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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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Yet strangely enough, my idols are not strange to me.
They call to me. Personally. They appeal to me from my past. They make their persuasive case for why I need them so badly and how much they can do for me. They try to convince me that we can all get along here in one place together, that I can share space with both them and my Christian devotion at the same time, and that God will understand.
So my idols are much more personal than a piece of stone or a block of wood. Anything from my past or present that shapes my identity or fills my thoughts with something other than God, especially on a regular, ongoing, irresistible basis, is an idol. Idolatry does not count the cost of worshipping anything but God. And although few of us could ever imagine worshipping a picture of ourselves, the reality is--we are either worshipping God or some form of ourselves. When we are driven by physical and emotional appetites rather than being led by the Spirit of God, we are worshipping the idol of ourselves. Paul spoke as a prophet on fire to the Colossian Christians: "Therefore, put to death what belongs to your worldly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry" (Col. 3:5).
Read it all from Ed Stetzer.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Theology Anthropology Christology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
In their introduction to the Annual Report, Church Army Chair and Bishop of Chelmsford, Stephen Cottrell, and Church Army Chief Executive, Mark Russell, said: "During this year under review, one of our main focuses has been the implementation of our DARE strategy which we launched in 2011; doing evangelism, advocating evangelism, resourcing evangelism and enabling evangelism. Therefore, our staff and evangelists have been working hard as they’ve endeavoured to convert this strategy into operational reality - particularly in relation to encouraging and challenging the wider church in evangelism.
"Yet, it is the individual lives changed that speak best of Church Army's impact during 2012/2013. It is their names and faces, along with the statistics and finances, which will give you a real insight into our work. People like Jenny, from The Amber Project in Cardiff, who has struggled during her teenage years with self-harm but thanks to our support has found hope. Or Dot who lives on the deprived Flaxley Road housing estate in Selby and has come to faith through our Centre of Mission....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK
Almighty God, who didst give such grace to thine apostle Andrew that he readily obeyed the call of thy Son Jesus Christ, and brought his brother with him: Give unto us, who are called by thy Word, grace to follow him without delay, and to bring those near to us into his gracious presence; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
What about what some call the greatest mission field, which is our own secularizing or secularized culture? What do we need to do to reach this increasingly pagan society? I think we need to say to one another that it’s not so secular as it looks. I believe that these so-called secular people are engaged in a quest for at least three things. The first is transcendence. It’s interesting in a so-called secular culture how many people are looking for something beyond. I find that a great challenge to the quality of our Christian worship. Does it offer people what they are instinctively looking for, which is transcendence, the reality of God?
The second is significance. Almost everybody is looking for his or her own personal identity. Who am I, where do I come from, where am I going to, what is it all about? That is a challenge to the quality of our Christian teaching. We need to teach people who they are. They don’t know who they are. We do. They are human beings made in the image of God, although that image has been defaced.
And third is their quest for community. Everywhere, people are looking for community, for relationships of love. This is a challenge to our fellowship. I’m very fond of 1 John 4:12: “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us, and his love is perfected in us.” The invisibility of God is a great problem to people. The question is how has God solved the problem of his own invisibility? First, Christ has made the invisible God visible. That’s John’s Gospel 1:18: “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.”
People say that’s wonderful, but it was 2,000 years ago. So in 1 John 4:12, he begins with exactly the same formula, nobody has ever seen God. But here John goes on, “If we love one another, God abides in us.” The same invisible God who once made himself visible in Jesus now makes himself visible in the Christian community, if we love one another. And all the verbal proclamation of the gospel is of little value unless it is made by a community of love.
These three things about our humanity are on our side in our evangelism, because people are looking for the very things we have to offer them.
You may find the whole article from which it comes there. I quoted this at the early morning service sermon this past Sunday--KSH.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Pastoral Care * Culture-Watch Psychology Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Soteriology
...Teo Bishop, while keeping up a career in pop music, accomplished something less predictable and altogether curiouser. Beginning about three years ago, he began a rise to prominence in the Pagan community. Then, last month, he shocked the Pagan community by re-embracing Christianity.
“I’m overwhelmed with thoughts of Jesus,” Mr. Bishop wrote on Oct. 13, on his blog, Bishop in the Grove. “Jesus and God and Christianity and the Lord’s Prayer and compassion and forgiveness and hope. ... I don’t know what to do with all of this.”
For American Pagans, Mr. Bishop’s defecting to a big, bad mainstream religion is bigger news than winning a Grammy, bigger than shooting a Vanity Fair cover. If you’re a Druid, a Wiccan or any of the nature-religion followers grouped under the label Pagan, you’re not talking about Britney, JT or Xtina. You’re talking Teo Bishop.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Movies & Television Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Other Faiths Wicca / paganism
Like lots of college students, Lauren has a smartphone loaded with some of the most popular apps around — Facebook, Twitter and eBay. And like a lot of unbelievers, she asked to not use her full name because her family doesn’t know about her closet atheism.
One of the apps she uses most regularly is YouVersion, a free Bible app that puts a library’s worth of translations — more than 700 — in the palm of her hand. Close to 115 million people have downloaded YouVersion, making it among the most popular apps of all time.
But Lauren, a 22-year-old chemistry major from Colorado, is not interested in the app’s mission to deepen faith and biblical literacy. A newly minted atheist, she uses her YouVersion Bible app to try to persuade people away from the Christianity she grew up in.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Faiths Atheism * Theology Apologetics
The Rev Baden Stace, rector of St Cuthbert’s Carlton and chair of the Jesus brings steering committee says the aim is really to support the local parishes to push particularly hard in 2014 with mission.
“We’re trying to energise the parishes,” he says. “Connect 09 was a great time for many churches across the Diocese, and they sounded energised to be part of something bigger, and to be part of something together... we’re wanting to equip them and give a mission focus such that 80,000 Christians in Anglican churches across Sydney and the Illawarra can collectively shout out to our region what Jesus brings, and get to the heart of the gospel.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Australia * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Australia / NZ
With mainline religious congregations dwindling across America, a scattering of churches is trying to attract new members by creating a different sort of Christian community. They are gathering around craft beer.
Some church groups are brewing it themselves, while others are bring the Holy Mysteries to a taproom. The result is not sloshed congregants; rather, it's an exploratory approach to do church differently.
Leah Stanfield stands at a microphone across the room from the beer taps and reads this evening's gospel message.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Alcohol/Drinking Religion & Culture Young Adults * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Lutheran
The day began with a Eucharist in Nairobi Cathedral where there was standing room only. Afterwards the 331 bishops, over a third of those in the Anglican Communion, gathered for a group photograph in which they gave the "One-way" sign.
In his chairman's address Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of Kenya said the challenge facing the church "is that the nations which were once the spiritual powerhouses of world wide mission have now become deeply secularised and even hostile to the Christian faith".
"What really rots the fabric of the Communion is the process by which weak churches are gradually taken captive by the surrounding culture," he said.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Kenya Global South Churches & Primates GACON II 2013 * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Theology
Carey Nieuwhof is not a United Methodist. Nope, he’s the pastor of Connexus Community Church in Ontario, Canada which is part of a network of churches that have been influenced by Andy Stanley’s North Point Ministries. And yet, he’s a voice we should be listening to because again and again Carey posts pithy articles on church leadership and evangelism that are worth thinking about. Today (which you have have already read) he unpacked the 8 reasons most churches never break the 200 in attendance mark:
You know why most churches still don’t push past the 200 mark in attendance?
They organize, behave, lead and manage like a small organization.
Think about it.
There’s a world of difference between how you organize a corner store and how you organize a larger supermarket.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Methodist * Theology Pastoral Theology
Listen to it all if you so desire.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * By Kendall * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Ordained * Theology Soteriology Theology: Scripture
"We are a very media-conscious generation. We know the power of the mass media on the public mind. Consequently, we want to use the media in evangelism. By print or tape, by audio or videocassette, by radio and television we would like to saturate the world with the good news. And rightly so. We should harness to the service of the gospel every modern medium of communication which is available to us.--John R. W. Stott, The Message of 1 & 2 Thessalonians (Bible Speaks Today)[Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity, 1991], pp.37-38, and quoted by yours truly in this morning's sermon
Nevertheless, there is another way, which is still more effective. It requires not complicated electronic gadgetry; it is very simple. It is neither organized nor computerized; it is spontaneous. And it is not expensive; it costs precisely nothing. We might call it 'holy gossip.' It is the excited transmission from mouth to mouth of the impact which the gospel news is making on people. 'Have you heard what has happened to so and so? Did you know that such and such a person has come to believe in God and has been completely transformed? Something extraordinary is happening in Thessalonica: a new society is coming into being, with new values and standards, characterized by faith, love and hope.'"
The Church as people who are Gossippers of the Gospel
[Evangelism] is telling the good news about Jesus, and doing it with honesty, urgency, and joy, using the Bible, living a life that backs it up, and praying, and doing it all for the glory of God.
