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Faith and Learning

The faculty mission of ACU articulates our desire to equip students to live “integrated, Christ-centered lives of service and leadership.” The mission outlines goals of seeing that students combine Christian faith, professional commitment, and knowledge into a worldview recognizing the connection of God’s universe. The goals are based on Christian values including God,… Read More

Posted by Amy Boone

Tension at the Threshold: Hospitality and Immigration (Part 3)

Hospitality toward immigrants is a culture in the kingdom of our re-birth, and evidence of it abounds in Scripture. Cities of Refuge in Num. 35 offer the church a relevant model of hospitality toward the immigrant and refugee. Yet, biblical aids to relearn Christian hospitality toward immigrants do not stop in the Bronze Age. Read More

Posted by Tiffany Dahlman

Whatever Happened to Eschatology?

I am a geek when it comes to end-time scenarios. I appreciate the creativity and skill that goes into producing charts, timetables, and future histories. One can bend and twist Scripture over other theological categories such a salvation, ecclesiology and the nature of Christ, yet it will always be a derivative of previous… Read More

Posted by Chris Benjamin

Tension at the Threshold: Hospitality and Immigration (Part 2)

Find part 1 and part 3 of this series. – “People are attempting to enter the country to do us harm.” “Removing borders is not loving toward my family whom I’m called to protect.” “Our church resources are limited. We can barely care for our own families; we can’t care for refugee families.” Fair concerns remain about… Read More

Posted by Tiffany Dahlman

Thinking Globally for Renewal!

One of the most interesting and challenging books of the summer for me is Wesley Granberg-Michaelson’s Future Faith: Ten Challenges Reshaping Christianity in the 21st Century.[1] Although Granberg-Michaelson writes for church leaders in North America, his view is the global church. And that is where both the interest and the challenge emerge for… Read More

Posted by Carson E. Reed

Conversation Skilz

In all my 25+ years of helping people talk to each other, I can be confident of two things: 1. People already know what they are supposed to do and have the ability to do it; 2. They won’t do it on their own. Let’s begin with number one. People already know what… Read More

Posted by Amanda Box

Keeping Ourselves–and Young People–Near the Cross

I’ve always been slightly jealous of congregations with “real” youth groups. You know the ones I’m talking about: the ones with well-painted and decorated class rooms. The ones with a full-time youth minister who, despite congregational complaints that he is an overpaid song leader, makes a difference in the lives of teenagers. The… Read More

Posted by Alyssa Johnson

Leaving Church: What I'm Learning (Part 1)

“Come and help us learn to be the people of God in the neighborhood where we find ourselves.” Three and a half years ago, we moved our family from Thousand Oaks, CA to the Portland, Oregon area—Beaverton, to be specific. We left our jobs at Pepperdine: I was associate chaplain, and my husband… Read More

Posted by Jen Hale Christy

Lessons Learned from My Dad

As I considered what I might write this month for CHARIS, especially with consideration for Father’s Day, I initially thought I might write an article about spiritual lineage. Father’s Day is one of those holidays that honestly makes me a little uneasy. The holiday presents similar challenges to that of Mother’s Day: how… Read More

Posted by Amy McLaughlin-Sheasby

Whispers

They whisper to us. From the pages of Scripture, countless women whisper to us. But if we’re too loud with our preconceived notions of what women can and cannot do, who they can and cannot be, we will miss it. We won’t hear them praying, teaching, prophesying, and preaching. We’ll overlook it when… Read More

Posted by Jen Hale Christy

Transforming Leadership

When you are deeply invested in something, you begin to own it. For persons in church leadership, the well-being of congregations and the effectiveness of ministries can become personal. We want them to flourish! Of course, the desire for flourishing congregations is rooted in our desire for gospel proclamation and for God’s mission.… Read More

Posted by Carson E. Reed

The Fire of Suffering

“I wish it wasn’t so hard,” she said sitting across the office from me. As was our custom, I sat on the couch and she sat in my desk chair as we talked. I with my cup of coffee, and she opening and closing the laptop in front of her nervously. We met… Read More

Posted by Kelly Edmiston

Don’t Check Your Wounds at the Door

“The best church I’ve ever been a part of is Alcoholics Anonymous!” I was shocked to hear the words tumble from my friend’s mouth, and embarrassed that he would share such a personal detail of his life with our whole class. The uncomfortably casual quip arose in the midst of a heated class… Read More

Posted by Amy McLaughlin-Sheasby

For Mothers

As a father of two wonderful girls still with me and one gone too soon, and as a husband who watches his wife celebrate two and grieve another, especially on Mother’s Day, I offer this prayer. — God, creator of life, Jesus, sustainer of life, and Holy Spirit, conduit of all life: In… Read More

Posted by Chess Cavitt

Why the Church Needs Feminism, Part 4

From Part 3: In the church, the narrative we write for women is important. If the narrative is narrow and unyielding, if the roles are predetermined and leave zero room for diversity, then those who are seen as outliers become the outcasts. The outcasts become the vulnerable. The vulnerable become the victims. The… Read More

Posted by Kaitlin Shetler

Employing Your Church Bulletin for the Ministry of Spiritual Formation

Since graduating from seminary 12 years ago, I have walked alongside three small churches in three different states, and in each of these ministry contexts responsibility for the publication of the church bulletin has fallen to me. This has led me to reflect on the ideal purpose of the bulletin, which I have… Read More

Posted by Colt McCook

Why Silence? It’s Inactive (Part 3)

The simplest spiritual discipline is some degree of solitude and silence. But it’s the hardest, because none of us want to be with someone we don’t love. Besides that, we invariably feel bored with ourselves, and all of our loneliness comes to the surface. We won’t have the courage to go into that… Read More

Posted by Rhesa Higgins

Sunday’s Sermon as Leadership

Not all of you preach, but I suspect that all of you hear sermons with great regularity. One overlooked dimension of leadership is the Sunday sermon. Each week, the preacher rises to offer a word from God, grounded in the witness of Scripture. That word—as it seeks to inform, to persuade or to… Read More

Posted by Carson E. Reed

Domestic Violence and the Gospel

Domestic violence is on the church’s radar. Perhaps this is due to the cultural moment we are living in, increased reporting from victims, or the work of the Holy Spirit. Whatever the reason, churches are paying attention to domestic violence like never before. Did you know 1 in 3 women have been victims… Read More

Posted by Eric Gentry

Teaching Women Effectively

Women’s studies have had a reputation of being fluffy. I am not sure exactly where this reputation began, although it may have to do with a preference for meeting “felt needs” rather than “real needs.” A felt needs approach would likely give preference to instruction on something practical that helps women meet every… Read More

Posted by Anessa Westbrook

"Choose Joy" and Other Ridiculous Things People Say to People in Recovery

Here I am at work in my therapy practice, sitting across from yet another client who is telling me that they can’t understand why they are struggling so much when they “know there are people in the world who have it way worse.” Comparing pain. It’s just what we do. I hear it… Read More

Posted by Celeste Smith

The Shape of Water and the Shape of the Church

If I spoke about it—if I did—what would I tell you? I wonder. Would I tell you about the time? It happened a long time ago, it seems. In the last days of a fair prince’s reign. Or would I tell you about the place? A small city near the coast, but far… Read More

Posted by Adam Daniels

Why Silence? It’s Hard (Part 2)

Henri Nouwen wrote, “Without solitude it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life.” Intuition tells me this is true but if the whole truth is to be told, I fight solitude with all my being; I resist purposefully stopping to rest with God. Sometimes, I use excuses of all that depends on… Read More

Posted by Rhesa Higgins

Will We Hold Tightly to Our Wish Dreams of Christian Community?

