bible-study

Any pastor or other church staff member should be prepared in biblical truths. Theology is a key discipline as well. Indeed none of the classical disciplines should be forsaken, nor any of the practical disciplines, such as missions, evangelism, or church planting.

But the American culture has shifted dramatically in a relatively short period. The United States is becoming more like an international mission field. As a result, ministry training, whether formal or informal, should reflect this reality. Missionaries are typically required to receive intensive cultural and language training before they go overseas. Frankly, a similar need exists today for those in American congregations, or those planning to go to these churches.

So where are the greatest needs? My list is certainly not exhaustive, nor is it in any particular order. But I do see all of these areas as key to reaching our new and challenging culture.

  1. A new language. If a pastor or church staff member does not “speak” social media, he or she is neglecting one of the fastest growing trends in our nation, indeed in our world. It is no longer a fad; it is a primary means of communication.
  2. A non-Christian culture. Our nation is fast becoming a non-Christian nation. While we lament the relative decline in the numbers who follow Christ, we must also accept the reality that those in our community cannot be assumed to be like us, or to hold our values.
  3. The decline of cultural Christians in churches. The Pew Research project confirmed the dramatic increase in the numbers of people who have no religious affiliation. For our churches, this development means that most people do not feel cultural pressure to attend churches. More and more, those who are there are convicted Christians and not Christians in name only.
  4. A new work/life balance. Pastors and church staff members have always been on call 24/7. But now they are connected 24/7 as well with computers, smart phones, and other technological advances. For better or worse, the world of work and personal life is becoming increasingly blurred.
  5. Unregenerate church members. Cultural Christians are those who really know they are not believers, but are affiliated with churches for cultural reasons. But another group includes those who may cognitively assert a belief in Christ, but have really not had a conversion. For certain, this development is not new. But we are seeing the cumulative cost of weak discipleship and false conversions in our churches. How will we respond to the issue of numbers of members who are not truly believers?
  6. The community as a mission field. Can we change our mindsets and be better prepared? Our communities are not just changing because there are fewer Christians. They are changing with an influx of new ethnic groups and people of other religious beliefs.
  7. Less automatic cultural respect of church leaders. In past years, those who held the title of “pastor” or some similar nomenclature were revered in the community just by the position they held. Such is not the case today. Respect must be earned one day at a time.
  8. A more critical world. Many pastors and church staff members do not deal well with the more transparent and critical world in which we live. Some retreat to a form of passivity or paths of least resistance. And some quit altogether.
  9. A greater need for leadership skills. The world in which we live is complex. We may long for simpler times, but that won’t change our realities. Church leaders must be better leaders in more challenging times.
  10. More churches in need of revitalization. This last item may be last on the list, but the need is huge. As many as nine out of ten of our churches are in need of some level of major revitalization. There are tens of thousands of these churches, and the implications for equipping leaders for them are vast.

This list may be discouraging to you as you read the cumulative implications. I see it, however, from a different perspective. I see this new reality and this new mission field as a great opportunity. No, it’s not your father or mother’s church. It’s a new and challenging reality requiring a missional mindset. It requires total dependence on the One who sends us to the mission field. And that is exactly where God wants us.

What do you think about this mission field called America?

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Comments

  1. says

    This is dead on. I along with Tom Cheyney lead out in church revitalization with the Renovate Conference and our local work with pastors in Orlando. This is exactly what we are facing. Read this…then read it again for application. Go back to school, if you will, and understand your times.
    Thanks Tom

      • P. Sanders says

        Great insights! I am particularly interested in numbers 1 and 4 on your list and the comment from Ron Smith to “go back to school.” As a PhD student in seminary, I recently had an assignment to create a syllabus for a new course that is not currently taught. Since we need to be reaching people for Christ by meeting them where they spend their time today, I created a syllabus for a course called “Technology and Ministry” to address these areas. The goal is the practical experience of implementing and practicing application of various technologies in a simulated ministry setting. It was a fun exercise, but the reality that such a course does not yet exist in our seminary is astonishing to me.

  2. Dick Rockenbach says

    it is badly needed on both sides of the pulpit. For me one of the great takeaways from Almost Christian was that “we have exposed our kids to the Church- not Coached them” in the ways of Jesus and the Ministry He left for all of us to do and be about.

