Wednesday, November 30, 2016

13 Facts About Opposition to Change Too Many Leaders Miss

By Carey Nieuwhof
“Never sacrifice the future of 90 percent of people you lead because of the discontent of 10 percent.”

You’re probably trying to change something right now. And—if you’re honest—you’ve already thought about backing off.
Change seems too difficult.

You’ve watched friends get hurt trying to lead similar change.

You’ve heard the voices of opposition get a little louder.

You really don’t want to be afraid to open your inbox every morning.

But what if this is true?

Change is harder than it needs to be only because it’s more mysterious than it needs to be.

And it doesn’t need to be quite that mysterious.

Here’s what I believe about change: Change involves common human dynamics, and the dynamics can be learned. There are facts about change that, frankly, too many leaders miss. Discover them, and change becomes much easier to navigate.

In my book about leading change while facing opposition, I outline the learned dynamics of change that I hope can help every leader.

I’m passionate about change because I’ve lived through it and can vouch for the fact that change is more than possible.

I’m also passionate because if the church (and other organizations) are going to reach their potential, change isn’t optional, it’s necessary.

So, if you’re navigating change, here’s a short cheat sheet of 13 key principles that I hope will help you maintain clear thinking amidst the sea of emotions that leading change brings.

1. People aren’t opposed to change nearly as much as they are opposed to change they didn’t think of

Everybody’s in favor of their ideas, but most organizational change is driven by the ideas fostered by a leader or a leadership team. That’s simply the way leadership operates. When you float an idea, there’s often initial resistance from people who didn’t think of the idea or who weren’t involved in the process. That resistance isn’t fatal though.

You just need to realize that most people will come on board. You just need to give them time until the idea spreads widely enough to be owned.
Great ideas eventually resonate, even if they’re initially met with resistance.
How do you know you have a good idea? Like a fine wine, good ideas get better with time. Bad ideas get worse.

2. Change is hard because people crave what they already like

You have never craved a food you haven’t tried, and change operates on a similar dynamic. Your people want what they’ve seen because people never crave what they haven’t seen. That’s why vision is so key—you need to paint a clear enough picture that people begin to crave a future they haven’t yet lived.

3. Leaders crave change more than most people do because they’re leaders

The reason leaders love change more than most people is because they’re leaders. Your passion level is always going to be naturally and appropriately higher than most people when it comes to change. Just know that’s how you’re wired and don’t get discouraged too quickly if your passion for change is higher than others. You’re the leader. That’s your job.

4. Most of the disagreement around change happens at the strategy level 
Most leaders stop at aligning people around a common mission and vision, but you also need to work hard at aligning people around a common strategy.
It’s one thing to agree that you passionately love God; it’s another to create a dynamic church that unchurched people flock to.
One depends on vision; the other is a re-engineering around a common strategy. When people are aligned around a common mission, vision and strategy, so much more becomes possible.

5. Usually no more than 10 percent of the people you lead are opposed to change

Most leaders are shocked when they hear that only about 10 percent of their church or team is opposed to change at any time. Almost all swear it’s higher.
But usually, it’s not. When I’ve challenged leaders to write down the actual names of people who are opposed to what they’re proposing, most are hard pressed to write down more than a dozen or so. And often, that’s even less than 10 percent.

It may feel like 50 percent of the people you lead are opposed to change, but that’s almost never true. The question, of course, then becomes this: Are you going to sacrifice the future of 90 percent of people you lead because of the discontent of 10 percent? I hope not.

I dissect the 10 percent rule in detail in my book, Leading Change Without Losing It. (I promise you it’s good news for leaders.)

6. Loud does not equal large

So why do the 10 percent feel bigger than they are?
Because they’re loud. Conversely, the proponents of change are usually quieter, even respectful. Just because the opponents of change are loud doesn’t mean they’re a large group. The most opposed people make the most noise. Don’t make the mistake most leaders make when they assume large equals loud. Almost every time, it doesn’t.