I witnessed and participated in a time of reconciliation between men who had wronged one another. Several men stood up in front of an area-wide church conference and confessed their sins and apologized face-to-face to one another. They knew many of their disputes were public, some had been confronted the night before at… Read More

Posted by Greg Taylor

Jesus, TED Talks, and Conversation

I love TED Talks. These short, informative and often witty lectures allow me to peek into the professional world of some highly influential and inspiring thinkers of our day. I’ve learned all kinds of things from people who have spent a lifetime studying, refining, researching and loving the journey of discovery. As a… Read More

Posted by Amanda Box

Why Silence? It’s Weird (Part 1)

When lists are walls And my heart is stone When tasks are drowning joy The time has come. When love is lost And thoughts are swords When my tongue wounds The time has come. When mirror image is foreign And tears are enemies When hope is a memory The time has come. The… Read More

Posted by Rhesa Higgins

On Being Elders

Over the past several years I have had the opportunity to walk with many elder groups as they have reflected on their roles and work. In nearly every situation – no matter the size or location of the church – elders feel overworked and overwhelmed with the tasks at hand and the dilemma… Read More

Posted by Carson E. Reed

Without Hope or One in Christ?

Do you remember where you came from? Some of us came from wealth, some from food stamps. Some of our parents were educated in schools, some on the streets. Some of us were raised in Christian homes while some were openly hostile to Christianity. We spoke different languages, had special traditions and funny… Read More

Posted by Jen Hale Christy

I Am Not a Robot: Resisting the Quick Fix Culture

Most churches publish a prayer list of some type. The majority of prayer requests on these lists are appeals for healing from serious illnesses, chronic diseases, scheduled surgeries, emergency surgeries, and traveling safety. How often do you find listings on church prayer lists for depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, uncontrolled anger, chronic sorrow? Each congregation… Read More

Posted by Chris Benjamin

The Privilege of Participation

Lisa has two young children. She is married to Andy, a kind man who works hard and cares about Lisa and their kids, but he doesn’t share her faith. Every Sunday morning Lisa takes her kids to church while Andy swims and lifts weights at the local gym. While she wishes he would come to… Read More

Posted by Amy Bost Henegar

Courageous Leadership Begins with Me

I think that all of us want the best for the congregations, communities, and organizations we serve. However, we may not often reflect deeply about how our own self-awareness plays a crucial role in the capacity to lead in our various settings. Nancy Koehn, Harvard Business School historian, in her newly released book,… Read More

Posted by Carson E. Reed

Dispatch from the Contemplative Ministers' Initiative

I’m currently with 23 other ministers at the Montserrat Jesuit Retreat Center near Dallas. We are here as part of the Contemplative Ministers’ Initiative, coordinated and directed by the Siburt Institute at Abilene Christian University. CMI is now in its third year. As the name suggests, the aim of the program is to… Read More

Posted by Eric Gentry

The Role of Intentional Affirmation in Female Development

Who inspired you to be in ministry? It’s a question many of us can answer, but how often do we stop to consider if we have passed along the same gift? As ministry leaders there is an intentional, but simple, thing we can do to help women move toward ministry. It is important… Read More

Posted by Anessa Westbrook

The Post-Conflict Show

It was Saturday, with Sunday fast approaching. Due to travel and family emergencies, I was the last minister standing. Having several things to accomplish, while getting dressed, I texted my husband, Chuck, who was in the kitchen. “Can you take Hazel for ice cream or something so I can finish running errands by… Read More

Posted by Amanda Box

Forget the Church Growth Model; Here’s How Evangelism Can Work

Evangelism according to the Church Growth model has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years. The Church Growth philosophy of Donald McGavran and others has certainly worked at producing numbers. Most megachurches in North and South America, along with rapid church-growth movements in the developing world, rest upon the “homogeneous unit principle” of… Read More

Posted by Jason Locke

Why The Church Needs Feminism, Part 1

The term feminism comes with a lot of baggage. We tend to shy away from it because there’s a fear of bringing cultural issues into our churches. We strive to be “in the world,” not “of the world.” But I don’t want it to scare us. I teach sociology, and I often tell… Read More

Posted by Kaitlin Shetler

Can You See Me Now? Women, Service, and the Small Church

A while back, I had an appointment with a new optometrist. She examined my eyes and then she changed my prescription (the one I had for at least ten years) and went on with her day. I wasn’t too happy about her change—the old prescription worked just fine. Last month, my left eye… Read More

Posted by Shannon Rains

One Thing the Church Needs to Know about Millennials (and Every Other Generation)

My inbox is cluttered with newsletters from church growth gurus and other religious websites attempting to inform me on millennials. Numbers seem to be the main concern of these articles: “7 Things Millennials Wish the Church Would Do,” “10 Ways Your Church Can Reach Millennials,” “5 Reasons Millennials Hate Your Church,” etc. and… Read More

Posted by Chris Benjamin

Being before Doing

Dr. Samuel Wells, noted author and minister in London, England, recently released his latest book, Incarnational Ministry: Being with the Church. [1] Wells explores various dimensions of ministerial leadership, using the reality of the Trinity to guide his helpful insights. One of those insights that particularly stands out to me (and something I’ve… Read More

Posted by Carson E. Reed

Listen, Read, Act on Contemporary Issues Like Immigration

I stopped listening so much to the political noise around contemporary issues and started doing three key things that I want to tell you about in this article. They are as simple as they are largely unpracticed. Ready for them? First, I started listening to people at the heart of the “issue.” I’ll… Read More

Posted by Greg Taylor

The Women’s Issue

We often refer to the conversations around women in the church as “the women’s issue.” Churches are studying “the women’s issue.” Churches are dividing over “the women’s issue. Men and women, myself included, have emphasized the importance of “the women’s issue.” But is “the women’s issue” truly a women’s issue? Does it belong… Read More

Posted by Amy Bost Henegar

Is There Power in the Pulpit?

