Why Rachel Held Evans is not that controversial

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Many in the Christianity community have followed Rachel Held’s Evan’s blogging and writing due to her journey of questioning of her upbringing within conservative evangelicalism. As a powerful female voice, Rachel Held Evans created a niche of disenfranchised and exiles from the evangelical community. She has taken on issues such as women’s roles in Christianity, LGBT rights, and challenging traditional evangelical doctrine.

Many on the evangelical right believer her to be a heretic. Other celebrate her ability to question the normative ethos of evangelicalism. Despite her popularity on social media, speaking tours, and as an author, Evans writing and new book, Searching for Sunday is not controversial.

Let me take a full stop here. Rachel is great example of someone who turned their questions of faith and shared those questions with a broader audience. I like Rachel and admire her strength and courage. She is a faithful Christian trying to figure out her faith in a complex and changing world – as all Christians should be doing. She is a very good writer. I like her sense of honesty and humor.

In her new book, Searching for Sunday, Evans writes about her progression towards a more sacramental and orthodox Christian experience. She remarked to Jonathan Merritt of the Religion News Service,

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Be informed, not ignorant on Baltimore

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Baltimore is a great city. It is home to the sports teams I follow, universities, churches, an inner harbor, and more importantly where people live. My mother was born and raised in Baltimore. I was born outside Baltimore in Maryland and lived there for about 20 years. As a former Marylander, I’m shocked at the reporting in Baltimore that I’ve seen.

The scenes and pictures of Baltimore rioting over the death of Freddie Gray by police is inescapable. Facebook, Twitter, TV, and the internet are all reporting using words like “thugs”, “vandals” or “rioters”. However, media talking heads are blaming, criticizing, and pointing fingers. As usual, the media are driving a very specific narrative and image: inner city [racial] chaos.

An example of this is on Fox News 

Another protester told Vittert he’s upset about all the police brutality, but it was drowned out by more indiscernible shouting. The audio feed briefly cut out, but one f-bomb was picked up on the air. Kelly immediately said, “This is ridiculous. This is how folks want to be heard? They want to shout down the reporter? They want to endanger him?”

One person equals “This is how folks want to be heard”? One story, one person does not equal the whole story. However, that is the picture that many in the media want to paint. Geraldo Rivera told a vandal protester who was blocking the news camera, “You blocking my camera… You’re making a fool of yourself!” to which someone replied, “We don’t want your false coverage!”

With cities like Ferguson, Cleveland, Brooklyn, and Baltimore protesting what residents feel as injustice, the media captures the worst of the worst. Riots in other cities, for other reasons, are often reported differently by some news outlets. It seems that scenes of violence fill the airwaves more than the scenes of peaceful protests. What about the scenes of people trying to help? Perhaps one of the most powerful and important news worthy events that are occurring in Baltimore is what the clergy are doing. Hundreds of clergy marched in Baltimore to promote peace. WBAL in Baltimore reported first hand what occurred on April 27:

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5 phrases that frustrate Millennials in church

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In an age where Millennials in church are a scarcity, long term church members often find trouble with how to relate to newer church goers. No matter if the young people are Millennials, or Gen-Xers,  younger church goers and members must be encouraged and allowed to take leadership roles. With 66% of Millennials in church say that churches are hypocritical, church leaders need to understand that cultural church language and behavior are important.

With all of these considerations, here’s what send Millennials in church running from churches in frustration:

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Jimmy Buffett joins First Baptist Church

I cannot hide this news any longer since the Albany Times Union published the story this morning: Jimmy Buffett will join the First Baptist Church of Ballston Spa in May. I’m very sorry to my family and friends for keeping this information private.

I’ve had to keep Jimmy Buffett’s news silent as I was contractually prohibited from announcing the news to anyone. Buffett recently bought a home in near by Saratoga Springs and plans to use it in the summer.   Most of the conversation about Buffett joining the church was through his agent and daughter.  Buffett’s agent confirmed that I could pass this along from the press release:

Mr. Buffett’s recent New York home purchase means that Mr. Buffett will be searching for a local church to join. We are pleased to announce that Mr. Buffett will join The First Baptist Church of Ballston Spa in early May 2015. Due to Mr. Buffett’s tour and concert commitments, Mr. Buffett will conduct further communication through Prestige Worldwide.  

Church bullies

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Today on Facebook, I posted Thom Rainer’s “9 Traits of Church Bullies“. The amount of reposts tells me that church bullies are growing problem in churches.

Usually, we think of bullies at school but churches suffer from bullying as well. As mainline churches continue to figure out how to do ministry differently, church bullies work hard to invest in their agenda. Church bullies usually work against moving the church forward into vibrancy. Rainer’s list clarifies what church bully behavior looks like:  [Read more…]

The myth of the elite young athlete

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I recently received an email from my brother-in-law that contained several video links.

