Author Archives: Rev. Robert A. Crutchfield

Majority of Pastors Suffer in Silence Over Financial Challenges

Barna recently did a similar study in their case focused on Church planters. They came to many of the same conclusions. Pastoral stress is a real issue, that we in the church world will have to develop solid practical answers to. The answers we have obviously aren’t working like we need them to. -Pastor Crutchfield

WASHINGTON, April 28, 2016 /Christian Newswire/ — Research released from the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) this week shows that the majority of evangelical pastors in the United States serve in small churches with significant personal financial challenges. Pastors also report that they are not familiar with resources to help them and do not confide in anyone outside their household about financial stress.

“The vast majority of pastors do not have their own radio or TV show, robust church staff, or megachurch attendance,” said Leith Anderson, NAE president. “Rather they faithfully serve in small churches and face financial challenges stemming from student debt, low salaries and medical expenses. And sadly, they often feel they have no one to turn to for help.”

The poll, conducted by Grey Matter Research in July 2015, found that of the 4,249 pastors surveyed 80 percent serve in congregations with fewer than 200 people, and 55 percent have fewer than 100 people in their church. Half of the pastors serve in churches with annual budgets under $125,000 that must cover the cost of the church facilities, programs and pastor/staff payroll. Fifty percent of pastors receive less than $50,000 per year in compensation with 30 percent having student loan debt averaging $36,000.

Many pastors also struggle to secure long-term financial stability. Thirty-three percent have under $10,000 in retirement funds. Twenty-nine percent have $0 in personal savings.

Over 85 percent of pastors said they did not receive financial training from their seminary. Many pastors (37 percent) are not familiar with what resources their denomination offers for personal finances. Over a third of pastors said they have no one outside their household in whom they can confide about the things that stress them financially.

This spring, with support from Lilly Endowment Inc., the NAE launched a multiyear initiative to address economic challenges facing pastors. The initiative will focus on connecting and resourcing denominations, churches and pastors in the area of pastor finances.

Download the full report at NAE.net/pastorresearch.

The mission of the National Association of Evangelicals is to honor God by connecting and representing evangelical Christians. The NAE includes more than 45,000 churches from nearly 40 denominations and serves a constituency of millions. Founded in 1942, the NAE is currently led by President Leith Anderson.

Follow the NAE at NAE.net.

Unconstitutional Court Censorship Prompts Daleiden First Amendment Federal Court Appeal

Thomas More Society Defends Planned Parenthood Exposé and “Undercover Journalism at Large”

SAN FRANCISCO, April 26, 2016 /Christian Newswire/ — Thomas More Society attorneys filed an appeal last week with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for undercover journalist David Daleiden, arguing for reversal of a preliminary injunction that bars Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress from publishing undercover videos from the 2014 and 2015 annual meetings of the National Abortion Federation (“NAF”). Daleiden’s appeal assails the lower court’s decree as a blatantly unconstitutional “prior restraint” on free speech, based on repeated Supreme Court precedents that condemn such gag orders, most notably the famous Pentagon Papers case in which the Justices refused the federal government’s plea to stop publication of top secret files discussing the Vietnam war which had been leaked to the New York Times and Washington Post. The appeal brief also argues that release of undercover video of significant (if not paramount) public interest should not be suppressed, in order to protect the public’s right to know – a critical element of our professed democratic self-governance as an open and free society. Indeed, the United States Congress, numerous state legislators, and criminal investigators have subpoenaed and relied on Daleiden’s video releases to instigate hearings, new legal and regulatory initiatives, defunding measures, and also possible civil and criminal enforcement actions against the abortion industry. Congress itself had subpoenaed the suppressed videos and the lower court upheld that subpoena, which in turn led to a public hearing by the House Select Committee on Infant Lives, held last week.

This prejudicial censorship targeted at civilian investigator Daleiden threatens undercover journalism at large, explained Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society, a national non-profit law firm. “The National Abortion Federation (NAF) is working in tandem with Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers and promoters to suppress David Daleiden’s First Amendment rights and to shut down the resulting investigations focused on the abortion groups’ involvement in baby parts trafficking,” stated Brejcha.

The Society’s appeal, filed with California-based co-counsel, comes on the heels of the preliminary injunction entered by District Judge William H. Orrick of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. NAF had sought entry of this censorship in response to Daleiden’s public release of a series of videos exposing illegal and unsavory practices by Planned Parenthood and other abortion industry participants. NAF’s principal claim in its lawsuit, filed last summer, is that Daleiden and CMP violated the federal Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), a 1970 federal law designed to combat organized crime.