7. Most people opposed to change do not have a clearly articulated vision of a preferred future

Most people opposed to change do not have a clearly articulated vision of a preferred future. They don’t know what they want. They just know what they don’t want. In fact, most just want to go back to Egypt. And you can’t build a better future on a vision of the past.

8. Fear of opposition derails more leaders than actual opposition

Fear of opposition derails more leaders than actual opposition. Wouldn’t it be horrible to look back on your leadership and realize there was little opposition to change—you just thought there was? So push past your fears. And push past the opposition. Courage isn’t the absence of fear; it’s the determination to lead through your fears. By the way, this also does wonders for your faith.

9. Buy-in happens most fully when people understand why, rather than what or how

What and how are inherently divisive. Someone’s always got a better, cheaper, more expensive, faster, shorter, longer way to do what you’re proposing.
Articulating why you’re changing something is different. It unites people. Why reminds everyone why we do what we do, and why we’re doing this in the first place. So focus on why when you’re communicating. Why motivates. Always start with why, finish with why and pepper all communication with why.

10. Unimplemented change becomes regret

If you don’t muster up the courage to usher in healthy change, you’ll regret it.
You’ll look back and yearn for what might have been, not for what was.
Unimplemented change becomes regret. Remember that.

11. Incremental change brings about incremental results

People will always want to do less, which is why many leaders settle for incremental change, not radical change, even when radical change is needed.
You’ll be tempted to compromise and reduce vision to the lowest common denominator: incremental change. Just know that incremental change brings incremental results. And incrementalism inspires no one.

12. Transformation happens when the change in question becomes part of the culture 

How long does change take? It takes a while, and it’s important to persevere. Because over time, change becomes transformation. You can change some things in a year and almost everything in five years. But transformation happens when people own the change. That’s often five to seven years; only then do most people not want to go back to Egypt. So how do you know transformation has happened? Simple. Most people no longer want to go back to the way it was.

13. The greatest enemy of your future success is your current success

As I wrote about in Leading Change Without Losing It, success has its own problems. The biggest problem? Success makes leaders conservative. The more successful you become, the less willing you are to change.
As a result, the greatest enemy of your future success is your current success.
The best way to overcome that?

Keep changing. Keep experimenting. Keep risking.
Successful organizations create a culture of change because they realize that success tempts you to risk nothing until decline forces you to reexamine everything. Keep changing.

I hope these 13 principles can keep you focused on a few of the toughest dynamics associated with change.

What would you add to this list?

And what’s been the most difficult aspect of change for you and your team?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Stranger's Gift, A Child's Faith

Elvina Arventii looks like any typical  20-something mom in Fresno, California. The smiles she gives to her husband, Denys, and their daughter, Arina, do not betray the pain of her early life growing up in poverty in a family of nine. But they do hearken back to the time when Arventii’s life changed for the better—thanks to a shoebox full of goodies.

Arventii grew up in Kivertsi, Ukraine, during the time when the country was part of the Soviet Union. Her parents were Christians, which made it very difficult to pursue higher education or land a good-paying job.

“It was financially very hard for my dad to support a family of nine,” Arventii says. “I think every family in the Ukraine had a piece of land they work on. They grew their own vegetables and fruits just to survive. That was the main source of food for us.”

Even as a little girl, Arventii had a part of the field that was hers to work. There was not much time to be a kid. There was only work on the farm and school.
At her school, under Communist rule, any talk of faith was discouraged. In fact, to admit that you were a Christian would bring ridicule.

“The teachers told us that God was not real and people had just made him up,” Arventii says. “In our schools there were times when, if you were a Christian, they would lower your grade.”

The Christians of Kivertsi had to stay mostly underground.

“The church was persecuted,” Arventii says. “A lot of times our services were in the forest. We were not able to have our own church. A lot of our church members were in the prisons for being Christians.”

The Faith of a Child

It’s difficult for a child to hold on to their faith under that kind of pressure. So how did Arventii stay grounded? Much of her strength came when God answered a child-like prayer.

At 7 years old, “my dream was to have a regular toy,” Arventii says. “We made a lot of games and toys with flowers, trees, rocks or anything. It was special for me to have a real toy.”