The very first piece of criticism I received when I began to emerge as a preacher, while a student at Lipscomb University, came from one of my peers: “Women preachers just seem power-hungry to me.” The comment seemed so strange to me at the time, but over and over again I’ve continued to… Read More

Posted by Amy McLaughlin-Sheasby

Hospitality Ministry: As Old as Pentecost

Our church is launching a new hospitality initiative to better engage our guests on Sundays. So I’ve been reading the book of Acts, paying attention to what this story of the early church teaches about being a community toward which people gravitate. My approach is simple: Anytime Luke says the church grew (which… Read More

Posted by Eric Gentry

Top 5 CHARIS Posts in 2017

As managing editor of our Church channel, I get to work with a team of insightful, gifted writers who think deeply about God, the world, spiritual health, ministry, current events, Scripture, and so much more. As we lean into 2018, I’m pleased to look back on 2017 and share with you these most-read… Read More

Posted by Karissa Herchenroeder

The Haze of Love

Is it just me, or does thinking about this world sometimes leave you with such a feeling of deep sorrow that it depresses your soul and rapidly squeezes the air out of your lungs, leaving you gasping for a breath that never seems to come? These thoughts flood me every time I see… Read More

Posted by Kaitlin Shetler

Boxing Day Sermon

The humblest day of the year has to be Dec. 26. At least Dec. 24 gets to be Christmas Eve. All the other dates between Thanksgiving and Christmas are the “Holiday Season.” There’s great anticipation and much preparation in those days. The spirit of Christmas is there; but Dec. 26 is different. Some… Read More

Posted by Chris Benjamin

Living Stones: Recognizing the DNA of Your Church

When a group of church leaders gather, a debate often begins about whether a church is an organism or an organization. Is the church a living thing – full of dynamic life and rich relationships? Or is the church, especially in the 21st century, comprised of systems and programs that require strategic attention?… Read More

Posted by Carson E. Reed

A Light in the Darkness

All I want is a little light. For the life of me, I cannot figure out how to change the light bulbs in my outdoor sconces. For months these lights have been out. You turn on the lights to merrily greet guests arriving at your home only for them to be welcomed with… Read More

Posted by Daniel McGraw

How Are You and Your Dreams Getting Along this Advent?

Joseph is the forgotten member of Jesus’s family. He doesn’t get any lines in all of Scripture. And there’s just not very much we know about him. He’s not a major part of any of our favorite Christmas stories, except as maybe a background character. And he is a major part of most… Read More

Posted by Ben Fike

iDisciplines: Spiritual Practices in a Digital World

You and I have a problem. To an ever-increasing extent our digital technologies—especially the mobile devices and smart, Internet-connected things—these technologies are doing our work for us.  As I drove recently, the entire 3.5 hour drive was plotting for me by the Google Maps app.   Soon my car will drive the route for… Read More

Posted by John Weaver

3 Steps to Keep Your Children's Ministry Clique Free

It was during our most recent Fall Retreat weekend when I stood from a noticeable distance as I observed one 4th grade girl say to another, “No, we’re still friends with you. We just don’t want you to sit by us right now.” I knew in that moment that my sweet babies, who… Read More

Posted by Lauren Rutland Hightower

The Crossroads of Life and Death

Hospitals are interesting places. Most of the floors are full of the ill, injured, and even dying, but there is always one area where life is just beginning. Hospitals serve as a type of crossroads where those leaving this life share space with those whose life has just begun. One hospital where I… Read More

Posted by Justin Simmons

Arguing with Brené

Brené Brown has become a prophetic voice of late. Her research and writing on vulnerability and shame have made waves throughout the West as millions are finding help and healing in her work. However, such universal praise causes one to ask whether or not she is as right as everyone thinks she is.… Read More

Posted by Adam Daniels

Baptizing an Iranian

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of baptizing an Iranian into Christ whose story is quite unique. I will call him Joseph. He grew up in a Muslim family in Tehran, Iran back in the 1970s. When the Iraq/Iran war broke out, his family decided to flee. They had hoped that they… Read More

Posted by Steve Cloer

Saving Pastor In from Deportation

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Each person should suffer the consequences for the mistakes they make. I’m going to guess that you hedged your bets. You likely didn’t say a straight-up true or a flat-out false. Perhaps your answer is like mine: “It depends.” For Vanna In, youth pastor at the North… Read More

Posted by Jason Locke

Shifting Focus

I saw the movie Wonder yesterday, which tells the story of August Pullman, a boy with facial differences who enters fifth grade, attending a mainstream elementary school for the first time. Because of the irregularities of his face, Auggie wears an astronaut’s helmet much of the time to avoid the stares and awkward… Read More

Posted by Amanda Box

The Spirituality of Tomato Soup

Alone in my kitchen, I stir the tomato soup. The large wooden spoon circles it around and around, scraping the flavor off the bottom of my Dutch oven with each stir. I watch as it bubbles under the heat of the stove’s flame and then comes to rest when I turn it down.… Read More

Posted by Kelly Edmiston

A Letter from God

Dear one, I created the heavens. Look up with me. Do you see it? That star, burning far in the distance, reminds me of you. When I first placed it in the sky, I knew you would be here, so I modeled its interstellar dance after your fire and passion. It now dances… Read More

Posted by Kaitlin Shetler

Ministry in Turbulent Times

Tragedy haunts headlines. Another week brings another shooting. Political dysfunctions and chaos spread across the globe. Often, closer to home, we deal with the quieter but deadly realities of epidemic drug use, the rise of suicide and a youth culture that is saturated with anxiety. All of these are present as congregations seek… Read More

Posted by Carson E. Reed

Analysis Paralysis and Burnout: When Loving Our Neighbors is Exhausting

“Are you trying to make us depressed?!” my peer interrogated, with an exasperated tone. My fellow PhD students and I had just been informed that we would be required to complete what is called the Intercultural Development Inventory. The survey, which only takes about 45 minutes to complete, is designed by a company… Read More

Posted by Amy McLaughlin-Sheasby

#sorrynotsorry

Confession: I find Demi Lovato’s song “Sorry Not Sorry” just as catchy as most, and if you aren’t in the category of most I forgive you. However, as a Christian I have no tolerance for any sort of #sorrynotsorry theology or doctrine. Example 1: Recently, a friend of mine was trying to coordinate… Read More

Posted by Chess Cavitt

Relationships and Leadership

I recently participated in a learning workshop with faculty from a half-dozen seminaries and schools that train persons for ministerial leadership. One thing that came very clear in the reports we heard and in the conversations that followed was the vital role that relationality plays for effective leadership and care in congregations. Relationships… Read More

Posted by Carson E. Reed

Remembering Meta, Part Three, by Frank Bellizzi

Author Frank Bellizzi is a minister and a historian residing in Tulia, Texas. This guest post is the third of a series on Meta Chestnutt Sager (1863-1948), Oklahoma Hall of Fame educator.   Side by Side on the Prairie Meta Chestnutt was adamant: early education is vital, and women should have equal opportunities… Read More

Posted by Carisse Berryhill

The Way of The Cross

I confess that I cringe when when Christianity and the church is called an institution. Christianity is not an organization looking for recruits. Rather, Jesus calls us to a way of life that takes the cross as its symbol for a way of life. But what does this cross represent? What does it… Read More

Posted by Chris Benjamin

Control Syndrome

The recent hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and shootings remind us that we are not in control. Still … we think we should be. One only has to read through the recent onslaught of tweets, or listen to the news-anchor arguments surrounding the NFL #takeaknee protests to see this. We crave control. I use the… Read More

Posted by Eric Gentry

The Samaritan Woman and the Church's Response to #MeToo

At the site of Jacob’s well, which is still in existence today, Jesus met a Samaritan woman on his way back to Galilee and asked her for a drink of water. We find many discrepancies at play within the breadth of this narrative and its culture: local women did not draw water alone,… Read More

Posted by Lauren Rutland Hightower

We Can't Handle the Truth!

