• Realizing My Addiction Had Chosen Me Began My Road to Recovery

    Framing addiction as a chronic disease gives a broader framework for understanding.
    I can’t remember much about the day when everything went wrong. No obvious moment indicated that the standard outpatient procedure would lead to weeks in the ICU, months in the hospital, and almost a year out of work.
    Memories of a dark hospital room and slowly blinking lights come back in fevered fits. Dislocated voices from intrusive floating faces were saying that things would be alright.
    I had known pai
  • Interview: Why One Standing Rock Pastor Won't Preach About the Pipeline

    Tonya White Mountain lives out the Christian call to be a peacemaker.
    Assemblies of God pastor Tonya White Mountain regularly makes the nearly two-hour drive from her home on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation to Bismarck, North Dakota, the closest place to shop at Walmart and get medical checkups.
    During a recent trip, a truck tried to drive her off the road. After her twin sister recounted several incidents of aggression toward Native American drivers and cars with bumper stickers opposing th
  • A Journey as Old as Humanity Itself

    What’s behind our timeless fascination with religious pilgrimage?
    Years ago, Thomas Friedman’s The Lexus and the Olive Tree contrasted two ways of being in the evolving Western world. One, epitomized by the “olive tree,” is rooted, in place, stable, stationary. The other, the “Lexus,” was the emerging vision of the modern individual: a life distinguished by movement, displacement, and “being on the road.” The first was being. The second was going.
  • What is Biblical Preaching? A New Series, starting with Kyle Idleman

    Southeast Christian Church Teaching Pastor is the first in a new series
    As early as Acts 2, Luke wrote that Christians were devoted to, “the apostles’ teaching,” which has at least something to do with what we would call “biblical preaching” today. Many scholars believe that much of the New Testament came from sermons that first were preached then written down to form our Bible. And before that, Jesus’s own ministry was marked by His preaching (Matthew 4:17, 2
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  • Arrival’s Terrifying Vision of a Global “Unfriending”

    Although caused by aliens, the breakdown in communication in Arrival feels all too familiar.
    Reader, I confess: I clicked “unfriend” last month. Several times.
    Understand, I wasn’t ending friendships. I was respecting them—by refusing to let Facebook’s limitations do them further harm. It troubled me to see conversations we might have enjoyed in person go so horribly awry on social media. And anyway, our heated arguments attracted other angry voices, voices that ove
  • The Bible Never Says 'All Men Are Created Equal'

    How the New Testament offers a better, higher calling than the Declaration of Independence.
    An Anglican man rang me out of the blue the other day to ask if the New Testament teaches “equality.” “Not really,” I replied. “The New Testament mentions equality once or twice, but when it comes to social relationships, it is far more interested in concepts like oneness, commonness, partnership, union, and joint-inheritance. If you make all those passages about equality, yo
  • How Complementarian Churches Can Support Female Leadership

    What pastors and elders must do to value women's discipleship.
    Where can complementarian women go to find female teachers? For many, the answer lies outside of the local church. Because of theological beliefs, most complementarian churches don’t let women preach. Many also struggle to elevate women’s voices within their own congregations, indirectly encouraging women to look outside the church—at times to blogs, social media, and Christian publishing—for leadership. (Read
  • British Government Affirms Christmas at Work

    New report details when workers' faith expression is protected and when it can get them fired.British officials are encouraging the country to put Christ back in Christmas—even in their workplaces.
    “There are a lot of myths out there when it comes to dealing with religion at work. I want to put the record straight: It is OK to hold a party and send Christmas cards,” said David Isaac, chairman of the national Equality and Human Rights Commission.
    This week, Christians and politi
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  • The Crown: Balancing Family and Calling Is a Royal Pain

    The Netflix series focuses on the pressure around the monarch’s marriage.
    I recall sitting with my mother in my childhood living room and watching Diana Spencer—about to be Princess Diana—walk slowly down the aisle toward the altar and her prince. The year was 1981, and despite my tender age, the princess fantasy did not take hold. Nor did I become a “royals watcher”… at least not until Netflix released its Queen Elizabeth II bio series, The Crown, earlier th
  • Scarlet Hope

    Louisville-based ministry shares the love of Jesus with women in the adult entertainment industry
    I had been loving and serving dancers in strip clubs for several years when my teammates and I decided to do something special. While we usually just did hair and makeup, on this particular night we decided we would give the dancers pedicures.
    We were given our usual greeting as we walked into the club and began setting up in our usual spot near the back of the stage. “The Church Ladies are he
  • News: Why Many Colombian Protestants Opposed Peace with FARC Fighters