Specifically, she wanted a doll of her very own. When she asked her parents for one, her mother told her to pray.

“We always prayed before food or before bed. But those prayers were memorized,” Arventii says. “It was like something I had to do. It wasn’t out of my personal relationship with Jesus.”

She began, at first, to ask God for a doll in a way that her mother would be sure to hear. Her prayer was, nonetheless, sincere. When Christmas came, the children received the typical gift from their church: a bag with candies, an orange and a walnut. There were no elaborately wrapped packages, no dolls.

The Gift of a Stranger

Then, one January during the bitter Ukraine winter, something happened.

“It was freezing cold with lots of snow,” Arventii says. “Schools were closed and we pretty much spent all day at home. That’s when missionaries came with some ladies from our church. They knocked on the door and we all ran to the living room. They brought the boxes. It was very special.”

Arventii took her box, ran to her room and rummaged through her treasures. The box had candies, school supplies and other wonderful things—but unfortunately, no doll.

“Even though I didn’t have a doll, I was excited with what I had in the box,” Arventii says. “We all were running around the house and showing each other what we got. It was very, very wonderful.”

Her sister’s box did contain a doll, and Arventii tried to make a trade her to no avail. Then, she noticed her mother helping her little brother with his box. 

That’s when she saw it.

“There was a little doll on the top,” Arventii says, adding how she felt when her mother handed her the doll. “It was very very meaningful for me. I was on the top of the world.”

She was certain that this was God answering her prayers.

“Later in my life, I would remember this moment if I had problems or wanted something,” Arventii says. “I realized that God is real and not just a fairy tale. It was my first step toward trusting God and trusting prayer. I knew that he loved me.”

At age 16, Arventii took the next step from that simple faith.

“I decided that I wanted to not just be the daughter of Christian parents, but I wanted more of a relationship with God.” One Sunday in church, she felt God beckon her and she gave her life to Jesus.

A Foreign Land

As the Soviet Union broke apart and Ukraine became an independent nation, more opportunities arose for Arventii’s father. He was able to get a job that would take him to America. Eight years later, the rest of the family made it to the U.S.

It was at a church in America that Arventii learned where those shoeboxes came from. One November, the church was collecting gifts for Operation Christmas Child. “I said, ‘Wow!’ That’s were my box came from,” Arventii says. “I started asking people how it works and who’s doing it.”

She contacted Samaritans Purse, and now she’s a spokesperson for the collection. She travels the country and tells her story.

Now, as a mother, she is sure to keep the tradition with her own child.

“I want my daughter to learn how to give,” she says. “In this country, we have so much. I want her to learn how to share and why this is so special to me.”

For more information about how you partner with this incredible ministry, contact Samaritan’s Purse at or call 828-262-1980.

Jeff Chaves is a freelance writer and pastor. He has been married to Peggy for more than 32 years, and they have four children. He is the pastor of Northpointe Community Church in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Monday, November 28, 2016

5 Things You’re Saying to Guest Families That You Shouldn’t Say

By Dale Hudson

Phrases like “The truth is…” and “I don’t know” can really tarnish a newcomer’s view of you and your ministry.

The majority of guests who walk through your church doors decide if they are going to return based on how you treat them. It is critical you give them a great experience on that first visit. And what you say and don’t say is a big part of that. In this post, we share five things you may be saying to guest families that you shouldn’t be saying. This is from Justyn Smith, one of the authors of the new book If Disney Ran Your Children’s Ministry.

Our church hosts an amazing women’s conference each year called Sparkle. Thousands of women show up for two days of corporate and personal ministry. It’s one of those “all hands on deck” types of church events, and at the last one I was asked to greet at one of our doors. As I was standing there, one of our vendors for lunch, who happens to be the manager at our local Chick-fil-A, was exiting my door with some employees. As we were making small talk, I noticed a couple of ladies approaching. I opened the door and they said to me, “Thank you,” to which I replied, “Absolutely! No problem.”

