HOMELESSNESS & New book invites Christians to rethink homelessness.

Kathryn Post, Religion News Service, 8/10/22.

… In his new book, ”Grace Can Lead Us Home: A Christian Call to End Homelessness” (out Tuesday, Aug. 9, from Herald Press), the Fuller Seminary graduate says that many of his fellow Christians make the same mistake. Too often, they offer cash or bagged lunches instead of relationships. Or they avert their eyes and just move on.

Churches can be involved in creating and sustaining affordable housing by donating land or supporting initiatives and candidates in building more affordable housing. For those already doing programs addressing homelessness, I really encourage moving from transactional to a relational model. Rather than having volunteers all in a kitchen or behind a serving table, have them move out, sit and eat with the people there. Instead of offering a to-go meal, allow people to rest for a few hours.

“Grace Can Lead Us Home: A Christian Call to End Homelessness”

Nye suggests trying to see people experiencing homelessness as if they were Jesus.

“If we actually saw Jesus on the side of the road, and recognized him as the Son of God, our savior, we probably wouldn’t just roll down our window and hand him a five,” Nye told Religion News Service in a recent phone interview. “We’d hopefully pull over and talk and enter into some sort of relationship where we are doing a lot more listening than talking.”

… In the merit-based model, people have to earn their way through a process that ends in independent housing. Often people need to be clean and sober to enter a shelter, then in the shelter, they follow the rules and can graduate to shared housing. If they keep staying clean and sober, and keep attending the treatment plan laid out for them, they can graduate to maybe interim housing. Long-term, if they stay the course, they can finally receive housing.

One thing to note is that it just doesn’t work, statistically speaking. People are more likely to end their homelessness on their own, without any help, than to end their homelessness with programs like that. Ultimately, that model has so many barriers and provides so many opportunities for people to fail. The moment they do, programs like that put blame on that person for falling out of the program rather than asking, is this program flawed?

… Housing first is proven to work far more effectively, and it’s common sense. If you provide someone with a baseline of safety, security and a place where they can sleep well every night behind a locked door, receive mail and have neighbors, then they are far more capable of building their lives back, whether that’s finding work or getting treatment for mental health, substance use or for a physical disability.

Housing becomes the springboard for people to flourish.

… Churches can be involved in creating and sustaining affordable housing by donating land or supporting initiatives and candidates in building more affordable housing. For those already doing programs addressing homelessness, I really encourage moving from transactional to a relational model. Rather than having volunteers all in a kitchen or behind a serving table, have them move out, sit and eat with the people there. Instead of offering a to-go meal, allow people to rest for a few hours.

Read more at … https://religionnews.com/2022/08/09/new-book-invites-christians-to-rethink-homelessness/

HUMOR & Top 3 TED Talks to watch when you need a pick-me-up.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: TED Talks are a great resource to learn communication skills, especially if you were a speaker or a preacher. Here are three videos that are exceptional examples curated by Winnie Wang of The Daily Californian.

Top 3 TED Talks to watch when you need a pick-me-up.

by Winnie Wang, The Daily Californian, 4/21/22.

Inside the mind of a master procrastinator

…Tim Urban hits all the checkmarks in his speech: funny, informative, relatable. If you’re looking to laugh and learn a valuable lesson at the same time, this is the perfect video.

How to speak so people want to listen

… Julian Treasure’s insight on how to get anyone to listen to you while listening to others taught me how to empathize with people in a way I had never tried before… To top it all off, it comes with a handy acronym that makes these tips easy to remember.

Why people believe they can’t draw

… Graham Shaw walks the audience through a couple of simple techniques to draw cartoons. In doing so, he demonstrates how within a few minutes anyone can learn how to draw, thereby dispelling the belief that you can’t draw. This process offers valuable insight into how to view new skills and challenges in the world.

Read more at … https://www.dailycal.org/2022/04/21/top-3-ted-talks-to-watch-when-you-need-a-pick-me-up/

HYPOCRITICAL & New Research says non-Christians are likely to say Christians do not represent the teachings of Jesus, illustrating a disconnect between how Christians and non-Christians view Christianity.

By Emily McFarlan Miller, Jack Jenkins, Religion News Service, 3/9/22.

Ask a Christian to describe other Christians and the answers likely will be “giving,” “compassionate,” “loving” and “respectful.”

Ask a non-Christian, on the other hand, and the more likely descriptors you’ll get for Christians are “hypocritical,” “judgmental” and “self-righteous.”

Non-Christians are also far more likely to say Christians do not represent the teachings of Jesus.

Those are the results of a new surveyconducted by the Episcopal Church, released Wednesday (March 9), that illustrates stark differences between how Christians and non-Christians view Christianity in the United States. 

“There is a disconnect between the reality of Jesus and the perceived reality of Christians,” said Bishop Michael Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church.

