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.
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“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.
For most people, the Christmas holiday is a wonderful time of the year. Families come together to celebrate Christ’s birth and exchange gifts. Churches welcome one and all to worship Christ, the real Reason for the season. The words “Merry Christmas!” and “Happy Holidays!” seem to be on everyone’s lips.
Not everyone is having a good time, though. It’s a myth that suicides increase at Christmastime. But it’s a very real fact that some people are sad and lonely during this season. As Christian leaders, how do we help the hurting during the holidays?
That’s the question I’m talking about with Dr. Don Lichi in Episode 162 of the Influence Podcast. Dr. Lichi is a licensed psychologist and interim president of Emerge Counseling Services in Akron, Ohio.
Andy Williams sang that Christmas is “the most wonderful time of the year.” He was right, though for the wrong reasons. Now, don’t get me wrong! “Parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting, and caroling out in the snow” are great and everything, but they’re not what Christmas is ultimately about.
In Episode 161 of the Influence Podcast, I talk to Dr. Joseph Castleberry about the real reason why Christmas is such a wonderful time of the year. We also debunk a few myths people believe about Christmas.
Dr. Castleberry is president of Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington, an ordained Assemblies of God minister, and a former missionary to Central America. More germane to this podcast, he’s author of 40 Days of Christmas, published by Broadstreet.
When a problem hits a church, who’s responsible for fixing it?
That’s the question Influencemagazine’s executive editor George P. Wood discusses with Rob Ketterling in Episode 160 of the Influence Podcast.
Ketterling is the founder and lead pastor of River Valley Church, a multisite congregation that currently serves more than 10,000 people weekly in greater metropolitan Minneapolis, Minnesota. He’s also author of the just-released book, Fix It!, which talks about three categories of ownership for problem-solving.
America is angry. Turn on TV news, tune into talk radio, check your timeline on social media, and chances are good you’ll see someone angry—outraged!—about something. Some commentators even worry that our nation is on the verge of a civil war.
It would be nice to say that Christians in America are tamping down the fires of outrage, but unfortunately, that’s not always true. Instead, some Christians are fanning the flames. They’re kicking outrage up to 11.
One Christian leader who’s trying to turn the outrage down is Ed Stetzer. He thinks outrage is unbiblical and anti-Great Commission. In his new book, Christians in the Age of Outrage, he explains why Americans are mad, why that’s bad, and what Christians should do about it.
Stetzer is Billy Graham Distinguished Professor of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College; dean of its School of Mission, Ministry, and Leadership; and executive director of the Billy Graham Center. He talks about his new book with Influencemagazine executive editor George P. Wood in Episode 159 of the Influence Podcast.
According to an October 8, 2018, Pew Research Center report, 62 percent of Americans believe that marijuana use should be legal. That represents a doubling of public support for pot legalization since 2000, and a quintupling since 1969.
Although the federal government still classifies marijuana as a prohibited drug, nine states and the District of Columbia permit its use. On Election Day 2018, several other states will consider referenda to legalize recreational and/or medical marijuana usage.
How should Christians think about these things?
That’s the question Influence magazine executive editor George P. Wood explores with Phil Steiger and Chad Graham in Episode 158 of the Influence Podcast.
Steiger and Graham are ordained Assemblies of God ministers and pastors of Living Hope Church and University Assembly, respectively. Both churches are located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Colorado was the first state in the Union to legalize recreational pot.
To hear more of their thoughts about a Christian view of marijuana use and legalization, check out their Thinker Sensitive Podcast series.
It’s been said that teamwork makes the dream work. That’s true for any organization, but it’s especially true for churches. After all, the business of Church isrelationship—with God and with others.
Unfortunately, many churches experience relational dysfunction in the leadership team, the congregation as a whole, or both. They also often fail to realize the vision for the Church laid out by Christ in the Great Commission. In High Impact Teams, Lance Witt explains why churches don’t have to choose between relationships and results. He then shows how to bring those two things together for greater effectiveness in ministry.
Witt is founder of Replenish, a ministry with two goals: (1) to help individuals live and lead from a healthy soul and (2) to teams and organizations become healthy and high-performing. Before launching Replenish, he served twenty years as a senior pastor and six years as an executive and teaching pastor for Rick Warren at Saddleback Church.
He’s the guest on Episode 157 of the Influence Podcast, which is hosted by George P. Wood, executive editor of Influencemagazine.