“You can’t handle the truth!” We all know that line don’t we, from A Few Good Men? Tom Cruise’s character, Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee is hammering away at Colonel Jessup, played by Jack Nicholson. Kaffee says “I want the truth,” to which Colonel Jessup replies bristling, “You can’t handle the truth!” Colonel Jessup believed… Read More

Posted by Justin Simmons

The Tension between Invitation Versus Protection and Why You Should Never Eat Mediocre Food in Mississippi

Yesterday as I was leaving my office, I noticed a man on a motorcycle in the parking lot. It’s always an adventure walking out to the parking lot after work. Our church building is right on the frontage road for I-55 in Jackson, Mississippi, so we get an impressive sampling of travelers. Motorcycle… Read More

Posted by Amanda Box

From Judginess to Fruitfulness: When to Speak Out and When to Remain Silent

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about when, where, and how to speak out about social issues such as immigration, race, and religion in public discourse. Do I say something from the pulpit or does that make it a bully pulpit? Do I post stuff and fight the futile battle for moral high… Read More

Posted by Greg Taylor

The Day I Escaped My Bubble

Someone pointed me to a recent episode called “Bubble-Hopping” from the podcast Invisibilia. The focus was whether it’s possible to escape the bubbles we all invariably inhabit. The main part of the episode focused on Max, a tech industry employee in San Francisco. Max created an app to help him experience things he would… Read More

Posted by Jason Locke

When the Children are Forgotten

At that time, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of… Read More

Posted by Steve Cloer

Unarmed Empire: A Book Review

Sean Palmer loves the church. This is a theme Sean returns to often in his book, Unarmed Empire: In Search of Beloved Community. [1] His stories will feel familiar to other lovers of the church. However, even without drawing our attention to it, Sean’s love of the church churns through every page of… Read More

Posted by Ben Fike

Shadow Stalking

Irritability surged to prickle on my skin. Anger burned on my tongue. Frustration drew my shoulders closer to my ears as my arms crossed in front of my stomach. Again. Almost as if time stopped for a moment, I stepped above myself to take in the scene. My eyes were narrowed in on… Read More

Posted by Rhesa Higgins

Partnering with Churches and Ministers to Discern God's Call

On any given day the Siburt Institute is working with about 75 churches that are looking for a minister. That number is in addition to the congregations that use our automated MinistryLink network service. And twice a month an eight-member team meets to review requests from search committees for names and resumes. So… Read More

Posted by Carson E. Reed

Liking to Be Liked

Sally Fields, on receiving an Academy Award in 1985 for Places in the Heart, clasped her Oscar, crying and stating, “The first time I didn’t feel it, but this time I feel it, and I can’t deny the fact that you like me. Right now. You like me!” Funny thing was, this wasn’t… Read More

Posted by Daniel McGraw

Searching for Human Goodness

A few months ago, my husband and I moved from Abilene, Texas, to Boston, Massachusetts, so that I could begin working on my PhD at Boston University. We’ve enjoyed wandering through historic neighborhoods and museums, and we have definitely indulged in our fair share of clam chowder. This city has been good to… Read More

Posted by Amy McLaughlin-Sheasby

Fourteen Rules for Discerning Spirits (Part 2)

In my previous post, I began a summary of Ignatius of Loyola’s fourteen rules for spiritual discernment, which I would like to pick up again now. Rules twelve through fourteen contain what is categorically gnomic wisdom for how to navigate temptation and spiritual weakness. Rules one through eleven, however, take up the issue… Read More

Posted by Chess Cavitt

Sorry, Dr. Stienke

Steve sat down in my office and began to talk about his small group. He talked about the past year and shared one meeting in particular when the air was thick with tension as a result of some controversial church decisions. The tension had been building for weeks. The next meeting, he sat… Read More

Posted by Amanda Box

Dick Gregory: A Smile in the Struggle

On August 19, 2017, the world lost a civil rights activist, social critic, and comedian. Dick Gregory was a stand-up comedian who insulted all forms of racism during the 1960s. In the midst of heightened racial tension, protest, and the struggle for civil rights, Gregory provided entertainment, relief, and a smile for African… Read More

Posted by Steven Brice

The Things that Make for Peace: De-Triangulation

I heard a story this week about a school principal that made me smile. If I had kids, I might want to send them to his school just based on this one anecdote. As the new school year began, the principal let parents know from the outset: “If you have a conflict with someone from school this year, and if you come and talk to me (the principal) about it, I’m going to ask you one question: ‘What did that person say when you talked to them about this?’ If you haven’t talked to them yet, then I’m not going to talk to you until you do so.” Read More

Posted by Ben Fike

Elders and Ministers: Working and Praying Together

Earlier this year the Barna Group published a major report on the status of ministers. [1] The report is full of great information, challenging insights, and valuable data that would help congregational leadership teams support and empower their ministers. One small section of the report focused on elder-minister relationships, and I want to highlight… Read More

Posted by Carson E. Reed

Leaving the Museum: Daring to Preach in Present Tense

Once when I was in college, sitting in one of my Bible classes at Lipscomb University, I wandered into a peculiarly vivid daydream. Now, before I tell you about my daydream, I should probably issue an apology to any of my college professors who ever lost me to my daydreaming. The fault was… Read More

Posted by Amy McLaughlin-Sheasby

What Does It Mean to Have a King?

Our worship is loaded with royal language. We sing of thrones and majesty. We pray to the Lord. We speak of sovereignty. We bow our heads in reverence. But what does it mean to have a king? For most Americans, having a king means following the Windsor family of the U.K. as if they… Read More

Posted by Chris Benjamin

Master, the Tempest is Raging!

