Category Archives: Christian Living

“Who the unchurched really are” via Gene Veith

Gene Veith over at Cranach:  The Blog of Veith draws our attention to the recent blog on CNN – Belief Blog identifying the real demographic that makes up the unchurched.  It is not our middle to upper class youth, or the hip slickster attracted to the Mega-Church-Emerging Church, Evangelical, Relevant,Hipster, Pastor trying to be like everyman in his congregation and peddling best buddy Jesus and re-writing God’s story of salvation.  No, it is not the target audience for the church growth institutions.  Rather it is the less educated, lower income, blue collar folks who are not as hip, intellectual and sophisticated as those who we want to grace the doors of our auditoriums for the super, awesome, entertaining mega rock concert with an amazing light and video show with a bit of teaching thrown in.  But don’t take my word for it.  Read Veith’s blog post below, then click through and check out the comments on the post.  They are quite challenging and thought provoking and should challenge us in our outreach efforts.

You want church growth?  You want to reach the unchurched?  Stop the preoccupation with middle class suburbanites and young urban professionals.  The fields that are in the greatest need of harvest are the less educated, the lower income, and the blue collar.  THAT’S the group that has stopped going to church:

If you don’t have a college degree, you’re less likely to be up early on Sunday morning, singing church hymns.That’s the upshot of a new study that finds the decline in church attendance since the 1970s among white Americans without college degrees is twice as high as for those with college degrees.“Our study suggests that the less-educated are dropping out of the American religious sector, similarly to the way in which they have dropped out of the American labor market,” said W. Bradford Wilcox, a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, who was lead researcher on the project.The research, presented this week at American Sociological Association’s annual meeting, found that 37% of moderately educated whites – those with high school degrees but lacking degrees from four-year colleges – attend religious services at least monthly, down from 50% in the 1970s.Among college-educated whites, the dropoff was less steep, with 46% regularly attending religious services in the 2000s, compared with 51% in the ’70s.The study focuses on white Americans because church attendance among blacks and Latinos is less divided by education and income.Most religiously affiliated whites identify as Catholics, evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants, Mormons or Jews.Lower church attendance among the less-educated may stem from a disconnect between them and modern church values, the study theorizes.Religious institutions tend to promote traditional middle-class family values like education, marriage and parenthood, but less-educated whites are less likely to get or stay married and may feel ostracized by their religious peers, the researchers said.via Less-educated Americans are losing religion, study finds – CNN Belief Blog – CNN.com Blogs.

Why do you think these folks, who used to be avid church goers, have become alienated from churches?  What in churches today, including their church growth strategies, would turn them off?  How might they be brought back into the fold?

UPDATE:  Be sure to read the comments for some very insightful and challenging thoughts.

via Cranach: The Blog of Veith.

There are NO Seekers in the Church

A couple of months ago I posted an article entitled “Do We Miss the Point of Worship?  Is it for Seekers and Evangelism?” I have been thinking about that article quite a bit lately in the context of the worship life of the church. Seekers are generally thought to be unchurched persons who have a desire for things spiritual.  They know there is something more, they are just trying to find it.  They are said to be seeking God, looking for Him.  We are told that our services need to be user friendly, non-threatining, not offensive, and accessible so that unchurched visitors — seekers — will not be turned off to our message and will return.  Listening to an Internet radio program the other day — Chris Rosebrough on Pirate Christian Radio —  the commentator observed that there are no seekers in the church.  As the basis for this statement, he referred to Paul’s letter to the Romans, Chapter 3:9-12:

What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one; 
 no one understands; 
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”

Paul quotes Psalms 14 and 53 here, for the proposition that no one seeks for God, that we have all turned aside, becoming worthless, pursuing what pleases us.  This recognition that there is no one who seeks after God, therefore, has ancient authority as the Psalmists attest.  Paul says elsewhere in Ephesians that we are dead in our trespasses and sins. Read the rest of this entry

Lutheran Satire and Creative Evangelism Strategies — Mixed Martial Arts?

Pr. Hans Fienes has a great satire on creative evangelism and outreach ideas.  The MMA outreach activity has been done before.  There is a with MMA apparel called Jesus Didn’t Tap.  This stuff is out there just be aware.  Check out the Lutheran Satire video:

Pastoral Meanderings: Children…. Not So Important…

Pastoral Meanderings: Children…. Not So Important….

