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2.1.2023

Lift Every Voice: Why We Need the Black Church

Due to our history of racism, longstanding segregation, and cultural differences, there are many misconceptions surrounding the Black church.
1
min
12.9.2022

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

Christmas is . . . complicated.

Yes, it is bright, merry, joyful, and the most wonderful time of the year. A season to celebrate Emmanuel, God with us. But it can also be the most difficult time of year for those who are lonely, are walking through the loss of a loved one, or have contentious relationships with their family. Even some of our most treasured Christmas songs are complicated. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” was written from the point of view of World War II soldiers, dreaming of home while living in the horrors of war, while Judy Garland’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” resigns to “muddle through, somehow,” hoping her troubles will be gone next year. That’s not very merry or bright.  

Even so, Andy Williams was right: Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. But the contrast of love, joy, peace, and hope with the reality of the wounds, wars, and worldliness of our daily lives can be jarring. How should we, the church, respond to the Christmas season in light of the pain in the world?

 

One solution is to ignore the darkness that surrounds us, to not talk about the news and ignore the struggles of the holidays. But that won’t do, especially for the people commanded to be light in the darkness (Matthew 5:14). We don’t have the option of hiding under a bushel to preserve our peace. 

Another response would be to reject the joy of Christmas in an effort to highlight the necessary needs of the world, becoming cynical toward the ignorantly holly-jolly attitude of the season. Joylessness is not an appealing option, especially for those of us who love the decorations and music of Christmas. But a muted, honest response may feel like the only way to address the real hurt in the world around us. Is this season about Christ or the excess of materialism? Where is the joy we sing about for the starving in Yemen? Where is the peace that is heralded through the speakers of our shopping centers? Why is it here but not in Ukraine or Uvalde? In this world, Christmas can feel like glossy wrapping paper around a lump of coal. Like Frank Sinatra sings in the too-often-ignored carol “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”: 

 

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

But in despair I bowed my head,
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said,
‘For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.’

Yes, the world is broken and can appear hopelessly irreparable. And, yes, our cultural values have infiltrated Christmas. But cynicism towards Christmas isn’t a path to wholeness. Quite the contrary: our only hope in life or death is that baby in the manger, the “reason for the season.” The world needs our celebration of Jesus. We can’t solve a crisis on the other side of the world, but we can share the joy of Jesus’s birth with everyone we meet.

 

So, we cannot avoid the complications of Christmas, but we also cannot reject the happiness of the holiday. We walk a third path, the way of Christ, of intermingled joy and sorrow. We groan and weep because of sin and its effects but we can do nothing but rejoice in the hope we have found in Christ (Romans 8:22–25; Philippians 4:4–5). 

Just think about the way we celebrate Christmas. In the coldest season of the year, when darkness overwhelms our non-working hours, we emblazon our homes with lights and warm ourselves with hot chocolate. We brave the winter weather to be near to family, bearing gifts to (what can seem like) everyone we know. We focus on giving, serving, and compassion toward the needy in our communities. We defy the present darkness to proclaim our hope in Jesus (John 1:5). That is the Christian life!

 

The spirit of Christmas is neither avoidant nor despairing; it is defiantly hopeful. We are caught between the two comings of Christ and choose to live in the assurance of the second while acknowledging that we can do more to spread light of his first. Yes, we are awash with pain, loneliness, grief, war, poverty, and illness, but it will not always be that way. We can stand where and sing triumphantly with Frank Sinatra into the wintery night:

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.’

Merry Christmas. Come, Lord Jesus. 

1
min
11.18.2022

Gratitude: The Holy Habit of Noticing

If you live in the United States, Thanksgiving is right around the corner.

A holiday brimming with delicious food, time with family and friends, and lots of football, Thanksgiving is also a day to remember what we’re thankful for. For Christians, Thanksgiving presents an opportunity to reflect on all God has done and is doing and thank him. 

 

Gratitude should mark the people of God, but we can be tempted to reserve it for a holiday or mealtime prayers. Paul exhorts us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to “give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” His command feels extreme—does he really want us to give thanks in everything? If so, what does gratitude even look like? How can we start building a habit of thanksgiving?

 

The good news is we can become grateful people by the power of the Spirit, and we can begin growing in gratefulness with one simple step: noticing what God is doing in our lives. 

What to Notice

 

People

Paul mentions fourteen times in his letters that he thanks God for the people he’s writing to. Have you ever stopped to consider why he mentioned his gratefulness for his fellow Christians? Whether he is about to write words of rebuke or correction or encouragement, he still thanks God for the church—for people. He notices them. More importantly, he notices that God has orchestrated his relationship with them, that God put them in his life for a reason, and that God works in and through them. 

 

People, and our relationships with them, can stir up gratitude in us, just as Paul’s friendships produced thanksgiving in his heart. Who in your life are you grateful for?

 

Places

Just as God brings people into our lives, he also places us in our neighborhoods, jobs, and churches. When he created the world, he put humans in it to live, grow, and take care of creation. Taking time to notice the world God put you in—your workplace, your home, your car, your church, your neighborhood park—can help cultivate gratitude in your heart. Yes, difficult places exist. Brokenness riddles our world. But God’s goodness, faithfulness, and kindness always shine forth through the brokenness for us to witness and thank him for.

Where has God placed you? What about those places are you thankful for?

 

Moments

Have you ever paused to notice a moment? Maybe the giggles of a playing toddler, the taste of a home-cooked meal, or the words of a hymn in Sunday worship. Or maybe you look back on past moments, spending time to reminisce with old college friends or to remember a loved one who’s passed away. 

 

Past or present, moments encapsulate beauty. Slowing down to notice important or even seemingly insignificant moments can make us more grateful.

Is there a moment you’re thankful for? What could it look like to pause and notice the beauty of a moment today?

How to Notice

 

Taking notice of your people and your world—and seeing all of it as God-given, as proof of his love and grace—is the first step toward gratitude. When we know what to notice, we can move from simply observing our lives to giving thanks to God. Thanksgiving can look different for all of us, but there are a few practical ways we can weave it into our lives.

 

Keep a journal.

Keeping a gratitude journal is trendy for a reason. When we put pen to paper and list what we’re grateful for, we acknowledge what God has given us in a physical way. Regularly slowing down to thank God helps solidify gratitude in our hearts and builds our thankfulness muscle. Journals can also help us remember what God has done for us when we’re facing impossible, difficult situations. In many ways, it is an act of worship to write down what we are grateful for. Grab a journal or a pad of paper and try writing down three things you’re thankful for every day, then turn your list into a prayer of praise.

 

Tell someone what you notice and why you’re grateful for it.

Gratitude is contagious. When we tell others what we’re thanking God for, we point them to gratefulness. Take a walk with a friend or call a family member and weave gratitude into your conversation organically. Notice how speaking with thankfulness about your life affects others. Or tell a significant person in your life that you are thankful for him or her and why, just as Paul did for the churches he wrote to.

 

Memorize a verse, song, or prayer for when it’s hard to be grateful.

Hardship often makes gratitude feel as impossible as asking the rain to stop pouring. When we face difficulty, the habits we’ve formed in calmer times come in handy. They give us the words to say when we have none to offer. Find verses on gratitude and memorize them (consider Psalm 100; Philippians 4:6–7; or 1 Thessalonians 5:18). Make a playlist of songs that express thanksgiving to God and return to it often. Or find a written prayer that thanks God that you can pray when words don’t come easily.

 

What happens when I notice and give thanks?

Gratitude transforms us. When we give thanks, we acknowledge God and his work in the world. We lift our eyes from looking at ourselves to see the spiritual reality of our lives.

God is at work. He always has been and always will be.

As you enter the holiday season, look for ways to build a lifestyle of gratitude. Invite your friends and family to join you and see how God grows joy, love, and hope in you as you thank him.

1
min
11.11.2022

What a Friend We Have in Jesus

Friendship is one of the most important and formative features of the human experience, and one of its sweetest pleasures. Because of its significance, literature is filled with moving examples of friendship, from Sam and Frodo in The Lord of the Rings to Harry, Ron, and Hermione in the Harry Potter series. These stories, and others like them, invite us to make friendship a priority.