Ever felt like you’re trapped in a tiny little boat and there’s a storm raging around you—or within you—that threatens to overwhelm you? The lightning flashes, the thunderclaps deafen, the rain beats down against your face so hard that you can’t see. And this storm won’t relent. It just keeps coming. On your… Read More

Posted by Laura Callarman

Sacred Places: In Search of Ebenezers

I have come to believe that there are two ways of discovering the places that are sacred in our life. One way is to designate a spot as sacred: a church we build for worship or a closet we use for prayer. The other is to have places designated as sacred for us,… Read More

Posted by Justin Simmons

What I Learned about Church Leadership from a Crazy Ostrich

It was a fun ride through a wildlife park with our grandkids. The grandkids were especially enjoying getting to feed the animals. They would come right up to the car and even eat cubes out of their hands. Everything was wonderful, until the ostrich showed up. There were several of them and, knowing… Read More

Posted by Steve Ridgell

'Tis Merely a Soul Wound

 [the Black Knight continues to threaten Arthur despite getting both his arms and one of his legs cut off] Black Knight: Right, I’ll do you for that! King Arthur: You’ll what? Black Knight: Come here! King Arthur: What are you gonna do, bleed on me? Black Knight: I’m invincible! King Arthur: …You’re a… Read More

Posted by Adam Daniels

O That You Would Tear Open the Heavens and Come Down

“O that you would tear open the heavens and come down.” These are the shocking words of the prophet from Isa 64:1. Doesn’t that sound somewhat appealing right now? With all that’s going on in our country and in our world, wouldn’t you want God to come down and straighten things out? There’s… Read More

Posted by Jason Locke

An Undoubtedly Very Different Benedict: On Rod Dreher and Four Mistakes to Make with Monasticism

The last several decades have witnessed the flourishing of a certain enchantment with monasticism. Whether it’s the product of some “postmodern” thirst for spirituality, or the idealistic quest of youth that equates radical practice with authenticity, or simply perhaps the perennial appeal of novelty, the literature of Christian spirituality that taps into centuries… Read More

Posted by Brandon Pierce

A New Kind of Bus Ministry

Several months back, my car was in the shop and I found myself without my primary mode of transportation. Rather than beg rides off of my friends, I decided that for a period of time, I would try to ride our public bus. In our city, we have a public transportation system like… Read More

Posted by Steve Cloer

All Alone: A Reflection on Jacob

He was left all alone. [1] For centuries these haunting words have filled the space between human extremity and divine encounters. [2] Jacob met God in the desert, in the dark and all alone. Jacob’s entire life had led him to this divine moment, a wrestling match with the creator of the universe.… Read More

Posted by Kelly Edmiston

The Things that Make for Peace: Making Friends with Your Emotions

I’m using my blog posts this year to explore a question that emerged from my encounter with Luke 19:42 last year: What are the things that make for peace? You can find the rest of the series here. — “What do you do with your anger?” a friend asked me several years ago. I understood his curiosity. By all appearances, I’m a pretty… Read More

Posted by Ben Fike

Passing on Faith

As I hold this newborn child in my arms, tears rolling down my face, I realize I have no idea what to do next.… Last week my wife and I welcomed our new baby into the world. We are now a family of four, with a newborn, a three-year-old, and two exhausted parents… Read More

Posted by Daniel McGraw

Renewal in Your Church

New Testament scholar Kavin Rowe, along with Gregory Jones, recently released a small book entitled Thriving Communities: The Pattern of Church Life Then and Now. [1] Rowe has done a great deal of scholarly work on Acts. Utilizing that knowledge he offers some remarkable and convicting observations about the life of the early… Read More

Posted by Carson E. Reed

Is It Too Late to Turn Back? Reflections on the Difficulties of Change

I’ve recently entered a season that I might describe as a wilderness of sorts. My husband and I just moved to Boston, Massachusetts, nearly two thousand miles away from Abilene, Texas, the place that we have called home for the past five years. With a change of scenery, a change in culture, and… Read More

Posted by Amy McLaughlin-Sheasby

Church from a Child’s Eyes

My eldest daughter occasionally bites off more than she can chew, literally and figuratively. She is four-and-a-half (the half matters), and she is at a stage of curiosity that has caused her to notice some troubling aspects of the world. The other day she asked me what a refugee was, and I tried… Read More

Posted by Chess Cavitt

Sharks, Life, and Jesus

The shark jumped right into his boat. Terry Selwood was fishing of the coast of Australia, just like he had hundreds of times before. Something almost knocked him down and when he turned to see what it was that hit the boat, he realized that a seven-foot, 440-pound Great White shark had jumped… Read More

Posted by Steve Ridgell

The Fragility of Ministry

“Fra—gee—lay. Must be Italian.” [1] — One of the great things about the Christmas season is when the movie A Christmas Story is featured for 24 hours. I dare say many of the people who have seen the movie have never actually watched it in its entirety. Rather, most have pieced it together… Read More

Posted by Adam Daniels

Preaching Through Pain: A Contemporary Christian Conversation

What happens when the preacher struggles with their own faith? In this interview with Randy Harris, Mike Cope speaks of finding ways to minister to others from an authentic place even when your heart is broken. He shares, in a frank and honest way, experiences from his personal journey of faith that have offered both… Read More

Posted by Siburt Institute

Pocket Phrases

In the World War II mini-series titled Band of Brothers there is a scene that stands out in my memory. During this particular part of the movie, the soldiers approached a cluster of buildings and as the unit moved in, their instructions were repeated, “Move, move, move!” I soon saw why. As one… Read More

Posted by Amanda Box

The Things that Make for Peace: Saying “I’m Sorry”

I’m using my blog posts this year to explore a question that emerged from my encounter with Luke 19:42 last year: What are the things that make for peace? You can find the rest of the series here. — When I was growing up, my parents made a big deal about saying “I’m sorry” whenever they were brokering peace between one of my… Read More

Posted by Ben Fike

An Update and Reflections on the Church Health Assessment

When church leaders seek a meaningful place to assess the health of their congregation, where do they turn? Late last summer, the Siburt Institute launched the Church Health Assessment (CHA) to provide just the resource. The CHA is an online research tool designed to measure a congregation’s health in nine critical areas. Those… Read More

Posted by Carson E. Reed

Shabbat and Learning to Let Go

This last week has been pretty normal. We traveled to and from Austin, I baptized an individual I was studying with, and I was the guest preacher at a local congregation last Sunday morning. In the last week I had three different ministry meetings with people outside the congregation, spent a couple of… Read More

Posted by Daniel McGraw

When Ministers Behave Badly: Why Facebook Forums Will Not Determine the Future of the Movement

The other day I experienced a most disconcerting juxtaposition that left me with one very big question concerning the future of Churches of Christ. I was teaching a maymester course for ACU called BCOR: The Search for Meaning. The course is designed to help students develop philosophical and theological frameworks for interpreting narratives.… Read More

Posted by Amy McLaughlin-Sheasby

Did I Hear What I Think I Read?

While preparing for an upcoming sermon on Psalm 100, I was translating from the Hebrew text when I noticed that my translation did not match the English I had read just a few moments before. Assuming I had made a mistake (typical, really) I double- and triple-checked my translation and other translations only… Read More

Posted by Chess Cavitt

The Blessing of Challenge

Recently my family returned from some travels that included a two-week stay with an intentional Christian community called the Bruderhof. We took this rather unusual vacation of sorts partly because we are a family of adventurers who like to go new places and have new experiences. We (especially I) grow bored with routine… Read More

Posted by Laura Callarman

Let's Try That at Home

As the self-appointed communication evangelist, when I’m out in the corporate world training, my job is to help people talk to each other so they can do their real job. There are lots of different program titles, but there is one overriding question: “How can we get through this challenge and still want to… Read More

Posted by Amanda Box

The Space between Grace and Discipline

One of the hardest things in life is knowing where to stand. On a recent trip to Israel I had the honor of going to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. I’m not sure what was happening that day, but there were people everywhere. It was a veritable feast of polite pushing, rushed… Read More

