David Wesley sings In Christ Alone:
Just in time for Valentine’s Day:
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I thought it might be helpful to remind Christians that we worship a single guy who died a virgin.
For the first time in our nation’s history, there are more unmarried than married adults. And people are waiting longer than ever to marry—women in their mid- to late twenties on average and men closer to thirty. The closer you get to a major city, the more singles you will find—most of them dating, relating, and fornicating.
Most likely, you view your experiences regarding dating as normative. Because you were born in this day and age, dating seems not only normal but also the only way in which to meet someone you could potentially marry.
We must be careful, however, not to take our current experiences and make them the norm. It’s important to view the times in which we live through the lens of both history and Scripture.
The reality is that dating, as we know it today, is a relatively new idea. In fact, prior to the 1900s, “dating” was a slang term that referred to prostitution. A man who was going to pay a woman for sex told his buddies that he was “going on a date.” Interestingly, while dating isn’t overtly a euphemism for prostitution any longer, for many men, the process is similar. In our culture, a man takes a woman on a date, spends lots of money, and by the world’s standards expects the woman to “put out.”
The cultural history of dating is interesting. In the early 1900s “calling” was the primary means of marrying. A young man would call on a young woman by going to the parlor in her parents’ home. Her parents carefully oversaw these meetings, and expectations for everything from dress and food to length of time of the call was regulated and spelled out. This protected women from the kind of sexual assault that is common today by involving the parents on every level of the courtship process. It also limited the opportunity for a woman and a man to be alone and sin sexually.
By the 1930s, however, the social landscape changed dramatically with the rise of the automobile. Cars gave young people freedoms and mobility they never had previously, resulting in increased opportunities for men and women to go out alone and increased temptations for drunkenness and sexual sin.
Read the whole thing.
Chris Zillman provides a detailed and encouraging summary of the campus service committee’s annual meeting.
Here’s the part most relevant to the OYC:
The goal of the One Year Challenge (OYC) is to produce more workers in strategic harvest fields around the world – college towns with small campus ministries in the US and unreached cities with ICOC churches internationally.
With that stated goal, we have focused the requirements for OYC host churches to include mission teams (e.g. Norman OK), small churches in college towns (e.g. Nittany Valley Church at Penn State), and international churches with largely un-evangelized populations (e.g. cities in China, undisclosed locations).
The OYC is a helpful component for growing a church, but should not be viewed as a primary resource because of the limited time that a participant has with the host site. Instead, the OYC should be viewed as a benefit to the kingdom overall. Participants come in eager and faithful, but largely untrained. By the end of his or her year of service the participant has been invested in by the local evangelist and ministry leaders, fully trained in ministry, and ready to be sent back to their home church or move on to another harvest field. The OYC will help our movement train the next generation of leaders.
Read the whole thing. The brothers who serve on committees like do selfless, thankless work that is essential to unity and cooperation. Every one of them is taking time from building their own ministries to serve the greater good.
Ed Stezter says, “If current trends continue, and that’s what trends tend to do, we are going to live in a different society.”
In a place where most people admit they’re not Christian the gospel often has a better chance of being distinctive. Being a Christian is more significant in a hostile or indifferent culture than in friendly surrounds. It can be easier to share the gospel with those who don’t think that they are already right with God. As nominal Christians, or cultural Christians drop the façade of religiosity for the honesty of not following a faith at all, it will become easier to share the Gospel.
Read the whole thing.
Reaching people who are without faith requires more than apologetics. Mere Christianity, as much as any popular book, illustrates how far an explanation of the reasonableness of the Christian faith can go, as opposed to an argument for Christianity.
In the classic Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis, the most important writer of the 20th century, explores the common ground upon which all of those of Christian faith stand together….Mere Christianity provides an unequaled opportunity for believers and nonbelievers alike to hear this powerful apologetic for the Christian faith.
Disciples Today continues its Chinese New Year series of articles with a short history of Christianity in China:
Christians started the first modern hospitals and clinics in China, and Christianity spread rapidly among both intellectuals and rural people. The revolutionary leader Sun Yat Sen—recognized to this day as the founding father of modern China for bringing about then end of the Qing Dynasty—was baptized in Hong Kong and attended a church as a medical student.
Read the whole thing.
Into All Nations is a great read for anyone preparing for a One Year Challenge. We have a rich history as a missions-focused movement!
Foster Stanback provides the first book-length, historical study of this small but impactful and controversial movement. Foster writes with objectivity, and the result is a stunningly good analysis of its tradition, its historical roots, its cultural milieu, its activities, its organization, its theology, and it’s phenomenal growth. The book contains many photographs and an appendix that charts the growth of churches and mission work.
Inaugural service is on February 28. Read more about the new planting on Disciples Today.