Man Raised in Cult That Taught Female Leader Was Reincarnation of Jesus Now Follows the Real Christ

(The Christian Institute) A man forced to live in an Australian drug-taking cult until he was rescued at 15 says Jesus Christ healed the damage he suffered.

Ben Shenton was handed over to cult leader Anne Hamilton-Bryce at just 18 months old. In the years that followed, he and other children were abused and indoctrinated.

But now, more than 30 years after police freed him from the cult, he says knowing Jesus has given him lasting transformation.

The Family – as the cult was called – believed Hamilton-Bryce was a reincarnation of Jesus Christ and would help to re-educate people after an apocalyptic event.

Continue reading this story >>

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7 Common Denominators of Great Diets

There are so many conflicting diets on the market that often do help people that it can get very confusing trying to determine what you should and should not eat. There are some common denominators that run through the best ones.

I was just asked to compare the McDougal diet with The Schwarzbein Principle II.

The McDougall program is vegetarian and consists of no more than 5% fat, 7-15% protein (none from meat) and 75-90% carbohydrates. In the Schwarzbein Principle, the author recommends eating a balance of the four food groups in every meal. Then there’s the ketogenic diet, which has a target of 70% fat, 25% protein and 5% carbohydrates.

The amazing thing is that people’s health improves on each of these diets! How can that be? Well, below is my suggestion, which has been reviewed and perfected by Marcia Upson, a close friend and creator of the program "Eat Like A Slim" which has helped vast multitudes lose weight and improve their health.

7 Common Health-Promoting Denominators Great Diets Agree On

  1. Drop sugar, replacing it with stevia and monk fruit.
  2. Drop processed foods, replacing them with organic whole foods.
  3. Supplement with food-based vitamins, as food no longer contains sufficient nutrition.
  4. Drink six to eight glasses of filtered water a day.
  5. Get eight hours of sound sleep each night.
  6. Replace calorie counting with eating slowly, taking at least 20 minutes to eat a meal and stopping when comfortably full.
  7. Replace stress/inflammation with prayer and meditation.

In addition, I have chosen to also honor the following health promoting principles

  1. I don’t feel I need to be committed to four food groups, as the U.S. government sure isn’t, nor is God. America didn’t always have four food groups. There have been 12 food groups, then seven, then four and currently, there are five. God initially promoted a vegetarian diet (Gen. 1:29, 2:9) and after the flood, He added meat (Gen. 9:1-4). (Note that in the Law, He limited animal consumption to only "clean" animals.) Butter, cheese and goat milk also appear to have been eaten (Deut. 32:14).
  2. Avoid risky behaviors (adultery and fornication) and replace with faithfulness to your marriage partner (Prov. 20:14).
  3. Avoid smoking, alcohol and other unhealthy drinks and replace with healthy teas and green drinks with lots of vegetables as well as fruit.
  4. Smile and laugh—"a merry heart does good like a medicine" (Prov. 17:22).
  5. Fasting (anything from one meal to three days, five days, 10 days, 21 days or up to 40 days). Fast, and your health will spring forth speedily (see Isa. 58:8). One form of fasting is eating in an eight-hour window each day. This is excellent for health. Marcia Upson says, "This is excellent for health and can greatly reduce metabolic syndrome."
  6. Celebrate relationships, love and companionship (Eph. 4:3)
  7. Listen to your body; eat only when you are hungry. For most people, this will be two meals a day (Marcia Upson). Stop eating when you are no longer hungry. Drink two glasses of water when you get up. This could probably replace breakfast.
  8. My body needs to consume healthy fats, which include more monounsaturated fats than polyunsaturated fats and saturated fats in moderation. Avoid man-made and modified fats such as hydrogenated oils. Cook with saturated fats and monounsaturated fats, as they are more resistant to heat damage. Do not use "fat-free" products, as the fat is usually replaced with sugars.
  9. Pray and believe for miracles and gifts of healings (1 Cor. 12:28).

