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9/1/2014

Your Pastor and Public Messes

Let’s be clear: as pastors, we’re not supposed to be leading in a way that creates a public mess. The Bible lays out certain qualifications for church leaders, most notably that they have demonstrated capable leadership of their own family.

It’s not often the New York Times features a story about the inner turmoil of a church and its pastor on the front page.  Without going into the saga that is Mars Hill Church (you can follow the links below for details), let’s just say that it’s a mess. And not just for Mars Hill. It’s a mess for all churches as such things unfold before a watching world.  Every time something like this happens locally, or nationally, I groan.  Not simply because it grieves me, not simply because of the damage to our collective witness, but because it makes it so much harder for so many men and women in ministry who don’t create messes. But, sadly, will get painted with the same brush. And let’s be clear: we’re not supposed to be leading in a way that creates a public mess. The Bible lays out certain qualifications for church leaders, most notably that they have demonstrated capable leadership of their own family (I Timothy 3:4-5, Titus 1:6).  The idea is that the church is a family, so how can someone lead the church if they can’t seem to handle their own home life?  There are other qualifications as well, including being self-controlled, not quarrelsome or greedy (I Timothy 3:1-13, Titus 1:6-9). The heart of the matter is being “above reproach,” which points to an absence of behavior in public settings that would harm the reputation and ministry of the church.  As John Stott aptly noted, “This cannot mean ... read more
8/29/2014

Minnesota Town Sued after Refusing Muslim Worship Center

St. Anthony Village, a small town in Minnesota, is being sued by the U.S. government for refusing to allow a Muslim group the right to build a worship center.

St. Anthony Village, a small town in Minnesota, is being sued by the U.S. government for refusing to allow a Muslim group the right to open a worship center.   According to Charisma News, St. Anthony Village council members voted in 2012 against the Abu Huraira Islamic Center. The Muslim grouped had requested to open the worship center in the basement of the St. Anthony Business Center.    The Muslim group claims that they were denied permission to open a place of worship because of their religious affiliation. The municipality maintains that a lack of space was the reason for the denial.    Molly Moran, acting assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division said, "Religious freedom is one of our most cherished rights, and there are few aspects of that right more central than the ability of communities to establish places for collective worship.”   According to the Justice Department, the town’s denial of the Muslim worship center was unlawful because the building’s zoning code states “assemblies, meeting lodges and convention halls” are permitted.     Publication date: August 29, 2014 read more
8/29/2014

Movement to Boycott Israel Gains Momentum in Europe

Parts of Europe are boycotting Israeli products in response to the Israel-Gaza war.

Parts of Europe are boycotting Israeli products in response the the Israel-Gaza war.   In London, some stores have pulled kosher products from their shelves and a theater in north London wants to edit the content of some films at a planned Jewish film festival.   “We don’t want any Israeli goods; we don’t want any Israeli services; we don’t want any Israeli academics coming to the university or college; we don’t even want any Israeli tourists to come to Bradford,” said George Galloway, a member of Parliament.   The movement to boycott and sanction Israel is known as BDS.   “We entered this war in Gaza with the perception that the Israeli government is not interested in reaching peace with the Palestinians,” said Meir Javedanfar, an Israeli analyst at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. “Now, after the casualties and the destruction, I’m very worried about the impact this could have on Israel. It could make it very easy for the BDS campaign to isolate Israel and call for more boycotts.”   The European Union has also declared that any products from Israel by labeled differently.      Publication date: August 29, 2014 read more
8/29/2014

Judge Rules Polygamy Ban Violates Religious Freedom

A judge has ruled that part of the law banning polygamy violates religious freedom.

A judge has ruled that part of the law banning polygamy violates religious freedom. The ruling comes after Kody Brown, a fundamentalist Mormon known for the reality TV show “Sister Wives,” filed a lawsuit against the state of Utah when he fled the state to avoid being charged with bigamy.    Polygamous marriage is illegal in the United States and the Mormon church banned the practice in 1890. Utah also bans marrying one person and then living with others who are considered spouses. Fundamentalist Mormons usually legally marry one woman and then have “spiritual unions” with other wives.   But district judge Clark Waddoups ruled that the Utah law is a violation of religious freedom.   "While we know that many people do not approve of plural families, it is our family and based on our religious beliefs," Brown said in response to the ruling.   "Just as we respect the personal and religious choices of other families, we hope that in time all of our neighbors and fellow citizens will come to respect our own choices as part of this wonderful country of different faiths and beliefs."   Gov. Gary Herbert said this week he disagrees with the decision.   “I think it's probably not good policy and good practice for families to have that kind of a situation, so that's my own provincial view of traditional marriage," he said.   The ruling is expected to be appealed.     Publication date: August 29, 2014 read more
8/29/2014

Pastors’ Letter on Mark Driscoll: Step Down from All Aspects of Ministry and Leadership

A letter from nine Mars Hill Church pastors offers the most trenchant criticism yet of controversial megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll.

A letter from nine Mars Hill Church pastors to their fellow elders offers the most trenchant criticism yet of controversial megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll, who recently stepped down for at least six weeks amid a series of accusations.   The pastors did not mince words in their lengthy Aug. 22 letter [full text] concerning Driscoll, who has been caught up in allegations that include plagiarism, inappropriate use of church funds and abuse of power:   * [W]e direct that he steps down from ministry, submitting himself under the authority of the elders of the church, who will oversee the details of his restoration plan. * He must step down not only from the pulpit, but from all aspects of ministry and leadership. * He will continue to receive his salary so long as he continues to cooperate with the restoration plan set before him by the elders of Mars Hill Church.   The letter was posted within a Mars Hill online network and provided to Warren Throckmorton, a Grove City College psychology professor who has been blogging updates about Mars Hill.   The 4,000-word letter suggests there were insufficient layers of accountability at Mars Hill, a congregation of an estimated 14,000 people at 15 locations in five states, and that power was consolidated at the top with Driscoll given free rein to do what he wanted.   The pastors included quotes from conversations with Paul Tripp, a widely respected evangelical pastor who is seen as a “pastor to pastors” and ... read more