culture (8)

#Rethink How You Think About Voting

#Rethink How You Think About Voting
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How Would Jesus Approach the 2024 Presidential Election?

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For Christians, the upcoming Presidential election should not be about Trump 2024 or Biden 2024, but Acts 20:24 – “I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”  You only get one vote for President, but you can cast countless eternal votes by praying, caring, and sharing the Gospel with neighbors, coworkers, or complete strangers.  Your vote for President only lasts four years, but eternal votes have no expiration date.

Christians shouldn’t abstain from voting in the next election, but our charge is to imitate Jesus, who refused to engage in partisan politics but never missed an opportunity to perform acts of kindness.  Vote for Biden or Vote for Trump will not be your only options in 2024 – you can follow Jesus’ lead and Vote for Eternity.

The Greatest Risk of the 2024 Election…

Yet Christians today too often get embroiled in heated political exchanges, even with other believers, particularly on social media.  Rather than fostering unity, we contribute to America’s divisiveness.  Focusing more on earthly power than spiritual power (through the Holy Spirit) makes little sense when politicians can’t alter God’s plan or bend His will.   However, He’s granted us the privilege of leading people toward Jesus.  Each Christian has greater ability to impact who’s in God’s House than who’s in the White House.  Yet we forfeit that right and lose our voice when we’re seen as guilty by association with a particular politician or party.

We’re still feeling the effects of presumed alignment with a church-friendly former President who alienated large swaths of our population.  Christians already face stiff headwinds.  Our ability to influence culture will diminish further if the tone of our responses to anti-Christian rhetoric continues to reflect anger and not the love of Jesus.  Losing additional ground may mean any expressions of biblical perspectives on morality will soon be deemed “hate-speak” and companies will refuse to hire those not disavowing those views.

Christians must remember we’re dual citizens of a democracy and a Kingdom.  Politicians battle for supremacy in this nation, but Jesus remains Lord of all.  Our foremost allegiance should be to the King.  Jesus doesn’t do battle like us.  He fought the culture war with a “ground attack” of love and compassion, not an “air assault” of dropping verbal bombs. Once His ground campaign sufficiently weakened resistance, He launched His air campaign – the Gospel message.  Following Jesus’ example would counter the prevailing culture of division and discord with powerful displays of God’s love.  Christianity has suffered tremendous collateral damage and some churches never recovered from self-inflicted wounds caused by missiles they fired at the “opposition”.

Yet many prominent Christian leaders still believe the path to cultural redemption lies in recapturing control of the 7 Mountains (government, media, religion, education, entertainment, family, and business).  They feel a larger megaphone (by occupying a position at the peak of the mountain tops) is the only way to reinstitute the Christian values our nation once held dear.  Uncertain God is sovereign, they seek to assert control, giving rise to accusations of theocratic ambitions and Christian Nationalism.

It seems the louder Christians yell, the less we’re heard.  To be heard we must be seen.  Espousing beliefs and opinions like everyone else, not loving and serving our political “enemies”, will drive the prevailing view of Christians and churches deeper into the ditch.  Christians have bemoaned, campaigned, and lobbied vigorously over recent decades.  The higher the decibel level, the greater the resistance to biblical positions on social issues.

Enter #CastAnEternalVote…

During divisive elections in 2016 and 2020, #CastAnEternalVote encouraged churches and Christians to think and act like Jesus.  The campaigns provided an alternative to engaging in political vitriol on social media.  We urged Christians to pray, care, and share about Jesus, casting votes that will have implications far longer than just the next Presidential term.  We substituted the “2016” in the typical Presidential campaign slogans with “20:16” (from Matthew – “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”)

Next year, #CastAnEternalVote will encourage Christians to put aside partisan politics and vote for (Acts) 20:24 in the months leading up to the 2024 election.  This Christ-centered “Ice Bucket Challenge” will replace combative social media posts with stories, photos, and videos of acts of kindness.  Many participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge because they knew someone with ALS.  Every one of us has a neighbor, coworker, friend, or family member who doesn’t know Jesus.  Not to diminish the severity of ALS, but isn’t the plight of those lost without Christ far worse?

Yes, Christians are called to engage in the culture war, but the most powerful weapon at our disposal is the Father’s love.  Each #CastAnEternalVote participant will use that hashtag in social media postings and challenge friends on Facebook, Twitter, or other platforms to “pay their kindness forward”.  Countercultural demonstrations of God’s love are the best response to an upcoming election that threatens to tear our nation apart and further vilify Christians.