Posted by Adam Daniels

No Room for Snobbery

In a recent meeting, a group I work with was discussing which version of the Bible to use for an event. One of the attendees good naturedly quipped that for small churches, we should only use the King James Version, and although this was said in good humor, it hints at a common… Read More

Posted by Alyssa Johnson

The Things that Make for Peace: Getting Off Facebook

I’m using my blog posts this year to explore a question that emerged from my encounter with Luke 19:42 last year: What are the thingsthat make for peace? You can find the rest of the series here. — This year on Ash Wednesday, I walked down the hall to my wife’s office (we’re both on the ministry… Read More

Posted by Ben Fike

Emotional Intelligence and Leadership

In my frequent work with church leadership teams, I find that a constant challenge for ministers and elders is the way they address the relational dynamics that are constantly present in a congregation. When all is said and done, a critical component of leadership is how to relate to people! One way to… Read More

Posted by Carson E. Reed

It’s All Who You Know

When my kids were little, they received a paperback picture book about emotions. Each page demonstrated a feeling with a fruit or vegetable that had a face. Within its pages, an angry apple or a frustrated strawberry tried to communicate with their friend, an amused pepper. Besides being a hilarious bedtime read, it… Read More

Posted by Rhesa Higgins

Adopt-a-Street for Jesus

Ever so often, I see signs along the roadway that say a section of the road or highway is sponsored by a certain group or organization. This typically means that this organization is responsible for keeping that section clean. So they routinely pick up trash or do other activities to keep the area… Read More

Posted by Steve Cloer

Between the Porch and the Altar

The following is a sermon preached in ACU Graduate Chapel on March 1, 2017. — Sermon Text: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 Today is Ash Wednesday—a day set aside for people of God to remember our lowliness—our earthiness—our rootedness in an ever-so-fragile existence. I did not grow up in a church that regularly observed Ash… Read More

Posted by Amy McLaughlin-Sheasby

Education Matters

What is the gospel? In short, we might say the gospel is the way God is glorified through his son Jesus and through his creation—you and me. But those first two words in that definition—the way—have been defined in a lot of … well … ways. Books and books have been written about… Read More

Posted by Eric Gentry

Reclaiming Imagination: An Update

Months ago I wrote on this site about the need for the church to reclaim its imagination in order to feed the imagination-starved world. If you have not yet, please do read that post before continuing. Since writing that post, I have invested myself in the task of practically realizing the idea of… Read More

Posted by Chess Cavitt

Our Spiritual Worship

The following is a sermon preached in ACU Graduate Chapel on September 14, 2016. — Sermon Text: Amos 8:4-7 In 1967 my husband Charles Siburt and I came to ACU for graduate school to prepare for ministry to the church. I earned a Master’s in Education/ School Counseling and Charlie an M.Div. While… Read More

Posted by Judy Siburt

Eyes to See

This time of year my family and I take a lot of walks. Now that we have added a new dog to our family, that number has only increased. We love to walk around our neighborhood, the dog park, and nature trails. As much as we do this, I am continually amazed at… Read More

Posted by Kasey McCollum

Negotiating with Michael Scott

Michael: Just hold on, please! Okay, if we do lose/lose, neither of you gets what you want. Do you understand? You … you would both lose. Now I need to ask you, do you want to pursue a lose/lose negotiation? [1] — In the hit TV show The Office, manager Michael Scott provides… Read More

Posted by Adam Daniels

Breathe

It wasn’t cancer that took my breath away. It wasn’t the death of a child. I didn’t have the breath knocked out of me by having to sludge through a divorce or a severe depression. What took my breath away was one simple question. After undergoing four tests and seeing two doctors, the… Read More

Posted by Amanda Box

That’s What You Do in a Small Church

“One of these days, you’re going to be old and your children are going to leave you, and it will break your heart, then you’ll know what it feels like.” Those are the words that dear Mrs. Margaret spoke to me after teaching my last Wednesday night Bible class as the minister of… Read More

Posted by Jason Wilder

Who Decides Who Decides? Developing an Action Plan

Elders and ministry staff can easily get sideways with each other when it comes to who decides who decides. Clear decision-making processes are vital for healthy leadership, and having written guidelines can help. However, the conversations that help to set guidelines can often become complex! Adapting the research of Richard Chait, I offer… Read More

Posted by Carson E. Reed

Facebook Faith

The following is a sermon preached in ACU Graduate Chapel on February 1, 2017. — Sermon Texts: Isaiah 58:1-12, Matthew 5:13-20 Wow—the lectionary isn’t pulling any punches this week, is it? Sometimes I wonder what the leaders who were involved with the Consultation on Common Texts were thinking when they paired certain texts… Read More

Posted by Mindi Thompson

Reasons Why Church Leaders Should Go On Short-Term Mission Trips – Part 1

Are short-term mission trips an appropriate use of church resources? Do they help or hinder long-term mission efforts? These are important questions, but I am going to set them aside for another time and make the safe bet that your congregation is involved in some sort of short-term mission or service trip at… Read More

Posted by Chris Benjamin

Ecosystems of Grace: An Old Christian Vision For a Lifestyle of Love

Sweeping social and spiritual change in America has brought us into a fundamentally different context than the one in which ACU and the Stone-Campbell Movement began. In that change we are losing something essential for the life of  love God intends. This is a series about what we have lost: our most precious… Read More

Posted by Kent Smith

Getting Warmer

My grandmother played a game with me every time I’d visit. She would hide a “surprise” for me somewhere and then tell me to try and find it. As I darted off she would shout, “Cold … colder!” So, I would retrace my steps until I heard, “Warm … warmer …” Usually there… Read More

Posted by Eric Gentry

What If Happiness Actually IS the Truth?

“Clap along if you think that happiness is the truth.” –Pharrell Williams in the song “Happy,” the #1 song of 2014. [1] — Let’s do a little thought experiment. Imagine you could ask the typical American what their goal in life was and you received this ubiquitous, though thoroughly honest, answer: “I just… Read More

Posted by Adam Daniels

One Wild and Precious Life

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? [1] — When I first heard them a few days ago, these words from poet Mary Oliver struck a chord in my heart. Most of us don’t live as if our lives are precious. We certainly don’t live… Read More

Posted by Laura Callarman

Family Time

A few years ago someone told me about visiting another church and a unique thing they did. Toward the close of their worship service, a church leader would say, “It’s Family Time,” and anyone could come to the front and share. I was curious about this since for many years we had “cleansed”… Read More

Posted by Greg Taylor

The Labor of Longing

Today I am six months pregnant with my third child. The pain and discomfort of pregnancy at this point is nearly unbearable. My back aches from the toll of carrying a small, forming human within. The aches are exacerbated by the countless number of times a day I walk up and down the… Read More

Posted by Kelly Edmiston

The Things that Make for Peace: Generosity

I’m using my blog posts this year to explore a question that’s emerged from my encounter with Luke 19:42 last year: What are the things that make for peace? You can find my first post here and follow the rest of the series as it unfolds. — Here’s a confession: I am stingy. I’m not so… Read More

