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National Association of Evangelicals | T.. by National Association Of Evangelical.. - 4d ago

Our nation has been gripped by images and stories from the U.S./Mexico border. We have heard statistics, opinions and countless messages about the tens of thousands who are trying to cross the border into the United States each month. Many of us feel helpless and don’t know what can or should be done. Matthew Soerens joins Today’s Conversation to clarify what’s going on at the border and how Christians can make a difference.

In this podcast, you’ll hear Matthew Soerens and NAE President Leith Anderson discuss their recent trip to the U.S./Mexico border and:

  • Why so many people are leaving their countries to come to the United States;
  • What leaders agree on regarding a solution to the crisis;
  • How churches and nonprofits are ministering along the border; and
  • What churches thousands of miles away can do.
Read a Portion of the Transcript

Leith: How is today’s situation at the border unique in a place where there’s long been migration?

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Matt: I think the single biggest factor that makes this different is so many children. Close to half of the people who have arrived in the past few months have been children. And we can’t treat a 6-year-old or a 10-year-old the same way we would treat a 25-year-old or 40-year-old. Of course, I think any of us would agree that children don’t make the decision to come in the first place, and the reasons that they’re coming are also somewhat distinct.

I’m sympathetic to someone coming and fleeing poverty for a better life. That was my ancestors’ story to come to the United States. But, many people coming are expressing a fear of violence and persecution, which is consistent with very high rates of gang violence in particular and of homicide in those particular countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. A lot of the individuals coming — not all, some are just saying, “I’m fleeing poverty” — but many of them would tell you, if you asked why they’re coming, a pretty horrific story of fleeing violence and trying to protect their families from being killed, or raped, or otherwise harmed.

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The post Crisis at the Border appeared first on National Association of Evangelicals.

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National Association of Evangelicals | T.. by National Association Of Evangelical.. - 1M ago

Almost every day we hear a news story about opioid addiction in America. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that over 2 million people in the United States are currently addicted to prescription opioids. In Today’s Conversation, Leith Anderson talks with Dr. Lindsay Stokes about the opioid crisis and how churches and Christians can respond.

In this podcast, Dr. Lindsay Stokes, an emergency medicine physician in Albany, New York, explains:

  • Her experiences in the emergency room with those who are addicted to opioids;
  • Why opioid addiction became so prevalent in the U.S.;
  • How to identify an opioid overdose and provide life-saving help;
  • What churches can do for those impacted by opioid addiction; and
  • How her faith impacts her work as an ER doctor.
Read a Portion of the Transcript

Leith: What’s the history of this? In terms of opioids, we’ve had opium. We’ve had morphine around for generations. Are these opioids new to this generation?

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Lindsay: We have some new opiates. But you’re right: Opioid addiction has been around essentially since man discovered the poppy plant, which was around 3400 B.C. It was the Samarians; they called it the joy plant. So, this is definitely not new. Morphine, which is one of the most common medications that I use in my practice, has been around since the 18th century. And these medications have always been highly addictive, and they remain so.

The opioid crisis that we have today really started in the 1990s, because we started seeing prescription opioids being pushed by pharmaceutical companies who were reassuring the medical community that patients would not become addicted to these. These were things like oxycodone and hydrocodone, which came into their own in the 1990s. So that’s when we started to see addiction to the prescription opioids at very high rates.

Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, the number of deaths from prescription opioid overdoses were rising every year, and those medications were becoming more and more prevalent in medical practice. Then in 2010, once it had become very apparent that the oxycodone and hydrocodone were much more addictive than we had been led to believe, we started changing things about how we prescribed those medications, and we put laws into effect to essentially address this problem that we had created. At that time though, the people who were already addicted to prescription opioids had to turn to something that was more readily available, which was heroin. So in 2010, we saw this spike in addictions to heroin and a spike in deaths to heroin.

