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Christians Can Hold Their Bladders and Still Shop at Target

Consider the missional implications before you boycott.

In response to new laws and countermeasures related to restroom usage and gender identity, Target has taken a stand saying it will allow customers and employees to use restrooms that best relate to one’s perceived gender. In other words, biological males who identify as women can be in the restroom with women and vice versa.

Social media lit up with opinions on both ends of the spectrum. From the side I’m on, one social call to action has stood above the rest: Boycott. The American Family Association’s online petition to boycott Target has garnered nearly 600,000 signatures, and the petition continues to circulate on social media.

I understand the sentiment and appeal of such an action. Hit board members where it hurts – their wallets. Stand up for truth. Click a few petition links and play a part in being the salt of the earth. It sounds like an easy and impactful way to take a stand, but is boycotting a corporation the best way to reflect Christ in light of the issues at stake? I worry that a strategy of cultural engagement centered around boycotts is doomed to undermine the true effectiveness of biblical evangelism.

Let’s Focus on the Real Problem

Boycotting typically focuses its efforts on reducing the ripple effects of the real problem. Think of it like this: You have a leak in your basement. Instead of fixing the dripping pipe, the plumber sets up various containers and buckets to contain it. But it’s only a provisional fix. Because the source of your leak hasn’t been addressed, your new bucket will eventually fill again. The plumber has only disguised the root problem.

Similarly, boycotts may make a statement, but often fail to trigger lasting change. We see the problem, in this ...

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Church Journeys: Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham, NC

I recently visited Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC. Here's a bit about my time there.

I was at the Summit Church this summer, preaching for my friend J.D. Greear.

It’s a contemporary church, with seven campuses, and with over 8000 weekly attendees. It is actually an older church that experienced a rather stunning revitalization (including a name change).

Some highlights of the church for me were its passion for church planting, its focus on expository preaching, and its facilities.

1. Church Planting as a Sending Church

Just before my message, they showed a video, announcing their new church planting residents, and asking for people from their church to relocate with those intense, nine months later.

Here is their video:

This is part of their emphasis as a sending church, which they describe here:

We believe THE most beneficial thing for every community is a church that can proclaim and live out the Gospel of Jesus. We believe the church is THE BEST organization on earth, and we believe it will survive as long as time itself.

So, we are committed to planting churches in strategic cities all over the world.

And not just where it’s easy, either. The Summit has members living in church plants in four of the hardest, most Christian-unfriendly places on the planet. Each year we give away at least 10% of our budget to these church plants overseas, and send hundreds of volunteers to serve those communities.

Mike McDaniel is doing a great job leading this part of their strategy, and I am thankful for the opportunity to address their residents after preaching on Sunday.

2. Its Focus on Expository Preaching

The church has a strong focus on expository preaching, and I preached from 2 Corinthians 5.

J.D. and I were recently on a panel to discuss expository preaching, and I ...

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Why We Want to Return to Stars Hollow

The weirdest part of the Gilmore Girls hometown? How they did community right.

How I made it so far into adulthood without having watched Gilmore Girls, I'm not quite sure. But with October's announcement that the fast-talking mother-daughter dramedy would reboot for a mini-revival, I knew: It was now or never. As Logan would teach me later, sometimes you just have to jump, and so, jump I did. In good November fashion, I feasted.

Netflix-binged, actually. All seven seasons.

How the scales fell from my eyes. For the first time, I finally understood the key plot points and show references my friends had been bringing up all these years: The young mom and daughter friendship smack at the show's center. The Bermuda Triangle of boyfriends. Diner owner Luke’s cranky likeability. Gilmore was sweeping; it had something for everyone. Over Thanksgiving, when a friend told me she felt as fidgety as Dean at a Friday Night Dinner, I nodded knowingly. The show had done what great shows do: It offered us shorthand.

But Gilmore was always so much more than just these core characters and their choppy relational waters. It built up a whole town of supporting roles: the sassy dance teacher Miss Patty; raspy, big-hearted Babette; ever-entrepreneurial Kirk. It was a bigger townie cast than an audience could possibly care about, and yet, somehow, we did. The “local color” made the fictional Connecticut hamlet exponentially more likeable. Which is why, the days after watching the series finale, and bidding Rory her rainy farewell, I actually felt a little bit homesick. I missed Stars Hollow itself.

Apparently I’m not the only one. Any good writer will tell you a setting this distinctive becomes a character itself, and that's precisely what Stars Hollow does, thanks to it knit-a-thons, ...

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When Altar Calls Don't Work

How many times did I need to get saved before truly loving God?

I grew up as a pastor’s kid, the third of four children. Or was it fourth? For years I believed I was born 30 seconds before my identical twin, Josh. But he recently challenged this 33-year-old fact, turning the Bailey family world order upside-down.

Josh and I were adventurous and independent twins who made the suburbs of North Dallas our playground. The flame of our adventurous spirit was fanned by our older brother, Jeremy. Together we wanted to take risks and experience them firsthand. I wasn’t content to just watch Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. I had to be Indiana Jones. I needed to wade through the creeks behind my house, build rope swings, and explore sewers. And not with a flashlight, but by tying my shirt to a stick, dipping it in gasoline, and lighting it on fire.

As a boy, I listened intently to my dad recount some of the greatest adventure stories ever told: Noah and his ark, David defeating a giant, and Joshua shouting down walls. These men experienced wild adventure, and God, firsthand. My longing for intimacy with God was born from story time with my dad.

Dad pastored a nondenominational, charismatic—or, as he liked to say, Happy-Baptist—church. It was our family’s second home. BB gun shootouts commonly took place in the vacant sanctuary. Josh and I raced the petting-zoo miniature ponies around the parking lot after the fall carnival and learned how to do donuts in our youth pastor’s car before we could legally drive.

When I got a little older, I threw myself into the behind-the-scenes work of our youth group. My brother and I made announcement videos and hooked up lighting and fog machines for our Wednesday night services. I insisted on working the sound booth, because ...

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After Pastor's Wife Buried Alive, Chinese Church Wins Land Battle

Officials decide that bulldozed property does belong to Protestant house church after all.

Nearly two weeks after a Chinese pastor and his wife were buried alive defending their church from destruction, local authorities have ruled in favor of the Protestant house church’s claim to its land.

After a local business wanted to take over the property that Beitou Church in Zhumadian sat on, a government-backed demolition crew was sent to destroy the church. And when the pastor, Li Jiangong, and his wife, Ding Cuimei, stepped in front of a bulldozer, it didn’t stop.

“Bury them alive for me,” a member of the demolition team said, according to China Aid which reported both the tragic incident and the ensuing legal victory. “I will be responsible for their lives.”

The couple were shoved into a pit and covered with dirt, according to China Aid.

Li manage to free himself. But before he could dig his wife out, Ding suffocated.

The demolition crew is being detained while their actions are being investigated, the local police station told China Aid.

While criminal charges are still pending, a government investigation has concluded that the land belongs to the church.

“This is a definite legal victory for the church,” stated China Aid. “The task force concluded the investigation [by] stating … that pastor Li Jiangong's church has the sole authority for the usage of the land as a religious site and should belong to the church for use. It rules no individual or other organization should claim the land from the church.”

"While we are glad to see and commend the local authorities under international pressure acted swiftly and fairly to resolve the church's land with this right decision, we are still deeply concerned about the justice for this family of martyr ...

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