While working with a program that prepared couples for long-term missions, I began to notice a deeply troubling gap in the expectations and the definitions of spiritual excellence for males and females. Husbands were loaded up with classes, mentoring, books and accountability groups – but a monthly meeting was too much to ask of their wives.
I did not grow up as a die-hard Southern Baptist. I didn’t really grow up in church at all, but my family had an idea that church-going was important, so we at least made sure to be loosely connected to one during my most formative years. It just so happened that the church I was loosely connected to was an SBC church. This means that I have no real loyalty to the SBC. While I am thoroughly convinced that we’re in the right place doctrinally, the SBC isn’t the only denomination that can claim that. So why then would I choose to invest my life and career in this tribe?
“We serve our community because we love our community,” proclaimed the flyer from the new church in town. And in a matter of months they definitely gained a reputation for serving the community well. They painted a school, collected shoes for the homeless, picked up trash after community events and cut up trees that blew over in a storm. It was impressive. And three years later, their church disbanded. That was not so impressive.
Church leaders often find themselves in a bitter and lonely place. When I stepped into ministry leadership, I feared the high and even unrealistic expectations people would place on both me and my family. I had been through an intense personal struggle to understand and finally accept God’s call upon my life. As a pastor’s kid, I had in-house experience of how people can be so insensitive to the love and care of the shepherd who God has placed in their lives.
There is a constant call within the northeastern part of the United States for laborers to move to the area and join the battle to see the region re-awakened to the power of the Gospel. Church planting ministries regularly recruit and promote vision tours in an attempt to get more missionaries to the shores of the proverbial Babylon that is the New England states, plus New York and perhaps New Jersey.
Several years ago, as a missionary in Eastern Europe, I led a Bible study for Iranians in our apartment. Although they were Muslims, these men wanted to learn about Jesus. Once a week, we enjoyed refreshments and conversation before sitting down to study the Gospels. Gradually, our friendships deepened and their understanding about Jesus increased.
Something was not right in the way he sounded. It was like listening to a movie character, the kind you wouldn’t want to hang out with. This was a family member I had known all his life – and yet it wasn’t the same person. What happened next was even worse, as I confronted him with my assessment that he was using.
Do you struggle to wait in a world that seems to be sprinting forward at an unfathomable rate? God addresses this over and over in the Bible as He teaches us about the art of waiting.
I confess that one of my least favorite words in the English language is “wait.” Growing up, I wanted to ensure I wasn’t missing out on even one second of what life had to offer me.
I took an apologetics class during my last semester of seminary. Halfway through the semester, doors opened, and God placed a clear call on my life to Boston. (Another story for another time.) When my professor learned I was preparing to move to New England, one of the world’s intellectual hubs, he said, “All you learned this semester will be helpful as you serve.
I replied, “I’m not smart enough to debate or challenge even after taking your class. All I really know is what Christ has done for me.”
It was 6 a.m. on a Sunday morning that we got the call from a fearful husband letting us know that his wife was in an ambulance on the way to the hospital with pain and hemorrhaging in her sixth month of pregnancy. Since the first worship service wouldn’t begin until 9:15 a.m., we were out the door and off to what we knew could be a very difficult hospital visit.
Your alarm goes off in the morning, rousing you from your sleep. What is your first response? If you’re like me, you may check Facebook, look at missed emails, respond to text messages or read the news. You do all of this before you even get out of the bed.
From the very moment of waking up, the world is already fighting for our attention. And in this moment we often neglect to look to God in worship and praise. Why am I passionate about this?
Parents are a vital part of children’s ministry, and it is important to engage them from the very start since they have the primary responsibility of discipling their children.
A Barna Group report on parents found that almost 90% of parents of children under age 13 believe they have the primary responsibility for teaching their children about religious beliefs and spiritual matters. The report concluded that parents are willing to provide spiritual leadership for their children, but are often ill-equipped to lead them in this way.
When I was active-duty military, we would receive emails entitled “Lesson Learned.” They would tell stories of how people did their jobs poorly, often with catastrophic results. Every time part of the problem was a failure in leadership oversight. I wonder how often that is the issue in the church as well.
It happened as I was on my way to play a board game with friends from church. Someone in my car asked, “So, Molly, why are you going to this?”
Caught off-guard, my eyes switched back and forth between the road ahead and the rearview mirror as I tried to gauge the sincerity of the question. After quick deliberation in silence, I said, “Well, I guess the first reason would be that I was invited.”
I watched my Facebook feed with some humor this past week as several individuals reminded their readers: “Pretend it’s Easter. Come back this Sunday. Jesus is still alive!”
Yes, Jesus is still alive, and this reality should make a difference in how the Easter worshipers in our communities approach the following Sunday … and the ones after that. But it should impact our lives as Christ-followers, too.
“The disciples were ﬁrst called Christians at Antioch.” (Acts 11:26)
The disciples at Antioch displayed substantially diﬀerent lives, so much so that they received a new descriptor that became the name for followers of Jesus Christ world-wide. What separated these believers from the moralistic religious adherents around them?