Read the headlines, and you just might come to the conclusion that Christianity in America is dying. “Christianity Faces Sharp Decline as Americans Are Becoming Even Less Affiliated with Religion,” according to a Washington Postheadline. A BeliefNet story was titled, “Declining Christianity: The Exodus of the Young and the Rise of Atheists.” According to National Public Radio, “Christians in the U.S. on Decline as Number of ‘Nones’ Grows, Survey Finds.”
So is American Christianity really declining? That’s the question George P. Wood asks Glenn Stanton in this episode of the Influence Podcast. George P. Wood is executive editor of Influencemagazine and your host. Glenn Stanton is the director of Global Family Formation Studies at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and author of The Myth of the Dying Church, just out from Worthy Publishing.
“Too often,” writes Donna Barrett, “prayer looks like an activity on a sports field. You know, a select group of athletes make up two teams who are in fantastic shape, well-practiced, and highly trained. They do their thing at such a level of expertise that the spectators in the stands are awed and amazed. Though a fan may toss the ball around in their backyard, that person knows full well they can’t play at the level of the pros down on the field.”
In this episode of the Influence Podcast, Influence magazine’s executive editor, George P. Wood, talks to Rev. Donna Barrett about how to level the prayingfield so that everyone in a church can pray. Barrett is general secretary of the Assemblies of God (USA) and author of Leveling the Praying Field: Helping Every Person Talk to God and Hear from God, published by Gospel Publishing House.
P.S. Here is a linkto Ken Sande’s Relational Wisdom website, which was discussed in this podcast.
“Every movement begins with revolutionaries who grow disillusioned with how things are and imagine how things could be,” writes Hal Donaldson in his new book, Disruptive Compassion: Becoming the Revolutionary You Were Born to Be.
In this episode of the Influence Podcast, George P. Wood, executive editor of Influence magazine, talks with Donaldson about how to become a compassion revolutionary who changes the world … starting with yourself.
Hal Donaldson is CEO of Convoy of Hope, a faith-based, nonprofit organization with a driving passion to feed the world through children’s feeding initiatives, community outreaches, and disaster response. He is also author of 30 books, the most recent of which is Disruptive Compassion, just published by Zondervan/HarperCollins.
In Ephesians 4:11–12, the apostle Paul writes, “Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.”
Pentecostals believe this fivefold ministry continues today. Any spiritual gift can be abused, however. And when it comes to the apostolic and the prophetic specifically, unfortunately, abuses are all too common. How, then, should Pentecostals develop the proper use of apostolic and prophetic gifts, even as they discern their misuse and abuse?
That’s the question George P. Wood, Influence magazine’s executive editor, asks Dr. Joseph Girdler and Dr. Carolyn Tennant in this episode of the Influence Podcast. Girdler is superintendent of the Kentucky Ministry Network of the Assemblies of God, and Tennant is professor emerita at North Central University in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They are coauthors of Keys to the Apostolic and Prophetic: Embracing the Authentic — Avoiding the Bizarre, just out from Meadow Stream Publishing.
“There is power available to you that can unlock your soul and all of its hidden longings,” writes John Lindell—“the buried hopes of the past, the strength needed for the moment, and the dreams for a beautiful future. That is the power of the best news: the gospel is able to change your life at this moment, even now.”
In this episode of the Influence Podcast, George P. Wood, executive editor of Influencemagazine, and your host, talks with John Lindell about this power, which is the power of God’s grace. Lindell is pastor of James River Church, a multisite congregation in Springfield, Missouri. He is devoted to seeing the local church thrive and standing boldly for the cause of Christ. Most recently, Lindell is also of Soul Set Free: Why Grace Is More Liberating than You Believe, just published by Charisma House.
If you’d like to listen to John Lindell’s thoughts about expository preaching, listen to Episode 97of the Influence Podcast.
Women constitute a majority of church attendees but a minority of its pastoral leaders. In the Assemblies of God, for example, women and girls account for 55 percent of all Sunday morning attendees, but only 25 percent of credentialed ministers. This is true even though AG theology affirmsthat “God pours out His Spirit upon both men and women and thereby gifts both sexes for ministry in His Church.” This raises the obvious question: How can we do better at developing women leaders?
That’s the question George P. Wood explores with Kadi Cole in this episode of the Influence Podcast. Wood is executive editor of Influencemagazine, and your host. Cole is author of Developing Female Leadersand president of Kadi Cole & Company. One of the first women leaders to serve in an executive role at a large, multisite church, she is now a leadership consultant for both ministry and business. She is a founding member of the Women Executive Pastors Groupand the founder of MinistryChick.com.
