Archives For Evangelicals

Christian leaders often lament the rate at which young people are leaving the church, but few seem to have noticed that many of those who do stay have accepted a non-orthodox version of the Christian message.

Man Holding Sign That Says BlessedIn other words, many Christian teens aren’t really Christians. It’s time to face that, and do something about it.

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Every important action you will ever take is based on one of only two human motivations: fear and aspiration.

That’s according to marketing guru Seth Godin, who might as well be talking about the Christian gospel. Over the years Evangelicals have yo-yoed between positive and negative motivations as the basis for our message.

Old Holy Bible

The old gospel, the one ante-millennials cut their teeth on, was based on fear—the fear of hell.

The new gospel, the one we began using sometime in the 1990s, appeals to an aspiration—personal well-being or success.

Is one better or worse?

Actually, both are wrong. It’s time to return to the other gospel, the one Jesus preached.

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Consumer behavior among church attendees results from a value-driven approach to ministry based on a corporate model for the church. This mistaken ideology is the central problem in North American Christianity.

Church is now a commodity rather than a community, and members increasingly approach worship with a consumer mind-set. That should be self-evident to any church leader, but it’s easy enough to substantiate.

Value Sphere Definition Meaning Importance Worth And High Value

Consider these actual statements heard from church members and visitors—

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Top Indiana evangelical leaders met today at the Wesleyan Church Headquarters, 13300 Olio Road, Fishers, Ind., for a press conference to highlight the biblical call to welcome the stranger and urge Congress to move forward with a vote on immigration reform.

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I was privileged to be among local pastors including Darryn Scheske of Heartland Church in Fishers, Mike Colaw of Trinity Church in Fishers, Steve DeNeff of College Wesleyan Church, Marion, Ind., and other pastors and church officials from Indiana.

We discussed the moral imperatives for immigration reform and the April 29 #Pray4Reform event in Washington, D.C., when more than 200 evangelical pastors, including a dozen from Indiana, will meet with their members of Congress.

Here is the statement I delivered.

April 25, 2014

My name is Lawrence Wilson, and I am pastor at Fall Creek Wesleyan Church in Fishers, Ind. Our congregation is home to immigrants from 10 countries of origin outside the 50 United States, and my own wife is a naturalized citizen. We are a nation of immigrants, and our congregation reflects that reality.

I was privileged to attend the citizenship ceremony for one of my parishioners this year, an engineer from Germany. It was thrilling to see him and 71 other new Americans pledge their loyalty to our country.

Yet the experience of immigration is much different for many others, who come here to work at more menial tasks. Many of these workers are undocumented and receive much different treatment. Lengthy detention and separation of families is commonplace. Many live in fear of being deported, making them easy targets for unscrupulous operators.

We have two systems for immigration. Those who come to captain our industries or teach in our universities are welcome. Those who come to do the equally needed and desired work of serving at our tables and tending our properties are treated as outsiders.

This is unjust, and it harms people. For me, immigration reform is not a policy issue; it is a people issue. It is not about politics; it’s about holiness.

The question our society faces is this: Will we treat one another with dignity as persons created in the image of God? Or will we create a permanent class of underlings who are welcome to mow our lawns and serve our food but will never be recognized as equals in our society?

We must do the former, and I am going to Washington to urge congress to reform our laws in a way that ensures accountability, a more secure border, a stronger economy, and the opportunity for aspiring Americans to earn legal status with eventual citizenship.

Yesterday two random things came together in my life. First, the decision by global charity World Vision to hire gay Christians in same-sex relationships hit the news. Second, I chanced upon an internal newsletter by a tobacco lobbying group from the mid-1980s.

smiley woman with yellow dirty teeth holding cigarette

Those seemingly unrelated statements bring the politics of sexuality into sharp focus because Big Tobacco and World Vision are so much alike.

And so different.

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