  3. Jed says

    This is a good list, Thom, thank you. To be honest, I look at this list and go “duh,” as these things seem blatantly obvious and simply a part of reality to me. I was ordained about 10 years ago, and have lived in Northern California for the past six years, so I’m sure that shades my understanding. It’s easy for me to look at the ministry of men who have been around for 30 or 40 years and wonder how they can be so ineffective, but I’m sure that I’m overlooking the catastrophic changes that have happened in culture while I was simply growing up. Dick Rockenbock is on the right track here. I’ve found in my pastoral work that the answer to our ministry questions comes as a result of discipleship: the continual study of scripture with the desired result of being more like Jesus each day. When this becomes the foundation of the ministry to which we are called, we have a clear perspective on not only the problems but also the strategies needed to address them.

  4. says

    Great article! I’ve been hitting on points 1 & 10 for quite some time. This article is encouraging to up-and-coming ministers, and church leaders in need of revitalization in their ministry. I am blessed to serve under Pastor Ron Smith as he greatly understands this need, and is proactive in this field. This is effectively transmitting through the heartbeat of our church, and our community. Thankful for pastors like you, Thom, and Ron, and Tom Cheney.

  5. Mark Dance says

    Very good points Dr Rainer. Studying Scripture and culture are no more mutually exclusive now than in the days of “the Issacharites, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chronicles 12:32 HCSB).
    I have had to personally work hard to stay fluent in the evolving dialect of social media. Most of my tutors are younger and cooler than me. But the payoff has been worth it.

  6. Jeff Glenn says

    I agree. What I don’t understand is why most churches don’t embrace this “change.” But then again, most churches are “traditional” and don’t want to change.

    • Thom Rainer says

      For certain, we must hold onto the truths if God’s Word, and we must be willing to let go of those areas where we cling for tradition’s sake only.

  7. says

    I love the premise of this post, which seems to be “being aware of the times.” As I read this I couldn’t help but think of the men of Issachar who knew what Israel should do because they understood the times. (I Chronicles 12:32)

    I must say, if there is anything this blog helps me with it is better understanding of the times in which we live. As always, Dr. Rainer, thanks for the work.

  8. says

    Your list is right on, it brings conviction and a challenge for change. The mission of Relevant Ministry is about revitalization. The need IS great. Your 9 of 10 stat in #10 surprised me. Maybe the need for revitalization is greater than we realize. It is exciting though to work with pastors who work hard at transformation and desire to minister relevantly. “God, we need you! Forgive us for our neglect of you.”

      • Mark says

        I must concur. It was a Very good posting. I’d like to suggest you get in touch with Rachel Held Evans and tie this posting in with some of her popularity with a different group of people. Hence, you would get lots more suggestions for what can help minsters reach people today and what ministers should not do. (For those who don’t know, she has a massive following of young females and males who appreciate her gutsy approach to issues.) Basically a grass roots approach to helping reform the ministry to understand and reach out to the modern world.

  9. Rick Brooks says

    Some very good points and after 30 years of ministry I still want to use whatever works without violating scriptural principles. Our church uses the social media pretty well and recognize the cultural shifts that call us to adjust our methods, but I see a danger in the temptation to just join the Corinthian culture that Paul challenged. I have drawn some lines, and I guess we all do. But it seems to me that a bigger number of preachers are convinced that quantity almost always outweighs quality, and eventually succumb to the world instead of keeping a healthy view of holiness. It’s kinda like a man on a boat drifting from the dock and he has to finally cling to one or the other. Some of us are more like Barnabas and keep the encouragement flowing–and that is wonderfully refreshing. But there other vitally necessary preachers who are more like the prophets who keep us balanced by sounding out the warnings about distinguishing between the holy and the profane. Thanks for the good and timely articles, Dr. Rainer.

  10. Nathaniel Rodriguez says

    God’s Word is truly being fulfilled in the world around us as well as the Christian world. The Sermon on the Mount closed with four warnings that we should be aware of and deals with the exact situations that we are seeing in this “cool world”….thank you for sharing something that is much needed.

  11. says

    Dr. Rainer,

    As a pastor engaged in the work of rePlanting/Revitalization numbers 5, 9 &10 are certainly my greatest challenges and needs. We are introducing the concept of a membership class and signed membership covenant and are finding great resistance from our legacy members who refuse to sign on multiple grounds, even though they say they agree with the covenant promises. What wisdom might you offer in working with a small contingent like this? I certainly want to pastor them with integrity but not compromise our commitment to value membership highly and move our church to greater health and commitment. (a future blog post regarding Membership Covenants would be appreciated)

    Great work as always-thanks again for your contributions to my work as a Pastor.

