Ministry Today Articles

Should Churches Offer Teens Career Counseling?

ap_collegestudents_walking

AP Images

What do today’s teens aspire to become after graduation, and how does
the input from pastors and church leaders influence these aspirations? A
study released from the Barna Group reveals that, while teens may
look to the church for career advice, there is a disconnect between
where teens’ future professional interests lie and the encouragement and
instruction they receive in their church or
faith community.

Only 38 percent of youth pastors and 36 percent
of senior pastors say they frequently
discuss college plans with their students, and this counsel is more
likely to happen when “there is a clear strategy for student ministry in

the church, and in those churches that work effectively with teen
leaders,” the study noted.

Eddie Long’s Colleagues Speak Out on Scandal

Eddie Long’s Colleagues Speak Out on Scandal

ap_eddie_long
AP Photo

Recent public statements by megachurch pastors in response to a
scandal-ridden peer reveal differing perspectives on repentance,
restoration and ministerial ethics.

Last September, four men—all
former members of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta—claimed
the church’s pastor, Eddie Long, used gifts, trips and money to coerce
them into engaging
in sex acts with him. Although no criminal
charges were filed, Long settled with his accusers last month, leading
some church leaders who had previously reserved judgment to speak out.

On June 5, fellow Atlanta pastor Creflo Dollar urged his World
Changers Church to refrain from gossiping about the Long scandal and
warned disgruntled New Birth members that they would not find a
listening ear at his church. 

“That preacher’s still anointed to do what he was called to. He just had
a wreck. The blood will take care of his issue just like it will take
care of yours,” Dollar stated. “And I just can’t believe that people would leave their
preacher because he had a wreck, instead of praying for him.”

What Are Global Church Leaders Worried About?

What Are Global Church Leaders Worried About?

ap_church_stainedglass
AP Photo

A survey of 2,196 Protestant leaders from around the world
highlighted the concerns shared by Christians in 166 countries and the
divergent outlooks for the church in the Global North (Europe, North
America, Japan, Australia and New Zealand) and the Global South
(sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, Latin America and
most of Asia).

On Wednesday, the Pew Research Center’s Forum on
Religion & Public Life released the results of a survey of those
invited to attend the Third Lausanne Congress of World
Evangelization, a 10-day gathering of ministers and lay leaders held in
October in Cape Town, South Africa. The leaders surveyed expressed
agreement on theological and social issues, such as abortion,
homosexuality, the authority of Scripture and the uniqueness of Christ,
but leaders from the Global North and the Global South expressed
differing outlooks for the future of the church in their parts of the
world.

Francis Chan Takes on Rob Bell

Francis Chan Takes on Rob Bell

francischanFormer pastor and author Francis Chan has jumped into the debate on heaven, hell and eternal punishment with book titled Erasing Hell: What God Said About Eternity and the Things We’ve Made Up to be released in July.

Although he doesn’t directly mention Rob Bell’s controversial book, Love Wins, in a YouTube video discussing the topic, Chan expresses concern for carelessness in discussing eternal matters.

“We can’t just have these theological discussions
about a doctrine when we’re talking about people’s eternal destinies
here,” he said. “We’ve got to lay everything on the table, I want to just present all of the facts, everything I can
think of in this book [holding a Bible] and let you decide, not sway you.”

Pastor Housing Allowance on Thin Ice

Pastor Housing Allowance on Thin Ice

housechurchcroppedWhen pastoral scandals hit the mainstream news, often the first item
cited as evidence that a minister is misusing his or her position is the
housing allowance tax break that allows pastors to deduct housing
expenses from their income. Sometimes the pastor in question will claim
his entire salary as housing allowance. For others, its the sheer size
of the allowance that raises suspicion.

At the
request of Senator Charles Grassley, the Evangelical Council for
Financial Accountability
(ECFA) will lead the independent commission to investigate and offer
recommendations to lawmakers on a list of eight issues related to
ministry ethics and finances. Housing allowances are
near the top of the list.

A Mormon for President?

A Mormon for President?

mittromneyWith Mormon candidates such as former congressman John Huntsman and
former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney considering 2012 runs for
president, evangelicals are beginning to discuss the implications of a
Mormon president. In a controversial column at the Patheos website, author Warren Cole Smith argued that “a vote for Romney is a vote for the LDS Church.”

Smith
admitted that evangelicals will be attracted to a Mormon candidate’s
shared views on social and moral issues, but argued that they shouldn’t
overlook the fact that Mormons have a different religous worldview than
evangelicals, and that worldview shapes their behavior. He pointed to
Mormons’ various positions, from polygamy to racial discrimination, that
have been reversed in light of “continuing revelation” that comes
through the church’s prophets.

Church Reaches Out to Disappointed Camping Followers

Church Reaches Out to Disappointed Camping Followers

In tbillboardhe wake of Family Radio founder Harold Camping’s failed rapture
predictions, unbelievers are mocking and evangelicals are distancing
themselves from the sect whose followers traveled around the world
renting billboards and motor homes with signs proclaiming the end of the
world on May 21. One billboard playfully reproving Camping—a photo of which quickly went viral—was unveiled on
May 22, reading, “That was awkward. ‘No one knows the day or the hour …’”

Bleeding Churches Going Bankrupt

Cornerstone World Outreach Center, a Sioux City, Iowa, church, has
filed for bankruptcy, three years after completing a new $8 million
building program. An Ohio contracting company won a lawsuit against the
church in an attempt to recover $3.6 million the church had failed to
repay after the building was completed.

In a statement announcing
the bankruptcy, Cornerstone’s pastor, Cary Gordon, cited “complications
arising from an inability to achieve funding during the economic
climate” and a breakdown of negotiations between the church and the
contractor.

