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In the face of rapid social change, indeed moral change, what are Christian organizations doing with their foundational documents, and how can they maintain their fidelity to the faith?

Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #102 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.

In my other earlier life as a Christian educator, I remember Christian organizations or ministries including churches, colleges, camps, missions, para-church organizations, etc. nearly always possessing and periodically citing key, foundational statements.

These foundational statements were and are carefully written expressions of: 

  • theological understanding = doctrinal or faith statements,
  • employee behavioral conduct = lifestyle statements,
  • ethical perspectives on contemporary issue = position statements.

Christian organizations, especially denominations, sometimes also issued:

  • declarations for statements about current issues, 
  • policy or social statements regarding broad issues, 
  • resolutions or social messagesaddressing specific issues, or
  • proclamationsfor significant announcements.

These statements helped individuals understand what the people in the organization affirmed, i.e., where they niched along a spectrum of Christian belief and practice. In their best application, such statements reinforced organizations' raison d'etre and, over time, helped maintain continuity.

On the other hand, sometimes such statements wre elevated to a kind of sacred status, maybe even equated with Scripture, and as such could become stodgy dogma, more about means than ends. In turn, these bureaucratized documents could be used to suppress independent thought and thus got in the way of perhaps needed change. Often this happened because individuals in the organization were vested in the current system and change meant a possible loss of status or power.

Today, the content and use of Christian organization statemens is changing rapidly.

Doctrinal statements have certainly changed over time, which may or may not be good in terms of biblical fidelity. 

For example, most Christian doctrinal statements used to reject all forms of divorce, but these stipulations have mostly been modified or removed. 

Some doctrinal statements prohibited use of alcoholic beverages, dancing, and smoking, but many of these injunctions have been removed.  

Premarital and extramarital sexual engagement were often referenced in older doctrinal statements and in many statements still are, but there is considerable pressure to remove these sexual prohibitions, or at least to ignore them.  

Many personal morality matters, along with use of alcoholic beverages, dancing, and smoking if these things are referenced at all, have been moved out of doctrinal statements into organization lifestyle statements. 

But lifestyle statements are changing too, or more often, I think, the statements in part or even entirety have joined a growing list of behavioral concerns that have been tossed overboard.  

Gambling, for example, not long ago in the 1960s was overwhelmingly considered morally unacceptable and was cited in many older lifestyle covenants, if not doctrinal statements. Now, it’s the reverse.  

The American public, and surveys suggest many Christians, no longer considers gambling a threat, or maybe not a sin either. And in 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States in a 6-3 ruling, struck down a 1992 federal law that required states to ban sports gambling. With this social acceptance of the most prevalent form of wagering, gambling has pretty much enjoyed open season since. No one much cares, and Christians can be found on Facebook celebrating their most recent trip to Las Vegas.

Christian organization policy statements have become commonplace, particularly those related to the safety of children placed in the care of church workers during church activities. Some policy, rooted in custody issues, pertain to how parents are identified and who is permitted to retrieve the child from church facilities. 

In addition, churches and other Christian organizations are now typically conducting background checks on childcare volunteers and requiring they participate in training. Churches maintain “two-person” rules, meaning an adult should never be alone with children, no photography stipulations, and much more.  

Ministries have also adopted policies regarding abuse, harassment, security, etc.  

Now, there’s even more extensive change in the wind. 

A growing number of “new” moral and social issues, which in the past didn’t create problems for Christian organizations, are now front and center.

An illustrative list includes: abortion, bullying, domestic abuse or sexual violence, climate change, green policies, medical ethics (stem cells, cloning, euthanasia) and healthcare, the rights of women, children, the disabled, human trafficking, immigration and refugees, pornography, racism, religious freedom, and the vaguely defined social justice.  

Same-sex marriage is a consideration for theologically conservative Christian organizations, but in June 2015, the Supreme Court of the US ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that same-sex couples possessed the same fundamental right as opposite sex couples to marry. In other words, same-sex marriage is now legal, so churches and Christian organizations wishing to position against it must approach the matter carefully.

In June 2020, Bostock v. Clayton County, the Supreme Court of the US held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees against discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI). In other words, the Court read SOGI back into the meaning of “sex” as written in the 1964 laws and with that move, not only undermined the rule of law, put religious liberty on a legal collision course with SOGI.