Evangelism is not simply a matter if bringing individuals to personal faith, though of course that remains central to the whole enterprise. It is a matter of confronting the world with the good, but deeply disturbing, news of a different way of living…the way of love.
To evangelize is so to present Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, that men shall come to put their trust in God through Him, to accept Him as their Savior, and serve Him as their King in the fellowship of His church.
How do the definitions of evangelism above speak to you right now where you live and move and have your being? Think and pray over them.
Think of the word witness and the word eyewitness. What are the qualities of an effective witness to you? In a lawcourt? In an accident?
In the service of Baptism, the baptismal covenant includes the following Q and A:
Celebrant: Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ? People: I will, with God’s help.
Against the standard above how would you evaluate yourself as a witness? In word? In deed?
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:44). What is the role of prayer it witnessing? What is the role of prayer in your witnessing?
If you could name one person in your life for whom you had a particular burden for them to come to know Jesus as Savior and follow him as Lord who would that be? How have you been praying for that person? Is there a way your prayers could be changed going forward? If so,how?
Suppose you had to study Jesus as a witness to God’s kingdom in the gospels? What specific things does he have to teach us about how to witness?
What is the role of listening in witnessing? Of question asking? What are the ways this week God is calling you to listen and ask kingdom oriented questions?
Make a friend, be a friend, bring a friend to Christ. How does this saying speak to you about witnessing? Are there ways for you to pay about your friends God is calling you to? Is there anyone in your life you may be missing who needs a friend?
--From this morning's Bulletin insert in our series on the Church, cited by yours truly in the sermon
"I walked in Wednesday night for a prayer meeting and the chairs were there, and they were beautiful," she says. "I thought, 'Nancy Shane, even at 68 years old, young woman, you can change.' "
She isn't the only churchgoer being asked to take a stand on new Sunday seating arrangements. Pews have been part of the Western world's religious landscape for centuries, but now a growing number of churches in the U.S. and U.K. are opting for chairs, sometimes chairs equipped with kneelers.
At bottom: churches want to trim remodeling costs, maximize space flexibility with stackable seating, or create a more approachable atmosphere to draw in unchurched young people.
Read it all.
Read it all, noting especially the bishop's first blog entry for those of you who may have missed it.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Media * South Carolina * Theology
As we come to these lists each year, we look for three things: a characteristic trending across the church spectrum; something that stands out as unique; and something that may fly a bit under the radar and yet is surprisingly influential among growing churches.
This year, as my team processed the data, we saw something that excites me and is thoroughly biblical. What's more, it's something in which every church can engage. Something in which every church must engage if it wants to reflect the character of God as a church body: self-sacrifice.
Growing churches are showing a great commitment to multiplying themselves, as we see in the discussion about multiple campuses, and this commitment to multiplication often creates a need for sacrifice. Sacrifice is inherent to the experience of every growing believer—and every growing church.
Read it all.
A group of Zambian Anglicans wowed by the impact of rural evangelism has challenged the Church to evangelise to the farthest parts of the country.
The challenge came following a week of church planting in one of Zambia’s most remote and neglected towns of Chama, a small town in the Eastern Province of Zambia. The headquarters of Chama District, Chama town is one of the most remote district headquarters in the country, lying just inside the eastern edge of Luangwa National Park.
Fr Katete Jackson Jones is a priest from Lusaka Diocese and one of the organisers of the project. He told ACNS today, “Most of the churches that we currently have in Zambia were planted by missionaries many years ago, but the Church today has not done much to plant indigenous churches in the country”.
Read it all
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of Central Africa * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * International News & Commentary Africa Zambia
“What a great clergy day,” said the Very Rev. David Thurlow, Rector of St. Matthias in Summerton, SC at the end of the gathering of clergy of the Diocese of South Carolina on September 12, 2013. Over 85 clergy of the Diocese gathered at St. Paul’s in Summerville for the once-yearly event.
“The legal update was clear and understandable,” said Thurlow, “the questions asked and answered were insightful and helpful. Alan Runyan’s personal testimony and witness to God's work was incredible and powerful. Bishop Lawrence did great in setting before us an updated picture of where we are and giving us vision, hope and encouragement as we journey on together. All in all the day could not have been better!”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Science & Technology * South Carolina * Theology Anthropology Apologetics Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
It happens at St. Paul's, Summerville, S.C., from 10:30 a.m. until 4:00.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Ordained * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Soteriology Theology: Scripture
Over the last year, La Iglesia de San Juan (the Hispanic ministry of the Diocese of South Carolina) has been in transition. This summer the church changed direction in its witness to the Hispanic people of Sea Islands. Instead of the traditional “open our doors and they will come” model, worship and pastoral care are now taken to the people where they live. Each Sunday evening the “Church on the Move” can be found at one of the many work camps on Johns Island.
The ministry is a mission church of the Diocese of South Carolina under Bishop Lawrence. It was supported for most of its existence by St. John’s Church and other churches in the Charleston area. In its current form the people involved in leadership are from many churches including a number of parishes in the Diocese and Presbyterian churches as well. The list of volunteers from other denominations is growing.
Our goal is simply to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in Spanish, to the people of the Sea Islands.
Read it all.
Before I ever met you personally, I saw these witnessing videos that went viral. Are you the evangelism linebacker? How did that happen?
That's me. When they were developing the idea, someone had heard me speak at the University of Montana State and said I would be perfect for the role. In 2004, they flew me to Bozeman, Montana and told me the idea for the character. We started to film and I just made up every line as we went.
It started as a bundle with other videos for Campus Crusade, but the Evangelism Linebacker ended up on YouTube. It had a million views way before a lot of other videos did, since this was still the infancy of YouTube. If that had happened today, it would be crazy viral. It ended up with this cult following. In one way it was a positive, but in another way people assume that all I can do is give a motivational talk. So when I started to talk ecclesiology and soteriology, people didn't know what to do.
Read it all and consider following the many links also.
Listen to it all if you so desire.
Filed under: * By Kendall * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch Children Poverty * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Middle East Syria * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
"Communication is evangelism...."
Ugh. Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Media Religion & Culture * Theology Anthropology Christology Soteriology
One out of five non-Christians in North America doesn't know any Christians.
That's not in the fake-Gandhi-quote "I would become a Christian, if I ever met one" sense.
It's new research in Gordon-Conwell's Center for the Study of Global Christianity's Christianity in its Global Context, 1970-2020. Missiologist Todd M. Johnson and his team found that 20 percent of non-Christians in North America really do not "personally know" any Christians.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches * Theology Soteriology
The Rt. Rev. Paul Lambert has been named chaplain of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew. Bishop Lambert was introduced June 20 during the brotherhood’s National Council meeting in Irving, Texas. He succeeds Bishop Keith Whitmore of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta.
“We’re honored Bishop Lambert will be our spiritual leader,” Brotherhood President said Robert Dennis, the brotherhood’s president. The Brotherhood of St. Andrew has more than 4,000 members in 390 Episcopal and Anglican churches in the United States and thousands more worldwide. “I’m looking forward to working with him to further the Brotherhood’s goal of bringing men and youth to Jesus Christ.”
Read it all.
Few dioceses, only 12% of the full sample, report that any congregation they started within the last five years is now self-supporting, although another 16% expect that they will have at least one new start independent within three years. On the other extreme, nearly a fourth (23%) of the dioceses responding report that they have at least one new start they do not anticipate will be self-supporting within even ten years. Three dioceses describe a congregation established within the last five years that has already been closed. Given this diversity in projections of financial independence, it is further understandable why dioceses are going the renting route in addition to or instead of buying much property.
Read it all. Readers may also be interested to note that according to TEC's own statistics the number of parishes has gone from 7,055 in 2007 to 6,736 in 2011.
After 25 years of consulting and researching local congregations, I have found four common approaches churches take to break attendance barriers regardless of size. There are certainly more than four possibilities, but allow me to evaluate these four more common approaches.
Read it all.
Read it all and check out the many links if you have not seen it.
Anthony J. Burton, Rector of The Church of the Incarnation, said in a statement that despite the encouraging numbers his congregation's focus "is not about growth, but changed lives."
"Size does not make a church better, but if its clergy and parishioners are sensitive to the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives, God can cause their work in His name to grow a parish that is a resource of great blessing to its community and denomination," said Burton.
Based in the Uptown neighborhood of Dallas, The Incarnation is looking to add three new buildings: another worship facility, a welcome center, and an educational facility.
Read it all.
Tony DeLLomo is on a mission from God.
In a hard-to-miss motor home covered with biblical passages, “Jesus is God” signs and an offer of a free Bible, DeLLomo has been spreading the Gospel by parking in high-traffic spots throughout central Florida.