  12. says

    Dr. Rainer, as I read your post my response wasn’t one of discouragement but excitement! I have felt these new areas of instability for pastors the past few years however to have them identified as you have is not only helpful but inspiring. I felt as I was reading them, you were extending a new challenge as a coach would to his team at half-time. I look forward to serving you with along with the other church leaders in America to not back down to our newest challenges but rise to the challenge of being a light for Christ in a ever-changing America! Great post Dr. Rainer!

    • Thom Rainer says

      Brett: I am there friend. I think God has given us a great opportunity on an incredible mission field.

  13. says

    Great post – reminded this week of the potential our word shave today. I shared a post on Facebook and Twitter on Tuesday morning – had 50,000 views in two days with no other promotion. We live in a world where our reach can be more than we ever imagine.

  14. Mark Dance says

    Dr Rainer’s blog ended with this question, “What do you think about this mission field called America?”

    My answer to that question is that these cultural challenges are strategic spiritual opportunities for me as a pastor to lead my church to reach people for Christ in the 21st Century American culture that God has put me in. Next month, our church will be relocating across the street from a large university (UCA) that has over a thousand international students from 64 countries. There are an additional 12,000 American students that are mostly cultural Christians or “nones.”
    Will I passively wait for them to cross the street to hear the Gospel, or will we think and act like sent missionaries? I must personally lead the charge by learning the language and culture of my new Millennial neighbors.

    • Mark says

      May I suggest a periodic dinner and/Or a service for college students that is on Sunday between 3 and 6 pm. Please don’t expect them to always come on Sunday mornings to your regular service. (However, please do not be a hypocrite and be all modern and reasonable in the college service and a hard liner in the regular service. Word of that will quickly sink your university ministry.) If you preach a homily, please reconcile it with issues they face, e.g. orgies, cheating, rebutting atheism, and defending Christianity. Should you have free time, learn about human cloning and a bit of bioethics so that you can talk to the science majors who are or will be dealing with those issues regularly. Please let the students (of both genders) who come a few times volunteer and participate in the service. I realize that in some churches only clergy may read the gospel and say the mass, but the ordinary people can read from the bible or read the prayers, carry the cross, etc.

      • Mark Dance says

        Thank you for these helpful ideas Mark. You are right about college students wanting to hear straight-shooting sermons about relevant topics. These topics might make their parents (and pastor) blush. I do occasionally teach them in a mid-week service, but have not considered a Sunday afternoon alternative before. You are thinking like a missionary!

        • Mark says

          You’re welcome. I spent some years on a flagship campus as a student and saw lots of different university ministry groups and remember thinking that if I’d had more free time, I would have enjoyed a couple of the university ministries of some other denominations. I can’t take credit for the Sunday afternoon service. However, thanks for the compliment.

          Also, you need a female university minister,preferably young, if you don’t already have one. I can tell you that female college students are not going to talk to a male minister about birth control, date rape, friend likely being pregnant, protecting one’s self at a frat party, etc. Now as for the topics that would make parents and pastors blush, they need to be discussed. I am sure that some of the topics isaiah mentioned made him blush, but he had guts enough to just say what needed to be said. Jesus knew that pagan religion of his day involved sex with the temple prostitutes. It is just that the bible was written to those who already knew about it and so did not describe in great detail, but rebutted it. Perhaps the same lessons are applicable today.

  15. Mike says

    This entry today, Thom, that you have done, is very timely, true, relevant & contemporary. Your list contains a tremendous truth as it relates to churches & the challenges pastors face today. We live in an increasingly non-Christian culture. We have some, who attend churches in America today, who are Christian in name only. That is, their lives & conduct don’t always point to the fact that they’re indeed saved. Sitting in a church, Sunday after Sunday, doesn’t make you saved. But that’s what many think. Pastors have to be able to deal with criticism. It is part of church culture. And social media is the trend today. We’re dumb not to realize that. Many churches need revitalization & are on life support. We need to pray. Regularly. Consistently. And daily. A great entry that you have done, Thom.

  16. Bob Williford says

    I am now Pastor of a small rural church and how true what you have written really is. The ‘social network’ statement has left many folks in our churches in a wake of confusion and what I might call ‘cultural illiteracy’ that seems to frighten them. The Pastors of these churches, including myself, must become more aware of this potential opportunity. Bi-vocational Pastors are the future pastoral leaders of these churches and must allow themselves to be led to know these facts instead of demonizing what is going on around them. And these small groups of believers must be able to assimilate the truth of what is going on as well. I have come out of retirement as a missionary/pastor to lead this small church and have had my eyes opened. Thank you, Thom, for a great piece.

