Rankin Connecting

Will We Give Thanks on Thanksgiving?

Posted on November 21, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite seasons of the year. Unlike other holidays, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of hassle and activity involved. It is a down time after a busy fall when school and work accelerate the pace of life. Now most schools are dismissed for the week, but for others it is a long holiday weekend of gathering with family, feasting and enjoying a refreshing chill in the air.

For many it means heading to the woods for hunting while others look forward to attending the big game climaxing the football season, or hitting the malls to launch the Christmas shopping frenzy. Others, like me, will become couch potatoes indulging in the constant diet of televised …

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Post-Election Reflections

Posted on November 14, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

Though personally disappointed in the outcome, I join others in being glad it is over. The campaign was definitely over the top this year, dominating our attention for far too long. Better results could have been achieved if the $6 billion spent on negative and distorted advertising had been devoted to helping storm victims or reducing the federal debt. We are hearing analyses of the implications of the election from every direction, but the reality is we now have to live with the results.

That reality is not just a stale-mated congress and a socialist-minded president infringing on religious freedoms and saddling subsequent generations with debilitating debt. It is a polarized electorate like we have never known before. Our shattered …

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Elections and Government

Posted on October 31, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

It is inconceivable to me that so many would be indifferent and negligent about voting. I can understand the perception that one vote will not make a difference or choosing not to participate because of the lack of desirable options. But to fail to exercise responsible citizenship in voting is to ignore the incredible empowerment we have as a free electorate to choose the leaders of our government, when most of the people of the world do not have that privilege. Even many “democratic” countries have a convoluted process in which the results have already been determined.

However, we need to be realistic in understanding that electing the candidate of our choice is not a panacea that is going to …

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Adding Church Members

Posted on October 24, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

Most churches are committed to growth and adding members. There are some who are satisfied with their legacy of close-knit relationships and continue a cliquish fellowship in which outsiders never feel welcome. Others have given up on outreach, finding methods of attracting new members elusive. But most realize their purpose is to impact lostness and bring others into the kingdom through intentional ministry and outreach to those living in their community.

However, most efforts for effective impact in the world and growing attendance are meager at best. Churches that are growing are those attracting members by transfer from neighboring congregations. Rather than adding converts from the world, churches are engaged in a competitive game of fruit-basket-turnover. Baptismal statistics continue to …

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Cultural Ecclesiology

Posted on October 4, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

I have been amazed to observe year after year the greatest rates of church growth are taking place among previously unreached people groups. Most church planting movements are being recorded in places where the gospel is being planted and there is no historic precedent of the church. Even in places of unusual evangelistic harvest CPMs are rare and church growth is slow.

I have come to the conclusion that one of the greatest detriments to church growth is “cultural ecclesiology.” Most cultures have an historical expression of what a church is that is thoroughly ingrained in the perceptions of Christians and non-Christians alike. It usually entails an institutional form and criteria superfluous to any biblical model and definition. Unfortunately, early …

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Zeal for Church Planting

Posted on September 19, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

The passion for church planting in America continues to gain momentum, apparently driven by a zeal to re-create the church to be culturally relevant. I have participated in two local training events focused on church planting, attended by a cadre of young church planters as well as representatives of established churches who are giving renewed priority to starting new work.

Church planting has always been the watermark of overseas missions. Missionaries go to proclaim the gospel to a lost world and rejoice when people come to faith in Christ and are baptized. Unless they are gathered into a congregation or fellowship, however, there is little hope of growth, discipleship and spiritual maturity. A local indigenous church becomes a nucleus of …

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Intolerance of Tolerance

Posted on August 22, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

One of the most unique aspects of our American way of life is the freedom to be different. A person is not constrained to conform to a particular political ideology as in many totalitarian countries around the world. One does not have to adhere to proscribed religious doctrine as it is imposed in most Muslim societies. Many people throughout the world cannot speak their mind freely without risking the consequences of sedition in expressing views contrary to official policy.

Our first amendment rights to freedom of religion and freedom of speech are simply the core of values that are foundational to being an American and upon which our nation was established. The very nature of democracy acknowledges diversity, and while …

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Aversion to Piety

Posted on August 8, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

One of the unfortunate characteristics of church life seems to be an aversion to piety. We value conformity in the practices of worship and the Christian life, and, in fact, this may be a more prominent factor in the choice of which church we attend than doctrinal distinctives.

Piety, understood as holiness, is a deep spirituality that is manifested in an intimate walk with God. It may find expressions in a hunger for the word of God in one who cannot get enough Bible study and delights in the constant discovery of God’s truth. While others of us strive to fill public prayer with familiar words of trite thankfulness and supplication, the pious person verbalizes prayer in phrases that reflect …

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Ramadan–So What?

Posted on July 25, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

Most Americans would be unaware that Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, has begun. Many would only be casually aware that this is one of the five pillars of Islam; the date changes each year due to the lunar calendar but faithful adherents fast from dawn to dusk until the month concludes with the Feast of Eid.

Having studied Islam we were familiar with this expression of piety but learned much more regarding its practice during the years we lived on the mission field. In the more fanatical countries fasting is compulsory though in most countries allowances are made for foreigners and non-Muslims. All do without food, but the more devout don’t drink water and some don’t even swallow their …

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Truth or Perception?

Posted on July 12, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

The previous blog on the illusion of unity in the SBC stimulated a significant level of interest and response. I feel one of the reasons for lack of unity may be the tendency to judge one another on the basis of our perceptions rather than reality.

Forgive the indulgence in personal reflection, but as one previously in a denominational leadership role, I was appalled to find that criticism and misunderstanding was usually based on distorted perceptions rather than truth. Controversy over my election as president of the IMB was tainted by the perception I was “charismatic” though efforts to define what that meant were elusive. I certainly didnʼt hold to neo-pentecostal doctrine, but I did yearn to walk in the …

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