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Aged Graded Ministries Impacted by Low Birth Rate - USA Church Life 14-20 Years Out

Due to the economic recession and continuing recessions around the world, the US economic situation is such that birth rates have dropped to historic lows.  See here

Pew Research found birth rates have not been lower since the Great Depression:  As a result, certain church ministries may see long-term demographic shifts in numbers and / or volunteers. 

The youngest demographic group ministries will see the first wave of that change over the next ten years.  Childrens ministry across the country will be impacted by the decrease.  The drop in numbers would be seen across the country in Youth Ministries 14 years out or so. 
Likewise College Ministry after that would see smaller enrollments to go fishing in for Christ.

In the short term, looking at another trend, the Baby Boomer generation is retiring at fast pace.  This will have another impact on the size of Senior Ministries.  These age-graded ministries (that in itself is a big debate to touch on some time) will be drawing from sm…

The Landscape We Mill About in Is Changing

Thanksgiving comes and goes.  Early the next day is Black Friday.  Lately a reflection of our culture is unfolding in Black Friday video footage:  A video here records the sad picture of people (could be neighbors or anyone) essentially pushing, shoving and knocking each other out of the way at Walmart just to get a deal on a phone.  I'm just like anybody who likes to save 20 or 40 dollars, but honestly, this year, I skipped Black Friday just from weariness with consumerism.  I (maybe others) sense that its just not worth it some places.  Online shopping was not just an accident but an intention for me this year.  I wonder how civility can be restored in our country?  It seems the only real answer is a renewal of love of God and therefore neighbor.  As the love of God drops off, people love their own morality (a made up one, rather than derived/driven by God one).  Definitely worth praying for spiritual change.

How Do You View Life Transitions?

Contentment in Life Changes: A Spiritual Lesson.
I wanted to take a lunch time break to share a specific lesson from a church planter who was until recently with the North American Mission Board (referred to as NAMB by those close to it), myself.  North American Mission Board serves the cause of Christ by organizing and funding disaster relief work and also missions work.  I was on the missions work side of this, involved with them because of my call to plant a local church congregation.  NAMB also sponsors US military chaplains for its denomination in all branches.  I just thought I'd share that for most of us, since most Americans probably have not heard of it.  Church planters were typically sponsored for two years time, to help get a church going while the pre-launch phase is going on.  That is what we had, two years time.  Those two years of their support were valuable.  Of course, you might wish as we did that it was another six months or year, but you have to be grateful fo…

'No' to Civil Religion, 'Yes' to Jesus!

Living in the Dallas, Texas area is an interesting thing for a person trying to follow Jesus as Lord and Savior. 

There are three difficulties with being/claiming to be a 'Christian,' in the Dallas Metroplex:

1.  Jesus as "kind persons" religion.  Most people, even of diverse religions (say Buddhist, Reformed Jewish, etc), will tell you they are Christian.  Translation for rest of the country, especially non-South:  Claiming to be Christian in Dallas is something like saying you're a "kind" person.  Most people in Dallas area take offense if you say they are not Christian, because they hear it as they are not "kind."  While this is most definitely not how the term should be used, it is common here.  This is very far of course from encompassing all the Bible means when it records Christ followers were called "Christians."  Rating:  widespread.  True?:  a very shallow, off course caricature.

2.  Jesus as "good teacher, prophet&qu…

How to Avoid Inwardness & Be a Successful Church Story

What makes a church inward looking?  What happens when it is inward looking, and forgets the Great Commission outside of its membership?
Lifeway has a great little article on how dangerous an introverted attitude can be in a church congregation:
http://www.lifeway.com/article/ten-warming-signs-inwardly-obsessed-church?intcmp=content-LWMain-Hero3-ObsessedChurches-20120625

Common Excuses to Not Serve Jesus' Will...from Dr. J.D. Payne

Kingdom Service Is Not a Professional Gig

The above link from professor J.D. Payne was written while he was at a very consistently trustworthy seminary (I believe now he is a church planting pastor with David Platt's ministry).
His point deals with the morally incorrect mindset found today about the world and even, yes, in church attenders who haven't worked through it yet, that they cannot serve the Lord Jesus' kingdom for "fill in the blank" reason.  Namely, excuses like 'I don't have time,' or the common 'I don't know enough,' or even 'I cannot afford to' are obstacles to God's will for our lives.
In effect, while he doesn't put it this way, positively stated:  this is a challenge to obey Jesus' model:  The Son of Man came not be served, but to serve.  If we want to be like Jesus, then we should not pretend He is only a psychological lozenge, but also a great King worth living for today.