Not a second had passed when the Chick-fil-A owner looked at me and said, “No problem?! You said no problem?!”My eyes got pretty big because I didn’t really catch on. He continued, “It’s your pleasure. You should’ve said, ‘My pleasure’!” No problem insinuates that there could be a problem—that they could be a problem. Don’t you work with people every day?” I felt horrible after that. I could tell he was somewhat joking, but he was right. His point was to not make me feel bad. He runs a Chik-Fil-A! They’re well known for their hospitality. If you have ever been to a Chik-fil-A, you know that they almost always say “My pleasure!” after you say thank you.

What we say and how we say it matters. My intention was never to insinuate that anyone was a problem. And truthfully, I don’t think they would’ve thought that. Nevertheless, we want to raise the bar in how we treat our guests and church attenders. We want to be the friendliest people they meet in their week. With this in mind, we must all be mindful of the words we use. Instead of “No problem” or “You bet,” saying something similar to “It’s my pleasure” sounds more personable.

Consider the following statements:

“As soon as possible” implies that you’ll get around to it whenever you get around to it.

“To be honest” implies that you have not been honest up to this point.

“Hopefully” implies that you’re not sure and you don’t really know what’s going on.

“The truth is” implies that you shouldn’t be telling them whatever it is you’re about to tell them, which speaks to your trustworthiness.

“She’s busy” implies that she’s too busy for you and you don’t matter.

“I don’t know” implies just what you said and that’s never good. You may not know everything, but you should know where to get an answer. While none of these statements are necessarily bad or wrong, they represent poor service in what could be taken the wrong way. Language is everything.

Instead of “I don’t know” say “Let me find out for you.”

Instead of “No problem” say “It’s my pleasure.”

Instead of “It’s over there” say “I would be happy to show you. Follow me.”

Instead of “I’m not suppose to do that” say “Let me find the person responsible for that.”

Instead of “He can’t talk to you right now” say “He‘s currently teaching our kids’ class. I would be more than happy to let him know you stopped by and give him your message.”

You can get more great guest services tips like this in the chapter titled “Customer Service Like Disney” in the book. It’s available now at

This article originally appeared here.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Let it Snow The 2016 Advent Series at Gastonia First Wesleyan Church.

Welcome to our 2016 Christmas series. 

The series is called Let It Snow. 

Today's Message:  
Part 1   The Forecast

I have to say that it’s a little weird kicking off a series called Let It Snow on a day when it’s supposed to be 59 degrees outside. But what are you going to do?

For some of you, the forecast today is awesome because you HATE snow. For others of you, you’re dying for a big snow because we haven’t had one in a couple of years. You LOVE snow.

But in this series, we’re all going to come together. Snow people and  non-snow people…we’re all going to be able to agree. When it comes   to the snow that we’re talking about in this series, it’s a good thing. It’s a great thing. It’s a God thing. In fact, we’re all going to be praying, “God, let it snow!”

This series is going to run through Christmas Day when we gather this last Sunday of December. And all four messages in the series are based on one verse in the Old Testament book of Isaiah.

In Isaiah 1, the prophet Isaiah wrote:  “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”                                                                           Isaiah 1:18, NLT

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Preparing for the First Sunday of Advent at Gastonia First Wesleyan Church

 Tomorrow is the First Sunday of Advent 2016.  I am so excited as we prepare for our first Christmas Season at Gastonia First Wesleyan Church!  

Prepare the way of the Lord. 

The fist Sunday of Advent is a time for all God's children to gather into His house to hear the Word of the Lord concerning the coming of the Lord! 

Invite your family and friends to join us this first Sunday of Advent! 

Here is the order of worship we have prepared for tomorrow:

We plan to begin with a warm and pleasant welcome to all who gather and invite us to worship the Lord! We then lift our voices in song to the Lord:

Now is the time to draw our attention to the Advent Wreath for the lighting of the first candle.

Following the announcements the choir presents a great song of the Christmas Season for today's offering:

The we stand to sing a favorite.... 

