1. Growth Points 61: Leading in a Hostile Culture

    January 7, 2015 by Paul Chappell

    As we enter a new year, we’re mindful that we don’t minister in the American days gone by in which the the pastoral position was appreciated and the pastor himself revered throughout the community. The ministry landscape of today is simply not the same as it was.

    To be sure, there has always been hostility to the gospel. But that hostility in the communities across America has definitively been on the rise. In fact, hostility in general is on the rise. Today, there is greater disparity between the rich and the poor, more racial tension, and more violence then before.

    What are the reasons for this hostility? And how can we, as pastors, respond to it as well as lead our people through it? In this growth points video, we look at practical ways to stand with grace and truth as servant leaders in hostile days:


    (If you cannot see this video in your RSS reader or email, you can watch it here.)

    Make sure you get all future Growth Points videos by subscribing to the Spiritual Leadership Podcast.


  2. Doctrine Still Matters: What’s Wrong with Hillsong?

    October 28, 2014 by Paul Chappell

    Bible

    You’ve likely read the news regarding Brian Houston, pastor of Hillsong Church, refusing to answer questions concerning Hillsong’s position on same sex marriage. Although this is not the first time Houston has made similar statements, it is the most recent.

    Does Hillsong’s position matter? After all, even Houston himself made a press release with a follow up statement that he personally believes in the traditional definition of marriage. (In effect, his “clarification” covered his personal belief but reiterated that Hillsong would not take a public position on these matters as a church.)

    Over the years, many have spoken out against Hillsong. The overall assessment I have heard has centered on music issues—specifically their CCM style. Sometimes we critique an area that may be worthy of attention (after all, music is a powerful, important part of worship and worthy of concern), but we can miss the larger picture and the deeper issues. Thus we condemn a ministry for an expression of a deeper issue rather than identifying and separating from the real issue(s).

    Why would I be concerned when a Baptist pastor becomes enamored with a ministry like Hillsong? My fundamental concern is that those enamored with Hillsong’s style will end up compromising Bible doctrine.

    Notice the three points of concern below, and ask yourself if these aren’t substantial issues—issues that would keep you from working with the church in your hometown that believed and practiced in these ways? (more…)


  3. Why I Stand with the Five Houston Pastors

    October 21, 2014 by Paul Chappell

    Bible-on-pulpit

    Houston made headlines last week over the subpoena issued to five pastors surrounding the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO).

    The short background to the story is that Mayor Annise Parker (the first openly lesbian mayor of a major city in the US) signed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (also known as “the bathroom bill” because it would allow men who identify themselves as women to use public ladies restrooms and vice versa) into law. For obvious reasons—including common sense public safety concerns—Christians in Houston began gathering signatures to put this measure on the ballot. Pastors spoke out against the sin involved and encouraged their congregations to sign the petition to get the measure to voters in Houston.

    Petition organizers collected over 50,000 signatures—well over the required 17,269. The city secretary approved the signatures, and all was set to see Houston vote on this law.

    Then the mayor and city attorney went back through the approved signatures and said that enough of them either weren’t submitted or authorized correctly to bring the number below the required amount. Petition organizers disagreed and filed a lawsuit against the city.

    What happened next is where a sad story becomes bizarre and alarming. (more…)


  4. Whatever Happened to God and Country?

    October 2, 2014 by Paul Chappell

    American-Flag

    Pro Aris et Focis—it’s the motto of many military regiments and an oft-adopted motto for military families. It’s a Latin phrase meaning “For God and Country.” The English translation is the motto for the American Legion.

    Throughout over 238 years of our nation’s history, we’ve easily acknowledged God and our dependence upon Him. It’s in our pledge, in our national anthem, and on virtually every national monument in our capital. It’s also in our enlistment oath for the armed services. Or at least, it used to be.

    A recent news article reported that, under threat of a lawsuit from the American Humanist Association representing an atheist member of the air force, the final four words of the enlistment oath—“So help me God”—are now optional.

    I am 100 percent for religious freedom. Every human being has a God-given freedom to choose to receive or reject the knowledge of God and the truth concerning Christ.

    But I am also 100 percent for national acknowledgement of and dependence upon God. Our nation was never “Christian” in the sense that every leader was a born again follower of Jesus Christ. But we never shied away from acknowledging our national need for God either. (more…)


  5. Vacation Bible School Patriotism Disallowed by US Military

    August 1, 2014 by Paul Chappell

    American-flag

    Since the inception of our nation, churches have supported the American military in its efforts to bring and preserve freedom. Since World War I, one way this has been shown has been by placing American flags in our church auditoriums.

    While I am aware that there is a larger discussion related to patriotism in the church, I am a patriotic American who is grateful for the biblically-rooted American belief of liberty. And I do believe that expressing that in church has its place.

    Yet in a strange twist of logic and the devaluing of American pride, as our nation seems bent on moving as far as possible from God and Christian values, federal leaders of our military apparently feel threatened by churches’ support of the military.

    Just last week, a church in Carthage, Missouri, received what amounts to a “no thanks for patriotism” message from the National Guard. In a news article posted a few days ago, reporter Todd Starnes shared a deeply concerning story. A Baptist church who chose a patriotic theme for Vacation Bible School “invited troops from the nearby armory to drop by with one of their Humvees” to honor and thank the service members.

    Earlier in the week, local paramedics, the fire department, and the sheriff’s department had all come and visited with the kids. But the National Guard said they couldn’t come. And it wasn’t because they were engaged in other duties. It was because a federal regulation is protecting their freedom from religion. To quote the pastor in Starnes’ article: (more…)