasis Week speaker at the Assemblies of God national office. This morning, he preached a stirring message about Straight Street (Acts 9) in chapel.
Here’s the video:
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David Kinnaman of the Barna Group recently lectured at Evangel University on the topic, “The Church in Discipleship.” He addressed why young people leave church from the ages to 18 to 29 and what to do about it.
Here’s the video:
“Don’t forget that one thing in your song should always be on fire, be it our hearts, our souls, this generation–just, something needs to be in flames.”