Tag Archives: #specialfeature

A Family Life Interview – Ron Hutchcraft on Church-Leader Burnout – 11/27/23

Ron Hutchcraft has spent decades as a Christian broadcaster, a ministry leader, a mission worker, and a sought-after speaker at religious conferences.

In October, he was featured at the Family Life Pastor’s Conference, providing inspiration to well over 200 pastors from Pennsylvania and New York. In conjunction with his visit to our listening area, he was interviewed by Family Life News, seeking his recommendations for clergy and for congregations.

In light of today’s difficult trends where 42 percent of congregational pastors are ready to quit, there is much which needs done to strengthen the church and reverse that reality.

In our conversation, Hutchcraft looks at the Big Three challenges identified by that research, offers practical steps to reduce stresses and loneliness, and warns that church fights over politics or social issues are against the Bible’s calling. He points to the impact of Covid shutdowns and mandates and disagreements, and gives a movie-plot parallel. You also will hear reminders that the church’s shepherds also hold responsibility to address their own misguided motivations and unhelpful mission drift.

Ron Hutchcraft leads Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, which works to provide spiritual rescue, bringing hope to unchurched people in the language of the listener. RHM also operates “On Eagles Wings”, an evagelistic and training outreach to Indigenous young people.

His daily radio story, “A Word With You”, airs multiple times each weekday on Family Life broadcasting, plus our online streams.


A parallel Family Life Podcast is also available:  Check our pastors’ first-person stories on “The Calling” with Steve Smith. Episodes can be found here.


A Family Life Special – Previewing this holiday season – 11/24/23

Various angles today, about how the “holiday season” affects various people.

It’s an insightful half-hour with four special guests:

  • Financial expert Rachel Cruze offers her personal stories and professional recommendations on shopping and budgeting between now and Christmas. It’s OK — it’s even good — to be generous at this time of year. She cautions, though, that overspending and reliance on “stuff” to bring joy is misguided and harmful.
  • New York Pastor Dave Bretch offers those of us in America a perspective of what Christmas will be like in the Holy Land. He has led tours of the region where Jesus was born, as well as offering glimpses of U.S. and world history of Christmastime during wartime. For 2023, because of the war and terrorism in the region, the town of Bethlehem has already announced that all Christmas celebrations and events there for 2023 have been called off, to keep locals and visitors safe.
  • Another pastor in the Family Life listening area, Eric Johns, has first-hand insights of living on the streets as wintry weather begins to set in. He wraps up a 25-year string of spending Thanksgiving Week abiding with neighbors who are homeless for the holidays. Johns is involved with a congregation which has a heart for reaching out to those without a family, without a home, and (sometimes) without hope. Like many other churches, this congregation emphasizes how to share food, clothing and other items with people in need around them.
  • Jessica Meade, a Christian counselor in Pennsylvania, talks about personal and family expectations of what we think December and Christmas “should” be like. When it has been a hard year, or the circumstances of a family changes, people can drag themselves down when their holidays don’t feel like the happy Christmas movies or the stereotypical Christmas cards — let alone our own memories of good old days. She offers advice and practical steps to let loose of some traditions, find camaraderie with others who are living out a “Blue Christmas”, and ways to rediscover true wonder and joy, in anticipation of the Gospel story.

Please feel free to share this Family Life Special with others in your family, congregation, social circles, and other spheres of your influence.

It is easy to download, listen, or subscribe to our News Podcasts and features which intrigue you.

Incurable Faith – Joy amid Longsuffering – Andrea Herzer (#2) – 11/16/23

Family Life’s “Faith Under Fire

Andrea Herzer has been journaling about her life with multiple illnesses, debilitating health issues, and a strong inspiring reliance on God. She compiled those writings into a devotional book to encourage others who are looking for that pathway to a life that overflows with the Lord’s sustaining love — no matter what happens with pain, or healing, or suffering, or loss.

Her book’s title recognizes the way that some diagnoses are labeled “incurable”. Yet, she emphasizes that hope and peace can infuse people who face cancer, chronic pain, multiple surgeries, a long convalescence, or any other health issue. Incurable Faith is a partner along that long journey.