 

The Bible also speaks of friendship’s important, formative effect on our lives. From the example of David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:1–5) to the language Paul uses in his epistles to Timothy (1 and 2 Timothy), the witness of Scripture testifies that friendship is a blessed good. Solomon himself reveres friendship, using words like “sweetness” (Proverbs 27:9) to describe its joys and “love” (Proverbs 17:17) to convey its depth and devotion.

Friendship is not just a blessed good but a generous gift from God.


Since we’ve been created in the image of the triune God (Genesis 1:27), we are made for community—for friendship. In some ways, it comes natural to us. We gravitate to others, finding common bonds, common interests, and common loves. And yet, because we and the world have been fractured by sin, friendship is hard. We sin against our friends, they sin against us, and relationships suffer and sometimes break.

Jesus, Friend of Sinners

 

In Genesis 2 and 3, the Bible implies that life for Adam and Eve was to be marked by fellowship (or friendship) with God. It was apparently normal for them to speak with God and to walk with him. But then, Genesis 3:6–7 happened—the fall—and their fellowship was disrupted. With one fateful bite of fruit, Adam and Eve effectively “unfriended” God. And to this day, we live in the shadow of the fall. Like Adam and Eve, our friendship with God has been disrupted.

How would you respond to being so grievously betrayed? Would you overlook the offense? Would you abandon your friend entirely? How do you think God should react?

The New Testament tells us how God responded to our betrayal: “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son” (Galatians 4:4,), the “friend of sinners” (Luke 7:34, emphasis added), and made him “who knew no sin to be sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21) so we might have a right relationship with him once again. Do you hear that? In response to our sin and our ruptured relationship, the Son comes and befriends those who betrayed him.

What’s most shocking about Jesus’s friendship is that he calls us friends. Though we have betrayed him, he “chose” us (John 15:16). By his grace, he has come near to us and, knowing our disloyalty and all our fears, sins, struggles, and anxieties, he has said to us, “my friend.” 

Jesus, the Greatest Friend

 

Knowing ourselves, we may wonder, “Is Jesus truly—I mean, really—my friend? Will he stick by me, even if I betray him again?”

 

We can know Jesus is our friend with certainty because of what he says to us in the Gospel of John: “No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13, CSB). Jesus is the greatest friend because he laid down his life for us (John 19).

We know from Proverbs that “a friend loves at all times” (Proverbs 17:17). Since Jesus is our friend, we can be certain that he loves us entirely, perfectly, forever—at all times. And we know that, despite what we have done or have yet to do, he “is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). 

So, we ask: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ” (Romans 8:35), this friend of sinners, this great friend of mine? No one. Oh, what a friend we have in Jesus. 

Go and Do Likewise

 

Knowing that Jesus is a devoted friend should encourage us. It should also inform the way we view and exercise friendship ourselves. Each of us needs good friends in our lives; but if we’re not careful, we might begin to think like the lawyer in Luke 10:25–37 who tested Jesus: “And who is my [friend],” we might ask (emphasis added). 

While that question is not an inappropriate one, what if Jesus first wants us who have experienced his friendship to be the same kind of friend to others? What if, upending our sensibilities as he did with the parable of the good Samaritan, he is calling us to go to our neighbors who are isolated and lonely, and befriend them? Who among us will prove to be a friend to the friendless?

 

Jesus has come and called us friends. Today, he tells us: “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37).
1
min
10.6.2022

How to Let Go of Control

Our goal should be to live with God, not by our own power and in our own way. So, how do we use the control God has given us while relying on his sovereignty?

Let’s be honest—being in control can feel really good.  Whether it’s perfectly planning a family vacation or having free creative reign over a project at work, being in control gives us a sense of power that can feel downright exhilarating. When we’re in control of a situation, there’s a level of predictability that puts us at ease and, for a moment, makes us feel like we can predict our future. But control also feeds our belief that we’ve got the skill, foresight, and wisdom to prevent any uncomfortable elements of surprise from entering our lives. And that is a lie. 

 

If we take a step back and look at our desire for control, we’ll see a unhealthy and unrealistic strategy to mask our anxiety—anxiety that we should bring to the feet of Jesus. We might think that being in control is offering us security and safety, but control can strip us from experiencing a beautiful life of faith. It can make us hold onto our idols with a tight-fisted grip and rob us of the ability to mature in Christ.

This isn’t to say that we have no control in this life. After all, God has given us free will and agency to steward our lives, decisions, and the responsibilities he’s given us. Sitting around hoping that God does everything is unrealistic—we still have to make decisions, act in obedience, and use wisdom to walk through this life. But our goal should be to live with God, not by our own power and in our own way. So, how do we use the control God has given us while relying on his sovereignty?

Rest

God wants us to rest—and not just by getting enough sleep or relaxing on the beach. When we feel like we have to be in control, we cannot rest. If my present and future depends on me, an afternoon off could be disastrous! What if an email goes unseen? What if my child misses out on an opportunity because of my inaction? Rest is not an option if we have to be gods of our own destinies.

A desire for control creates an inability to rest in the provision of God. He is in control, even when it may not feel like it, and he asks us to trust him with our futures, expectations, and hopes. When we are afraid or worried about tomorrow, we can cast our cares on him because he knows exactly how to handle our needs and our hearts. And, when we trust him, we can live free from worry because we know our good Father is at work, even when we sleep. 

If we want to find rest, we have to begin with acknowledging God—not just turning to him when all else fails. However, releasing control is anything but easy. Learning to rest comes with time and allowing the Holy Spirit to help us. 

Surrender

To relinquish control, you will have to surrender your whole life to God. If you’re anything like me, then when you think of “surrender,” you think of someone throwing their hands up during a fight—giving up, vulnerable, with nothing left to give because they’ve run out of options. They’re at the will of their opponent. But when we surrender to God, we’re releasing our problems into more capable hands. In Matthew 11:28–30, Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Take up my yoke and learn from me,because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (CSB).

 

It is exhausting to walk through life trying to control everything around us. We are eager to take on burdens that we weren’t meant to carry. Surrendering control is not about giving up, but about God working through our confusion.

Trust

Trusting God can be hard when we find ourselves in situations that we weren’t prepared for, nor have the energy to fix right away. Unforeseen circumstances—bills for unexpected expenses, getting fired, or receiving really bad news from the doctor—can leave us in a pit of anxiety. But even when we can’t see the outcome of our circumstances, God can. 

 

Part of learning to trust in God is remembering that not only is he in control, but he’s trustworthy. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us that we should trust in God and not lean on our own understanding. When we rely on our own futile understanding of life’s circumstances, we’re making decisions based on limited knowledge. When we relinquish control and trust God, we are doing exactly what he has called us to—walking by faith and letting him be God.

 

We’re not going to know everything ahead of time. We can’t. As believers, we stop looking into crystal balls that promise to tell us the future and trust the God who is with us. We cannot know what will happen in five minutes, but that ignorance forces us to trust God moment by moment and through all the surprises in life.

Now what?

At the end of the day, we can only control so much—our character, our behavior, and how we choose to respond to our circumstances. Relinquishing control—especially when we’re used to holding tightly to our plans and decisions—can be really difficult. But with the Holy Spirit’s help, we can begin to make choices that lead us into a deeper trust in God, the one who has good plans and hope for our lives. 

 

Consider your life and relationship with control—ask God to help you let go of everything that you’ve been holding onto so that he can lead you to his glorious future.

 

If you would like to learn more about how to release control and trust God, check out our series with Sharon Hodde Miller, The Cost of Control.
1
min
9.30.2022

Support for Today’s Pastors

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and underequipped as a church leader, you’re not alone. We’ve compiled resources to address pastor's five biggest needs.

The job of a pastor has always been a challenging one. 