Unfortunately, right now we’re in the third phase of this, which is the arrival of fentanyl and carfentanil on the scene. Fentanyl and carfentanil are both synthetic opioids, which can be created either legitimately — we use fentanyl in the hospital — or, more frequently, they can be created illegitimately and are used to cut into heroin to make it more potent, so it sells better. Because they are such potent drugs, those lead to a lot more deaths and that’s what we’re seeing right now. So the spikes that we’ve seen just in the last two to three years in opiate overdose deaths have been primarily due to the fentanyl and carfentanil and other synthetic opioids that are now being introduced into our society.

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The post Understanding the Opioid Crisis appeared first on National Association of Evangelicals.

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National Association of Evangelicals | T.. by National Association Of Evangelical.. - 2M ago

Controversies are often the things you want to leave in the past. That’s why this conversation with Philip Ryken is so unique. He served as senior pastor of the historic Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia for 10 years before joining Wheaton College as its president in 2010. As a high-profile leader for the past 20+ years, he has faced many controversies.

Philip Ryken joins NAE President Leith Anderson in Today’s Conversation to share lessons learned and offer advice from his experience. In this podcast, you’ll hear:

  • How past controversies can put you in a stronger position for the next one;
  • What guidance Dr. Ryken finds in Scripture for dealing with controversies;
  • When and how to talk with the media; and
  • How to stay on mission when controversies seem to take over.
Read a Portion of the Transcript

Leith: Suppose that you’re in front of a [writing] workshop, and somebody says to you, “Ok, I’ve heard all this and this is great, but what’s the number one piece of advice?” How would you answer a question like that?

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Leith: Some situations escalate very quickly and with the escalation, the breadth increases. So, you’re dealing with something that’s a few people, and suddenly it’s campus-wide, or it goes to the media and it could be countrywide. And people want all kinds of information from you. And maybe it’s information that you’d really like to give them, because if they could get that information, they would get what you’re trying to say except you can’t tell them — I think particularly of personnel issues. So, now you have the information that they can’t have. What do you do in a situation like that?

Philip: It’s really tough. You know enough about these things to know how important that question is. I’ve got a lot of thoughts about this, because I’ve had to deal with a lot of situations like this. For one thing, there is a value to transparency, to openness. I think those are important values. I think we can point to things in the Scripture that point in that direction. But there is also a place for discretion. That’s an important virtue. Sometimes privacy is not only a virtue but an important right.

If you’re on the outside of leadership roles and haven’t been in significant leadership roles, it’s easy to think that transparency is the only thing that matters, and it’s also really easy to assume: “The reason they’re not telling us more is because they have something to hide.” I think that’s a natural default impulse.

I’ve been in so many situation where in some ways it would be much more convenient to violate something legally or to do something that’s actually not in keeping with important policies just because you feel if people really knew what was going on behind this — if they really knew what had happened — they wouldn’t be coming after me this way or they wouldn’t be criticizing the institution this way. That’s a very common occurrence … .

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The post How to Handle Controversy appeared first on National Association of Evangelicals.

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National Association of Evangelicals | T.. by National Association Of Evangelical.. - 3M ago

Popular author, speaker and Bible teacher Margaret Feinberg went on a unique journey — including fishing on the Sea of Galilee, descending 400 feet into a salt mine, and harvesting olives in Croatia — to discover God’s perspective on food. In Today’s Conversation podcast with NAE President Leith Anderson, Margaret offers a fresh perspective on food in the Bible.

In this podcast, you’ll hear from Margaret, a best-selling author and food enthusiast, on:

  • Why God is the “original foodie”;
  • How researching food changed the way she thinks about God;
  • What the Bible teaches about the dark side of our relationship to food; and
  • Where she gets inspiration for her writing.
Read a Portion of the Transcript

Leith: Suppose that you’re in front of a [writing] workshop, and somebody says to you, “Ok, I’ve heard all this and this is great, but what’s the number one piece of advice?” How would you answer a question like that?

Read more

Margaret: My number one piece of advice [for writers] is you’ve got to not just define your audience, but you have got to know them in and out. The “who” of your writing will determine the “what” of your writing. So often we just think we have a concept, or we have an idea, or we have something that happened to us, and we write out of that. The only problem is that often, when we’re writing that, we’re writing for ourselves.