This ruling is a landmark of the wrong kind, making SOGI – subjective and unverifiable socially constructed identities, not objective biological traits – what the law calls a “protected category.” This ruling will have seismic impact upon American culture, including, but far beyond, discussions about who uses women’s bathrooms, who participates in women’s sports, what pronouns corporations are forced to use or force their employees to use, etc. 

While this ruling will affect schools and universities, businesses, camps, youth organizations, daycare, and other workplace conditions or sex-specific facilities, it will also affect churches and Christian nonprofit organizations. 

The Heritage Foundation commented, “SOGI laws threaten the freedom of citizens, individually and in associations, to affirm their religious or moral convictions—convictions such as that marriage is the union of one man and one woman or that maleness and femaleness are objective biological realities to be valued and affirmed, not rejected or altered. Under SOGI laws, acting on these beliefs in a commercial or educational context could be actionable discrimination.” 

“Currently, Title VII, a section of the Civil Rights Act, allows religious exemptions for faith-based organizations to hire with an eye to religious qualifications.  

Some have used this to argue that religious organizations can refuse to hire and/or fire employees who are LGBTQ if it conflicts with their sincerely held religious beliefs. However, because LGBTQ persons are now included under the ‘sex’ category of Title VII, it is unclear whether these exemptions are still understood to permit religious organizations to discriminate on the basis of LGBTQ status.” 

In its analysis, the ECFA said, “religious groups with theological views that do not align with that interpretation will need to show that they are entitled to an exception under existing laws, such as the ministerial exception defense.

Christian organizations are for the most part not ready. What’s missing in nearly all church or Christian organization foundational statements is any reference to sexual orientation or gender identity (LGBTQ+). This is because these issues have literally exploded in our culture in just the past 20 years. 

SOGI involves not just personal moral conscience but H.R. or human resources hiring practices. And if the US Congress passes the Equality Act these identifications will be brought under the legal protection of federal civil rights laws.  

If Christian organizations add paragraphs in their doctrinal or lifestyle statements referencing SOGI identification matters, these Christian organizations will potentially be subject to legal challenge. Or if not this, the organizations may be subject to the new online bullying tactic that declares something ipso facto non-inclusive, discriminatory, or racist, then attacks the organization for its “Christian supremacy.”

Another hugely influential and divisive issue is Critical Race Theory (CRT), an empowerment philosophy, based upon oppressor and victimhood, that argues racism is the defining explanation for all of America’s social problems. It takes identity politics to a new level of discord and intolerance.

Yet Christian organizations are being seduced by CRT. To what extent CRT is acknowledged or embraced or promoted is already contributing to division in Christian organizations like Cru

American Evangelicalism is indeed not without its race problems and the need for open discussion on how to address the issues and move forward biblically, but CRT is not about forgiveness or grace but about “being woke,” claiming America is systemically racist, whites are by definition supremacists, and, ironically and dangerously, promoting racism under the guise of antiracism

CRT is all but a new religion. It has literally taken American culture by storm, is long since deeply entrenched in American higher education, and is now making significant inroads into the Church. But it is incompatible with Christianity and churches are going to be forced to respond, to declare themselves, in one of the forms of statements mentioned in this piece. 

So, churches and Christian organizations are now editing doctrinal statements, revising lifestyle statements, and developing position statements on a wide range of social or moral issues. Whether these efforts will protect Christian organizations remains to be seen in how future politics develop vis-à-vis the First Amendment and religious freedom.

Certainly, putting well-reasoned, biblically grounded statements into print before legal challenges occur is better than an approach that is a day late and a dollar short. 

Christian organizations need to think carefully, perhaps seek legal guidance, and assure they have in print what they consider essential, foundational statements regarding the moral and social issues of the day. 

Procrastinating on this task will not make the challenges go away, because they are being used by the Satan, who masquerades as an angel of light, but is the master of deception, deceit, division, and darkness.


Well, we’ll see you again soon. This podcast is about Discerning What Is Best. If you find this thought-provoking and helpful, follow us on your favorite podcast platform. Download an episode for your friends. For more Christian commentary, check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s  

And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2023     

*This podcast blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at, or connect with me at  

Christian organizations, including churches, have long worked with doctrinal statements clarifying their theological positions.  Some also developed lifestyle statements or covenants for employees.