Strong majorities of evangelical Protestants (71%), mainline Protestants (59%), other Protestants (65%) and other Christians (61%) said they viewed Christians overall as compassionate, as did 46% of Catholics. However, only 15% of those who belong to other religions said the same, and the number was even lower among people who claim no religious affiliation (12%).

The ratio roughly flipped when respondents hypocritical: Most religiously unaffiliated Americans said yes (55%), whereas 20% or less of all Christian groups agreed. Evangelicals in particular were the least likely (12%) to describe Christians as hypocritical.

Read more at … https://religionnews.com/2022/03/09/episcopal-bishop-curry-says-more-to-do-as-poll-shows-christians-seen-as-hypocrites/?trrr

HIRING & Researchers find interviews are useless, unless you test candidates on the actual skills and competencies required to do the job. Here is how. #ShowDontTell #IncMagazine

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I spent many years on search committees in higher education. I’ve since discovered that one of the most important tools to ask potential candidates is to actually create a syllabus for a course they might teach. Many candidates may not know how to create a syllabus, but they can research it and create one.

By doing this, they show that they would be able to find information for which they did not yet have experience. And, the resultant syllabus will show the quality of their thinking.

This approach, what the author in the article below calls “show, don’t tell,” helps compensate for applicants that are good talkers or any biases of the selection committee. Read the article below about how Thomas Edison utilized a similar aspect when interviewing potential research assistants.

Thomas Edison Made Job Applicants Eat Soup in Front of Him. It Sounds Crazy But Modern Science Suggests He Was on to Something

by Jessica Stillman, Inc. Magazine, 1/12/21.

… First off, it’s important to know that study after study shows that interviews as they’re usually conducted are pretty close to useless. Asking people questions (even expert-recommended behavioral or hypothetical questions) tends to advantage slick talkers over the actually competent (though there are some tricks to minimize this effect). Interviewers are also notoriously swayed by biases and irrelevant details of self presentation.

What does modern science suggest instead? Perhaps not so surprisingly, just testing candidates on the actual skills and competencies required to do the job. A trial assignment, sample work project, or domain specific test far outperform just talking with candidates about their previous work experience, character, and goals.

Show, don’t tell.

… If you want to really understand who candidates are and what they can do, design ways to observe them solving relevant problems. You’ll always get a better sense of a person based on what they do than on what they say.

Read more at … https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/hiring-job-interviews-thomas-edison.html

HIRING & Elon Musk’s Brilliant Hiring Strategy Uses The ‘2 Hands Test’–Instead of Degrees. #IncMagazine

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: The first consultation I ever conducted (over 30 years ago) was to help an embattled pastor transition out of a church that wanted to fire him. I was successfully able to do this and not surprisingly afterwards most of my clients were pastors or churches who needed or wanted to transfer.

As a result, I’ve been interested in pastoral transitions since a majority of my consultations over three decades may have been involved coaching ministerial transitions.

Two things I have found and utilized while serving as a senior member of a seminary faculty was 1. An applicant should have hands on experience. 2. Hands-on testing, whereby the applicant should be able to create something (e.g. a syllabus or preaching series).

To my surprise, Elon Musk uses the same formula. Check out this article for more details.

How Tesla and SpaceX discover top talent through this expertly-engineered process

by Kelly Main, Inc. Magazine, 1/11/21.

…Musk holds his conviction that skills matter more than degrees. In doing so, his companies, Tesla and SpaceX, attract and retain some of the brightest minds of our time from across the globe-no degree required. But the hiring process does require two things, which comes down to one thing: the ‘Two Hands Test.’

1. First-hand experience… In other words, education is not limited to what is taught within the walls of a classroom, but what is learned through first-hand experiences. And because of this, first-hand experience is sought as means of discovering talent with deep knowledge.

2. Hands-on testing … Sure, a job interview is a test, but rather than actually examining a candidate’s capabilities, many companies simply work to evaluate a candidate’s knowledge. However, this is a fatal flaw as there is a major difference between memorizing and parroting information and actually understanding how something works. To overcome this challenge, put candidates to the test with highly relevant hands-on testing.

To test candidates effectively, give tests (e.g., a task or assignment) that most closely matches what the role itself may encounter. To yield an accurate measurement of one’s ability to effectively perform the position’s tasks, be sure that the test’s scope is limited to the resources necessary to perform said test or task.

Read more at … https://www.inc.com/kelly-main/elon-musks-brilliant-hiring-strategy-uses-2-hands-test-instead-of-degrees.html

HEAVEN & Nearly 70% of born-again Christians say other religions can lead to Heaven: study

by Leonard Blair, 10/21/21.

… Nearly 70% of born-again Christians disagree with the biblical position that Jesus is the only way to God, according to a new survey from Probe Ministries, a nonprofit that seeks to help the Church in renewing the minds of believers with a Christian worldview.