Following a time of prayer - we quiet our hearts for a special presentation:

With hearts prepared we now hear the Word of the Lord in the first message of a new Teaching Series for Advent:

“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet,
 I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson,
 I will make them as white as wool.”            Isaiah 1:18, NLT

Friday, November 25, 2016

Our first Thanksgiving in Gastonia!

As our family gathered around the table yesterday I began our meal with a moment of reflection:  "Ten months ago, your mom and I had no idea where God was leading us or where we would be for this Thanksgiving Day.  My heart is overflowed with gratitude and thanksgiving to welcome you to our first family Thanksgiving Day in our new home in Gastonia, NC." Then I prayed for the delicious meal Sharron had prepared and we enjoyed a great time together before going to the family room for football! 

Danielle and Jesse Bolder - daughter Jayden and son Jordan

Stephanie and Josh vanAlmen with Alyse, Breeley and Cammie with Ellie and Daisy.  

Our 5 grand children - Jayden, Alyse, Jordan, Breeley and Cammie 

An annual tradition - new Christmas pajamas the night of Thanksgiving. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Try This Thanksgiving Tradition With Your Family

Happy Thanksgiving 2016! 

Thanksgiving gives us the perfect opportunity to express our gratitude to God for all the things he’s given us. From salvation to peace to a roof over our heads, we have many reasons to offer in thanks. Kids especially like to point out things we may never think of to be thankful for.

The following video features Dale Hudson explaining a Thanksgiving family tradition the families in your congregation can start doing this year. I hope you enjoy this video clip:

How to Make Thanksgiving Traditions With Your Family from CFKids on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Christianity Is Not Just Me and Jesus

In the following video, Banning Liebscher, founder of the Jesus Culture ministry, shares the reason why Christianity cannot just be you and Jesus. Liebscher argues it must be walked out in community.

“Christianity was made to work in the context of community,” he explains. He then points our attention to 1 Peter 5:5:

“Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’” (1 Peter 5:5)

We can think of the need to be in community like the need for a motorized boat to be in water before you turn the engine on, Liebscher offers. Outside of water, the boat will not only fail to move, but the engine will overheat because it uses the water as a cooling mechanism. In the same way, Christians need one another in community to get where they’re supposed to go and also to function properly.

“It’s in community that I begin to clothe myself with humility, and God begins to release grace in my life,” Liebscher says.

There are no ministry activities this evening at First Wesleyan Church due to the Thanksgiving holiday.  If you are thinking of being absent from church this coming Sunday - let me remind you it is the first Sunday of Advent.  The Christmas Season is upon us. 

Being a part of a small group - being part of a church family is so vitally important to your spiritual growth.  As you watch the video - think about these questions you should consider" 

– What happens when you try to live outside of community?

– How has pride kept you from reaching out for help or allowing you to be accountable?

– What do we gain by subjecting ourselves to others in a community setting?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Leadership is all about loving relationships.

By Jerry D. Porter

Leadership is about loving others.
You cannot motivate or lead someone you do not love,
and you cannot lead someone who does not love you. 


Leadership is all about loving relationships.

Jesus told Nicodemus, “God so loved the world…” (John 3:16). The law of reciprocity makes me feel indebted to return kindnesses to those who are kind to me. My response to John 3:16 might be, “God loves me, and I love God.” In 1 John 3:16, however, the senior apostle writes: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters” (NIV).

Sometimes it is easier to love God than to love those I am called to lead! I cry out, “I love you, Lord, but people can really test my patience!” John, however, teaches, “God loves me; and therefore, I love you.”

“My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn't know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can't know him if you don't love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they've done to our relationship with God. My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other" (1 John 4:7–11, MSG).

As you lead, you will encounter strong, differing opinions. This reflects the beautiful, diverse kaleidoscope of gifts, ministries, and perspectives in the Body of Christ. Toxic dissension poisons the fellowship and paralyzes our outreach. Choosing not to love those around me shows that I do not truly love Christ. “And he (Jesus) has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister” (1 John 4:21, NIV). Love is more than an emotion. It is grace-empowered obedience.

