The Religious and Social Crises and Political Consequences

June 20, 2018 by  
Filed under Featured, News

The opening long decade of the 21st century (2000-2012) has been a period of repeated and profound economic and social crises, of serial and prolonged wars and declining living standards for the vast majority of Americans. How have people responded to this crisis? No large scale, long term, socio-political movements have emerged to challenge the bi-partisan dominent classes. For a brief moment the “Occupy Wall Street” movement provided a platform to denounce the 1% super-rich but then faded into memory.

Questions arose whether in the midst of prolonged hardship people would turn to religion for solace, escape into spiritual pietism. The question this essay addresses is whether religion has become the ‘opium of the people’ as Karl Marx suggested or whether religious beliefs and institutions are themselves in crisis, losing their spiritual attraction in the face of their inability to resolve the everyday material needs of a growing army of impoverished, low paid, unemployed and contingent workers and a downwardly mobile middle class. In other words are major religions growing and prospering in our time of permanent economic crise and perpetual wars or are they on the downslope part and parcel of the decline of the US Empire?

According to the latest data as of 2008 the biggest religious group is Christianity with 173.402 million members representing 76% of adult population followed by Judaism with 2.680 million representing 1.2% of the adult population; followed by Eastern religions 1.961 million and representing .9% Muslims 1.349 million representing .6% of adults. The second most populous group after the Christians are those adults who state they have ‘no religion’ 34.169 million or 15%.

Adult Population and Religious Affiliation 1990-2008 (in millions and percentages)

 

1990
Adults
2008
Adults
Numerical
Change
1990 % of
Adults
2008 % of Adults Change in % of Total
Adults 1990-2008
Adult Population 175,440 228,182 30.1%
(All) Christian 151,225 173,402 14.7% 86.2% 76% -10.2%
(All) Jewish 3,137 2,680 -14.6% 1.8% 1.2% -.6%
(All) Eastern 687 1,961 185.4% .4% .9% .5%
(All) Muslim 527 1,349 156% .3% .6% .3%
No Religion 14,331 34,169 138.l4% 8.2% 15% 6.8%

The dynamic trends over time show a declining percentage of adults who are Christians: between 1990-2008 they dropped from 86.2% to 76%; Jews have declined from 1.8% of adult population in 1990 to 1.2% in 2008 and Eastern religion is growing from .4% of adult population to .97% of population. Likewise, the percentage of Muslims in the adult population has grown from .3% in 1990 to .6% in 2008. The percentage of non-religious adult population has increased from 8.2% in 1990 to 15% in 2008.

While both practioners of Christianity and Judaism, as a percentage of the adult population, have declined, there is a sharp divergence in terms of numerical change; between 1990 and 2008 the number of Christians has increased by 2,218 million while the number of Jews has declined by 457 thousand. Judaism is the only one of the major and minor religions to decline in absolute numbers.

The combined number of Eastern and Muslim religious affiliates now exceeds Judaism by 630,000 believers about 30%. Jews today represent only 1.2% of the adult US population compared to 1.5% for Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus. The gap between Christians and non-religious US adults has narrowed over the past 20 years: from 86.2% to 8.2% in 1990 to 76% to 15% in 2008. Among Christians the biggest decline is among ‘mainline protestant churches’ (Methodists, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopalian/ Anglican and United Church of Christ) from 32.8 million in 1998 to 29.4 million in 2008; and among “unspecified Protestants” from 17 million to 5.2 million. The biggest increases are among “non-denominational Christians” rising from 194,000 to 8.03 million believers in 1990-2008, unspecified Christians from 8.1 million to16.4 million and Pentecostals up from 5.7 million in 1990 to 7.9 million in 2008. Catholic and Baptists grew in numbers but barely held their own as a percentage of the adult population.

Analysis of Religious Trends in Political-Economic Context

Contrary to most observers and pundits, the economic crisis has not led to an upsurge in religious memberships or identification – the search for ‘spiritual consolation’ in a time of economic despair. The mainline churches and synagogues do not attract or even keep membership because they have little to offer in material solutions to their members in time of need (mortgage foreclosure, bankruptcies, unemployment, losses of savings, pensions or stocks). Contrary to some pundits even the more otherworldly, apocalyptic, Pentecostal, Charismatic, Born Again Churches while increasing their number have failed to attract a larger percentage of the adult population over the past 20 years; in 1990 they had 3.5% of adults and in 2008 4.4% an increase of .9%.