This is our second conversation with Herzer. In this interview, she talks about her early days of waiting for healing, as she first sought a return to “normal”. That process of waiting and healing and abiding has now stretched across 20 years. Weaving together her experience and multiple Biblical truths, she offers what she has learned about keeping your spirit at peace. She also encourages caregivers and family members who accompany patients through such processes.

Also: what friends and visitors from church do that is very unhelpful — plus recommendations on ways to be incredibly helpful amid the patience, impatience and loneliness of longsuffering.


You can also listen to our first conversation with Andrea Herzer, and you’ll find resources she recommends.


Resources and background:


Faith Under Fire – Medical Authoritarianism – 11/09/23

Two years ago, there was a split among public opinion about the efficacy of Covid-19 protection methods. <a href="https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/group-scientists-workers-holding-tubes_7333734.htm#query=group%20scientists&position=4&from_view=keyword&track=ais">Image by pikisuperstar</a> on Freepik

Now, our guest contends that even more widespread distrust of public health officials bodes a dangerous future, should another widespread epidemic arise.

A Christian psychology professor says the challenge came when scientists went beyond measuring and analyzing data, also making decisions which should be the prerogative of the elected leaders, or of the people.  Luke Conway is on the faculty of Grove City College. He says it became hard to “follow the science” when some of the scientists were against doing good science by refusing to consider other scientific evidence and other researchers’ observations. Conway contends that most of those who lean into authoritarianism, censorship or name-calling are primarily motivated by fear. He quotes Scripture that “perfect love casts out fear.” [1 John 4:8]

In this Family Life Interview, he also emphasizes the roles for politicians and the general public to take all the available information — from all angles and emphases — and come up with the best decisions. He ends the conversation with his prescription for navigating social strife and cultural disagreements. A Christ-mandated involvement will bring about restoration, consensus and hope — when people of faith start with a good dose of humility, a commitment to love those who disagree, and seek the best welfare of the city, nation or community.


“Early in the pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci is reported to have said to Donald Trump: “I just do medical advice. I don’t think about things like the economy and the secondary impacts. I’m just an infectious diseases doctor. Your job as president is to take everything else into consideration.”  —Luke G. Conway, writing for the Institute for Faith and Freedom at Grove City, PA. His full essay on the topic (using a sports rulebook analogy) is e-published here.

Luke Conway is also a fellow at the Institute for Faith and Freedom, and frequently writes about academic research and socio-political trends.


Freedom of Speech & Freedom of Humor – 11/02/23

The so-called “Cancel Culture” seeks to silence divergent voices, and among those who are being squeezed are today’s humorists.

Comedy outlets — from television shows to magazines to stand-up clubs to websites — are facing increasing pressure to “toe the line” drawn by the “powers that be”.

One proponent of free speech is the leader of the satirical humor website The Babylon Bee. CEO Seth Dillon talks about political speech, social commentary, and the context of public dialogue in our culture. In this special Family Life Interview, Dillon tells about how The Bee was booted off of what was then called Twitter, after it posted a joke about a White House advisor.

Dillon talks about:

  • How humor is one of the best ways to speak the truth, especially when many others aren’t
  • Why many people — with public roles or not — have been frightened or shamed into silence
  • The state of comedy today, and what it says about us
  • Highlights of The Bee’s absurd jokes … which ended up becoming true, which he considers absurd.
  • Why TV shows, writers and online comedians need to skewer the foibles of Democrats and Republicans and social movements of all types.


Seth Dillon says his experience with deplatforming and censorship has placed him on the front lines of the battle for free speech in the public square. In addition to owning and writing for The Bee, Dillon travels the country to speak at conferences and college campuses about the effectiveness of humor, the “moral imperative of mockery”, and the dangers of silencing competing voices. Some of his videos are posted here. The website started as a Christian satire e-publication.

Dillon is in Pennsylvania next week to speak at the “Friends of the Family” Banquet of the Pennsylvania Family Institute. His presentation is Monday, November 6, at Hershey.