On the final judgment day, we will be separated as sheep and goats. Our Lord will ask, “Didn’t you understand that when you loved others, you were loving me?” Maybe the best way to say, “I love you, Lord” is to show love to those I lead.

Monday, November 21, 2016

12 Lies American Evangelicals Believe

By Tyler ONeil

“While most Americans identify as Christians, they seem confused about the details of their faith.”

Evangelical Christians are supposedly united in their belief that only those 
who believe the gospel—that Jesus Christ died on the cross for humanity’s 
sins and rose from the dead three days later—will be saved. 

But not all who identify as evangelicals even believe this.

According to a September study by LifeWay Research, Americans 
don’t know much about theology. While most Americans identify as 
Christians, they seem confused about the details of their faith.

“Contradictory and incompatible beliefs are OK for most people,” 
explained Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. 
Even those who identify as evangelicals often fell into some of the 
worst theological errors.

Here are 12 lies about God, morality and salvation that Christians 
in the study believed, and why they are wrong.

1. Personal salvation depends on good works.

Three quarters of Americans (77 percent) agreed that people must
 contribute their own effort for personal salvation, according to the survey. 
A full half (52 percent) said good deeds help them earn a spot in heaven.

At the same time, 60 percent said Jesus Christ’s death on the cross
 is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of their sin. This is much
 closer to the biblical position: “For by grace you have been saved through 
faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not the result of 
works, so that no one may boast,” St. Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8-9.

While James 2 declares that “faith without deeds is dead,” that does
 not mean that good deeds are what earns salvation. Romans 10:9
 promises “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord 
and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,
 you will be saved.” It is faith, not works, that earns salvation.

2. Everyone goes to heaven.

The study found that almost two thirds of evangelicals (64 percent),
 and nearly as many Americans (60 percent) described heaven as a
 place where “all people will ultimately be reunited with their loved ones.” 
Overall, just over half of Americans (54 percent) agreed with the biblical
 view that only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone receive eternal salvation.

Americans seem unable to grasp the contradiction: Either everyone
 goes to heaven or only those who believe in Jesus Christ will go to heaven.

At least a vast majority of evangelicals (84 percent) held the biblical view 
that hell is a place of eternal judgment, where God sends all people who 
do not personally trust in Jesus Christ. Even so, this means that 16 percent
 of evangelicals either disagreed or were unsure. Only 40 percent of all 
Americans believed this.

3. Sin isn’t important.

Original sin seems anathema to most Americans. Almost two thirds 
(65 percent) said that most people are good by nature, even though 
everyone sins a little. Three quarters (74 percent) of Americans disagreed
 that the smallest sin deserves eternal damnation—and 62 percent
 strongly disagreed!

Romans 3:22-23 explicitly declares that “there is no difference between 
Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
 Orthodox Christianity holds that only the perfect may enter heaven, 
and that even the slightest sin separates a person from God. Only the
 death and resurrection of Jesus can restore the relationship between
 the believer and God.

Seen as an eternal punishment for temporary sins, hell seems unfair. 
But orthodox Christianity holds that hell is the state of separation from God.
 Seen in terms of a relationship with a perfect God, even a little sin 
prevents the reuniting of man with God that is heaven.

While most Americans said sin does not deserve eternal damnation, 
more than half (57 percent) agreed it would be fair for God to show 
His wrath against sin. Perhaps pastors can open their congregation’s 
eyes by emphasizing the fairness of God’s wrath, rather than the
 eternal damnation meted out for every sin.

4. God accepts worship of all religions.

Sixty-four percent of Americans said God accepts the worship of all 
religions, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Indeed, this belief 
united all kinds of Americans: 62 percent of those 18 to 34 years old
 believed it, as did 67 percent of those 50 and older. African Americans 
(69 percent), Hispanics (65 percent), whites (63 percent) and 
Asian-Americans (57 percent) also agreed that God accepts at 
least these three types of worship.

Even 48 percent of evangelicals agreed that God accepts all kinds of worship.
 The difficulty with this view is that these religions disagree on the nature of God. Christianity (and some forms of Judaism) sees God as one being with multiple
 persons: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Islam, by contrast, says that Allah 
is a monad—He is not multiple persons and He does not have a son.