More recently, Christian organizations, especially churches or denominations, have felt the need to develop position papers or policy statements about specific issues, both to make public how they believe their biblical understanding applies to the issue and also, depending upon the concern, to put their perspectives in print regarding controversial issues to try to protect the Christian organization legally.

Examples of the former might be topics like use of alcoholic beverages during Christian organization activities or policies regarding green environmental stewardship.

Examples of the latter include child protection policies or whether a church will conduct marriages for same-sex couples.

Issues like abortion, LGBTQ, “woke” ideas about race, for example, existed in the past but not many people engaged in these behaviors or not many in the general public advanced them.  Consequently, in a sense, these issues did not rise to a level requiring a Christian organization to address them in some formal statement.

This is what has changed.  Now it seems a host of controversial “new” issues—several of them involving sexuality or the politics of race—are being embraced not simply by the public but by Christian organization personnel or church or denomination members.  The more these issues are promoted, the more the Christian organization feels pressure to speak, to put some kind of position paper or policy statement in print. 

A Christian organization’s doctrinal statement is still its most important expression of belief, and a Christian organization need not necessarily publish a statement or assume some “side” on every issue.  But the politicization trend in American culture is increasing pressure upon Christian organizations to speak up in order to delineate their beliefs and to attempt to protect themselves.  

In "Christian Organization Statements--Doctrinal, Lifestyle, Position--Then and Now," I address two of the most significant new concerns: SOGI, sexual orientation and gender identity, and CRT, critical race theory.

These issues divide--families and friends, churches, Christian organizations, country and culture. It behooves anyone who cares about living out a Christian worldview to become informed and to help the Christian organizations in which they are involved to prepare to speak the truth in love into contemporary culture.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2021    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at, or connect with me at    


What is it, really, that distinguishes a good from a not-so-good sermon? Is it the condition of our own heart or our personal taste? Or is it something independent from us within the sermon itself? And I recognize that a sermon one might not like can be used of God in a powerful way, if not in our lives than in the lives of someone else. But aren’t there some qualitative differences identifiable, one sermon to the next?

There’s another major consideration I haven’t addressed before: the speaker’s personality and/or personal gifts. It seems logical to me that we’ll rank a sermon higher on our scale of rhetorical and spiritual beauty if we like the person delivering the message. And/or we’re likely to rank a sermon higher if the person sharing the message is a gifted speaker, talented platform presence, and/or polished presenter (“performer”?).

But our heart matters and preferences, the speaker and his or her persona aside, it still seems to me there are a few things we could list that distinguish the good from the not-so-good sermon.

Here’s my list:

--Are we listening to something new, or is this the “same sermon, different text”? In other words, while the speaker is delving into a different passage of Scripture is he pretty much giving you another summary of what he’s said numerous times before? Repetition per se is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a tool of good pedagogy. But then again, if you’re hearing the same themes over and over it’s likely a sign the speaker hasn’t or isn’t studying new material.

--Is the sermon just a recitation of the same themes: be a good boy or girl, don’t do bad things? Now is this wrong or injurious counsel? Of course not, but if the speaker has presented basically this same refrain ad infinitum, than you’re not going deeper and you’re not likely maturing in the faith.

--Sermons focusing upon personal-behavior-only can fairly be described as pietism. Much of this approach isn’t hurtful in itself; in fact it’s good. But if this is where the sermon stops than the speaker is missing an opportunity to teach a Christian worldview, to integrate Scripture in contemporary life and culture, to demonstrate how Scripture not only enriches and blesses our inner faith and personal life but also offers enormous positive reinforcements for our culture—“way of life”—whether social, political, economic, civic, artistic, and more.

--Is the sermon simply an elaboration of a Scripture passage? We have to be careful here. The Word of God, simply read, is in itself a great sermon. God promises his Word will not return to him empty or without impact. What I’m noting, though, are the times a speaker reads a passage of Scripture than simply works back through it telling you what it means. Again, this isn’t a “bad thing” in itself. Perhaps this method is needed to assure understanding. But I think far too many commonly presented passages are repeatedly presented, talked about, and that’s it. Something’s missing.

