• Outpost Blog 7 hours ago

    The secret to awesome children’s ministry

    The secret to awesome children’s ministry

    by Jana Blazek
    Of all of the mythical ways to grow a church (Start a contemporary worship service! Call a pastor with a young family! Get a new website! Create a Facebook page!), perhaps the most time-honored are: Hire a Christian Education Coordinator! And, Create new and better programs for kids! The theory being that parents want quality programming for their children, and if the kids like coming to church, the parents will follow them. It’s not a bad theory. Like countless other churches, the congregation I serve works hard to provide excellent… continue reading...
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  • Outlook Features 7 hours ago

    Seminaries & the church: Moving forward

    Seminaries & the church: Moving forward

    by Lee Hinson-Hasty
    The number one goal at summer camp for my teenage son, Garrison, was to skipper a Lightning, a 19-foot-long fully rigged sailing sloop. One of the many requirements to prove his proficiency, but possibly the most difficult, was to demonstrate a rudderless “man overboard,” a maneuver when a sailing crew rescues a person who has fallen off the boat while sailing without a rudder. Rudders normally serve as the primary steering device for sailboats. This rotating slat attached to the stern/back of the boat works with the sails that propel… continue reading...
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  • Editorials 1 day ago

    Back to the pastorate

    Back to the pastorate

    by Jack Haberer
    I never intended to earn a Masters of Divinity degree. As a 24-year-old, nondenominational fundapentacharisgelical, my faith mentors and peers disdained the intellectualism and theological skepticism that seminaries were allegedly promoting. As one already toting an undergrad degree in religion and philosophy, including two semesters of biblical Greek, my training already exceeded that of most pastors I knew. All I really wanted was to take a couple of courses in biblical Hebrew and to gain some clarification in exegetical methodologies. Two semesters away from home should suffice, I surmised. One… continue reading...
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The secret to awesome children’s ministry

Scott Hauser

Of all of the mythical ways to grow a church (Start a contemporary worship service! Call a pastor with a young family! Get a new website! Create a Facebook page!), perhaps the most time-honored are: Hire a Christian Education Coordinator! And, Create new and better programs for kids! The theory being that parents want quality programming for their children, and if the kids like coming to church, the parents will follow them. It’s not a bad theory. Like countless other churches, the congregation I serve works hard to provide excellent opportunities for children. We welcome kids from all over the community to Vacation Bible School, we write our own Sunday school curriculum and we work hard to ensure that children feel valued and welcomed in our worship services. Like many, many churches, we do most everything we can think of to create excellent programs for children. But there’s a catch — kids are like adults. And when they experience church as a great time of excitement, … [Read more...]

Seminaries & the church: Moving forward

LeeHinsonHastyandson

The number one goal at summer camp for my teenage son, Garrison, was to skipper a Lightning, a 19-foot-long fully rigged sailing sloop. One of the many requirements to prove his proficiency, but possibly the most difficult, was to demonstrate a rudderless “man overboard,” a maneuver when a sailing crew rescues a person who has fallen off the boat while sailing without a rudder. Rudders normally serve as the primary steering device for sailboats. This rotating slat attached to the stern/back of the boat works with the sails that propel the boat and the centerboard or keel that sinks deep enough in the water to serve as a lever and boat tipping prevention tool. Making any progress toward a destination without a rudder in a sailboat requires planning, skill and content adjustments. Rescuing a person drifting in the water without a rudder is exponentially more difficult and demanding. Garrison loved the challenge and was able to accomplish the rescue without a rudder and with crewmates … [Read more...]

Regarding ruling elders: Finding your voice as a ruling elder

LOUISVILLE (PNS) “The same Spirit who inspired the prophets and apostles ... calls women and men to all ministries of the Church” (The Book of Confessions, A Brief Statement of Faith,10.4, lines 58–59, 64). I am a true “over-thinker.” That means I’ve thought so much about how I ended up a ruling elder in a teaching elder world that I doubted my qualifications due to a lack of earthly credentials. At times, I have lost sight of the fact that God called me! Others have affirmed it, regardless of how long my resume is or how many degrees I hold. Soon after I began my new role with the synod, I was gathered with new colleagues, still overthinking and doubting my qualifications. A wise collaborator said, “Oh, stop it! You’re here now, so what are you going to do?” While I thought it incredibly rude at the time, I have since come to see it as a reminder of my call, and I am grateful. At each council level above that of the session (presbytery, synod, and General Assembly), our … [Read more...]

Why same-sex marriage is expected to heat up this election among evangelicals

(RNS) As more states affirm same-sex marriage, U.S. evangelicals continue to wrestle with homosexuality, setting boundaries for what’s acceptable and what’s not, and setting the stage for a heated fall election season. This week, things got hotter. A new group called Evangelicals for Marriage Equality launched Tuesday (Sept. 9) and is collecting signatures from evangelicals who support same-sex marriage. Its advisory board includes author and speaker Brian McLaren, former National Association of Evangelicals vice president Richard Cizik, and former USAID faith adviser Chris LaTondresse. Cizik resigned from his NAE position over his support for same-sex civil unions. “Our organization is not taking a theological position on the issue of the sacrament of marriage,” said spokesman Brandan Robertson. “We just want evangelicals to see that it is possible to hold a plethora of beliefs about sexuality and marriage while affirming the rights of LGBTQ men and women to be civilly … [Read more...]

U.S. Ebola survivor donates his blood to another stricken missionary

(RNS) An American physician who contracted Ebola while working in a West African hospital has received a blood transfusion from another American missionary doctor who survived the disease, hospital officials confirmed Thursday. Physician Richard Sacra, who is being treated at the Nebraska Medical Center’s special biocontainment unit, received the blood donation from doctor Kent Brantly, who was treated for Ebola and released from an Atlanta hospital last month. Both men contracted Ebola while caring for patients in Monrovia, Liberia, while working for missionary groups. Sacra, 51, also received an experimental therapy. Doctors have not revealed its name. Sacra is recovering well, his wife, Debbie, and his doctor, Phil Smith, medical director of the biocontainment unit, said at a news conference Thursday (Sept. 11). Brantly received a blood donation from a teenage survivor of Ebola while he was still in Liberia.The World Health Organization has said that such transfusions — … [Read more...]

Back to the pastorate

Jack long sleeved

I never intended to earn a Masters of Divinity degree. As a 24-year-old, nondenominational fundapentacharisgelical, my faith mentors and peers disdained the intellectualism and theological skepticism that seminaries were allegedly promoting. As one already toting an undergrad degree in religion and philosophy, including two semesters of biblical Greek, my training already exceeded that of most pastors I knew. All I really wanted was to take a couple of courses in biblical Hebrew and to gain some clarification in exegetical methodologies. Two semesters away from home should suffice, I surmised. One semester sufficed to reveal how little I knew about being a pastor. Classes and conversations opened my eyes to biblical complexities, theological ambiguities and pastoral minefields whose depth seemed bottomless. So I stayed put. I earned the three-year M.Div. degree. I was hired by a south Florida fundapentacharisgelical church that was affiliated with the United Presbyterian Church … [Read more...]