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Gallup Poll: Membership in USA Churches Lowest in Decades

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 A recent set of polling data of the United States found that church membership (and other religious groups) is at the lowest it has been in decades. A significant drop in membership occurred from the 1998-2000 range to today. Over two decades a supermajority (around 70-73%) claiming membership in a church, synagogue, etc., went to less than half the article reports (47%).  Now the research is more broad than say a George Barna poll that is more focused on evangelical churches. However, the hard work of the people at Gallup is still useful to gauge what is happening in our culture and our time. Most of us in sharing the Gospel individually and in church life, are not completely surprised by the following poll data: The article may be found at:  https://news.gallup.com/poll/341963/church-membership-falls-below-majority-first-time.aspx This speaks to several factors as Gallup also reports. They mention the rise of the "Nones," persons who claim no religious membership or prefer

United Methodist Denominational Changes

        For any of those keeping track for various reasons, the United Methodist Church has seen a lot of changes due to Covid and rule changes. Friends of mine who are in the UMC explained that a split was likely in 2020. However, once the lockdowns started impacting everyone the meetings were put off for a long-time. Now they are changing rules and anticipating long-distance voting on issues.        A link to some of the info is here:  https://religionnews.com/2021/03/22/united-methodist-bishops-cancel-virtual-special-session-of-general-conference/ .         In general, it appears they are in a holding pattern, which might then impact their decision to stay united as a denomination or not, in theory. In such a polarized world, that may not be possible though. But the excess time the UMC has gained, could give perspective on some votes or issues. It certainly allows any renewal movement more time to think and ponder what God might have them to do. Much could happen between March 2021

Missions in an Unusual Year for the Globe

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        When it comes to international missions, many are serving on the front lines the message of hope in Jesus and the love of Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16; Acts 1:8). The IMB shared an update on Twitter, of this work, which included during this unusual global time, helping show the love of Jesus:         https://www.imb.org/2021/03/22/childrens-lives-spared-food-delivery/   Those near these at work were grateful for the care of Southern Baptists who gave towards neighbors they may never meet. This goes to show you there are so many impacts of giving to support missions work.

Easter 2021 - How Church Attendance Might Be

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        This article from Religion News Service reports 4 in 10 may be ready and willing to attend Easter Worship Services this year, 2021. They report many are growing more comfortable being in Worship once again.  Click here:  https://religionnews.com/2021/03/22/poll-four-in-10-us-christians-plan-to-attend-in-person-easter-services/        The readiness to be in Worship this year is still substantially lower than in a normal year, without a pandemic they report.

Working in God's Presence

        When you go to work, it may feel like it is definitely not in God's presence some days. Certainly not every or perhaps most workplaces do not feel like God's presence. However, we do serve the Lord wherever we are, for His purposes, Acts 17:22-33 as Paul explained to the Athenians at Mars Hill (a place you can still visit today in Athens).         When you set about serving the Lord, even in a challenging environment, there are times it is clearly God's will (without denying there are places that you should not be). Take the situation of the people of Israel who lived in Jerusalem around the time of Haggai the prophet. They had come back to the Promised Land to settle it and rebuild the Temple. They set up their own homes. But they didn't get far enough along to reestablish their habit of worship and the worship center, the Temple there. They only had a foundation and a makeshift altar. That wasn't the plan, to stop there.         When the Lord said to "

America Recommits to Worship?

       The Lord is interested in helping you to get back on track. It's no secret many in our time have fallen out of their walk with the Lord. But in the Bible, we see a picture of hope in return to walking with the Lord. There's a picture of this in Israel's return to the Promised Land. In the Old Testament prophet Haggai, we find an amazing picture of God's mercy and long-suffering with the Israelites who returned to the Promised Land. Some 20 years earlier or so, they had returned from the lands of the East to the area of Judea, and specifically to Jerusalem. What made this significant is the blessing to rebuild the Temple, that went with it. The Persian King Darius continued to endorse that plan.        What's amazing is that Israel returned to the Land, but did not initiate building the Temple once again beyond just the foundation work. The building structure of the Temple remained undone. Generations before, they had all built the first Temple under King Solo

The Gospel & The Reformation

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      This weekend has had a lesser known holiday attached to it, Reformation Day. Reformation Day remembers the recovery of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While it would be hard for many today to imagine, there was a time when access to the Bible itself was limited. In the time of Martin Luther, many did not read the Bible (1483-1546). Even monks who did, often did so only for initiation for a time and then would not read it again. Common church members were often prevented from having the Bible in their native tongue. Untold millions lived under such a neglect of the Word of God.     In time it came about that certain key figures rediscovered the Scripture. They risked their life and safety to read it, translate it, and distribute it in common language. They spent much time in it themselves. From this came the findings of people like Martin Luther. He realized that despite his many good deeds, and religious observations, and trusting other good people, yet God would not accept him. Heav