Daily Archives

March 1, 2018

We Need to Read Stories of People Who Were Enslaved

Six reasons why listening to these voices is worth your time. One day, a friend and I were shopping after brunch. We paused to look at a work of art where a woman was walking down a street with the eyes of every person in the painting fixed on her—some smirking, some laughing, some lustful, some indifferent. My friend, a woman of color in the South, said, “That’s how I feel every day of my life.” I realized in that moment that my friend’s experience of life was vastly different from mine even if we lived, worked, and walked in the exact same places. Her comment offered a small window into a parallel America that I had never experienced. But even though I listened, I did not have the context to grasp what she was telling me. Years later, I discovered that in order to move forward in understanding, I needed to look backward. Whether you are building interracial friendships, have a passion for equality and standing in solidarity with African Americans, or are simply always looking for ways to continue to learn and to grow, here is a recommendation that has helped me: Read the narratives of people who…

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Getting Small Churches on Mission (Part 3)

More ways small churches can serve their communities Small churches can adopt the same (or different) unengaged, unreached people groups currently living in the United States. In addition to overseas work, consider how you can share the gospel effectively and long-term with a people group in America. States like Oklahoma, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Iowa, to name only a few, have thousands of people who comprise various unengaged, unreached people groups. They are as spiritually destitute and lost as those living overseas without a gospel witness. If your church is geographically near one of these groups, then begin praying about how you can begin a ministry to them. Preach on the value of avoiding worldly wealth and, instead, storing up treasures in heaven in hopes that some of your members will envision themselves selling their homes and moving closer to this group to encounter them daily in their neighborhoods. These groups, depending on location, are either centralized (think one main neighborhood) or decentralized (think ethnic neighborhood[s] spread throughout a city). But as a people group, they share common languages and customs. Interacting with them in their environment, learning their culture, understanding their traditions and religion(s) will allow you to be…

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Why Gen Z’s Call for ‘Safe Spaces’ Is Good News for Churches

New expectations may shift youth group conversations, but Christ still provides the answer. One of the defining characteristics for today’s teens—who have grown up in a constantly connected, socially evolving world—is their desire for “safe spaces,” settings where they can expect inclusivity without fear of judgment. In recent weeks, in the wake of the latest school shooting, we’ve also seen this generation speaking out for literal safe spaces. The youth movement against gun violence reflects broader desires for safety and risk aversion among Generation Z—some of the characteristics making them distinct from even the millennials of the previous decade. This aspect of the Gen Z worldview often gets maligned by older generations, who sometimes dismiss safe spaces and trigger warnings as a result of an oversensitive “snowflake mentality.” However, youth leaders increasingly see the motivations beneath these values—care for others and compassion to understand others’ experiences—as significant for Christian ministry. News coverage around the Parkland, Florida, shooting has shown us a new dimension to America’s youngest generation. Instead of viewing students through the lens of their social media dependency or pop culture proclivities, we saw them making headlines for challenging lawmakers on gun policy, speaking out on issues that matter…

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