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Charlie Dates Returns to the Chicago Church that Formed Him | Information & Reporting – ChristianityToday.com

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After the retirement of its founder James Meeks, fellow South Facet pastor Charlie Dates will transform senior pastor of one among Chicago’s greatest megachurches, Salem Baptist Church, returning to the ministry that formed him as a child and succeeding one among his largest mentors within the religion.
Meeks has led the African American congregation, now at just about 10,000 participants, since its founding in 1985. He introduced in June that he’ll give his final sermon on January 8, 2023.
Talking with CT, Dates drew parallels to Paul and Timothy, referencing Paul’s directions to the more youthful chief in accordance with what he had witnessed firsthand in ministry.
“This isn’t one thing that I learn or one thing that I watched; it is a ministry that I participated in and had a entrance row seat to as a child,” mentioned Dates, who grew up at Salem and attended its former faculty, Salem Christian Academy.
As well as, the 41-year-old additionally served below Meeks as number one preaching assistant, pastor of grownup ministries, and director of church operations at Salem Baptist earlier than turning into senior pastor at Innovative Baptist Church in 2011.
“There’s one thing in regards to the formation of my thoughts and my theological center this is at once formed by way of and impacted by way of observing all of that, and dealing in all of that, as I got here of age,” he mentioned. “It’s more or less like a child studying a language; while you’re immersed within the language, nobody has to let you know what phrases imply and what indicators imply.”
To start out, Dates will stay his present publish as senior pastor at Innovative Baptist Church, a 15-minute pressure from the Space of Hope area the place Salem Baptist meets. The 2 church buildings will stay separate, and he plans on preaching two sermons each and every Sunday.
CT interviewed him in regards to the historical past of the 2 congregations and his name to guide Salem Baptist.
What in particular attracted you about this function at Salem Baptist?
A part of what I’m studying and discerning about God’s route for one’s existence is to pay shut consideration to the bend of 1’s religious biography. How has God moved and labored in a single’s existence? So for me, what attracted me was once God. It kind of feels to me that God has been as much as this, directing this neatly earlier than I may just inform.
May you describe your courting with Meeks? How has he influenced you?
I feel a part of this is hooked up to what attracted me to Salem Baptist. It’s the paintings of that church, but it surely’s additionally Reverend Meeks, the pastor of that church. Now we have—I feel—an excessively Paul and Timothy more or less courting. I wish to be transparent regardless that, I’m no longer pronouncing I’m the one Timothy he has, in the similar means that Paul had others. Neither am I pronouncing that he’s the one vital affect in my existence. However I do sense and really feel that a large number of the growth that I’ve been in a position to make within the pastorate is hooked up somehow to his tutelage, his management, and his religious fathering, so that you could discuss.
My courting with him is dynamic. It’s funny, it’s rewarding, and it’s price greater than the cost of gold or platinum. What I get pleasure from is some distance more than only a tip from him right here or there; it’s extra of a type of a existence lived.
What courses or recommendation has he already handed alongside about main Salem Baptist?
That Salem is a loving church in a position to paintings. After I got here to Innovative, it took me some time to in reality get my ft below me as a result of probably the most historical past and nature of the church, and it required a large number of endurance and long-suffering to begin with. I feel the dignity is that I will be able to serve Salem neatly by way of loving her during the preaching ministry and pastoral care, and she’s going to observe. She’s in a position to paintings. That’s no longer all the time the case while you think a pastorate.
How do Salem Baptist and Innovative Baptist evaluate, and what makes you a are compatible for each congregations at this second?
I might slightly no longer evaluate them, best as a result of I wouldn’t wish to say the flawed factor and feature anyone learn it and pass judgement on my intent. What I will be able to say is that Innovative and Salem display the spectrum of Black church buildings in Chicago. On one hand, Innovative is what I might name gradually conventional, and Salem is historically modern.
Innovative is a church of 5 generations. Innovative was once as soon as, a long time in the past, the type of main power of church buildings at the South Facet. Across the nation, folks run into me and inform me, “Oh I were given baptized at that church,” or “Oh, I be mindful Sunday faculty at that church.” Its legend and its lore is massive. However—and that is no secret—for years it stayed within the vein of its historical past. It took some time for it to reimagine and revitalize and transform related once more. However the bones are just right.
Salem has no longer misplaced its relevance, Salem has no longer misplaced its edge, whilst keeping up an excessively prime view of Scripture and its very Christo-centric solution to ministry. Its evangelism, its benevolence, its disciple-making have all been very Christo-centric and rooted within the Scriptures. It’s been anchored in the neighborhood. Innovative were given insulated at one level. It’s not that means—we’re very a lot in the neighborhood now—however that’s how it was once.
After 11 years at Innovative and observing greater than 1,000 folks sign up for that church in that point, it’s truthful to mention that I elevate the DNA of each church buildings. It’s truthful to mention that I perceive the dynamics of congregational management and construction in each church buildings. I’m no longer pronouncing that I’m highest, without end, for each church buildings. I’m simply pronouncing that on the juncture we’re in and being a son of the soil of Chicago and a son of Salem, and now having pastored Innovative, I simply assume I’ve a singular working out and relational dynamic with each church buildings.
How do you employ that importance, and historical past of those two church buildings within the town, to pressure the longer term?