About the RICO claims, Brejcha said, “These are totally inapposite charges in this scenario – charges that have been decisively rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court. Equally as other investigative journalists for so-called mainstream news media, such as CBS’s Sixty Minutes, regularly resort to undercover journalism tactics to ferret out hidden crime, citizen journalists like David Daleiden have every right to penetrate the criminal underworld to bring to light and open to public scrutiny evidence of potential criminal wrongdoing.”

Read the appeal filed on April 19, 2016 for David Daleiden in the lawsuit by National Abortion Federation here.

Find additional background on the case at the following links:

About the Thomas More Society
The Thomas More Society is a national not-for-profit law firm dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family, and religious liberty. Headquartered in Chicago, the Thomas More Society fosters support for these causes by providing high quality pro bono legal services from local trial courts all the way up to the United States Supreme Court. For more information, visit
www.thomasmoresociety.org.  

The First-Ever National Conference on Christian Grandparenting

STREAMWOOD, Ill., April 25, 2016 /Christian Newswire/ — On November 15-17, 2016, the very first national conference on Christian grandparenting, The Legacy Grandparenting Summit, will be held at Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas, the Legacy Coalition announced today.
The Legacy Coalition is a newly formed ministry envisioned by national leaders in children’s, youth, and family ministries which focuses on equipping Christian grandparents to be intentional disciplers of their grandchildren. Founder, Larry Fowler, has been joined by ministry veterans Wayne Rice, Steve and Valerie Bell, Dr. John Trent, Dr. Ken Canfield, and others in launching this new ministry.
Fowler explains, “While the 30 million-plus Christian grandparents in America have incredible potential to influence their grandchildren, the grandparent-grandchild relationship is ignored and under-resourced by churches and the Christian community at large. We, the Legacy Coalition, believe it is time for a change.”
Wayne Rice, regarded by many as one of the fathers of youth ministry, has come on as the director of conferencing for the Legacy Coalition. Rice realized, ” Not once in thirty years did I ever talk about the influence of grandparents.”
The first-ever conference of its kind, the Legacy Grandparenting Summit, is designed to set a new course. Featuring an impressive lineup of over thirty speakers including respected authors and pastors like Chuck Swindoll, Gary Chapman, Josh McDowell, Michelle Anthony, Tim Kimmel, and Crawford Loritts, the conference will focus on encouraging and equipping church leaders to give attention to this huge army of potential disciplers.
Fowler went on to say, “We want grandparents to have a renewed vision. The wisdom and seasoned perspective of grandparents makes them natural influencers. Yet this potential for spiritual impact goes unrecognized in churches and in the Christian community at large. The barriers to an effective relationship between a grandparent and a grandchild are overlooked and not addressed. Grandparents don’t know what tools are available for them to use with their grandchildren.”
In light of this vacuum of encouragement, The Legacy Coalition believes it is time for a national movement that re-engages those in the second half of life with a vision reaching their grandchildren
For more information go to legacygrandparentingsummit.com.
To learn about the Legacy Coalition, go to grandparentingmatters.org.
  The Legacy Coalition is a faith-based ministry. To partner financially, go to grandparentingmatters.org/#donate.

Preaching as an Act of Listening

By Robert A. Crutchfield, Founder and Editor FaithInspires.Org

Most of the time when we think of preaching, we think of speaking and of course it is. I also am blessed to have been gifted by God with a strong speaking voice, and  a quick mind which greatly enables that gift. What amazes me is how much listening can go into great preaching.

When I preach it rarely turns out exactly the way I wrote it. As I am preaching the Holy Spirit nearly always adds to what I have to say. Its not unusual for me to step out of the pulpit thinking, ” Boy I wish I had thought of that parable, or verse or illustration when I was writing today’s sermon !”

Several people have even commented that they can see much of  a prophetic nature to my sermons. They could be  right. What I do now that we probably all should more often seek the Holy Spirit as the co-author of our messages. How do I know that it is the Holy Spirit at work at such times ? Simply, that nothing short of the spirit of God would work so hard, and so directly to advance HIS purposes.

So how do we add this power to our sermons ? Unfortunately I don’t think this can be completely taught. There is very much a metaphysical aspect  to this kind of preaching. Prayer of course is as always a good start. Prayer that the Holy Spirit fills us to overflowing, especially when we are preaching. Prayer that our minds will be open to the Spirit’s leading when it is there. Prayer that we will properly interpret what God is trying to tell us through his spirit.