Some good stuff, be blessed.

For Those Pondering a Call to Ministry Full-time...

Many years ago E.Y. Mullins, a Christian author, wrote a tract entitled What Constitutes A Call to the Ministry.  There are not a large variety of options for those out there discerning their calls to ministry.  Today Lifeway provides a booklet on the call to ministry, and there is a new book called The Call by Ed Etheridge.  So it's worth looking into other options:  Mullin's work is brief, but here is a short outline of his opinion for our consideration. It may help to remember that this is the same Mullins who was president of Southern Seminary, a large US seminary, (SBTS) in the past.
=BEGIN QUOTE:
The elements which enter into a divine call may be stated as follows:
1.) An abiding conviction of duty or desire to enter the ministry and serve God in this way. I say it should be a conviction or desire. By conviction I mean a sense of duty.... I have used the qualifying word abiding because the sense of duty should be permanent. They cannot escape....In some cases it is not s…

US Church Historical Guesses Turned Fact - Part I

Franklin Wilson, D.D. wrote through the American Baptist Publication Society a booklet on Baptist principles.  The name of this work, drum role...: The Final Triumph of Baptist Principles.  It may seem silly to us to hear that kind of title in a jaded not only church culture, but American culture, but given when he wrote it, in the US church life, it was predictive almost.  The size of Baptists went from practically nothing on to become a huge set of denominations today (there lots of kinds of Baptists, unlike Catholics who are in one under the Pope/Cardinals, for instance). 
So what did he say?  Dr. Wilson guessed (quiet well) how principles of Baptists should lead to their churches' growth and success over a long-period of time.  Again, keep in mind this booklet was written in 1890!  Keep in mind this has --not-- been the case for many or most denominations.
He begins with an example of the massive growth (then) amoung Swedes getting saved/switching polity to the Baptist church…

How Do You Know What You Know? (another installment)

Benedict de Spinoza - a writer of the past whom many look to for this answer (not necessarily me, but I'm keen to know about him, given a lot of people do look to him (one example, many modern Jews you meet and have coffee with about religion).

Fyi:  local readers, this is a personal interest of mine on the side.  This is not something I expect everyone to know about, lol :)

Benedict of Spinoza, born in 1632, was part of a Jewish community in Amsterdam. He studied Latin and Cartesian philosophy, Torah, Jewish heritage, and the Talmud. Spinoza was adament that chance is a myth and there is no "such thing as a brute, unexplainable fact," (52-53, The Blackwell Guide to Modern Philosophers). There are several levels of knowledge, the first being what you are told by report or teacher and you know by remembering. The second being a certain kind of knowledge, knowing something is true, by proportions and certainty demonstrated. The third is why something must be true, by i…

Christian Roots Not Enough ... May 2012

For the sake of political edge with his base, the President decided to endorse and support homosexual marriage.  Several articles pasted here cover his change from in 2008 saying marriage was a union between only a man and a woman, and even a sacred institution for him personally before God, to now saying it is just a set of rights between two people.
http://www.expatica.com/de/news/german-news/germany-hails-obama-s-courageous--gay-marriage-stance_226561.html
http://news.yahoo.com/obama-gay-marriage-support-seen-world-precedent-233515249.html;_ylt=A2KJ3CVFyqtPym4AhnjQtDMD
http://www.albertmohler.com/2012/05/10/evolutions-end-president-obama-calls-for-same-sex-marriage/
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-insiders/post/a-gay-marriage-political-crisis-not-evolution/2012/05/10/gIQApeNFFU_blog.html?hpid=z2

News agencies tended to believe (on their own part) that President Obama would switch from a God-driven or oriented view of marriage over to a relativistic view of marriage at some poin…

Gallup "Religiosity Index"

A recent study of 2011 Religiosity came out by Gallup. Here are the results:
http://www.theatlanticcities.com/politics/2012/03/real-boundaries-bible-belt/1617/

Some of the conclusions are a bit strange, but it measures religiosity in general, so no surprise. Interestingly, from a solid apologetics perspective, the US is equally religious, but everyone worships something else. One man or woman worships comfort and relaxation over what is normal, one worships approval of friends and peers, another worships a false god of a world religion besides Yahweh.

