Evangelicals Still Want to Evangelize Jews, But Not for the Same Reasons

Survey finds sharing the gospel with God’s “chosen people” is less tied to the end times.

The overwhelming majority of evangelical believers in the US today still see the importance of sharing the gospel with the Jewish community. But they’re less likely to agree on the relationship between Jewish evangelism and the end times, which once was a significant motivator of such outreach.

In a survey released today at the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Nashville, LifeWay Research found that 87 percent of Americans with evangelical beliefs agree that “sharing the gospel with Jewish people is important,” with just 3 percent disagreeing and 11 percent unsure [infographic below].

“According to the Great Commission, Jews need the gospel as much as everybody else and therefore should not be excluded from evangelism,” said Tuvya Zaretsky, president of the Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism (LCJE) and a longtime leader with Jews for Jesus.

As CT previously examined, the Lausanne Movement and the World Evangelical Alliance in 1989 endorsed the call to evangelize to Jewish people, rather than supporting a “two covenant” theology that views God as having his own covenant with the Jews, who therefore do not need to claim Christ. Many denominations agree, including the Southern Baptist Convention, the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), and the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.

“The gospel is the only hope of salvation for all people, first proclaimed among the Jewish people, and nothing’s changed about that,” said Zaretsky, a Messanic Jew who came to faith in 1970.

“When Jesus spoke the words recorded in John 14:6—‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’—he was speaking …

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Why Gen Z’s Call for ‘Safe Spaces’ Is Good News for Churches

New expectations may shift youth group conversations, but Christ still provides the answer.

One of the defining characteristics for today’s teens—who have grown up in a constantly connected, socially evolving world—is their desire for “safe spaces,” settings where they can expect inclusivity without fear of judgment.

In recent weeks, in the wake of the latest school shooting, we’ve also seen this generation speaking out for literal safe spaces.

The youth movement against gun violence reflects broader desires for safety and risk aversion among Generation Z—some of the characteristics making them distinct from even the millennials of the previous decade.

This aspect of the Gen Z worldview often gets maligned by older generations, who sometimes dismiss safe spaces and trigger warnings as a result of an oversensitive “snowflake mentality.” However, youth leaders increasingly see the motivations beneath these values—care for others and compassion to understand others’ experiences—as significant for Christian ministry.

News coverage around the Parkland, Florida, shooting has shown us a new dimension to America’s youngest generation. Instead of viewing students through the lens of their social media dependency or pop culture proclivities, we saw them making headlines for challenging lawmakers on gun policy, speaking out on issues that matter to them, and rallying peers to their cause. (True to their stereotypes, Snapchat and other social media have played a significant role in this wave of activism.)

The current attention drawn to America’s youth gives church leaders an opportunity to better understand their motivations, fear, and convictions and prepare to address relevant issues in youth ministry settings as well.

“Generation Z values …

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The Case for a No-Filter Prayer Life

Why we, as God’s friends, can speak to him freely.

Sometimes I talk out loud when I’m sitting in the chair by my book table in the morning or when I’m driving alone in my car. If someone happens into the room, I feel a bit sheepish about these outward aspects of prayer. But I find that talking to God audibly helps me concentrate. It’s becoming a habit of friendship.

As it goes with any conversation between friends, the topics between Jesus and me meander from practical tasks to specific hopes and deeper questions. “Will you remind me to swing by the post office?” “I’m so grateful for Rhodes’s fourth-grade teacher this year.” “I feel alone today. Would you help me to know and believe that you are with me?”

I wonder if David spoke out loud when he first wrote his psalms? I’ve heard that the psalms were sung for many generations before they were ever recorded in written form. I’m thankful for written prayers and for hymns that give me words to speak my heart and teach me to pray. But the art of spontaneous, audible conversation with God feels like a distant practice. Is it far-fetched to consider God a friend who walks with us in this ordinary way?

I believe there’s a humbling glimpse of God’s desire for friendship with us in his generous invitation in Deuteronomy 6:6–7: “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

Hymn writer Austin Miles cast this invitation for us in a slightly different way: “I come to the garden alone / While the dew is still on the roses. . . . And he walks with me, and he talks with …

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Preaching Redemption Amidst Racism: Remembering Billy Graham

Carl Ellis, Jr. reflects on the impact of Rev. Billy Graham on race relations and culture today.

When I was a young campus minister working with Tom Skinner Associates, I had the honor of meeting Dr. William Franklin Graham twice. I remember him as an approachable man, not given to living out the greatness of his own press. I actively participated in his evangelistic crusades whenever they were in or near my city, and I would do so again today without hesitation.