 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and underequipped as a church leader, you’re not alone. With the influence of social media, changing cultural dynamics, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, today’s pastors face unique challenges. According to recent studies, today’s pastors are struggling with everything from time management to trusting God. Lifeway Research spoke with more than 1,000 pastors about their greatest needs; five were most commonly mentioned:  

  1. Developing leaders and volunteers
  2. Fostering connections with unchurched people
  3. Congregational apathy or lack of commitment
  4. Consistency in personal prayer
  5. Friendships and fellowship with others. 
Pastoral needs graph from Lifeway Research.

At RightNow Media, our core value is “The mission of the church matters.” We are here to pray for, equip, and encourage church leaders in their ministry because healthy leaders are crucial to building healthy churches.

We strive to support pastors in all areas of their ministry, which is why we’ve compiled resources to address your five biggest needs.

Need #1: Developing leaders and volunteers. 

As a busy pastor, it can be hard to find time to equip your leaders and volunteers. While digital training can’t replace in-person experiences, it is an effective tool to develop your leaders outside of face-to-face trainings. RightNow Media has a library full of Interactive Training Content you can assign to your leaders to complete when it's convenient for them. Or, click here to learn how you can create your own Interactive Content.

The following blog post will help you learn about some of the fears and doubts your leaders and volunteers may be experiencing. You can share this article with your team to encourage them! 

 

Read now: Qualities of an Effective Small Group Leader

Need #2: Fostering connections with unchurched people. 

Jesus clearly calls us to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19–20). But outreach ministry can take a backseat when we feel too busy with what’s going on inside the walls of our church. 

 

Even if you don’t have a designated external outreach ministry, you can still foster connections with unchurched people. Read this blog post for practical ways you can begin to bridge the gap between your congregation and the unchurched. 

Read now: Connecting with Unchurched People

Need #3: Congregational apathy or lack of commitment.  

We all want our churches to thrive, but many of our congregations struggle with attendance, recruiting volunteers, and keeping members engaged. There may be moments when you feel like one of the only people committed to the mission of your church. But no matter how you feel, God’s promises are true and he promises to never leave you or abandon you (Deuteronomy 31:6). 

 

Read this blog post for an encouraging word on staying committed to the church even when you sense apathy in your congregation. 

Read now: Battling Apathy in the Church

Need #4: Consistency in personal prayer. 

With the many responsibilities of shepherding others, pastors can unintentionally put their personal relationship with God on the backburner. In our desire to be self-sufficient, we often forget that we have a Father who hears our prayers and loves when we talk to him. 

 

Reignite your passion for prayer with this practical blog post all about the gift of talking with your heavenly Father.

Read now: Rediscovering the Importance of Prayer

Need #5: Friendship and fellowship with others. 

While church leaders often preach the need for Christian community, the perceived safety and comfort of isolation can tempt tired pastors. While it can be difficult to find people who understand the unique weight of spiritual leadership, community is worth pursuing for pastors in every stage of their ministry. 

 

Set aside a few moments for self-reflection and to answer the questions in this blog post written specifically to pastors. Then, consider the opportunities in your life to connect with other church leaders. 

Read now: Overcoming the Loneliness of Leadership

It’s a challenging time to be a pastor, but current circumstances don’t nullify God’s promises. Listen to what God says through the prophet Isaiah: 

 

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and the rivers will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, and the flame will not burn you. (Isaiah 43:1–2)

 

No matter what difficulties you face as a church leader, God’s love for you is unwavering. His plans for you are good. His divine power has given you everything you need for a godly life (2 Peter 1:3). 

The body of believers, including all of us at RightNow Media, is cheering you on. We pray these resources encourage you as you minister to others.
1
min
9.30.2022

Battling Apathy in the Church

Apathy has always been a problem for God’s people. But when the world ignores the church, our hope doesn’t change. Learn how you can overcome apathy in your church.

It feels like church is changing. Well, that isn’t completely the case. Worship styles, Christian culture, and the popular forms of preaching change with every generation. That is as inevitable as the sun setting this evening. But the cultural ground under our feet has shifted.

While many Christians are still going to church, committed members feel few and far between. Apathy seems to rule the day. 

 

As pastors, we can often despair over our congregation’s lack of passion. To combat their malaise, we dream up campaigns to build excitement, events to attract people distant from the gospel, or emulate popular teachers to add an extra spark to the pulpit. We run ourselves ragged trying to dispel apathy. But what happens when flashy strategies and catchy anecdotes don’t energize our people; when there are no new volunteers and Back Row Bob still sleeps through your sermons?

 

When our strategies fail, we often feel like failures. Shame, despair, doubt, and self-criticism come knocking on our office doors to remind us of our flaws and shortcomings. If we aren’t careful, we will end up like Elijah, abandoning our calling in frustration, grief, and despair (1 Kings 19:1–10).

 

Our culture is changing. In many ways, the Christian culture of the last thirty years is disappearing as the West evolves into a post-Christian world. The strategies of yesterday aren’t working today like they used to and won’t work in tomorrow’s world. But we don’t need a new strategy. The solution to apathy and the church’s woes is not a better worship set, a more responsible youth pastor, or better elders. Gospel-oriented passion is a God-given gift. 

Revival

 

When we ask God to cure our apathy, we are asking for nothing less than revival—a reorientation of people to God by the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s a tall order, far too much for any one of us. But, to our relief, the enlivening of God’s people and reawakening of the spiritually drowsy is not our responsibility. It is not in our skillset. Any and every pastor-led “revival” will end as soon as that pastor’s humanity is revealed—either through exposure of sin, exhaustion, or weakness. 

 

You are imperfect, but God has called you to lead his people, flawed as you may be. Your call is to be faithful. What you need, what your people need, and what the world needs is for the Spirit to move in our midst. 

 

The first step in combating apathy is to drop to our knees in humble prayer, admitting our limitations, our fears, our frustrations, and hopes. Praise God for what he has done in your church (how often we forget!) and what he is preparing to do. Practice what you preach. Confess your sins. Thank God for his goodness. Weep and rejoice for your flock. Boldly ask that God would awaken you and your people and be glorified in your congregation. 

Worship

 

An expert band, thousands of dollars in lights, and beautiful staging, are nice for Sunday worship. But true worship is neither confined nor defined by staging. True worship is defined by spirit and truth and can happen in every moment of our lives. The profound beauty of worship is not found in your band’s version of “Oceans” or in your expert teaching. The glory of worship is in its object—God himself. Worship is an opportunity for you and your people to wholly turn to God in praise and awe.

 

The second way to combat apathy is to point your people to God—the one who is, was, and ever will be. The Alpha and Omega; beginning and end. The most passionate church in the world is the church who is wholly focused on God. And, again, true worship is a gift from God. The Spirit leads us in truth, prays for us when we do not have the words, and glorifies the Father and Son as he indwells us. 

 

Once again, you are dependent on God to enliven your worship. So keep praying. 

The High Calling

 

It can be easy for lay people to assume that pastors and church staff are the only people with a calling on their life. We know that isn’t true, that every person is called to lay their lives down at the foot of the cross. 

 

We are busy. But our schedules don’t change God’s calling. Often, we try to make church amenable to people’s schedules. To a point, that is totally understandable. But decades of seeker-sensitive models have taught Christians the church is a low-commitment event. It is what we do on Sundays—well, the Sundays we feel like going. Is it really that surprising Christians who see church as an optional program aren’t excited to sacrifice their time, energy, and resources for it?

 

When we minimize commitment to the Body of Christ, we send the message that the church’s need is not so great—that sacrifice is for church staff, volunteering is a hassle, and the mission of God is a side plot to our lives.

 

Do not minimize involvement in the church. Don’t soften the commands of Scripture. When someone shows up to volunteer, don’t give them a minimum requirement—tell them what you need and ask for a commitment. Invest in them. 

He Is With You

 

Apathy has always been a problem for God’s people. We aren’t experiencing anything new, even as our culture slides into a post-Christian perspective. But when the world ignores the church, our hope doesn’t change. 

 

Pastors are like the prophets of old, surrounded by idols and syncretism. Like the prophets, we call people back to God’s Word, to radical repentance, worship, and service.