--Does the sermon lack illustrations? This is what’s often missing in the previous scenario: a lot of Scripture but no illustration from contemporary life painting a picture of what the passage means and how it might change your life. I’m amazed how often I hear sermons that make no connection to life, to news, to what’s going on in the world outside the church.

--Similarly, does the sermon lack application? It’s one thing to read the Word and understand what it says. It’s another thing to be able to apply it in your life. I think I’ve met young people who can tell you the story of Daniel in the Lions’ Den but have no idea what the story means for them in 2012. They can talk about miracles but someone missed the opportunity to teach them about the sovereignty of God. Here again is the opportunity to get outside the church—apply doctrine in a real world.

Well, this is enough. I think a good-to-great sermon rightly divides the Word of Truth, illustrates it, and draws upon a Christian worldview to apply it to or “integrate” it in both our personal lives and culture.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

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What’s the difference in a good and not-so-good sermon? Is it us, you, me? Is it our own hearts and attitudes more than the details, construction, or delivery of the message? Perhaps, but for now I’ll leave that thought for another day. I’ve been thinking about “What makes a good sermon?”

Have you ever listened to a sermon and thought it was one of the best, most moving you’d ever heard? Or maybe you heard a sermon that you thought was a masterpiece, constructed in a way that hit a spiritual and maybe an oratorical home run?

On the flip side, ever listened to a sermon and wondered what the speaker was trying to say? What was his point anyway? After awhile, do you even care? Or have your ever listened to a sermon and wondered what the speaker was thinking when he put it together?

Now I’m not a theologian or a preacher. I’ve not attended seminary and I’m not ordained. So maybe I’m not one to address the question “What makes a good sermon?” On the other hand, I’ve listened to thousands of sermons and I am a speaker, having presented a few hundreds of sermons along the way—hopefully a few good ones and undoubtedly more than a few not-so-good ones.

But before I dive in, I must acknowledge two other considerations that get in the way of an unbiased evaluation of sermon quality. It’s possible that, along with the heart matters I mentioned earlier, determining what makes a good sermon is a matter of taste or preference. Like everything else, I suppose there are some things about a sermon that makes it likeable and appreciated by one but not another listener. If this is so, than what I’m going to say suggests more about my preferences than about the independent merits of a given sermon.

Finally, there’s the possibility that the whole question of the “likeability” of a sermon might be the wrong question. Certainly it’s possible, in fact I think I’ve experienced it, that a perceived "un-liked" sermon can indeed be a needed, convicting, and beneficial one in the providence and work of the Holy Spirit.

So with all that, heart matters, taste, and the spiritual potential of “un-liked” sermons, it seems like I’ve talked myself into a corner that admits to no criteria for identifying a good from a not-so-good sermon. But still, I don’t think so. What do you think?


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

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Megachurches qualify for the designation when attendance tops 2,000 people. The term was first used by megachurch researcher John Vaughn and later popularized in his 1993 book entitled Megachurches and America’s Cities: How Churches Grow. Now we’ve got the inelegant term gigachurch, a congregation of 10,000 or more in weekly services.

Now several churches top 20,000. Actually, Joel Osteen’s Houston-based Lakewood Church is listed at about 43,500. Next in the list is Second Baptist church, also Houston, at 23,659; North Point Church with Andy Stanley in Alpharetta, GA at 22,557; Willow Creek Church in Chicago with well-known megachurch leader Bill Hybels at 22.500; Lifechurch.TV in Oklahoma at 20,823; and West Angeles Cathedral in L.A. at 20,000. Purpose-Driven Life Pastor Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church just misses the 20,000-attendee club at 19,414.

There are now well over 1200 churches in the United States with weekly attendance figures regularly over 2,000, and most are growing. Before we get carried away with these grand numbers we should note that in South Korea some churches claim 250,000 regular weekly attendees. Mind-boggling.

So what should we think of this?

I’m not a megachurch researcher, much less an expert. I’m not necessarily “for” or “against” megachurches. I just get into some of them, see them as I travel, and witness how some of them present facilities, personalities, missions, etc.

As far as I can tell there’s nothing “wrong” with a church that attracts a large attendance. In one sense, they are simply outcomes of our age, along with “big box stores” like Walmart and Home Depot, huge businesses, again like Walmart, or Google, Apple, or Microsoft. “Big” is an attribute of our lives in part because there are more people on the earth than ever before, some 7.3 billion and growing.

