Tag: evangelism

Hometown Heroes – “Night to Shine” – 2/20/24

Hometown Heroes – “Night to Shine” – 2/20/24


It’s Family Life’s “Hometown Heroes

Celebrate the congregations and volunteers in our listening area who created a magical, memorable evening for hundreds of special guests


The Night to Shine has become a global movement across the past decade, and numerous local churches are plugged in — many of them since the early days when the Tim Tebow Foundation launched a prom-styled festival for special-needs individuals.

In this edition of “Hometown Heroes”, we hear about the local area’s Night to Shine events held February 9, 2024. Representatives of three of these congregations tell us what happens, who is served, the significant responses of the families and the local community, and how this one night spurs churches to be attentive to special needs ministries throughout the year.

Our radio news feature offers highlights and stories. For each of these three congregations, we also will be posting expanded interviews with web-only bonus content.  

  • Hometown Heroes” feature — highlights from all three congregations, as aired on the Family Life Noon Report  [click the podcast player above to listen]
    • Bethel Life Church, Greenville PA:  bonus content with Pastor Kent Bell [web]
    • Auburn Alliance Church, Auburn NY:  bonus content with Event Coordinator Chad Mitchell  [web]
    • Sunbury Bible Church, Northumberland PA:  bonus content with Pastor Preston Atkinson [web]

Other congregations whose leaders and volunteers also deserve “Hero” status are other churches in the Family Life listening area. These also sponsored a Night to Shine this month:

    • Our Lady Of Peace, Erie PA [web]
    • New Life Baptist, New Wilmington PA [web]
    • LCBC, Dickson City PA Campus [web]
    • Epic Church-Buffalo: Williamsville NY [web]
    • Cross Creek Church, Elmyra NY [web]
    • Catalyst Church, Altoona PA [web]
    • Calvary Church, Boalsburg PA [web]

The Night to Shine movement began ten years ago (2014) as an outreach of the Tim Tebow Foundation. The Heisman trophy winner for the Florida Gators, former NFL quarterback and sports broadcaster started his foundation to fight for what they call the “MVP” — the Most Vulnerable People.

Tebow (himself growing up as a missionary kid) has been at the forefront of multiple forms of international Christian ministry.

Find out about the Foundation and watch the national/international Night to Shine video.


Hometown Heroes” is one of our Tuesday news features on our Noon Report and 5 O’Clock Report.


A fun P.S….  Tim Tebow (who became famous for waiting for a uniquely Christian marriage partner, despite his famous “eligible bachelor” status) met his future wife at his 2018 NTS, where Demi-Lynn was attending with her special-needs sister.)

Missions Pulse – Door – Ministry to Deaf Individuals – 01/08/24

Missions Pulse – Door – Ministry to Deaf Individuals – 01/08/24

The people who are served by the ministry agency Door International cannot hear this Family Life news feature.

Which is all the more reason why you should listen to this.

Rob Myers and Door’s other workers and volunteers are active in an evangelism effort to reach out to a people group in which only 1 of every 50 people are followers of Jesus. The outreach is to deaf individuals and communities. In this conversation on our “Missions Pulse” program, Myers explains why it is so hard to share Good News and provide Scriptures to deaf people. Door seeks out non-hearing believers who become church planters and evangelists who share the same circumstances as other deaf people. The ministry also is active in translating 110 Biblical narratives into sign languages. This is a massive task — if you are thinking only about ASL (American Sign Language), you are forgetting about the other 375 sign languages around the world.

For more information:

Inside Out – Responding to Criticism – 11/29/23

Inside Out – Responding to Criticism – 11/29/23

Inside Out” on Family Life

How do you respond when coworkers tell you they’ve been hurt by Christians, or say that Christianity is offensive? Kaitlin Miller Febles talks about how believers led by the Holy Spirit can live out the most powerful response.    

“I think when we first respond with just defensiveness, we can come across as callous toward what this person’s experienced by someone maybe even in the name of Christ,” says Kaitlin Miller Febles. “And if they don’t feel heard and understood, I think they’re far less likely to hear us, or even want to understand us back. But humility has a way of disarming people.”  

Febles counsels us to listen well and mourn behavior in the name of Christ that is not at all Christlike. “Just even as we denounce un-Christlikeness, we don’t denounce Christ. Christians may act shamefully, we need to acknowledge that, but we’re not ashamed of Christ.” 

 We have an opportunity to speak the actual message of Christ with words, and also with our lives, when the fruit of God’s Holy Spirit shape the way we live. “For each hateful or selfish or greedy or manipulative Christian example that an unbeliever has experienced, we can be a counter example, as a Christian that they also now have to explain,” Febles says.  

Kaitlin Miller Febles writes on this topic and other issues for The Gospel Coalition.

Hometown Heroes – Living on the streets, with Eric Johns – 11/14/23 (#2)

Hometown Heroes – Living on the streets, with Eric Johns – 11/14/23 (#2)

Family Life’s “Hometown Heroes

This week’s Hometown Heroes continues our conversation with Buffalo Pastor Eric Johns.