“It’s all to glorify God,” DeLLomo said while wearing a sleeveless, white hooded sweatshirt with “Jesus is King” in red letters.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Travel * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Christology Soteriology
Small wonder, given the harrowing times recently, that news about a long-running property fight over a picturesque church in northern Virginia escaped most people’s notice. But the story of the struggle over the historic Falls Church is nonetheless worth a closer look. It’s one more telling example of a little-acknowledged truth: though religious traditionalism may be losing today’s political and legal battles, it remains poised to win the wider war over what Christianity will look like tomorrow.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Virginia Global South Churches & Primates Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Lutheran Methodist Presbyterian * Theology Anthropology Christology Soteriology Theology: Salvation (Soteriology) Theology: Scripture
Is the Church in the UK as confident in the gospel as it should be?
It appears that while mission is clearly at the heart of what many churches are doing, talking about our faith as Christians is proving increasingly difficult.
Our desire is to see churches throughout the UK have a renewed confidence in the gospel and engaged in creative evangelism which is producing lasting results. This timely campaign is not about providing busy churches with more programmes; rather it is about looking at how we can make small changes that will nurture a gospel-confident culture within our churches.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Soteriology Theology: Scripture
This is a very sobering time for ecclesiastically minded Americans. At a steadily growing rate, more and more Americans — especially the young — claim no religious affiliation. The figure has climbed from 15% to 20% of all Americans in the past five years. Pew researchers call the trend “nones on the rise.”
In reaction, Protestants and Roman Catholics are proving that the author of the Bible’s Book of Ecclesiastes had it right when he wrote that there is nothing new under the sun. In a classic attempt to turn adversity to advantage, Christian leaders who once assumed a cultural dominance (in the beginning of the baby-boom era, Christian identification among Americans was at least 91%; today it’s down to 77%) are now arguing for a double-down strategy. Rather than softening the Gospel message to make it more marketable to an America skeptical of institutions — a frequent reform point of view — what draws the real energy among the faithful is a renewed commitment to what Christians call the Great Commission, the words the resurrected Jesus spoke to his apostles at the end of Matthew: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
At the center of this strategy of unapologetic apologetics stands George Weigel, the papal biographer and prominent Catholic writer who has just published Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21st-Century Church, a handbook for Catholics seeking to keep the church out of the catacombs. “It’s a recovery of the basic dynamic of New Testament Christianity, but that passionate impulse to live the Great Commission and convert the world cooled during centuries when the ambient public culture helped do the church’s job,” says Weigel.
Read it all from a recent issue.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Adult Education Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Young Adults * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals Roman Catholic * Theology Anthropology Soteriology Theology: Scripture
I would especially like to draw your attention to the article entitled "St. Christopher Celebrating 75th Diamond Anniversary on June 22-24--"read it all (pdf).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina * Christian Life / Church Life Missions Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained Pastoral Care Youth Ministry * South Carolina
Amidst allegations that Anglicans worldwide do not recognize the Diocese of South Carolina and its Bishop, Anglican Bishops from East Africa strongly announced their support for the Diocese’s dissociation from The Episcopal Church Tuesday during comments at the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul in Charleston.
The Bishops from Sudan, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania proclaimed unqualified endorsement of Bishop Mark Lawrence and the Diocese. Their comments seemed to dispute the claims of Bishop Charles vonRosenberg, the newly elected Bishop of the recently formed Diocese - The Episcopal Church in South Carolina. In January, vonRosenberg announced that the Anglican Communion has not acknowledged Lawrence’s Diocese, even though it represents the vast majority of local Anglicans. However the four Bishops, all members of the Anglican Communion in good standing, specifically recognized the Diocese during the gathering.
The four were guests of the Diocese following their participation in the New Wineskins Conference in Ridgecrest, North Carolina, the largest Anglican missions conference in the world.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Kenya Anglican Church of Tanzania Church of Rwanda Episcopal Church of the Sudan * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Ordained * South Carolina
The reform of the Church already evident in the words and witness of Pope Francis may be starting, but it won’t be stopping at the revamping of the Vatican Curia and the renewal of the clergy.
It also will involve a thorough reform of the laity, since some of the cancers the cardinals elected him to confront in Rome have metastasized throughout Christ’s mystical body.
In his conclave-changing address to the cardinals four days before his election, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio identified what he believes is the Church’s fundamental illness: “ecclesiastical narcissism.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity * Culture-Watch Globalization Psychology Religion & Culture * Theology Ecclesiology
On April 9 at 6 p.m. we have the rare opportunity to hear from several Bishops from East Africa. We’ll hear first hand accounts of the vital work God is doing in the Anglican Communion. We’ll also hear how we can pray for their ministries and explore opportunities for further partnerships in “Making Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age.” Supper will follow in the Bishop Allison Courtyard, hosted by the Anglican Communion Development Committee. Students are encouraged to attend and to bring their youth leaders. We also welcome The Rev. Dr. Peter Moore who will moderate the conversation with the Bishops. Parking is available in the Cathedral lot and the CPW parking lot on Vanderhorst St. behind the parish house.
Read it all and we ask your prayers; thanks..
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Kenya Anglican Church of Tanzania Church of Rwanda Episcopal Church of the Sudan * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * South Carolina
Nearly 400 people attended the 222nd Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina at the Francis Marion Performing Arts Center in Florence, South Carolina, March 8-9, 2013.
"Wasn't the worship incredible last night?" said Patricia Smith, remarking on the Convention's Friday evening service of Holy Eucharist. Smith is a member of St. Paul's, Summerville, and attended with her husband who is a delegate. "I felt like I was coming in to the gates of heaven. It had that triumphant sound. I guess, now that we've made a stand there was a unity, a lack of confusion. We were uniting in worship. It felt like God's favor was there."
For the second time the Convention voted unanimously to remove all references to The Episcopal Church from the Diocese's constitution--the final step in severing their ties to the denomination they helped to found in 1789, five years after the South Carolina Convention first met in 1785.
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At our convention last March I stressed two dimensions of our diocesan calling: Our vocation to make Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age working in relationship with Anglican Provinces and dioceses around the world; and secondly our calling to make disciples by planting new congregations as well as growing and strengthening our existing parishes and missions in an era of sweeping institutional decline among almost all of the mainline denominations. These remain two constants for us today even while so much around us is in flux. You will be relieved to hear that it is not my intention in this address to retrace the road we have traveled in these intervening months since our Special Convention on November 17th. Suffice it to say that since these two dimensions of our common life and vocation remained unshaken when the tectonic plates of the diocese shifted, I remain convinced that they were God’s mandate for us then and they are God’s mandate for us now. The reason for this is two-fold: What is at stake in this theological and moral crisis that has swallowed up the Anglican Communion since the latter years of the 20th Century is first and foremost, “What is the Gospel of Jesus Christ as this Church has received it?” We did not create it and we cannot change what we have received. So what is the Gospel of Jesus Christ as Anglicans have received it? There is nothing in Anglicanism that cannot be found elsewhere among the churches of Christendom. What is unique is how we have blended certain aspects of what other churches hold together. But we have received a Gospel. What is it?
The second thing is “What will Anglicanism in the 21st Century look like?” While the former is the more important, the latter is the more complex. Put another way, proclaiming the Good News, “the whole counsel of God” as St. Paul declared in his parting address to the presbyters of Ephesus in Acts 20:27, that should be our first concern. Proclaiming the good news – the whole counsel of God. But the charge to “care for the Church of God, which he obtained with his blood” (Acts 20:28) or as our text last evening put it, “which he obtained with the blood of his son.” was also part of St. Paul’s charge to the bishop-presbyters. If we apply this second charge to take care of the church of God, which he obtained, with the blood of his son, if we apply this charge to ourselves – those of us whose leadership is in this vineyard where the Lord has placed us – I believe this means caring for emerging Anglicanism in the 21st Century. Frankly, this caring for Anglicanism in the 21st century gets wearisome at times, painful almost daily, exhausting, but it is a charge we cannot relinquish without abandoning our vocation. What does this mean specifically for us here in this Diocese of South Carolina? Let me take up three aspects of this charge as it I believe it applies to us.
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More than 350 people are expected to attend the 222nd Annual Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina at the Francis Marion Performing Arts Center in Florence, March 8-9. The last time the Convention was held in Florence was 1976.
This year the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, the 14th Bishop of South Carolina, is focusing on the future. “We cannot afford to focus on the backward glance,” said Lawrence “Christ calls us to look forward and carry out the Great Commission to make disciples and to proclaim the Gospel to a hurting world.”
This year’s convention workshops are designed to equip the Diocese’s lay members and clergy for the work of ministry. Bishop Lawrence promised that such workshops would be key parts of future annual Diocesan Conventions....