The survey, which looked at religious beliefs and attitudes toward cultural behaviors, polled 3,106 Americans ages 18 to 55 from all religious groups, including 717 respondents who identified as born-again Christians.

Born-again respondents were identified based on their affirmative response to the question, “Have you ever made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in your life today?” They were also identified by their belief about what happens after they die. Born-again believers agree that “I will go to Heaven because I confessed my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior.”

Despite this claim by the self-identified born-again Christians in the study, however, among all respondents ages 18 to 39, who profess an affiliation with some religion, fewer than 1 out of 5 of them strongly disagree with the statement that Muhammad, Buddha and Jesus all taught valid ways to God.

Still, some 60% of this cohort said they shared their faith with someone else at least annually with the intent of converting them.

“If you think that there are multiple ways to Heaven, why would you want to go out of your way to convert someone to your religion? Of course, you could be sharing with an unaffiliated person who needs to choose a valid religion,” noted Steve Cable, senior vice president of Probe Ministries, in his analysis of the data.

Read more at … https://www.christianpost.com/news/nearly-70-percent-of-born-again-christians-dont-see-jesus-as-only-way.html

HEAVEN & It is going to be full of surprises. As we look around the first surprise will be all the people who we thought would never make it. #ChuckSmith

“Heaven is going to be full of surprises. As we look around the first surprise will be all the people who we thought would never make it. The next surprise will be those sitting in the front row in the places of honor. We will say, ‘Who are these people? I never saw them before.’ ‘Some of them went to Calvary Chapel,’ someone will say.’ ‘But where is Pastor Chuck?’ And from somewhere way out in the back of the crowd, in the peanut gallery, I will yell, ‘Here I am! Thank God, though His grace I made it.'”

Chuch Smith in Why Grace Changes Everything, Chuck Smith, p 41.

HUMOR & Young Person Is Clueless About How People Lived Before E-Mail, And His Texts With An Older Person Go Viral

by Mindaugas Balčiauskas and
Rokas Laurinavičius , BoredPanda, 10/7/20.

Kathy Torrence, 52, learned that her son, 21, is no different. Recently, he texted Kathy, asking, “How did any of college work before email?”

Read more at … https://www.boredpanda.com/college-life-before-internet-email-son-mom-exchange-kathy-torrence/

HAVEN & 5 Principles for Making Your Church a Haven by @BobWhitesel published by @BiblicalLeader Magazine. #HealthyChurchBook from @WPHbooks

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., Biblical Leadership Magazine, 5/29/19.

IMG_3698.jpeg

Jesus called His Church to come out from among the restless divisiveness of Jerusalem and be an avenue for God’s remarkable love for neighbor and God. The very words the biblical authors used for God’s love in the Old Testament (chesed) and in the New Testament (agape) described God’s steadfast, committed and pursuant love. This uncommonly potent and persistent love was the love the Church was to reflect.

Here are five principles to focus your church on reflecting God’s love and reaching those who are hurting and longing for security.

1. Not condemnation, but aid.

Shunning and shaming is a tactic that rarely works when people are suffering. Chiding people with statements such as, “You are wrong. You are sinning!” is usually not productive. In fact, Jesus emphasized that conviction of sin is not the church’s job, stating:

If I don’t go away, the Companionwon’t come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.

When he comes:

  • He will show the world it was wrong about sin, righteousness, and judgment.
  • He will show the world it was wrong about sin because they don’t believe in me.
  • He will show the world it was wrong about righteousness because I’m going to the Father and you won’t see me anymore.
  • He will show the world it was wrong about judgment because this world’s ruler stands condemned” (John 16:8-9, italics added for emphasis).

Jesus’ repeated use of the emphatic “He will show the world…” reminded His hearers that despite the tendency of religious people to condemn and shame, conviction was the duty of the Holy Spirit.

However, the human role is to pray and rehabilitate, not persecute. The Church’s task is thus to provide aid with candor and honesty. Such a church becomes not so much an abode of recluse saints, as a community of caregivers.

2. Unfiltered agape love.

To help those ravaged by violence and abuse, the church must be a front of unrelentless and unfiltered love by reflecting the agapelove of the heavenly Father. Cambodian refugee Somaly Mam movingly writes, “I strongly believe that love is the answer and that it can mend even the deepest unseen wounds. Love can heal, love can console, love can strengthen, and yes, love can make change.”

Unfiltered love does not mean turning a blind eye or disregarding sin.  Rather unfiltered love means that it is truthful love that is not filtered by contempt, by disapproval, by scorn and/or by oddity. Unfiltered love emerges when caregivers realize that but for the mercy of God they could be in the same predicament and in need of the same consolation.

Also, everyone in a safe-haven church seeks her or his role in caregiving. Everyone seeks to do one’s part in fostering an environment of love and health, where the ill-treated and injured can recover.

