Archives For entertainment

The BriefingChanging genders isn’t morally wrong, Americans say
Most Americans see nothing morally wrong with gender change, a new study shows. Six in 10 Americans don’t think it’s wrong for people to identify with a gender different from their birth sex, according to the LifeWay Research survey. And more than half don’t think it’s wrong to switch genders by taking hormones or having surgery.

Floyd’s open letter to Democrat and Republican leaders
Ronnie Floyd, immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention, penned an open letter to the Democrat and Republican parties about issues concerning evangelical voters. In the letter Floyd writes, “Tell the American public what you truly believe about the things that matter to us. As leaders in our nation, in your formulation of your respective platforms, please leave your conventions with a clear message about your stance on the subjects we care about.”

VP candidate is an evangelical Catholic
Presumptive Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence describes himself as a “pretty ordinary Christian” and as “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.” But he also once said, “I made a commitment to Christ. I’m a born-again, evangelical Catholic.” That’s not a combination you hear every day.

Russia’s new restrictions on sharing the gospel
Russian president Vladimir Putin approved a package of anti-terrorism laws that usher in tighter restrictions on missionary activity and evangelism. The amendments, including laws against sharing faith in homes, online, or anywhere but recognized church buildings, go into effect July 20.

Looking for God at Ark Encounter, Christian entertainment destinations
Ark Encounter is a $100 million, 510-foot-long re-creation of Noah’s Ark, built by a Christian ministry with the help of state tax incentives and the sale of $62 million in junk bonds. Critics say the business model behind it and other Christian-themed destinations may require a new level of financial faith.

Sources: Baptist Press, Christian Post, Religion News Service, Christianity Today, Washington Post

THE BRIEFING | “It’s business as usual” at First Baptist Church of Ferguson.

“We had a very normal Sunday, a fairly normal size crowd for worship, without any disruptions,” said Ron Beckner, the church’s associate pastor.

Nearly a week after violence erupted in the wake of a grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, the church continues to go about the business of Gospel ministry.

The_BriefingWhile there are protests ongoing, Beckner said they have been “largely peaceful” following the Thanksgiving holiday. “We’re taking things one-step at a time and are hopeful the violent reaction has faded.”

Pastor Stoney Shaw led the church in prayer for the community, its residents, and leaders Sunday morning. Beckner said Shaw reminded the church that this Christmas and throughout the year, “Jesus is the harbinger of peace.”

The church will continue with its regular Wednesday evening programming this week which includes AWANAs, youth group, and prayer meeting. “We want to be as normal as we can be,” Beckner said. “We want to function as normally as possible unless we can’t.

“We’re continuing to do what we’re planted here to do. We’ll change and adapt as needed to minister to our community.”

Reported by Lisa Sergent. Click here for more on how to pray for Ferguson.

A Ferguson-focused Facebook post by football player Benjamin Watson garnered nearly 825,000 “likes” and more than 450,000 shares in the week after the New Orleans Saint published his thoughts on the verdict. “…[U]ltimately the problem is not a SKIN problem, it is a SIN problem,” Watson wrote. “…BUT I’M ENCOURAGED because God has provided a solution for sin through the his son Jesus and with it, a transformed heart and mind.”

Long-time Baptist leader and pastor Jim Burton writes about how the church must deal with disability in this Baptist Press column. Burton’s own experience in “the blue zone” (noting the color of handicapped parking signs) began with a 2013 diagnosis of Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS.

58% of Protestant senior pastors support immigration reform “that includes a path to citizenship for those who are currently in the country illegally,” according to a pre-election survey by LifeWay Research. While 87% of responders said the U.S. government has a responsibility to halt illegal immigration, 79% said Christians should assist immigrants, even those who are in the U.S. illegally.

Bob, Larry, and all their veggie friends are now streaming on demand in a brand-new Netflix series. The first five episodes of “VeggieTales in the House” debuted Nov. 26. “It’s been clear that if we want the characters and the ministry to stay alive, then they need to keep moving as kids move to viewing media in different ways, VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer told Baptist Press.


THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

49% of Americans say same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, Pew found in research released last week. The percentage is down five points since the researcher last asked the question in February.

According to the report on Pew’s website, “It is too early to know if this modest decline is an anomaly or the beginning of a reversal or leveling off in attitudes toward gay marriage after years of steadily increasing public acceptance.

“Moreover, when the February poll and the current survey are combined, the 2014 yearly average level of support for same-sex marriage stands at 52%, roughly the same as the 2013 yearly average (50%).”

The_BriefingWe could know as early as this week whether the U.S. Supreme Court will hear any of the pending same-sex marriage cases, Reuters reports. The justices met yesterday for a private conference prior to the new term that begins Oct. 6. In September, 32 states asked the Court to decide the marriage issue once and for all, as did a coalition of religious groups including the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

SBC disfellowships ‘third way’ church
The Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee voted last week to withdraw fellowship from New Heart Community Church, the California congregation whose pastor announced in February he no longer believes same-sex lifestyles are sinful. The committee’s action followed a similar decision by the California Southern Baptist Convention in September.

More from Pew: Public split on business rights and same-sex marriage
Pew’s recently released data also shows 47% of people think wedding-related businesses should be allowed to refuse services to same-sex couples, while 49% say they should be required to provide services. Half of those surveyed believe homosexuality is a sin, up from 45% a year ago, Pew reported.

Court to hear Arizona church sign case
One case already on the Supreme Court’s schedule is Reed vs. Town of Gilbert, in which a Presbyterian congregation is fighting its town’s signage code. Gilbert, Arizona, requires that signs like those posted by Good News Presbyterian Church cannot go up more than 12 hours before the event advertised—Sunday worship, in this case.

‘Kimye’ pastor will star in reality show
The Oxygen network has announced Miami pastor Rich Wilkerson, Jr., who performed the Kim Kardashian/Kanye West wedding earlier this year, will get his own show. “The Wilkersons” will focus on the pastor of Trinity Church and his wife, DawnChere. The show will join other Oxygen faith-centric shows including “Preachers of L.A.” and the upcoming spin-off “Preachers of Detroit.” Read more at


Students and their leaders at ChicaGO Week pray for specific neighborhoods that are in need of a new church.

How do you introduce junior high and high school students to the intricacies of church planting in one of the country’s largest cities?

Take them there, and let them try it out.

More than 50 teens will spend this week working alongside five church planters in Chicagoland as part of the first-ever ChicaGO Week, a project sponsored by the Illinois Baptist State Association. The week kicked off July 13 at Judson University in Elgin, where youth groups from Harrisburg, Chicago, and several places in between will gather for worship after days at their project sites.

prayer_2During the opening worship service, the students heard from someone with lots of experience juggling the responsibilities of church planting.

And lots of experience with actual juggling too.

Ken Schultz is a professional entertainer with the stage name “The Flying Fool.” He’s also co-pastor of Crosswinds Church in Plainfield, a church he started several years ago with nuclear engineer John Stillman.

“God uses my juggling and John as a nuclear engineer to help grow a church,” Schultz told the students. Crosswinds has an average weekly attendance of 120 people, and 60% of those came to Christ through the church’s ministry.

“John makes killer spreadsheets,” Schultz said of his co-pastor. “I do this,” he said, before wowing the crowd by juggling three long knives.


Pastor Ken Schultz used his juggling and unicycle-riding skills in a message on boldness.

“What are you good at?” Schultz asked the students. “Can God use that to build his church?

“He can. You just need to give it to him.”

This week, they’ll do just that at Backyard Bible Clubs, through prayer walking and community clean-up projects, and by offering their time to church planters working hard to get to know their neighbors. It’s a lot to juggle, but God empowers His people to do His work.

“Let this generation be bold, let them be bold as lions for your glory and your good,” Schultz prayed at the end of his message. “If You can use a silly guy who juggles, You can use anybody.”