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Gay And Christian: Believers Speak
Recently at the Wealthy Theatre in Grand Rapids, Mathew Clark of The Gay Christian Therapy Center hosted a panel discussion called Homosexuality and Christianity: A new approach in a polarizing debate.  Along with Mathew Clark, the panelists included Stephanie Sandberg, who directed the Actors Theatre production “Seven Passages: The Stories of Gay Christians”; Ruth Bell Olsson, president of the Grand Rapids Red Project for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment; and Jim Lucas, longtime chaplain of the Gays in Faith Together support group. A highlight of the evening was the official public coming out of Dan Dobson, son of the legendary and venerable Ed...
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Relevance: A Youth Minister Answers (Part 2 of 2)
My first experience in youth ministry while in college was in a poor, rural community in Alabama at a Baptist church where the overwhelming majority of the 50 or so regular attendees were over the age of 65.  At some point, kids who lived in the small houses and trailer homes nearby discovered that every Wednesday night this church offered a free, warm meal and they started coming in droves.  Suddenly there were 20+ kids aged 7 to 15 at this church.  None of their families were involved in the congregation.  No one in the church had any youth ministry...
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Is Your Pastor Holding Your Church Back?
Imagine yourself and a group of people in a meeting with your church’s pastor. The church has been changing and seeing new life as people explore what it means to be a church in the early 21st century. The group presents a concept for a phenomenal new ministry connecting the community and congregation, leading to radically transformed lives. Excitement grips the group as they explain the concept to your pastor. You are elated when she says “yes!” and you start planning the roll out. As the group finalizes the plans, you find out about newly imposed guidelines and limitations that...
Why Every Christian Should (Legally) Support Gay Marriage
After the passionate back-and-forth on the news yesterday, with the looming possibility of federal legislation on the issue of same sex marriage, I quietly logged into my account, and with a few clicks of the mouse replaced that picture of my gorgeous wife with one of a simple red background and a white equals sign. Marriage equality, is what it represents. I had a feeling it could be divisive, specifically among my Christian friends. Many clicked that little thumbs up picture, showing their support. Many have been silent thus far, perhaps marking their indifference. But following an amazing conversation with...
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Relevance: The Youth Minister’s Questions (Part 1 of 2)
Youth ministry is a tough needle to thread.  It requires a lot of personal commitment and patience, an expectation that your target audience is going to show a general lack of interest and enthusiasm about most of the things you do for them, and a willingness to sacrifice sleep and earn your gray hairs early. It’s also a tough needle to thread because it’s a field of ministry surrounded by towering questions and often conflicting answers. In this article, I want to raise seven of what I think are the most pressing questions many  churches and youth ministers face when...
megan phelps
An Open Letter to Grace and Megan Phelps-Roper
Dear Megan and Grace, I understand, in I’m sure a merely limited way, you have left Westboro Baptist Church behind. I also understand that this means, for both of you, that you have left your family behind. I want to first and foremost commend you both for the courage it took to take that step. Not only did you step away from a church that will now actively seek to distance itself from you, to preach your damnation, to make you doubt your choice at every turn… …you stepped into a world, out from under that same church’s umbrella, that...
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When Does The Adventure Begin?
Is life an explosion of youth, then you reach your peak relevance, importance, and connectivity, and from there things taper off and then you get older and then you die? I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I love Thai food and every week after yoga practice I eat dinner at a favorite Thai restaurant. All the servers know me, but there is one server that I enjoy seeing the most. I think she likes me too, not just because I tip her well, but I think she also enjoys the conversation. I recently learned that she plays in...
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Sinning Against Reason
I have a love-hate relationship with Ayn Rand. Its kind of like the song Willie Nelson and Snoop Dogg sing together, “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.” One the one hand, I don’t want to encourage recreational drug use, but on the other, I can’t help but chuckle at the irony of this song sung by two famous recreational drug users. The song draws me in and then I realize that as much as I like the song, smoking dope would not go over very well with my wife. I get the same feeling when I read...
tugowar
When is it Time to Stop Arguing?
I remember hearing a story in college about a large church with a young pastor who boldly preached the gospel according to Calvin and Albert Mohler.  The mega-church he led had lost a sizable number of members (though certainly not enough to diminish its mega-church status) and a friend commented that this was because this pastor was “preaching the truth.”  What he meant, which I agree with, is that the truth isn’t always what we want to hear.  What he implied, which I want to question, is that any consequences of bluntly telling the truth are perfectly acceptable. A friend...
reflection
Liberation is Inescapable
What is the truth? This question has captivated and perplexed humankind since the beginning of recorded history. Why? Because it’s a question unlike any other. Unlike asking about the political situation in the Middle East or how to pursue a better life, it’s a deep yearning for knowledge, not information. Information that is gained can just as easily be lost. The truth is not about gaining something, but realizing what is already known. At our core is an intent to truly know the Self. Rather than an end goal to strive for, it’s a process of revealing the truth that...
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