But #CastAnEternal Won’t Help Unless…

Acts of kindness without heart transformation won’t make a difference.  Anything “nice” we do absent love is meaningless.  #CastAnEternal is not about the good deeds themselves but providing impetus for repentance and transformation.  Addressing bad behaviors (e.g. Christians lashing out at those on the other side of the aisle and lobbying harder for a candidate than for Jesus) goes only skin deep, putting band-aids on gaping wounds.

#CastAnEternalVote seeks to reverse the trajectory of our culture, something no President is able or expected to do.  Watching the national or local news, we’re frequently reminded how urgently America needs:

  • More love, less division
  • More faith, less self-centeredness
  • More mercy, less suffering
  • More grace, less hostility
  • More hope, less poverty

As the impact and influence of churches and Christians diminishes, the essential elements of Christianity – Love, Faith, Mercy, Grace, and Hope – leak from our nation.  Biblical principles like the sanctity of human life, the institution of marriage, the importance of family, and the freedom to worship will continue to be undermined in proportion to the distance Christians put between themselves and those who don’t subscribe to our values.  Unless #CastAnEternalVote effects the following changes in Christians, we’ll return to business as usual when the 2024 election cycle ends and efforts to eradicate Christianity will resume, regardless of which President is in office…

  1. Heart Before Rules – The more we dig our heels in, the less we can connect with non-believers – and the less they can identify with us.  We must imitate Jesus who generously served and cared for those in need of help and hope.  Yes, Jesus holds His followers to a standard of behavior but those rules are entirely contained within His command to love (God and our neighbors).  Yet churches have surrendered their historical role on the front lines of compassion and Christians are better known now for what they’re against than who they’re for.
  2. Draw Circles, Not Lines – Jesus did not conform to social norms, crossing lines, including political ones.  Party and religious leaders took offense when He welcomed their sworn enemies into the fold.  Jesus reserved His harshest words for those who drew lines, demeaning women and children, the sick and the “sinful”.  We must draw circles as large as Jesus’, never compromising His Word but seeing past people’s exterior (appearance, words, and actions) to the eternal souls made in the image of the Father needing desperately to know Him.
  3. Love our “Enemies” – Unthinkable, scandalous acts of generosity would go “viral” and awaken slumbering souls to the love of Jesus.  It’s difficult to imagine a Christian conservative washing the proverbial feet of a liberal Democrat (or vice versa), coming to their defense when members of one’s party unjustly malign the other’s character.  Envision acts so radically counterintuitive that Jesus would say, “that’s what I’m talking about!”  #CastAnEternalVote is designed to activate that dormant part of our brains, voting for Jesus because no other candidate can save America.
  4. Die to Self – Few Christians grasp one of the most life-changing concepts in all of Scripture.  Dying to self means laying down our lives, our desire for power or prominence, and our need to be “right”.  Only by reckoning ourselves dead, like the soldier in the foxhole, can Christians maximize Kingdom impact and churches achieve biblical unity.  Jesus was first and foremost a servant.  True servanthood requires a humility not possible when any vestige of self remains – because humility may involve humiliation, but not if there’s no self left to humiliate.
  5. Demonstrate Agape at Scale – Love is also a misunderstood and misapplied term, not only within secular society but among Christians.  Brotherly, romantic, and familial love are typically not unconditional.  Our Father is the only source of Agape and it’s best exemplified by our righteous Savior dying for the unrighteous.  The more we’re forgiven (and we’ve all been forgiven much) the more we should love – and forgive.  #CastAnEternalVote is actionable, yet also educational – we’ll stress that Agape should be the “why” behind all prayer, care, and share actions.
  6. Knowledge to Transformation – When intellectual understanding (about God) meets with personal experiences (with God), transformation should be the result.  Transformation empowers us by the Holy Spirit to be more faithful in prayer, passionate in worship, loving in relationships, studious in Scripture, vocal in evangelism, and generous in giving.  Few churches push members to take mind-blowing steps of faith (which open doors to revelations of God’s love, leading to transformation).  #CastAnEternalVote will provide inspirational examples of faith.
  7. Talk Less, Do More – Jesus doesn’t intend for His followers to be complacent, comfortable, and content.  He doesn’t call us just to worship and fellowship safely on Sundays.  We are to be “church” all week, acting and speaking openly in the light of day.  Most of all, Jesus demands we avoid pride and anger in response to a world increasingly hostile to our faith.  But it’s far easier to talk than to act.  #CastAnEternalVote will encourage passive, pensive, private, and proud Christians to follow Jesus’ model of demonstrating His love and then sharing who He is.