If you write for yourself, do you know how many people want to read that? It’s one — it’s just you. But when you start with a “who” perspective of “Who are you going to serve?”, “What are their needs?”, “How well do you know them?” — then that’s going to shape your content in which you can directly meet their needs and transform them.

In the Write Brilliant course — especially the online one — we get real specific. We want you to name the person. We want you to know their age, where they live, what their work is. We want you to know everything about them in a specific way, because when you can write to somebody specific and their specific needs, then all the sudden you can reach everyone. We have a process for doing this in the course, and it is amazing how it transforms people’s writing.

We believe that at its core, writing is an act of self sacrifice. You don’t do it for you. You do it in following Christ to lay down your life and find words that will empower them to become stronger Christ-followers.

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Today’s Conversation is brought to you by Ashland Theological Seminary.

The post Food, Faith & Writing appeared first on National Association of Evangelicals.

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Randy Nabors pastored a cross-cultural church for 35 years and now works with the Presbyterian Church in America denomination to help plant churches that reflect the diversity within the new church’s community. He’s done a lot and seen a lot. In Today’s Conversation, he joins Leith Anderson to talk about pastoring cross-cultural churches.

In this podcast, Randy and Leith discuss:

  • How terms like “cross-cultural” and “multi-ethnic” are distinct;
  • Whether every church should be cross-cultural;
  • How to deal with differing cultural preferences about music, preaching and other things; and
  • Whether there is a certain profile that helps make someone successful as a pastor of a cross-cultural church.
Read a Portion of the Transcript

Leith: Should every church seek to be multi-ethnic or cross-cultural?

Read more

Randy: If you’re in Montana somewhere, or Nebraska, or some state — if you are in an all-something neighborhood and it is completely homogeneous — then I don’t see any mandate that you have to become something different than you are. I do think African American churches are legitimate churches. I think white churches are legitimate churches. But I do think that if you are in a mixed neighborhood and you step over certain pockets of demographics in that neighborhood to only reach the kind of people you want in your church, I don’t think you’re being obedient to the Great Commission, and I think there might be some incipient racism at work there or cultural bias.

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The post Everything You Need to Know About Pastoring Cross-Cultural Churches appeared first on National Association of Evangelicals.

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National Association of Evangelicals | T.. by National Association Of Evangelical.. - 4M ago

There are more Muslims now in America than Jews. Yet, many Americans are often confused, afraid and lack a basic understanding of Muslims and the Islamic faith. John Azumah joins Today’s Conversation with Leith Anderson to help us understand the history of Islam and how it impacts our relationships with Muslims today.

In this podcast, you’ll hear from a Christian scholar of Islam on:

  • The role of commerce in the spread of Islam;
  • How the main segments of Islam (Sunnis and Shiites) developed;
  • The historical background of “jihad” and how Muslims understand it; and
  • Why Christian and Muslim relations soured.
Read a Portion of the Transcript

Leith: From your perspective, what do you think American Christians most misunderstand about Islam?

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John: American Christians are not any different from many Christians in different parts of the world, and the misunderstanding of Islam is not exclusively a Christian problem. Many Muslims doesn’t understand their on faith. If they did, we wouldn’t be having the problem that we’re having. There’s a deep misunderstanding of Islam across boards — it’s both Muslims and Christians.

But when it comes to America, I think, for me, the misunderstanding of Islam is that we don’t really get a sense of the depth of sectarianism within Islam. The sectarian divide is deep, and it’s palpable. If Americans don’t take time, we can easily be co-opted to one side or the other. My fear is that is going on and that Americans have been co-opted into some of these sectarian wars and battles in the Muslim world, and we need to be smart on that.

The other thing, of course, is that we as American Christians because of 9/11 see every Muslim as a potential terrorist. That for me is very, very dangerous, because when you began to demonize everybody of that faith, you run the risk of dehumanizing them and you run the risk of punishing them — implicitly or explicitly harm to these vulnerable people. So for me, the misunderstanding of Islam and of Muslims, we have a lot of work to do in educating our people and helping them to understand that not every single Muslim is a potential terrorist.