  17. CF Wright says

    I agree with your evaluation to ome degree. I dont think school is the answer. I think action is. The culture reminds me of the time of Alexander the Great where society is fluid and rapidly changing on every level. Many different groups developed after rejecting “traditional” beliefs and rites. It was “the midnight hour,” the moment just before Jesus showed up on the scene and found everyone arguing amongst themselves about what is right and what is wrong. I believe the focus should be to strengthen what remains and to train the body of Christ how to “Go” into this new community mission field and the necessary tools to be active as disciples, bringing those back into the church. The Pastors need to re-tool on the “sending.” There is no replacement for true worshippers, they must be brought back to the church. Strengthen what remains, that is the focus. God Bless.

  18. Michael Edwards says

    Honestly, there is much encouragement to be had if social media are used appropriately. Twitter is not the site to evangelize the lost, but it is a place where the forces may be marshaled and the Body can learn and even grow. Information is crucial, and once we sweep away the chaff, there is every reason to have a presence. It controls the lives of many, which is inappropriate, but it only takes a few minutes after initiating an account (as I did for the first time 3 months ago, to know that our enemy has learned to use social media like a Ph.D. Christians cannot afford to neglect this fact.

  19. Eliu says

    I have been looking for a list of areas where I could do research and develop conferences to help pastors understand the rapid changes that are happening in our churches and communities and how to do evangelism in these new settings. You have provided such a list… thanks! May be well for the “seasoned” seminary faculties to take note to prepare themselves for the new crop of ministry students who will require their up-to-date preparation to deal with the presentation of the Gospel to an ever changing constituency.

    • Mark says

      Perhaps some new faculty at seminary are needed or visiting/adjunct faculty who are currently in ministry but willing to teach a class on current issues. Academics is usually the last place to get new courses and new ideas. There is a lot of fear of doing anything new within academics, it is why Google is eating Microsoft alive.

  20. Mark says

    May I add:
    Learn to ask for help. If you need help understanding twitter, Facebook, etc. just ask those who are under 18 to show it to you. They will be willing to help. If you don’t know the popular blogs, ask. Pastors need to know about the friendly atheist blog. You need to be willing to rebut it and mention it. Don’t pretend that he doesn’t exist. For current issues, ask or read the old blog of Dr. Patrick Mead who is a moderate church of Christ minister (and also an immunologist). He answers questions that would make most clergy red faced at a minimum.

    Mention the taboo topics from the pulpit, e.g. Child abuse, white collar professionals covertly offering and requesting sexual favors, etc. All people are going to get their info from somewhere and if you don’t discuss it, someone else will.

    Go see what ministry looks like in the cities. Most pastors from rural areas and are not aware of the issues faced by young professionals in the city. Read about Rev.Dr. Amy Butler offering the ashes this past Wednesday on the street in Washington.

    Be willing to discuss or allow female participation in churches, including the service, You need to consider how it looks when women are treated as second class Christians.

    Please do not talk about issues that you know nothing about, like women’s health issues. Please get rid of your opposition to women’s healthcare. This runs off most every young woman who hears or finds out about your message because it is a Slippery slope to a loss of dr patient confidentiality.

    Please act like a scholar. Sadly, the church, which used to have a monopoly on teaching reading, writing, and biblical knowledge has surrendered its duties to the academe and no longer has scholars. The seminaries produce preachers/pastors, but preachers aren’t always scholars. If you read some of the sermons that are online from rabbis, priests, and ministers in big churches and synagogues, they are thought-out and scholarly, but short. They mention topics that need to be discussed and reconcile the bible With the present age. Most younger people want you to preach like those learned clergy.

  21. Heartspeak says

    An area of (more?) training for pastors for the 21’st century in the US of A would be an overview of legal responsibilities and liabilities for counseling, Tax exempt status how to handle potential lawsuits as surely they will increase as our ‘viewpoint’ and ‘freedom of religion and speech” are being continually infringed upon. Close to that is how to respond to media inquiries even before a legal situation occurs.

    Truth cannot be the victim but careful words and awareness of ‘how’ we come across to the public given the issues already identified, are valuable in our job as Ambassadors for Chritst.

    • Mark Dance says

      That is an excellent point. Litigation creates ministry land-mines that conventional seminary training has not prepared us for.