The 2024 Presidential election may be the best (or last) opportunity for Christians to spark revival in America.  When will there be a better chance to shock the world by doing exactly the opposite of what’s expected.  Isn’t that what Jesus did?  Yes, and it altered the course of history.

It’s Your Turn…

Are you frustrated with the state of America and concerned about our children’s future?  Do you feel powerless to do much about it, knowing you only get one vote, for candidates that may not instill a great deal of confidence?  #CastAnEternalVote hasn’t started yet, but that shouldn’t stop you from being the hands and feet of Christ, making an eternal difference in someone’s life today!

The post How Would Jesus Approach the 2024 Presidential Election? appeared first on Meet the Need Blog.

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GUEST POST: "Christianity is no longer the norm"

By Curtis W. Freeman

...research professor of theology and director of the Baptist House of Studies at Duke Divinity School. His book Pilgrim Journey: Instruction in the Mystery of the Gospel

was published in September by Fortress Press as a sequel to Pilgrim Letters: Instruction in the Basic Teaching of Christ.


This proposal for reordering in discipleship isn’t an attempt to be “seeker-sensitive,” in the worst sense of the phrase, giving nonbelievers less to disbelieve. It’s a realistic response to our society’s profound cultural and political shifts. It’s a recognition that Christianity is no longer the norm and, therefore, does not feel normal to many of our neighbors.

We can no longer assume a basic familiarity with our faith that makes a sense of belonging, at least superficially, relatively easy to achieve. We must start with belonging in the sense of “faith as trust” in God and membership in God’s family, not belief in the sense of “faith as understanding,” because getting to the doctrinal affirmations is a much longer journey than it used to be. In post-Christendom, occasional church attendance is not a sufficient basis for making Christians—if that attendance happens at all.

Moreover, the disciple-making process is not about enculturating people into an affinity group of support and togetherness. It’s about cultivating a community committed to following Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). In a secular society, to believe and behave, we must be able to grasp that we belong not only to that community but to God who created us and demonstrated a profound love for us in Jesus Christ.

Belonging, then, is not simply a matter of church attendance or even membership. It’s a covenant relationship based on trust and commitment. It’s deeper than cultural similarities or consumer attraction to a congregation’s programming. It’s belonging to God and one another in the ties that bind our hearts in Christian love. It’s the fellowship of kindred minds. It’s bearing one another’s burdens and sharing the joy of blessings. It’s a common journey and a common hope.

Read complete article here>>>

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​Deconstructing or Reconstructing Faith​?
​Phil Miglioratti @ The Remagine.Network

Most pastors have heard of deconstruction and some say they’ve seen it in their pews, but no one knows exactly what faith deconstruction means.
Just because someone is re-evaluating what they believe, doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve quit believing entirely.”​ ​ Li​z​zy Haselstine
#ItSeemsToMe…some ​evangelicals ​are deconstructing but many of us are reconstructing. Inviting a Spirit-led, Scripture-fed review and, as necessary, revision of the containers we have designed to ​carry, the templates we have constructed to ​codify​,​ our beliefs and perspectives. A faith journey to ​assess where​ true faith ​has been contaminated or compromised by traditions​​ and​/or​ cultural biases ​we have​ begun to think of as correct - faultless - universal expressions of Holy Scripture
“Many have been influenced by culture instead of by the church” ​(LH) ... ​but reconstruction recognizes that ​norms and standards of ​culture have also influenced the church. Identifying ​customs-traditions-values that steer or dilute Scripture is essential to both personal ​discipleship ​and corporate ​culture​.
“People rely on their circumstances to create their worldviews” ​(LH) ... ​but so does our theologizing. Our creedal statements remain foundational but our interpretations and applications need constant​,​ thoughtful reflection ​to​ identif​y​ perspectives that are based ​up​on ​or shaped by​our tribal​/temporal​ context.
“Before we self-righteously point fingers at someone questioning God, take time to consider what that person may have gone through or be facing and pray for them. When someone is deconstructing their faith, it is not a time to criticize or be skeptical of them but to love them well”​ (LH) ...​ and to listen. They may have wisdom from the Spirit that applies to us as well.​ Failure to listen and learn will only result in more deconstruction (unbelief) than reconstruction (renewed belief).
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GUEST POST ~ Culture and Why It Matters

GUEST POST ~ Culture and Why It Matters

The One Thing That Changes Everything

Bill Zipp 

I love Kmart. But not for the low, low prices or the blue light specials. I love Kmart because wherever I travel in the United States, I can find a dead plant there.