    Three seminary leaders explain how believers balanced justice vs. grace.
    The longest-running conflict in the Western Hemisphere finally came to an end yesterday, after Colombia’s congress approved a peace deal with its largest guerrilla group.
    However, in order to do so, lawmakers skipped over Colombian voters, who last month narrowly rejected a similar peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
    The government has been battling the FARC since 1964, when a group of p
  • Pastors, Your Sermons Do Matter If You Want To See People Come To Trust Jesus

    Every preacher at some point has experienced the painful vulnerability of baring their soul.
    For my wife and I, it’s a joy being Lucero’s pastor.
    A young, intelligent, and enjoyable mother of an exuberant boy, Lucero has recently abandoned herself fully into the arms of Jesus, a true testament of the gospel’s power to transform hearts from darkness to light.
    A few weeks ago she was telling me about her life before Jesus. “Tell me,” I asked, “what happened that
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  • Sibling Rivalry: From Childhood to the Church

    Will they—or will we—ever stop fighting?
    “Stop it! Don’t touch me!”
    “She started it.”
    “No, I didn—”
    “Yes! You! Did!”
    In our Christian subculture, the words “brother” and “sister” tend to conjure up feelings of kinship, intimacy, and loyalty. This made sense to me once. But then I became a parent.
    My children—aged 12, 10, and 7—are not unlike most siblings. They have their “We Are the
  • God Is Not Out to Get You

    The Lord delights in you and sings over you. Can you believe it?
    My high-school basketball coach was a classic, old-school screamer who motivated with fear and shame. His voice was powerful, but I heard it only when I did something wrong. If I turned the ball over on offense or blew my assignment on defense, practice would stop, and the shaming would begin. Red in the cheeks and foaming at the mouth, he would scream until I had to wipe the spit off the side of my face. I never really knew him ou
  • I’m Trying to Forgive Fidel Castro

    As the daughter of a Cuban refugee, I feel torn between hate and grace.
    Last Friday, Fidel Castro passed away. World leaders have responded with a variety of statements. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement about Castro’s death that praised Castro’s love for the Cuban people. President Obama’s statement was somewhat neutral and, instead of condemning Castro’s actions, focused on restoring the relationship between Cuba and the United States. President-
  • Died: Russell Shedd, Brazil's Top Evangelical Theologian

    Longtime missionary's books trained generations of pastors.
    Only a few Christian leaders in South America have won as much unanimity in life as Russell Phillip Shedd.
    The esteemed pastor, theologian, missionary, teacher, writer, and lecturer died last weekend in São Paulo, Brazil, where he lived and served for more than 50 years. Shedd died of complications from cancer. He was 87.
    Missionary work ran deep in his veins his entire life. Shedd was born in Bolivia to American crosscultural mi
  • Five Men Sentenced to Death for Burning Christian Couple Alive

    Ruling on 2014 incident is rare moment of justice for Pakistani Christians facing blasphemy allegations.
    Last week, Pakistan sentenced five men to death for the murder of a Christian couple who were burned alive in November 2014 for setting fire to some pages from a Qur’an.
    A mob of about 600 people beat to near-death Shahzad Masih, 26, and his five-months-pregnant wife Shama Bibi, 24, for their unintentionally “blasphemous” act two years ago. The couple was then thrown into th
  • Increasing Evangelism in Church Planting

    Can our people articulate a simple gospel message and call men and women to faith in Jesus Christ?
    There’s no question that church planting has become the hot new thing. And I’m glad.
    When I started my first church in 1988, it was an oddity. Now, it is mainstream.
    This morning, I am in a hotel in Boston, about to talk to evangelism leaders, and two young men came up and said, “Are you Ed Stetzer?” Turns out I am, and they are church planters / pastors meeting in a high ri
  • What I Want Pastors to Know About Women’s Ministry

    Is the local church meeting the needs of half the congregation?
    There was a time, in our not too distant past, when women’s ministry was a punchline. For years, women’s ministry was viewed as a second rate ministry, more akin to a social club than a serious effort at discipleship. The label conjured images of women sipping tea and doing crafts, occasionally discussing Jesus, but mostly recipes and self-esteem.
    Because of this stereotype, many women have tended to avoid women’s
  • How Fidel Castro’s Death Will Affect Cuba’s Christian Revival