Marcia Upson (MS, APRN, Family Nurse Practitioner-Certified)

Marcia has devoted her life to holistic health care, and she adds the following valuable insights:

I like to say that your body knows how to be a body. We just haven’t listened to it in years! Is it saying I am full, but you still have to loosen your belt to eat more? Are you drinking sugared soda or foodm and then your body feels sluggish afterwards? Do you fall asleep in seconds at night because you haven’t been resting properly?

God designed our bodies to heal themselves but we have to tune into them.

Mark has made listening to your body very easy by giving you the guidelines above. A healthier lifestyle takes time and diligence. You will fail, eat something you wish you hadn’t and eat way too much of it. Just wait until you get hungry again to eat your next meal and practice the principles Mark has given you.

Ask God to reveal to you what areas you need to work on and then go for it. It takes planning, and it takes practice; it won’t just happen. So, plan your meals, get the junk food out of your home and ask your family or a buddy to work the guidelines above with you. Set a date, like your next birthday, and decide what changes you want to have made. You are worth it!

Mark Virkler, Ph.D., has authored more than 50 books in the areas of hearing God’s voice and spiritual growth. He is the founder of Communion With God Ministries (cwgministries.org) and Christian Leadership University (cluonline.com), where the voice of God is at the center of every learning experience. Mark has taught on developing intimacy with God and spiritual healing for 30-plus years on six continents. The message has been translated into over 50 languages, and he has helped to establish more than 250 church-centered Bible schools around the world.

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Prophetic Word: The Lord Told Me, ‘The Waves Are Coming’

Recently the Lord spoke to me in a time of prayer and said, "The waves are coming." As the Lord spoke this to me, I saw a vision of waves rolling into a shoreline, one after another. As the Lord continued to speak to me about this, I heard, "Are people really in position to receive what is coming towards them?"

My wife, Autumn, and I, love the beach and love to visit the ocean. If we are up on the balcony of a resort, we can hear the waves and see them rolling up onto the shore. If we’re on the beach soaking in the sun, we can hear and see the waves, but the details are much clearer because we are closer.

But unless we get out into the water, we will not be able to feel the waves crashing in over and over again. I believe that this word from the Lord is similar to this. We must properly position ourselves to experience the waves God is sending to His people in this season. I believe that there are 10 things we can expect as the waves begin to crash in on our lives as the Lord has promised.

The first thing we should expect is to receive more prophetic dreams. The second thing we can expect is to hear more clearly and more frequently prophetically. The third thing we can expect is that the waves coming in will carry in kingdom finances. I believe we can expect these waves to be waves of provision. The fourth thing we can expect to see as the Lord sends these waves is strong friendships being established or reestablished. In life and in ministry, true friends are sometimes hard to come by. It is so important to surround yourself with people you can run with and do life with.

I also believe these are waves of revelation. The fifth thing we can expect is for the waves that are coming to carry new insight, wisdom and revelation into our lives. When we read the Word, we will understand it and have fresh revelation of what God is speaking. These waves of revelation will impart strategic wisdom that we need for different situations. The sixth thing we can expect from the coming waves is to experience greater peace. The waves will bring in the peace of God that surpasses all understanding no matter what circumstance we may find ourselves in.

The seventh thing to expect is joy. No matter what is happening in the natural, these waves will bring in unconditional and unshakeable joy. The joy of the Lord will be our strength in this season.

The eighth thing we can expect with the coming waves are waves of excitement. Anytime we choose to obey the Lord, we will experience the excitement that comes from following God. The ninth thing we can expect is to encounter God. God is releasing fresh encounters over many people in the season. The waves that are coming are full of true, powerful encounters with the Lord. One encounter with God can shift everything in your life.

And finally, the 10th thing we can expect is strength. Anytime God pours out His Spirit, favor, power or revelation, the enemy will try to fight it. However, even if we experience warfare in this season, the waves are bringing in supernatural strength.

