By / May 16

There’s a lot of talk about those in their 20’s and 30’s, more commonly known as “Millennials.” Stereotypes often pit these young adults as lazy and incompetent. But at the ERLC’s National Conference, a panel of trusted leaders speaks to the strengths of Millennials, while not overlooking their weaknesses. We hope you find this conversation helpful.

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By / Apr 18

Many people often think that thoughtful interaction with the arts is only for certain “creative” types. But Karen Swallow Prior, Mike Cosper, Alissa Wilkinson, and Steven Bush help us see that the arts are for all people, and the gospel shapes how Christians interact with them. We hope you enjoy this message.

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By / Apr 4

Developing a heart for and practice of racial reconciliation is one of the most needed works in the church. D.A. Horton’s talk, For the City – Race, Urban Ministry, and Cultural Engagement, at the ERLC National Conference will help us as Christians think biblically about loving and serving our neighbors and working within the church to promote diversity. We hope you’re challenged by this message.

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By / Nov 22
By / Nov 8

Learning how to live out the gospel in every aspect of our lives—even waving to a neighbor—is a vital part of engaging culture. This conversation with Daniel Patterson, D.A. Horton, Jared Wilson, Matt Anderson, Trevin Wax and Jackie Hill Perry at the 2016 ERLC National Conference discusses where everyday life and cultural engagement intersect. We hope you find this message helpful.

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By / Mar 14

The election season is in full swing, and there’s no way to avoid the Facebook post from the friend who swears they “never” talk politics, or the Twitter “rant” from the coworker that you didn’t even think watched the news. With the sheer insanity of our current election season, social media is not a good place to get away from politics.

Many of us struggle to know how to engage in conversations about these important topics on social media because opinions and emotions run high. These conversations often the run the risk of dehumanizing the people we are talking to, since we really aren’t saying these things to someone’s face, just their profile picture. Consequently, we can find it easy to get sucked into the hyperbole, the accusations and the sense of personal offense that often characterize political conversations on social media.

But it matters how we talk about these issues online. We can either point people to the gracious truths of the gospel or to the arrogant spirit of our own flesh with our words. James’ warning that the tongue is a fire that can do catastrophic damage (James 3:6) is not less true on Facebook than it is in the living room.

Here are three principles to remember that will help you as you talk about contentious political issues with friends and family online:

1. Listen

The biggest reason that conversations nosedive from helpful to hurtful is that people become unwilling to listen to the opposing point of view. When one or more participants decide to stop listening, the result is a gaggle of garrulous gabbers who just want their voice to be the loudest. At this point, defending your beliefs really just means defending your turf, and the discussion stops being about truth and becomes an extension of individual egos.

James 1:19 says that Christians ought to be quick to listen but slow to speak. For conversations that involve strongly held beliefs, like politics, the temptation is to enter a discussion determined to “prove” how correct you are instead of determined to learn something you didn’t know before. The best way to counteract this temptation is to follow the apostle’s command: Be slow to speak but quick to listen. Be eager to understand why someone may disagree with you, and what it is that may have lead them to a different conclusion. Instead of making assumptions, ask questions. This will not only help you be better able to represent the other person’s beliefs fairly, but the process will almost always disarm tension and emotional heat from a controversial topic.

2. Be honest

The internet is a magnificent, world-changing tool, but it does lend itself to the propagation of false and often manipulative content. Christians seem particularly vulnerable to the scare mongering chain email, or even more embarrassingly, mistaking a piece of satire for actual reporting. As people who believe in absolute truth, Christians have to be the first in line to reject false rumors and innuendo, even when they seem to support “our side.”

As you engage in political conversation online, be honest. Don’t say what isn’t true, and refuse the temptation to exaggerate so as to better prove your point. One of the biggest reasons Christians fall into this temptation on social media is that they want to sound like an expert on everything. But a 10 second Google search is not the same as being knowledgeable, and an unbridled desire to prove someone wrong can lead us into passing along false or incomplete information as if it is true. If you’re not actually sure how much the national debt has increased, find out before you comment on it. If you don’t know that a particular politician said this or that, find out as best you can before you say so. Model honesty and humility, and the chances are, the people you talk to will do the same.

3. Don’t take it personally

When someone disagrees with us, our natural tendency is to interpret it as a personal insult. We feel like we’ve been rejected or ridiculed somehow. But in the majority of cases, our sense of personal offense doesn’t come from what someone actually said or did. It comes from the pride in our hearts.

Taking disagreement personally is usually a sign that we’ve invested a sense of self-worth in our opinions. But this need not be. If your concern is for the truth of the gospel and the flourishing of your neighbor, then you will of course feel strongly about some issues, but your ego won’t be at stake. If you find that someone’s differing opinion instinctively causes anger or defensiveness in you, the best thing you can do is to step back, temporarily back out of the exchange, and pray for your own heart and for the well-being of your neighbor. Resist the idea that your personal honor is at stake by the appearance of disagreement.

Generally, the people who are the best at not taking disagreement personally are the people who actively cultivate friendships with others not like them. This is one of the most glorious functions of the local church—to connect Christians who have nothing in common except the gospel. Pursue relationships with people who don’t look or sound like you, and you’ll find defensiveness and ego slowly but surely evaporating.  

By / Jun 18

Today’s question: How should a pastor direct his church to interact with legislation on the life issue?

Well, you know it’s kind of like parenting and child-rearing issues. If someone were to say to me, “How should I raise my children?” There are certain general things that I would say that would apply to all Christian’s that are there. And then there are some things where I would say, what is your family like? What is your child like? So, how do you get your child from point A to point B where you want that child to be? It largely would depend on where point A is for my congregation. If I’ve got a group of people in my congregation that are already with me across the board on the life issue, and what I’m trying to do is call them to be more engaged in mission, I’m going to handle that a different way than I would a congregation that thinks abortion is something that’s meaningless or passé.

Probably what I would do on an issue like that is to use that controversy in order to teach people Biblical convictions. For instance, as time goes on with this ballot measure you’re going to have people who are saying, “This is Christians who are coming in and trying to take over the culture and to make us believe the way that they believe” or “These are people who have a war on women.” I would use those types of examples to do really two things. To stand up and to say, here is the reason why Christian’s along with other people of good will, but Christian’s particularly are concerned about the abortion issue. Because we think these are people made in the image of God, because we think that abortion hurts and harms women. And because we are all going to be held accountable for the way that we use the sword. God has not permitted us to use the sword against the innocent, and when we go in to vote on a ballot measure like this we’re essentially handing somebody a sword and saying, “Use it in this way.”  We’re going to give and answer to God for that.

Secondly, to spend some time saying, “There are a lot of people in this church who have had abortions and there are a lot of people in this community who have had abortions.” One of the things that the devil wants to do is convince those people that either they’re too good for the gospel or they’re too bad for the gospel. And that somehow they have sinned so badly that they are outside the reach of the blood of Christ, that’s not true, and here is why. You spend that time talking both justice and justification and you ground all that in the gospel. That’s the way I would largely handle that.