Throughout the Old Testament, God showed Himself as a jealous God—
ordering the destruction of idols and praising the
 kings who defiled pagan temples. While Jesus did liberalize worship 
to some extent, he also emphasized that worship must be rooted in the
 reality of God and man: He said it mattered less where people worship 
than that they worship God “in spirit and in truth.”

5. Jesus was created by God.

While a vast majority of Americans (69 percent) agreed in the idea 
of the Trinity—that there is one true God in three persons: Father, Son,
 and Holy Spirit—more than half (52 percent) said that Jesus is the
 “first and greatest being created by God.”

This is incompatible with the Nicene Creed, which declares that Jesus
 Christ is the Son of God, “begotten of the Father, Light of Light, very God
 of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father.” 
Small-o orthodox Christianity insists that Jesus was not made by God, 
but begotten of Him, being the same nature as God the Father.

A majority of Americans (61 percent) agreed with the orthodox view of the 
dual nature of Christ: that He is both divine and human. This is an important
 doctrine, because Jesus is the bridge to reunite God with mankind. 
If He is not fully human, He could not die for the sins of man. If He is
 not fully divine, he could not unite them with God Himself.

6. The Holy Spirit is a force.

Fifty-six percent of Americans said that the Holy Spirit is not a person 
but a force. More than a quarter (28 percent) described the Spirit as 
a divine being but not equal to God the Father and Jesus.

A full half (51 percent) disagreed, standing by the orthodox position 
that the Holy Spirit is one of the three equal persons of God. He may
 come from the Father and the Son, but that does not make Him any less God.

7. The Bible was written to be interpreted as each person chooses.

According to the study, 51 percent of Americans said the Bible was written
 for each person to interpret as he or she chooses. This nonsense does
 not fit with what the Bible actually says.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting
 and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly
 equipped for every good work,” St. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16-17. If the 
Bible were written to be interpreted as each person wants, it could not teach,
 rebuke, correct or train in righteousness.

Interestingly, while many Americans believed the Bible is meant to be 
interpreted personally, 64 percent said the accounts of Jesus’ bodily 
resurrection are completely accurate. Only 23 percent disagreed.
 Not surprisingly, 98 percent of evangelicals agreed in the historicity 
of Jesus’ resurrection, while even a majority of non-evangelical Americans
 (56 percent) also did.

Nevertheless, only 47 percent of Americans said the Bible is 100 percent 
accurate in all it teaches, while 43 percent disagreed. This might be due
 to the various scientific approaches to Genesis 1. Forty-four percent said
 the Bible contains helpful myths but isn’t literally true.

8. Extramarital sex is not a sin.

Only about half of Americans (49 percent) said that sex outside of 
traditional marriage is a sin, while 44 percent said it isn’t one. 
Women (53 percent) are more likely than men (45 percent) to call
 extramarital sex sinful, while people with bachelor’s degrees (44 percent)
 and graduate degrees (40 percent) were less likely than those with 
high school diplomas or less (56 percent) to do so.

Jesus Himself explained that sex is reserved for marriage, and He even
 went so far as to say that lusting after someone is a form of fornication. 
Perhaps due to these clear doctrines, a full 91 percent of evangelicals 
agreed that sex outside of marriage is a sin, compared to only 40 percent
 of non-evangelicals. Still, it might be concerning that 9 percent 
did not believe so.

9. Abortion is not a sin.

Forty-nine percent of Americans in the survey said that abortion is a sin,
 while 40 percent said it is not. Eighty-seven percent of evangelicals 
agreed that abortion is a sin, while only 41 percent of non-evangelicals said so.

Abortion is less clear directly from the Bible, but the text describes fetuses
 in the womb as though they were human. Genesis 25:22 describes Jacob
 and Esau “struggling together” inside Rebekah’s womb. Luke 1:44 
describes John the Baptist inside his mother Elizabeth’s womb leaping
 for joy when Jesus, who was inside Mary’s womb at the time, was near. 
Exodus 21:22-25 is arguably the world’s first fetal homicide law, and 
Psalm 139 describes God’s personal knowledge of the author in his
 mother’s womb.

