Costly Grace as a Survival Tactic: Finding Happiness Despite the Pain and Suffering

Forgiveness is such a little B****. I mean, saying it more eloquently, forgiveness, it’s a double edged sword. If you forgive, then you feel as if they win; if you choose not to forgive, you then feel and find the truth within the platitude saying, “Not forgiving is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”Many times as a pastor, I'd be constantly asked by congregants "How do you forgive…?" And I'd tell them, "The same way you get over your ex: you sleep with as many p … [Read more...]

Megalomaniactic Pastors: What if Your Pastor’s a Functional Psychopath?

I meet up with a ton of pastors for lunch or coffee. It’s not a means of “networking” as it’s mostly just a means of connecting with like-minded men and women. These groups of people consist of mega-church leaders, musicians, youth pastors, lay-leaders, and everyone else in between. But, the other day I met up with a pastor of a larger Church, as he was guest speaking/preaching here in Philadelphia. Never thinking about it before, today really, I realized that most of us within pastoral ministr … [Read more...]

A Generation of Biblically Illiterate Followers of Jesus

Have you ever taken a step back and asked the question, “Why do I believe what I believe?”Many of us when asked this question, reply immediately, “Because of the bible.”Growing up in Churches this is just what we’ve been taught in Sunday school and youth group, from child hood on, singing aloud without thinking: “Jesus loves me this I know, for the bible tells me so…” We find ourselves believing and dedicating the entirety of our lives, the basis of our morals, the foundation of our h … [Read more...]

Reform it’s Here: What this Means Exactly

It's weird, but, as much resentment towards the Church as I've held onto I still listen to worship music. Like, a lot. I will admit that there's not too much like corporate worship; I can't tell you how much I miss singing in unison, the rush of raising one's hands in worship and praise, knowing that everyone in that building is striving and struggling along the same mission (even though, sometimes they're not, lol - but that's another post for another time).A few months ago, I was playing … [Read more...]

From Cathedrals to Movie Theaters: Past and Present Trends Impact on the Future of the Western Church

A little over 500 years ago we had Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Philip Melanchthon leading the reformation; fast forward, a bit, we see Billy Graham evangelizing to the masses in tent revivals; and soon thereafter there was, and still is, the progressive movement composed of evangelical leaders such as Tony Campolo, Brian McLaren, Jim Wallis, et al.; last but not least, we’ve seen our evangelical-esque, semi-bi-partisan, seeker sensitive model of church lead by guys such as Rick Warren, Andy S … [Read more...]

Jesus Was Not a Pacifist (A kind response to Benjamin Corey)

“So persistent is the cry of peace among the ruling classes and so strong the seeming abhorrence of every form of violence and anarchy that one might imagine them actuated by the purest pacifist principles, were it not for the fact that they betray no pacifist scruples when they consider international affairs. Most insistent upon peace within the nation, they are most easily provoked to join issue in martial combat with other nations.“ – Reinhold NiebuhrIt’s easy for a privileged person t … [Read more...]

Understanding Why Christians are Anti-Trans

I honestly don’t understand this debate over whether or not those who identify as transgender should be allowed to use the bathroom in which corresponds with their gender. It’s not the nuanced differentiations between one’s gender and one’s sex; it’s the the psychology behind why this angers conservative Christians that I don't understand.http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/24/opinions/trump-transgender-bathrooms-opinion-cupp/Question: why are Christians so riled up by transgendered people using the b … [Read more...]

John Piper Joins the #BlackLivesMatter movement!?

I mean, not really, but kind of...Piper's opening is predictably cringeworthy, but his conclusion is surprisingly refreshing.The better question: Is this something in which nonwhite evangelicals should be happy about? Is it a step forward, and can it be utilized by progressive Christians as a means to bridge the gap between our conservative brothers and sisters? "And as I was watching all of this happen, I wondered what to think about it, what to say about it, and I googled and found: … [Read more...]

The Implications Of Minimum Wage Laws On Youth Pastors And Youth Workers

Written by Mark OestreicherI AM NOT AN EMPLOYMENT LAW EXPERT OR AUTHORITY. And this post should NOT be taken as ‘legal advice.’BUT: the other day over lunch, a graduate of our Youth Ministry Coaching Program, who leads a wonderful nonprofit ministry not too dissimilar from the Cartel, but local and Catholic, asked me a question just as we were wrapping up:So, how do you think the new California minimum wage is going to impact youth ministry?My first response: huh (it was a deeply … [Read more...]

Please, Stop Inviting Your Friends to Church

Written by Stephen SchmidtWe’ve got some big problems in the Church these days. That’s no great revelation. Just ask anybody on the street what they think of Christianity, especially during election season, and you’ll get an earful.  We hear it so often, in fact, that we in the Church turn a deaf ear to it. We tune it out. We’re callous to criticism. And we just go on our merry way, carrying on as good soldiers of the Cross. Well, at least on Sundays.So when I drove by this sign stuck laz … [Read more...]