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The post The History of Islam appeared first on National Association of Evangelicals.

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Bryant Wright has been the senior pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church outside of Atlanta since 1981 when the church had a membership of about 20 families. Now it has seven Sunday morning worship services with an average worship attendance of 4,000. In Today’s Conversation, he joins Leith Anderson to talk about pastoring a large church.

In this podcast, Bryant and Leith discuss:

  • How expectations for pastors of large churches differ from the expectations of pastors in small-to-medium sized churches;
  • The future of the megachurch movement in the United States;
  • What characteristics a person needs to have to be an effective pastor of a large church; and
  • The case for attending a large church.
Read a Portion of the Transcript

Leith: If you ask people what size church you would like to go to — I’m not sure if they actually say these words, but they come pretty close to say, “Oh, I’d like to go to church of 300 that does everything for me that a church of 30,000 can do.”

Bryant: That’s right.

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Leith: So as a result, they want a church that’s sort of a medium size but has services of a very large congregation. There are far more smaller churches than there are larger churches, so be an apologist​ here and make the case for a large church. Why do we need, why do we want, what’s the value? And if you were talking to somebody, how would you convince them — not necessarily Johnson Ferry — but why would they go to a church that’s large? Why should they do that?

Bryant: Well for one thing, large or small is neither good nor bad. I mean you have large churches that are heretical. You have small churches that are heretical. You have large churches that have a great spirit and a great love within the fellowship. And you have large churches that don’t, as well as small churches the same there. I really believe that it is up to God to determine the size of the church.

Our responsibility is to be the best stewards of the gifts that God​ has entrusted to us, and if for some reason he chooses to bless the church to become a megachurch, then we have a responsibility to make that megachurch small for those that come into the church.

And what I mean by that is where they can find a sense of community. Because the average person within a church is not going to know more than 75 people, so we have got to have systematic structure within that megachurch to allow them to find their “church within a church” — what we call it at Johnson Ferry — so that they begin to feel that it is small once they come inside.

The major hesitation of people coming to Johnson Ferry is they are intimidated by the size. They tell us that over and over again, so we have to go to extra lengths to help them find that “church within a church” where they can have a sense of community, the fellowship, the Christian fellowship that really makes them want to stay and feel part of the fellowship.

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Today’s Conversation is brought to you by Belhaven University.

The post Everything You Need to Know About Pastoring Large Churches appeared first on National Association of Evangelicals.

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Our country seems to be increasingly divided along political lines. Technology has made it easy to reinforce biases in media silos and become deeply entrenched in particular ideologies. In Today’s Conversation, NAE leaders Leith Anderson and Galen Carey talk about how Christians fit into this equation.

In this podcast, Galen Carey, NAE’s policy expert and advocate on Capitol Hill, covers:

  • What the proper place of politics is for the Christian’s mind and experience;
  • How to work in Washington when there is palpable division;
  • Practical ideas to model civility; and
  • What evangelical policy issues are most countercultural.
Read a Portion of the Transcript

Leith: There’s a sense of extremes — that the extremes have gotten more extreme in Washington and around the country, particularly in regards to politics. Is that just my read or is that your sense as well?

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Galen: We have been through tough times before as a nation. There were some moments in our early years where elected officials actually got into fist fights or spit in each other’s faces. And of course, there’s nothing that compares with the tragic divisions of the Civil War.

But in recent times, I think it’s clear that the quality of political discourse and statesmanship — or lack thereof — is in decline, and it is very regrettable. Part of this can be chalked up to our technological advances that fragment our journalism, social media and so forth that allow citizens to filter out challenging messages in favor of reinforcing their own biases in media silos. The influence of money and even foreign governments also plays a role.

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The post Christians in a Politically Divided Country appeared first on National Association of Evangelicals.

