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Jul 15, 2014
Contexualization

Avoiding the Pitfall of Syncretism

Churches and pastors must respect the razor's edge between obscurantism and syncretism.
Avoiding the Pitfall of Syncretism
Greg Willis / flickr

A quick search for the word "contextualization" on this blog will reveal how important I believe it is for the church that truly wants to engage in God's mission. I have written and spoken on the subject extensively. And though I don't believe it to be the ...

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Jul 9, 2014
Research

Everything Is Terrible: How Bad Stats Fuel Disillusionment

What's terrible is bad stats and the impact they have
Everything Is Terrible: How Bad Stats Fuel Disillusionment
ARACELOTA - Flickr

"Everything is awesome."

I can say those words and there are those of you who have just had your day ruined by an inanely catchy tune you can't turn off. The musical parody from The Lego Movie just sticks to your brain.

However, if we are good students of ...

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Jul 8, 2014
Contexualization

Beware of Obscurantism

Christians must not obscure the gospel by seeing other issues as more important.
Beware of Obscurantism
freefotouk / flickr

"I can't go to your church, I'm not a Republican."

That was what a pastor friend of mine heard from a neighbor to whom he was reaching out. He eagerly replied, "You don't have to be!" to which his friend responded, "But everyone at your ...

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Jul 2, 2014
Communication

How to Receive Criticism: 2 Types of Critics Who Can Teach You

We must be able to learn from friendly and unfriendly critics: both usually have something helpful to say.
How to Receive Criticism: 2 Types of Critics Who Can Teach You

I'm working through a blog series on criticism. I started with how to give criticism, which is a lot easier. That series included articles including:

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Jun 30, 2014
Religious Liberty

Hobby Lobby Wins: Where Do We Go from Here?

Supremes End Legal Debate: This WAS about Religious Liberty
Hobby Lobby Wins: Where Do We Go from Here?
Bismarck Pride / flickr

The U. S. Supreme Court has given the Obama administration (and, hopefully the world) a lesson in religious liberty—the government cannot (and must not) require people of faith to violate their sincerely-held beliefs.

The High Court's Ruling

The ruling in favor ...

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Jun 24, 2014
Church

Hillsong Church at a Glance

What is Hillsong Church like, beyond the music that just about everyone sings?
Hillsong Church at a Glance
Michael Keen / flickr

The 30-year story of Hillsong Church is fascinating.

I've had several reporters ask about the lately as they celebrate their 30th. In prep for some of those interviews, including for this story, my team has been putting together something of a fact sheet. I'll probably ...

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Jun 23, 2014
Religious Freedom

Meriam Yehya Ibrahim and The Right to Convert

Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman once sentenced to death for marrying a Christian, has been freed.
Meriam Yehya Ibrahim and The Right to Convert

Meriam Yehya Ibrahim is a 27-year-old Sudanese woman who was sentenced to death for committing apostasy by marrying a Christian man. Thankfully, Monday morning, this human rights horror story ended with the freedom of Ibrahim. But questions still remain. Ibrahim, who says ...

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Jun 16, 2014
Abuse

It's Abuse, Not an Affair, and It Appears We Need to be Reminded... Again...

Hashtag activism gave a voice to the abused last week.
It's Abuse, Not an Affair, and It Appears We Need to be Reminded... Again...
Andrew Prickett / flickr

Hashtag activism lit up American evangelicals' Twitter feeds last week.

Generally, I'm not a big fan of such approaches—they often trivialize important things. However, hashtags such as #YesAllWomen and #BringBackOurGirls have made headlines in the past few ...

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Jun 13, 2014
Church

3 Reasons People Are Not Involved in Your Church

Not everyone avoids serving the church for the same reason.
3 Reasons People Are Not Involved in Your Church
Brad Ruggles / flickr

Virtually every church faces the issue of members who are perpetually uninvolved. They are the spectators in the congregation. Many are faithful enough attendees but never move beyond that to be actively involved in the ministry of the church and mission of God. They go for ...