Posted by Ben Fike

Interpretive Leadership: Seeking God’s Preferred Future

Last month we explored leadership as relational work—shepherding to nurture emotional and spiritual well-being. This month we turn to another dimension of leadership: paying attention to God. In any group or organization, one of the critical aspects of leadership is asking the important questions, “Where are we headed?” and “What is our goal?”… Read More

Posted by Carson E. Reed

Love Them More

Recently, a friend of a friend told me that a pastor from Jordan would be visiting my area and would have time for a small get-together and lunch. I’m a rather eclectic fellow and did not want to pass up such a wonderful opportunity to glean from the wisdom and perspective of a… Read More

Posted by Chess Cavitt

The Things that Make for Peace

Last year, our church walked through the Gospel of Luke together. 2016 turned out to be an interesting year to hear the message of our most socially “woke” Gospel. When the U.S. election cycle was in full swing, we were all drowning in endless reports of political scandals, the corruption of power, illegal immigrants, building… Read More

Posted by Ben Fike

Why White Christians Should Know Black History

The past few months, I have had several conversations with White Christians surrounding Black History. In these conversations, I have shared how Africa is one of the wealthiest continents in the world due to its high volume of minerals, diamonds, gold and other natural resources. I have shared some current studies of how… Read More

Posted by Steven Brice

Job Description for a Shepherd

In a recent Saturday retreat with an elder group, some familiar questions were raised: “What does it mean to shepherd the church?” “How is it supposed to look?” These are good questions that congregational leaders often raise. Elders want to be good shepherds, but they often acknowledge a lack clear definitive practices that… Read More

Posted by Carson E. Reed

Not My Sin, Not My Problem

There was a small platform, a single microphone, and two large speakers set up just outside the campus center. A large crowd was beginning to form, so I rushed to see what was happening. As I came within earshot of the demonstration, I heard the voice of one of my students. She had… Read More

Posted by Amy McLaughlin-Sheasby

The Wall

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one… Read More

Posted by Eric Gentry

Communities for Questioners

This isn’t one of those blog posts where you’ll find solid answers or neatly wrapped up conclusions. If that’s what you’re looking for, you might as well just scroll on by. But if unresolved questions are your thing, if you’re up for reflecting on what life is like when there are no obvious… Read More

Posted by Laura Callarman

Christ our Common Ground

Vin Scully is the greatest baseball announcer in baseball history, having just concluded a career which spanned 67 years, beginning with the Dodgers in 1950. In fact, Scully has been at it for so long that when he first started calling games it was for the Brooklyn Dodgers, as the franchise was located… Read More

Posted by Justin Simmons

Urban Public Schools and the Kingdom of God (Part 2)

For the past ten years, I have ministered in an urban environment, and a big part of that has been getting to know and ministering to urban public schools. Our church has served our neighborhood schools in various ways: helping with school supplies, feeding teachers, hosting events, mentoring and tutoring students. For the… Read More

Posted by Steve Cloer

The Real Reason and Remedy for a Divided Society

I have some bad news. In case you haven’t noticed, our country is a little divided. There are deep schisms along multiple fault lines. It’s heartland versus coast. It’s white collar versus blue. Our rifts take on political, economic, religious, ethnic, and even educational contours. I’m guessing you’ve taken note of these divisions.… Read More

Posted by Jason Locke

Urban Public Schools and the Kingdom of God (Part 1)

For the past ten years, I have ministered in an urban environment, and a big part of that has been getting to know and ministering to urban public schools. Our church has served our neighborhood schools in various ways: helping with school supplies, feeding teachers, hosting events, mentoring and tutoring students. For the… Read More

Posted by Steve Cloer

My Enemies Have Stories

Enemies take on many forms, ranging in proximity to your present life, and making grand entrances and exits throughout your life story. People often become our enemies when they irreparably (and perhaps intentionally) wound us, leaving us to pick up the pieces of the fallout. There are also those enemies who cause harm… Read More

Posted by Amy McLaughlin-Sheasby

I Hope She Stays

He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.” (Matt 13:33 NRSV) — She is as good as they come, but she has had about all she can stand. I sat with her the… Read More

Posted by Eric Gentry

Everywhere a Sign

In John’s Gospel, signs are everywhere. Jesus performs seven acts, or miracles, that are classified as signs. John calls them signs because their purpose is to reveal Jesus’s identity as the Word become flesh. However, more often than not it seems they just confuse or distract those who witness them. It calls to… Read More

Posted by Justin Simmons

The Crossroads of Art and Faith: A Contemporary Christian Conversation

In this interview with Randy Harris, Dan McGregor discusses the value of art to faith in an image-based culture. He highlights how art has the potential of conveying the divine in a way that words alone cannot. Dan McGregor is an artist as well as Professor of Art and Design at Abilene Christian University.… Read More

Posted by Siburt Institute

Engaging Depression

This series aims to promote awareness of the nature and reality of depression, encourage those who are battling depression, and equip those who want to help someone who is struggling. This post is part 6 in the series. Stay tuned for a new post each week, and find the rest of the series… Read More

Posted by Jeremy Harrison

There’s No Such Thing as Spiritual Formation Without the Church: A Review of Richard Valantasis’ Dazzling Bodies

When I tell my kids to do something and they ask me “why?” my response is so often: “Because I said so!” I know intuitively that what I’m asking my kids to do is good for them, even if I don’t have a systematic explanation ready to give. The same is true of… Read More

Posted by Brandon Pierce

Siburt Institute - Mission Revisited

As September approaches, the Siburt Institute for Church Ministry begins its fifth year of ministry to leaders and congregations. Our executive team held its annual review day in May, and we were inspired by the development of new services and encouraging stories from people and the churches where they worship and serve. We… Read More

Posted by Carson E. Reed

Held Hostage

This story is only half-told. I am curious to see how it unfolds. It might be a story the church should pay attention to. We’ll see. It’s about the Republican Party, whom many Christians already closely follow. They don’t need me to remind them to pay attention. Besides, I usually don’t. But this story… Read More

Posted by Eric Gentry

Marked with the Spirit

It’s one of the most important lines to be spoken before baptism . . . that you may receive the gift of the promised Holy Spirit. I’ve been present for hundreds of baptisms. What’s said at those baptisms is rarely the exact same thing twice in a row. In some churches pastors and ministers… Read More

Posted by Jason Locke

Tug of War

Summertime is the bane of parenting, with endless hours for children to become bored. Instead of learning, doing homework, and going to sports practice, they turn to the longtime childhood favorite pastime: sibling torture. In this time-honored tradition, one child might declare that the sky is red just to watch the anger settle… Read More

Posted by Rhesa Higgins

For the Kids

My childhood was awesome. I spent a substantial part of my childhood in rural Indiana, with a large backyard and a wild pack of older brothers. My most vivid childhood memories involve the joy of being small—hiding in our ramshackle fortresses during Nerf gun fights, wandering through cornfield mazes behind our house, crawling… Read More