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"On one occasion I was travelling with the late lamented Bishop Weeks, then a simple minister. I went with him on a visit to a friend in the country. While I was in the railway carriage with him, a gentleman attacked him, knowing that he was a friend of missions. The gentleman said, 'What are the missionaries doing abroad? We don't know anything about their movements. We pay them well, but we don't hear anything about them. I suppose they are sitting down quietly and making themselves comfortable.' Mr. Weeks did not say anything in reply, I having made a sign to him not to do so. After the gentleman had exhausted what he had to say, I said to him, 'Well, sir, I beg to present myself to you as a result of the labours of the missionaries which you have just been depreciating;' and I pointed to Mr. Weeks as the means of my having become a Christian, and having been brought to this country as a Christian minister. The gentleman was so startled that he had nothing more to say in the way of objection, and the subsequent conversation between him and Mr. Weeks turned upon missionary topics. On the banks of the Niger, where we have not been privileged to be ushered in by European missionaries, native teachers have maintained their footing among their own people. Their countrymen look upon them as very much superior to themselves in knowledge and in every other respect, and listen to them with very great attention when they preach to them the Gospel of our salvation."
On St. Peter's Day, 1864, perhaps the most important event of his life took place, when in Canterbury Cathedral Samuel Crowther was consecrated as the first Bishop of the Niger. The scene was a memorable one, and is not likely to be forgotten by those who stood in the vast crowd which filled every aisle of the grand cathedral that day. The license of Her Majesty had been duly promulgated in these terms:--
"We do by this our license under our royal signet and sign manual authorise and empower you the said Reverend Samuel Adjai Crowther to be Bishop of the United Church of England and Ireland in the said countries in Western Africa beyond the limits of our dominions."
When the service began it was an impressive sight to see the Archbishop of Canterbury, attended by live other Bishops, enter the choir; and following them the three Bishops to receive the solemn rite of consecration, viz: the new Bishop of Peterborough, the new Bishop of Tasmania, and the new Bishop of the Niger. Remembering, as doubtless many did, the touching history of his childhood and early struggles as a slave, not a, few in that vast building were moved to tears as [118/119] the African clergyman humbly knelt in God's glorious house to receive the seals of the high office of Shepherd in His earthly fold. Most of all must one heart have been affected, that of Airs. Weeks, the missionary's wife, at whose knee he received his first lessons in the way of the Lord.
No one could fail to see how God had called forth this native from the degradation of a boyhood of slavery, to become a chosen vessel in His service. He had proved himself as a true-hearted standard-bearer of the Cross in much toil and patient endurance, and it was meet that to him should be committed the spiritual interests of the district in which he had spent hitherto nearly the whole of his life since he became a Christian.
On his immediate return to the Niger, the work began afresh with renewed energy. Special attention was given to the Delta, for King Pepple, having been on a visit to England, made an application to the Bishop of London to send missionaries to his dominions. A more degraded district was not to be found in Africa. Although its trade was very flourishing, being one of the chief markets for palm oil, the people were sunk in the lowest vices and superstitions. At the time of which we speak, when Bishop Crowther was forming the Christian Church there, the shocking practice of cannibalism was not yet wholly given up, and the people were entirely under the power of the priests of the Juju or fetish worship. As in Dahomey, no regard for human life seems to have existed; men were sacrificed at every high festival, and at the burial of any of their chief men a number of poor creatures would be slaughtered. The ghastly spectacle of their temple, paved and elaborately decorated with human bones, showed the ferocity of their religion.
In the midst of this awful darkness came Bishop Crowther and his fellow-helpers, bearing the light of the Gospel, and in due time many believed and were saved. It was as in the early Church of the first centuries, the adherents of the new religion were mostly slaves, and to escape their persecutors had to meet for worship and counsel in retired places.
--Jesse Page, Samuel Crowther: The Slave Boy Who Became Bishop of the Niger (London, 1892), Chapter Ten (emphasis mine)
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops Church of Nigeria * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Missions Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Theology Anthropology Christology Soteriology Theology: Scripture
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If you're a church leader who doesn't excel in personal evangelism, can your congregation still enjoy conversion growth? Or if you have been particularly gifted by God to lead others to Christ, do you know how to teach others to follow your example?
Three pastors who have welcomed many new believers into the kingdom of God talk together in this 10-minute video about how churches can grow in evangelism. They discuss, for example, why new Christians are so zealous in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ's death and resurrection. Darrin Patrick shares colorful stories about how he preached the gospel to his friends in the middle of wild parties. But he also explains what happened when he made the mistake to assume everyone else is extroverted like him.
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What will be the role of the United States on the global stage in 2062?
India and China will be thriving super nations and leading the world in arts and sciences. People in the United States are already being operated on by Chinese and Indian surgeons. Another nation that is emerging as a surprising international power is Canada. That nation is now exploring its vast natural resources in the north and is in the midst of a renaissance. Some of the best novelists, musicians, poets, artists, now live in Canada. It already has been awarded “best cheese in the world” (“Cinderella cheese”) and the number one place to do business. The role and place of the United States is uncertain. Our future in 2062 may be similar to the position of France and England in 2012 if we continue on the present trajectory.....
Daniel Pink has observed that the well curve has replaced the bell curve....The middle class is declining and the United Methodist Church is a church of the middle. All middles are in trouble. The challenge for the church is to tribalize (particularize) in order to globalize (universalize). We need to “make my parish my world” before we can follow John Wesley in saying, “The world is my parish.” We need churches to love their zip codes and their heritage—I don’t mean love their bishop and polity. I mean churches must know and love people in their community and their “campfire” heritage.
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6. Apologetics (17, 18, 19, 20, 54, 55)
A major new initiative is called for here though its shape is less precise. Theologians, universities, new media experts, artists and scientists are all called to be involved. There have been similar calls recently within the Church of England for a major new initiative in apologetics and for more resources to be invested here.
7. Adult Catechesis (28, 29, 37, 38)
Amen to this sentence:
One cannot speak of the New Evangelization if the catechesis of adults is non-existent, fragmented, weak or neglected.
The Synod has rightly paid major attention to the development of catechesis, building on the publication of The Catechism of the Catholic Church. Attention is focussed here on the formation of catechists. Again there have been similar calls recently for a new focus on catechesis within the Church of England and for the development of new materials.
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Mallon: The greatest thing that I can hope for from this Synod is this pastoral conversion, which means we have to change the very culture of our Churches. The predominant culture of the Churches where I come from and my experience doing this work, is that we have a maintenance culture within our parishes. In the past we had strong Catholic cultures that helped people go to Church and to believe. Usually the only growth we had in parishes was from demographic shifts. We didn't really have to do anything: we just had to schedule Masses and pay the light bills. And for the culture of the time that worked. There was no sense of being missional. Today the culture is toxic, not just neutral. If you do nothing you will be stripped of faith.
We have got to apply new methodology, which means we must move from a maintenance culture to a missional culture. That means addressing the values that we – perhaps even unconsciously – hold as local Churches within parishes. We can be very quick to say "I value this, this, and this." But, it's one thing to say what you value; it's another thing to actually look at how you function as a Church, and what you put your money and resources and time into. By analyzing those, we find out what we truly value.
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ZENIT: Why this emphasis on the "Kerygma"? What was the inspiration that the "Kerygma" is essential to preaching the Gospel?
Marc de Leyritz: Alpha was founded in England in an Anglican parish 30 years ago. Florence and I brought it back to France and we adapted it to a Catholic setting, which is a big challenge because when you're in France, anything that comes from England is really a bad start. But, this distinction between Kerygma and catechesis is really something key, since the beginning of the Church, since the very first day. You see on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2, Peter gives a very short speech, the nucleus of the faith, which is what Kerygma means, the proclamation of the nucleus. And, he speaks probably one minute or two minutes, and the Bible says that listening to this, people's hearts were pierced and they asked, "Brother, what shall we do?" And he said, "Repent," and then they were baptized. And on that day, the first day of the Church, 3000 people were baptized. And only then, the nascent Church started to help people to grow into full disciples of Jesus Christ.
So, Pope John Paul [II], in a very foundational text called "Redemptoris Missio" which is an encyclical and in another post-Synodal exhortation called "Catechesi Tradendae", he makes this distinction. He says you cannot give catechesis before Kerygma.
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It was my pleasure and privilege to preach for nine Sundays in Canada, in Toronto, in 1932. I well remember being welcomed on the first Sunday morning by the minister of the church who, though on vacation, was still not out of town. He introduced me, and in responding to the welcome I thought it would be wise for me to indicate to the congregation my method as a preacher. I told the congregation that my method was to assume generally on Sunday morning that I was speaking to believers, to the saints, and that I would try to edify them; but that at night I would be preaching on the assumption that I was speaking to non-Christians as undoubtedly there would be many such there. In a sense I just said that in passing. We went through that morning service, and at the close the minister asked if I would stand at the door with him to shake hands with people as they went out. I did so. We had shaken hands with a number of people when he suddenly whispered to me saying, 'You see that old lady who is coming along slowly. She-is the most important member of this church. She is a very wealthy woman and the greatest supporter of the work.' He was, in other words, telling me to exercise what little charm I might possess to the maximum. I need not explain any further! Well, the old lady came along and we spoke to her, and I shall never forget what happened. It taught me a great lesson which I have never forgotten.--Martyn Lloyd Jones, Preaching and Preachers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972), pp.147-149 (emphasis mine); used by yours truly in a recent sermon
The old lady said, 'Did I understand you to say that in the evening you would preach on the assumption that the people ljstening are not Christians and in the morning on the assumption that they are Christians?' 'Yes,' I said. 'Well,' she said, 'having heard you this morning I have decided to come tonight.' She had never been known to attend the evening service; never. She only attended in the morning. She said, 'I am coming tonight.' I cannot describe the embarrassment of the situation. I sensed that the minister standing by my side felt that I was ruining his ministry and bitterly regretted inviting me to occupy his pulpit! But the fact was that the old lady did come that Sunday night, and every Sunday night while I was there. I met her in her house in private conversation and found that she was most unhappy about her spiritual condition, that she did not know where she stood. She was a fine and most generous character, living an exemplary life. Everybody assumed-not only the minister but everybody else-that she was an exceptionally fine Christian; but she was not a Christian. This idea that because people are members of the church and attend regularly that they must be Christian is one of the most fatal assumptions, and I suggest that it mainly accounts for the state of the Church today.