Although several of Dr. Graham’s early Southern crusades were racially segregated, he came to see segregation as inconsistent with the gospel. In the early 1950s, he began refusing to speak in some segregated auditoriums. Before the start of the 1953 Chattanooga Crusade, he personally took down the ropes intended to enforce segregation, telling two of the ushers, “Either these ropes stay down or you can go on and have the revival without me.” [1]

Yet after that, he acquiesced to preaching in segregated venues in Asheville, North Carolina, and Dallas, Texas. At times, Rev. Graham made statements that seemed to reveal a lack of awareness of the connection between segregation and sin. At other times, he forcefully condemned White racism. By the mid-1950s, he courageously and consistently defied Jim Crow laws by insisting that all crusades be conducted on a non-segregated basis.

At the 1957 New York Crusade, Graham welcomed Thomas Kilgore and Gardner Taylor (both African American Pastors) onto the crusade’s executive committee, [2] and openly called for “anti-segregation legislation.” [3] He also had Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. join him in the pulpit at the crusade.

Later, Dr. King praised Dr. Graham for his commitment to non-segregation:

I am deeply grateful to you for the stand which you have taken in the area of race relations. You have …

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One-on-One with Brian Stiller on the World Evangelical Alliance

Ed Stetzer talks with Brian Stiller about World Evangelical Alliance important happenings.

Ed: Tell us a little about the World Evangelical Alliance and some of what you are up to around the world.

Brian: The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) was founded in the 1840s as a way for Evangelicals to connect globally. (It is estimated there are up to 600 million Evangelicals today.) Connections happen around a variety of issues, including evangelism, religious persecution, missions, slavery of all kinds and public engagement. There are 130 National Alliances, formed to serve as a voice and presence within their respective countries.

Ed: We often run “Dispatches from the World Evangelical Alliance” on The Exchangem where you talk about your visits to various countries and what God is up to. Where do you see God moving powerfully and how is that playing out?

Brian: For example, in 1900 there were 50,000 Evangelicals in Latin America. Today, that has jumped to 100 million. Not long ago, there were just a handful of Christians in Nepal. Today, that is closer to 1.5 million. While numbers keep growing, the real stories are about how the transformative presence of the Christ is bringing healing and witness in the most surprising places and ways. In Kiev, Ukraine, a concert choral group and symphony created an ‘adoption’ of widows, providing food, medical care, home assistance, and of course, great music and worship.

Ed: How can people in the West get more plugged into what’s going on globally with the Christian faith and witness?

Brian: It takes effort for us to see and hear beyond the noise and news of our own worlds. This is so true here in North America. I wrote An Insider’s Guide to Praying for the World, which is designed to help us think about and pray for other peoples and countries. …

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How Billy Graham Brokered World Peace Between Evangelism and Social Justice

The evangelist partnered with John Stott on the Lausanne Movement and helped revive the World Evangelical Alliance.

In 1974, Billy Graham convened an enormous conference in Lausanne, Switzerland.

“I traveled the whole world meeting such wonderful leaders,” Graham later told Lausanne global executive director Michael Oh. “But I found that they didn’t know each other.”

Graham wanted to assess the way political, ideological, and theological world issues affected evangelism, and to bring evangelical leaders to a common vision for both evangelism and social justice. He invited about 2,400 evangelical leaders from 150 countries.

The meeting turned out to be outrageously important. Not only did the participants make up “possibly the widest-ranging meeting of Christians ever held” and signal the rising strength of conservative Christians worldwide, it also delivered unity on the most divisive issue of the day—whether social justice should be as highly prioritized as evangelism.

And it kicked off the Lausanne Movement.

“No one else did as much to turn evangelicalism into an international movement that could stand alongside—and ultimately challenge—both the Vatican and the liberal World Council of Churches for the mantle of global Christian leadership,” wrote George Washington University professor Melani McAlister for TheAtlantic. Her forthcoming book is The Kingdom of God Has No Borders: A Global History of American Evangelicals.

“He used his status as the most important religious figure of the 20th century to help lead American evangelicals into a more robust engagement with the rest of the world,” she wrote.

In some ways, the first Lausanne conference was the culmination of a meeting 20 years earlier, when Graham was first introduced to British evangelist John Stott …

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The Ultimate Billy Graham Playlist

How America’s pastor popped up in lyrics from Pat Boone to Johnny Cash to dc Talk.

Many musicians—from Johnny Cash to dc Talk to Pat Boone—considered Billy Graham an inspiration, often bringing him into their songs. For decades, Graham has made cameos in tunes across multiple genres, not just Christian music.

Fernando Ortega, one of Graham’s greatest admirers, wrote a song in 2011 called “Just As I Am” specifically for the evangelist. Ortega’s original tune shares the title with Graham’s favorite hymn—sung at most of his crusades—and includes the same famous chorus:

Just as I am
Without one plea
But that Your blood
Was shed for me

But Ortega’s version is written from Graham’s perspective. “Lyrically, I was trying to imagine what his prayer life must be like as he approached the end of his life,” Ortega wrote Wednesday on his Facebook page.

