Category Archives: Church

Why Religious Conversion Is More Than Joining a Church

A Muslim man once confidently told me that everyone born in the United States is a Christian, unless his family is Muslim or Jewish. I did not ask him what that means for people from Buddhist, Hindu, Taoist, Sikh, or Baha’i families, nor did I ask what it meant for people who intentionally convert to one of these religions later in life.

A convert is, simply, a person who has been converted – that is, a person who has chosen to be altered or transformed. In religious conversion, a person who believed certain things about God and existence comes to believe other things and adjusts his or her life accordingly.

I know little about the way other religions view conversion or the expectations they consider appropriate for converts. If they are anything like those placed on Christian converts, they vary widely from group to group. Among the many groups that claim allegiance to Jesus, some require only a verbal profession of faith. Others expect regular church attendance, participation in instructional classes, and personal accountability in an ongoing relationship with a spiritual mentor.

Whether a simple confession or many months of intensive training, most Christian groups see the process of conversion culminating in the admission of the prospective convert into the church family, usually at baptism. This, I think, is a mistake, which does not serve the convert or the church, and does not align well with the biblical data on the nature of transformation. Continue reading

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The Emu and the Kangaroo (Matthew 28:18-20) – What Is Baptism All About?

Many countries have a national coat of arms, often featuring magnificent beasts and birds, like the majestic lion and the soaring eagle. They carefully chose such images to convey the idea that their people are courageous and strong.

The Australian coat of arms also features two animals: The emu, a graceless bird that can’t even fly, and a kangaroo. Courage and strength are hardly the first things one thinks of when seeing the comical-looking emu and kangaroo. Why did Australia choose those two animals?

Because they share a common characteristic with which the Australians identify: Both the emu and the kangaroo can only move forward, not back. The emu’s three-toed foot causes it to fall if it tries to go backwards, and the kangaroo is prevented from moving backwards by its large tail.
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Choosing a Church? Ask to See it First

Some years ago, my wife and I took a week’s vacation in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We made arrangements to meet my wife’s sister and her husband in Mackinaw City and travel together to a vacation rental on a remote U. … Continue reading

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Why Church Is Indispensable

When people came to our church building this past Sunday, I sent them away. In fact, I sent them to other churches. I told them, “Go and bless another church with your presence.” We didn’t meet for worship this week … Continue reading

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Needed: People to Live (not just Speak) the Truth

According to recent data, the percentage of atheists among thirteen to eighteen-year-olds is approximately double that of any other age group in the U.S. Experts suggest that this age group, known as Generation Z, might be the first to leave … Continue reading

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Preacher, Prophet, Martyr, Saint

Pope Francis has made the canonization of Archbishop Oscar Romero his own project. Though the lengthy process was begun during the papacy of John Paul II, opposition caused it to stall. But in 2015, Francis beatified Romero, which opened the … Continue reading

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e-Christianity and the e-Christians it Produces

Work schedule getting in the way of church? Don’t like the preacher? Out too late on Saturday night and unable to get up for Sunday service? No worries. There’s always e-Church. You can do church online: stream services, listen to … Continue reading

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The Invasion of Wild Boar: 500 Years Later

The Invasion of Wild Boar: 500 Years Later Tuesday, October 31, marks the 500th anniversary of the day on which an Augustinian monk named Martin Luther nailed a list of 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in … Continue reading

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Our Church Is Better Than Your Church

I’ve been surprised by people who, in conversation with me, refer to the church I pastor as “your church.” I’m surprised because they’ve been attending for years. Why are they still saying “you” instead of “we” and “your church” instead … Continue reading

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Charlottesville: Is it Time to Take Sides?

  After Charlottesville, is it time to take sides? President Trump has been roundly criticized for his alleged refusal to do so, both in his initial response to the violence there and in his follow-up news conference. He has been … Continue reading

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