Every news cycle seems to bring out new allegations of misconduct by pastors in the pulpit bringing shame and disrespect to the Church. A recent study conducted by Gallop shows that the public has one of the lowest views of the clergy’s ethical and moral standards in over a generation.
Some may mourn the fact that Jane was martyred at the young age of 17. Certainly it was awful and evil, but I can’t help but rejoice when hearing about her life. Something about her young age is especially encouraging, as it challenges young people to live a life of boldness, courage, and devotion to God – even to death.
I was 14 years old when my church hired a new senior pastor. He was a bit of a young upstart who wanted to make some changes. One change was that women would no longer serve in leadership roles. Some people left the church right then and there, but my family didn’t.
The bodily motions of worship—singing, raising your hands, kneeling, closing your eyes—shape us significantly, even when we don’t feel like they are.
Jesus says, “Come to me . . . and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). We have good news for our busy culture. Proving yourself is just another term for justifying your- self. And we have good news of justification by grace.
In our modern age of iPhones and data plans, when WiFi seems more vital than oxygen, a constant stream of media washes over us. Connecting to Jesus on Sunday becomes just one point of contact, lost among a million tweets, text messages, and YouTube videos.
As an unmarried believer, I still find it amazing that I am to avoid sex all of my life only to have the freedom to enjoy it the minute I’m married. What a mind shift! It’s no wonder that for so many newly married couples, even showing each other their naked bodies stirs up feelings of embarrassment.
Most conservative churches have a definition of “normal” that my friends and I can’t live up it up. It can leave us feeling confused and isolated, because most of us didn’t choose our unorthodox demographics, we just found our lives playing out on the single, gay, childless, artistic, or job-wandering stage. So, how do we navigate life in the church when we don’t quite fit in?
Where these churches err is in failing to hear the Spirit. And that’s not just a church-thing. That’s where most of us get it wrong in our own lives, too.
If we want to know if a particular ministry is being “successful” we should ask the following question: What signs of the kingdom have we seen or experienced during the past week? All other measurements of success fall subservient to that single question.