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What's the purpose of a Benevolence offering?

Every Christian church has the God given responsibility to care for each other not only spiritually, but materially as well. Our love for one another must go beyond pious talk and prayer, and when needed must involve practical acts of care, mercy, and generosity. Any church unwilling to do this faces the warning of the Apostle John: 1 John 3:13-18: "But if anyon...

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The Art of Neighboring

I recently finished a short but helpful book entitled “The Art of Neighboring.” In this post I offer a brief summary of the major points of the book, and then a couple of personal takeaways.     Book Summary:  The main point of the book is that Christians should think of their actual, geographic neighbors, as people who are included in Jes...

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Traverse City is "Dechurched," so now what?

Last week I was made aware of the most recent Barna release of "Church Attendance Trends Across the Country." The trends reported are based on a sample size of over 76,000 telephone and online interviews done over a seven year period, ending in April 2016. Based on this sample, Barna breaks down the most churched cities, most unchurched cities, and most dechurched cities i...

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On Pastoral Robes and Supreme Court Justices

This week, at the beginning of the Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse gave a remarkable 10 minute address on the significance of the Supreme Court Justice robe. As I listened to him explain the meaning of the simple black robe to the Senate, I was struck by how relevant his comments are for understanding why mini...

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Some concerns about the top 50 best selling "Christian" books of 2016.

  The Evangelical Publishing company in January released a list of the top 50 best-selling Christian books of 2016. I'm not sure what the right word is to express my reaction: Disappointment? Discouragement? Disgust? Concern? Shock? Truth be told, I felt some mixture of all of these as I scanned the books on this list. One Christian author put it well when he called ...

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What's missing in your worship service?

Tim Challies wrote a short article this past week that got my attention, "The Missing Elements of Modern Worship." His point is simple: elements that used to be hallmarks of Christian worship over the centuries have gone missing in many contemporary American churches. What are some of these missing elements? He identifies five: prayer, scripture reading, confession of sin ...

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Which false teacher are you listening to?

A few months ago popular Christian teacher and blogger Jen Hatmaker publicly spoke out in support of same sex marriage, shocking many in the conservative Christian world of which she was presumed to be a part. In the wake of the controversy, Christianity Today published a thought-provoking article about "the bigger story" behind the Jen Hatmaker reversal, observing the out...

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Spare the Rod? Spanking in an age of child abuse

In his blog post, "Why Jesus wants you to stop spanking your kids," theologian Benjamin Corey speaks to what seems to be a growing conviction inside of evangelical Christianity: God is against spanking. What seems to have triggered his post was the arrest and subsequent suspension of NFL football player Adrian Peterson for child abuse after "spanking" his child with a tree...

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Why I baptized my children, and why I will baptize yours if you let me...

Several years ago I had the great privilege of baptizing my daughter Tenley when she was just a few months old. Before the baptism, Lindsay and I sent a letter to our family and friends, many of whom were completely unfamiliar  (and some, suspicious) with the practice of infant baptism. In light of the upcoming baptisms this weekend, I have posted the letter in its e...

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Why Church Membership? The importance of community in an individualistic and online world

Why should I join a church? Is there really a difference between joining a church and attending regularly? I can now go to church "online" and watch a famous preacher on my TV - isn't that just as good as joining a local church? In our day, where both technology, individualism, and a consumer approach to religion are rampant, these are all questions that come up and need ...

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