3. Take the ill-treated into our daily life (i.e., home).

A helpful scripture that sums up theimportance of a haven is Romans 15:7. Paul, addressing the divided world illustrated in the story that began this chapter, states, “So welcome each other, in the same way that Christ also welcomed you, for God’s glory.”

The word the Common English Bible (CEB) translates “welcome” is translated in other versions as “accept” (i.e., NIV). Still, the Greek word carries the welcoming idea better than the latter, indicating “the idea is to take something or someone to oneself, illustrated by inviting someone into your home.”

Therefore, this scripture might be paraphrased as the following.

“In the same way that Christ also welcomed you,” the church “for God’s glory should take the stranger into our life in all the ways that would mirror taking them into our personal residence” (Romans 15:7 paraphrased).

This would mean meeting their daily physical needs and their emotional needs. Today, when so many people have suffered violence striding brazenly and victoriously through their world, it is critical that the Church sees her task as not an intermediary (pointing those in need to others) but as primary caregiver (meeting others’ needs directly).

4. Compassion and assistance for the ill-treated.

As we create safe-havens taking more and more needy people into our faith community, all Christians must grow in their ability to render effective assistance. Our human inclination is to be self-seeking and to pull back from others’ needs. And so, putting first and then meeting the needs of others becomes difficult.

However, to overcome this limitation it is helpful to recall that humans are created in the “image of God” (Genesis 1:26-27). Christians thus should reflect His image in their actions.  But, how do we live out God’s image? It becomes easier if we follow theologian Anthony Hoekema’s suggestion that the image of God is best viewed as a verb rather than a noun.

Hoekema states, “We should think of the image of God… not as a noun but as a verb: we no longer image God as we should; we are not being enabled by the Spirit to imageGod more and more adequately; someday we shall image God perfectly.” So, the Church’s task is to imageor modelGod more clearly, through daily welcoming and attending to those ravaged by a heartless world.

5. Standing up for those ill-treated.

Being created in “the image of God” (Genesis 1:26-27) also means that all people, regardless of how they feel about their heavenly Creator, are nonetheless created in His image. This requires the Church to hold accountable any person who tramples that image, for such action offends God and should also offend the church.  Oscar A. Romero stated:

As holy defender of God’s rights and of his images, the church must cry out. It takes as spittle in its face,  as lashes on its back, as the cross in its passion, all that human beings suffer, even though they be unbelievers. They suffer as God’s images….whoever tortures a human being, whoever abuses a human being, whoever outrages a human being abuses God’s image, and the church takes as its own that cross, that martyrdom.

Safe-haven churches are thus not only settings for healing, but also for advocacy.  They remain connected to the downtrodden and disheartened; standing up for their rights as well as giving them a pathway back to health.

Excerpted from The Healthy Church: Practical Ways to Strengthen a Church’s Heartby Bob Whitesel (Wesleyan Publishing 2013)

Photo source: istock 

Read more of the original article here … https://www.biblicalleadership.com/blogs/5-principles-for-making-your-church-a-haven/

DANGER & Toilets and air fresheners hurt more people than sharks. #ILoveSurfing

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: As an avid surfer, people often ask me if I’m worried about a shark attack. I tell them no, I put my trust in God first. And secondly, even among people who go to the beach the chance of being killed by shark is 1 in 11.5 million. Here are National Geographic’s even more remarkable statistics about some more dangerous household encounters.

by Meg Gleason, National Geograohic, 11/22/11.

…Who knew toilets and air fresheners could be so dangerous? Well, at least statistically speaking it appears sharks seem to pose less of a threat than many things we encounter every day.

  • In 1996, toilets injured 43,000 Americans. Sharks injured 13…
  • 1n 1996, buckets and pails injured almost 11,000 Americans.  Sharks injured 13.
  • In 1996, room fresheners injured 2,600 Americans.  Sharks injured 13.
  • The U.S. averages 19 shark attacks a year.  Lightning kills about 41 people a year in coastal states alone.
  • Since 1959, Florida has had nine shark attack fatalities.  Lightning fatalities = 459…
  • For every human killed by a shark, humans kill two million sharks.
  • Anyone who has swum in New Smyrna Beach, Florida (shark capital of the world) has likely been within 10 feet of a shark.
  • Some sharks can live for a year without eating, surviving on the oil stored in their livers.

Read more at … https://blog.nationalgeographic.org/2011/11/22/nat-geo-wild-what-are-the-odds-some-surprising-shark-attack-stats/

HUMOR & Some of the greatest April Fools’ pranks of all time

by Todd Leopold, CNN, 4/1/18.