The waves are coming, and we must properly position ourselves to experience everything God wants to accomplish in and through us during this time.

Get ready, my friends! The waves are coming, and the tide is changing. This is a powerful season that we must not miss out on!

Joe Joe Dawson is the founder and apostle of ROAR Apostolic Network and ROAR Church Texarkana. Joe Joe is married to the love of his life, Autumn Dawson, and they have three children: Malachi, Judah and Ezra. The Dawsons live and teach a lifestyle of revival and awakening. Their desire is to see every believer fulfill their God-given destiny and live life to the fullest in God. Joe Joe is also the author of Living Your God-Sized Dream and Recipe for Revival. To connect with Joe Joe or for more information, visit joejoedawson.net.

For the original article, visit joejoedawson.net.

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Kids Heading Back to School? Cling to These Biblical Promises

It’s back-to-school time for many—a flurry of school supplies, schedule adjustments and, sadly, safety anxieties.
Will it be like last year?
Will be better?
In the midst of chaos, God’s promises are our best protection—His fidelity of faithfulness as armor—that surrounds us like a large shield, firmly affixed.
Psalm 91:4 (TPT) assures us, "His massive arms are wrapped around you, protecting you. You can run under his covering of majesty and hide. His arms of faithfulness are a shield keeping you from harm."
Therefore, back to school is a time of grace to pray, believe and receive God’s promises.
"This is the reason I urge you to boldly believe for whatever you ask for in prayer—be convinced that you have received it and it will be yours" (Mark 11:24).
"And now out of his fullness we are fulfilled! And from him we receive grace heaped upon more grace" (John 1:16).
As we head into our new assignments of learning and growing, it’s good to know that we can experience God’s faithful assurance continually in our journey, beyond a single object or eventas we learn to trust Him at more of His truth.
This is where we grow our shield of faith.
So what’s to worry?
"Jesus replied, ‘You don’t understand yet the meaning of what I’m doing, but soon it will be clear to you’" (John 13:7).
We can always trust Him in this next level of opportunity process whereby He trains us, develops us, tests us and establishes us.
Stronger in Him.
Knowing Him more.
To better equip us to do what He called us to do in this life as our classroom, where our commitment to His character and ways are proven.
Therefore, God’s faithfulness is necessary for our victory.
Found in the armor of His blood covenant, God’s faithfulness is a battle strategy of running to Him, hiding in Him and receiving from Him to progress and finish our race by His strength, not ours.
His faithfulness is a post of revelation for reformation, perpetual truth that travels with us and a marker for excellence in the making. It is a place of support, a respite in our marathon and a divine task and object that guards us.
God’s faithfulness is always available as the armor that sustains us completely. When we believe and walk in the Spirit of truth, faith and grace, we can hold to our shield and watch His love for us unfold.
Beautifully.
No matter what.
It’s worth going back to. {eoa}
Margaret D. Mitchell is the founder of God’s Love at Work, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that champions Christian women and their outreach in the world with the love of Jesus Christ. Follow her revelatory writings at godsloveatwork.com and margaretdmitchell.com.
This article originally appeared at margaretdmitchell.com.

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3 Key Questions to Help You Remove Generational Sin by Its Roots

When Steve and I were first married, we thought it would be great fun to plant a garden. We rototilled a huge plot of land and eagerly planted lots of vegetables. But life got busy: I was teaching school, and Steve was pastoring a church and working towards his master’s in seminary. One day as we sat down to dinner, we looked out the back window to discover that the weeds in our garden had grown to at least a foot tall!

Because we lived in a farming community, Steve was embarrassed by our weeds. We didn’t want the local farmers to know that their new young pastor didn’t know how to take care of a garden. So Steve chose the quickest solution possible: He mowed our entire garden.

Looking back, I imagine the farmers got a big kick out of seeing Steve mowing his entire vegetable garden. And in just a few days, not only were all the vegetables dead, but the weeds had grown again. To this day, we’re still not very good at keeping plants alive!