Our world doesn’t need a better event; they need Jesus. Turn to him. Point your people to him. Call them to his standard. 

 

Pastor, he is with you. 

1
min
10.6.2022

How to Let Go of Control

Our goal should be to live with God, not by our own power and in our own way. So, how do we use the control God has given us while relying on his sovereignty?
Christian Living

Let’s be honest—being in control can feel really good.  Whether it’s perfectly planning a family vacation or having free creative reign over a project at work, being in control gives us a sense of power that can feel downright exhilarating. When we’re in control of a situation, there’s a level of predictability that puts us at ease and, for a moment, makes us feel like we can predict our future. But control also feeds our belief that we’ve got the skill, foresight, and wisdom to prevent any uncomfortable elements of surprise from entering our lives. And that is a lie. 

 

If we take a step back and look at our desire for control, we’ll see a unhealthy and unrealistic strategy to mask our anxiety—anxiety that we should bring to the feet of Jesus. We might think that being in control is offering us security and safety, but control can strip us from experiencing a beautiful life of faith. It can make us hold onto our idols with a tight-fisted grip and rob us of the ability to mature in Christ.

This isn’t to say that we have no control in this life. After all, God has given us free will and agency to steward our lives, decisions, and the responsibilities he’s given us. Sitting around hoping that God does everything is unrealistic—we still have to make decisions, act in obedience, and use wisdom to walk through this life. But our goal should be to live with God, not by our own power and in our own way. So, how do we use the control God has given us while relying on his sovereignty?

Rest

God wants us to rest—and not just by getting enough sleep or relaxing on the beach. When we feel like we have to be in control, we cannot rest. If my present and future depends on me, an afternoon off could be disastrous! What if an email goes unseen? What if my child misses out on an opportunity because of my inaction? Rest is not an option if we have to be gods of our own destinies.

A desire for control creates an inability to rest in the provision of God. He is in control, even when it may not feel like it, and he asks us to trust him with our futures, expectations, and hopes. When we are afraid or worried about tomorrow, we can cast our cares on him because he knows exactly how to handle our needs and our hearts. And, when we trust him, we can live free from worry because we know our good Father is at work, even when we sleep. 

If we want to find rest, we have to begin with acknowledging God—not just turning to him when all else fails. However, releasing control is anything but easy. Learning to rest comes with time and allowing the Holy Spirit to help us. 

Surrender

To relinquish control, you will have to surrender your whole life to God. If you’re anything like me, then when you think of “surrender,” you think of someone throwing their hands up during a fight—giving up, vulnerable, with nothing left to give because they’ve run out of options. They’re at the will of their opponent. But when we surrender to God, we’re releasing our problems into more capable hands. In Matthew 11:28–30, Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Take up my yoke and learn from me,because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (CSB).

 

It is exhausting to walk through life trying to control everything around us. We are eager to take on burdens that we weren’t meant to carry. Surrendering control is not about giving up, but about God working through our confusion.

Trust

Trusting God can be hard when we find ourselves in situations that we weren’t prepared for, nor have the energy to fix right away. Unforeseen circumstances—bills for unexpected expenses, getting fired, or receiving really bad news from the doctor—can leave us in a pit of anxiety. But even when we can’t see the outcome of our circumstances, God can. 

 

Part of learning to trust in God is remembering that not only is he in control, but he’s trustworthy. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us that we should trust in God and not lean on our own understanding. When we rely on our own futile understanding of life’s circumstances, we’re making decisions based on limited knowledge. When we relinquish control and trust God, we are doing exactly what he has called us to—walking by faith and letting him be God.

 

We’re not going to know everything ahead of time. We can’t. As believers, we stop looking into crystal balls that promise to tell us the future and trust the God who is with us. We cannot know what will happen in five minutes, but that ignorance forces us to trust God moment by moment and through all the surprises in life.

Now what?

At the end of the day, we can only control so much—our character, our behavior, and how we choose to respond to our circumstances. Relinquishing control—especially when we’re used to holding tightly to our plans and decisions—can be really difficult. But with the Holy Spirit’s help, we can begin to make choices that lead us into a deeper trust in God, the one who has good plans and hope for our lives. 

 

Consider your life and relationship with control—ask God to help you let go of everything that you’ve been holding onto so that he can lead you to his glorious future.

 

If you would like to learn more about how to release control and trust God, check out our series with Sharon Hodde Miller, The Cost of Control.
1
min
8.31.2022

RightNow Media Around the World: Spotlight on Africa

Learn about our video content from RightNow Media in Africa.
RightNow Media Around the World

This month, we are shining a spotlight on some of the new RightNow Media content being produced in Africa.

Over the past few years, we’ve enjoyed collaborating with the Christian community in Africa through our strategic alliance with NextGen Global leaders. In 2019, RightNow Media began serving churches and organizations in West Africa. And then in early 2020, RightNow Media expanded its reach to churches and organizations in South Africa. 

Today RightNow Media serves more than 350 organizations and counting in Africa! We pray often that our video content can reach as many people as possible. Many Christians in Africa speak English, so they have been able to immediately use RightNow Media with all of our English Bible studies, devotionals, and training courses. We are working to expand RightNow Media’s influence in Africa by captioning English studies in local languages and partnering with local teachers. 

The Team

The team in Africa is led by Mari Joubert and operates out of Pretoria, South Africa through our strategic alliance with NextGen Global Leaders. The team of nine people currently serves churches and organizations from 47 countries in Africa. 

Mari Joubert

Mari Joubert

Regional Director

Mari was born and raised in Pretoria, South Africa and worked for almost twelve years in Christian publishing before joining RightNow Media through NextGen Global Leaders. She is married to Andre and has two boys, Joshua and Luka. 

Studies from RightNow Media in Africa

Currently, RightNow Media offers 24 series taught by speakers from Africa, with more planned to be released this year. Most of these new series are taught in English, but we are expanding our efforts to caption series in local languages to reach as many people as possible. In addition, RightNow Media is working with teachers to produce original series in local languages like Afrikaans.

A Call from God

A Call from God

Mike Bamiloye

Are you called by God? To answer that question, you may first need to answer another one—what does being called by God really mean?


Often, the call is misunderstood as a leading from God to enter full-time ministry. We may feel that the “call” is something reserved for those who are far more spiritually advanced than us. While it is true that there are different types of calling, no believer is exempt from God’s call. 

Psalm 90: Number Our Days

Psalm 90: Number Our Days

Dalene Reyburn

Wherever you find yourself in life, you have a choice: you can look back with regret, look forward with fear, and live a mediocre present or you can take hold of the truth that Jesus redeems your past, is real in your present, and positions you to be ready for your future.

Join Dalene Reyburn in this four-part series through Psalm 90, in which we’ll echo the prayer of Moses: “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Dash

Dash

Craig Roberts

One day, there will be a DASH created between the birth and death of every single one of us. How can we make the greatest impact for Christ during our short time on Earth? 

Join Craig Roberts in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe for this challenging four-session study as he looks at life through the lens of eternity, distractions that draw our attention away from Christ, and learn how to practically restructure our lives to experience purpose, hope, and joy every day! 

The Spirit of Excellence

Chika Ossai-Ugbah

What does it mean to be truly excellent? How can we excel at the tasks we are responsible for, make a difference and stand out? And does being excellent by God’s standards qualify us for excellence in our “secular” lives?

 

In this six-part series, (Rev.) Dr. Chika Ossai-Ugbah answers these questions by examining the life of four Hebrew refugee boys, better known as Daniel and his friends. Discover how you can cope with “culture” while adhering to God’s standards for holiness and excellence.

Impact

While RightNow Media is still a new platform in Africa, God is already using these Bible studies to encourage churches and support their mission. Johan van Aswegen, pastor of Ligpunt Church in Pretoria, South Africa, expressed how helpful RightNow Media has been to his church during the pandemic. He said that RightNow Media “has become a storehouse full of solid resources for all the leaders in our churches, for couples wanting to grow in their marriage, and for parents wanting to raise their children up in Christ.”


