May/June 2011: The Culture and the Church




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What’s featured in the May/June 2011 Outreach?

Faith Without Apology, Belief Without Belligerence
5 Evangelical Leaders on the Opportunities of Grace and Truth

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).


It’s not difficult to project ourselves into the mindset of those who read Saint Peter’s letter. In that world, divorce was easy, promiscuity easier. Sexual identity was broadly and loosely defined. Religion was up for grabs, a mishmash of philosophy and diverse spiritual viewpoints: Choose your faith. Any faith. Society was in flux and populations divided themselves along sharp ethnic and economic lines. Against that cultural backdrop, Christians stood out because they did not plot their beliefs and values by societal consensus. And when they lived up to the highest ideals of their calling, they embraced those who were different and loved those who held them in contempt.

Living such a life in such a lifetime sparked the curiosity of onlookers, as it does today. So Peter urged preparedness. Be ready with an answer and don’t hold back, but make it the irresistible answer, the elusive answer: Truth wrapped in grace.

In this, a time similar to Peter’s, we likewise need to be prepared and unhesitating, but with a graceful truthfulness. That’s the message we heard from Debra Hirsch, Pete Wilson, Kerry Shook, Sean McDowell and Michael Emerson—five writers with expertise and personal experience in five critical flash points of the culture war. In the following pages, they offer their thoughts to provoke us to consider the issues of our culture and to respond with compassionate boldness. —James P. Long, Managing Editor  


  • Homosexuality in a Climate of Inclusiveness by Debra Hirsch
  • Promiscuity in a Sex-Charged Culture by Pete Wilson
  • Marriage in a Culture of Divorce by Kerry Shook
  • Religious Diversity in an Age of Relativism by Sean McDowell
  • Changing Demographics in a Context of Fear by Michael Emerson




Additional Resources for the Culture Question

10 Reasons We Miss Christ Among Us by Leonard Sweet

Gabe Lyons The Outreach Interview



PulseOUTREACH TODAY: THEATRICAL PERFORMANCES Lifetree Café PASSION TO ACT Spiritual Business Lunch INFO Gauging Life Satisfaction Faith on the Hill CROSS-CULTURAL Multiethnic Connections CHILDREN Generous Spirit Tween Challenge YOUTH Mentoring Ministry Teen Training SENIORS Lunch Break SOULFIRES Shelene Bryan: Service Through Small Sacrifices 


IdeasFOR ANY CHURCH, ANY SIZE: FOURTH OF JULY EVENTS 5 Things to Do This Summer Cycling Project 6 WAYS TO TUNE OUT DISTRACTION 5 Questions for Hiring Church Plant Staff Hints for Guest Follow-up GET YOUR CHURCH ON FACEBOOK Hosting a Movie Event Creativity with Ed Young SMALL CHURCH, BIG IDEA Four Keys to Small Church Outreach CONNECTIONS Freedom to Flourish at LCBC Church NEW LIFE How three relationships helped Jennifer Z. find Christ in San Diego  EXPONENTIAL CHURCH Support for the Church Planter’s Spouse


VoicesFROM OUTSIDE THE CHURCH: COMMENTS AND PERSPECTIVES, MY LIFE SO FAR What Others Believe—In Their Own Words MYSTERY VISITOR An unchurched person reports on an unannounced visit to a local church. Could it be yours? THE QUESTION How can churches have a stronger, more positive impact on culture?






Ed StetzerED STETZERAs I See It: As president and missiologist-in-residence for LifeWay Research, Ed Stetzer is in a unique position to observe the American church and comment on trends in outreach. More »

Dan KimballDAN KIMBALL—Church on Mission: Santa Cruz, Calif., pastor and author Dan Kimball gives us a look at emerging generations and offers his thoughts on outreach and evangelism in a new world. More »

Brad PowellBRAD POWELL—Leading Change: Pastor and author Brad Powell offers his experience and insights to help churches realize their full potential and guide pastors through all types of church transitions. More »

Mark DeYmazMARK DEYMAZ—Ethnic Blends: Pastor and author Mark DeYmaz urges churches to embrace multiethnic ministry not just for the sake of racial reconciliation, but because that is what the church is called to be. More »



Bobby GruenewaldBOBBY GRUENEWALD—Innovate: pastor, innovation leader Bobby Gruenewald scans the cultural horizon and calls the church to a creative and relevant response.



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