Our hearts are a lot like a garden. If we aren’t willing to face the truth about the lies we have believed and to pull up those lies by the root, those lies will strangle out the truth in our hearts.

Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in heart" (Matt. 5:8a). The Greek word for "pure" here is the word katharos, which means "being cleansed." In other words, this isn’t a one-time deal. You won’t be able to achieve complete holiness this side of heaven. Now, having said that, let me remind you that when God looks at you, He sees the righteousness of Jesus Christ. But in order to keep your heart pure, you will need to continually uproot sin in your life—even generational sin. In Rewriting Your Emotional Script (Navpress 2008) I defined generational sin as:

A sinful pattern passed down from one generation to another.

Author Scott Peck wrote that coming "to terms with evil in one’s parentage is perhaps the most difficult and painful psychological tasks a human being can be called on to face." But if we are going to live pure in heart, we are going to have to face the sinful patterns in our family of origin and then choose differently.

God called Abram to leave his country and his family (Gen. 12:1-4). God wasn’t just calling Abraham to kiss Mom and Dad goodbye; He was calling him to leave that family system behind and to embrace the ways of God in his life.

For you and I, how do we uproot generational sin in our lives and embrace God’s ways instead? This can be a difficult process. It is a process that begins with a few good reflective questions:

What are the secrets of my family tree? Secrets in family systems generally point to sinful patterns. They include things like sexual immorality, abortion, alcohol abuse or drug abuse. Often families hide these issues. But here’s the thing: Secrets usually involve sin, and what’s left hidden can’t be healed. Don’t disown your family, but step away from patterns of sin that are accepted by your family.

Is there a pattern of behavior I am trying to keep hidden? This question digs a bit deeper than the first. It encourages you to be truthful with yourself. If you’re hiding something, it’s probably not good. Practice coming before the Lord with the prayer of David: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my concerns, and see if there is any rebellious way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Ps. 139:23-24).The practice of opening ourselves up to be examined by the Holy Spirit is a good practice.

Is there anyone I have wronged? If so, I need to apologize and make amends.Emotionally healthy people apologize when they’ve wronged another. Defensive people have difficulty apologizing because they can’t admit they’re wrong. When we begin to grow in Christ, we realize that part of God’s growth plan in our lives is for us to take responsibility for our mistakes and messes. There is always grace in God’s kingdom! So if you lose your temper with your kids, apologize and make amends. If you lie to a co-worker, confess and make it right. If you have wronged anyone, simply apologize. You’ll be respected for your transparency.

Friend, we need to stay on top of weeding out the sinful patterns of our hearts, or else sin will start to take over. However, there is always grace in God’s presence. We never need to be afraid that He will reject us for our honesty. As the apostle John says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). {eoa}

Becky Harling, an author, certified speaker, leadership coach and trainer with the John Maxwell Team, is an energetic and motivational international speaker inspiring audiences to overcome their greatest life challenges and reach their full God-given potential. Her most recent book is How to Listen So People Will Talk. Her husband,Steve Harling, is the president of Reach Beyond, a nonprofit organization seeking to be the voice and hands of Jesus around the world. Connect with Becky at beckyharling.com, Facebook or Twitter.

This article originally appeared at beckyharling.com.

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Bethel Church Suggests ‘LGBTQ+’ People ‘Who Feel Fulfilled and Happy As You Are’ Don’t Need to Change or Repent

REDDING, Calif. — Bethel Church, led by Bill Johnson, is raising new concerns after it posted to its Facebook page on Thursday that its program for those who struggle with homosexuality has never had the message of “all must change,” suggesting that those who “feel fulfilled and happy as [they] are” aren’t required by God to repent.

“God loves all people, LGBTQ+ and straight. The message of CHANGED has never been ‘All Must Change,’” it wrote. “We share these stories specifically for Christians who are unfulfilled in identifying as LGBTQ+. For those of you who feel fulfilled and happy as you are, we love you!”