Posted by Amy McLaughlin-Sheasby

Violence Culture

“Violence does solve problems.” Surely it was a typo. The words were embroidered on the back of his hat, next to an American flag. Seemed like such a shame to have a typo already stitched into place. But it wasn’t a typo. A quick Google search revealed these words were the motto for… Read More

Posted by Eric Gentry

To Remember Is to Listen

By the time this post is published we will be one week out from a yet another “officer involved shooting.” This one also caught on video. Protests have started and activists have taken to the streets. People have chimed in on Facebook and Twitter. Those reserving judgement until more facts come out will… Read More

Posted by Kasey McCollum

The Hardest Command

No one ever asked Jesus which was the hardest command, but had they done so, I feel confident it would be to love your enemies as you love yourself. Oh, how I struggle with that one! I have dealt with this command fairly well at its most abstract level: national enemies. When I… Read More

Posted by Steve Kenney

Fluffy Hair Prayer

This morning a friend and I went to visit someone from our church family who suffered a stroke that affected the left side of her body. As we walked into her room, she was fixing her hair. We began to chat while the hair fluffing continued for several minutes. We talked about her… Read More

Posted by Amanda Box

Matthew 19:1-12, Transgenderism, and the Intersex

How should we respond to people whose experience of their gender doesn’t fit with their biological sex? Or who have taken measures to change it? Or whose biological sex is unclear? What does love look like in this context? These are questions which confront the church leader now. For some time now, it has… Read More

Posted by Matthew Dowling

Gratitude as a Leadership Practice

I’ve been reading a new book on interpersonal communication. [1] I found it surprising that the authors, Quentin Schultze and Diane Badzinski, begin the book with a chapter on gratitude. Why gratitude? Schultze and Badzinski argue that communication emerges out of our character, and our character is forged by our attitude toward God… Read More

Posted by Carson E. Reed

Weddings and Discipleship in a Post-Christendom Era

Throughout the 1600-year era of Christendom, Christians generally assumed their societies would reinforce and uphold Judeo-Christian values. Christendom more or less began when a pre-Christian Constantine raised the banner of the conquering Christ as he won a major battle. For many historians of the Christian faith, this launched the great compromise of Christianity. Good citizens of “Christian… Read More

Posted by Jason Locke

Preparing for Rain While the Skies are Blue

We were often surprised by rain when we moved to Houston. In other parts of Texas, we could see, hear, and feel the rainstorm coming, long before it arrived. But not in Houston. Houston is hot and muggy, then hot and rainy, and then hot and muggier. Rarely do we get warning. Our… Read More

Posted by Shannon Rains

Blessed is Her Name

“They assigned me a gender and I didn’t have a choice in it,” said the broken and sad teenager, as tears left wide wet stains on the fair young cheeks. “I have always been treated like a girl, expected to act like a girl and forced to dress like a girl. But I… Read More

Posted by Kelly Edmiston

Arrived . . . Or in Process?

Two quarts of brand new motor oil are tucked behind a pillar on my front porch for Sally. She hasn’t called to collect them—and I don’t know if she will. We had a visit last Friday at the auto parts store; she needed oil for her car and had no money. Would I… Read More

Posted by Carson E. Reed

Arrived . . . Or in Process?

Two quarts of brand new motor oil are tucked behind a pillar on my front porch for Sally. She hasn’t called to collect them—and I don’t know if she will. We had a visit last Friday at the auto parts store; she needed oil for her car and had no money. Would I… Read More

Posted by Carson E. Reed

Balancing Solitude and Community in the Life of a Leader

“Let them who cannot be alone beware of community. He will only do harm to himself and to the community… But the reverse is also true: Let him who is not in community beware of being alone.  (Deitrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together) — In recent years I have become increasingly appreciative of the need… Read More

Posted by Barry Packer

We Are Not Issues, We Are People

I remember the first time I was referred to as an “issue.” Growing up in a Church of Christ as a strong-willed, outspoken, female leader had its ups and downs. But rather than shut me down, my family tried to foster spiritual formation in my gifts, and my church family loved me despite… Read More

Posted by Amy McLaughlin-Sheasby

Singing Is a Sacrament

After hearing some stirring hymn singing during the annual Pepperdine Bible Lectures, noted Anglican theologian N. T. Wright observed: “If the Holy Spirit is not active, I would jolly well like to know what you think is going on when your ‘lot’ is singing.” Wright’s words are a reminder that something deeply spiritual… Read More

Posted by Darryl Tippens

#BlackLivesMatter and (Mostly) White Churches, Part 2

For Part 1 in this series, click here. — The Scapegoat(s) “ ‘… it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.’…So from that day on they plotted to take his life.” (John 11:50-53) — Buried deeply in our religious memory is a ritual we would… Read More

Posted by Eric Gentry

What is Ministry?

Sounds like a simple question, doesn’t it? And because of its simplicity, the question can often be left unexamined. However, I want to suggest that simply assuming we know what ministry is can quickly paralyze church leadership groups! The answer to the question about the nature and purpose of ministry can take many… Read More

Posted by Carson E. Reed

Can You Forgive Jesus?

Recently a homeless man came to our church office asking for prayers. From another city, the man had traveled to get treatment at a reputable cancer hospital. He had taken the bus, was staying at shelter, and had looked up our church on the internet. I’ll call the man Joe. Joe had many… Read More

Posted by Greg Taylor

The Soul Question

What is your ministry context? This is a topic of various projects and conversations for me lately. As ministers, this question is insider jargon to describe where we work and what we do. Were we to describe our context we might talk about the geographic location, socio-economic status, age, race, gender, and culture… Read More

Posted by Kelly Edmiston

Leading in Anxious Times

In teaching a graduate course at ACU on Church Leadership, I enjoyed reading once again a wonderful book by Peter Steinke entitled Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times. Steinke offers wonderful insights into realities of congregational life and highlights the challenges leaders face. More than that, Steinke presents cogent wisdom to guide leaders to be non-anxious… Read More

Posted by Carson E. Reed

Leading in Anxious Times

In teaching a graduate course at ACU on Church Leadership, I enjoyed reading once again a wonderful book by Peter Steinke entitled Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times. Steinke offers wonderful insights into realities of congregational life and highlights the challenges leaders face. More than that, Steinke presents cogent wisdom to guide leaders to be non-anxious… Read More

Posted by Carson E. Reed

About CHARIS

The CHARIS website hosts conversations of and about Churches of Christ. In partnership with the ACU Library and the Siburt Institute for Church Ministry at Abilene Christian University (Abilene, TX), the website is supported and led by the Center for Heritage and Renewal in Spirituality (CHARIS) at ACU. The Center’s mission is to renew Christian spirituality through engagement of Christian heritage, at Abilene Christian University and beyond. The views expressed on the CHARIS website are those of the various authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of Abilene Christian University or CHARIS at ACU. Questions or comments about the CHARIS website can be directed to charis @ acu.edu.

2017-18 CHARIS Editorial Board:
Dr. Carisse Berryhill
Dr. Jason Fikes
Karissa Herchenroeder
Mac Ice
Chai Green
Tammy Marcelain
Molly Scherer
Dr. John Weaver

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