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Interview: Latasha Morrison: The Church Is the Only Place Equipped to Do Racial Reconciliation Well

The founder of Be the Bridge reveals her vision for solving America's race problem.

For years, Latasha Morrison attended a predominantly African American church in Atlanta that intersected with both black and white communities, including those affiliated with Rick Warren and John Maxwell. “I noticed that wasn’t true for all churches,” said Morrison. “A lot of churches stay in their racial bubble.”

When Morrison left her church, she left with a plan. “My strategy was to be a pioneer for reconciliation within the white church,” she said. “So I strategically applied for jobs at white churches.”

The transition from Atlanta to Gateway Church in Austin was tough for Morrison, but she found her stride after she connected with IF:Gathering founder Jennie Allen, who invited her to share her vision at the IF conference in 2014. Morrison’s mission was to enable racial reconciliation within local churches and develop resources for Christians who want to build cross-racial relationships.

Since then, Be the Bridge has exploded in size and now serves the local church by providing curricula and other tools that encourage bridge builders to “[foster and develop] vision, skills, and heart for racial unity.” “I see glimmers of hope,” Morrison says of the white evangelical climate today. “Even if they don’t get it completely. People are at least trying to lean into the conversation and acknowledge that there is an issue.”

Morrison recently spoke with CT about why white Christians and Christians of color can’t leave when it gets uncomfortable, why the Be the Bridge vision has resonated with so many people, and why the church is the best place for racial reconciliation to flourish.

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November 8th Is Long Gone, So Where do Christians Find Themselves?

God doesnt love countries. He loves people.

Many Evangelicals voted for Donald Trump on November 8th, and he is now our President-elect.

Last October and November, I ran numerous articles about Trump and the other candidates. As I posted piece after piece, however, my heart continued to grow pained as I watched fellow Christians do and say things that were not only unhelpful to our call as Christ's ambassadors, but also which tarnished the very name we say we love—Jesus Christ.

So here we are, and as many have moved on to other matters and sometimes even seem to be seeking to sweep our witness problems under the proverbial rug, I have been reminded that this witness problem is not a small matter. It's actually a significant problem.

So at the risk of re-offending many people, let me share a few random thoughts I've had concerning Evangelicals post-election and as we ramp up to Inauguration Day.

First, 20 years from now, we are going to look back at this election as a last gasp in which some Evangelicals thought that they could get their influence and culture back.

After all, in the minds of some, Trump has promised to put things back the way they were.

But culture is not going back to the way it was. And Trump can’t and won’t take it there.

For some, they are reaching for something that has been slipping from our hands for years—namely, the continuation of a commitment as a nation to Christian values.

If we look at trends in Christianity as a whole, and Evangelicals in particular, we cannot deny that many of those who once claimed to be Christian (what we call ‘nominal Christians’) have now become ‘nones,’ declaring no faith at all.

This trend is going to continue. In addition, there's a continual erosion of the ...

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Repealing Obamacare without a Replacement: How It May Hurt Small Church Pastors and Church Planters Near You

ACA repeal/replace has a lot of implications.

It seems that President-elect Trump is moving full force toward a repeal of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), tweeting out that “The ‘Unaffordable’ Care Act will soon be history!”

The Problems of Obamacare

Admittedly, we would find few people who would say Obamacare has been a great success, especially as premiums have soared in recent years. Even Bill Clinton’s comments, later walked back, reveal the widespread dissatisfaction.

When I recently posted on my Facebook page, “I'm interested in the implications of the repeal of Obamacare (ACA) on pastors and church planters. Anyone got any thoughts?” I got quite a few responses, some of which focused on the tremendous increase in premiums.

One person even said, “Over the last 3 years my premium has almost doubled (a 90% increase) for a deductible that went from $500 to $6,000. If my math is right, that's an actual increase of over 1,200% should I have had to use it.”

So, yes, Obamacare has been bad for many and many of the claims about it were false. (For example, Politifact named one promise the “lie of the year.”)

Furthermore, it is disliked by many people of faith, particularly Evangelicals. There are many reasons for this, but a key one is the unnecessary and (in my view) foolish fight the Obama Administration picked with people of faith. (Hint: don’t pick a fight with a group named “Little Sisters of the Poor.”)

Those high premiums, and failed promises, have hurt a lot of people—including small church pastors and church planters.

But, it is here now, so there is more than one side to the story now.

Repealing Has Implications

Many people may be unaware of the impact that such a ...

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Rebuilding Our Witness (Part 2): Developing an Understanding of the Connection of Love & Evangelism in Light of Our New Political Climate

A Christian worldview embraces two things: the Great Commandment and the Great Commission

In Part 1, I talked about why we are at a time when we need to step back and assess how we view the world and the lens we apply to all that we see and do. I talked about a Christian worldview that holds in one hand the Great Commandment and in the other the Great Commission. It’s a worldview that embraces a love of God and a love of others above even ourselves.