Let me explain…

As a speaker, I’m often asked to address the topic of organizational culture. I begin my speech by putting a dead plant in front of the audience and asking the group what this plant needs. We generate a list—water, air, nutrients, re-planting, pruning—and discuss the ways in which this list parallels the corporate context.

There’s one problem with that ingenious idea, however. Where do you find a dead plant on demand? The solution: Kmart. They’ve never failed to deliver. There’s always a good supply of dead plants on their shelves from which to choose.

When I take my dead plant to the check-out line to pay for it, I ask the attendant if he or she could discount it for me because the plant is, obviously, quite dead. A conversation like this ensues:

“I’m sorry, sir. I’m not allowed to do that.”

“But the plant is dead,” I reply.

“It’s not our policy to discount dead plants. Then everyone would want them.”

“And that would be a problem?“

I’ve learned a lot over the years from dead plants about what it takes to build great organizational culture, but first, allow me to answer these two questions: What is culture and why does it matter?


Simply stated, culture is the combination of beliefs and behaviors any group of people embrace, from businesses to churches, families to nations. It’s the way people in these groups think and the way they act over time.

If a sports team believes it cannot win close games, its behavior reflects that belief when minutes turn to seconds on the clock. They stop playing with a sense of urgency and give up. In business, culture drives how we participate in meetings, how we treat our customers, and how we go about pursuing our goals and responding to the obstacles that arise related to them.

Culture is the undercurrent of all that goes on in your organization and the riptide that drowns any initiative that drifts into its flow. It’s the one thing that changes everything. Which makes building great organizational culture one of your top priorities as a leader.

The stark reality is this: you may have the best product at the best price. You may have the most brilliant strategy being executed by the most talented staff. You may have the latest cutting edge technology and the slickest social media presence, but if your culture is broken, all of that stuff—every bit of it—is dead on arrival.

Or in the words of Peter Drucker, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast!”


Okay, here’s what I’ve learned about culture: Great organizational culture has three intersecting lines. The first of these lines is your company’s guiding principles, its core values. That line then intersects with the products and services you provide and the way you treat people. Let’s address each in turn.


The starting place for culture is with beliefs. That is, a common set of characteristics a company is committed to carrying out, no matter what. You may refer to these as core values, or, as I do here, as guiding principles.

Companies with great organizational culture have intentionally identified a handful of these qualities and defined them as a group. Often, this process begins with individuals in the organization identifying their own core values, explaining them to each other, and affirming the shared commitments that surface in the process.

Don’t, however, jump into this process lightly. It isn’t for the faint of heart.

“Coming up with strong values—and sticking to them—requires real guts. Indeed, an organization considering a values initiative must first come to terms with the fact that, when properly practiced, values inflict pain and demand constant vigilance,” warns the ever-insightful Patrick Lencioni in Harvard Business Review. “If you’re not willing to accept the pain real values incur, don’t bother going to the trouble of formulating a values statement. You’ll be better off without one.”


If you’ve ever participated in a core values exercise like the one described above (It was all the rage a few years ago.), your company may have assembled a list like this: communication, respect, integrity, excellence.

Don’t those words sound great?

Here’s the problem with the items on that list. They were the core values of Enron as stated in its annual report shortly before the company’s epic meltdown, one of the worst scandals ever to have rocked the business world. Ouch!

The challenge, then, in building culture is not coming up with the ideals we espouse but actually embodying those ideals in the demands of day-to-day life. Doing them /no matter what/.

This means having your guiding principles drive the quality of the products you bring to market and the integrity of the services that support those products. It may mean declining to offer certain services because they don’t align with your values or refusing to provide certain products, regardless of their profit margin.

In other words, the creation of a company culture that’s consistent with its convictions requires that your values inform every marketplace interaction—from advertising to sales, from accounting to operations—or they are, like Enron, empty words on the wall (or in a glossy annual report).


Culture begins by what we say we believe, our guiding principles, and it continues by acting on those beliefs with specific, repeated behaviors. First with our products and services, and next in our relationships with people.

Token phrases, such as, “People are our greatest asset,” cause instant eye-rolls and cynical skepticism. Not, however, within companies with great organizational culture. These firms have allowed their values to inform daily interactions with their employees, creating an environment of mutual trust and respect.