“God doesn’t force people to change, and people — including Christians — shouldn’t force others to change, either. We stand against any and all forms of shame, manipulation, force, humiliation, or physical harm in so-called ‘ministry’ or therapy,” Bethel continued. “CHANGED is a safe space for Christians seeking an alternative to LGBTQ+ as they follow their faith according to their personal convictions.”

View the post here.

This is a breaking news story. Please continue to check back for updates. 

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Where the Spirit of Rejection May Be Lurking in Your Life

We all long to be loved and accepted. It is part of our human nature. As children, we strive to fit in with our peers, and I believe it follows us into our adulthood. But, now as Christians, how does that impact our lives and ministry?

In the marketplace and ministry, there is unhealthy competition and jealousy. In the marketplace, it manifests by competing and striving to see who can produce more sales or impress the boss. In ministry, we are in competition and a power struggle to see who is more anointed, who has the leaders favor and who gets to prophesy and preach.

Ministry and marketplace aren’t so different. In the marketplace, we long to climb the corporate ladder, but in ministry, we are also aiming for elevation desiring to be titled elder, deacon, pastor, prophet, evangelist or apostle.

What are the motives behind our spiritual elevation, and why do we have an unhealthy need to rise to the top as fast as we can? Jesus came to be a servant and serve humbly. While I do believe in titles and the fivefold office, our first and foremost desire should be to be a servant as Jesus came to model.

What is the driving force behind our desire for elevation and the need to be accepted and have your anointing valued? As I’ve been part of thousands of deliverance sessions, one of the most common root causes of rejection is that the person’s pastor or ministry leader didn’t "value their anointing or were jealous of what they carried spiritually."

This is wrong thinking. When we are allowing those thoughts to penetrate our soul and spirit, we should take a step back and evaluate ourselves, our motives and allow the Holy Spirit to convict us. A spirit of rejection is behind those thoughts.

When we have been repeatedly rejected, we have an unhealthy need for acceptance and today that is playing out in the church. Social media is a place believers can self-title and elevate themselves to any position they desire and post spiritual posts to receive acceptance. They can and do find value in how many shares and likes their posts get and consider themselves accepted.

The truth is, rejection is flaming hot in their lives. Hurts, abuses and emotional trauma from past relationships are at the core of this unhealthy and unproductive drive for elevation. Until we are spiritually and emotionally healed from trauma, betrayal and rejection, the cycle will spin in an unfruitful manner, causing destruction on future relationships and wreaking havoc on our lives.

Spend some time self-evaluating and allow the Holy Spirit to lead you through forgiving those who have hurt you, releasing the offender from the offense and repenting of any ungodly and prideful desires and ambitions you have to move forward as fast you can to be accepted and elevated.

Allow the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to come and heal those hurts. Ask Jesus to root out the spirit of rejection so you can move forward in ministry in purity and holiness. Learn more about rooting out rejection and spiritual warfare tactics in my book, Discerning and Destroying the Works of Satan, and listen to my podcast show, "Prophetic Spiritual Warfare," on the Charisma Podcast Network.

Kathy DeGraw is a prophetic deliverance minister releasing the love and power of God, to ignite and activate people, release prophetic destinies and deliver people from the bondage of the enemy. She is the founder of Kathy DeGraw Ministries and Be Love Outreach. She is the author of several books, including Speak Out, Discerning and Destroying the Works of Satan, Identity Invasion, Who is Speaking? and Warfare Declarations. You can connect with Kathy on Facebook or visit kathydegrawministries.org.

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The Five Heart Hopes: How God Speaks the Love Language of Our Souls

God speaks into the unique longings deep within each of us.

I was a newly married man when I first heard the phrase ‘The Five Love Languages.’