Recently, we have seen many ways in which these two elements have broken down. Many Evangelicals have acted and said things over the past months that have not conveyed a belief that God is in, over, and through all things (Eph. 4:6). Many have also not sought to place the needs of others above themselves. It has been a disheartening time for the Church in many respects.

And yet here we are. We have a witness problem.

As we consider the Christian worldview that holds the Great Commandment—to love God—and the Great Commission—to love others—together, it is imperative that we view evangelism—proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ—as a core component of our daily lives.

Six months ago, I came to Wheaton College and the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism due in no small part to my belief that the Church has dropped the ball when it comes to showing and sharing the love of Jesus in our broken world. As I like to say, evangelism has fallen on hard times.

John Stott once said, “The nations are not gathered in automatically. If God has promised to bless ‘all the families of the earth,’ He has promised to do so ‘through Abraham’s seed’ (Gen. 12:3; 22:18). Now we are Abraham’s seed by faith, and the earth’s families will be blessed only if we go to them with the gospel.”

An authentic ...

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News: Churches Challenge Nigeria Forcing Pastors to Retire

New law requiring resignation after age 70 or 20 years in pulpit would affect 90 percent of evangelical pastors.

The surprise resignation of Nigeria’s highest-profile pastor has exacerbated a debate among West African Christians on the merits—and limits—of pastor tenure.

Last weekend, Enoch Adeboye resigned his role as general overseer of the 5-million-member Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in Nigeria (though not as overseer of its international presence in 192 nations). He cited the nation’s Financial Reporting Council (FRC) and its newly-introduced Governance Code for his action.

Section 9:3 of the code stipulates that leaders or founders of nonprofit organizations—including churches and ministries—must hand over leadership to a non-family member after 70 years of age or 20 years of being in charge. Adeboye is 74, and has been leading his megachurch since 1981.

The law, which is designed to guarantee financial accountability, went into effect in October 2016. If fully implemented, 90 percent of the populous West African nation’s evangelical church founders and leaders would be required to step aside.

Affected prominent pastors would include David Oyedepo of Living Faith Ministries Worldwide (1 million members); Mike Okonkwo of The Redeemed Evangelical Mission (500,000 members); Chris Oyakhilome of Christ Embassy (400,000 members); and Sam Adeyemi of Daystar Christian Centre (300,000 members). Countless other pastors with smaller congregations would also join the massive wave of forced resignations across the oil-rich nation.

Nigeria’s evangelical community responded with outrage over both Adeboye’s resignation and the FRC’s financial rule, setting off heated debates over pastoral succession.

Many condemned the regulations, alleging they were designed to meddle in church ...

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Where Obama's Final Push for a Two-State Solution Leaves Trump

Three Christians explain the intensifying world debate over Israel's West Bank settlements.

Though the Obama administration has just one week left in office, Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to a Paris peace conference this weekend in a last-ditch effort to advocate for the two-state solution he strongly endorsed last month.

In an unusually blunt December 28 address, Kerry said that Israel’s settlements in the West Bank are obstacles to the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. “No one thinking seriously about peace can ignore the reality of what the settlements pose to that peace,” he said, calling on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to end the settlements and allow for Palestinian development.

Israeli officials and defenders of the Jewish state are concerned by Kerry’s remarks, as well as the recent unanimous passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which declared the settlements illegal. The United States historically abstained from the vote, allowing the resolution to pass.

Kerry will attend the January 15 event in Paris alongside representatives from 70 nations.

Donald Trump and his ambassador to Israel nominee, David Friedman, support the settlements. Trump criticized the UN Security Council resolution, tweeting last month, “We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect,” and “Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!”

More than half of white evangelicals say that the United States isn’t supportive enough of Israel, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey. As CT reported last year, Pew found that Israel’s Christian minority tends to believe the opposite: 86 percent say the United States is too supportive.

Three Christians with expertise in the Israeli-Palestinian ...

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How Black and White Christians Do Discipleship Differently

Survey: African Americans value spiritual formation in community, while whites prefer the opposite.

When it comes to spiritual formation and discipleship, African American Christians are in it together.

Black believers are more likely to position their growth in Christ in the context of community and fellowship, while white Christians take a more individualized approach, according to a study released this week from Barna Research.

The survey found that twice as many black Christians as whites were currently being mentored or discipled by a fellow believer (38% vs. 19%). Over a quarter of black Christians also served as mentors themselves, compared to 17 percent of white Christians.

The prevalence of such relationships relates to traditional models of leadership and lineage in African American churches. In an interview with CT about his book Reviving the Black Church, pastor Thabiti Anyabwile described how “most of our pastors were in some kind of apprenticeship in preparation for the ministry. They would sit under another pastor or have a ‘spiritual father’ who would pour himself into them.”