The New Evangelization is not a strategy or program, but an invitation to an encounter and life-long relationship with Jesus Christ and his Church. It involves falling in love with the person of Jesus Christ and his bride, the Catholic Church. This encounter with Christ takes place in and through the Church so as not to foster a false dichotomy between spirituality and religion. Encounters with Christ in the Church help the faithful to understand the need for salvation and forgiveness from sin. Following the initial encounter with Christ, the faithful desire to spend time with the beloved in prayer, sacrament and to contemplate the face of God (Novo Millennio Ineunte).
Hence, the Synod Fathers might propose a lifelong accompaniment of each Catholic on their journey of faith modeled on Christ's walk with the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus. The faithful need the continued work of systematic, comprehensive and lifelong catechesis. Evangelization and catechesis should help the faithful know, understand, live and share the faith. A catechesis for youth and adults that is age-appropriate and presented in an appealing and apologetic manner that answers the genuine questions of those participating in their formation would enhance the New Evangelization. This basic presentation of the fundamentals of our faith, as found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in an attractive and appealing manner, for example at World Youth Day, will help to revive a confidence in the faith and a greater ability to share it with others.
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"I think the Episcopal Church has really shot itself in the foot by doing this," ...IRD spokesman [Jeff Walton] comments. "They're losing one of their larger, more vibrant dioceses. Indeed this diocese is one of the few that's posted growth in recent years, and there is just nothing that the liberal leadership of the Episcopal Church is really gaining by effectively forcing this diocese out the door."
Walton does not believe the national office wants to tolerate the type of public dissent displayed by South Carolina.
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The challenges of being human and of living in a world that does not always want to hear about faith do not lessen the obligation to proclaim the Gospel and to call the baptized to live their faith more fully, said Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington.
"We already know our difficulties, the tensions, our restlessness, our faults and our human weakness," Cardinal Wuerl told members of the Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization Oct. 17.
Nevertheless, God calls members of the church to proclaim salvation in Christ to the ends of the earth and to re-propose the Gospel "to those who are now distant from the church," said the cardinal, who was serving as the synod's relator.
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The Bishop of Sheffield, Dr. Steven Croft, has today commended the work of the fresh expressions movement and encouraged new ways of evangelism in an address in Rome.
Speaking as the Anglican Fraternal Delegate to the Roman Catholic Synod of Bishops on the theme of "new evangelisation", Dr. Croft also spoke of the need for life long discipleship to be at the heart of evangelism: "new evangelization calls for a clear vision of what it means to be a disciple. The new evangelization is a call to whole life discipleship: an invitation to follow Christ for the whole length of our lives, with every part of our lives, and into wholeness and abundance of that life"
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“The Christian is not a seeker; the Christian is one who has found. “Come, see a man…” (John 4:29); “We have found the Messiah…” (John 1:41); “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth…” (John 1:45). Christians are men and women who have found; they have found something to give; they are not merely seeking…By definition Christians have something; they have something to say… So the great question we must all ask ourselves is this: do we have something to give to people who are in need? I like to think of it like this. Imagine that tonight when you are in your home, somebody knocks at your door or rings the bell. You go to the door, and there you find a messenger. What is the message? Well, it is a request, an appeal, from a man whom you have known for years; perhaps you have known him since you were children together. Unfortunately, poor fellow, he has gone wrong in life, he has lived a godless life, and yet you somehow liked him. Whenever you met him, you were glad to see him, you always spoke to him, and you often tried to urge him to come with you to listen to the gospel. But he would not come; he laughed it off, as such people often do.
Now here is the message – this afternoon that poor fellow had a sudden heart attack, and he is desperately ill; in fact, he is dying. The doctor can do no more for him. He has told the family, and this man realizes the truth – he can see it in their faces. And suddenly he has come to himself. He sees that his life is finished, and he is going to the unknown and to darkness. He has nothing – nothing to lean on in his past life, nothing to lean on in the present. Nobody can help him. He is absolutely alone, as we all shall be sooner or later, as our soul passes from time to eternity and into the presence of God. He does not know what to do or where to turn; he is in agony of soul. But suddenly he has thought of you because he thinks of you as a Christian and as a member of a church, because you have invited him to go with you to church. So he has sent for you – that is the message. Of course, you have no choice; you must go. And when you arrive in the room, there is your friend lying on his back in bed.
This is the test as to whether or not we are Christians. Do you have something you can give him that will make all the difference in the world to him? What is the point of telling this man that you are also a seeker and a searcher after the truth – he will be dead before midnight? What is the point of saying to him, “I hope that my sins are going to be forgiven sometime, I’m doing my best, I’m living a good life”? Does that help him? That puts him into hell while he is still alive. Or how does it help him if you turn to him and say, “Well, at last you see it. How many times have I told you that the life you were living was wrong? If only you had live as I live!” What is the value of that? That is sheer cruelty. That, again, is putting him in hell while he is still alive. It is of no value at all.
No, no; that is not the Christian way. Christians are not seeking truth or seeking forgiveness. They are not trying to make themselves Christians by living good lives; they are not merely church members. What are they? Well, in the end it just comes to this: they are men and women who, like the woman of Samaria, have met Christ, the Son of God. They are able to tell this poor fellow that it is not too late, that it is not hopeless, that no one is justified by their works or by their lives, that we are all sinners, and there is no ultimate difference between us at all, but that this is the message: “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever [even he] believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Christians can tell this man not about their own experience but about Jesus Christ. There is no time to give experiences; there is no time to go through your drill and mechanically quote this or that. All they can say is, “Jesus Christ – look to him!” They just tell the dying man about him, who he is, what he has done. And that is the only way this man can be helped, the only way he can find peace and rest for his soul.”
--Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981), Living Water: Studies in John 4, quoted by yours truly in yesterday's sermon
Perhaps because of our youth, we have many reasons for hope and promise as we consider the New Evangelization and the Transmission of the Faith in North America.
Here are some of those reasons:
For one, the United States is actually very religious, contrary to the caricature that it is a pagan, secular, materialistic country. Not at all! As Chesterton, the acclaimed British apologist, wrote, America “is a nation with the soul of a church.” The very foundation of American life is the Jewish-Christian tradition. Over 50% of Americans take the Sabbath seriously; over 90% of us believe in God, and consider the Bible a source of God’s wisdom and teaching; and over 80% believe Jesus to be divine. As a recent poll demonstrated, the overwhelming majority of American citizens would have no problem voting for an evangelical, a Catholic, a Jew, a Protestant, a Mormon, a Hindu, or a Buddhist as president – but never for an atheist!....
Three, the Church in America is vigorous with sacred enterprises of charity and education, especially in care for the sick and our elders, in schools, and in agencies of service. These apostolates are ambassadors of evangelization. Pope Paul VI remarked that men and women today learn more from witness than from words. We attract folks to Jesus and His Church by radiating love. Just look at the witness of our soon-to-be canonized Kateri Tekakwitha and Mother Mary Anne Cope.
Four, the clear, consistent teaching of the Catholic Church is well known, if at times misunderstood or attacked. Even those who disagree with these teachings of the Church – and “their name is legion” – usually, at least, grudgingly admire the Church for her tenacious preaching on the dignity of human life; peace, justice, and charity; solicitude for the suffering of the world; and defense of marriage and the family.
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We are in a place and time of growing evangelistic opportunity and obligation....Our secure, wealthy and beautiful region is alive with people, especially new people. Many of these people know nothing about Jesus and they need to hear about the way to eternal life. We are here for them. It is as simple as that....
You could say [after looking at the statistic profile of Australia's spiritual landscape], don’t fret: Our business is to look after the religious needs of the descendants of the English. We are a declining chaplaincy church. Christianity is a religion of consolation rather than salvation.
You had better say: The gospel itself utterly forbids us to think like that. The gospel addresses all men and women without exception in the same tone of voice, with the same demands and the same promises, the same Lord and the same Saviour. It is a matter of salvation, not consolation: of salvation, not of growing our numbers. Any gospel church is aptly described as One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic, universal words which embrace all nations and peoples and languages. If our denomination, will not accept the challenge posed by the new and increasingly different world which has come to us, we are not being faithful to the gospel which has formed our churches and saved our souls.
