Barna: Pastors Say They Often Preach on Church Unity—Christians Disagree

"pastors and Christians differ in their opinions about the term [unity] as well. For pastors, words like 'harmony' (70%), 'reconciliation' (52%) and 'sacrifice' (41%) come to mind, while Christians tend to say 'alliance' (39%) or 'sameness' (31%)." - Barna

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A new Billy Graham archive opens on the late evangelist’s birthday

"The new two-story building, constructed with the latest preservation standards and environmental controls, cost $13 million. It unites all of Graham’s records — not only from the Wheaton archive but from Minneapolis, where he started his formal ministry" - RNS

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Is Narrative Normative?

A recent forum discussion raised the question of what role the narrative portions of Scripture have for establishing Christian doctrine. The question had two parts: “What is sound doctrine concerning the doctrinal importance of narratives in Scripture? Who decides what is the correct view and what is not?”

I remember hearing a lot of bad preaching from narrative, growing up. I also heard a lot of good preaching from narrative. One lesson learned: If we don’t respect what narrative is, we can easily miss what God intended and even abuse the Scriptures.

As for “Who decides…”? I hope to show here that nobody special is required. We can all see that there are challenges involved in using narrative properly.

I’ll explore the topic briefly here in Q & A format.

1. Can biblical narrative establish doctrine?

It can! Consider the first few chapters of Genesis. Our doctrines of creation and the fall are clear (though not complete) from Genesis alone.

Both Jesus (Matt 19:4-6) and the apostles (1 Tim 2:13-14, 2 Cor 11:3, 1 John 3:12, 1 Pet 3:20) referenced portions of Genesis as support for doctrines they taught.

Still, narrative almost never stands alone as a basis for doctrine (more on why later).

2. Can biblical narrative show us how to behave?

The popular answer that “narrative is descriptive, not prescriptive” is an overgeneralization.

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‘Rise Up, O Men of God!’

It has often been noted that—tempted as we as preachers might be—we can never preach to the crowd that is not present. This column might be a bit unusual, then, as one might say that it is presented for the person who will never read it. At least in the case of the written word, however, it can be posted for all to see—and share.

Let me also preface my remarks by stating up front that many of the best responses we have seen in our service with The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry have been in small churches—sometimes to such an extent that it is almost beyond comprehension.

I will say it again—small churches (speaking of churches in the broadest sense) remain the backbone of this nation. Many of them are located in small towns, or even out in the country—but they are, in a very real sense, still holding the whole country together. Speaking more narrowly, in terms of the true body of Christ, I believe that many of her members attend smaller local churches.

The worldly mind might describe these churches as old-fashioned. When we get to spend a day with them, however, we often find that such a depiction is undeserved.

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Barna: 48% of pastors unsure if their preaching is helping people grow

"Barna data from a recent pastor survey show that over two in three U.S. Protestant senior pastors (67%) say they feel 'very confident' about their preaching right now. One in three (32%) is 'somewhat confident' while just one percent is not confident." - Barna Research

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Why I Don’t Expect Everyone in My Church to Agree with Everything I Say

"When I review what I preached ten years ago, I find I would change a lot of what I said. When I think about how I led ten years ago, if I could, I would tell my twenty-six-year-old self to change approaches. How can I get angry about dissenting views now when I don’t even agree with myself in the past?" - Rainer

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