Each and every church that lives up to now is already anchoring itself within the graveyard of historical past. I feel historical past, just like the tip of Romans, is supposed to show us what God can do. To right kind us from repeating mistakes and to encourage and to inspire us to pursue God’s nice promise. If I will be able to lend a hand those church buildings acknowledge God’s hand of their previous as one of those indication of God, of what God desires to do sooner or later, then I feel I will be able to hand it off to the following era in just right style.
If, alternatively, I fail to get the church buildings to look that our historical past serves our provide and evokes our long term, then I’m in bother. On one hand, the legacy has to proceed. We’ve were given so that you can have our 12 stones from our “Chicago Jordan River,” with a willing eye at the hills and mountains of Jericho and the opposite towns in Canaan.
What demanding situations do you await with the dynamic of pastoring two congregations? And the way have you ever begun making plans to take care of the ones demanding situations?
I don’t know if I’d counsel this to anyone. I want to say that this isn’t an ambition of mine. Nor is it a premeditated want of mine. As I prayed via it, Reverend Meeks and I wrestled with it, and he graciously affirmed my sense of discernment. As I prayed about it, I were given no inkling that it was once time, simply but, to stroll clear of Innovative. It’s essential to spotlight that this isn’t typical. And I acknowledge that.
What I do sense is that there’s nonetheless paintings to be accomplished and imaginative and prescient to perform at Innovative on the similar time that I start my project at Salem. The primary problem is getting the church buildings to sense that the place God offers a imaginative and prescient, there’s all the time provision. That in some way God grants the capability and that God grants the sources and make stronger. However it will be silly to think it’s humanly imaginable to do that in and of myself. I plan to guide via leaders.
One of the most advantages at Innovative is that the operations of the church and programs and constructions of the church, the daily operations, are unfastened to transport impartial of me. I’m extra of a vision-casting, preaching, pastoral care pastor. I’m no longer within the weeds at Innovative. I’ve to guide via my leaders.
My manner at Salem shall be identical as soon as I’ve realized once more the way in which of the land. There’s simply no means you’ll be able to pastor a church that massive being curious about all the main points, proper? The opposite factor is, relating to preaching, I plan on preaching two services and products on Sunday morning: one at Innovative and one at Salem.
Are there issues at Innovative you’ll have to step clear of? How will your function there glance other?
Two issues. No. 1 is my itinerant ministry will take a discount, and I will be able to be provide in the community much more, which I’m taking a look ahead to. Any other factor is I don’t assume this twin project is in perpetuity. We’ve already began the dialog that, sooner or later, the purpose is to lift up leaders to do extra paintings. I’m operating to discern God’s route because it pertains to timing of when to conclude. Innovative has requested me, when the time comes, to lend a hand them to seek out their subsequent pastor. With teary eyes, I simply instructed them I’m hoping that they settle for my advice when that point comes.
You talked a little about each church buildings’ importance to Chicago. How are you hoping to proceed to domesticate that with each congregations?
Chicago wishes the Black church to be her very best and brightest self. It’s extra than simply Innovative and Salem. Chicago has wealthy Black church buildings all over the South and West aspects, specifically. I feel those church buildings, with the historical past, the ability, and relevance they’ve, can lend a hand form a pipeline and platform for creating younger folks, younger leaders, academics, preachers, track ministry leaders, and nonprofit builders that Chicago wishes those church buildings to expand throughout platforms. Those church buildings are a present.
You recognize, at one level, Innovative had the most powerful and biggest Christian discipleship ministry within the town. And the similar for Salem, which would possibly nonetheless have it. Those had been disciple-making church buildings with an emphasis on Christian schooling. Either one of them have produced some stalwart Christian leaders and academics. That historical past is gigantic. Innovative’s … constructions had been constructed with no dime of debt at a time the place Black folks may just no longer get a mortgage from a financial institution. The pastor of Innovative on the time, his identify was once Reverend T. Brown, he was once this sort of dynamic chief within the town that he was once in a position to inform [former Chicago mayor] Richard J. Daley, “No.” And reside to inform about it. They each, in that regard, have a historical past of completely unbelievable pastors. Pastoral management is a storied pillar in either one of those church buildings.
What different issues do you wish to have to spotlight in your present and long term congregations and the readers of CT?
It’s a delicate time for each congregations, and I wish to put across as they learn this my love for either one of them. I acknowledge this second is huge, and it’s watershed, however it’s not about me. I’m on project to guide the church ahead in Chicago. I wish to say it’s an honor to also be regarded as, let on my own requested, to prevail the Reverend James T. Meeks.
I additionally wish to recommend that Chicago, and The usa, wishes church buildings which might be creating and reproducing younger pastors, that we transform extra intentional about it. And that’s a part of the sweetness I call to mind this tale. I don’t pop out of skinny air to both church; you’ll be able to hint my lineage.
The wonderful thing about this narrative is that the Lord, in his kindness and his grace, has taken pastors and church buildings to expand me. If lets have a look at the present second and grasp the chance to expand younger folks that God has laid his hand upon, then I feel the most efficient days of the church, on this crucial tradition, are in entrance folks.
We’re residing in a time the place such a lot of younger persons are strolling clear of the church and the place church attendance numbers are within the dumps. Our seminaries, a lot of them are in decline. And whilst we’re more or less observing this nice falling away, we don’t need to simply watch it. However we will be able to in reality press into the present tradition and lead our younger folks and teach them to guide a revolution for the dominion and the consideration of God.
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The Friend Who Sticks Closer than a Brother