The concept put so much into perspective for me, both for myself and for my understanding of how to love my wife. I’m grateful that I encountered Dr. Gary Chapman’s simple little test that has helped me to see why I need ‘words of affirmation’ in order to feel loved. I understand that my words of affirmation to my wife, however, fall flat and that she doesn’t feel love from me in the same way I do.

My wife feels my love when I share ‘acts of service’ with her and my son through ‘quality time’ and my daughters through ‘gifts,’ (of course!). The point is that we all need love—we crave it—but we experience it deep in our souls through different ways. Dr. Chapman has helped the world understand this through a simple and powerful construct—the Five Love Languages!

I believe that there is an associated concept to the Five Love Languages that can be equally powerful when it comes to helping people experience God’s love. God, in fact, is fluent in our love language and is striving to make himself known to us in a way that is radically oriented around our deepest soul longing.

I believe that every single one of us has a love language and that God speaks it to us in a way that we can understand. In many ways, we cry out to God through our love language with what I call our ‘Heart Hope.’

A Heart Hope is a specific type of longing that is associated with our love language. It is the question behind the question, the drive that fuels our lives and, as you probably guessed, there are five of them!

I believe these Five Heart Hopes drive us and our …

Continue reading

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Prophecy: ‘God Is Restoring the Dignity of Prophets in Our Time’

I was sitting on a plane, and I had about 20 text messages come through, each one a more important testimony or story than the last about how different friends had encountered actual prophets in our day who gave them prophetic words.

These words all had stories attached, and each prophet had brought different people into a place of great authority and connection in their sphere of society. Each one was a testimony of how the prophet had affected their life and how the outcome was forever different because of the word they had received.

I was so excited because it wasn’t just spiritual encouragement. I heard them talking about different men and women whom God is raising up or has raised up as prophets and how prophets are alive and well in our time.

I then heard clearly in my spirit that God is restoring the dignity of prophets in our time.

Who Are Prophets, Anyway?

Prophets in the Old Testament were the most sought-after people when anyone faced transition, crises or national purposes in Israel and beyond.

The prophets were the hosts of God’s thoughts, and when people met with them, this omnipresent God made an appearance through His prophets in a way that proved that He cared very deeply about those who sought after Him.

In the New Testament, we see the prophets carry another equally important role—to help establish God’s kingdom in all the world.

They were the ones who helped the rest of Christians navigate their revelation and prophetic journey.

The world is so hungry for the divine counsel of the Holy Spirit. When you meet with Him, what normally takes a year of counseling, an expensive business coach, a life coach or an educational process can happen in a moment.

Counterfeit Prophets

Think about the multi-billion-dollar industry of psychics, new age, mediums and the occult.

Why are they so present in society?

Because people are looking for spiritual guidance.

People are hungry for spiritual truth that they can apply to their pain, their careers, their identities.

This is such a counterfeit to the ministry of prophets, who bring a connection to God’s original plans and intentions in real time through the Spirit of God. And He does it free through His prophets!

James W. Goll is the president of God Encounters Ministries and has traveled around the world sharing the love of Jesus, imparting the power of intercession, prophetic ministry and life in the Spirit. He has recorded numerous classes with corresponding study guides and is the author of more than 40 books, including The Seer, The Lost Art of Intercession, The Coming Israel Awakening and The Lifestyle of a Prophet. James is the father of four wonderful children with a growing number of grandchildren, and makes his home in Franklin, Tennessee.

For the original article, visit godencounters.com.

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Churches Must Respond to These 7 Massive Changes

Last week in my webinar about retirement paths for pastors and church staff, I shared about the current collision of two major forces in the church: the significant increase in those headed toward retirement, and massive changes we are seeing in local churches.

Had we talked about these massive changes 20-30 years ago, most people wouldn’t have given them much thought because the concepts were so foreign to how we "did church" a generation or two ago.

Today, these are not just understandable concepts. They are the norm. These seven massive changes are dramatically shaping our churches today.

