Service Schedule

Enter Text Here

Directions

This search engine must be configured before it can be used. If you have just placed this search engine it will appear on reload after saving.

Enter Text Here

LGBT Rights-Religious Liberty Bill Proposed in Congress

Fairness for All advocates hope legislation makes compromise seem possible.

Congressman Chris Stewart doesn’t expect his bill to pass. But he is proposing the Fairness for All Act anyway. It’s a step of faith for Stewart, a Republican who represents Utah’s second district, and a marker on the bet that it’s possible to find a compromise that protects both religious liberty and LGBT rights.

“Congress can be a frustrating place to be because it’s so polarized. But I don’t think we can throw up our hands and quit,” Stewart told Christianity Today.

Smith proposes the Fairness for All Act in Congress Friday. Advocates of the idea of finding common ground for religious liberty and LGBT rights, led by the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU), have spent three years planning, discussing, and strategizing for this moment.

The law would prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination in employment, housing, and places of public accommodation, including retail stores, banks, and health care service providers. Currently, under federal law and in the majority of states, LGBT people can be evicted from rental property, denied loans, denied medical care, fired from their jobs, and turned away from businesses because of their sexual orientation.

The Fairness for All law would offer LGBT people substantially the same protections as the proposed Equality Act, a bill LGBT advocates have long promoted and Democrats in the House passed earlier this year, only to see it stall in the Senate. The Equality Act, however, includes no exemptions for religious organizations.

“The Equality Act was written in such a way that a religious person like myself couldn’t vote for it,” said Stewart, who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “[Democratic ...

Continue reading...

Samoa Bans Kids from Church as Measles Outbreak Kills 63

Advent will be “mellow” on South Pacific island as government restricts public gatherings amid vaccination campaign.

Children in Samoa have been temporarily banned from attending church services and other public gatherings, due to a growing measles outbreak that has claimed more than 60 lives and threatens to cancel Advent celebrations.

The government of the South Pacific island nation was closed today and yesterday, as officials and public health workers turned all their attention to an immunization campaign.

Prior to the outbreak, less than a third (31%) of the island’s population of about 200,000 were protected by a measles vaccine, according to Reuters. After cases were reported and a national emergency was declared in mid-November, nearly another third received immunizations in the following two weeks.

As of yesterday (Dec. 5), 82 percent of infants and children up to 4 years old have been vaccinated, along with 93 percent of those between 5 and 19 years old.

Even so, more than 4,300 Samoans have been diagnosed with measles and at least 63 have died. Of those, all but 3 were children; 55 were 4 years old or younger. About 20 more children are in critical condition.

In a nation where many are not vaccinated, the prime minister made it clear that Christian leaders are needed to encourage their countrymen to get vaccinated.

“The government needs the support of all the village councils, faith-based organizations, and church leaders, village mayors, and government women representatives,” said Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi in a state address last Sunday. “Let us work together to encourage and convince those that do not believe that vaccinations are the only answer to the epidemic. Let us not be distracted by the promise of alternative cures.”

Indeed, many Samoans had never received childhood immunizations, either out ...

Continue reading...

Nobodies Were the First to Know

When God announced the birth of Christ to sweaty, uncouth shepherds, he signaled something important about the kind of Messiah he was sending.

A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to appear on a top-rated national morning show. When I got the email confirming my appearance, my stomach tightened a bit, and I think my feet lifted off the ground. My first thought was, Wow, this will sell a ton of books. And my second thought was, Do I need to buy a new suit? I was excited and yet very, very nervous. Somehow I managed to get through the experience without totally embarrassing myself.

Being on a big-time television news show is one of the best ways to try to announce big news. Public-relations professionals work hard at securing these opportunities, trying to get their guests in front of millions of eyeballs. But when God announced the birth of Jesus to the world, he used the opposite approach. He didn’t send Jesus to 30 Rock, but sent the host of Heaven to a common field outside Bethlehem. And the people he chose as his spokesmen were unpolished, sweaty, uncouth shepherds.

Today shepherds are romanticized in nearly every Christmas pageant. Many of us have donned a modified pillowcase and grabbed a walking stick to appear in a Christmas pageant at church or school. But in the first century, nobody thought shepherds were cute. And certainly nobody thought they were important. But there they were, the first to know at Christmas.

A Kingdom for Outsiders

Shepherds were not really considered part of polite society in those days. They were required to tend their flocks outside the city gates. The only reason shepherds had any significance was because sheep were a valuable commodity, especially as it got closer to Passover, when many lambs would be sacrificed in the temple.

The work of shepherds was (and still is) extraordinarily difficult. They had to wrangle obstinate ...

Continue reading...

Defining Leadership: What Is It and Why Does It Matter in Church?

Leadership is a key component in the health of any church or ministry.

“Great men lead people,” Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ said. “But greater men train leaders.” As leaders we are called not only to raise up followers, but also to equip leaders. How we define Christian leadership is the crucial starting point.

When I teach leadership, I walk through a few definitions, including:

“Leadership is a dynamic process in which a man or woman with God-given capacity influences a specific group of God’s people toward His purposes for the group.” (Robert Clinton)

“Leadership is influence, nothing more nothing less.” (John Maxwell)

“The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers.” (Peter Drucker)

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” (Warren Bennis)

Here is the definition I use today:

Christian leadership is a process of influencing a community to use their God-given gifts toward a goal and purpose as led by the Holy Spirit.

But, how does this work? And, how is Christian leadership different?

A Skill?

A common debate about leadership involves whether leaders are made or born. On the one hand, some believe leadership is simply a skill to be developed. On the other, some think there are natural born leaders, with no refining or development necessary. The answer lies in between these two extremes.

There’s no doubt some are born with a combination of characteristics that easily opens doors for leadership.

However, there are additional skills of leadership one can learn.

In his book Talent Is Overrated, Geoff Colvin observes how we’ve overestimated the importance of being born with great ability—leadership, sports, music, or other areas—and underestimated the power of ...

Continue reading...

Unable to connect to the specified url.