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The Friend Who Sticks Closer than a Brother

Embracing True Friendship: The Friend Who Sticks Closer Than a Brother

Friendship is a valuable asset that enriches our lives by providing companionship, support, and a shoulder to cry on. But have you ever had a buddy who goes above and beyond—someone who remains closer than a brother? In a world where relationships can be fickle, a friend who sticks by us through thick and thin is a rare and priceless gift.

More Than Just Blood Ties

Consider the tie between siblings, which is based on blood and shared history. Consider a buddy who is more than just a family member. “One who has untrustworthy friends soon comes to ruin,” says Proverbs 18:24 (NIV), “but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

This verse describes a friendship that goes beyond basic conditions. It’s a bond founded on trust, loyalty, and real concern for one another.

Continuous Support

Consider a buddy who is present not only during happy times but also during difficult times. This type of friend is unconcerned about changing circumstances or personal gain. They provide their presence, encouragement, and steadfast support.

Jesus expresses the core of such friendship in John 15:13 (NIV): “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. This selfless affection serves as the foundation for a lasting connection.

Journeys Together

Consider a friend you’ve shared many stages of life with—the highs, the lows, and everything in between. This shared experience forges a link that extends beyond surface-level exchanges. The value of companionship is brilliantly captured in Ecclesiastes 4:9–10 (NIV): “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.”

A friend who sticks closer than a brother is someone who goes beside us through life’s ups and downs, lending a solid hand and an ear to listen.

A Mirror of God’s Love

As a symbol of God’s love for us, consider the buddy who sticks closer than a brother. God Himself offers an unbroken, unchanging, and everlasting companionship. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” says the Bible in Romans 8:38–39.

God’s love is the ultimate paradigm of true friendship—a love that is not conditional but remains faithful regardless of what happens.

Conclusion: Value true friendship.

A friend who sticks closer to you than a sibling is a treasure to be treasured. This type of friendship is founded on love, trust, and mutual care rather than convenience or shared interests. May we seek to be that sort of friend to others in our lives, just as God offers us His unfailing love.

In a world where relationships can be fleeting, let us create friendships that will endure. Let us be the sort of friends who are present in both joy and sadness, who offer unconditional support, and who mirror God’s unfailing love. We are reminded of the beauty of true friendship, which clings closer than a brother, as we welcome and cherish these unique and valuable ties.

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The Just God

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The Just God

The Just God: The Divine Balance of Justice and Mercy

The concept of justice is intertwined with the fabric of human society. We seek justice, responsibility, and reparation for wrongs done. But have you ever pondered a God who is not only just but also perfectly just? The Just God is a lighthouse of truth and righteousness, providing a profound awareness of justice and kindness that transcends human comprehension.

Justice in Pursuit

Consider a world where wrongdoers go unpunished and the disadvantaged have no recourse. The pursuit of justice is a natural human goal that reflects a feeling of rightness and order. And if we as humans value justice, how much more should the Creator of the universe, who is completely just?

According to Deuteronomy 32:4 (NIV), “He is the rock; his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. He is a loyal God who does no wrong, who is straight and just. This verse reveals God’s character, which is characterized by unwavering justice.

Justice and Mercy in Balance

Consider yourself in front of a judge who holds you accountable for every action and decision you make. Imagine that same judge showing mercy and giving you a second opportunity despite the evidence against you. The just God is kind as well as just.