The crises decade has had several major impacts – it severely weakened religious identity with any specific denomination, it increased religious uncertainty and vastly increased the number and percentage of adult Americans who are no longer religious. Between 1998 and 2008, the percentage of adults in both categories doubled from 10.5% to 20.2%; the numbers increased from 18.34 million to 46 million. It would appear that most of the ‘non-religious’ are drawn from former mainline Christians and Jews.

The rise of non-religious adults between 1990-2008 cannot be related to greater education, urbanization and exposure to rationalist thought which has more or less remained the same over the two decades. What has changed is the rising discontent over declining income among wage and salaried workers, the vast increases in inequality, the perpetual wars and the public discredit of the principle political and economic institutions – Congress is viewed as negatively by 78% of Americans, as are banks, especially Wall Street. The religious institutions and religious faith is increasingly seen as irrelevant at best and complicit in the decay of American living standards and workplace standards. Despite the dramatic increase in ‘non-religious’ Americans close to 75% still claim to be believers of one or another version of Christianity.

The crisis in Judaism is far more severe than even the ‘mainline Christian’ churches. Over the past 20 years the number of adult Jews has declined by about 15%, over 450,000 former Jews ceased to identify as such. Some of the political economic causes for the flight from Judaism may be similar to the Christians. Others may be more specific to Jews: over 50% of Jews marry outside of the synagogue with non-Jews, cause and consequence of ‘defection’. Others may convert to other religions – Oriental or Christian. Some Jewish neo-conservative rabbis and ideologies rant about the threat of ‘assimilation’ being the equivalent of ‘genocide’. Most likely most former Jews have become ‘non-religious’ or secular and some of the reasons may vary. For some, Old Testament bloody tales and Talmudic rulings do not resonate with modern rational thought. Political considerations may also contribute to the sharp decline in self-identifying Jews: the ever tighter links and identity of Israel with Jewish religious institutions, the Israeli flag waiving and unconditional support of Israeli war crimes has repelled many former parishioners, who quietly retire rather than engage in a personally costly spiritual struggle against the formidable pro-Israel apparatus embedded in the inter-locking religious-Zionist networks.

Conclusion

The religious crises, the decline in belief and institutional affiliation, is intimately related to the moral decay in US public institutions and the precipitous decline of living standards. Among Christians the decline is incremental but steady;among Jews it is deeper and more rapid. No ‘alternative religious’ revival is in the horizon. The more fundamentalist Christian groups have responded by becoming more politically involved in extremist movements like the Tea Party demonizing public spending to ameliorate social inequities or have joined Islamophobic pro Israeli movements – precisely as increasing number of ex-Jews depart!

The secular or non-religious adult population has yet to organize and articulate a program in contrast to the fundamentalists, perhaps because they are too disparate a social category – in terms of socio-economic and class interests. ‘Not religious’ tells us little about what is the alternative. The shrinking percentage of religious believers can have several outcomes: in some cases it can lead to a hardening of doctrine and organizational structures ‘to keep the faithful in line’. In others it has led to increasing politicization, mostly on the extreme right. Among Christians it means insisting on literal readings of the Bible and anti- evolutionism; among Jews, the shrinking numbers are intensifying tribal loyalties and more aggressive fundraising, lobbying, and unconditional support for a “Jewish State”, purged of Palestinians, and more punitive witch-hunts against critics of Israel and Zionism.

What needs to be done is a movement that links the growing mass of rational non-religious people with the vast majority of American wage and salaried workers, experiencing declining living standards and the rising costs (material and spiritual) of imperial wars. Some religious individuals and even denominations will be attracted to such a movement others will attack it for sectarian and political reasons. But as a non-religious morality links individual and political crises to social action, so can the political community create the bases for a new society built on secular needs and public ethics.

