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Some Interesting Facts About Christianity in America

 

ImageStatistics are fun.  Numbers are interesting.  They do not lie.  They simply are.  The best are sports statistics — batting averages, earned run averages, goals against averages, goals, assists, home runs, runs batted in, points per game, rebounds, touchdowns, completion percentage, etc.  The list is endless.

I ran across some interesting statistics about the American religious scene from the Hartford Institute for Religion Research.  They have any interesting page entitled “Fast Facts about American Religion” which you can find here.  The statistics do not include the Catholic church or the Orthodox church, only Protestant church bodies.  Some of the statistical facts that I found interesting are listed below.  They do have something to tell us about the church in America today.  What do you think that is?

  • 59% of all Protestant churchgoers worship in congregations that have an attendance of 7-99 people.  That is 9,000,000 people and 177,000 congregations.
  • 35% of congregations have an average attendance of 100-499 people.  That is 25,000,000 people and 105,000 congregations.
  • 4% of congregations have an average attendance of 500 to 999 people.  That is 9,000,000 people and 12,000 congregations.
  • 2.41% of congregations have an average attendance of 1,000 or more.  That is 7,210 congregations worship 12,700,000 people.
  • The median church in America has 75 regular participants in Sunday morning services.   That means half the churches are larger and half are smaller.
  • Of Churches making significant use of technology in the life of the church, 46% saw some growth in membership, while 32% saw some decline in membership.  16% of such congregations merely plateaued.
  • 90% of congregations make use of internet technologies.
  • Congregational use of websites is in decline, however, with 69% of congregations using websites in 2010, down from a peak of 77% in 2009.

 

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Joseph Rises to Second in Command to Feed Egypt and the World, Sunday School Lesson, October 2, 2011

Joseph made ruler in Egypt

Image via Wikipedia

Genesis 40-41

Click here to listen to the Issues Etc. interview with Tom Nummela of Concordia Publishing House.

This week’s Sunday School lesson focuses on Joseph’s interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams.  While he was in jail, two key persons in the Pharaoh’s service, his baker and cupbearer, were jailed because Pharaoh became angry with them.  Both had dreams while in prison.  Joseph was given the meaning of their dreams by God, and the interpretations came to pass — the cupbearer was restored to his position and the baker was executed.  The cupbearer soon forgot about Joseph as he went about the service of his master, the Pharaoh of Egypt.  After two years had passed, Pharaoh was troubled by some dreams.  He called together the magicians and wise men of Egypt, and no one could interpret them.  It was at this time that the cupbearer remembered Joseph.  He was brought before Pharaoh and was given by God the interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams — 7 years of plenty, and 7 years of famine throughout Egypt and the world.  Pharaoh made Joseph the second in command, in charge of all Egypt

From the very pit of despair and humiliation, God raised Joseph, at the right time, to feed the people placed in his care as well as the known world at that time.  41:57 tells us that the famine was so severe that all the world came to buy grain from Egypt.  The story of Joseph is a story of the Christ whom God sent into the world to save mankind and to feed all those who come to him not with food for the belly, but with the bread of life.  This story also shows how God cares and provides for you and for me.  Joseph held fast to the hope that God would deliver him from this prison, that he would preserve and protect his life.  Joseph did not become bitter or curse God, and God did not forsake him.  Joseph confessed the truth of God in the very presence of the Pharaoh.  And God raised Joseph up to be the second in command, to sit at the right hand of Pharaoh, the father of Egypt.  Not because of what Joseph did or the confession he made, but because God’s plan for salvation had been working since before Joseph was sold in slavery in Egypt.

God took what was low and humble, and made him great.  Such is the work of our God, to create life from nothing, to make hope out of despair.  And we, like the magicians and wise men, are powerless in these divine matters.  And we can sit in awestruck wonder, and sing vague songs about God’s majesty and awesome power and love and how it makes me feel and seek that experience and encounter with the divine in some sort of mystical union with God, or we can take heed and listen to the Word He gives us that HE is at work in your life for you in Christ, providing, protecting, and preserving your very life.  Not so that you can stand before Him as He is in His full Majesty and Divine power and Glory, but so that you can live here in this world, today, carrying the Cross as a disciple of Christ, taking Christ to the world.

Hey, Preacher Man, Give Me the Gospel

And in follow up to the last post, Eric & Polly Rapp have a song that fits the bill.  You can learn more about them at http://www.ericandpollyrapp.com.  I have to thank Todd Wilken at Issues, Etc. for the referral as it is used as bumper music on the show for sermon reviews.  This song was inspired by Issues, Etc., sermon reviews.

The words of the song speak for themselves, but, boy, do we need to hear more of this or what?  Rapp calls to the preacher to give us the Gospel and then tells why:  (1) it gives salvation to those who believe;  (2) it tells me I’m a sinner and Christ died for ME;  (3)  it is GOOD NEWS;  (4) it is the sacraments — His BODY and BLOOD;  (5) it sounds foolish, but is the Wisdom of God;  (6)  it leads to the gates of Heaven;  (7) it tells of the God-Man Christ who took the wrath of God upon Himself for you and me;  (8) if you are ashamed of Christ, He will be ashamed of you.  Don’t be ashamed of the Gospel — PREACH IT, but PREACH ALL OF IT!

Hey, Preacher Man

(© 2006 Eric Rapp. All rights reserved.)

After hearing one too many liberal sermons, Eric let loose with this passionate call to return to essential Christianity.

Hey, preacher man, give me the gospel.
It brings salvation to those who believe.
Hey, preacher man, give me the gospel.
Tell me I’m a sinner and Christ died for me.

I don’t want to know about what you did last week on your summer vacation.
What you saw, where you went, or how much it cost.
Instead won’t you tell me all the words that give me salvation.
How He lived and how He died for me on the cross.

Hey, preacher man, give me the gospel.
Give me the good news of God’s only Son.
Hey, preacher man, give me the gospel.
Give me His body, give me His blood.

I don’t want to hear about new ideas you learned while in seminary…
Higher critics like Marcus Borg or John Shelby Spong.
Please don’t invite those learned men to preach in our sanctuary.
They’re wise to men, but fools to God, and such fools are wrong.

Hey, preacher man, give me the gospel–
not with human wisdom, just tell it to me straight.
Hey, preacher man, give me the gospel.
Let me know I’m foolish. Lead me to the Gate.

I don’t want to hear an opinion piece on the news or political parties.
Democrat, Republican–to Him it’s all the same.
Please don’t tell me how I have to vote to earn the Father’s favor.
There’s nothing I can do for that ’cause Christ did everything.

Hey, preacher man, give me the gospel.
Tell me of the God-Man who bore all the blame.
Hey, preacher man, give me the gospel.
When you preach the gospel, you shouldn’t be ashamed.