A Special Family Life Interview – Riley Gaines & Protection of Women’s Sports – 10/31/23

Riley Gaines has been one of the prominent speakers on issues of trans-gender inclusion in women’s sports. The University of Kentucky graduate put her grad school and future dental career on hold, and now travels the country to advocate for women’s sports. She tells Family Life’s Greg Gillispie that her message is not about personal attacks on people who transition to the opposite gender. Rather, she is standing up for safety, dignity and fairness among women and girls — be that in single-sex locker rooms, athletic competition, and dangers when stronger trans athletes share the arena with women. Her advocacy extended beyond sports. She is concerned about men who swap genders going into women’s prisons, safety and decorum in public restrooms, and the lack of truth expressed as this debate roars along.

In this Family Life interview, she also previews her upcoming presentation at Hershey, Pennsylvania, on November 6 (well over 1,000 people are expected to attend). She talks about how her Christian faith has strengthened her calling. She tells how her identity from the Lord helped her face the opposition, cancellations and even a few confrontations she has experienced from those who hold other views.


Riley Gaines Barker won five SEC swimming titles and has been named an All-American 12 times. At a 2022 NCAA Championship, she tied (down to the exact 1/100th of a second) with swimmer Lia Thomas who was born male, and who shared a locker room with born-female athletes.  Thomas was awarded that trophy, despite the tie, because a meet official saw the occasion as an opportunity to support trans athletes succeeding in women’s competitions.

She has testified at the U.S. House and Senate, speaks to college audiences and state legislatures, and is a frequent guest on national and local media outlets. She also started a podcast on women’s rights, sports, and faith. Riley Gaines commends to her supporters this report on Single-Sex Competition in American Sports in our time.

For information (and tickets availability) for her keynote speech at the Pennsylvania Family Institute’s Annual Banquet on Monday, November 6, go to PAFamily.org

Faith Under Fire – Clergy Appreciation – Pastors are “under fire” these days – 10/26/23

Perspectives, especially during Clergy Appreciation Month: Relighting the fire in pastors’ souls

During this Clergy Appreciation Month, this Family Life interview gets an assessment on the stresses and challenges which local pastors and preachers have faced for multiple years.

The Rev. Sandy Hasenauer, a denominational official for 50+ American Baptist Churches in the Rochester/Genesee region of New York, talks about the trends of burn-out and flame-out demonstrated in national surveys. (A Barna survey says 48 to 52% of today’s pastors have “seriously considered leaving the ministry” in the past 12 months.) She offers some practical ways that congregations can boost their pastors in simple and practical ways.

Some techniques which are appreciated by clergy — and their families:

  • simple handwritten notes and cards with a word of encouragement and thanks (handwritten messages, she says, stands out in an e-mail/texting atmosphere
  • offering fair pay and benefits, and reevaluating this compensation annually
  • attending worship in person (pastors have expressed a loss of energy when significant percentages of the church stay home to worship virtually)

Hasenauer tells us that while October is Clergy Appreciation month, there are many ways that church members and congregations’ leadership councils can pray for and demonstrate care for their pastors year-round.

Family Life Interview – Wars in Ukraine & the Middle East – Mike Aleprete – 10/25/23

A global studies professor at a Pennsylvania Christian college sees geographic differences — but political parallels — between Russia’s war on Ukraine, and the aftermath of Hamas violence in southern Israel.

Doctor Mike Aleprete of Westminster College tells family life that it is a challenge for many in the American public to think long-term about international tensions. As an example, the international relations specialist says as Americans are focused on the Middle East, many heard nothing about the loss of civilian lives last week in a Ukrainian town:

Aleprete offers his analysis of both wars, comments on the anti-Israel protests which are popping up in the U.S. and elsewhere, and discusses governmental posturing and choices made by terror cells.

Aleprete also offered initial analysis of the attacks on Israel last week on our Family Life Noon Report. That interview is available here

Autumn Leaves – a Fall Foliage Tour of PA & NY – 10/06/23

Many New Yorkers and Pennsylvanians (plus guests to the two states) spend an afternoon, a weekend, or a week — out in nature and enjoying the divine design of autumn’s leaf colors.

Certified Arborist Jerrod Webber and Natural Resources Specialist Ryan Reed gives you a forecast on the best views in our two states this month. They also explain how wet/dry weather, wildfire smoke, and the temperatures of the week you go touring all affect the abundance and the beauty of your leaf watching.

Pennsylvania’s weekly Fall Leaves Forecast

New York State Department of Forestry