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Jun 6, 2014
Movies

Moviegoers Want More Faith-Based Films, Hollywood Delivers

Is it possible that Americans want more Christian values in films?
Moviegoers Want More Faith-Based Films, Hollywood Delivers
Joakim Wahlander / flickr

Hollywood's "year of the Bible movie" continues to drive sales at the box office in 2014.

Four faith-based films have already earned more than $50 million each in ticket sales, according to Boxofficemojo.com. Those films—"Noah," "Heaven ...

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Jun 2, 2014
American Christianity

MissionTrends: 4 Trends for Churches to Consider

What trends must we consider when it comes to the state of the church in America?
MissionTrends: 4 Trends for Churches to Consider

Despite what many think, the church in America is not dying (and no serious researcher thinks that). However, there are some challenges and changes to be considered.

When we consider missiology, part of the discipline includes considering how churches relate to their culture. ...

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Apr 23, 2014
Research

New Research: Most Americans Want to Keep "Under God" in Pledge of Allegiance

What do Americans think about "under God" being in the Pledge of Allegiance?
New Research: Most Americans Want to Keep "Under God" in Pledge of Allegiance
uhuru1701 / flickr

As the fabric of the United States gets markedly less Christian and more secular, evidences of the intersection of Church and State throughout America's history will be called into question.

The United States, in addition to "The Star Spangled Banner," the ...

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Apr 16, 2014
Westboro Baptist Church

Saved from Hate: An Interview with Mark Phelps, Son of Westboro Founder Fred Phelps Sr.

Mark Phelps graciously shared a bit of his story with me over the last couple of weeks.
Saved from Hate: An Interview with Mark Phelps, Son of Westboro Founder Fred Phelps Sr.
@mjb / flickr

Ed Stetzer: First, tell us a little about your background.Mark Phelps: I left my family and my father's "church" in 1973. I graduated college in 1976 with a degree in business finance. I married my wife of almost 38 years in August 1976. We started a business in ...

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Apr 3, 2014

Three Reasons Why NYC Should Let Schools Rent to Churches Regardless of Today's Ruling

New ruling overturns a ruling in favor of churches from 2012.
Three Reasons Why NYC Should Let Schools Rent to Churches Regardless of Today's Ruling
Josh Liba / flickr

Today, a New York City appeals court ruled that churches can be banned from NYC public schools, which overturns a decision from 2012 that granted churches permission to rent schools for worship services when school is not in session.

...

The judges of the Second Circuit ...

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Mar 25, 2014
Hobby Lobby

Religious Freedom, Hobby Lobby, Some Pertinent Research, and a Prayer

Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood take their case against mandated contraception to the Supreme Court today.
Religious Freedom, Hobby Lobby, Some Pertinent Research, and a Prayer
Bismarck Pride / flickr

Today, the Supreme Court is hearing the oral arguments on "Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius." The case pits the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) against a claim of religious liberty infringement. It will be a busy news day—every ...

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Follow Ed Stetzer

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Matt Carter joined Ed Stetzer to talk about church culture, small groups and missional communities on this episode of The Exchange.

Watch the full episode - vimeo.com/97429990

Carter serves as the Pastor of Preaching & Vision at the Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, Texas, which has grown from a core team of 15 to over 7,000 attending each Sunday since the church began in 2002. He co-authored For the City, which explored what it would look like for a local church to be an advocate for the welfare of the city, and The Real Win (lfwy.co/RBeOEQ), a book on biblical manhood co-authored by NFL quarterback Colt McCoy.

He has also co-authored two group studies, Creation Unraveled and Creation Restored, which traced the gospel message through the book of Genesis.

Carter holds an M.Div. from Southwestern Seminary and is pursuing a D.Min. in Expositional Preaching from Southeastern Seminary. He and his wife Jennifer have been married for 16 years, and they have three children, John Daniel, Annie, and Samuel.

Cast: Ed Stetzer

Tags: Matt Carter, Missional Communities, Small Groups, Discipleship, outreach, values and church culture

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