    • Mark says

      Just get a good lawyer who represents religious and nonprofit organizations. Don’t be afraid of having to pay.

  22. JPT says

    Please forgive my cynicism, but I became disillusioned with the office of Clergy long ago; I do not envy your task and I have no great vision on how to improve it. Its raison d’etre is not in bringing one to faith but keeping one just enough off-balance to impel becoming a repeat “giving unit”.

    A predominant subtext in the panoply of messages is one of obedience through tithing — often to the point of evangelical terrorism. Show me a preacher who doesn’t have a sermon on Malachi at-the-ready.

    Until we demand that Christian leaders display truly humble lives with complete financial transparency, I’m a afraid we will witness a continued drift into irrelevance. If you can’t even shed your own charlatans, why should people place much reliance on any wisdom you attempt to impart?

    Perhaps I’ve said too much.

    • MIke says

      The vast majority of pastors, in America, are financially transparent. Very, very few are not. I am sorry if you had a bad experience at a church. But many pastors struggle to make ends meet & there are very few who are the charlatans that you refer to. Truth here. Is financial transparency needed in all churches? Absolutely. But a few do not have this. I would agree with you that it’s necessary.

  23. says

    Brother Rainer,

    Excellent stuff! Thank you for condensing these and putting them in “bite-size” pieces. One question re: #10 – “More churches in need of revitalization”: Are you referring to 1) spiritual revitalization (i.e. that which we hope comes from revival meetings, maybe even discipleship, etc.) 2) physical revitalization (i.e. a close look at our web presence – website, social media, etc.; examining physical property – buildings & grounds – to do some updates, upgrades, etc.) and/or 3) ministry revitalization (i.e. why are we doing the ministries we are – bus route, nursing home, Sunday school, etc.? How are we doing in these? Can these be done differently making them more profitable?)?

    Once again thank you for what you do and your insights.

  24. says

    Thank you for this list Thom! Great stuff packed with really keen insights. I’m hoping this gets picked up by the Toolbox and others so the idea spreads. Thank you!

    mark

  25. David Rubemeyer says

    God’s Word is UNCHANGING! Everything else is on the table.
    I am reminded of a current commercial that is airing about the the progression of golf clubs and what they are made out of, they show men unwilling to accept new technology it is humorous. When we hold to the same mentality in reaching the lost world around us it is not humorous because people live and die and never see Jesus lived out and they are lost.
    It should grieve our hearts when our greatest concern is paint color and carpet instead of being God’s Church to a lost and dying world.

    Thank you Dr. Rainer for using God’s Giftedness to teach others.

    David R.

  26. Obot Ite says

    Thank you Dr. Rainer for sharing this list. Though efforts are being done individually to meet these changing needs, it shows how far we still are from adequate training and preparation. Your research is highly recommendable. God bless your ministry.

  27. Allen Calkins says

    I preached on the mission of the church this past Sunday. One quote I shared in that message that I found to be insightful was from Reggie McNeal, “Sadly, many established churches have made the satisfaction of themselves their primary purpose.” That quote says much! Because so many tithing believers seem to value their comfort over spiritual/numerical growth in the church the command to witness and make disciples has been moved way down the list of what people want to be led/challenged to do at church. Pastors that entertain and give people positive strokes for believing in God do far better than Pastors who faithfully address sin, call for repentance by believers as well as those needing to be saved and ask people to do hard things for the sake of the gospel do not fare as well UNLESS they can find some folks to serve with them and act as a buffer against the ‘comfort addicts’. If the ‘comfort addicts’ are the main leaders in a church the sincere gospel-focused Pastor is in BIG trouble.

  28. Robert Lawrence says

    Thank you for the list. As a more middle aged pastor I believe the list is spot on. Sounds like a good time to form some continuing education classes for pastors to concentrate on some of these areas. Your thoughts?

    • Mark says

      If the leadership does not see a need for it, it won’t happen. Most pastors do just what leadership wants because it is leadership that keeps them in their positions. After all, it’s easier to blame the younger generations than it is to have the guts to convince large donors to tolerate and embrace modernization. I have long thought that the best argument with the large donors of the older generations was to tell that their grandchildren, not invisible heathens in a land far away, were the exact people that needed to be reached out to.

  29. Brent Jerome says

    I appreciate this list. Could you give more information on how to do these things in the smaller local church?

  30. Brent Jerome says

    Thanks for the list. Could you please share how to put these things to work in the smaller local church?