Pasta grows on trees

On April 1, 1957, the BBC TV show “Panorama” ran a segment about the Swiss spaghetti harvest enjoying a “bumper year” thanks to mild weather and the elimination of the spaghetti weevil. Many credulous Britons were taken in, and why not? The story was on television — then a relatively new invention — and Auntie Beeb would never lie, would it? 
The story was ranked the No. 1 April Fools’ hoax of all time by the Museum of Hoaxeswebsite — a fine source for all things foolish. 

Big Ben goes digital

(Getty)
The Brits are masters of April Fools’ gags, and in 1980, the BBC’s overseas service said the iconic clock tower was getting an update. Thejoke did not go over well, and the BBC apologized. That hasn’t stopped it from popping up again in the digital era, however

The Taco Liberty Bell

On April 1, 1996 a full page ad appeared in six major American newspapers (The Philadelphia Inquirer, New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Dallas Morning News, and USA Today) announcing that the fast food chain Taco Bell had purchased the Liberty Bell. The full text of the ad read:
Taco Bell Buys The Liberty Bell
In an effort to help the national debt, Taco Bell is pleased to announce that we have agreed to purchase the Liberty Bell, one of our country’s most historic treasures. It will now be called the “Taco Liberty Bell” and will still be accessible to the American public for viewing. While some may find this controversial, we hope our move will prompt other corporations to take similar action to do their part to reduce the country’s debt.

In a separate press release, Taco Bell explained that the Liberty Bell would divide its time between Philadelphia and the Taco Bell headquarters in Irvine. It compared the purchase to the adoption of highways by corporations. Taco Bell argued that it was simply “going one step further by purchasing one of the country’s greatest historic treasures.” The company boasted, “Taco Bell’s heritage and imagery have revolved around the symbolism of the bell. Now we’ve got the crown jewel of bells.”

 

The Sun’s 50p poo piece.
The Sun’s 50p poo piece. Photograph: oanslow1/The Sun

The Sun, meanwhile, claimed there would be a Royal Mint collection of coin designs based on emojis, including a poo emoji 50p, while the Daily Star reckons we’ll now be able to get beer on the NHS. Apparently “Guinness is good for you” after all.

 

Daily Mail’s April Fool cat flap.
Daily Mail’s April Fool cat flap. Photograph: DAILY MAIL

The Daily Mail had news that Larry the Downing Street cat was getting its own catflap in the famous door to No 10.

Google

Pick of the tech jokes this year is Google Tulip. With an extremely detailed technical spec and glossy promotional video, this development allows you to talk to your tulips, and discover just what it is they are thinking about. Spoiler alert: sunshine, soil and water.

 

And Cambridgeshire police are introducing the drug sniffer bunny.

Special Constabulary (@CambsCopsSC)

After 6 weeks training meet the forces new drugs sniffer rabbit Benni be sure to say hello if you see us on patrol#SSThomas pic.twitter.com/eiHv95y9Ul

April 1, 2019

Read more at … https://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2019/apr/01/april-fools-day-2019-the-best-jokes-and-pranks-in-one-place

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(Image credit: Ali Kameri / EyeEm / Getty Images) 

Okay, there are going to be people out there who want this to be real. With elaborate dog birthday parties (including requested gifts) already being a thing, there are bound to be disappointed dog event planners who were hoping that Wayfair’s dog wedding registry launch was legit. Dubbed “Groom’d,” the placeholder site suggests that dog couples will love putting together a list of items they want for their new joint lives—including décor—because, of course.

 

From the press release: “We’re delighted to introduce the next generation wedding registry with a platform created just for dogs looking to take their puppy love to the next level.”

 

Forget candles—scented wallpaper is the new fragrance trend we wish we could have at home. A “beta tester” used to rub citrus on her walls, but Spoonflower’s Orange Blossom saves her from the “pulpy mess.” We wouldn’t be mad at lining our walls with the Aloe Eucalyptus and Summer Rose scents, either.

 

Read more at … https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/april-fools-pranks-2019-268192

 

 

HUBRIS & Why it is the enemy of good leadership. #HarvardBusinessReview #DeathByPlanningBook

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: One of my books for Abingdon Press is called Growth by Accident, Death by Planning: How not to kill a growing congregation. I looked at churches that were growing and the mistakes they made that usually stopped that growth. One of the mistakes was allowing “hubris” to subtly affect the leader. This article in Harvard Business Review cites research that confirms this hypotheses.

Ego Is the Enemy of Good Leadership

by Rasmus Hougaard & Jacqueline Carter , Harvard Business Review, 11/6/18.

… As we rise in the ranks, we acquire more power. And with that, people are more likely to want to please us by listening more attentively, agreeing more, and laughing at our jokes. All of these tickle the ego. And when the ego is tickled, it grows. David Owen, the former British Foreign Secretary and a neurologist, and Jonathan Davidson, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University, call this the “hubris syndrome,” which they define as a “disorder of the possession of power, particularly power which has been associated with overwhelming success, held for a period of years.”