Granted, working with human beings is infinitely more difficult than bringing products and services to the market, but this is where culture becomes deeply embedded in a company. And while volumes have been written on the subject, I offer some simple advice. Be honest. Be human. Be both at the same time.

Being honest involves speaking with clarity and candor and avoiding the deceptive guise of minimization or exaggerated overstatements. Honesty without humanity, however, can be harsh and hurtful. So along with clarity and candor, provide kindness and compassion. In other words, be human. And while you’re at it, be humble.

For my faith friends, you’ll recognize this concept as becoming more like our Savior, who is ”full of grace and truth.” Again, not one or the other but both completely. A fullness of grace and truth has the potential to create the greatest culture your company has ever experienced.

If your organization were a plant, how healthy would that plant be? Would it be dying on a shelf at Kmart or thriving in a fertile garden?

The choice is yours as a leader. It’s a choice to pay attention to the one thing that changes everything, empowering your people to stay true to their guiding principles with all your products and services and all your relational interactions.


With thanks to

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#ReimagineCHRISTIANITY…in America


Christianity's American Fate:

How Religion Became More Conservative and Society More Secular

Tracing the rise of evangelicalism and the decline of mainline Protestantism in American religious and cultural life


How did American Christianity become synonymous with conservative white evangelicalism? This sweeping work by a leading historian of modern America traces the rise of the evangelical movement and the decline of mainline Protestantism’s influence on American life. In Christianity’s American Fate, David Hollinger shows how the Protestant establishment, adopting progressive ideas about race, gender, sexuality, empire, and divinity, liberalized too quickly for some and not quickly enough for others. After 1960, mainline Protestantism lost members from both camps—conservatives to evangelicalism and progressives to secular activism. A Protestant evangelicalism that was comfortable with patriarchy and white supremacy soon became the country’s dominant Christian cultural force.

Hollinger explains the origins of what he calls Protestantism’s “two-party system” in the United States, finding its roots in America’s religious culture of dissent, as established by seventeenth-century colonists who broke away from Europe’s religious traditions; the constitutional separation of church and state, which enabled religious diversity; and the constant influx of immigrants, who found solidarity in churches. Hollinger argues that the United States became not only overwhelmingly Protestant but Protestant on steroids. By the 1960s, Jews and other non-Christians had diversified the nation ethnoreligiously, inspiring more inclusive notions of community. But by embracing a socially diverse and scientifically engaged modernity, Hollinger tells us, ecumenical Protestants also set the terms by which evangelicals became reactionary.


~>Reconstruct Your Biblical Worldview

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#ReimaginePRAYER... Outward and Forward

#ReimaginePRAYER... Outward and Forward

Outward and Forward do bot replace Upward and Inward, but they are just as strategic.

  • Use these 6 "spheres" as a template for equipping believers to pray outward and forward
  • The spheres are based on who you pray with:
    • You, with Jesus (1:1 lime John the beloved)
    • You and a few friends/small group, with Jesus (1:3 like Mary, Martha and lazarus; 1:72 like the mission teams)
    • You and your congregation, with Jesus (1:120 in the Uppde Room)
    • You and a diversity of believers from across your community/city, and Jesus (citywide coordinatioin)
    • You and any of the above, with Jesus, focused on cultural issues and institutions (Mars Hill)
    • You and any of the above, focused on the nations (evangelism, disciple-making, church planting, missions)

Sphere #1 ... in my CLOSET

You and the Lord; one-on-one. Prayer-Closet Intercession.

Reply by Malva Birch

Sphere #2 ...with my COHORTS

Exploring the unique dynamics of small group prayer; Bible studies, Sunday School classes, fellowship groups, prayer teams...

TURN - The Upper Room Network

Sphere #3 ...throughout my CONGREGATION

Relating to the issues and ideas unique to the dynamic of praying with others; small or large all--the-congregation gatherings

Praying Together from 25 Different Locations

Sphere #4 ...across my CITY

Prayer, often collaborative, for the well-being of a city. Every family. Every affinity. Every community.


Sphere #5 ...penetrating my CULTURE

Focused on an outpouring of God's Spirit, bringing a renewed Christ-centeredness to the Church and a spiritual awakening in our nation's culture.

Crying Out To God:
Beyond Passive-Prayer into Passionate-Prayer


Sphere #6 ...for other COUNTRIES

•Global Focus (Nations / Missions) Prayer that reaches beyond our national borders ~ That the earth may be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea!

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