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Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday opened a meeting of Roman Catholic Church leaders from around the world to debate how to counter rising secularism on the 50th anniversary of the momentous Second Vatican Council.
The synod of 262 archbishops, bishops and other senior clerics heard a call from the pope for a "new evangelism" for the Catholic Church, which is fast losing followers in Europe and feels increasingly discriminated against in many parts of the world.
The three-week synod coincides with the announcement on October 11 of a "Year of Faith" to mark the anniversary of the start of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), which changed the face of Catholicism.
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The theme of marriage, found in the Gospel and the first reading, deserves special attention. The message of the word of God may be summed up in the expression found in the Book of Genesis and taken up by Jesus himself: "Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh" (Gen 2:24; Mk 10:7-8). What does this word say to us today? It seems to me that it invites us to be more aware of a reality, already well known but not fully appreciated: that matrimony is a Gospel in itself, a Good News for the world of today, especially the de-Christianized world. The union of a man and a woman, their becoming "one flesh" in charity, in fruitful and indissoluble love, is a sign that speaks of God with a force and an eloquence which in our days has become greater because unfortunately, for various reasons, marriage, in precisely the oldest regions evangelized, is going through a profound crisis. And it is not by chance. Marriage is linked to faith, but not in a general way. Marriage, as a union of faithful and indissoluble love, is based upon the grace that comes from the triune God, who in Christ loved us with a faithful love, even to the Cross. Today we ought to grasp the full truth of this statement, in contrast to the painful reality of many marriages which, unhappily, end badly. There is a clear link between the crisis in faith and the crisis in marriage. And, as the Church has said and witnessed for a long time now, marriage is called to be not only an object but a subject of the new evangelization. This is already being seen in the many experiences of communities and movements, but its realization is also growing in dioceses and parishes, as shown in the recent World Meeting of Families.
One of the important ideas of the renewed impulse that the Second Vatican Council gave to evangelization is that of the universal call to holiness, which in itself concerns all Christians (cf. Lumen Gentium, 39-42)....
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The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) met for its Standing Committee Meeting (SCM) at Cathedral Church of Emmanuel, Okesa, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, September 11-15, 2012.
The well-attended event had the theme: ‘Resist The Devil And He Will Flee From You’ (James 4v7)....
At the formal opening of the SCM on Thursday, September 14, while delivering his opening address to delegates, the Primate of All Nigeria, Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, described the Devil as a spiritual being. Quoting John Piper, the Primate said: “Satan lies, and is the Father of lies (John 8:44); Satan blinds the minds of unbelievers (2 Cor. 4:4); Satan masquerades in costumes of light and righteousness (II Cor. 11:13-15), and has disciples within the Church through whom he teaches doctrines of demons (I Tim. 4:1).
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of Nigeria * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Theology Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology) Theology: Scripture
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Latinos are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States, but only 5 percent of all Hispanics attend a mainline Protestant church. The vast majority are Roman Catholic.
For the Episcopal Church, those numbers are an opportunity.
The denomination is seeing fast-growing pockets of new Latino congregants. Episcopal churches in Nevada and Washington, D.C., are seeing considerably higher attendance from Latinos. In Oregon, there were only 150 Latino Episcopalians 20 years ago. Now, there are more than 800.
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What do Charles and John Wesley have to teach Catholics in the United States about the New Evangelization? With the release of Disciples Called to Witness: The New Evangelization (USCCB, 2012) and the Catholic Church’s upcoming synod on the “New Evangelization,” these two ministers seem as relevant as ever to how we think about evangelization in the modern world.
Charles and John Wesley were ordained in eighteenth century England, a time when the sacrament of Holy Communion was often regarded with indifference or neglect. Church historian John Bowmer remarks that the sacraments and Christian life were widely disparaged in this “new age of reason,” and most people in the Church of England aimed for the minimums of religious practice—receiving the Eucharist three times a year and treating it as an historic custom, rather than encounter with the living God. Unsurprisingly, most in the Church of England were not looking outward to form disciples or share the Gospel. In fact, many clergy and laity in the Church of England believed that England’s growing urban masses were beyond influence and simply had “no taste” for Christian liturgy and sacraments. Christianity was on its way to becoming a fruitless cultural niche.
This creeping indifference characterizes many U.S. Catholics today....
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In Oregon, the number of Latino Episcopalians has increased more than five-fold over the past decade. Church leaders say the influx is, in part, because the denomination's worship services look and sound familiar to Hispanics raised in the Catholic Church. But Northwest Episcopal Churches are luring Latinos with a focused marketing campaign.
The 10 o'clock high mass at Saints Peter and Paul Episcopal Church in Portland, Oregon probably sounds a lot like it did when the congregation was founded nearly a century ago.
Father Kurt Neilson leads the liturgy, as he has for the past 17 years. He says attendance at the two morning services has been relatively flat. The real growth is in the afternoon.
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The influx of foreign-born people into North America gives Southern Baptist churches a unique opportunity to reach the nations, a veteran International Mission Board worker said at the 2012 Send North America Conference.
Most churches, though, are failing to take advantage of the opportunity, he said at the conference sponsored by the North American Mission Board.
"We need to look at some other models and methods when we start churches among people groups," IMB representative Bryan Galloway said during a conference breakout session on "Reaching the Nations in North America." "We're just not doing that."
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Missions Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Baptists * Theology Ecclesiology Pastoral Theology Soteriology
In 1998, John Shelby Spong, then the reliably controversial Episcopal bishop of Newark, published a book entitled “Why Christianity Must Change or Die.” Spong was a uniquely radical figure — during his career, he dismissed almost every element of traditional Christian faith as so much superstition — but most recent leaders of the Episcopal Church have shared his premise. Thus their church has spent the last several decades changing and then changing some more, from a sedate pillar of the WASP establishment into one of the most self-consciously progressive Christian bodies in the United States.
As a result, today the Episcopal Church looks roughly how Roman Catholicism would look if Pope Benedict XVI suddenly adopted every reform ever urged on the Vatican by liberal pundits and theologians. It still has priests and bishops, altars and stained-glass windows. But it is flexible to the point of indifference on dogma, friendly to sexual liberation in almost every form, willing to blend Christianity with other faiths, and eager to downplay theology entirely in favor of secular political causes.
Yet instead of attracting a younger, more open-minded demographic with these changes, the Episcopal Church’s dying has proceeded apace. Last week, while the church’s House of Bishops was approving a rite to bless same-sex unions, ...[Episcopal] church attendance figures for 2000-10 circulated in the religion blogosphere. They showed something between a decline and a collapse: In the last decade, average Sunday attendance dropped 23 percent, and not a single Episcopal diocese in the country saw churchgoing increase.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
(Please note--directly related to the preceding blog entry--KSH).
Read the original here and check the amended version there. The explanation follows:
The Report of the House of Deputies Committee on the State of the Church presents a church in where key statistical areas from 2000–2010 show significant decline (Average Sunday Attendance -23%, Easter Attendance -21%, Baptized Members -16%, Communicants in Good Standing -16%). There are significant places of hope and vision where significant efforts are being made to turn this around. These include the Office of Congregational Vitality and the Office of Emergent Church and Church Planting. This resolution seeks to give these ministries solid budgetary support to allow this work to continue and by doing so to bring vitality and growth back to the Episcopal Church.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention --Gen. Con. 2012 TEC Data TEC Parishes * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth
Now [for Episcopalians] the apt word seems "life support".
The average Episcopal Church attendance dropped a staggering 23% in the ten year period between 2000 and 2010 (via Whispers) In 2010, just under 700,000 attended TEC Churches in the whole world.
In the Seattle area, (Diocese of Olympia) where St. Mark's Cathedral still looms and KING FM has broadcast their lovely Sunday evening Compline for many years, average attendance in the whole diocese was 9,500. 9,500? I've worked in Catholic parishes with larger weekly attendance than that.
The Episcopalian Diocese of Quincy, IL attendance has dropped 71% and averages 363 people in attendance at 9 parishes. I've taught Called & Gifted workshops that were larger. No wonder they are openly talking about reuniting with the Diocese of Chicago (attendance: 12,925).
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention --Gen. Con. 2012 TEC Data TEC Parishes * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth
...average Sunday attendance in Episcopal churches has plunged 23% in the past decade to 657,831. In the Michigan diocese -- which includes southeast Michigan, Lansing and Jackson -- attendance has dropped 31% from 2000 to 2010. During the same time period, the number of baptized Episcopal members in the diocese dropped 30% to 20,825; nationally, it dropped 16% to 1,951,907.
Some say the drop is because the Episcopal Church has drifted too much to the left on social and political issues. But [Bonnie] Anderson notes that other mainline Protestant denominations have also seen declines in membership; regardless, the church won't shift its views because people are leaving, she said.