… Our ego is like a target we carry with us. And like any target, the bigger it is, the more vulnerable it is to being hit. In this way, an inflated ego makes it easier for others to take advantage of us. Because our ego craves positive attention, it can make us susceptible to manipulation. It makes us predictable. When people know this, they can play to our ego. When we’re a victim of our own need to be seen as great, we end up being led into making decisions that may be detrimental to ourselves, our people, and our organization.

An inflated ego also corrupts our behavior. When we believe we’re the sole architects of our success, we tend to be ruder, more selfish, and more likely to interrupt others. This is especially true in the face of setbacks and criticism. In this way, an inflated ego prevents us from learning from our mistakes and creates a defensive wall that makes it difficult to appreciate the rich lessons we glean from failure.

Finally, an inflated ego narrows our vision. The ego always looks for information that confirms what it wants to believe. Basically, a big ego makes us have a strong confirmation bias. Because of this, we lose perspective and end up in a leadership bubble where we only see and hear what we want to. As a result, we lose touch with the people we lead, the culture we are a part of, and ultimately our clients and stakeholders.

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2018/11/ego-is-the-enemy-of-good-leadership

Hell & Researchers say the fear of hell exerts a restraining effect on suicide.

by David Briggs, American Religion Data Archive, Christianity Today, 2/3/19.

“And the souls of the wicked are cast into hell, where they remain in torments and utter darkness.” – The Westminster Confession

Hell matters to a lot of us.

About half of Americans are absolutely sure of their belief in hell, while the percentage who believe rises above two-thirds when some degrees of uncertainty are included.

Editor’s note: Last year, a LifeWay Research survey similarly found that just 45 percent of Americans agree hell is a real place. Pew Research Center reported that a vast majority of highly religious and somewhat religious Americans (at least 8-in-10) believe in hell, while barely any non-religious Americans do (fewer than 5%). In the Pew study, each group was more likely to professor a belief in heaven than hell.

Earlier research into supernatural evil such as hell, Satan, and demons has found both positive and negative outcomes.

Belief in supernatural evil has been linked to results such as increasing religious resources and promoting greater cooperation and less selfish behavior.

And warnings about hell and Satan have been shown to be helpful for many people seeking to live up to divine standards in areas from cultivating lasting relationships to avoiding harmful addictions.

In one recent study, a team of researchers from the Netherlands reviewed 15 cross-sectional studies on moral objections to suicide, especially the conviction of going to hell after taking one’s own life. They found each study supported the idea that moral objections and fear of hell exerted a restraining effect on suicide.

Read more at … https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/february/hell-belief-anxiety-arda-baylor-university.html

HELL & Who Worries About Hell the Most? #BaylorUniv. researchers find belief in hell should not be considered a pathological fear, “but is perhaps a rational response to personal theological” beliefs.

by David Briggs, American Religion Data Archive, Christianity Today, 2/3/19.

“And the souls of the wicked are cast into hell, where they remain in torments and utter darkness.” – The Westminster Confession

Can belief in hell be considered a pathological fear?

Consider the stakes for many believers. With the prospect of an eternity of torture and other forms of suffering, one might say a crippling fear of hell would be warranted.

With those questions in mind, a team of researchers from Baylor University developed a series of measures on “hell anxiety” and tested them in what they say is the first systematic examination of the psychological consequences of belief in hell.

What they found was that individual belief in hell was not in itself connected to any neuroses, and that most people did not display an unhealthy focus on the possibility of eternal damnation.

The findings, some of which even surprised research team members, included:

  • The more religious an individual was, the less likely they were to display hell anxiety.
  • Unhealthy fears were not related to dogmatism or religious fundamentalism.
  • Free will, or the idea individuals have control over where they will spend their afterlife, was a key element in reducing hell anxiety.

That does not mean belief in hell may not have a dark side when other mediators are involved.

The study found those who viewed God primarily with fear, those who believed they were likely to go hell, and those with a sense outside forces could decide their fate, were more likely to experience greater hell anxiety and death anxiety.

Overall, the results suggested belief in hell should not be considered a pathological fear, “but is perhaps a rational response to personal theological” beliefs, researchers concluded.

Hell matters to a lot of us.

About half of Americans are absolutely sure of their belief in hell, while the percentage who believe rises above two-thirds when some degrees of uncertainty are included.

Editor’s note: Last year, a LifeWay Research survey similarly found that just 45 percent of Americans agree hell is a real place. Pew Research Center reported that a vast majority of highly religious and somewhat religious Americans (at least 8-in-10) believe in hell, while barely any non-religious Americans do (fewer than 5%). In the Pew study, each group was more likely to professor a belief in heaven than hell.

Earlier research into supernatural evil such as hell, Satan, and demons has found both positive and negative outcomes.

