Saturday, June 7, 2014

All Aroundthe Web - June 7, 2014

Ross Douthat - Prisoners of Sex
IN an ideal world, perhaps, the testimony left by the young man who killed six people in Santa Barbara would have perished with its author: the video files somehow wiped off the Internet, his manifesto deleted and any printed copy pulped.

Spree killers seek the immortality of infamy, and their imitators are inspired by how easily they win it. As Ari Schulman argued last year in The Wall Street Journal, there would probably be fewer copycat rampages if the typical killer’s face and name didn’t lead the news coverage, if fewer details of biography and motive circulated, if a mass murderer’s “ability to make his internal psychodrama a shared public reality” were more strictly circumscribed.

Russell Moore - What Mariam Ibrahim Means
Mariam is a living picture of Jesus keeping his promise, made to us at Caesarea Philippi. Jesus said that he would build his church, and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. And sure enough. Nero Caesar couldn’t kill the church. Josef Stalin couldn’t kill the church. Even now, Sudanese tyrants and Chinese despots can’t eradicate this church.

When we see a heroine such as Mariam standing up for Jesus, even in chains, we are not simply seeing her. We are seeing the Spirit who blows where he wills, giving the kind of faith that fears not the one who can kill the body, the kind of faith that seeks first the kingdom of God.

Let’s keep praying for Mariam’s release and safety. Let’s keep pressuring the State Department to act. But let’s also remember to step back and thank God for the gospel to which she clings.

Mariam is not just fighting for her life. She’s fighting against hell itself. And how does she do it? She does it with the only weapons that work: the blood of the Lamb and the word of her testimony, for she loves not her life even unto death (Rev. 12:11).

Trevin Wax - Southern Baptists’ Millennial Problem
The 46,000 churches of the Southern Baptist Convention are baptizing fewer people this year, and most of our churches are not baptizing any millennials (which means, depending on generational calculations, people between the ages of 14-34, or, teenagers through early thirties). Christianity Today reports:
In last year’s Annual Church Profile, 60 percent of the more than 46,000 churches in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) reported no youth baptisms (ages 12 to 17) in 2012, and 80 percent reported only one or zero baptisms among young adults (ages 18 to 29).
To put it in the starkest of terms, Southern Baptists have a millennial problem. These reports indicate that our churches are aging, and that we are largely ineffective in reaching teenagers and twenty-somethings.
A task force appointed to study the declining baptismal numbers recently offered five reasons for this problem. I affirm their findings and offer a few additional thoughts.

Thom Rainer - Twelve Reasons to be Optimistic about the Future of Local Congregations
  1. Leaders in congregations are demonstrating a willingness to face reality. They are no longer playing games as if everything is okay. We must face the facts as we seek God’s power to do something about them.
  2. Prayer movements are developing in many churches. These movements are typically more spontaneous than planned. When God’s people start praying, revival has already begun.
  3. Both church planting and church revitalization are being emphasized. These two emphases have historically been viewed as competitive with one another. Today, more church leaders see them as complementary and vital. That is good.
  4. There is a wedding of theology and practical ministry. In the 1970s and 1980s, the church growth movement advocated practical ministry often to the neglect of biblical and theological foundations. For the past 15 years, there has been a needed emphasis on good theology, but often to the neglect of practical issues. Today, there is a growing balance that realizes good theology should birth healthy practical ministry.
  5. There is a growing emphasis on local church evangelism. Related to the issue in number four, more church leaders are now realizing they are in congregations bereft of evangelistic health. That is changing for the better.
  6. Almost everywhere is a mission field. The bad news is that fewer people are Christians today, at least in America, than any point in known history. The good news is that our towns and neighborhoods are mission fields ready for workers.
  7. The “multi-” movement is reaching into new areas. Church leaders no longer view a single church site or service as the limits of ministry. The growth of multi-service, multi-venue, multi-site, and multi-campus has provided more opportunities to reach more people.
  8. More church leaders are engaging culture rather than isolating themselves from culture. While the degradation of biblical values in our culture can be a temptation to withdraw from the world, more church leaders are moving into culture to be “salt and light.” We don’t have to compromise our biblical values, but we can be gracious ambassadors in this new and often strange world.
  9. Church acquisitions and mergers are saving many congregations from death. In the recent past, there was little hope for congregations on a rapid downward spiral. Today, more and more of these congregations are willing to be acquired or to merge; thus the witness of the church in that community remains alive.
  10. Meaningful church membership is becoming a greater reality. It is heartening to see more congregations embrace a higher-expectation membership. As a consequence, local churches will soon become healthier and more impactful in their communities.
  11. The worship wars are waning. Three decades of worship wars have taken their toll on our congregations. I wrote about this issue in a recent post. And, despite a few protestations to the contrary, I stand by my thesis. There will be more energy to focus on ministry rather than to fight one another.
  12. Church members are doing greater ministry in the local communities. We can largely credit Christian Millennials with this trend. Local church ministry is moving from “you come” to “we go.”

Ed Stetzer - MissionTrends: 4 Trends for Churches to Consider
1. The Word "Christian" Will Become Less Used and More Clear.
2. The Nominals Will Increasingly become Nones.
3. Christians Will Increasingly Change Cultural Tactics.
4. More Robust Churches will Result from the Death of Nominalism.

For all my amillenialists friends

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