Sixty-three percent of U.S. adults “agree somewhat or strongly that the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life,” with 38 percent “strongly” agreeing. That seems like a good thing, right? Unfortunately, the “data shows a continuing downward trend from the previous year (42% who agree strongly) and the all-time high of 53% in 2011.”
For the past decade, the American Bible Society, in conjunction with the Barna Group, has released an annual State of the Biblereport, surveying what Americans believe about and how they use the Bible. In this episode of the Influence Podcast, George P. Wood talks with John F. Plake, Ph.D., about Bible engagement trends, based on the 2019 report.
Wood is executive editor of Influencemagazine, and your host. Plake is senior manager of Ministry Intelligence for the U.S. Ministry section of the American Bible Society, as well as an ordained Assemblies of God minister. Founded in 1816, the mission of the American Bible Society is “making the Bible available to every person in a language and format each can understand and afford, so all people may experience its life-changing message.”
“The stories of honor contained in the Word of God start from the first verses in Genesis and continue to the last words in Revelation.” So writes Rich Wilkerson Sr. in his new book, I Choose Honor.
In this episode of the Influence Podcast, George P. Wood, Influencemagazine’s executive editor, talks to Wilkerson about why honor is the key to relationships, faith, and life.
Rich Wilkerson Sr. senior pastor of Trinity Church in Miami, Florida, and founder of Peacemakers, a Christian, nonprofit social services organization. His book, I Choose Honor, is just out from Charisma House.
“Christians believe the kingdom of God is our ultimate commitment, and we should confuse no temporal nation with that kingdom,” writes evangelical historian Thomas S. Kidd in his new, two-volume history of the United States. “But we are also thankful for the ways God has moved in American history, redeeming untold millions of people and building his church in each generation.”
In this episode of the Influence Podcast, Influence magazine Executive Editor George P. Wood talks to Thomas S. Kidd about how to think Christianly about American history. Kidd is distinguished professor of history, James Vardaman Endowed Professor of History, and associate director of the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. A noted scholar of colonial America, he is author most recently of American History, a two-volume textbook just published by B&H Academic.
On the Day of Pentecost, the first Christians preached the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Soon after, they also organized ministries to help the poor. This combination of evangelism and compassion is a biblical hallmark of Spirit-filled ministry. It’s also a template for action today.
In this episode of the Influence Podcast, George P. Wood, executive editor of Influencemagazine, interviews Dave Donaldson and Wendell Vinson about how the local church can serve the city through compassionate ministry.
Dave Donaldson and Wendell Vinson are editors of CityServe: Your Guide to Church-Based Compassion, just published by Salubris Resources. Donaldson is co-founder and chairman for CityServe International, whose visionis “to see the local church fulfill its calling to be a stronger catalyst for healthier communities and the restoration of broken lives.” Vinson is also co-founder of CityServe and pastor of Canyon Hills Church in Bakersfield, California.
According to the Pew Research Center, “the share of Americans who believe in God with absolute certainty has declined in recent years, while the share saying they have doubts about God’s existence – or that they do not believe in God at all – has grown.” And while most Americans continue to believe in God, the god in whom they believe is not necessarily the God of the Bible. The decline of belief in God, together with changes in the way people understand the word god, poses profound ministry challenges for pastors and other Christian leaders.
In this episode of the Influence Podcast, George P. Wood, Influence magazine's executive editor, talks to Preston Ulmer about how to talk to doubters about Jesus. Preston is founder of the Doubters Club, whose goal is to bring Christians and non-Christians together in order “to model friendship and pursue truth together.” The former lead pastor of Discover Church in Denver, Colorado, Preston is now director of Discovery for the Church Multiplication Network of the Assemblies of God.
Paul’s letter to the Galatians is brief but theologically profound. It centers on the nature and implications of the gospel itself. The letter was born out of Paul’s controversy with the so-called Judaizers, and it continues to be a source of controversy among scholars today because of the so-called New Perspective on Paul.
In this episode of the Influence Podcast, Influencemagazine’s executive editor, George P. Wood, talks to Craig S. Keener about how to read Galatians for preaching and teaching. Keener is F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, and a world-renowned New Testament scholar. He is author of numerous books and commentaries, including a commentary on Galatians, forthcoming from Baker Academic on May 21, 2019.
If Christian book publishing trends are any indication, contemplative spirituality is a hot topic among Christian readers — hotin the dual sense that it arouses intense interest as well as intense opposition. Proponents claim it is an ancient Christian practice capable of deepening a person’s love for God and neighbor. Opponents counterclaim that it is biblically subpar, smacks of medieval Catholicism, and opens the door to New Age mysticism.