20 Things to Fix on the Old Missionary Car

June 15, 2018 by  
Filed under Featured, Missions, News

20 things to fix on the old missionary car so you go again:

1. Better tires and front alignment
2. Replace old leaking radiator and refill with new antifreeze
3. Engine oil and filter change
4. Touch up rusted rear fenders
5. Fix non-working horn
6. Air condition recharge
7. Cracked rear bumper fix
8. New spark plugs and tune up
9. New air filter and box cover replacement
10. New propane filter and evaporator cleanup
11. Mono-injection tune up for propane fuel line
12. New windshield wipers
13. Leaking wipers fluid tank fix
14. Engine temperature gauge fix
15. Replace 20 year old gas pump filter
16. Trunk and leaks fix
17. High beam bulbs replace
18. Rewire all electric plugs and chargers
19. Replace driver side window mechanism
20. Don’t forget to anoint it like Wesley did his horse. It works!

 

The Great Decline of religion in 60 years

June 10, 2018 by  
Filed under Featured, News

Great Decline in religion graph

Religiosity index shows the changes in religious activity in the United States.

Religiosity in the United States is in the midst of what might be called ‘The Great Decline.’ Previous declines in religion pale in comparison. Over the past fifteen years, the drop in religiosity has been twice as great as the decline of the 1960s and 1970s.

How do we track this massive change in American religion? We start with information from rigorous, scientific surveys on worship service attendance, membership in congregations, prayer, and feelings toward religion. We then use a computer algorithm to track over 400 survey results over the past 60 years. The result is one measure that charts changes to religiosity through the years. (You can see all the details here).

The graph of this index tells the story of the rise and fall of religious activity. During the post-war, baby-booming 1950s, there was a revival of religion. Indeed, some at the time considered it a third great awakening. Then came the societal changes of the 1960s, which included a questioning of religious institutions. The resulting decline in religion stopped by the end of the 1970s, when religiosity remained steady. Over the past fifteen years, however, religion has once again declined. But this decline is much sharper than the decline of 1960s and 1970s. Church attendance and prayer is less frequent. The number of people with no religion is growing. Fewer people say that religion is an important part of their lives. All measures point to the same drop in religion: If the 1950s were another Great Awakening, this is the Great Decline.

New Controversial Law on Religion to be Voted in Bulgaria

June 5, 2018 by  
Filed under Featured, News, Research

church-stateThe Patriotic Front, a newly established political formation in Bulgaria, filed changes to the 2002 Religious Dominations Act last Thursday. The new measure bans all foreign citizens from preaching on the territory of Bulgaria, as well as preaching in any other language than Bulgarian.

The draft amendments also foresee banning foreign organizations, companies and citizens from providing funding or donating to Bulgarian religious denominations. All the religious denominations in Bulgaria will be obliged to perform their sermons, rituals and statements only in Bulgaria. One year’s time will be given to translate religious books into Bulgarian.

Financially, the draft laws would ban not only foreign physical and legal entities from funding Bulgarian religious institutions, but also companies with foreign ownership that are legally registered in Bulgaria. Using state funding for “illegal activities” by religious denominations will be sanctioned with prison terms of three to six years. With these sanctions in mind, the new legal measure embodies the following rationale:

  1. Churches and ministers must declare all foreign currency money flow and foreign bank accounts
  2. Participation of foreign persons in the administration of any denomination is strictly forbidden
  3. Foreign parsons shall not be allowed to speak at religious meetings in any way shape or form especially religious sermons
  4. Anonymous donations and donorship to religious organization is not permitted
  5. Bulgarian flag shall be present in every temple of worship
  6. The new measure will block all foreign interference in the faith confessions and denominations in Bulgaria

June 2018 Update: Churches across Bulgaria have petitioned against the new changes in the Law of Religion as they constitute:

  • Limitations on freedom of religion and speech
  • Merge church and state
  • Establish goverment control over preaching
  • Ban any missionary work and preaching in a foreign language
  • Halt international support for religious organizations
  • Removes meeting form rented closed properties
  • Legalizes discrimination on basis of religion and faith convictions

The Harvest is Plentiful…

June 1, 2018 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, News

Revival Harvest Campaign 2018:

  • Nehemiah: Set the Foundations
  • Nehemiah: Rebuild the Walls
  • Nehemiah: Post Watchmen on the Towers

Revival must go on…

Is your church ready for GDPR?

May 30, 2018 by  
Filed under Featured, News, Research

You’ve probably heard about GDPR. The new European data protection regulation that applies practically to everyone entered in power on May 25, 2018. Especially if you operate a church or ministry website, it’s most likely that there’s already a process for getting your systems in compliance with the regulation.