Perhaps most importantly we have to open our hearts and our earthbound minds to the possibility of preaching this way. We also as in inquiring many other skills must be willing to practice this type of preaching before attempting it in front of  a”live” congregation. It also is  a type of preaching which requires a great deal of trust in God. So it requires a degree of Christian maturity that allows a preacher to let go of himself and his abilities, and truly turn his message over to God. Then again if we are truly preaching as we should isn’t it actually God’s message to begin with ?

 

Worship Celebration For Mary Harvin Center

BALTIMORE, April 22, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Dr. Donte’ L. Hickman, Sr., pastor, Southern Baptist Church, the leaders, members and community will have a worship service celebrating the restoration of The Mary Harvin Senior Center. The worship celebration comes exactly one year after the building was tragically destroyed by fire during the unrest that followed the tragic death and funeral of Mr. Freddie GrayThe service will be held: Wednesday, April 27, 2016 @ 7PM, Southern Baptist Church, 1701 N. Chester Street, Baltimore, MD 21213.

The Mary Harvin Senior Center is a 61 unit affordable senior housing facility and a community services center designed to restore people as the Church rebuilds properties in East Baltimore. The building honors the memory of a founding member of Southern Baptist Church who would have celebrated her 100th birthday this past January. The Center is the vision of the Southern Baptist Church to provide another affordable housing facility to complement their first development project, The Coel, Grant, Higgs Senior Housing facility, a 60 unit senior housing facility. During the unrest on April 27, 2015, several businesses were looted and facilities were set on fire. The Mary Harvin Senior Center, a casualty of the unrest, was 45% complete when it burned to the ground.

That same night, Pastor Donte’ Hickman was on the west side of Baltimore leading pastors and the faith community in a march to quell the riots and extinguish a fire when he was called to respond to the fire that had engulfed the Church’s vision sponsored by its Mary Harvin Transformation Center Community Development Corporation.

Rushing to the scene of the fire, Pastor Hickman watched as the building burned to the ground and began to field questions from media outlets from around the world. His message in the face of the fire was, “As a people of faith we believe we will rise from the ashes and rebuild.” That statement of resiliency and tenacity through faith was heard around the world. And what was a tragic fire became a tremendous light on an underserved community and its blight towards its revitalization.

Southern Baptist Church is eternally grateful for the step-by-step collaboration with The Woda Group in developing The Mary Harvin Senior Center. Pastor Hickman and Woda Senior Vice President Kevin Bell worked together tirelessly to pursue the low income housing tax credits, the political capital and the municipal support needed to ensure the project’s success. Southern is even more grateful for the determination of The Woda Group, the State Department of Housing and Community Development, Baltimore Housing, and the project’s financial partners, Hudson Housing Capital and Capital One Bank, to remain within the community and rebuild the center. After restarting construction, the Mary Harvin Senior Center was completed 69 days ahead of the scheduled completion date.

A Full Size Replica of The Ark of Noah Plans to Sail to Brazil

PASADENA, Calif., and ROTTERDAM, Netherlands, April 21, 2016 /Christian Newswire/ — The Ark of Noah Foundation in Pasadena has entered into a strategic collaboration with the owner of the full size replica of the Ark of Noah to move the Ark to the cities of Fortaleza and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Noah’s Ark will be in Fortaleza for the 2016 Olympic Games and Rio de Janeiro for the Paralympic summer games. The Ark is a massive replica that is interactive, informative, cultural Biblical event center. Noah’s Ark provides a Judeo-Christian, Bible based experience for young and old.

Once in Brazil the Ark will be using techniques that include virtual and augmented reality to tell original different biblical themes and stories in an interactive and challenging way. Brazil has a total population of over 190 million people who are 28% Protestant and 60% Catholic.

The builder of the Ark, Johan Huibers, is extremely excited to see that one of his visions gets realized. In his autobiography “The Unsinkable Dream” the builder speaks about his dream in which he sees the “Ark” in the port of Rio de Janeiro.

The Ark of Noah Foundation together with its partners are actively involved in financing the entire project. The US crowd funding campaign starts now, private investors and international donors will be approached shortly as well.

Noah’s Ark opened its doors in July 2012 for the general public and has been on display for four years already. This construction has the real dimensions of the Ark mentioned in the Bible; about 95 feet wide, 75.5 feet high and 410 feet long and weighs about 2500 tons.

It is envisioned to use the proceeds of the use of the Ark of Noah in Brazil to build Ark of Hope centers throughout the country. These centers will provide social, educational and practical support to the underprivileged people in Brazil.

Family Christian Partners with Churches Nationwide to Offer Free War Room Screenings

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., April 19, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Family Christian is partnering with local churches across the nation to offer hundreds of free screenings of War Room, a movie about prayer that became a #1 movie in US theaters last year, and is driving record-breaking DVD sales . You may find local showings at www.familychristian.com/warroom. The event leads into National Day of Prayer on May 5.