This delicate balance is captured in Psalm 103:10–11 (NIV): “He does not treat us as our sins deserve, nor does He repay us according to our iniquities. For his love for people who fear him is as high as the skies are above the earth. God’s justice is balanced by his unending love and kindness.

The Redemption of Justice

Consider a debt that you will never be able to repay—a debt of mistakes and wrongs that weigh heavy on your soul. In His perfect justice, the just God provides a solution. God provides a mechanism for justice to be served and redemption to be offered through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” says Romans 3:23–24 (NIV), “and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. This is an example of justice being met via the redemptive act of Christ’s sacrifice.

A Call to Justice

Consider a society in which justice is not simply a notion but a way of life. In our interactions with others, the just God calls us to exemplify justice. Micah 6:8 (NIV) states unequivocally, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. What does the Lord expect of you? Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.”

Living justly entails treating people with fairness, compassion, and respect, as the character of the just God requires.

Finishing: Adoring the Just God

The Just God asks us to comprehend the breadth of His justice—a justice that supports truth, requires accountability, and strikes a balance between mercy and justice. God’s justice and mercy merge in the person of Jesus Christ, offering us redemption and restoration.

May we turn to the just God as our ultimate standard as we traverse a world that frequently grapples with issues of fairness. May we seek His wisdom and counsel in order to live justly and treat others with love and justice. We find not only a paradigm of perfect justice but also an invitation to experience the transformative power of His kindness when we embrace the Just God.

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The Pleasure of Serving Others: A Pathway to Achievement

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The Joy of Serving Others: A Pathway to Fulfillment

The Pleasure of Serving Others: A Highway to Contentment

Have you ever ever felt the nice and cozy glow that effects from lending a serving to hand to a stranger, the enjoyment that lasts for days after the act of kindness? That emotion offers a way of the pride of serving to others. The straightforward act of serving to can give us a sense of function and pleasure in contrast to the rest in a society that incessantly pushes us to place our consideration on ourselves.

The Want to Serve

Believe a society the place everybody labored to fortify the lives of people of their instant neighborhood. The need to lend a serving to hand, proportion a load, and supply comfort is on the core of carrier. The instance used to be established through Jesus Himself when he stated, “For even the Son of Guy didn’t come to be served, however to serve, and to provide his lifestyles as a ransom for plenty of.” (NIV, Mark 10:45)

Serving others is extra than just a nice deed; it is a way to emulate the compassion and love that Christ proven for us.

Discovering Pleasure in Selfless Giving

Believe spending time with the aged or going to a neighborhood refuge to hear their stories and cause them to really feel essential. Those tiny acts of kindness won’t appear to be a lot, however they be capable to make any person’s day higher, create relationships, and toughen a sense of group.

A better feeling of pleasure emerges after we set aside our personal issues and be aware of the wishes of others. The Bible admonishes us, “Every of you can use no matter present you’ve gotten won to serve others, as trustworthy stewards of God’s grace in its more than a few paperwork.” (NIV) 1 Peter 4:10 We specific the particular talents God has given us through serving others, and it’s in those deeds of carrier that we discover authentic pleasure.

Have an effect on Unmeasurable

Take into consideration the impact if all of us realized to experience serving to others. If we take a bit spoil from our tense schedules to lend a hand a neighbor, supply a sympathetic ear, or donate cash to a reason we reinforce. Small acts of kindness have the facility to unfold, sparking a sequence response of generosity and optimistic exchange.

In step with the NIV translation of Matthew 25:40, Jesus stated, “Actually I inform you, no matter you probably did for this sort of least of those brothers and sisters of mine, you probably did for me.” No longer simplest can we fortify the lives of other folks we serve, however we additionally perform Jesus’ command to like and deal with the ones round us.

Development Relationships and Connections

Believe the sensation of camaraderie that comes from cooperating with others to reach a shared purpose. Folks come in combination via carrier, growing ties and friendships that differently won’t have took place. It serves as a reminder that we’re all part of a broader group, and that group would possibly take pleasure in the acts we do.

Serving others permits us to peer the arena from many angles and to realize the demanding situations and victories of other folks round us. Our lives are enriched and {our relationships} are deepened through this sensitivity.

Conclusion: Discovering Contentment Via Carrier

Every people has a skill that is able to be opened: the pleasure of serving to others. It serves as a reminder that our lives are meant to be about extra than just our personal pursuits; they’re an opportunity to fortify the lives of others.

Let’s thus embody the pride of serving to others, if it is by means of deeds of kindness, volunteering, or simply being conscious about their wishes. The easy act of serving would possibly supply mild and hope in a global that every so often turns out overwhelming. As we emulate Christ and prolong ourselves in love, we no longer simplest exchange the lives of others but additionally revel in a deep feeling of success and enjoyment that overflows into our personal hearts.

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