This will be his 25th and final year of living on the streets for a full week, getting the experience of homelessness first-hand. As he prepares to retire, his sons will follow in his footsteps. There are other ministry colleagues, young people influenced by the Buffalo Dream Center’s inner city ministries, and other church members who are now motivated by his example.

Hear more about how the Lord has used and expanded such outward-focused work here in Part 2 of our “Hometown Heroes” feature.

Part 1 of this conversation is also easy to find here on our News Podcasts page.

“Hometown Heroes” happens during the Family Life Noon report most Tuesdays, online and on the air. Your host is Family Life news anchor Mark Webster.


Hometown Heroes – Buffalo Dream Center starts the Curbside Church – 11/07/23

Hometown Heroes – Buffalo Dream Center starts the Curbside Church – 11/07/23

Family Life’s “Hometown Heroes

A quarter-century ago, Pastor Eric Johns experienced what he is convinced was a God Moment.

That year, and in each of the 25 since, the pastor of the Buffalo Dream Center has lived as a homeless person for a week, taking a backpack and a sleeping bag with him. In part he wanted the first-hand experience of “living outside”. In part he sensed a calling to connect with people who also were living on the streets.

In this Family Life Interview, Pastor Johns tells the genesis of the mission and evangelistic outreach which became the “Curbside Church“, the church’s efforts to provide gifts for children at Christmastime, and the unique man he met who was the only person who was opposed to Eric Johns spending a homeless week.

Find out more about their “Boxes of Love” here. Pastor Johns also produces a podcast entitled “Building Your Life”.

“Hometown Heroes” happens during the Family Life Noon report most Tuesdays, online and on the air.

Inside Out – Biblical Worldview – Barna Research – 11/01/23

Inside Out – Biblical Worldview – Barna Research – 11/01/23

We develop our way of looking at the world—our worldview—before we turn 13.

Remarkably, new research finds that fewer than one in ten parents think through how to guide their children spiritually during those critical years.  

Dr. George Barna directs the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University and includes these findings in his new book Raising Spiritual Champions: Nurturing Your Child’s Heart, Mind and Soul. “Everybody has a worldview. You need a worldview to get through the day,” Barna says. “So children are going to develop a worldview whether their parents are involved in it or not. That is a vacuum that has to be filled.” 

If parents don’t work toward developing their children’s spiritual life, other worldviews will fill that void. “Without their parents being there to help guide them, they’re just doing the best they can to make sense of it all.” Barna offers ways to help parents to live out their roles as disciple-makers.  “The first of those is to recognize that God gave them these children to raise up to be disciples,” he says.  So it’s important to be intentional and not outsource this critical part of parenting.  

“They have to have not only a commitment, but a plan to take in these children during those formative 12 years, and do everything they can to lead them down the right path.” That begins by knowing what beliefs you as a parent want your children to embrace.  “Why? Because we do what we believe. In essence, your worldview is based on your beliefs, that then gets translated into behavior,” he says.  

“The only way that you can be Christlike is to think like Jesus so that you can live like Jesus.” 

Children see when stated beliefs are not reflected in behavior.  “Kids don’t trust their parents anymore because their parents say one thing and do another. You want to get to your kids? Model the beliefs that you’re trying to teach them. When they see you live it out, then they’re going to say, ‘Okay, I see it. It works. My parents believe it. I’m going to run with it.’” 

Underlying all of this, Dr. George Barna recommends that Christian parents bear in mind the context of all of their parenting.  “Parenting is a vital battle in the spiritual war in which we live,” he says. “We have to be aware of the nature of that battle if we’re going to fight it well.” 

Follow-up links for more information and inspiration:

Inside Out – The “Nones” and the “Dones” – 10/18/23

Inside Out – The “Nones” and the “Dones” – 10/18/23

“Inside Out” on Family Life : What can the Church do to reach the “Nones” and the “Dones”?

Some churchgoers are walking away. Others you might expect to come aren’t entering. Author and speaker Michelle Van Loon talks about the “Dones” and the “Nones,” and how to we can “spur one another on to good deeds” even outside a church worship service.    

“We are definitely in a time of great change and shift,” says author and speaker Michelle Van Loon. “When we talk about people that are ‘Dones’ we’re talking about people that once were active in church and they hit the exit door and never came back. When we talk about ‘Nones’ we may be including people that are done with church. We may also be including in that category people that have never been closely affiliated with the church, regular attenders, or members.”

While labels like these help us understand trends, Van Loon counsels us not to use them as reasons to give up on people.  

“It’s tempting to be able to use a category name to kind of assign meaning. But we know, and we know from the example of Jesus, that that is always a terrible idea,” she says. “He could see a naked madman running around the tombs, and He could say, ‘This person needs deliverance.’ Not, ‘This person needs exclusion.’ Or He could see a woman grabbing the hem of His garment who’d been excluded from the faith community because of her illness, and He responded differently.”  

The difference between what the Church can be and will be, and how people within it sometimes behave, is a reason some “Dones” give for leaving. It’s not usually the Jesus that we meet in the pages of Scripture or in prayer that has burned a person out or burned a person, in general,” she says. “It’s often His people behaving badly.”  

This gives those who embrace the Church even more reason to live as ambassadors, meeting people wherever they are.    