Black Christians also preferred group-based discipleship to one-on-one (32% vs. 22%), while white Christians favored being discipled on their own (39% vs. 31%), according to Barna. They are four times more likely than white Christians to list study groups as “very important” to their spiritual development.

Natasha Sistrunk Robinson, a mentoring coach and author of Mentor for Life, numbers among the churchgoing African Americans who see group mentoring as essential.

“In a mentoring small group, your learning is going to be enhanced because you're not just hearing the philosophy of one person; rather you are drawing near to God by sharing in the diverse experiences of the group,” she wrote. ...

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When Women Blame Men for Domestic Stress, They Miss the Big Picture

The gender wars inspire finger-pointing. The gospel offers another way.

TIME recently published a piece on housework and parenting asserting that until men share the “invisible workload that drags women down,” women will never be free. Lisa Wade reports on a study by sociologist Susan Walzer in which “Walzer found that women do more of the intellectual, mental, and emotional work of childcare and household maintenance.” She writes,

We have come a long way toward giving women the freedom to build a life outside the home, but the last step may be an invisible one, happening mostly in our heads. To truly be free, we need to free women’s minds. Of course, someone will always have to remember to buy toilet paper, but if that work were shared, women’s extra burdens would be lifted. Only then will women have as much lightness of mind as men.

Wade is exploring a well-known and seemingly unresolvable debate: In a post-industrial society where the home space is often cleaved from the work place, who does the domestic work around the house? How do men and women share (if at all) the tedious work of mopping floors, changing diapers, and dashing to the grocery store when the milk runs out? And for those who work outside the home, how do they balance both?

In her recent book, Unfinished Business: Men, Women, Work, Family, Anne-Marie Slaughter argues that in order to understand the unique challenges that women face, we also need to understand the unique challenges that men face, and in order to find tenable solutions, we have to treat the enigma not as a "woman's problem" but rather as a broader "caretaking problem" that involves both women and men. As Christians wrestling with the biblical vision of God’s unique design for men and women, this ...

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Theology for Life (Ep. 6): What's Really Going On in the Book of Philippians, and What Can We Learn about God and Ourselves?

It is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

In this week's episode of Theology for Life, Lynn and I discuss Philippians 2 and the themes within: joy, unity, partnership, etc.

What does it mean to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling? What does it means that we participate in Christ’s suffering? What role does a community play in our own salvation? What is God’s role in all of this?

The word ‘salvation’ is critical as we look at Philippians and, often, people may see this through just one lens. But what does it really mean, and how do we ‘work it out’?

Lynn and I discuss the importance of God’s role in our salvation, our role in spiritual growth, and how God’s power is the foundation of our work. If we are embodied creatures and can work in God’s strength, what does this mean as we shine like lights in the world, reflecting the glory of God?

Also, this past Sunday I preached on Philippians 2:5–8 at Moody Church. You can watch/listen to Knowing Jesus: The Great Humblinghere.

Ed Stetzer holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College, is Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism, and publishes church leadership resources through Mission Group.

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16 Scholars, Authors, and Celebs Evangelicals Lost in 2016

Remembering Thomas Oden, Peter Wagner, Cliff Barrows, Gordon Lewis, and others.

A collection of CT obituaries and tributes in 2016, listed in chronological order.

Antonin Scalia: Devout Christian, Worldly Judge
A faithful man lives out his faith on the bench with restraint.

Charles C. Ryrie, Theologian Whose Study Bible Shaped Dispensationalism
The 90-year-old scholar leaves behind a legacy beyond Dallas Seminary.

Don McClanen, Founder of Fellowship of Christian Athletes
Vision of Oklahoma basketball coach 60 years ago now reaches 2 million annually

The Humble Coach Behind Celebrity Christianity
Remembering the tenacity and ironies of Fellowship of Christian Athletes founder Don McClanen.

Jerry Bridges’s Pursuit of Holiness Has Come to an End
The beloved Navigators author and Bible teacher died Sunday.

Gary Smalley, Author Who Helped Christians Make Love Last Forever
Speaker was one of Focus on the Family's favorite experts on marriage and relationships.

Kenneth Bailey, the Scholar Who Made Jesus Middle Eastern Again
The late scholar helped Western Christians see the Bible through a cultural lens.

Jan Crouch, Cofounder of Trinity Broadcasting Network
The 78-year-old started the world’s largest religious cable network with her husband.

Robertson McQuilkin, College President Praised for Alzheimer’s Resignation
Author of ‘A Promise Kept’ left Columbia Bible College short of retirement to care for his ailing wife.

Gordon Lewis: Irenic Apologist
Remembering one of the great early evangelical philosophers.

Tim LaHaye, Author Who ‘Left Behind’ a Long Legacy
Jerry B. Jenkins: ‘Thrilled as I am that he is where he has always wanted to be, his departure leaves a void in my soul.’

Jack Chick, Cartoonist Whose Controversial Tracts Became Cult Hits This ...

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