GDPR in effect adds to or supersedes existing legislation on data protection, which up to this point has been provided by the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003. The regulation is basically a law that must be followed in all European countries (but also applies to non-EU organizations that have users in the EU). In this particular case, it applies to companies that are not registered in Europe, but are having European customers. So that’s most church organizations. The GDPR introduces a stronger requirement on accountability for data controllers. This means that you must be able to show that you are complying with the principles by providing evidence. For example, where you process on the basis of consent, you should to store those consents. Since consent should be specific to a “purpose”, you may need separate consent to cover different areas of data processing within the life of the church

The impact is going to be huge as there are a number of very significant changes that will impact every organization that processes data inside the EU. This includes the Church, which has been that in most cases, very poor at complying with legislation. If your church organization or church website process personal information, of any kind, inside the EU, GDPR applies to you. This applies to Churches who are owned/run from outside the EU. If you process any data in the EU like website visitors, live broadcast viewers or attendance, GDPR needs to be on your radar.

Though, GDPR allows religious (amongst others) not-for-profit bodies to process data without specific consent as long as it relates only to members or former members (or those who have regular contact with it in connection with, there is still a great risk. Data that “reveals religious belief” becomes special category data – which requires additional care with regard to processing. Reveling of “religious belief” should not be assumed simply because someone attends church or church events, becomes a “friend” or gives money to a church. However, where someone is required to have affirmed belief (e.g. that they are baptized or that they are a member of the Church) e.g. processing of the electoral roll, then this could be argued to reveal religious belief.

In regard of this, the rights of the user/client (referred to as “data subject” in the regulation) under the new GDPR law are:

  • the right to erasure (the right to be forgotten/deleted from the system),
  • right to restriction of processing (keep the data, but mark it as “restricted”)
  • the right to data portability (export data in a machine-readable format),
  • the right to rectification (the ability to get personal data fixed),
  • the right to be informed (human-readable information, rather than privacy terms)
  • the right of access (the user is able to see all the data you have about them).

Additionally, the relevant basic principles are:

  • data minimization (do not collect more data than necessary),
  • integrity and confidentiality (all security measures to protect data)
  • measures to guarantee that the data has not been inappropriately modified.

To set some context, it may be helpful to ask, “Whose data is it?” If we believe that the data we hold on our systems belong to us then we are likely going to be resistant to GDPR. If we are 100% clear that each person’s personal data belongs to that individual alone, and that we are custodians of their data, then we’ll likely have a much healthier response to GDPR. When we see ourselves as custodians, charged with a “trust,” we’ll likely want to do our very best when we receive, store and process people’s personal data. And also be more ruthless about removing any data that we don’t wish to hold within that trust.

The legal basis for processing data is premised on one or more of six conditions:

  • consent of the data subject
  • performance of any contract with the data subject relating to it
  • compliance with a legal obligation
  • that the vital interests of the data subject are protected
  • that the data acquired and held is needed for the performance of a task carried out by the organization in the public interest
  • that the legitimate interests of data subjects are protected

None of the other requirements of the regulation have an exception depending on the organization size, so “I’m small, GDPR does not concern me” is a myth. “Personal data” is basically every piece of data your organization has collected that can be used to uniquely identify a person.

Just an every day example, Google Maps shows you your location history – all the places that you’ve been to. Displaying your church’s map allows visitors to find you but also records their intent of movement history on any electronic device that can lock a GPS location (this includes any PC with internet connection too). It is still the visitor’s personal information that GDPR allows storing only under certain legal conditions.

An individual can object at any time to you using their personal information for:

  • Direct Marketing (including fundraising). If an individual objects to you using their data to contact them for this purpose then you must cease immediately. There are no exemptions.
  • Scientific, historical, research or statistical purposes. You can have an exemption from this if you have a legitimate need to keep processing it, e.g. you need to send Gift Aid information to HMRC.
  • A ‘legitimate interest’ of the church (ex. video broadcast, family events, small group home gatherings, fund raisers, prayer call campaigns, etc.).