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American rural counties include 46.2 million people, or 15 percent of the U.S. population. We can all learn a lot from what God is doing in rural America, as well as how to best support churches and pastors in these areas.

In this podcast, which is part of our Everything You Need to Know About Pastoring series, NAE President Leith Anderson talks with Paul Jorgensen and Martin Allen, pastors at Cornerstone Church in Litchfield, Minnesota, about the ins and outs of rural church ministry, including:

  • How the particularities of rural culture impact how rural churches operate;
  • The unique challenges that pastors of rural churches face;
  • Examples of programs and initiatives that work well in rural contexts; and
  • How rural churches can attract excellent pastors.
Read a Portion of the Transcript

Leith: Paul, as the lead pastor, how do you determine whether the church is healthy? … How do you sort out health from numerical size and growth? Maybe it’s impossible to completely do it. But what’s your take on that?

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Paul: Well, it’s interesting. I’m sitting here, and I’m looking at a white board that has a list of indicators and then spiritual health in a separate column, because we were talking about this very thing. We have some indicators we like to use — obviously attendance is one of them. We kind of refer to it as the Big Three. We didn’t make this up; we learned it from someone else.

First of all, regular attendance at worship services and inviting friends to the services. That’s going to be a mark of health. Secondly, being in a group. If somebody chooses to be in a small group, they’re certainly doing something that can help with spiritual health. And then thirdly, if they’re choosing to serve in some capacity and to give in some capacity. Those are marks of health.

But in addition to that, there are some other things. These are more ambiguous, but I think they’re part of it as well. How do people respond to initiatives? I’ll give you an example. We’re going to be having a day coming where we’re calling people to — whatever town they live in — spend 45 minutes to an hour just walking together on the streets of their community and praying for their town. Well, if people respond well to that initiative, that’s a sign of growth.

I think consistency in their lives. Holy living. Again, we’re in a small town, so there aren’t a lot of secrets. And you kind of know what’s going on in people’s lives. Balance. Are they finding ways to lead balanced lives? Something as simple as, how many calls do we get in a week with people saying they need counseling? Those kind of things are all indicators of health. How we handle conflict? How we interact with each other when we disagree with each other? I think those are things that point to spiritual health.

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Today’s Conversation is brought to you by Belhaven University.

The post Everything You Need to Know About Pastoring Rural Churches appeared first on National Association of Evangelicals.

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National Association of Evangelicals | T.. by National Association Of Evangelical.. - 4M ago

The #MeToo Movement has gripped the country with disconcerting allegations of sexual harassment and abuse in Hollywood, the halls of political power, universities and even among churches. How are evangelicals to think about the #MeToo Movement? Kathy Khang, author of “Raise Your Voice: Why We Stay Silent and How to Speak Up,” joins NAE President Leith Anderson for Today’s Conversation.

In this podcast, you’ll hear Kathy, a longtime leader at InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and Leith discuss:

  • How power plays into sexual harassment and abuse;
  • What conversations churches and parents should have about consent;
  • How the #MeToo movement has impacted the Church; and
  • What pastors and churches should do about it.
Read a Portion of the Transcript

Leith: It’s kind of like we’re living in a time of both confrontation and confession — a time that’s focused on openness about ways women have been abused and mistreated. You and I can talk about this theoretically, but there are people who are hearing our voices right now who deal with this specific situation and they’re looking for some kind of guidance, hope, a direction to go. What do you tell people — Christian leaders and people in the pew — what should the response be when facing these issues?

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Kathy: I’m hoping that the response will be, is and will continue to be one of grace and love, particularly for the victims and survivors of sexual abuse and sexual harassment in the Church where the conversations around power should be happening but have not. I hope that victims and survivors are finding community, they are finding safety, and they are finding that they have opportunities to tell their story and to be believed. I hope that they are experiencing a degree of relief as things across culture come to light and that there are individuals and churches that are entering into a time of confession as opposed to a time of further accusation.

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The post Evangelicals and the #MeToo Movement appeared first on National Association of Evangelicals.

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