    It won’t. And that’s (mostly) a good thing.
    The remains of Fidel Castro are being displayed in Havana as part of Cuba’s nine days of official mourning for the deceased dictator. Many world leaders will not attend the funeral next week for the man who raised literacy rates but kept a rigid grasp on civil rights.
    For Cuban Christians, his death isn’t likely to be a sea change in how the island nation’s Communist government approaches religion.
    Like most Cubans, Castro
  • News: Why Two Tombs Compete for Jesus’ Burial

    Historic renovations at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre won’t change some Protestants’ preference for the Garden Tomb.
    Beneath layers of ancient marble, renovators at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem say they have found what may be the limestone bench where the body of Jesus was laid after his crucifixion.
    For the first time in half a millennium, church officials have allowed access to a tomb even more famous than that of “King Tut,” the Egyptian pharaoh Tut
  • Thriving at the Edges of the World

    E. Stanley Jones calls us to radical conservatism and a conservative radicalism.
    The edges of the world capture our attention. Think of frontiers such as the frozen mountains of Antarctica, the Australian outback, or the Amazon jungle. They are places of great opportunity and, at the same time, filled with unknown threats.
    As Americans, we have long been cast in the mold of the pioneer, thriving at the edges. Think of Benjamin Franklin creating the first public library, the Wright brothers takin
  • The Most Uncomfortable Christmas Verse

    "But women will be saved by childbearing," may not mean what you think it means.
    At first, amid the unmistakable crunch of steel and aluminum, I thought I was the victim. A pang of outrage, a twinge of self-pity. But it quickly dawned on me that I was the one who caused the accident.
    I was responsible for the damage to a stranger’s car. I had caused the stress the man in the other car endured. It was a relatively minor accident, but I still felt the weight of the loss I’d caused both
  • Our Sustaining Force

    How the gospel truth lightens our load.
    Grace is a slippery truth. In my faith tradition, I was taught to preach the gospel constantly to myself for exactly this reason. Our sin nature, the Devil’s wiles, and cultural scrupulosity conspire to make it easy for us to forget the gospel.
    I’ve always thought it odd that we gospel people so easily fall prey to the false gospel of moralism. Sometimes moralism is directed at myself; sometimes it’s directed at others. In the wake of the
  • When Christmas Meets the ‘Umbrage Industry’

    If history is any guide, there’s no escaping the hostilities that erupt every December.
    There is no easier way for politicians or pundits to rally the base this time of year than hyping the “War on Christmas” by liberal elites. Donald Trump’s son Eric told evangelist James Robison in an August interview that one reason Trump decided to run for president was because the White House “Christmas tree” was now called the “holiday tree.” (Multiple outlet
  • Interview: My Home Has ‘Murder’ in Its Name

    How Russell Jeung met Jesus among the Southeast Asian gangs of Oakland.
    Growing up in San Francisco, Russell Jeung didn’t have much love for Oakland, his struggling neighbor across the East Bay. Yet Jeung has made his home in Oakland for more than 20 years, with much of that time spent ministering in Murder Dubs, a neighborhood riven with poverty and violence. He first moved there during a graduate school ethnography project focused on Southeast Asian gangs.
    Meanwhile, as a sociologist, Je
  • Give Us This Day Our Daily Chores

    Why even our smallest routines are the stuff of worship.
    “Baby, please go get Papaw.”
    I can’t begin to count how many times I heard that simple command and ventured out to find my grandfather, who was working somewhere around the house. He was a man who was happy performing the most menial tasks. Washing cars. Painting trim. Cleaning the gutters. Spraying for weeds. But the chore I most often found him at was sweeping—and singing. My, how that man loved a clean sidewalk.
  • The Grace of Church Discipline

    We do no one any favors if we ignore or downplay core beliefs.
    The response was not surprising. Some called it a “purge”; others a “witch hunt.” In October, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) told its 1,300 staff members that they are expected to abide by the organization’s theological commitments—in particular those on human sexuality. If a staff member disagrees with IVCF’s views (which are traditionally orthodox), they are expected to resign.
    We
  • Interview: Q & A: Nikki Haley on Faith, the 'War on Women,' and Why She Would Say No to VP

    The governor of South Carolina doesn't wear faith on her sleeve, but she's open about her Sikh to Christianity conversion.
    Nikki Haley's faith caused a stir in her primary race for governor of South Carolina when her upbringing as a Sikh drew questions from her opponents. She occasionally visits a Sikh temple in honor of her family's tradition, but she regularly attends a Methodist church. Her new book, Can't Is Not an Option, explains her conversion to Christianity and the kinds of questions sh
  • The Cliff Barrows I Knew