On Graham’s 94th birthday in 2012, Billy’s daughter Anne Graham Lotz invited Ortega to the Graham home in Montreat, North Carolina, to join a low-key celebration. Ortega recalled that after Anne led a Bible study, “we ate birthday cake and sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Dr. Graham. Then he asked me to sing a solo for him. I leaned over and sang in his ear ‘Just As I Am.’”

Here is Ortega’s song. Listen for Graham’s voice in the bridge:

Randy Stonehill, one of the pioneers of Christian music, wrote a sweet-but-seldom-heard song called “Billy Frank”—Graham’s nickname as a boy. The last verse is especially poignant:

Now your flame is flickering as you are nearing home
And pretty soon you’ll stand in awe before God’s gleaming throne
I have no doubt there’ll be a shout as heaven celebrates
When St. Peter …

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Evangelist Billy Graham Has Died

‘America’s pastor’ shaped modern evangelicalism.

Billy Graham was perhaps the most significant religious figure of the 20th century, and the organizations and the movement he helped spawn continue to shape the 21st.

During his life, Graham preached in person to more than 100 million people and to millions more via television, satellite, and film. Nearly 3 million have responded to his invitation to “accept Jesus into your heart” at the end of his sermons. He proclaimed the gospel to more persons than any other preacher in history. In the process, Graham became “America’s Pastor,” participating in presidential inaugurations and speaking during national crises such as the memorial services following the Oklahoma City bombing and the 9/11 attacks.

“He became the friend and confidante of popes and presidents, queens and dictators, and yet, even in his 80s, he possesses the boyish charm and unprepossessing demeanor to communicate with the masses,” said Columbia University historian Randall Balmer.

Billy Graham was born in 1918 in Charlotte, North Carolina, attended (briefly) Bob Jones College, graduating from Florida Bible Institute near Tampa, and Wheaton College in Illinois. He was ordained a minister in the Southern Baptist Church (1939) and pastored a small church in suburban Chicago and preached on a weekly radio program. In 1946 he became the first full-time staff member of Youth for Christ and launched his evangelistic campaigns. For four years (1948–1952) he also served as president of Northwestern Schools in Minneapolis. His 1949 evangelistic tent meetings in Los Angeles brought him to national attention, and his 1957 New York meetings, which filled Madison Square Garden for four months, established him as a major presence on the …

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The Radical Christian Faith of Frederick Douglass

The great abolitionist spoke words of rebuke—and hope—to a slaveholding society.

As Frederick Douglass looked out on the boisterous crowd that had gathered to celebrate America’s independence, he thought of Psalm 137.

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept

when we remembered Zion.

There on the poplars

we hung our harps,

for there our captors asked us for songs,

our tormentors demanded songs of joy;

they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

How can we sing the songs of the Lord

while in a foreign land? (v. 1–4)

The Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society had invited Douglass to deliver the keynote address for their Fourth of July celebrations in 1852. Fourteen summers earlier, Douglass had escaped from slavery. Now, at only 34, he was America’s most famous abolitionist orator.

Douglass usually felt a certain anger and sadness on the Fourth of July. That day, as he stood behind the speaker’s lectern, he felt like an Israelite in exile called upon to sing for his Babylonian captors.

The crowd wanted him to venerate the Founding Fathers and celebrate their heroic deeds. At the start of his speech, Douglass seemed happy to oblige. But those who listened closely might have shifted uneasily in their seats if they noticed how Douglass used the word your. He spoke of your independence, your freedom, your nation, your fathers. The Founders succeeded in creating a new nation, Douglass said, “and today you reap the fruits of their success.”

To the slave, Douglass told his white audience, “your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mock; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all …

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Make American Politics Hopeful Again

How the call to “carry one another’s burdens” breaks down partisan stalemates.

In our increasingly polarized nation, elections are not just perceived to determine the direction of our nation’s policies but as a declaration of who is included and who is excluded. We cannot have a nation where half of the country wakes up the morning after an election feeling like they no longer have a place in their own country without severely fraying our social fabric.

At a time when politicians and party activists increasingly argue that their obligation is only, or primarily, to a subset of the American people—defined by race, socioeconomic status, religion, ideology, or some other category—the American people themselves must take extraordinary steps to force political actors to consider problems, concerns, and ideas that they would typically ignore.

A new year calls for a new kind of politics, and there is one radical idea as old as Scripture that might provide a way forward.

When the apostle Paul was writing to the Galatians, he was addressing a community that was in deep disunity. Paul had helped form the Galatians through his teachings, but they were straying from their foundational commitments. Sin, false teachers, and parochial motives and interests were creating, well, polarization. Paul’s letter to the Galatians, then, represents an attempt to speak clarity into the conflict, and help the community reform around its foundations.

Into this polarized environment, Paul instructs them to do something radical, something completely contrary to everything polarization promotes: They ought to “carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2, CSB).

Paul’s command shows no favoritism. His call is not to one group only, to those with …

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