Belief in supernatural evil has been linked to results such as increasing religious resources and promoting greater cooperation and less selfish behavior.

And warnings about hell and Satan have been shown to be helpful for many people seeking to live up to divine standards in areas from cultivating lasting relationships to avoiding harmful addictions.

In one recent study, a team of researchers from the Netherlands reviewed 15 cross-sectional studies on moral objections to suicide, especially the conviction of going to hell after taking one’s own life. They found each study supported the idea that moral objections and fear of hell exerted a restraining effect on suicide.

Read more at … https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/february/hell-belief-anxiety-arda-baylor-university.html

HEALTH & Fat, happy? The comforts of practicing a religion #PewResearch

by Yonat Shimron  Religion News Service, 2/1/19.

…In a large meta-analysis of 35 countries, Pew researchers found that religiously active people around the world report a range of desirable health and social outcomes. They vote and volunteer more. They also smoke and drink less than the nonreligious or those who rarely attend.

The study, “Religion’s Relationship to Happiness, Civic Engagement and Health,” builds on a growing mountain of literature linking religion and health. That literature has mostly found that religions seem to contribute to overall health, though there are obvious exceptions.

Perhaps most notably, religious participation does not appear to encourage weight loss or regular exercise.

In 19 of the 35 countries, actively religious people are as likely as any other to be fat. They are also less likely to  exercise…

Religious people, he said, “are encouraged to eat. And the kinds of meals people eat in church fellowship groups are high-calorie ribs and fried chicken.”

In most countries, highly religious people are not more likely to rate themselves as being in very good overall health. The U.S. is among the exceptions. Thirty-two percent of Americans who are active in their religious congregations say they are in very good health, compared with 27 percent of their religiously inactive counterparts and 25 percent of nonreligious people.

The association between religion and happiness, however, is clear-cut: In every country studied, people who are active in religious congregations tend to be happier than those who attend infrequently or not at all.

GOOD NEWS & Bush funeral was a moment for our secular culture to recognize the degree to which, in the face of death, the Christian church has something meaningful to say.

I was grateful, however, that the service did not become a hodgepodge of interdenominational representatives divvying up the tasks, an effort at inclusiveness that has the effect of turning the liturgy into a kind of Model United Nations at prayer

By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter, 11/7/18.

The funeral of President George H.W. Bush was a moment for our secular culture to recognize the degree to which, in the face of death, the Christian church has something meaningful to say, some comfort to bring, some hope to proclaim...

I was grateful, however, that the service did not become a hodgepodge of interdenominational representatives divvying up the tasks, an effort at inclusiveness that has the effect of turning the liturgy into a kind of Model United Nations at prayer: All of the parts reserved for the clergy were led by the clergy of the Episcopal Church. The Rev. Dr. Russell Levenson, the rector at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, preached a very excellent sermon. He included references to the readings, intertwined with personal remembrances of the man they had gathered to bury. Most importantly, he proclaimed the essential Christian belief in the salvific passion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

https://youtu.be/PK3LqD-bpE0

Read more at … https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/distinctly-catholic/bush-funeral-blended-symbols-church-and-state-seemed-non-communal

HALLOWEEN CAVEAT: How CS Lewis and Harry Potter view evil differently.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Popularity of “evil characters” (e.g. “anti-heroes“) in movies, books, media, etc. coincides with the increasing popularity of Halloween. In such instances, popular entertainment often frames evil as some thing or some being “outside of yourself.”  You must react to this evil outside of yourself and you must defeat it (e.g. Harry Potter saga, fright houses, horror movies, etc.).

Yet, the scriptures portray evil as more often something within ourselves.  It is an “inner danger” which will be overcome only if we act rightly.

Jeremiah 17:9-10 The Message (MSG)

9-10 “The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful,
    a puzzle that no one can figure out.
But I, God, search the heart
    and examine the mind.
I get to the heart of the human.
    I get to the root of things.
I treat them as they really are,
    not as they pretend to be.”

we are born with.

Galatians 5:17-18 The Message (MSG)

16-18 My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?

CS Lewis got this. Note this comparison between Lewis’ view (which I view as a more biblically valid view) and the outlook in Harry Potter books:

Harry Potter books … If you compare them with the Narnia books of CS Lewis it is very notable that the Potter books are much more dangerous for the heroes. Lewis is far more concerned with inner danger. His heroes know they will be victorious if they only act rightly…  –Andrew Brown, The Church of England should learn from Harry Potter this Halloween, The London Guardian, 10/31/18.

HIP-HOP & An interview w/ Rev. Dr. Michael W. Waters: The church should embrace hip-hop

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: This week I am addressing a group of African and African-American pastors/bishops at their national conference. One of the topics is the influence of hip-hop and how African immigrants and African-Americans disagree on its use. Here’s a helpful interview with an African Methodist Episcopal pastor who leads one of the healthiest congregations in Texas

Article by Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, May 30, 2017

I really believe that hip-hop serves as a vital theological conversation partner for our present-day work. Hip-hop is without peer in terms of its cultural influence.