Pastor Peters has a very thoughtful post on the value we place on children these days.  Like it or not, culture influences Christians who in turn bring it into the church with them.  These influences have affected attitudes of youth in the church toward marriage, family and children.  A couple of his observations are listed below.  Read the full post here:  Pastoral Meanderings: Children…. Not So Important…

Judging from the surveys and polls and musings of sociologists, the kids in catechism class may not be so different that the rest of the youth in our society.  If that is true, it is certainly because they have been shaped by the same factors so evident in the media, culture, and educational bias of our modern day America.  Abortion did not start it and neither did the entrance of women into the workplace during and after WWII but certainly these are markers of the shifting goals and priorities of our people.”

                                                                                   ****************************

I was reminded of something C. S. Lewis said, “Homemaker is the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only — to support the ultimate career!”  We have certainly forgotten that today.  Take a look at the birth rate for the average European, Scandinavian, Canadian, or American (excluding immigrant families) family.  We have determined that just as love is optional to sex and marriage is even less optional to sex, so children are even less linked with sex (sex being about the number one priority — or pleasure that comes from sex, among other things).

For All Parents: Tenn. Law Bans Posting Images that Viewers MIGHT Find Offensive

Tennessee recently enacted legislation making it a crime to post images online that viewers might find offensive.  “A new Tennessee law makes it a crime to “transmit or display an image” online that is likely to “frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress” to someone who sees it. Violations can get you almost a year in jail time or up to $2500 in fines.”  Read the whole article here:  Tenn. law bans posting images that.

The poster does not even intend to offend someone or post an image of the person who takes offense or “suffers emotional distress.”   There only need be the “reasonable expectation that the image be viewed by the victim.”  The “offensiveness” is totally dependent on the reaction of the viewer!  It is a subjective standard without any real objectivity.  The law paints with pretty broad strokes and leaves a lot of questions open.  Needless to say, we need to take better care of our online activities.  Images and activities can crop up in job interviews, or applications to colleges and universities.  They have a way of creeping into lawsuits to show the character of a person, and undermine their credibility.  For parents, we need to do a better job of monitoring our children’s online activities.  Tennessee’s revised law (the legislation amends T. C. A. 39-17-308 on harrassment) makes the activity described above a delinquent act, punishable by up to 30 days of “community service, without compensation, for charitable or government agencies as determined by the court.”  The new law takes effect July 1, 2011, so parents, take some time to discuss with your children responsible use of the internet and social networking sites.

Sharing the Gospel through Hip Hop

Sharing the Gospel through hip hop.  Propaganda of Humblebeast records.  Check them out.  This is good.

Luther Before the Diet of Worms, 1521

In 1521, Martin Luther was called before the Holy Roman Emperor at the Diet of Worms to recant his writings and teachings.  It had already been determined that he would die if he did not recant.  By the grace of God Luther escaped with his life.  It was here that he gave his famous “Here I Stand” speech.

Three Things to Know in Order to be Saved

From Martin Luther’s Foreward to a Personal Prayer Book.  These are things to know, not things to DO to be saved. — are we teaching these three to our children?

“Three things a person must know in order to be saved. First, he must know what to do and what to leave undone. Second, when he realizes that he cannot measure up to what he should do or leave undone, he needs to know where to go to find the strength he requires. Third, he must know how to seek and obtain that strength. It is just like a sick person who first has to determine the nature of his sickness, then find out what to do or to leave undone. After that he has to know where to get the medicine which will help him do or leave undone what is right for a healthy person. Then he has to desire to search for this medicine and to obtain it or have it brought to him.

Thus the commandments teach man to recognize his sickness, enabling him to perceive what he must do or refrain from doing, consent to or refuse, and so he will recognize himself to be a sinful and wicked person. The Creed will teach and show him where to find the medicine—grace—which will help him to become devout and keep the commandments. The Creed points him to God and his mercy, given and made plain to him in Christ. Finally, the Lord’s Prayer teaches all this, namely, through the fulfilment of God’s commandments everything will be given him. In these three are the essentials of the entire Bible.”

Luther, M. (1999). Vol. 43: Luther’s works, vol. 43 : Devotional Writings II (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther’s Works (11–45). Philadelphia: Fortress Press;  pp. 13-14.

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Nazi Germany: New Biography on the Life of Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1932)

Image via Wikipedia

 

 

February 7, 2011 marked the 56th anniversary of the date on which Lutheran Pastor,Dieterich Bonhoeffer, was transferred to Buchenwald Concentration Camp where he was hanged three (3) months later, just three (3) days before the camp was liberated.  A new biography by Eric Metaxas, author of Amazing Grace, renews the spotlight on Bonhoeffer and his life and times.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Nazi Germany video: Eric Metaxas – Christian foundations – Christianity.com.