In this episode of the Influence Podcast, George P. Wood, executive editor of Influencemagazine, talks to John Coe and Kyle Strobel about whether contemplative spirituality is Christian, and if so, how. Coe and Strobel are professors at the Talbott Theological Seminary of Biola University in La Mirada, California. Both are active in the seminary’s Institute for Spiritual Formation, Coe as the director and Strobel as a teacher. They are the editors of Embracing Contemplation: Reclaiming a Christian Spiritual Practice, published by IVP Academic earlier this year.
RESOURCES MENTIONED IN PODCAST
“The Bible Belt is the most difficult place in America to pastor a local church.” That’s what Dean Inserra’s friend Matt told him as they left seminary to plant churches, Dean in Florida and Matt in California. “In California, there is rarely confusion. Either you’re a Christian or you’re not. In the Bible Belt, many people think they’re Christians but have no concept of…the overall message of the gospel.”
In Episode 174 of the Influence Podcast, Influence magazine’s executive editor, George P. Wood, talks with Dean Inserra about eight types of cultural Christians and how to share the gospel with them. Inserra is author of The Unsaved Christian: Reaching Cultural Christianity with the Gospel, just out from Moody Publishers. A Southern Baptist church planter, he is founding pastor of City Church in Tallahassee, Florida, where he lives with his wife and his three children.
What should Christians believe about Islam? And how should Christians treat their Muslim neighbors? Contemporary events both abroad and in the U.S. require thoughtful Christians to answer these questions.
In Episode 174 of the Influence Podcast, George P. Wood, Influencemagazine’s executive editor, interviews Mark Brink, Mark Hausfeld, and Mark Refroe about Islam and Christian mission. All three are veteran Assemblies of God missionaries to Muslim-majority nations.
Mark Brink is international director of Global Initiative, a ministry of Assemblies of God World Missionswhose mission statement is “To equip the global church to reach Muslims because every Muslim must know the truth about Jesus.” Mark Hausfeld is professor of Urban and Islamic Studiesat the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. And Mark Renfroe is director of Reaching Africa’s Muslims, an AGWM initiative to plant the Church among Africa’s 806 Muslim unreached people groups.
Jesus Christ is the greatest news the world has ever heard, and the internet and social media give contemporary Christians effective means to share it. Unfortunately, a lot of Christians are blowing their chance, as even a quick glance at Christians online shows. How can we better use these communication tools for greater gospel influence?
In Episode 172 of the Influence Podcast, Influence magazine Executive Editor George P. Wood talks with Matt Brown about the biblical formula for influence, whether you’re online or off. Matt is founder of the evangelistic ministry Think Eternity, and author of Truth Plus Love: The Jesus Way to Influence, forthcoming from Zondervan. He lives with his wife Michelle and their two boys near Minnesota’s Twin Cities.
According to the International Labour Organizationof the United Nations, over 40 million people around the world are victims of modern slavery. Nearly 5 million are victims of forced sexual exploitation. This exploitation disproportionally affects women and girls, who constitute 99 percent of victims in the commercial sex industry.
How should Pentecostals respond to this particular evil? More generally, how should they speak out prophetically against social injustice? That’s the question Influencemagazine’s executive editor, George P. Wood, explores with Dr. Beth Grant in Episode 171 of the Influence Podcast.
Dr. Grant is coufounder, with her husband David, of Project Rescue, whose mission is “to rescue and restore victims of sexual slavery through the love and power of Jesus Christ.” It ministers to approximately 40,000 victims of sexual trafficking in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Moldova, Tajikistan, Spain, and France. The ministry operates aftercare homes, vocational training, afterschool programs, night care shelters, HIV/Aids and medical clinics, red light district churches and Sunday schools, and awareness and prevention programs for affected women and children.
The Book of Psalms is the prayer book of the Church. It shows Christians all the ways to pray through all the seasons of life, the good and the bad, the high and the low. No wonder the New Testament quotes it more than any other Old Testament book!
In this episode of the Influence Podcast, Dr. George O. Wood explains how to read the Book of Psalms for preaching and pastoral ministry. Dr. Wood is chairman of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship, former general superintendent of the Assemblies of God (USA), and author of A Psalm in Your Heart.
“Almost Half of Practicing Christian Millennials Say Evangelism Is Wrong,” reads the headline of a story about a new report from Barna Group. Titled Reviving Evangelism, that report details the erosion of support for evangelism among next-generation Christians. In Episode 169 of the Influence Podcast, David Kinnaman shares the findings of that report with George P. Wood, executive editor of Influence magazine.
Kinnaman is president of Barna Group, a leading research and communications company that works with churches, nonprofits, and businesses ranging from film studios to financial services. He is also the author of several bestselling books, including Good Faith,You Lost Me, and unChristian. He and his wife live in California with their three children.