It is a global phenomenon, and there is an entire canon, an entire text, that the church has yet to explore. It really speaks to me like the narratives in Old Testament history that speak of communities under oppression facing marginalization and trying to identify where God is at work to liberate them in the midst of their struggle.

So when I hear Tupac, I hear St. Paul, and I also hear St. Augustine, as they struggle with issues of soteriology.

Q: Some church leaders may think of hip-hop as a way to connect to youth. But it sounds like you are talking about something deeper than that.

We can no longer talk about hip-hop solely as a youth movement, because hip-hop as a cultural artifact is now coming up on its 44th anniversary, from August of 1973(link is external). Some of the founders of the hip-hop movement themselves are approaching mid-60s or early 70s.

So we’re really talking about something that is far deeper than just young people in high school.

We’re talking about how generations interact with the world. It has articulated their hopes and dreams as well as their pain and despair.

In many ways, the church in the Northern Hemisphere, particularly in the westernmost portions, is dying. But I still believe that there are persons who long for community. They long for deeper faith and spirituality.

I think we have to shift our way, our mode, of connecting with individuals.

I think, biblically, of the apostle Paul in Acts when he goes to Athens and goes to the [Areopagus], and in that space, speaking to Stoics and Epicureans, he speaks to the unknown God. And as he begins to preach in that space, he does not draw his authority from the Torah.

He draws his authority from Athenian poetry, and he uses their conceptions of God as a means of presenting the Christ to them.

I believe we have the same opportunity in terms of engaging hip-hop, using that as a cultural artifact to bridge the gap between the culture and the church.

So we can provide a greater conception of who God is and of who God has called us to be.

Read more at … https://www.faithandleadership.com/michael-w-waters-church-should-embrace-hip-hop?utm_source=NI_newsletter&utm_medium=content&utm_campaign=NI_feature

HISTORY & A Brief Historical Analysis/Definition of the Church Growth Movement by #EdStetzer

What’s the Deal with the Church Growth Movement? (part one)

by Ed Stetzer, The Exchange, Christianity Today, 10/1/12.

Today, I begin a blog series that takes a closer look at the Church Growth Movement. Our approach to church today has been shaped by this movement whether we are conscious of it or not. Good and bad have evolved from the early days. By taking a closer look at the movement I hope we can learn and become more focused on lostness issues in America. So where were the thoughts and dreams of the early voices in the Church Growth Movement?

Now, church growth (as attendance) is not the same as Church Growth (as a movement). Most people would be in favor of growing a church, but Church Growth has become controversial (see the Google search on the movement to see how many links are to critiques).

So, what is Church Growth (when using capital letters). The American Society of Church Growth (now the Great Commission Research Network) defines it as:

Church growth is that discipline which investigates the nature, function, and health of Christian churches, as they relate to the effective implementation of the Lord’s Great Commission to make disciples of all peoples (Mt. 28:19-20). It is a spiritual conviction, yet it is practical, combining the eternal principles of God’s Word with the practical insights of social and behavioral sciences.

Over the next few weeks, I want to talk a look at the movement, starting with the person widely seen as the founder of the movement.

Donald McGavran, was a missiologist and third generation missionary born in India. He is universally considered the father of the Church Growth Movement. He was, interestingly, a missiologist and that was related to his emphasis.

As a missiolgist, when he suggested the need to transition our strategy from “people” to “peoples” in his work Bridges of God in 1954, it impacted his views (and the Church Growth Movement) in big ways. His study of groups (or peoples) on how they respond, undergirded the movement’s emphasis on statistics, sociology, analysis, and more.

Let me say that I am a fan of Donald McGavran. We may learn more by understanding what McGavran was not saying, particularly from the beginning. For example, McGavran took on the most popular, long standing approach to international missions and evangelism. He declared the “mission station approach,” that had existed for over 150 years, was ineffective for reaching the masses. He determined that by measurement– he analyzed and came to statistical conclusions that undergirded his missiological decisions that led to the Church Growth Movement.

For background, the mission station approach encouraged new converts to leave their tribe and isolate themselves. They took advantage of Western churches, hospitals, and schools (goods and services) established on international mission fields. He did not deny the positive outcomes through this approach but called for a “new pattern” when it comes to results (peoples being converted to Christ):

A new pattern is at hand, which, while new, is as old as the Church itself. It is a God-designed pattern by which not ones but thousands will acknowledge Christ as Lord, and grow into full discipleship as people after people, clan after clan, tribe after tribe and community after community are claimed for and nurtured in the Christian faith.(Bridges of God 331,332)

Read more at … http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2012/october/whats-deal-with-church-growth-movement-part-one.html