“Family Christian is grateful for the opportunity to partner with churches in communities all across the country to help ignite the fire of fervent prayer in their congregations as we approach the National Day of Prayer,” said Chuck Bengochea, President and CEO of Family Christian. “Our goal is to stir people’s hearts to the power of prayer, which has the ability to transform marriages, families and individuals.”

War Room was written and produced by Alex and Stephen Kendrick, creators of other prominent faith-based productions including Fireproof and Courageous.  The film highlights the power of a battle plan for prayer. The American Christian drama focuses on the story of a family who seemed to have it all, until their lives started to crumble through life’s challenges. Despite the family’s hardships, they learn to find strength through prayer.

About Family Christian
Located in the United States, Family Christian is the world’s largest Christian-focused retailer. The nonprofit organization has approximately 251 stores in 36 states. The organization offers a variety of Christian-themed merchandise, including Bibles, books, home decor, art, gifts, DVDs, kids’ products and music. In addition to its physical stores, Family Christian provides consumers with access to all these resources through www.familychristian.com, its eCommerce platform. When you shop with Family Christian, your purchases support efforts to unite with ministries that are helping children and families in need around the U.S. and the world. Learn more at http://www.familychristian.com/about.

Daleiden Attorneys File ‘Motion to Quash’ in Houston Grand Jury Debacle

Thomas More Society Seeks Legal Recourse in Slam Indictment Against Undercover Journalist

HOUSTON, April 14, 2016 /Christian Newswire/ — Today, Texas attorneys for undercover journalist David Daleiden filed a “motion to quash,” that is, to dismiss the pair of indictments that Houston county prosecutors secured last January from a Harris County, Texas, grand jury, charging Daleiden with crimes – both a felony and a misdemeanor – for his actions he took in Texas in connection with the Planned Parenthood baby parts trafficking exposé. Thomas More Society president and chief counsel, Tom Brejcha, together with special counsel Peter Breen, have also appeared in Daleiden’s criminal case in Houston, and will be joining Texas counsel in defense of Daleiden’s due process rights in the Harris County, Texas, 338th District Criminal Court.

These criminal charges against Daleiden in Houston dominated national headlines last January because the grand jury that returned the indictments against Daleiden and his associate, Sandra Merritt, had been convened at the urging of Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick to investigate potential criminal wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood, and not the pro-life investigators. But the grand jurors “jumped the track.” Rather than indict America’s largest abortion provider for illegal acts (e.g., selling aborted baby parts for profit and altering abortion methods to yield more profitable “specimens” for tissue procurement firms, etc.) that most observers deemed “gruesome and barbaric,” the grand jury cast a blind eye at Planned Parenthood, reportedly “clearing” it of wrongdoing, while instead leveling criminal charges against Daleiden and Merritt.

The grand jury that was convened in September 2015 for the specific purpose of hearing the evidence against the abortion provider had taken no action by December, when its term lapsed. It was “held over” to conduct further proceedings into 2016, but without any specific guidance or directions.

On January 14, 2016, Daleiden had testified before this “held over” grand jury, with the presumption that they were, as directed, investigating and targeting Planned Parenthood. Eleven days later, following his testimony, the District Attorney’s office announced the return of the indictments against Daleiden via press release, and made these charges immediately available on the internet for public consumption.

According to the motion to quash, which was filed in Harris County criminal court this morning, this holdover transaction, compounded other irregularities relating to acquisition of evidence and improper disclosure of secret grand jury matters. These issues have compromised Daleiden’s legal rights and the motion calls for suppression of the grand jury’s charges.

“The irregularities in the case were manifold,” said Peter Breen. “The abuses occurring during and after the grand jury’s proceedings were in gross violation of Mr. Daleiden’s right to due process under the Texas Constitution as well as his statutory rights,” Breen explained. Breen added that in addition to the grand jury taking actions for which they did not have proper authority, prosecutors violated the law by systematically leaking information to unauthorized persons.

Read David Daleiden’s Motions to Quash filed on April 14, 2016, felony charges here and misdemeanor charges here.

About the Thomas More Society
The Thomas More Society is a national not-for-profit law firm dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family, and religious liberty. Headquartered in Chicago, the Thomas More Society fosters support for these causes by providing high quality pro bono legal services from local trial courts all the way up to the United States Supreme Court. For more information, visit
www.thomasmoresociety.org.  

What Makes a Real Man?

Mike Devito, defensive end for the Kansas City Chiefs, and Ken Graves, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel in Bangor, ME, lead a Men’s Conference at Calvary Chapel Old Bridge, NJ on April 22nd and 23rd.

