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    What Is the Church—Really?

    In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said “The meek shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5). Think about what the righteous will inherit: the earth. Literally. And the earth would make for a pretty pitiful inheritance if God planned to obliterate it. But he doesn’t. Instead, he has big plans to restore it. God has a good plan for this planet that does not involve its total annihilation.  In Ephesians 1, Paul seems to have in mind the same future that Jesus promised to the meek (v. 3). The heirs of God are said to possess the current spiritual blessings as a mere down payment or deposit (v. 14); in the future,…

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    Sacraments and Spit-Up

    It was a no good, rotten Sunday. My husband and I both overslept, resulting in a thrown-together breakfast. My daughter refused to nurse. My son instantaneously despised his church shoes. No one got coffee. The car ride to church resembled a chaotic symphony of yawns, bickering and tears. We arrived at church with forced smiles. As we grabbed seats in the last row, I glanced to the front of the sanctuary, and my stomach dropped. There it stood–a pristine table of bread and juice. I sighed, attempting to curb my rotten attitude, while inwardly thinking, “Of course, communion would be today.” I used to love communion Sundays–a day in which…

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    Praying for the Impossible

    I was recently convicted about the power of prayer. Reading through the book of Acts, I came to the story of Peter’s imprisonment.  If you’re just skimming your reading or you have read the story many times over, it’s tempting to take this moment for granted. With a fresh glance, I was struck by this encounter in the early church and all that it implies for my life and yours. The infamous King Herod was at it yet again. Actually, this time it wasn’t Herod the Great, the famous King who slaughtered many children, hoping to find baby Jesus among the carnage; this was one of King Herod’s legacies, his…

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    Baby Steps toward Racial Reconciliation

    Racial injustice. Color blindness. White privilege. Reparations. Christian unity. Woke up. Systemic racism.  A few years ago these were terms that I as a white woman knew little about and rarely even considered, much less understood. I grew up in the Jim Crow South surrounded by people who looked just like me. Although Brown vs. The Board of Education had demanded an end to school segregation years before, the reality was that my schools were as segregated as ever until high school. My parents were strong Christians who had been taught that white people were superior. But I noticed the inconsistency of their faith and actions and wondered. After the…

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    Why Kids Leave the Church After High School

    The Youth Transition Network has released the results of research about why 70% of students in high school youth groups have left the church within a year after high school graduation. One big reason is the unrealistic expectations that our young people sense from parents and church authority figures. When asked, “What does it mean to be a good Christian,” students responded with a long list of do’s and don’ts, always and nevers: No sex No secular music No fun No profanity No bad attitudes Be perfect Be a virgin Be wholly devoted to God Be righteous Be a role model Don’t doubt Have all the spiritual answers Always be…

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    Christian Cliques – A Problem to Overcome

      What we want and what we get are often two very different things! You would think that inthe church of all places we would easily find community. However, our churches often consist of a large group ofpeople coming together for worship but leaving in cliques. New comers may be welcomed in word while excluded from our conversations and activities.   Even Jesus had close friends with whom He spent more time than He did with the large crowds that came to Him for healing or to hear Him preach. Was that a clique?  By definition a clique is “a narrow exclusive circle or group of persons; especially:one held together…

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    Becoming a Welcoming Church

    As parents, we know all too well the pressures of simply getting out the door on Sunday mornings with kids in tow. Along with that comes the added pressure of checking our children into their classes, making sure teachers know about a child’s allergies, or calming a tearful toddler. When it comes down to it, welcoming new people isn’t always on our radar. And sometimes, the bigger problem is that we think our church is already so welcoming that it won’t make a difference if we fail to greet a guest. Thom S. Rainer (church consultant and author of Becoming a Welcoming Church) learned not to ask church members if…

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    One More Thing!

    In nearly 20 years in children’s ministry, I’ve yet to have a year that I wasn’t short volunteers at least somewhere and at some time in the ministry.  I’ve read all of the articles about how to recruit and keep volunteers and basically, I’ve done just about everything short of sin to do just that.  Sometimes, those strategies work and sometimes they don’t.  I think, in general, it really comes down to building relationships and continuously building into those relationships with vision, leadership, and appreciation.   All I have to say about that is…easier said than done!  Don’t get me wrong, I truly believe if you build into people, people will help you build out…

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    WHO DOES GOD WANT TO TRAIN OUR CHILDREN?

    I was encouraged, by a dear friend, to read the article, “Five Reasons Why the Children’s Minister Is the Staff Position in Greatest Demand.” Here is the link to the article: http://thomrainer.com/2018/02/five-reasons-childrens-minister-staff-position-greatest-demand/ Most of the comments were from people concerned about who they thought should be teaching our children about God. I was left with the question in my own heart: Just who is God holding responsible to teach our children and what does it mean to meet that responsibility? There are very few easy answers when it comes to raising children. Take schooling for instance… Children are schooled in public, private, and boarding schools; while still others homeschool.  We…

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    Evangelicals and The “Happy” Imperative

           Some grow up convinced that feeling unhappy, uneasy, and uncertain is unnatural. American media promotes that being uninvited, unattractive and unintelligent is unnecessary. Even some evangelical circles will contend that feeling unwanted, unworthy, unlovable, and remaining unmarried is unacceptable.        Expectations for happiness run high for many evangelicals. Some even believe a marriage that does not offer a lifetime of bliss has no purpose. Well-meaning Christians sometimes nudge unhappy spouses towards divorce in the name of, “God wants Christians to have happy marriages.” But in Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas contests that God intended marriage to cultivate holiness more than happiness.        But some…