Age check – GDPR introduces special protection for children’s personal data. Broadly, for a child there will be a need to have consent from a parent or guardian in order to process any data lawfully. You should ask for the visitor’s age, and if the user is a child, you should ask for parent permission.

Keeping data for no longer than necessary – if your church collects the data for a specific purpose (e.g. product purchase, email campaign, call list, etc.), you have to delete it/anonymize it as soon as you don’t need it. Many churches offer welcoming package, registration, online offering, etc. The visitor’s consent goes only for the particular item for which you are obligated to keep a consent form.

Cookies – Every basic website nowadays use a number of different types of cookies. They are all subject of a different regulation (a Directive that will soon become a Regulation). However, GDPR still changes things when tracking cookies are concerned. I’ve outlined my opinion on tracking cookies in a separate post.

Encrypt the data in transit – means that communication between your application layer and your database (or your message queue, or whatever component you have) should be over TLS.

Encrypt the data at rest – this again depends on the database (some offer table-level encryption), but can also be done on machine-level

Implement pseudonymisation – the most obvious use-case is when you want to use production data for the test/staging servers. You should change the personal data to some “pseudonym”, so that the people cannot be identified.

Don’t log personal data – getting rid of the personal data from log files (especially if they are shipped to a 3rd party service or a plugin.

Above all, DO NOT use data for purposes that the user hasn’t agreed!

Finally, GDPR mandates identification and notification of breaches of the regulation to the individual, and sometimes the national regulator (the Information Commissioner’s Office, ICO) within 72 hours. The maximum fine for organizations which breach the regulation will be €20 million. Quite apart from anything else, this should give charity trustees pause for thought.

Where to begin? Start with the following questions and actions:

  1. Does your collection and use of personal or sensitive data fall within the “purposes” of your current Data Protection policy?
  2. Are there current uses that fall outside the current scope?
  3. Are your policy’s stated “purposes” sufficiently broad enough to cover all your ministry and activity? Highlight any areas that need further expansion in your policy.
  4. Note down any third party “processors” that use or further process the personal data like: Book keeper, WordPress, MailChimp, Planning Center, Stripe, GoCardless, Textlocal.
  5. Identify and list all the ways your church adds personal data into each module, including contact details, attendance or tracking data, and notes.
  6. Note any additional processing of information you carry out in your admin workflows within each module, such as communications you send, notifications to others in your church that get triggered, and any reports you produce and distribute in those workflows.
  7. Are there any areas of “bad practice” or risk that needs addressing? For example, using images from people’s social media profiles without consent or audio/video and live broadcast recordings of the same. Notes that express opinion rather than fact, or where consent has not been obtained for all of these.
  8. In respect of handling personal data, how do your church’s procedures demonstrate accountability practices?
  9. Are any changes communicated to those in your church or team that need to know?
  10. If you were a newcomer to your church, would you as a newcomer be clear at every point of submitting your personal data, what the church’s privacy notice and data protection policy is? Would you feel sufficiently informed about how your data will be used and would know how you could opt out if you wanted to?

Common sense disclaimer: This article is not legal advice. You need to contact your church attorney for a complete evaluation and action guide on how to fully protect your organization.

2018 Annual Conferences of Bulgarian Churches in America

May 25, 2018 by  
Filed under Featured, Missions, News

bulgarian-churchThe congregations within the Alliance of the Bulgarian Evangelical Churches in North America meet every Memorial Day weekend for an annual conference:

  1. Dallas (2002)
  2. Chicago (2003)
  3. Minneapolis (2004)
  4. Los Angeles (2005)
  5. Dallas (2006)
  6. Chicago (2007)
  7. Minneapolis (2008)
  8. Los Angeles (2009)
  9. Houston (2010)
  10. Las Vegas (2011)
  11.  Chicago (2012)
  12. Dallas (2013)
  13. Minneapolis (2014)
  14. Las Vegas (2015)
  15. Houston (2016)
  16. Chicago (2017)
  17. Jacksonville (2018)

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Back to the Basics of Pentecost

May 20, 2018 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, News

Since the beginning of the 21st century, only 6-10% of new born believers in America receive the Baptism with the Holy Spirit, which by 2018 has resulted in:

  • Over 60% within Global Pentecostalism do not speak in tongues
  • A major doctrinal shift within Pentecostal Theology today claims speaking in tongues is not the only evidence of Holy Spirit Baptism
  • Some theologians even claim there is no initial evidence in the Bible
  • Others today go further to believe that no outward sign of the Holy Spirit baptism is necessary.

For this reason, WE are re-committing ourselves and ministry to revival and restoration of the Pentecostal Message through praying, fasting and preaching:

  • Salvation of the sinner’s soul and entire sanctification through the Blood of Jesus
  • Baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire with initial evidence of speaking in tongues
  • Supernatural gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit
  • Healing, deliverance and signs following
  • Pre-Millennial return of Christ and pre-Tribulation Rapture of His Church to glory

Please consider the URGENCY of this generation!

Let us reason together what can we do to prevent this rapid decline in Biblical spirituality.

Revival will not come without preaching!

Revival of Pentecost will not come without preaching the Message of Pentecost.

RAMADAN: How to reach Muslims with the Gospel?

May 15, 2018 by  
Filed under Featured, News

Over 1 billion Muslims around the world are now observing Ramadan, a month of fasting and reflection. While most adherents to Islam are spending their holiday on personal discipline and dedication, more extreme factions are using the time of year to call for violence against Christians.

Ruth Kramer of Mission Network News reports:

“During Ramadan, the jihadists are calling for holy war. They’re calling it kind of an obligatory act of worship. What you typically see during Ramadan is a real spike in the violence. On the day that Ramadan began, jihadists attacked a bus that was filled with Coptic Christians in Egypt and killed 29 of them; about half of those were children as young as two years old.”

In the face of such violence, as we’re bombarded by stories of increasing barbarism, how should the body of Christ respond?

“One of the biggest tools we have in our tool chest is prayer, and we just don’t know how to pray for Muslims, how to love Muslims, to come alongside them and say there is another way.”

“If we knew how to pray for Muslims, and we joined together in prayer, imagine what God could do through that.”

To help us learn to pray for our Muslim neighbors, Prayercast, a branch of OneWay Ministries, is hosting the Ramadan Prayer Challenge.

The campaign sends daily prayer notes directly to your smartphone, focusing on specific regions and concerns of Muslim people. They’re inviting Christians across the world to unite in prayer for the next month, to ask “with one voice that God would shatter the deception of Islam with the presence and truth of Jesus Christ.”

How to Evangelize a Muslim

  • The testimony of the Gospels provides the most reliable witness to Christ. Preach the Gospel as it is! Do not soft-pedal around biblical terminology to please Muslim hearers. Be clear about what you believe and why you believe it. Know the Scriptures well, and know the confessions and what exactly you believe (catechisms). The more you know about your faith, the easier it is to talk with Muslims.
  • There is no gospel in Islam. The Qur’an clearly contradicts the essence of biblical Christianity and rejects the triune nature of God, disfigures the biblical doctrines of the person of Christ and denies justification through faith on account of the work of Christ on the cross. While claiming to be the perpetual religion of nature and history, following in the footsteps of Christianity, it attempts to justify its claims by asserting that the Word of God, revealed in the New and Old Testament, is corrupted. Our apologetic discussion with Muslims should be to defend the Scriptures and prove that the Scriptures aren’t corrupt as Muslims claim. Our goal is to open up their minds a bit so that they can start reading the Gospels for an eyewitness or a companion of an eyewitness to the real Jesus.
  • Always ask them the classic evangelistic questions. ‘What about your salvation?’ ‘Can you be certain of this?’ ‘If you were to die, can you be certain you’d enter heaven at some point?’ Their response is always, “No, I couldn’t be certain, nor do I care.”
  • Most western missionaries are result oriented; instead you should be concerned about preaching the Gospel correctly (as it is). The essence of Muslim evangelism is accurate communication about sin and grace: simply and clearly. Talk about the law and the gospel, not about infralapsarianism and divine simplicity! Don’t compare the Bible with the Quran. That comes later!
  • Always remember that you are talking to Muslims. Avoid the use of Christian jargon. Speak about real sin, real guilt, real shed blood! Do not be ashamed to use Jesus’ direct and indirect titles clearly such as ‘Son of God’ ‘Lamb of God’ ‘New Adam’ ‘I AM – YAHWEH’ ‘Savior’ ‘Almighty God’.
  • Use tact and be charitable! Don’t talk about reprobation with a Muslim or a new convert who has just lost an unbelieving family member. Be kind and courteous! Many Muslims act and speak out of ignorance, not malice.
  • Be sensitive to their past – if they’ve had a bad experience with Christians, missionaries or churches, struggled with a particular sin etc., be understanding and compassionate! Muslims hate self-righteousness, and rightly so! Do not soft-pedal the law and the guilt of sin, but make sure they understand that you are a justified sinner, not a self-righteous “know it all” who is here to correct them!
  • Muslims will ask you many questions about your faith. Don’t feel like you have to answer all of their questions in one day. However, make sure they hear your answers to one or two questions clearly. Stick with the subject – don’t get sidetracked. When the conversation wanders, pull it back to center stage – the law and the gospel.
  • Muslims will ask you to comment on their faith. Don’t go there; they will not benefit from your criticism (or feigned approval) of other religions. Your job isn’t to debunk Islam but to give a clear witness to the truth of the Gospel. Instead of letting them drag you into the topic, turn the tables and ask them questions. Let them articulate their own understandings of the religious themes you are discussing; let what you communicate be the plain truth of Christian doctrines without enumerating how Islam is wrong.
  • The message of the Gospel offends Muslims. It is okay! Don’t worry! God will take care of the hearer. It is His message. Muslims will not convert to Christ if they are not offended by the message of the Gospel. Offend them by being very clear about the teachings of Christ!
  • Do not use any ‘Muslim friendly’ bible translations. ‘Muslims friendly’ bible translations are very deceptive! They are not true to the original Scriptures. Muslims see it as a form of deception by missionaries!
  • Muslim evangelism is not about winning an argument, but leading Muslims to Christ with the Gospel. Discussions may get heated and intense at times – that’s okay. But the purpose of Muslim evangelism is not to show why you are right and Islam is wrong. It is to communicate the truth of the gospel! The message is to be the offence! Not you!
  • When Muslims are apathetic about sin – use the law. When Muslims have doubts or are skeptical – use basic apologetic arguments. When Muslims express guilt for sin – present the Gospel.
  • Evangelism is about leading Muslims to Christ. Convincing non-Christians or Evangelicals that Reformed theology is true, falls under the heading of polemics. Don’t confuse the two.
  • When talking to Muslims stick with what all Christians hold in common wherever possible. Leave the internecine fighting among Christians aside when talking to Muslims. A Muslim will not care so much about differences between the Catholics and the Protestants or Lutherans and Baptists. Issues such as the exact meaning of the Lord’s Supper or methods of baptism should be addressed later, during discipleship!
  • Wherever possible, when talking to Muslims speak about Christianity as factually true – “Jesus did this,” “Jesus said this,” “people heard and saw him,” etc. Keep away from the subjective line of approach– “it works for me,” “this is how I feel about it,” this is my testimony.”
  • Before meeting with your Muslim friends pray for wisdom.
  • Muslims will respect the text you quote, but not your personal opinion. Trust in the power of God the Holy Spirit working through the word! Cite texts directly from the Scriptures with attribution. Jesus says, Paul says…. It will not help Muslims to hear your personal opinion on biblical issues. So, don’t say “I think,” or “it seems to me” or “I feel like…” Muslims interpret your thoughts, your take on things or your feelings as part of the corruption of the Bible.
  • Don’t rush things with Muslims. Just because a Muslim is not ready to trust in Christ after one encounter does not mean that effective evangelism has not taken place. Pre-evangelism is equally vital. You may plant, but someone else may have to water! Always remember that it is not us who convert the Muslims to Christ but God Himself (in His time)!
  • Remember that evangelism isn’t complete after you first present the Gospel message to a Muslim. Evangelism has to continue even after they repent and give their lives to Christ. They have to sit under the ministry of the Word. Evangelism of a Muslim is complete only after they are baptized, brought to the Lord’s Supper and sat under the preaching of the Word at church. In other words, evangelism never ends. Discipleship is evangelism.
  • Treat Muslims as objects of concern, not notches in your belt! Establish relationships and friendships with Muslims whenever and wherever possible.
  • Don’t forget that a prophet is without honor in his own home. The chances of Muslim converts leading their own unbelieving family members (or someone close to them) to Christ by themselves is remote. Encourage them as they give witness to what they have learned, but also pray for God to bring other people into the picture to help evangelize their families.
  • Don’t force things. If your Muslim friends balk, ridicule and otherwise are not interested, back off. Find another time and place. If after repeated attempts to communicate the gospel, and someone still shows an unwillingness to hear what you have to say, “shake the dust off your feet and move on to a new town!”
  • Be willing to get your Muslim friends the resources they need: be willing to provide them with a Bible (not just a New Testament), the right book to read, and certainly an invitation to your home and later an invitation to attend your church or to a Bible study, etc. Never ever use a Muslim friendly bible translation. These translations are a product of some western mission agencies without any support from the national churches who know their context best.
  • Pray for opportunities to evangelize Muslims. Make sure to let your Muslim friends know that you regularly attend a church. Do not disconnect your evangelism effort from the church. Pray for your church – that God would bless the preaching of his word, that he would bring Muslims into our midst, and that he would bless the church with growth.
  • You don’t have to become a practical Arminian to be a faithful evangelist! A Christian approach to Muslim evangelism simply means telling Muslims the truth in love without changing it. Trust that God the Holy Spirit will penetrate hearts and minds of Muslims with “the Gospel”
  • Muslims love to sing Islamic hymns that tell the stories of the Quran. Islamic hymn singing is singing the words of the Quran. Show your Muslim friends some samples of Christian biblical songs with verses directly taken from Scriptures. In other words, sing the Bible to them! The role of music in human culture is to join people together. Biblically we are commanded to sing the praises of Christ. There are 694 references to singing or music making in Holy Scriptures. Participatory singing is a very significant matter biblically. There will be no singing in Hell, but the saints in Heaven will sing everlastingly. That is really amazing and remarkable! Let us show Muslims what we will be doing in Heaven.
  • “Fear God and give Him Glory, because the hour of His judgment has come, and Worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.” (Rev. 14:7)