Secular Television and the Christian Family

Christianity Today magazine has a good article offering three views on how parents should see secular television for children. This is a thought-provoking and informative article.
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/march/secular-television-morals.html

Jesus & US Constitution Artist a Mormon - Advocating Mormon Doctrine...

There is an artist (John McNaughton) who has become very popular in the culture among those identifying as conservatives.   This artist tries to combine religion and politics in a work. As no one is neutral, either liberal or conservative or independent, it is always useful to ask: where is he coming from? I'm interested in this from the religion / faith angle.
When you watch the video he has about a piece, there is a "Jesus" combined with American figures such as portrayed by some of the Founders and JFK and a soldier around Jesus.  This artist has a voice-over in the background, which says that the constitution of the USA is "divinely inspired." Boom!  This is code.
This is a dead giveaway of classic Mormon theology, which holds that belief uniquely to my knowledge (I know some forms of liberal theology have long-ago, but even though some of those ancients are around, that is pretty much a dead enterprise in theology (thankfully)).
Conservative Protes…

Trusting Your Bible

This got another ground from the human perspective to be supported. A bunch of skeptics are going to have to back-track on their words because of this find. Wallace is a very reliable professor.

http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=37197

Water Projects - Missions in action

http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=37190

This article shows some of the work being done on the mission field. Amen. It helps them and gives an opportunity for Jesus to be heard.

Islamic Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt

It turns out that Mubarak being gone in Egypt is a problem for the US. While he had few friends, yet there was a sort of "status quo" that no one was happy with, but at the same time kept things sort of in check. The previously discouraged Muslim Brotherhood, which when I traveled there in Egypt before, was hindered from full actions and political tools, is now rising in new power, to a simple majority position. They are a radical form of Islam. That is a quick change of things given the long history over there with them being kept out of the political machinery in recent decades.

Who cares? In short, for Christians over there, it is going to be increasingly challenging as Muslim Brotherhood is not tolerant of Christians, and will want to impose the extra tradition driven restrictions and extra taxes on non-Muslims (like Christians and Jews) and a hundred other things in their pre-modern law. While this is not the most recent news, it doesn't take someone much brain powe…

Contraception and Church Affiliated Entities

It is a hot topic now that the Roman Catholic church's entities, such as hospitals and so forth, may have to pay for employees to have access to the same kind of contraception Obama would like. While obviously some contraception is not a big deal to most Protestants (unlike Catholicism where it is not recommended for its faithful), some contraception is absolutely anathema to us Protestants too. The Word of God points to life as beginning at conception, which I'll just state relying on the many excellent long, thoughtful defenses of this by natural theologians of Christian churches. Some contraceptives can cause a very early stage abortion. These therefore are (even if in a small number of cases) killing unborn children, at the expense of a church entity. Protestants of all stripes that believe in the whole Word of God, rather than making themselves little gods that know which parts are good for them, must stand with the Roman Catholics on this and for different reasons. We ca…

A Short Review: A Book You'll Actually Listen To.

A Book You'll Actually Listen To is a doctrinal book on audio cd that can be found at local Mardel or Lifeway Christian Stores. It is made up of four books covering On the Old Testament, Who is God, On the New Testament, and Church Leadership. Some parts rehearse standard evidential apologetics like the Who Is God section. However, it is a good reminder of some of those standard modern arguments. The Old and New sections are challenging for one personally and doctrinally. You'll find surprising insights after being bored a minute, then there is a nugget of gold. Perfect for driving. The Church Leadership chapter is almost entirely worth its time spent listening to it. It is relevant to the American church situation and biblical. It is also a testimony from Mark's own experiences as a pastor in Seattle. Overall, I would recommend it as a refresher, as a support or apologetic for the Old and New Testaments, and as a reminder of standard arguments for God. The Church Leadersh…