Sierra Club Online Communities

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Sierra Club Online Communities.


Pastor murdered

Like millions of others I was saddened to hear of Rev. Dr. Fred Winter’s
murder in the pulpit of First Baptist Church of Maryville, Illinois, on Sunday, March 8, 2009. Daily
headlines document how religions elsewhere in the world may respond to threats, real or perceived.10
How would First Baptist members respond? Their website faith statement on Scripture is explicitly
inerrantist,11 in keeping with this church’s membership in the Southern Baptist Convention, North
America’s largest Protestant denomination. Having learned the dangers of inerrancy from McGowan,
one might well fear the worst from this mid-American, conservative enclave.
Here is how their faith in the Bible played out. At a prayer vigil on the very day of the murder, a
capacity crowd met in a nearby church (with “cradled Bibles” according to a news report) and heard
their surviving pastor reassure them from Scripture that “Pastor Fred is in that place that we call heaven.”
Scant hours following the murder, the church website posted a call to prayer—including prayer “for the
assailant himself and his family.” In the sort of area where Barack Obama noted that people cling to
their guns and religion, Jesus’ teaching to love and pray for enemies is front and center. The anguish and
uncertainty of the hour were palpable in the statement. Yet,
. . . one thing is certain, we, as human beings need a foundation upon which we can live
our lives. We at First Baptist Maryville, along with other Christian believers, share this
conviction: that foundation is God’s Word. In the pages of the Book we call the Bible, we
find the pathway for peace, hope, and a quality of living life despite what circumstances
we find ourselves in.12
Before evangelicals jettison inerrancy as McGowan calls for, there needs to be careful recollection
of why the faithful have clung to the notion so doggedly through the centuries, how it functions in the
lives of saved sinners in this world of frequent grief and loss, and whether an ethereal God who speaks
in Scripture, but whose voice is not congruent with Scripture, will prove to be the God of Jesus Christ,
who stated, “I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me
a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know his commandment is eternal life. What
I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me” (John 12:49–50). The primary access we have to Jesus
and to God through him is Scripture’s testimony (and other means of grace testified to by Scripture:
the Holy Spirit, prayer, the sacraments, and so forth). On whose authority do we conclude that this
Scripture may not be free from material error?


Today’s Teens: Current Stats and Their Implications

Today’s Teens: Current Stats and Their Implications
What we call them — Generation Y, Millennials, or Echo Boomers — matters little. That we reach them matters a lot! To those in youth ministry, this generation of teenagers, about 31 million, stands as the target of our efforts. Already, Generation Y has one million more members than did the baby boomers (1946-1964). And they’re growing! In fact, the teen population is expected to peak at 35 million by 2010.1

Though trends and statistics shouldn’t define our message, they can help us improve our methods. With this in mind, here’s a look at some recent teen statistics2, as well as the pros and cons which accompany the trends.

1. The average teen possesses about $90 week in discretionary money.
Pros: With more money and time than any generation before, today’s teens respond favorably to groups which demand a lot. Go for the jugular and set the bar high. It’s not only the leaders who are tired of low-level teams and uncommitted groups; our young people are frustrated, too, with low expectations. Of course, this current generation won’t take these high demands sitting down! They’ve got to be up and moving, out of their seat and on their feet. Demanding service projects and intense challenges draw the best from every teen, and these will be characteristic of futuristic youth ministries.
Cons: Consumerism and materialism continue to lead the list of evils brought about by affluence. Because most teens know, in the retail arena, several options exist for every purchase, this same attitude creeps into their search for a church. “What’s in it for me?” becomes the litmus test for many potential youth group members, as opposed to “where can I serve others most effectively?” The challenge of the next decade will be finding ways to counteract consumerism while staying relevant and up-to-date.
2. 48% of teens have considerable input into family decisions and purchases.
Pros: The days of the “Lone Ranger” youth pastor are gone, not only because it doesn’t work over the long haul, but also due to the fact that most students simply won’t tolerate dictatorial, one-man operations. They want ownership and input! While the philosophy behind peer leadership and student-led ministry is not new, those implementing it effectively are still in the minority. This observation crystallizes: There are still too many youth pastors/youth leaders pretending to be “pied pipers for teens, handling all the details of the ministry with their melodic image of charisma while their teens follow inactively, though willingly, in the background. Consequently, many youth groups are still spitting out spectators. If we’re really disciple-makers, then let us act on that calling and incorporate our disciples into the process, not as an audience, but as a team.Essentially, the problem with gaining input and active leadership from students rests with the leaders, not the students. Our teens are ready and willing; few adults are. Unfortunately, many leaders are simply too afraid and insecure to allow young, emerging student leaders the opportunity to influence others. Why? Because it may mean failure, which would blow an image. How sad! Giving students the platforms and opportunities necessary to create God-honoring ministries will be a key ingredient in the future look of youth ministries.