OLD BRIDGE, N.J., April 14, 2016 /Christian Newswire/ — Ninety percent of homeless and runaway children come from fatherless homes. Today, 17.4 million children under the age of 18 are being raised without a father. These children are more likely to use drugs, commit crimes, and fail to achieve their potential. The facts are clear – men are critical to the well being of children, families, and the nation.

On Friday April 22nd and Saturday, April 23rd, Mike Devito of the Kansas City Chiefs and Pastor Ken Graves of Calvary Chapel Bangor, ME will speak at Man to Man, a conference exhorting men to lead at home, in their communities, and beyond. Together, Mike and Ken will engage men on aspects of how to be better husbands, fathers, singles, and above all, how to become real men.

“I grew up without a father,” said Lloyd Pulley, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Old Bridge, “and I know firsthand the devastating impact. Now, as a father and a grandfather, by the grace of God, I want to be as influential as possible to call men to step up and be the man. That’s why I am thrilled about this conference.”

Mike Devito and Ken Graves will be joined by recording artist Joe Salant, whose spoken word and rap have reached audiences throughout the nation with a message of hope, faith, and challenge.

The Man to Man Conference begins Friday at 7:30p.m. and continues Saturday at 8:30a.m. Registration of $6 includes admission to both dates.

Ken Graves, who was instrumental in helping this area rebuild after Superstorm Sandy, with a group of lumberjacks from Maine. He shows manhood is very different than popular sitcom depictions of men as slow, foolish, and impulsive. NFL player Mike Devito will pass on his experience and challenge men to use their abilities in the service of others.

For more information on the Man to Man Conference with Pastor Ken Graves, Mike DeVito, and Joe Salant at Calvary Chapel Old Bridge, 123 White Oak Lane, Old Bridge, NJ on April 22nd at 7:30pm and April 23rd at 8:30am, visit www.ccob.org/man-to-man or call 732-679-9222.

Sister Norma, Recognized By Pope Francis, Visits The Bay Area April 15-18

Sister Norma Pimentel recognized by Pope Francis.

SAN FRANCISCO, April 12, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — During his 2015 U.S. visit, Pope Francis met with and acknowledged Sister Norma Pimentel, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, for the ongoing humanitarian aid she provides to refugees and immigrants on the TexasMexico border. This April, Catholic Charities will welcome Sister Norma to San Francisco and present her with the 2016 Loaves & Fishes Award for Faith in Action at the 19th Annual Loaves & Fishes Dinner & Gala on Saturday, April 16, from 6:00 – 9:30pm, at the St. Regis Hotel. To date, Sister Norma’s Crisis Relief Center has assisted over 32,000 refugees and immigrants.

“I am touched to be honored by Catholic Charities,” said Sister Norma. “Many individuals we serve are fleeing horrific violence. Catholic Charities is working to restore human dignity.”

According to DHS U.S. Customs and Border Protection, from October 2015February 2016, 23,553 unaccompanied minors crossed the U.S. border in search for a better life. Most are fleeing violence in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

At the Loaves & Fishes Dinner & Gala, Thuy Vu of KQED, a Vietnamese refugee, will be the Master of Ceremonies and will interview Sister Norma. This year’s event will recognize supporters for their vital role in providing funds to benefit Catholic Charities services to refugees and immigrants throughout San Francisco, Marin, and San Mateo Counties.

“We are thrilled to have Sister Norma in San Francisco and to honor her for the important work she provides to refugees,” said Jeff Bialik, Catholic Charities Executive Director. “This year we hope to shed light on this vulnerable population.”

One individual who received services from Catholic Charities is Rafael Lopez, a young man who traveled alone from El Salvador to the United States at the age of 17.

“I feared for my life every day because of gang violence,” said Lopez. “My only option was to flee. Once in California, I feared being deported. If I returned to El Salvador, I would be killed. Catholic Charities restored my hope and helped me gain legal status. I’m safe now and I have a shot at life.”

Last year, Catholic Charities provided aid and services to more than 8,000 refugees and immigrants through weekly immigration workshops, legal support, counseling support, shelter assistance, housing, childcare, and youth development. The Bay Area is home to thousands of refugees and immigrants who desperately depend on these vital services.

Catholic Charities’ mission is to strengthen families and reduce poverty. Founded in 1907 and rooted in their faith traditions of charity and justice, Catholic Charities supports families, aging and disabled adults, and youth through social services and opportunities for healthy growth and development regardless of age, race, color, sex, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, marital status or socioeconomic status. Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and our website.

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