Cornerstone’s plight is only the most recent of financial woes for churches attempting to weather the economic recession.

Gay Activists Target Christian Colleges

Gay Activists Target Christian Colleges

college campusA group of alumni from Wheaton College have formed OneWheaton, an
organization to provide
support for the gay community on the conservative Christian campus and
to promote the view that homosexual practice is compatible with the
Christian faith.

“If you are a student and this is part of
your story, your sexual identity is not a tragic sign of the sinful
nature of the world,” a letter to Wheaton students posted on the group’s website reads. “You are not tragic. Your desire for
companionship, intimacy and love is not shameful. It is to be affirmed
and celebrated just as you are to be affirmed and celebrated.”

Church Planting Tools Helps Missional-Minded

Church Planting Tools Helps Missional-Minded

church photoChurch planting can be an attractive opportunity for entrepreneurial
leaders and those wishing to start churches without the baggage and
limitations of beginning ministry on staff at an existing church. But
many find themselves encountering the commonly-repeated statistic that
80 percent of church plants fail in the first year.

In response to the growing interest in new church planting, LifeWay Research unveiled an online Church Planter Candidate Assessment (CPCA)
during the Expontential Conference in Orlando. Fla. LifeWay worked with
11 denominations and church-planting networks to develop the tool to
aid them—and other organizations—in evaluating strengths and
weaknesses of candidates who desire to establish new churches.

Pro-Life Groups Aim to Defund “Klanned” Parenthood

Two pro-life groups, Christian Defense Coalition and Survivors, are sure to generate some controversy with a clever new anti-abortion campaign called “Defund Klanned Parenthood.” The groups plan to focus on the fact that Planned Parenthood was founded on the principles of Margaret Sanger and point out racist statements made by Sanger, as well as her connections to the Ku Klux Klan.

“We are launching ‘Defund “Klanned” Parenthood’ to expose the reality that Planned Parenthood founder, Margaret Sanger, was a racist who supported the agenda of the Ku Klux Klan, spoke at their events and wanted to reduce the number of African-Americans,” said Christian Defense Coalition director, Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney. “We are calling upon the members of Congress, who have given billions of public money to Planned Parenthood over the years, to defund this group whose roots are racist, bigoted and extremist.”

Tornado-Stricken Churches Worship Outdoors

Tornado-Stricken Churches Worship Outdoors

tornadomustreadCongregations in Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Georgia gathered in tents, borrowed space or in buildings with the sunlight streaming through the damaged—or nonexistent—roofs. Last week’s storm, which has claimed 340-plus lives so far, was the most devastating natural disaster since Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans in 2005.

In the town of Phil Campbell, Ala., a tornado killed 20 people and destroyed 40 percent of the homes. At the Phil Campbell Church of God, congregants gathered on a bare concrete slab. Pastor Chris Burns—who lost his own home in the tornado—delivered his sermon behind the remains of the altar and in front of a cross with a hand-lettered sign reading, “He makes all things new.”

Remembering David Wilkerson

In the wake of David Wilkerson’s
April 27 death, bloggers, reporters, friends, family and ministry
partners are joining in the outpouring of recollections and reflections
on his impact on the church during his 50-plus years of ministry. The
following is a collection of media items that paint a picture of
Wilkerson’s remarkable life:

•·Check out Charisma magazine’s tribute to Wilkerson, with a photo gallery, videos and written remembrances.

•·David Wilkerson’s younger brother, Don, offers personal memories of sharing life and ministry with his brother.

Some Born-Again Believers Embrace “Love Wins” Universalism Thinking

Some Born-Again Believers Embrace “Love Wins” Universalism Thinking

robbellThe release of Love Wins, by Michigan pastor Rob Bell, initiated a firestorm of blog posts, news articles and even mainstream media attention on the topic of hell. The controversial pastor’s book, which suggests that everyone will eventually be saved and challenges the traditional Christian view of hell as eternal punishment, has been met with criticism in the evangelical community. But a recent study from The Barna Group reveals that the functional universalism of Love Wins may be held by many professing Christians.

“Despite their own personal faith convictions, many born again Christians embrace certain aspects of universalist thought,” the April 18 report, titled “What Americans Believe About Universalism and Pluralism,” stated. “One-quarter of born again Christians said that all people are eventually saved or accepted by God (25 percent) and that it doesn’t matter what religious faith you follow because they all teach the same lessons (26 percent). An even larger percentage of born again Christians (40 percent) indicated that they believe Christians and Muslims worship the same God.”

More Catholics Turning Over Protestant Leaf

More Catholics Turning Over Protestant Leaf

catholic_churchSojourn Community Church, a fast-growing baptist congregation in Louisville, Ky., is moving into the soaring gothic sanctuary once occupied by St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, a parish that has been closed since 1996.

Founded in 2000, Sojourn’s restoration of the historic building highlights a century-long trend that has been overlooked by Catholics and Protestants alike.

Although books and articles have been written on the more recent trend of Protestants converting to Catholicism, this dynamic is a mere trickle compared to the losses the Catholic church has sustained in the last century.

“One out of every 10 Americans is an ex-Catholic,” Thomas Reese notes in an April 18 article in the National Catholic Reporter. “If they were a separate denomination, they would be the third-largest denomination in the United States, after Catholics and Baptists. One of three people who were raised Catholic no longer identifies as Catholic.”

Reese’s article, which generated buzz and debate in the Catholic world, argued that the primary reason people leave the Catholic church for Protestantism is not disagreement with the church’s doctrinal or social positions, but spiritual hunger.

Pin It on Pinterest