“Tell me what you think.” My brother-in-law wrote.

I clicked and opened each link and watched my 8-year-old nephew goaltending a lacrosse goal. The video contained the coach’s commentary, superimposed video drawings, and slow motion point-by-point breakdown of his form.

“Wow! When I played that type of analysis and video work was only on ESPN,” I wrote back. I was shocked at the level of sophistication of the coaching analysis.

In the last 10-15 years, there has been an explosion in youth sports training, travel teams, artificial turf fields, video production, websites, private coaches, and “elite” sports teams. According to the news channel CNBC, youth sport travel is a $7 billion dollar industry.  With the recent interest in forming “elite” youth athletes, parents are left paying for additional training and sacrificing family time to “elite” sports.

Growing up in the 1980’s and 1990’s, we kids played football, lacrosse, soccer, baseball, street hockey, and basketball. Some of us were on recreation teams and others were not. We tried all sorts of sports and leagues. We played because it was fun.

Now, as a father of three children, I cannot believe how much youth sports culture has changed. What was once a time of fun, team building, and exercise is now a billion dollar industry. Families spend the whole weekend carting around their kids to sport games or leagues. They spend 2-4 nights a week at practices. Their kid’s sports are their life.

It is not supposed to be this way.

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#1 reason why churches have lost millennials

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After recently writing about misconceptions of millennials, I stumbled on study that discovered the strongest contributing factor of the millennial’s departure from churches.  The study reveled something so basic it amazing that more research is not being done.

There are groups like Barna and church trackers like Ed Stetzer who have listed several major reasons why millennials and young people are leaving churches. According to the research about 60% of young people stop going to church altogether. These studies quoted take a pretty dynamic approach looking at many factors. However, the answer to the millennial exodus is simpler and more troubling.

The Christian Century cited a report by the Association of Religion Data Archives that went under the radar. I was shocked when I read it. The study found that 1% of youth ages “15 to 17 raised by parents who attached little importance to religion were highly religious in their mid to late twenties.” Here is what else they found about millennials and young people:

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What you know about Millennials is wrong

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The hype surrounding millennials has been heavily documented. You know the millennials. Those trophy-for-everything-kids who live with their parents. The millennials who grew up as the “me” generation. Millennials, with their technology, social media, and heavy cell phone use. As employees, millennials are high maintenance, liberal, and self-serving.

Everyone thinks they know the millennials, but they don’t. Here’s why.

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What Twitter is giving up for Lent

In case you were still working on what you are giving up or for Lent, the 2015 results of the top 100 Lenten sacrifices are in (according to Twitter).

With about 646,000  tweets analyzed, the hot topic “school” is currently out in front, with chocolate, swearing and alcohol in the top 5. Christianity Today gave an in-depth analysis, here.

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Stephen Smith of OpenBible.info’s running list of the top 100 most-mentioned Lenten sacrifices (both serious and cynical) in 2015:  [Read more…]

Time for a new adventure

I have some big news to share… well, it’s not “big” as in world changing, but big to me. After three years of searching, praying, and considering, I decided to go on a new adventure.

drum roll please

I’ve applied and was accepted into the Doctor of Theology program at La Salle University in Philadelphia, PA!

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What Christians can learn from Norse god temple

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A rather provocative religion news story came across my screen this morning and it is something Christians should learn from. The Religion News Service reports that the first Norse temple in a 1,000 years will be built in Iceland. It seems Marvel‘s god-like Thor really does have a following.

Norse paganism is the stuff of fables and bedtime stories. If a religion that has been virtually dead for 1,000 years, how can it come back? What about it makes it so interesting? To add to the mystery, the Religion News Service reports the temple’s membership has grown to 2,400 people. The temple’s leader, Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson, high priest of ‘Asatruarfelagid’ (try to say that 10 times fast) said:

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Kirk Cameron, Chuck Norris, and War on Christmas

It seems every year there is an outcry from Christians who bemoan culture’s lack of acceptance of Christmas displays and call it the War on Christmas. Kirk Cameron is the latest to defend Christians from a supposed secular atheist attack with a candy cane and Jesus snow globe. Even Chuck Norris is getting in on the War on Christmas with a drop kick of truth!

If there is a War on Christmas, then there must be casualties.

A War on Christmas means that people are not free to worship or celebrate Christ’s birth, right?  Where are the storm troopers coming into churches and shutting the place down? Why use such charged language of “war” like “war on terror”, “war on drugs”, and now “War on Christmas”? Rumor and speculation of a “war” via talking heads does not make a War on Christmas.

The truth is that there is no War on Christmas.

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