    Billy Graham's friend and music director was a man of joyful faith shaped by his love of Scripture.Last week, the world lost another giant of the faith, Rev. Cliff Barrows, 93, who passed after several months of declining health. Following a public funeral service today at a church in Charlotte, North Carolina, he will be interred nearby in a private ceremony on the grounds of the Billy Graham Library.
    Much has and will continue to be written about Cliff’s legendary life and legacy, includ
  • Perched on the Shoulders of Giants (Part 2)

    Building on Legacy for the Sake of Mission
    Vision & Strategy
    Our history and relationships are vitally important, but the missional impulse of a church will plateau if the overall vision and strategy for mission is not clear. Based on the history and relationships that God has woven into the life of a church, we should ask the questions that Will Mancini offers in Church Unique: “What can your church do better than 10,000 others?” and “What does your church uniquely bring t
  • Psalm 100: A Call to Give Thanks

    Behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.
    One of the first chapters of scripture I memorized was Psalm 100. It was actually easy to memorize because it was put in the form of a song. It started, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye, all ye lands.”
    This psalm reminds me of the importance of thanksgiving in general, and perhaps more so, thanksgiving today, on American Thanksgiving Day. This time of year gives us the opportunity to be thankful fo
  • How to Redeem Thanksgiving

    It starts with acknowledging the whole truth.
    For many Americans, our thoughts drift to North America’s original people only once or twice a year. But thanks to the Cleveland Indians’ World Series appearance and the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, you may have thought about Native Americans at some point before our national holiday.
    Thanksgiving offers a critical time for many of us to reflect on our nation’s history, says Randy Woodley, a Keetoowah Cherokee and professor of f
  • Thanksgiving Gets the Hallmark Treatment

    How sentimentalism distorts the holiday’s past and present.
    A few years ago, Melanie Kirkpatrick paid a visit to Newcomers High School in New York City. Newcomers is a public school in Queens that provides recent immigrants to the United States with intensive English-language training and an introduction to American culture.
    Kirkpatrick was there on a late-November day to discuss the history of Thanksgiving with an audience drawn from more than 60 countries, speaking some 40 languages. The
  • White Evangelicals Grade Trump, Republicans, and the Media

    Pew looks at satisfaction with the election, and what voters think the new president should do first.
    In one of the first surveys after the 2016 presidential election, the Pew Research Center asked voters to weigh in on what grade Donald Trump (and others) should receive, what he should do first, and whether they will give him a chance to succeed.
    Among white evangelicals voters—one of Trump’s strongest demographics—one in five (20%) graded the president-elect’s conduct d
  • The Church Is Not a Single-Parent Family

    Remembering the spiritual mothers of our faith.
    As a child, I attended a Southern Baptist church that gathered for a meal on Wednesday nights. After supper, we would sing: I’m so glad I’m a part ofthe Family of God,I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by his blood!Joint heirs with Jesusas we travel this sod,For I’m part of the family,the Family of GodThese simple lyrics settled over me like a blanket. In the wake of my parents’ divorce, I needed the church to
  • News: Should Your Favorite Ministry Become a ‘Church’?

    Why more parachurch groups are telling the US government they’re not like other nonprofits.
    Among Billy Graham’s many legacies is leading ministries to greater financial transparency. Now two major organizations led by the evangelist’s eldest son are ditching the most common way nonprofits disclose their finances.
    This fall, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) confirmed that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had approved the ministry’s request to reclassify
  • News: The Title IX Lives of Christian Colleges

    Why CCCU schools are split on claiming one of their legal rights.
    What was intended as a “list of shame” for Christian colleges may instead become a badge of honor.
    The US Department of Education (DOE) now publicly lists which schools have religious exemptions from portions of Title IX, the civil rights law banning sex discrimination in educational programs that receive federal funding. The lengthy list reveals that members of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU
  • News: Gleanings: December 2016

    Important developments in the church and the world (as they appeared in our December issue).
    Evangelical Church Shopping, Explained
    Two-thirds of Americans who attend churches in evangelical denominations have looked for a new congregation (67%). According to the Pew Research Center, that’s higher than any other US religious group (the national average: 49%). Pew asked 700 evangelicals why they wanted to leave their church and how their search went.
    Turkey: Killers of Malatya martyrs final
  • Wrestling with Eternity

    For many, predestination is a struggle to accept; for Paul, it’s a doctrine of love.
    Let’s just admit it: the Bible makes us uncomfortable at times. We recoil when we read about the destruction of the Canaanites or Father Abraham pimping his sister/wife, Sarah. But these stories are right there on the pages of the Bible, and we have to grapple with its sometimes shameful narratives and unsettling ideas. Sooner or later, every thoughtful Christian has to come to terms with an inscruta
  • How Realizing My Addiction Had Chosen Me Began My Road to Recovery