Racism has been described as America’s original sin. While great strides have been made in the journey toward equality between blacks and whites, there still is much work to do.
In Episode 168 of the Influence Podcast, George P. Wood talks to Jemar Tisby about the history of racism in American Christianity, as well as what steps need to be taken for authentic racial reconciliation to occur.
Wood is executive editor of Influence magazine and the host of the Influence Podcast.
Tisby is author of The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American's Church's Complicit in Racism (Zondervan, 2019). He is president of The Witness: A Black Christian Collective, where he writes about race, religion, politics, and culture. He is also cohost of the Pass the Mic podcast. Tisby is a Ph.D. candidate in history from the University of Mississippi.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” writes the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 3:16.
While all Christians agree that Scripture is useful, we don’t often understand how to use it. In today’s podcast, Influence magazine’s executive editor, George P. Wood, begins a series of occasional podcasts designed to help pastors improve how they read Scripture so that they can preach Scripture better.
Joining Wood in this conversation is Rick Wadholm Jr. Wadholm is associate professor of biblical and theological studies at Trinity Bible College and Graduate School in Ellendale, North Dakota. He received his Ph.D. from Bangor University in Wales, and is author of the recently published book, A Theology of the Spirit in the Former Prophets.
“If you want to make a difference,” writes Rod Loy, “if you want to fulfill God’s calling for your life, if you want to be a leader, you have to be willing to pay the price. This is the difference between changing the world and living your life without impact.”
In Episode 165 of the Influence Podcast, Influence magazine’s executive editor, George P. Wood, talks to Rod Loy about this and other leadership insights from his new book, Help! I’m in Charge.
Rod Loy is senior pastor of First Assembly of God in North Little Rock, Arkansas, and executive presbyter for the General Council of the Assemblies of God. In addition to Help! I’m in Charge, he’s the author of Immediate Obedience, 3 Questions, and After the Honeymoon, all of which are available in both English and Spanish.
The Americans with Disability Act defines a disability as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity.” How many Americans suffer from a disability? Estimates range from 13 percentof the U.S. populace to 20 percent. That’s between 40 and 60 million persons.
In Episode 165 of the Influence Podcast, Influencemagazine’s executive editor, George P. Wood, talks to Charlie Chivers about how to make your church disability friendly.
Chivers is founder and CEO of Special Touch Ministry, a non-profit faith-based organization, committed to serving people with intellectual or physical disabilities, their families and caregivers. Special Touch is interdenominational in scope, but Chivers is an ordained Assemblies of God minister and a missionary with AG U.S. Missions.
“What your marriage will become is determined by how you pray,” write Joel and Nina Schmidgall in their new book, Praying Circles Around Your Marriage. “Prayers for your marriage will allow you to claim God-given promises, fulfill God-given dreams for your family, and seize a God-ordained legacy for generations.”
In Episode 164 of the Influence Podcast, Influence magazine executive editor George P. Wood talks to the Schmidgalls about their book, which offers great advice about prayer, marriage, and family life.
Joel and Nina Schmidgall are on staff at National Community Church in Washington, DC. Joel serves as executive pastor as well as president of the DC Dream Center, a community center committed to inspiring and equipping youth and adults to reach their God-given potential. Nina serves as director of family ministry. The Schmidgalls live on Capitol Hill with their three kids.
Every New Year, millions of Americans take time to write resolutions about who they would like to become or what they would like to do in the next 365 days. Researchers at the University of Scranton suggest that only 8 percentof people keep their resolutions. According to U.S. News & World Report, 80 percentof those resolutions fail by the second week of February.
What if we’re chasing the wrong thing? What if we need new habits, not New Year’s resolutions?
That’s the question raised by Justin Whitmel Earley’s new book, The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction, which InterVarsity Press will publish on February 5th. According to him, “We are all living according to a specific regimen of habits, and those habits shape most of our life.” He goes on to propose eight purposeful habits Christians should develop to lead spiritually focused lives.
In Episode 163 of the Influence Podcast, Influence magazine executive editor George P. Wood, talks to Justin about his new book, those eight habits, and what to do when we fail.
Justin Whitmel Earley is the creator of The Common Rule, a program of habits designed to form us in the love of God and neighbor. If his name sounds familiar, that’s because he wrote “Habits of the Tech-Wise Heart,”the cover story of the November-December 2018 issue of Influence. He is also a mergers and acquisitions lawyer in Richmond, Virginia, who previously spent several years in China as a missionary. He and his wife, Lauren, have four sons and live in Richmond, Virginia.