Teodor van der Spuy, a pastor at Church without Walls, said, “The RightNow Media platform is crucial for our church growth . . . We trust RightNow Media to equip both our congregation and our leadership.”

 

Our mission at RightNow Media is to work with the global church to inspire people to love others before themselves and Christ above all. To see more series we are creating with churches outside of the U.S., check out our International Voices library on RightNow Media. 

1
min
8.19.2022

Fighting the “Summer Camp High”

Here are a few practical steps to encourage you as you lead students toward mature and lasting spiritual growth.
Youth

I can remember attending summer camps as a young middle schooler, anticipating personal spiritual renewal and the opportunity to “get right” with God. Many of my friends and I experienced God in a way we never had before. We were teary-eyed students repenting of past sins and rededicating our lives to God after an emotional weekend devoted to powerful worship, preaching, and close-knit small groups. 

 

Although these revival events, nights, or weekends made a huge impact on us students at the time, they rarely left a lasting impact. The reality of normal life set in quickly as we fell back into the pattern of old sins, spending inconsistent time in God’s Word and with his people. 

 

Summer camps are often viewed as an end instead of a means to spiritual growth. But a single spiritual experience cannot sustain students through the entirety of the school year. Even so, these events are intended to be a spiritual catalyst in the life of students as they mature over time. So how do we fight for sanctification in our students instead of hoping a “spiritual high” sticks?

Here are a few practical steps to encourage you as you lead students toward mature and lasting spiritual growth.  

Build Strong Biblical Community

The adage, “You are who you surround yourself with,” is cliché for a reason. Galatians 6:2 reminds us that when we carry each other’s burdens, we fulfill the law of Christ. A strong foundation of godly peers is a must, especially in the impressionable lives of students facing all kinds of social pressures. Therefore, we have to create structures that encourage and support biblical communities for our students.  

 

Regularly participating in a biblically based community gives way to authenticity and accountability. What systems can you put in place to make it easy for your students to meet on a regular basis to pursue God together? What curriculum could you encourage your students to go through together? 

 

Create a plan for how your students can spend intentional time together outside of weekly worship services. When old temptation or sin patterns return in the lives of our students, the best tool we can give them is accountability with like-minded peers. James 5:16 teaches that when we confess our sins and pray with one another, we find healing and freedom. Evaluate how you are fostering an environment for healthy community. Don’t hope they will hang out on their own—create the space for them. 

 

For more on biblical community, check out Better Than One with Dhati Lewis. 

Practice Healthy Habits

When we focus solely on fixing our students, their spiritual growth can feel like an unattainable goal. But we have to remember that change doesn’t happen overnight—it takes years. Our focus should be on the small steps students can take toward growing in their knowledge of and heart for God. Encouraging students to practice healthy spiritual habits each day helps focus their attention on God for a lifetime. Here are three habits you can begin to build into your students:


1) Margin
In our oversaturated culture, filled with social media and overbooked schedules, we must encourage our students to build margin in their everyday lives. A busier life is not a more spiritual life. In fact, Jesus taught the opposite in Matthew 11:28–­30—his yoke is easy, and his burden is light. Margin for students can look like encouraging them to carve out a day to rest each week. When we look at the way of Jesus, we see that he allowed interruption in his life. He was never too busy to be available. Encourage them to use their free time to read God’s Word and spend intentional, but unscheduled, time with him. 

 

For more on margin and rest, check out The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry with John Mark Comer.

2) Prayer

Although we can often view prayer through a legalistic lens, prayer as seen through Scripture was a way of life—Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to pray without ceasing. Prayer is powerful and we have unlimited and unrestricted access to our loving Father. Many students are intimidated by prayer but when they are reminded of God’s heart for their prayers both big and small, they will be encouraged to think about God throughout their day and regularly turn their hearts toward him. 

For more on prayer, check out Just Ask with J.D. Greear.


3) Worship

Participating in regular worship both individually and corporately is imperative to the nourishment of our students’ souls. As the gathered church, we can encourage each other and collectively celebrate the goodness of God. We have the honor of encouraging our students to make worship a regular practice. We must also teach students how they can worship through their everyday actions. Don’t let them think worship is just something for Sunday morning or youth group. Students worship God through their extracurricular activities, their interactions with their family and friends, their schoolwork, and every small area of life. No matter what individual worship looks like for each student, we can encourage them to make God the ultimate object of their worship. 

 

For more on what it looks like to be faithful and worship God in every circumstance, watch Fire and Faithfulness with Sadie Robertson Huff. 

While the experience is fleeting, we cannot dismiss or diminish the spiritual growth that takes place at summer camp. But there is work to be done once students return to the realities and difficulties of life at home. Encourage your students to turn the summer camp spark into a flame. By following these practical ways to follow God and remain in fellowship with others, students will be encouraged to take what they learned at camp and continue God’s good work in their lives. 

 

Encourage your students to live out their faith during the school year by taking them through Truth and Love with Marquise Cox.


1
min
8.5.2022

Behind the Scenes: The Book of Romans with J.D. Greear

While filming in Rome, our team asked J.D. Greear a few questions about preparing for this study on the book of Romans.
Behind the Scenes

In the book of Romans, the apostle Paul gives readers the most in-depth, comprehensive explanation of the gospel in all of Scripture, showing us what it looks like to live according to the good news. And this good news is better than we could have imagined. 


We sent a film crew with pastor J.D. Greear to Rome, Italy to film The Book of Romans: Part 1 and Part 2, a series examining one of the most important books ever written on the Christian faith. In this series, J.D. helps us see just how good the gospel really is. It exceeds all our expectations.


While filming, our team asked J.D. a few questions about preparing for this series and his hopes for small groups.

RightNow Media: What is the one thing you learned while preparing for this series?

J.D.: One distinctive thing I think I re-learned as I was prepping for this series is just the distinctive message of grace that the gospel offers. The power of grace to transform our lives. Especially being on location here in Rome where you’re associated with so many different symbols of religion, and all the works-righteousness that goes into religion, and people doing things to try to earn God’s favor. Paul’s message in Romans is [righteousness] is a gift. Righteousness is not a standard that we obtain to; it’s a gift that God gives us. And then in response to that, out of love, we serve God, and we serve others. The power of the gospel, it was renewed in me, rekindled in me, not only as I studied and prepared for this but as I actually taught through it as well. 

RightNow Media: What is the one thing you want viewers to walk away with after watching this series?

J.D.: One of the things I think I’m hoping—I’ve been hoping and praying for out of this study—is that this study of the book of Romans, which is one of the deepest and richest looks at the gospel anywhere in Scripture, would have this effect of not only getting us excited about the gospel and transforming our relationships but just burning in our hearts until we have to tell others. The gospel is kind of like a spiritual tornado, it never pulls you in without also wanting to thrust you back out. And so, I think just pressing into the beauties of God’s grace, it just does something to you that changes you so that you not only treat people differently and think about yourself differently, you just find yourself having to talk to other people about the things that you’re learning. 

RightNow Media: Tell us about the most memorable moment of filming this series.

J.D.: So, the most memorable moment, spiritually, is probably going to be down in Paul’s prison. When we’re pretty sure it is the actual cell he stood in before he was executed, and just to think about that—that was amazing. I loved filming from there. You know, always my favorite memories with this are slow walking with Will (Senior Producer at RightNow Media). Just to follow me around with a camera, and just to kind of zoom in on my feet and to make me really self-conscious about my posture, "Am I walking crooked?" So, that definitely is what I’ll take away. Will’s got a special place in my heart.

1
min
7.13.2022

Behind the Scenes: The Beatitudes with Matt Chandler

We sent a film crew with Matt Chandler to Big Bend National Park to film The Beatitudes, an eight-session series examining Matthew 5:1–12.
Behind the Scenes

In Matthew 5, Jesus begins his most famous sermon with a list of characteristics, commonly known as the Beatitudes, that offer us a glimpse at what it looks like to live “the blessed life.” But they’re not exactly what we might expect. 

We sent a film crew with author and pastor Matt Chandler to Big Bend National Park to film The Beatitudes, an eight-session series examining Matthew 5:1–12. In this series, Matt teaches us what a blessed life really looks like. It may not look the way we imagine, but it’s better than we could ever hope.

While filming, our team asked Matt a few questions about his preparation for and teaching of this impactful series. 


RightNow Media: What is one thing you learned while preparing for this series?

Matt: Going into the series, I was familiar with the Beatitudes. I mean, I’ve been a Christian for thirty years. I don’t know that I’ve ever explicitly taught through them but certainly understood them to be Jesus unpacking what the kingdom of God would look like. So, the thing that was in plain sight that really ministered to me as I prepared was that the Beatitudes aren’t a list of things that I need to work on, but rather the kind of person that Jesus is turning me into. And I think that was the big thing that stood out, that Jesus doesn’t show up looking for this kind of person, like “let me find the man of peace” or “let me find the meek.” But, rather, he’s saying, “my people that I’m going to work in, that the Holy Spirit’s going to—this is the kind of person they’re going to become.” So, it’s not eight different people, right, but eight characteristics of the same person. So, it honestly gave me a lot of confidence that God is working these things in me and that I will continue as long as I’m here.

RightNow Media: What is one thing you want viewers to walk away with after watching this series?

Matt: If I think about people in living rooms or in church rooms and buildings, and watching this, the thing that I most want them to walk away with is a confidence that God is at work in their lives. I don’t want them to listen to a single one of these episodes and feel crushed by it or feel that it’s impossible. That by episode after episode after episode that they would grow in their deep and earnest belief that God is at work in the mess of their lives. That God’s patience is there, that his shaping power is there, and that he has not forgotten them, but is actively turning them into this kind of person. 

RightNow Media: Tell us about the most memorable moment of filming this series.

Matt: So, the thing that always stands out when I get to shoot these things is it’s always done in just stunningly beautiful places. So, there is the team, of course, that you laugh with, and you have a good time with. But you’re getting to . . . I said to somebody, I think it was early this morning, “Can you believe we get to do this?” We’re up early, everything’s new, the sun’s coming up, everything’s beautiful, and then we get to talk about the creator God of the universe. We get to point toward the gospel. We get to marvel at his goodness and grace. I think that’s the thing, and really, through all my shoots with RightNow, that’s been the thing that always has stood out as I head home or as we wrap up, that in these really beautiful places, these really privileged spaces, that we get to just talk about and point towards the king of the universe. 

Click here to watch The Beatitudes with Matt Chandler on RightNow Media.

1
min
7.8.2022

The RightNow Media Story

RightNow Media exists to work with the global church to inspire people to love others before self and Christ above all.

Before RightNow Media was an international organization with hundreds of employees, it was a father-son team filming documentaries in remote locations about the work of Christian missionaries. While much has changed over the past few decades, our motivation has stayed the same: we exist to work with the global church to inspire people to love others before self and Christ above all.

Where Our Story Begins

RightNow Media began as Priority One International. In 1977, our founder and his son began filming documentaries of Christian missionaries around the world, bringing them back to the U.S. to share with local churches. Over time, the ministry transitioned to producing small group video curriculum. As the demand for small group curriculum and church resources grew, Priority One began a new chapter as BluefishTV.

 

In 2009, our ministry became RightNow Media. And two years later, the Beta version of the RightNow Media online streaming platform was launched to serve church leaders and equip congregations. 

Our Present Story

Today, RightNow Media serves the global Christian church with a mission to provide high-quality, Bible-based video content for the purposes of discipleship and equipping believers on their faith journey. To show you how this is happening at RightNow Media, we want to tell you about three important parts of our ministry: our content, our platform, and our team

Our Content

The RightNow Media online video streaming library serves more than 30,000 organizations—churches, schools, and businesses—with more than 3,900 video series in our library. Here are key ways we've grown since the early days of RightNow Media:

  • The RightNow Media library has built our library from less than one thousand video series in 2011 to more than 3,900 video series—more than 25,000 individual videos—today.
  • In the early 2010s, RightNow Media produced an average of 8 original video Bible studies per year. Today, RightNow Media produces more than 75 original video Bible studies each year for the global church, with around 40 of these RightNow Media Originals created in the U.S.
  • In addition to original productions, RightNow Media licenses more than 200 new video Bible studies each year from various Christian publishers.

 

We are working to grow and diversify our content to serve as many people as possible. Some of our recent releases include Jesus’s Farewell Message with Francis Chan, Find Your People with Jennie Allen, and Genesis with Charlie Dates. Explore the RightNow Media Library to see more video content from trusted Christian pastors and leaders.

Our Platform

At RightNow Media, we exist first and foremost to serve church leaders and disciple congregations. As technology and trends progress, we want our offerings to stay relevant so we can reach as many people as possible. Over the past several years, we have significantly increased our investment in our app, adding new features like:

  • Virtual Groups for families and small groups to watch and discuss studies remotely.
  • Language options for the app and video content.
  • Downloadable videos to watch content on an airplane or in other out-of-service areas.
  • Audio-only mode so you can listen to content while driving or exercising.

We’re always working to improve our platform, so be on the lookout for new features! You can learn more about our current platform features here

Our Team

The RightNow Media team is a diverse and dedicated group of people who share one core belief: the mission of the church matters.  


  • Our U.S. team has grown from 80 people to more than 180 over the past 10 years. This growth includes 26 content team members responsible for creating Bible studies and 24 software team members responsible for developing our apps.
  • Team members are dedicated to our international partnerships and to our video library for businesses, RightNow Media @ Work.
  • We also have team members hard at work on our annual RightNow Conference—an experience created to equip and inspire pastors and church leaders. 

We’re so grateful for the hardworking, kingdom-minded people behind RightNow Media. You can learn more about our team here. (Or, consider joining our team here.)

Our Story Continues

Our passion to serve the church extends across the globe. In 2018, we began to invest significant resources to reach and serve churches around the world. Today, RightNow Media has partners working on the ground in Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, the United Kingdom, India, South Korea, and Brazil.

In addition to localized versions of RightNow Media’s current content library, these international teams produce their own RightNow Media Originals. Churches in over 100 countries are now using RightNow Media, and we pray that number continues to grow so more people can hear the truth of the gospel. 

In the U.S., we’re focused on making RightNow Media more accessible through our partnerships with local African American, Spanish-speaking, and Chinese churches. We’ve learned so much from collaborating with new speakers, partnering with church associations, and listening to stories from the pastors in these communities.

RightNow Media as we know it today is truly a worldwide team effort. We’ve seen God guide us throughout every step of RightNow Media’s journey, and the current state of our ministry can only be attributed to God’s power, guidance, and goodness. 

We’ve loved hearing the countless testimonies of how God is using RightNow Media in your churches, schools, businesses, homes, and beyond. Thank you for being part of the RightNow Media story. 
1
min
6.16.2022

Honoring Juneteenth

Juneteenth is a holiday that celebrates the end of slavery—more specifically, the ending of slavery in Texas.
History

I am a Black woman, and I love my heritage. Any reason to celebrate African American culture delights me. Holidays like Juneteenth have always given me a deeper appreciation for my community and the accomplishments we’ve made despite our origin story in the U.S.—especially when racial tensions swell and seem never ending.

For Black people in America, Juneteenth is a time to not only rejoice and reflect, but to also acknowledge the freedom given to our enslaved ancestors who were desperate for change. 

Juneteenth (short for June nineteenth) is a holiday that celebrates the end of slavery—more specifically, the ending of slavery in Texas. Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, ending slavery in America. But it wasn’t until June 19, 1865—two years later—that the enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, found out they were free. From then on, the formerly enslaved families of that community organized festivities on June 19 to commemorate their freedom from slavery. 

 

Considering what the holiday represents, I think it’s important for Christians to celebrate Juneteenth. We should rejoice in the dismantling of such a horrible system. But we should also honor the holiday because we live as a unique example of what it means to walk in freedom. Every celebration can look different—and in most cases, it should. Black people celebrate based on a known and passed-down experience, while others’ celebrations are rooted in their support for the Black community. But a good place to start for all of us is with rejoicing over freedom, reflecting on our current reality, acknowledging the past, and nurturing hope for the future.