Cons: Because people sometimes aren’t heard and often don’t get their way, boycotts, strikes, and picket lines are becoming more common. “If they don’t listen,” they reason, “we’ll quit!” In fact, just this month in my city, members of a prominent west-side high school boycotted club pictures due to an administrative decision they felt was “unjust.”3 Yes, leaders need to listen. But they must still lead the way, even at times when their decisions aren’t liked by a culture or clientele out of touch with God.
3. 37,000 teenagers die each year, of which 30% are killed in car crashes related to alcohol. Additionally, teens account for more than one million unintended pregnancies and 3 million cases of STD’s each year.
Pros: There is hardly a way to put a positive spin on these figures. Of course, if the cold, hard facts tell us anything, it’s this: Nothing takes the place of a caring, human being! Programs and events are fine, but it’s the one-on-one relationships, with God as the centerpiece, which make youth ministry fruitful. Above all else, connect your teens to people who can help connect them to God!
Cons: Addictions to destructive and dysfunctional behaviors abound, and few teens involved in these actions seem to be finding the adult-connectedness they need to carry them through the turbulent teen years. In fact, a recent YLC survey found that, of students with recurring problems involving alcohol, drugs, or pre-marital sex, 80% had no significant adult to whom they could turn. Combined with the breakdown of the family and the overall disintegration of authority in our society, you can see why youth ministries highlighting personal development through the supernatural power of God will thrive beyond the year 2000.
4. 82% of teens use the Internet, a cell phone, and/or pager in a routine week.
Pros: More than any generation before, these students will be able to use their technical skills exponentially for the good of God’s kingdom and world evangelization. Teach and train students how to fuse technology and theology.
Cons: Our entertainment age has undermined honest and transparent communication within relationships. People can talk yet never meet, fall in “cyber” love, or verbally slam another individual in complete anonymity, all from their computer. The downside of all this technology is we’re fastly becoming, not just non-relational, but anti-relational. This is unhealthy, not to mention unbiblical.

Two choices confront you: Avoid adapting to the trends and retreat into the past, or act aggressively leading your group toward the future. Let us refuse to wait in fear, but rather respond proactively to the current culture with methods reflecting both the Gospel and this generation.

1USA Today. October 6, 1998.
2USA Today. October 5, 1998.
3Des Moines Register. October 13, 1998.

Todd @


1. We want to be able to connect and influence as many rising freshman as possible to love and serve Jesus. To do this we need to know who they are, if you would, please tell them about the “THRiVE College & Career” facebook group and tell them to join so they can get plugged in and know what is going on at WCU & SCC. If you want to send me their names I will find them on facebook (facebook stalk *smile) and invite them to be my friend, and join the “THRiVE College&Career” group. THX!

2. DO NOT MISS THIS!!! Passion 2010 Conference, Search “Passion 2010” in the Facebook search bar, or look on my wall for the Passion 2010 Event! 4 Days, 3 Nights in Atlanta! 24/7 Jesus! It is going to be awesome!
MORE INFO at my blog,

3. Bible Study this Sunday Night July 19th-Aug. 9th at my house next door to Webster Baptist Church near the campus of WCU. Come one come all. 8pm start time! Bring a Bible!

4. Invitation to complete a long and boring but important survey…

I’m doing research in a controversial area: the relationship between Christianity (endorsement of the central tenets of Christianity) and attitudes toward homosexual people apart or separate from attitudes toward homosexuality as a lifestyle. Most research does not make that distinction. Now, I need a sample of self-identified and “active” Christians to compare to a secular sample. That’s where students involved in THRIVE (you’re the Christian sample) can be a great help to me and this body of research more generally. I have already collected measures of attitudes toward homosexuals and homosexuality among a secular sample.

Please consider completing one or both of the surveys below. Each survey should take about 20 minutes. Your responses will be kept completely anonymous and confidential so please respond candidly.

Thank you so much. Your participation is a great help.

Tom Ford

Grace & Peace

Jason Speier & the entire THRiVE Team



Garrett is a 15-year old boy living in the Alaskan wilderness with a menagerie of orphaned animals. Growing up close with nature has given him a deep understanding of nutritional needs required by diet sensitive animals on the reserve. Unfortunately, the untimely and tragic death of his mother propelled him into a downward spiral and he risked flunking out of school. This led to his father’s decision to home-school Garrett. His first assignment was to study a controversial book written by Dr. Max Gerson. Written over 50 years ago, Dr. Gerson found that diet could, and did, cure cancer. Controversial at the time (and even today), Garrett took on the challenge of researching this amazing therapy, which drew the interest of his neighbors in the small Alaskan community. With the help of Dr. Gerson’s daughter, Charlotte Gerson, and grandson, Howard Strauss, they gave him the ammunition needed to go in search for the truth – a truth that would affect not only him, but his entire Alaskan village – all of whom wanted to know if these claims were true. After a number of cancer patients, who were diagnosed as terminal, shared their stories and their medical records with Garrett, it became abundantly clear that, contrary to the disinformation campaign spear-headed by the multi-billion dollar medical and pharmaceutical industry, a cure for virtually all cancers and chronic diseases does exist – and has existed for over 80 years! Garrett’s mission now is to tell the world. If you enjoy this documentary, please support the filmmakers by purchasing the DVD here: