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What should define a healthy church? (Part 1)

Following up with last week's column concerning "why do churches die," I wanted to take a few weeks to talk about some broad characteristics that should define a healthy church. These characteristics are by no means exhaustive, but they are broad enough to define some core concepts without micromanaging the details or methodologies. In other words, I can't imagine how any...

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Why do churches die?

In a follow up to last week's column, someone asked me, "Why do churches die?" This is an excellent (and sensitive) question. Last time I checked, there were 250+ registered churches in Cape May County. Over 250!!! That was shocking to me until I realized that the vast majority of those churches are declining in health and growth. Then, my shock turned to sadness. Why doe...

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How should Christians react to previous church buildings being used for other purposes?

The First United Methodist Church of Goshen sat vacant and for sale for years. It was falling apart, desperate for work, and had no prospective buyers on the horizon. That is until Will Keenan purchased the property to renovate it and turn it into a "church for all religions," a sort of Areopagus (Acts 17) for Cape May County where people can share everything from poetry t...

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Is the Bible reliable?

"Is the Bible reliable?" The column will not be about trying to convince you to have faith in the book or believe the claims of the book necessarily, but to lay a foundation of why the Bible is a historically viable, reliable document. Today's column is a modified version of a previous Ask Pastor Bill for the Explore God series happening in the county right now at various ...

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Is Christianity Too Narrow?

Is Christianity too narrow? Every world religion has its own set of things that look weird or strange to people outside of the system. As a pastor, I often will have people express uncertainty at coming to visit our weekly gathering because they aren't sure "when to stand or sit" or what to wear. These types of ritualistic behaviors create an environment that seems to sug...

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Who is Jesus?

In Matthew 16:13, Jesus asked his followers, "Who do people say that I am?" After receiving their responses, which varied from reincarnated religious figures to the next great prophet, Jesus asked them directly, "Who do you say that I am?" The question still stands before us today: Who is Jesus? We know that Jesus really existed. The vast majority of scholars - secular a...

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How Good is Good Enough?

Since nobody's perfect, how good is good enough? Pretend for a moment that out of nowhere, a coconut fell from the sky, bonked you on the head and you get killed. Don't worry about where the coconut came from - humor me. When you open your eyes, you're standing before God and he simply says to you, "Do you think I should let you into my house?" Your response is quick and...

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Why Does a Good God Allow Pain and Suffering?

Why does a good God allow pain and suffering? Hurricanes, cancer, car accidents and untimely death. The world is a sad place. Nice, kind people die every time. Answering why this happens is, in many ways, the greatest hurdle for all religions. The question has plagued humanity for generations, with early writings from the the Ancient Near East (some of which you were prob...

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Does Life Have a Purpose?

Is there any meaning in life? Is there any purpose that outlasts death? Russian author, Leo Tolstoy had succeeded in all of the areas of life a person could desire. He had it all, so to say, but he wrote this: "My questionthat which at the age of fifty brought me to the verge of suicidewas the simplest of questions, lying in the soul of every man . . . a question without ...

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What is ‘Explore God’ and why should I care?

We all have questions. I do. Don't you? Exploration is at the core of the human condition. God is a creative God and as beings made in his likeness, we share in that personality trait. The wonder is that God even delegates creativity to us. He gave Adam authority to name animals, and we have been creating inventions, art and culture ever since. We are made to be curious,...

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