“No church can go to places where people are not wanting to attend a church service. But all of us are scattered into the world to be the Church,” she says. 

Michelle Van Loon is the author of seven books and has been writing about changes in the culture and the Church. Martha Manikas-Foster hosts “Inside Out”, one of our Wednesday news features which explores how living our faith from the inside out engages the world. Archives are available on FamilyLife.org/newspodcasts.


Hometown Heroes – Liz Smith – 5:9s outreach to first responders – 10/17/23

Hometown Heroes – Liz Smith – 5:9s outreach to first responders – 10/17/23

“Hometown Heroes” on Family Life

“We sometimes feel like we kind of have to put Jesus in a box, go to work, and we can take Him back out when we come home. We gotta break that.”  — Liz Smith

Chatauqua County (NY) Paramedic Liz Smith felt a divine calling to provide encouragement and support for first responders in her local area. She says law enforcement, firefighters and ambulance crew sometime need mental health services for PTSD and simply dealing with the stresses and tragedies they face in the line of duty to others. She also says spiritual nurture is an important component to help these front-line heroes.

She and a police officer had parallel visions for such a supportive group, and used the numbers in Matthew 5:9 (“Blessed are the peacemakers…”) to form their name.

Hear about this Christian outreach, about the needs of those on the front lines in their communities, and how the Gospel of Jesus Christ is shaping those who answer the call when there is an emergency.

Inside Out – Avoid “sketchy views” about God – 10/04/23

Inside Out – Avoid “sketchy views” about God – 10/04/23

If our understanding of who God is and how He works in the world doesn’t have a foundation in the Bible, it’s possible that we hold “sketchy views.”

A great many things work to pull us away from Jesus Christ. That’s not news. “The Scripture teaches us that the world, the flesh, and the devil are all going to be agents of temptation for us,” says Dr. Daniel DeWitt. The pull away from Christ can feel stronger if we’ve based our view of who God is on something other than Scripture. 

“I think that often Christian young people will make their experience in the world the chief authority by which they think about God,” he says. “And I’m reminded of a line from a Christian rap artist who said, ‘God made you in His image, and He didn’t ask you to return the favor.’” He believes that the way we think about God is the most important thing about us. DeWitt says we develop poor theology, or what he calls “sketchy views,” if our faith is unexamined or unfounded. We also have “sketchy views” if our beliefs are true but neglect love, or if they contradict the Bible. 

“We need to test everything by Scripture. And that means even the teachings of people we really might appreciate or enjoy. We always want to come back to Scripture as our ultimate authority.” 

We all know people who are deconstructing their faith–pulling it apart and examining what they’ve believed. DeWitt says the process may help them jettison aspects of the faith that were not actually based on what God says about Himself in Scripture.  “If they’re deconstructing an unfounded faith or an unbiblical faith, the deconstruction could be helpful to the degree that the goal is, in the end, to construct something new, and more reliable,” he says. “My prayer would be for young people that they’re working through these issues because, Lord willing, this is God’s way of refining what they truly do believe. And if on the back end there’s no belief at all, may the Gospel be demonstrated as the power of God to save them.” 


Dr. Daniel DeWitt is a senior fellow at Missouri’s Southwest Baptist University and leads the Center for Worldview and Culture. His newest book is Sketchy Views: A Beginner’s Guide to Making Sense of God.Learn more about Dr. Daniel DeWitt and his writings here and here

Faith Under Fire – Politics & Faithfulness – 09/28/23

Faith Under Fire – Politics & Faithfulness – 09/28/23

Family Life’s “Faith Under Fire

A national Christian watchdog is concerned that too many big-name  Christian leaders seem to emphasize political positions rather than theological ones — or at least can be perceived that way in the culture. How then should churches — and local church leaders — seek to be faithful to their Biblical callings, while still being socially and culturally active with the public issues of the day?

Christian journalist Warren Smith is our guest on this week’s “Faith Under Fire” interview. He commends the congregations which are visiting the sick, feeding the poor, and caring for neighbors. He also says there are important times for Christians to step into the social ills (and political battlegrounds) which surround the church buildings. Smith contends that some Christians are too easily drawn into supporting or opposing populist demagogues who thrive in chaos. That said, there are some issues in which he sees clear Biblical mandates which lead to a spiritual position which may align with only one of the partisan stances. 

He cautions, though, that Christians’ tone and techniques matter. Rather than arguing stridently with people who disagree with you, the most faithful — and successful — action often is to simply ask a few good questions. Have the other person tell you what they have determined and why they hold that stance. (Smith notes that Jesus himself took part in debates by simply asking questions, so that the person or group would come up with their own answers — often the correct ones.)

Ministry Watch is a North Carolina-based ministry which provides donors and philanthropists information about the finances and openness of large Christian organizations, and they highlight faithful ministries and mission agencies carrying out Gospel work in the U.S. and around the world.  Warren Cole Smith writes more about this feature’s topic of political stances and positions of Scripture-based truths here in his weekly column online. In it, he urges preachers and congregations to reduce people’s fear, not add to the fear that already is dominating parts of today’s culture.


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