Near the beginning of World War II, Bonhoeffer found himself an exile in America for speaking out against Hitler and the Nazi regime.  Rather than stay in the safety of the then neutral country, Bonhoeffer returned to his homeland and continued to preach and speak out against the Nazi atrocities.  He aided the underground resistance as well, helping Jews to safety.  He was also involved in a failed attempt to assassinate Hitler.

Because of his actions as a member of the clergy during World War II, Bonhoeffer is often cited as an exemplar of social justice programs and as a proponent of the social gospel.  He is also held up as an “authentic disciple” or an “authentic Christian” or, rather, an “authentic Christ follower” whom we should emulate and follow.  However, just as the Gospel cannot be reduced to a “social gospel” or a “prosperity gospel” or a “_______ gospel,” neither can Bonhoeffer’s life and writings be reduced in such a manner either (The terms “authentic” and “Christ follower” are often used by advocates of the post-modern-emerging-church-rejection of the traditional-orthodox-church-worship-life to justify a search for a church and/or community that fills the needs of the individual Christian in a real way that church as it has been for 2000+ years somehow can no longer do).  He was an orthodox Lutheran theologian whose contributions to the church in the Lutheran tradition and, ecumenically, in the entire Body of Christ go beyond his writings on Ethics, and the Cost of Discipleship and his choice to participate in the assassination of an evil dictator.   A cursory examination of his writings reveals that there was more that motivated the man than the writings and actions by which he is most well known.   Bonhoeffer’s life was characterized by Christ — Christ at the Center, and a realization that our lives are more than just you and me as individuals.  For our lives encompass, as Bonhoeffer often stressed, our life TOGETHER as Christians not just as individual disciples of Christ, but as members of the larger Body of Christ.   Ethics and The Cost of Discipleship may be his most well known books, but both must be read in context with his other writings on the church — Communio Sanctorum (Communion of Saints) and Life together.  It is within this context and tradition that Bonhoeffer’s life and contributions to the catholic Church must be examined.

Raising Children in a Sensual Society — Lutheran Witness

Raising Children in a Sensual Society

Got Children?  Do they have cell phones, iPods, iPads, unfettered internet access, computers in their bedrooms, laptops provided by you or their school?  Then this article from the February Edition of the Lutheran Witness is a MUST READ.

In an interconnected society, we are suprisingly disconnected from one another, especially parents and children.  Technology drives much of what we do, and it is all certainly useful and, if used properly, helpful.  However, we as parents are charged by God with the responsibility of rearing our children.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

Just as schools stand in the shoes of parents while children are in their care and custody, we stand in the shoes of God as stewards of the lives of these young heirs to the Kingdom, raising the next generation of disciples.  To carry out our charge responsibly, we must constantly talk with our children, teaching them, creating a relationship of trust and respect, centered on the things of God.  As the Moses tells us, the Word of God is the most essential component of our relationship with our children and with one another.  Passing on our faith, and the lives of our children and our lives centered on Christ is what we are called to do as faithful parents.  But, as the article notes, our children and our families are constantly under attack by the Devil where he uses the blessings of technology to divide families, fill our hearts and minds with sensual and graphic images celebrating the sexuality and sensuality of the CREATURE, to keep our hearts and minds from the CREATOR.  The temptations are great, and Christians are not immune.  They are subtle, in the form of small adds across a youtube video, or a picture ad on a webpage.  One click can open the door to a secret world of porn, interaction with strangers, and access to ideas and things that undermine the very values parents are trying to instill in their children.

In our churches and in our Christian schools we have long been told, “We are all Christians here, we have nothing to worry about!”  Think again.  Kober tells us that this technology seeks us out where we are.  It reaches into our homes, our cellphones, and has the capacity to reach us wherever we are.  So for our children, this becomes more alarming because it can reach them in the middle of church, or on a youth servant event, or while they are in school.  One only has to look around while driving down the road at how distracted drivers are by the information they are receiving on these devices.

These are certainly troubled times for us, as the DEVIL is working double shifts to turn us from the salvation we have in Christ.  We are called to be faithful, to do mercy, love justice, and walk humbly with our God.  If we are not connected with our children, we cannot teach them to do any of these things.  If we allow Satan access through technology into our homes, we are not being faithful stewards of this tremendous gift that God has given charge over us, our children.  Make no mistake, Satan is alive and well, and working ever so hard to turn our children and us away from God.  Be on guard and be faithful and take care of those children.

Raising Children in a Sensual Society