I believe in liberty, i.e. that one can make one’s own choices, and I believe in free enterprise, i.e. that one is free to invest talent, time, and effort, create a service or product, and build something worthwhile. Churches can do this, or at least their attendees and leaders can. People choose to go where they get what they want, where what’s presented is presented well, if not excellently, and where it’s convenient or affirming for them to go. One reason churches grow is because they have a speaker that hits the ball and people choose to come back time and again. Nothing odd or “wrong” in this, unless of course the speaker or the church preach or teach theological error.

Beyond this I confess some megachurches make me uncomfortable. One reason is simply the facilities they require. Enormous, and I mean humongous, edifices—no, multi-edifices on campuses rivaling small universities. Having led one of those small universities and done a bit of fundraising I can say these facilities cost tens of millions of dollars and other millions to operate them. Some are nothing short of opulent. Is this “bad” or “wrong”? I can’t quite go there, at least not as a generalization. But I also know that facilities like this go well beyond what’s necessary for basic worship and fellowship. They absorb funds that could indeed go for a variety of other fund-starved needs and ministries.

Megachurches aren’t all good or all bad. Their appropriateness and effectiveness trace to the people who lead and attend them.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

A spate of articles hit the media this week reporting that Dr. Robert H. Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral filed for bankruptcy protection. Church leaders blamed the economy, drops in attendance, and a large mortgage debt, some $30 million left over from building expansion. According to the church leaders, then, the church has problems and money is the culprit.

But money isn’t usually an organization’s primary problem. Money is more of a symptom than a cause. Sure, some organizations or corporations can truly be caught in the unpredictable vagaries of the marketplace, but imoney is generally a secondary issue.

It’s not unlike couples telling marriage counselors they’re having sex-related problems in their marriage. Again, could be, maybe; perhaps there are genuine, discrete problems rooted strictly in sex. But not usually. Experienced marriage counselors know there’s almost always something else, some other breakdown in the couple’s life or relationship, a primary problem that generates a secondary or contingent sex problem. Money problems in marriage and in organizations are like that too.

The real issue at the Crystal Cathedral is not money but leadership. I visited the Cathedral last winter and wrote about my impressions at the time. I think what I said then holds true today. Dr. Robert H. Schuller didn’t know when to let go. I doubt he was clueless on these mathers—he’s too gifted for that to be the case. No, he either didn’t want to or couldn’t let go.

Dr. Schuller, to give him credit, tried to leave in 2006 when he transferred leadership to his son, Robert A. Schuller. But it didn’t work. Son was gone less than three years later. Despite news coverage no one’s quite sure why. But whatever the surface issues the real problem was leadership again.

At the time, rather than conduct a national search for a pastor capable of leading the church, Dr. Schuller returned and stayed long past a time when he, because of age, could be effective in the pulpit and in leadership. He didn’t change, apparently didn’t let his son change things, and didn’t respond to cultural shifts in the Christian community.

None of this is intended as disrespect for Dr. Schuller. He’s a pastor who accomplished many good things, and whom he is and what he seemed to do in mishandling leadership are all quite human.

But the issue is still leadership. Great leaders know when to leave. Unless God removes them in some way, great leaders leave a legacy to build upon and they leave with their head up.

In football, Tony Dungy, formerly of the Indianapolis Colts, is an example of a great leader who knew when to leave and left gracefully. Bobby Bowden, formerly of the Florida State University Seminoles, is an example of a good leader who didn’t know when to leave, was eventually forced out, and left a legacy of public bitterness and ungraciousness in the process. It’s too bad, because in almost every other way Bobby Bowden is a good man of great achievements.

Dr. Robert A. Schuller is a good man of great achievements, but he didn’t handle well the leadership succession imperative that comes to every leader. Rev. Jerry Falwell planned well, and when God called him home, the plans worked perfectly for the good of the ministries Dr. Falwell led. Rev. Billy Graham planned well, and when advancing age began taking its toll, the planned transition to son Franklin worked admirably.

Money is the great equalizer, so if leaders misstep the mistakes sometimes show up in the bottom line. The Crystal Cathedral needs funds to continue operation, but what it needs more is a vibrant, visionary new leader. Here’s hoping those who care for the Crystal Cathedral ministry realize this and launch not a fundraising campaign but a leadership search.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010


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