Preview of the November 2014 Issue
Fear of the e word
Many factors keep believers from sharing their faith.
by Chris Walker
For four friends of mine, what started as a simple subway trip on a vacation in New York became a frightening encounter.
Coming to the big city from small-town America and having seen way too many crime dramas set in New York, they were already afraid of being mugged before they ever stepped foot in the city.
Still, a Saturday morning seemed like a relatively safe time to travel. So that morning the four tourists got onto a subway car with only a handful of other people on board. Just before the doors closed, however, six intimidating-looking men jumped on board. The tourists tensed. One instinctively drew her purse quickly under her arm and snuggled in tighter to her male friend. All four felt a fight-or-flight adrenaline rush.Continue reading
‘And They’ll Know We Are Christian by Our Love’
Being evangelists by being disciples—one young adult pastor’s perspective
by Ginna Bairby
Recently, something very strange has been happening to me. It started in late June, in the days following the conclusion of the 221st General Assembly (2014), and continues to this day: people have been going out of their way to ask me questions about the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
These questions have come from old high school classmates, college friends, even a couple I met at a wedding.
For the most part, these people haven’t been fellow Presbyterians. They haven’t even been friends from other denominations or faith traditions. No, most of these questions are coming from people who either left the church a long time ago or were never a part of organized religion to begin with. These are the notorious “nones,” whose growing numbers have recently garnered considerable media attention.Continue reading
Journeys toward inclusion
People with disabilities answer the Great Commission: ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all’
by Bebe Baldwin and Lisa Larges
Christmas trees piled high on a truck; a pale white moon that haunted sleep; a medic running away from battle—these were Roger Ezell’s recurring dreams. For several months he had unfolded his story, adding a few more details with each retelling. His audience was the Disability Concerns Ministry of the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area (PTCA).
Ezell endured years of tortured sleep before coming to understand his dreams.
The trees were black body bags on a truck in Vietnam. The moon was the face of his first fatality. He was the medic—except in reality he had been decorated twice for valor while running into, not away from, a firefight in Vietnam.Continue reading
One in Mission
An invitation to serve
An unexpected call to discipleship in El Paso takes some Presbyterians to an immigrant refugee center.
by Linda Valentine
When thousands of refugee children and families began to arrive in El Paso in early June—flown there by government officials for processing from other areas along the US–Mexico border—the politics of immigration didn’t much matter to Bill Rose.
“Politically, I’m on the right,” says Bill, “but it’s a moot point when you’re looking people in the eyes. This is not about politics; it’s about people.”
Bill, a recently retired second-grade teacher and a member of Grace Presbyterian Church in El Paso, says he was called to refugee ministry by the leaders of his congregation, notably Andy Lower and Andy’s wife, Jessica Vaughan-Lower, Grace’s pastor.
“Andy just flat out said, ‘Why don’t you come help us,’ and so I did,” says Bill, describing how he came to help provide shelter, clothing, food, medicine, showers, and transportation services to the huge influx of immigrant families. “I never would have gotten into it if Andy hadn’t asked me.”Continue reading
1001 New Worshiping Communities
Faith on tap
Bars open their doors to casual ministries.
by Karen Bosc and Rachel Shussett
When Jeff Ferguson and Cameron Highsmith began brewing beer, they envisioned it as a centering practice while they attended San Francisco Theological Seminary. But the friends soon realized that their hobby could be much more.
“We realized that there’s obviously a disconnect [between Christians and non-Christians],” Ferguson says. “So we asked, ‘How can we build a relationship with people outside the walls of the church so that they understand we’re flawed too?’ ”
The answer, he says, was to organize small groups of people once a week to go to a bar in Boston—their new home after seminary—where they could sip beer and talk about faith. The get-togethers are part of a growing movement to bring various facets of faith to bars, coffeehouses, and other informal gathering places.Continue reading
If the sky falls, does it matter?
A look at the cultural influence Presbyterians can still wield in the 21st century
By Cynthia Holder Rich
All my life people have been talking about the death of the church. Many times I have heard versions of this confidently-spoken doomsday declaration: “If we keep going the way we are, the Presbyterian Church will be dead in 20 years.”
I’m older than 20 . . . so perhaps word of our death is premature.Continue reading
by Angie Andriot
The goal of evangelism is to bring people into Christ’s church through sharing the good news. But in practice, congregations often give far more attention to the message than to the specific people they’re trying to reach. Education research shows that people learn best in student-centered environments. So how can our congregations keep people at the center of evangelism?
We can start by learning about the people we’re seeking. Who are they? What are their desires, frustrations, goals, and beliefs? And how can the church help them?Continue reading
This special issue is a must-read for everyone who wants to better understand young adults and engage them in worship, education, and service.
Presbyterian Today’s 2015 Lenten Devotional—Draw Near—contains Scripture readings, meditations, prayers, and reflection questions for each day of the Lenten season. Pre-order now.
NEW THIRD EDITION. Presbyterians Today’s special issue and guidebook — “Welcome to the Presbyterian Church!” — is a wonderful introduction and overview of all things Presbyterian.
What Presbyterians Believe 2
Volume 2 of Presbyterians Today’s new special issue and guidebook—What Presbyterians Believe 2—brings you even more of our most popular articles all about Presbyterian beliefs, worship, and practice.