Rejoice—We are free from chattel slavery and the slavery of sin.

I typically carve out time to reflect and pray every year on Juneteenth, and I often think about the idea of freedom. I’m a Black woman who is also devoted to Christ, so I have a lineage of freedom two times over. I live in America as someone whose people were set free. And I am also no longer a slave to sin because Christ has set me free from its power. However, the two are not the same—being free from American chattel slavery is different from white Christians being free in Christ. But because Christians have a nuanced perspective on the implications of freedom, we should rejoice in our spiritual freedom and join the Black community in celebrating their freedom.

 

I rejoice in the fact that I get to experience life in a way that my ancestors could only ever dream of, and I know that part of that is due to God’s sovereignty. I might always wrestle with why slavery happened to us, but I trust that God is just and brings change in his perfect timing. And even though white Christians can’t rejoice in the same way I do, my hope is that they can rejoice in what God does—justice, dignity, and freedom.

Reflect—Even though we’re free, we still experience the ramifications of sin.

Even though my community is free from chattel slavery, we still fight against the racism and oppression that remain. In a similar way, Christians are free from the power of sin, but we still struggle to overcome it. We put on the full armor of God not because we weren’t given victory but because sin’s presence is still a harsh reality in our broken world. Similarly, we also must continue fighting against the sin of racism in our nation even though the law says we’re all equal. 

 

What does it mean to be free, when the effects of slavery—both spiritually and literally—are constantly before us to witness? It’s a difficult question to think through but wrestling with it can help us appreciate the freedom God has given us. 

Acknowledge—The past is part of our testimony.

As believers, we often avoid dwelling on our past sins because we can make a habit of pushing ourselves into shame rather than healthy conviction. But we’ve been called to share our testimony of how Christ has changed us, which involves telling the truth about where we were to show the world that the unbelievable is possible. Jesus can transform us. And I believe the same can be true for our nation. But we can only move forward if we acknowledge the past: the complicity of the church toward slavery, the oppression of Black people, the lasting effects of Jim Crow laws, to name a few. 

 

The testimony of our nation’s grim history can help us see the error of its ways and show us what to avoid in the future. We know what went wrong and why. Just as we all try to learn from our past mistakes, especially as Christians, we can continue to move forward and make progress.

Hope—We can have hope for the future because Christ has the victory.

Even though looking back can help us move forward, we have to know what we’re moving toward. As believers, we know that God will make everything right one day—but in the meantime, we have to remember that he is a God of peace, justice, and love. He will not sit idly by while oppression continues to mark its territory. Our hope is that even when his actions are difficult to understand or slower than we’d expect, he is faithful to bring restoration to the world. 

 

As you celebrate Juneteenth this year, sit with the emotions, questions, and sentiments that stir in your heart. Thank God for the freedom he’s given you, but also come boldly before him to ask for the wisdom we need to combat the remnant that sin has left in this world. He’s ready and willing to do it. 

1
min
6.2.2022

Behind the Scenes: Genesis with Charlie Dates

Our team traveled with Dr. Charlie Dates to the redwood forests of Northern California to film a series on the book of Genesis.
Behind the Scenes

The Bible begins with God. In the book of Genesis, we see his power, creativity, and splendor in what he made. But we also see his mercy, love, and redemption through the flawed people he has made. While Genesis sets the stage for the rest of the Bible, it also helps us see God’s glory in his creation and teaches us that he can make something out of imperfect people like you and me. 

 

Last year, our team traveled with Dr. Charlie Dates to the redwood forests of Northern California to film a series on the book of Genesis. After speaking at the 2021 RightNow Conference, Dr. Dates spoke with us about his experience on that shoot and his hopes for this series. 

RightNow Media: What is one thing you learned while preparing for this series?

Charlie: Preparing for Genesis is very different than preparing to teach other books. Genesis is a genre of history that doesn’t really fit the Psalter, Judges, or the prophets. It doesn’t have to be decoded like apocalyptic literature. I learned about the genre sensitivity of the study—that is, wrapping our minds around what the point of Genesis is—is really the best way to see God’s activity so we can teach and preach it. 

Genesis could tell us about dinosaurs, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and all that kind of stuff but it doesn’t. It has a view toward chapter 50, getting the scene set for a savior who is going to come. That’s something I came to appreciate while working through the book of Genesis. 

 

It’s different. The Bible gives us varying shades of color in different sections. It’s not monochromatic. When we study the genre, we get to see God’s Word in the fullness of his color—it comes alive. Is there anything better than 4k resolution? If there is, I don’t know. God beats that high-def stuff. Genesis helped show me that. 

RightNow Media: What is one thing you want viewers to walk away with after watching this series?

Charlie: I want viewers to be like, “Man, the Lord is amazing, and Charlie Dates works for Jesus.” 

 

[laughs] Okay, seriously, I want viewers to walk away with a bigger picture of God. If God really did create time, space, and matter and if he did choose one family, and through that family wove this wonderful narrative, then surely he can work through the matters of my life. Surely God can bring something out of nothing where I live. I hope when you see Genesis, you feel the power and presence of God.

RightNow Media: What was it like filming this series with out team?

Charlie: When you film with RightNow Media you need to do, like, four weeks of yoga. We were in the middle of nowhere—in the Redwoods with trees that looked like they were out of a Narnia book—and I climbed on a [fallen] tree and was walking on it, balancing. I was thinking, “If I don’t get home safely, my wife’s not going to be happy about this.” [laughs] 

 

They go to great lengths to capture the most epic and beautiful scenery to match the picture of the text, so they can deliver what I think is the highest quality video content. 

 

Now, here’s what else I learned: I’m jealous. I didn’t think I was jealous, that I was envious. But the fact that they don’t live in Chicago and don’t work for us at our church . . . I had to repent of some of that. Other than that, it was great. It was fantastic. 

Click here to watch Genesis with Charlie Dates on RightNow Media.

1
min
5.31.2022

RightNow Media Around the World: Spotlight on Australia and New Zealand

Learn about our video content from RightNow Media in Australia and New Zealand.

In June, we are spotlighting our content from speakers in Australia and New Zealand.

RightNow Media began intentionally serving churches and organizations in this region in 2020 and now serves just over 480 churches, adding more each month. These churches already had access to the large library of English content produced in North America, and new content is regularly being added to the library with teachers from Australia and New Zealand. 

The Team

Through our strategic alliance with NextGen Global Leaders, the team in Australia and New Zealand is small but mighty in supporting efforts in the region. The team is based in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. 

Christie Gallen

Account Manager

Christie began working as an account manager for RightNow Media through NextGen Global Leaders in 2021. She comes from a fifteen-year career in scientific research and recently completed her doctorate degree. She considers herself an adaptive, lifelong learner, and her research training has helped her to become a tenacious problem-solver. She has also worked closely with pastors for several years, creating content to help local churches thrive and encourage people develop the kind of faith that inspires action in homes, workplaces, and cities. She lives in Brisbane, Australia with her husband and two children.

Studies from RightNow Media in Australia and New Zealand

RightNow Media’s library of international voices is growing to include more studies from Australia and New Zealand. Our mission is to work with the global church to inspire people to love others before self and Christ above all. One way we accomplish our goal is by sharing voices from around the world. Here are some of the popular studies from Australia and New Zealand available on RightNow Media. 

A Journey through Psalm 23

A Journey through Psalm 23

Brad Bonhomme

Join Brad Bonhomme on a verse-by-verse journey through one of the most celebrated passages in the Bible, Psalm 23. David—poet, shepherd, and king—illustrates in this psalm how God meets our physical, spiritual, emotional, directional, relational, and eternal needs. These truths bolster our trust and confidence in his goodness to us, both in this life and the next. In this six-part series, discover the depths of your heavenly Father’s affection for you. Rest in the presence, protection, and provision of Jesus. And join Brad in boldly proclaiming that you are under the expert management and compassionate care of the Good Shepherd.