ALL Bulgarian Cookbooks on Kindle

May 10, 2018 by  
Filed under Books, Featured, News

Cooking Traditions of Bulgaria, Second Edition (now on Kindle)

Bulgarian cuisine is distinct, yet eclectic at the same time with Mediterranean influence and flavors of its surrounding countries. Bulgaria borders the Black Sea, between Romania and Turkey. Greece is also a neighbor, along with Serbia and Macedonia to the west. This cookbook features 50 personal, but authentic recipes in… 

Ancient Recipes of Bulgaria now for Kindle

Ancient Recipes of Bulgaria, Second Edition By Evdokia Krusteva This cookbook features nearly two dozen truly ancient recipes of Bulgarian cooking. Some of these dishes are distant relatives to ones found in ancient Roman manuscripts believed to have been compiled in the late 4th or early 5th century AD. Others are among those…

European Delights: A Sweet Journey Through Europe (now on Kindle)

Cakes, cookies, custards, puddings, candies, fried dough, pies and pastries. From the unconventional, recipes of Albanian Walnut Lemon Cake and Lithuanian Poppy Seed Cookies to the classic Tiramisu and Macaroon recipes, this cookbook takes your taste buds on a sweet journey throughout Europe. Desserts have come a long way since…

Ancient Recipes of Bulgaria (now on Kindle)

This cookbook features nearly two dozen truly ancient recipes of Bulgarian cooking. Some of these dishes are distant relatives to ones found in ancient Roman manuscripts believed to have been compiled in the late 4th or early 5th century AD. Others are among those far before the time of Christ…. 

Cooking Traditions of Bulgaria (now on Kindle)

Now also on Amazon’s Kindle Store This cookbook features authentic recipes in attempts to further the tradition of keeping alive century old recipes of Bulgarian cuisine. Here you can learn how to make dishes from moussaka to baklava and others in between. The variety of tastes of authentic Bulgarian foods…

 

Ancient Recipes of Bulgaria, Second Edition

Ancient Recipes of Bulgaria, Second Edition By Evdokia Krusteva This cookbook features nearly two dozen truly ancient recipes of Bulgarian cooking. Some of these dishes are distant relatives to ones found in ancient Roman manuscripts believed to have been compiled in the late 4th or early 5th century AD. Others are among those…

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