    Framing addiction as a chronic disease gives a broader framework for understanding.
    I can’t remember much about the day when everything went wrong. No obvious moment indicated that the standard outpatient procedure would lead to weeks in the ICU, months in the hospital, and almost a year out of work.
    Memories of a dark hospital room and slowly blinking lights come back in fevered fits. Dislocated voices from intrusive floating faces were saying that things would be alright.
    I had known pai
  • The Best-Dressed Drug Dealers

    Pharmaceutical companies may be to blame for the current opioid crisis.
    Dramatic stories of dangerous drug deals and deadly overdoses are true. But at least one root of the opioid crisis reveals that some of the most dangerous “drug dealers” in our country wear suits and ties to the office each day.
    One large reason for the opioid epidemic in the United States has been the irresponsible information supplied by pharmaceutical companies about their opioid drugs. For decades, the compan
  • Crossing the Wasteland of Faith

    Years after my dramatic, unlikely conversion, it seemed God had gone silent.
    I gaze around the tiny room, two chairs and a book shelf, the sunlight streaming through the windows. Stillness is foreign to me, a disquieting realization on this, my first day of a weeklong near-silent retreat. Susan Bowers Baker, a slip of a woman who is the spiritual director of the Jesuit Retreat Center in Wernersville, Pennsylvania, waits patiently.
    I glance at my watch, then up at Susan. “Seven days,”
  • My Missionary Great-Grandfather Led Me to Christ

    But only after I went to Japan in search of his life story.
    I couldn’t believe it when I opened my email.
    Inside my inbox was an invitation to the 120th anniversary celebration of a church in Osaka—a church founded by my great-grandfather, a 19th-century Presbyterian missionary. The minister had Googled my great-grandfather’s name, and apparently my own name had popped up, along with the text of a speech I had given in Tokyo a few years earlier just after leaving my job as a to
  • Life & Faith: Based On A True Story

    How one man flipped the script of his life from crime and conflict to justice and peace.
  • Three Urban Alternatives to Christianity

    Where many African Americans turned after finding organized religion lacking.
    The arrival of millions of African Americans to the industrial North from the agrarian South over the course of the 20th century had more than just an economic and cultural effect. While many migrants joined churches in their new cities, helping to build key institutions that would ground their communities, others found the message of organized religion lacking.
    Some left for Islam and off-shoots of Judaism and African
  • The Next Iteration of the Black Church

    The Church needs Black pastoral leadership.
    On Sunday, September 25, something truly remarkable happened in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. At an AMC movie theater in one of the largest shopping malls in the Greater Milwaukee area, hundreds of people gathered to hear a message about racial justice.
    The fact that they gathered is not the remarkable part—this seems to be happening everywhere in America these days, usually in response to a deadly encounter between law enforcement and the Black communit
  • History Shows Us Why Being Evangelical Matters

    Evangelicalsm yesterday helps us embrace the label today.
    Is it time to abandon the label evangelical?
    It’s a question we have been asking for years. But especially after this election, many Christians who have long identified as evangelicals—as well as millennials who grew up in our congregations—consider the label evangelical irreparably toxic. Both inside and outside the church, it has come to caricature a Religious Right sensibility, and worse, a group who are homophobic, a
  • Mark Your Calendar to Join Me at #Amplify2017: A National Evangelism Conference

    Our super early bird rate of $129 is available through December 31.
    If you regularly read this blog, follow me on Twitter, or know me personally, it is likely clear to you that in my mind, evangelism really matters. And I don’t just talk about it, or encourage you all to do it. I actually seek ways to share my faith often.
    In fact, I recently encouraged my staff that we need to hold each other accountable to have gospel conversations every single week. It simply needs to be a priority for
  • Weekend Edition - November 18, 2016

    Hospitality, refugees, and ministry fears, plus church signs
    Breaking the Cult Image in One Transient Community | Paco Amador
    Here’s what ordinary Arabs think about the Syrian refugee crisis | Alexandra Siegel and Chris Tenove
    What’s Your Biggest Fear in Ministry?
    Earlier This Week on The Exchange
    The Election Forces Us to Talk about Race | James T. Roberson III
    My Special Gift to You: A Free, Downloadable Advent Devotional | Ed Stetzer
    Cliff Barrows Just Moved from Choir Director to

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