  31. Dan Moore says

    Great points. Number 7 is one that you wisely use “culture” assuming the broad culture of the U.S. In my experience, there is higher regard for the position of pastor among Asians and the African-Americans than among most Anglo groups. This has been my perception since the 1980’s after several scandals among prominent white pastors and evangelists occurred. When I visit non-whites either in their homes, at work, or in other ethnic group churches, pastors are regarded higher than among the whites. And among those same groups, often the pastor’s wife is given the title “First Lady of the Church.”

  32. Ryan says

    I find number’s 4 goal the hardest to achieve. Being a full-time non-pastoral employee for a church, I struggle to be in the world in order to effect the world. How can I spread the Gospel (through personal initiatives) when I’m spending 50+ hours working, leading a family, etc. I’m not complaining about the hours. I love my job and of course my family. I just want some thoughts on how to minister directly to people.

  33. john says

    you are on the money. we need to spend time now digging into the reasons for some of the points listed. it might make me and some others uncomfortable.

    keep the faith

  34. David Blauser says

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.
    Solomon said that there is nothing new under the sun. The screaming need in pastors is solid doctrinal training so they can preach solid doctrine in and out of church. There is no point in preaching if you are not preaching the Gospel and for that you need to be able to understanding and articulate doctrine. 2 Tim 3:16.

  35. says

    Hey Thom,
    Thanks for your thoughts on the 21st century and training. Except for point #1 and part of #4, all of these could have been presented 20+ years ago. I’ll bet you found yourself thinking this as you wrote this list. What does this say about how the rate at which we update the way we train pastors correlates to the rate at which our culture is changing? The fact that your article brings up this question makes your article very helpful to this of us who think about the next generation of equipping.

    Just an fyi, I scan for articles about the future and stumbled upon yours as I was writing one of my own. I included a link to your post in my article because I found it helpful. And since there seems to be some interest from your audience about this, may I suggest some resources that could contribute:
    http://theimn.com/leadership/pastoral-training-in-the-21st-century/ http://theimn.com/training/m101_strategicleadership/

    Thanks and continue to imagine the possibilities… Alex

  36. Brad Hall says

    Thom,

    I am a 36 year old pastor who has been in pastoral ministry full time for almost 15 years now. The field of pastoral ministry has changed so quickly over the past 10 years. I have seen evidence of every item on your list and have been personally challenged to become more intentional in relating the Gospel to this generation. I am considering furthering my education at SEBTS by pursuing a D.Min in the specialization of Church Revitalization. My goal is to continue to lead transformational change in more established churches and hopefully aid churches and associations in revitalization. Thank you for affirming this conviction by pointing out the need for training in these developing areas.

    Brad

  37. Al Gary says

    I found your article of great interest, and immediately thought of how I needed to share it with our church leaders. The article literally hit us where we live, because I am pastor of the International Christian Fellowship in Lubbock, Texas, where most of our participants are international PHD students at Texas Tech, the majority of which are non-believers. A statement you made in your introduction is so very true: “The United States is becoming more like an international mission field.” My wife and I served 37 years in international missions in a French-speaking country, but I feel that our ministry in Lubbock is even a greater mission field than Guadeloupe.

  38. says

    I attended New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary from 1996 to 1999 and earned my MACE. During the entire time I was there as a student, I BEGGED several professors and administrators to lead the way in developing a true Media Ministry track, training ministers how to use audio, video and even internet tools for expansion of the kingdom of God. It never got anywhere, but I never stopped begging. There is an EXTREME need, now, for training in these tools for ministry.

    I continue to be amazed at how far behind the Church has gotten in use of current communication technology. As we study church history, we see the use of music, art, drama, written word all being used to communicate God’s love and His word with the world. Now, the world is effectively using technology that we tend to deny, or at least be scared of. We need to be LEADERS in the use of technology – social media, video, film, audio, music, arts, and even improvements in the technology of the spoken word!

    Dr. Rainer, you are being a great example of this with your podcast. Ed Stetzer with his videocast and podcast, as well. Andy Stanley is a great example of using his sermon, AND using his gifting in leadership with TWO podcasts. The technology is there, the platforms are extremely inexpensive and sometimes free!

    Pastors… let’s lead the way for good, and for God, instead of being the “also ran’s”

  39. Ellis I. Washington says

    Great insights, to be sure. Regarding #2, though, just wondering when, if ever, we were a “Christian” nation?

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