Early Christians opposed the practice, which was in vogue across the
 Roman Empire, and most Christians today oppose it. Modern DNA 
science testifies that at conception, a new being is created with the 
entire genetic code of a human being.

If a fetus is a human being, then the practice of abortion can be 
considered homicide, and the Ten Commandments clearly condemn murder.

10. Gender identity is a matter of choice.

Thirty-eight percent of Americans in the survey said that gender identity
 is a matter of choice, while 51 percent disagreed. Only 32 percent of 
evangelicals said gender identity is a choice, while 40 percent of
 non-evangelicals said so.

Scripture does not speak specifically to the sense that a person was born
 in the wrong body (gender dysphoria), but it does emphasize two basic
 ideas on sexuality: humans were made male and female, and sexuality
 is a good gift of God. While people who struggle with gender dysphoria
 should be treated with love and respect, Christians cannot believe that 
their birth sex is a mistake.

The idea of original sin—that people are born into a fallen world 
with sinful desires, diseases and other weaknesses—explains where
 gender dysphoria comes from, and the idea of God’s ultimate 
redemption of humanity promises an answer that does not require
 “gender-affirming” surgery. (Indeed, such surgery mutilates the 
human body as God designed it, and there are real victims of transgenderism.) 
Christians should sympathize with those struggling with dysphoria, 
and offer them the ultimate hope in Jesus Christ that motivates our faith.

11. Homosexual behavior is no longer a sin.

Forty-two percent of Americans in the survey said that the Bible’s 
condemnation of homosexual behavior does not apply today, 
while 44 percent disagreed.

Small-o orthodox Christianity holds that homosexual practice is a sin,
 because sex is reserved for marriage between one man and one woman.
 Romans 1 makes clear that homosexual acts are sinful—a penalty for 
separation from God and a sin with its own consequences. 
(An aside, this passage does not call for the execution of homosexuals, 
as The New York Times ignorantly reported.)

That emphatically does not mean that people with same-sex attraction
 cannot be saved or are more sinful than others. Christians all acknowledge 
 their sinfulness and accept forgiveness only through the death and 
resurrection of Jesus. No Christian should pretend to be “holier-than-thou,”
 but no Christian can support homosexual behavior either. It is a hard thing
 for Christians with same-sex attraction to be abstinent, but they are held
 to the same standard as unmarried straight people.

12. The prosperity gospel.

Thirty-seven percent of American evangelicals agreed that God will 
always reward true faith with material blessings. Sixty-three percent 
of Americans in general disagreed with this notion, and only 23 percent
 of non-evangelicals agreed with this “prosperity gospel.”

Perhaps ironically, poorer Americans, those with incomes under $25,000, 
were more likely (28 percent) to agree with the prosperity gospel than
 wealthier Americans. Only 20 percent of those making $100,000 
or more bought this notion.

The prosperity gospel flies in the face of orthodox Christianity 
and the plain text of the Bible. While the New Testament promises 
heaven for those who believe in Jesus, it does not promise riches
 in this life. Rather, Saint Paul, the author of most of the letters in
 the New Testament, himself faced penury, prison and even death
 for the gospel he preached. The apostles all faced gruesome deaths,
 with the one exception of Saint John, and thousands of martyrs laid
 the foundation for the church.

This does not mean that every believer is called to give his or her life
 to preach the gospel, but it should emphatically disprove the message
 of preachers like Joel Osteen, who proclaim that faith can bring riches.

Americans with more education are less likely to believe this prosperity
 gospel (18 percent of those with graduate degrees said they believed it,
 while 33 percent of those with high school degrees or less did so).

Tyler ONeil  Assistant Editor of PJ Media, Tyler O'Neil is a conservative fundraiser and commentator. He has written for numerous publications, including The Christian Post, National Review, The Washington Free Beacon, The Daily Signal, AEI's Values & Capitalism, and the Colson Center's Breakpoint