"We're prayerful, we're careful, and we pay attention to what we believe the Holy Spirit is calling us to do. And if we lose members because of that, it's still the right thing to do."
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The Christian faith is not simply teachings, wise sayings, a code of morality or a tradition. The Christian faith is a true encounter and relationship with Jesus Christ. Transmitting the faith means to create in every place and time the conditions which lead to this encounter between the person and Jesus Christ. The goal of all evangelization is to create the possibility for this encounter, which is, at one and the same time, intimate, personal, public and communal. Pope Benedict XVI stated: "Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. [...] Since God has first loved us (cf. 1 Jn 4:10), love is now no longer a mere 'command'; it is the response to the gift of love with which God draws near to us." In the Christian faith, the encounter with Christ and the relationship with him takes place "in accordance to the Scriptures" (1 Cor 15:3, 4). The Church is formed precisely through the grace of this relationship.
This encounter with Jesus, through his Spirit, is the Father's great gift to humanity. We are prepared for this encounter through the action of grace in us. In such an encounter, we feel an attraction which leads to our transformation, causing us to see new dimensions to who we are and making us partakers of divine life (cf. 2 Pt 1:4). After this encounter, everything is different as a result of metanoia, that is, the state of conversion strongly urged by Jesus himself (cf. Mk 1:15). In a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, faith takes the form of a relationship with him and in remembrance of him, especially in the Eucharist and the Word of God, and creates in us the mind of Christ, through the Spirit, a mentality which makes us recognize our brothers and sisters, gathered by the Spirit in his Church, and, in turn, see ourselves as witnesses and heralds of this Gospel. This encounter equips us to do new things and witness to the transformation of our lives in the works of conversion as announced by the prophets
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI * Theology Christology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
The topic of evangelism made national headlines in Canada recently. It all started with a twelfth grade student in Nova Scotia wearing a T-shirt boldly emblazoned with the words, “Life is wasted without Jesus.” William Swinimer continued to wear his yellow T-shirt even after the vice-principal at his school asked him not to do so, after some students had complained that they found the message offensive. Swinimer’s refusal to obey led to a series of in-school suspensions, and finally a five-day at-home suspension. The normally shy 19-year-old refused to comply even though it might have meant permanent suspension and the loss of his chance of graduating. “I believe this is worth standing up for,” he said, “it’s not just standing up for religious rights, it’s standing up for my rights as a Canadian citizen; for freedom of speech, freedom of religion.”
The regional school board initially supported the actions of the school administration, with Superintendent Nancy Pynch-Worthylake maintaining that repeated defiance of school authorities was justified grounds for suspending Swinimer. The school board issued a statement clarifying that “students may choose to wear clothing that embraces their beliefs.” However, “it is expected that students will not wear clothing with messages that may offend others’ beliefs, race, religion, culture or lifestyle.”
The nationwide debate ignited by this incident was most revealing....
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Canada * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Bikers revved up their engines at the National Convention of the Sons of God Motorcycle Club.
The event held at Trinity Episcopal Church runs through the weekend and is expected to host over 300 bikers and hundreds of Harleys. The national group gets together twice a year for conventions, and they have members stretching from the East to West Coast.
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In this true story, Father Eldredge tells how successful efforts at evangelism brought people from all walks in to his church and a relationship with Jesus. One new convert was a former "enforcer" for a "biker gang" who , though well-meaning, sparked a fist fight after Sunday services. Hear how Father Eldredge handled this unexpected consequence of successful evangelism.
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[Johnny] Kurcina began Christ Church Vienna late last year and continues to be amazed with its success. Services are in the Louise Archer Elementary School cafeteria, where parishioners sit in plastic chairs and the walls are adorned with lunch menus.
“Holding services in a school cafeteria does hold some challenges,” Kurcina said. “We are not allowed to use wine for communion so we use grape juice, and our candles look real but the flame is really a small flickering light bulb because we are not allowed to use real flame candles on school grounds.”
Despite the obstacles, the church continues to draw new parishioners.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Virginia * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Theology
...the mostly single professionals and students were brought here by Charlotte ONE, a collaboration of 40 or so area churches trying to reach this demographic. Such regular and extensive cooperation of mainline and evangelical Protestant churches from every major denomination is not a typical feature of American religious life. They are more likely to be competing for each other's members. But desperate times call for desperate measures.
Many of the more than 700 churches in this area (and all over the country, for that matter) have tried to run so-called young-adult ministries—but with little success. James Michael Smith, a co-founder of Charlotte ONE, tells me that a common problem is the return on investment: "Young adults are the least reliable, the most mobile and they don't give financially either." In order even to get them in the door, he adds, churches have to offer "the wow factor."
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Pioneers, an evangelical mission movement, is reporting that thousands of Christians from Ghana, Nigeria and the Philippines are asking to be trained in the principles of “church-planting movements” (CPMs).
Today, cross-cultural church planting is taking place in regions fraught with poverty and persecution. By necessity, the local church often takes root in its simplest form. In these places, churches are essentially groups of believers gathering in homes, under trees, or cafe back rooms to worship, pray, study the Bible and teach others to do the same. And it is in response to these realities that Pioneers has adopted the “church-planting movements” approach.
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The Christian community is struggling to remain connected with the next generation of teens and young adults. In particular, the church is “losing” many young creatives (like designers, artists, writers, musicians, and actors) as well as young science-minded students (such as medical students, engineers, biologists and mathematicians).
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[Charles] Colson wrote that he had many rich memories with Mr. Graham, but none as meaningful as the day both men toured Memphis Federal Prison.
After speaking to 1,000 inmates outside the prison walls, Billy visited the maximum security segregation unit to see men who weren’t permitted to hear him preach.
Colson was amazed to see Mr. Graham—“clearly the greatest evangelist of the 20th century—as he sat on the floor talking through the grate in a cell door to lead an inmate to Christ.”
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As part of the rollout for "Millennial Values Survey" from Public Religion Research and the Berkley Center, I sat at Georgetown University and listened to a very long list of what pollsters think makes up college-age millennials. I’m in the right age bracket, but I couldn’t stop thinking about what a difference just a few years makes.
I’m part of the millennial generation, albeit at the high end of the spectrum. At 29, my attitudes and behaviors look completely different to those on the lower end. Part of it, of course, is phase of life. I’m a professional, married, with a few life experiences under my belt. Most of the respondents of the survey are in college or recently graduated—half live with their parents.
In discussing the survey results with a 23-year-old friend, we worked through both obvious and subtle differences.
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In response to Blessed John Paul II's call to evangelize formerly Christian societies, the Church must build a “culture of witness,” said representatives of the U.S. bishops in a new document.
It is “primarily by her conduct and by her life that the Church will evangelize the world,” explained the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis.
The committee, headed by Bishop David L. Ricken of Green Bay, Wisc., released a new online resource on April 16 to assist dioceses, eparchies and parishes in reaching out to engage the faithful and encourage them to witness to their faith through their lives.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, says Back to Church Sunday is "essential" in a new videocast going live as registrations open for Back to Church Sunday, 30th September 2012.
In a speech to diocesan and denominational Back to Church Sunday champions at Lambeth Palace, the Archbishop said: "We have been in danger of forgetting just how much we still have in the 'bank', just how much… wish there is for connections to be made in the minds and hearts of a lot of people. What Back to Church Sunday has more than anything demonstrated is that you don't have to dig too far to find that desire for connection."
Read it all and see what you think of the video and website.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Rowan Williams Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Media Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK
Church leadership in the 21st century involves making numerous decisions about the future of ministry, frequently against a backdrop of rapid change and poorly understood but increasingly challenging circumstances.
For example, at the beginning of the 21st century, a number of churches are either in decline or (by contrast) are experiencing significant numerical growth.
Churches are facing major decisions as to whether to sustain or expand their present facilities, continue to minister in the same way, relocate to another community, disband or even sell their property and facilities.
Austerity measures and declining budgets further compound these issues.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking History Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Theology Pastoral Theology
A new officer has been appointed to inspire spiritual and numerical growth in the Anglican diocese of Portsmouth.
The Rev Charlie Peer (right) will start work as Mission Development Officer in August, with a brief to promote the Anglican Diocese of Portsmouth’s Ministry for Mission initiative. The post is full-time and he will be spending much of his time in parishes from a base in the diocesan offices.
He will work closely with a number of parishes with differing challenges. The work will be proactive, although there may be some cases where deaneries and parishes ask for support in creating and implementing strategies.
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E-prayers, cabaret-style worship, video sermons and tongue-in-cheek advertisements are just some of the ways local Christian churches are boosting their numbers....
St Thomas’ Anglican Church in Werribee, which has the largest Karen refugee congregation in Victoria, is among them.
Its 150 Karen worshippers have breathed new life into a church that has been part of Werribee since 1856.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Australia * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Media Science & Technology * International News & Commentary Australia / NZ * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches
“There is only the human race,” he said, “and when you divide it into groups, you get a rat race.”