  1. The Death of Cultural Christianity: When I pastored, there were several members who were not Christians yet were still members of the church. These unregenerate church members used their church affiliation for social status. Now, cultural Christianity is no longer the norm. Churches have seen the exit of 25% or more of their attendees simply because "going to church" is no longer seen as a requirement for social validation.
  2. The Multi Movement: Multi-site. Multi-venue. Multi-service. There are now multiple multis. We have more service times, styles and locations than ever before. Some of these additions have produced good results. Churches are more relevant to their communities, and we have experienced a more diverse expression of musical worship as well. But in some regards, the multi movement has produced what some refer to as an "ecclesiological buffet" for church goers to graze on.
  3. The Shift in Work Habits: If you were to survey your congregation on whether or not they are required to work regularly on Sundays, you’d probably be surprised at how many are forced to miss corporate worship due to work requirements. Because of this, more churches are exploring alternative worship days and times to reach those unable to make it on Sundays due to work. And while Saturday-night services have been around for a few years, Tuesday-night services are becoming more common among many churches.
  4. The Decline of Denominations: Denomination offices, especially Protestant ones, traditionally had a large influence in pastor and interim pastor placement. But as denominational funding and participation has declined, so has denominational influence. Now, churches have a much greater say in picking their leader than they have traditionally had in the past.
  5. The Move to Different Staffing Models:The traditional staffing model is churches are looking to more bivocational and part-time staff to cover what they may have hired full-time ministers for in the past. This has led to new types of staff positions and a greater demand for qualified and trained staff.
  6. The Huge Revitalization and Replanting Movement: Church planting dominated much of the leadership conversation over the past decade—often to the detriment or neglect of traditional churches. Now, leaders are course correcting and starting to resource established churches in need of replanting and revitalization. This course correction is one of the main reasons we started a podcast on replanting and revitalization two years ago and why we founded Revitalize Network last fall.
  7. The Closure of 8,000 to 10,000 Churches a Year: This is the unfortunate result of a lack of emphasis on established churches over the past few decades. Far too many churches have closed and far too much ground has been given up in our communities. It’s time once again for gospel advance in communities where we’ve seen these churches close.

These seven massive shifts continue to impact churches in the United States and beyond. And I truly believe God has placed us here for such a time as this.

The church landscape will continue to change, and leaders must change with it. That’s why we’ve been talking so much this week and last about Interim Pastor University. This training prepares pastors and church staff to work with and help churches to become healthier while they look for new leadership. Enrollment is still open for those who might be interested. You can find out more here.

But regardless of your role in God’s kingdom, we need to understand these changes and how they are affecting our churches. Because only then will we truly be able to respond and grow healthy churches … together. {eoa}

Thom S. Rainer is the founder and CEO of Church Answers, an online community and resource for church leaders. Prior to founding Church Answers, he served as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art and Jess; and 10 grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.

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Rev. William Barber calls on Democrats to host debate on poverty, racism

(RNS) — The progressive activist and pastor called on Democratic Party leaders to do more to address the concerns of poor and low-income Americans.

The post Rev. William Barber calls on Democrats to host debate on poverty, racism appeared first on Religion News Service.

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Mexican Pastor Shot to Death in His Car After Church Service

(Christian Solidarity Worldwide) A pastor from the Fraternidad Cristiana church was shot and killed in Oaxaca, south-west Mexico, on Aug. 18.

Alfrery Líctor Cruz Canseco was waiting in his car after a church service at the Fraternidad Cristiana church in the municipality of Tlalixtac de Cabrera when he was shot and killed. His attacker attempted to escape, but was prevented from doing so by members of the congregation, and subsequently handed over to the authorities.

The motive for the murder is not yet known; however, it follows a series of attacks targeting religious leaders, including the enforced disappearance of Pastor Aarón Méndez Ruiz on Aug. 3.

CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “We extend our deepest condolences to the family and congregation of Pastor Cruz Canseco. We also remain concerned for the wellbeing of Pastor Méndez Ruiz and urge the Mexican government to spare no effort in ensuring his safe return, investigating all of these crimes and prosecuting those responsible.”

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Hundreds of Additional PragerU Videos Blocked by YouTube Ahead of Court Hearing Tuesday

Hundreds more PragerU videos have been discovered to be restricted by YouTube just days before lawyers present opening arguments at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday in PragerU’s lawsuit against the social media giant.

A recent count revealed over 240 PragerU videos are restricted by YouTube, including over 100 of the organization’s popular five-minute videos. Among these are several videos from a series on the Ten Commandments presented by Dennis Prager, which cover concepts such as "Do Not Misuse God’s Name," "Do Not Steal" and "Do Not Covet."

"YouTube continues to pretend to be politically neutral, while there is more evidence every day that they are targeting conservatives" Craig Strazzeri, PragerU’s CMO, said. "Why else would they restrict access to five of our videos on the Ten Commandments?"

PragerU has invited social media users to "Stand with PragerU" in the days leading up to its court hearing. Supporters are asked to add a graphic to their social media profile pictures with the message "Hey Google … Stop Censoring PragerU #StandwithPragerU."

PragerU supporters can acquire the social media filters here.

Opening oral arguments will be presented at 9 a.m. PDT before the Ninth Circuit Court in Seattle Tuesday, Aug. 27. Following the hearing, lead PragerU Attorney Eric George, along Strazzeri, will deliver prepared statements and take questions from media during a press conference to be held outside the courthouse.

ng up to its court hearing. Supporters are asked to add a graphic to their social media profile pictures with the message "Hey Google … Stop Censoring PragerU #StandwithPragerU."

PragerU supporters can acquire the social media filters here.

Opening oral arguments will be presented at 9 a.m. PT before the Ninth Circuit Court in Seattle Tuesday, Aug. 27. Following the hearing, lead PragerU Attorney Eric George, along Strazzeri, will deliver prepared statements and take questions from media during a press conference to be held outside the courthouse.

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Hundreds of Additional PragerU Videos Blocked by YouTube Ahead of Court Hearing Tuesday

Hundreds more PragerU videos have been discovered to be restricted by YouTube just days before lawyers present opening arguments at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday in PragerU’s lawsuit against the social media giant.

A recent count revealed over 240 PragerU videos are restricted by YouTube, including over 100 of the organization’s popular five-minute videos. Among these are several videos from a series on the Ten Commandments presented by Dennis Prager, which cover concepts such as "Do Not Misuse God’s Name," "Do Not Steal" and "Do Not Covet."

"YouTube continues to pretend to be politically neutral, while there is more evidence every day that they are targeting conservatives" Craig Strazzeri, PragerU’s CMO, said. "Why else would they restrict access to five of our videos on the Ten Commandments?"

PragerU has invited social media users to "Stand with PragerU" in the days leading up to its court hearing. Supporters are asked to add a graphic to their social media profile pictures with the message "Hey Google … Stop Censoring PragerU #StandwithPragerU."

PragerU supporters can acquire the social media filters here.

Opening oral arguments will be presented at 9 a.m. PDT before the Ninth Circuit Court in Seattle Tuesday, Aug. 27. Following the hearing, lead PragerU Attorney Eric George, along Strazzeri, will deliver prepared statements and take questions from media during a press conference to be held outside the courthouse.

ng up to its court hearing. Supporters are asked to add a graphic to their social media profile pictures with the message "Hey Google … Stop Censoring PragerU #StandwithPragerU."

PragerU supporters can acquire the social media filters here.

Opening oral arguments will be presented at 9 a.m. PT before the Ninth Circuit Court in Seattle Tuesday, Aug. 27. Following the hearing, lead PragerU Attorney Eric George, along Strazzeri, will deliver prepared statements and take questions from media during a press conference to be held outside the courthouse.

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