How to Read and Study the Bible for Yourself

How to Read and Study the Bible for Yourself

Benjamin Windle

Nothing fuels our spiritual growth like personally engaging with the Bible. Yet, many people lack the practical tools to confidently study the Bible for themselves.

Filmed on location in Australia, this 5-session series with pastor and author Benjamin Windle is not just about giving you a spiritual meal for a day, it will teach you how to be a self-feeder for the rest of your life. Get the skills you need (that absolutely anyone can use) to read and apply the Bible in your own life.

Exploring Evangelism

Exploring Evangelism

Simon Gill

Evangelism is a great adventure—something God invites every single Jesus-follower to join him in. It’s about helping the people around us discover a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ.

Filmed in breathtaking historical and natural locations around Wellington, New Zealand, this series tackles an often-intimidating subject in a thoughtful and sensitive way, while inviting us to embrace the excitement of stepping out in faith with our Lord.

The series is made for people with busy lives. The episodes are bite-sized—only two to three minutes long—so that they can be absorbed on the run, or as part of a daily devotional. The short format also makes the videos easy to re-watch for a quick refresher on evangelism essentials.

Impact

RightNow Media began strategic partnerships in Australia and New Zealand just before the COVID-19 pandemic. The timing meant that churches were able to get access to valuable video resources at a time when meeting in-person was either impossible or not feasible. Pastor Tom Hatch, a senior leader at Elim Christian Centre, shared how RightNow Media has helped equip and encourage his congregation during the pandemic and beyond. One congregant shared that he and his family watch RightNow Media studies during their mealtimes. “I’m loving how thought-provoking [the studies] are . . . The kids are appreciating having this input instead of all the fear from the news, and I’m always excited to hear what they picked up [from watching the studies].” Pastor Tom emphasized the importance of having a resource that families could use to “look, find, and be fed in a current and relevant form . . . and RightNow Media exceeds that!” 


Our international library continues to grow with teachers and pastors who embody our mission to inspire people to love others before self and Christ above all. If you’d like to check out other content we are creating with churches outside of the U.S., check out our International Voices library on RightNow Media.

1
min
5.20.2022

Behind the Scenes: Jesus's Farewell Message with Francis Chan

Author and speaker Francis Chan accompanied our team to the Utah wilderness to film Jesus’s Farewell Message.

Many times, we approach the Bible to get new information about God. There is nothing wrong with that, but God tells us about himself so that we can know him, not just so we can stockpile trivia about him. 

 

Author and speaker Francis Chan accompanied our team to the Utah wilderness to film Jesus’s Farewell Message, a deep dive into Jesus’s last sermon before his crucifixion. In this series, Francis examines what it means to know and trust God deeply. God has far more for us than many of us dare imagine. 

 

While filming, our team asked Francis about his experience filming this new series. 

RightNow Media: What is one thing you learned while preparing for this series?

Francis: I learned so many things while preparing for this series. One is just the shallowness of my thoughts. I focus on this low level instead of all I have in Jesus. Like, I know him, and I have for years, but the depth of what it means to know him . . . it’s so hard to explain because it’s not new information but a depth in my knowledge of God. 

RightNow Media: What is one thing you want viewers to walk away with after viewing this series?

Francis: I sure hope that [for] everyone who watches this that it doesn’t end here. Where [they say], “I need to experience this oneness with God!” That it actually takes them somewhere. It’s got to be more than [learning] information. 

RightNow Media: Tell us about the most memorable moment of filming this series.

Francis: It’s pretty fascinating just looking at a place I’ve never been—all the ridiculous rock formations and different terrain. But the quietness has been my favorite. I just realized how seldomly I hear quiet in my life. With where I go and the things I do, it was just nice to be in a place where you heard nothing.  

Click here to watch Jesus's Farewell Message with Francis Chan on RightNow Media.

1
min
5.13.2022

5 Creative Outlets for Your Kids this Summer

Summertime can feel like an obstacle to overcome for parents of school-aged kids. How do we keep our kids busy without over-scheduling them?

Summertime can feel like an obstacle to overcome for parents of school-aged kids. How do we keep our kids busy without over-scheduling them? How do we manage our own responsibilities while also ensuring our children’s minds don’t wither away from hours of screen time? Can anything keep kids interested, occupied, productive, and even learning during summer vacation?

 

Exciting things happen when we encourage our kids to create.

 

Remember playdough, finger paint, and crayons? Toddler days were messy! But while the medium may (or may not) change, our kids’ creativity doesn’t. Let’s occupy their busy minds by filling their busy hands with opportunities to create. Adapt the following ideas to the ages and abilities of your children. 


1. Making

Set up a dedicated spot in your home—a table, nook, or entire room if you have it—for artistic endeavors stocked with a supply of paper, pencils, paint, and other creative tools. Name a particular hour of your day as “art class” and explore a passion or talent your child may possess. And if you just can’t handle glitter, paint, or modeling clay, find a friend who can and trade playdates with them. When my kids were between five and twelve years old, I always loved taking them to my friend Susie, who, as an actual artist, was happy for them to join her kids in making a huge mess on her kitchen table. They came home with glittery hair, colorful smudges, and shining eyes as they showed me their newest handmade treasures.

2. Reading

Books are the doorway to the future, exercising children’s imaginations, thinking, comprehension skills, and creativity. Stories help them understand the world and imagine a new world in which they can play a part. The power of reading inspired Dolly Parton, for instance, to create her Imagination Library, which sends a book per month to children from birth to five years old.

 

While babies are napping, toddlers can enjoy “rest time” with books until they doze off. Older kids can settle down during the heat of the day with a reading hour. Or jazz up your routine with a weekly trip to the library where they can discover new stories and foster a lifelong habit of reading. 

 

Begin with the best book in the world, the Bible. A short time reading God’s Word will start every day with pure goodness. Don’t make it complicated—even opening your physical Bible and then retelling the story in your own words teaches your children the value of hearing from God every day. Let them participate and help you as they are able. Maybe have them draw a picture depicting something from the story that day. 


3. Acting

Once they start reading, many children begin dramatizing the stories they love. Do your kids enjoy imitating or quoting their favorite characters and scenes? Clean out your closets and offer your rejects or old favorites to a costume bin. Encourage the kids to act out their morning Bible stories, write screenplays, get into character, and become someone new on stage. Cheer on your cotton ball-bearded Moses and blue sash-draped Mary. Ooh and aah when “Jesus” multiplies the cheese and crackers. Always say yes when they ask if you want to watch. 

4. Writing

Reading often leads to writing. Keep old school notebooks from the recycle bin, tear out the used pages, and reuse what’s left as “dreaming and drafting” notebooks. Let your kids’ creative instincts run wild! Don’t worry about penmanship or grammar. When they feel they’ve completed a poem or short story and are ready to share, help them re-write it neatly or even type it into the computer (we can’t ignore sneaking in easy learning). Print out a final version to share with friends and family. Celebrate your child’s imagination and hard work.

 

5. Video Editing 

Storytelling takes many forms, and video is easily the most popular type of media right now. Disney, for example, rules the screens in many households. The kids will ask to watch their favorite episodes or movies all day long, and we are often tempted to let them vegetate in front of the screen. But why not put the camera—or your iPhone—into their hands instead? Using free apps such as iMovie or InShot, young aspiring producers can learn basic editing skills for photography and video. Movie night can take on a whole new angle.

Let’s encourage our kids to tell stories that reflect their faith and God’s character. The original kids’ series The Creators, a product of the RightNow Media video production team, tells the story of a group of friends who join forces to create films that are “meaningful, virtuous, and good.” The Creators weaves biblical truths into engaging stories with humor and the right dose of seriousness. Perhaps a short time in front of a show will inspire your kids to produce their own series!

When God created humans, he made us in his image (Genesis 1:27). That means we are made to be creators too—it’s part of our DNA and our purpose. Who says we have to wait until we are adults to make wonderful things? 

 

Let’s get our kids creating this summer. 

Equip your church, anytime, anywhere with RightNow Media.

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