Mr. George remains silent and solemn on his thrice-weekly sermon-walks through the neighborhood, preferring to let the mixtapes speak for him. The portable radio and tape player hangs around his neck and delivers the day’s sermon as he clasps his hands over it and walks in rhythm to the music, stopping at red lights and bobbing to the blaring beat of soca, calypso, ska or reggae — anything with a spiritual or positive social message and a West Indian feel.
Before immigrating, Mr. George spent 15 years carrying a tape player through the streets of Georgetown, the capital of Guyana. In New York, he worked as an accountant and electronics repairman. Now he lives on Social Security, and stays in touch with his ex-wife in Queens, also a street preacher, and his three grown sons.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches
The Presbyterians have sent new seminary graduates to plant churches across the country, resulting, for example, in Sweaty Sheep, a ministry to runners and cyclists in Louisville, and Hot Metal Bridge, a church in Pittsburgh that opened in a tattoo parlor and then bought a vacant tavern. Other church plants reflect the New Monasticism movement, including a Presbyterian congregation in Pittsburgh, Lutheran missions in Austin and Seattle and a Methodist church in Nashville. Many of these churches are affiliated with intentional communities. The Episcopalians have a disco mass in San Francisco, a liturgy for the homeless on Boston Common, a church and community center for Latinos in Fort Lauderdale and the Art & Soul Café in St. Louis. All were started by recently ordained or not yet ordained ministers.
Carol Howard Merritt, pastor and author of Tribal Church: Ministering to the Missing Generation, applauds these initiatives. "As we head into a time of transition in all of our denominations, when a lot of our churches are closing, it's good to have a lot of energy going into starting new churches."
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What if your pastor stood up next Sunday and said he wanted to double the size of the parish within one year? That's exactly what happened at Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian Catholic parish in Washington DC, a predominantly African-American parish. Monsignor Charles Pope made that bold challenge last September and then got to work....
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic
Some 300 church leaders from various parts worldwide will be gathering in Manila from 22 to 27 March for a pre-assembly of the World Council of Churches' (WCC) Commission on World Mission and Evangelism.
Hosted by the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), the gathering is expected to update the WCC's mission and evangelism statement, which was written in 1982. "The Philippines can help take a look at mission and evangelism from the side of the oppressed and not only from the traditional understanding of conversion," National Council of Churches in the Philippines general secretary Fr. Rex Reyes told ENInews.
"We can help take a fresh look at what it means to be a church in a context such as we have." The WCC's mission and evangelism statement, Reyes noted, was written at a time when globalization, for example, was not a big issue.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Missions Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Globalization * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations * Theology
[Many of the frequent quotes on hears among Methodists these days] ...in some way, [are] responses to the question, “Can young people save the Church?”
Whether vocalized or not, this question permeates United Methodist dialogue about membership decline, denominational vitality and the state of young people in an ever-changing world. Many of our conversations about these topics are well-intentioned attempts to answer this question.
But the question of whether or not young people can save the Church is not effective, because it is based on inaccurate assumptions about young people and membership decline.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained Pastoral Care * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Teens / Youth Young Adults * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Methodist
The Evangelism and Church Growth Initiative Core Group was invited and welcomed to St Julian’s retreat centre, Limuru, by the Most Rev Dr Eliud Wakubala, Primate of the Anglican Church of Kenya. He presided at the first Eucharist and issued a challenge that in mission Jesus should be at the centre. Each morning’s session began with a biblical reflection and discussion on how Jesus went about his evangelism, and what should be learnt from his approach.
The core group began their meeting by visiting St Jerome’s and the Church Army Africa Urban Mission Centre in Kibera, Nairobi. Kiberais the biggest informal urban settlement in Africa. St Jerome’s, which has planted five new congregations in recent years, is the fastest growing parish in All Saints Cathedral Diocese. This visit introduced the group to an exciting context from which to inform and enrich their discussion.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Missions Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Drugs/Drug Addiction Urban/City Life and Issues * International News & Commentary Africa South Africa * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Baptists * Theology Pastoral Theology Soteriology
Check it out and listen to it some time this Lent.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Theology Seminary / Theological Education
The next speaker was Cardinal Josip Bozanic, archbishop of Zagreb. "We want to talk of evangelization from our experience of life, our communion, and in view of a specific mission, that of the pastor," said the Croatian prelate.
To this end, the archbishop of Zagreb added that the pastoral concerns are "social and spiritual," and the latter are not opposed or separated but seen as "dimensions of one same integral development of persons and of human society."
Cardinal Bozanic quoted the encyclical Caritas in Veritate, where Pope Benedict XVI recalls that a humanism that excludes God is an inhuman humanism, and that only an open attitude to transcendence can help in the promotion and realization of ways of social and civil life (cf CV 78).
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Africa Europe * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic
The 1,759 to 185 vote exceeded the two-thirds majority needed to seek dismissal from the PC (USA). The 3,600-member First Presbyterian is the largest Presbyterian church in Florida and fourth largest in the nation.
"Change is never easy," said Senior Pastor David Swanson, "but I believe our congregation has prayerfully discerned God's leading for us, and I cannot wait to see what God has in store for First Presbyterian Church as she embarks on this new phase of ministry and service for his sake."
First Presbyterian has been losing membership in recent years and blamed some of that on PC (USA) doctrines that permitted the ordination of gay deacons, elders and clergy. Some also blamed the decline on doctrines that quest questioned the Bible as the literal word of God and Jesus Christ as the only salvation.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Presbyterian Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths) * Theology
Speaking at Washington National Cathedral on Jan. 27, [Bishop Mariann] Budde said the diocese will emphasize congregational renewal and revitalization. The bishop said she intends to hire a new diocesan staff person responsible for congregational leadership and development.
She also announced a new diocesan initiative to begin in March called People of the Way, which will help congregations enhance their spiritual formation practices. This initiative will draw from Brian McLaren’s Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices (Thomas Nelson, 2010).
While “the Episcopal Church is a jewel on the spectrum of Christianity,” today its “spiritual muscles” are “a bit out of shape,” Budde said. “The undeniable reality is that our church is not thriving. … I want to turn the trends of decline around.”
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Books Religion & Culture
Delegates of the church will elect officers, approve a 2012 budget and pursue a new capital and congregational development campaign called A New Era of Mission.
The program aims to reverse the declines in membership the Episcopal Church has experienced over the past 40 years, said the Rev. Frank Logue, the assistant to the bishop of the Diocese of Georgia.
“It focuses on nine areas of funding, nine priorities for us,” he said.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Stewardship
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of Nigeria * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Missions Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Theology Pastoral Theology Soteriology
Regarding the Church, therefore, we must not allow evangelism to be reduced to a ‘part’ of mission. It is sad to see as distinguished a theologian as Moltmann quoted saying that mission is “not merely evangelization” — as if there were anything ‘mere’ about the proclamation that Christ is Lord and the calling on people to obey his kingship. In the Church of England today as whole, however, that is often how evangelism is seen, and it is not long before it is reduced from being a part of mission to being an optional extra in mission.
But equally, we must not allow evangelism to be reduced to a personal call to change our views as to whether or not we believe in God and what we believe about ourselves and about Jesus dying for our sins. We cannot have Christ as Saviour if we will not have Christ as Lord. And his lordship must extend into every area of the lives of those whom he saves. There is a challenge here for the more conservative evangelical. But the conservative evangelical is also entitled to ask what has happened, institutionally, to the call to personal conversion.
Once again, nothing less than an institutional transformation is required, which needs a deliberate and conscious strategy. And therein lies our problem. Evangelicals will generally go on evangelizing, whatever happens in the wider institution. But this will not lead to a programme suitable to the conversion of England. That needs a bolder and more ambitious approach, yet at present there is no sign of that coming from the official, hierarchical, leadership. Given where we are today, then, how can we address the need for the transformation of the Church?
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Missions Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Theology Ecclesiology Soteriology
Anglican Churches in Northamptonshire have for the first time joined together to fund a series of radio advertisements on Heart FM, and a poster campaign linked to them, to encourage people in the area to attend a Christmas service in a local church.
The ads and posters have been produced, and are being used, nationally. They place the nativity in a modern context.
At the same time the Peterborough Diocese, which links Anglican churches across Northants, Rutland and Peterborough, has just launched a new corporate logo and colour scheme for its public “face” to replace the former crest.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Advent Christmas Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Media Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK
As members walk into the movie theater or auditorium for services, the pastor and his wife are in the front row, singing along and pumping their fists to loud pop music, played by a live band featuring electric guitars.
Suburban megachurches, move over. There's a hipper game in town.
"We know a lot of people have left their mainline churches because it's boring," said Tory Farina, 31, lead pastor at High Point Church in Inver Grove Heights. "They felt they were forced to go. We want them to love it....Our Sunday services feel like a concert."
High Point, which currently meets in an Inver Grove Heights movie theater, is a small portion of an exploding religious movement in the Twin Cities and nationally.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Young Adults * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches
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