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U.S. is feeling charitable, just not through churches
Religion News Service via The Christian Century
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Americans are being more generous to religious charities, but why are they skimping on their giving to churches? A new report from Empty Tomb Inc., an Illinois-based Christian research organization, contains an analysis that found from 2007 to 2008, Protestant churches saw a decrease of $20.02 in per-member annual charitable gifts. Sylvia Ronsvalle, executive vice president of Empty Tomb, said the good news/bad news difference is stark: giving to religious charities is up, while giving to churches is down. One reason? Churches spend more money on congregational finances and less on missions beyond the church walls, which is unappealing to people who want to support specific causes with a tangible, visible benefit. More

Churches meeting in non-traditional venues
Ed Stetzer    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Will the unchurched visit a church that meets in a non-traditional venue? To a majority of the population -- and particularly the unchurched -- it doesn't matter. While the author of this article was at the Center for Missional Research at the North American Mission Board, they asked 1,200 people if knowing a church meets in a traditional church building would negatively affect their decision to visit or join a church. Nearly three quarters of those surveyed expressed that whether or not the church met in a traditional church building made no difference. More precisely, they asked, "If you were considering visiting or joining a church, would knowing that the church does not meet in a traditional church building impact your decision?" The responses told an important story. More

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Violence in the pews
Church Executive Magazine    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A church should be a safe and inviting place to worship God and spend time with fellow believers. But what if the church you attended was the center of a violent war between a disgruntled man who was faithful to sit in the church pews every Sunday with a relentless passion to destroy your devoted pastor. What if during a Sunday night service, while you and the congregation sit listening with hearts pricked by the Word of God, are jolted by an dynamite explosion that could be heard miles away. Would you be apt to leave the church to attend another one that didn’t have a big red target on it, one that was “safer”? Or would you stand by your pastor and pray for God’s protection. More

Inside out
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
"If you build it, they will come," could apply not just to magical baseball fields, but to the traditional way most people have thought about church. Too often, church attendance has been left to those who want to be part of a congregation and show up and do so. People who didn't come were more or less left out, regardless of their reasons for not being there on Sunday. The Rev. Debbie Funke, pastor of Manhattan (Montana) Presbyterian Church in Yellowstone Presbytery thought often about these people and wanted to do more to reach out to them. "I was aware of these people, some of them actually young adults who had come through our ministries years ago as children and youth," Funke said. "There were a number of people who were in difficult situations in life who were not connected to the church at all." More

Why is it always the pastor's fault?
The Christian Post    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
When it comes to church health and life, why is it always the pastor’s fault when things don’t go well at church? Pastors are constantly told that the church rises no higher than its leadership. This is partly true – bad leadership, bad church; good leadership, good church. But this can also be true: good leadership, rebellious church. Why is there no category for bad church vs. good church? Why is the pastor always to blame and not the congregation as a whole? The pastor is also told that they receive a disproportionate amount of credit, so they should expect to receive their fair share of criticism. But we all know that leadership and church life are more complicated than this. Here are some reasons the author has observed as to why some in the church believe the pastor is always at fault. More

Governing multi-site churches like franchising a business
Associated Baptist Press    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail
As some congregations reach out to minister beyond their church campus, many have chosen to begin second or third or more sites under the church umbrella. Adding more sites usually means adjusting the congregation’s governing structure. Glenn Akins, assistant executive director of the Baptist General Association of Virginia, works with multi-site congregations. Currently on sabbatical to study multi-site governance, Akins favors a business model form of church polity. More

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On Halloween Sunday, some opt for All Saints' alternative parties
Religion News Service    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
While ghouls, witches and wizards run door-to-door for treats this Halloween, St. Michael, St. Patricia and St. Lawrence will swap candy in their basement, sharing stories of their heroic exploits. One child, wrapped in toilet paper, sticks out from the rest, not because he’s an Egyptian mummy but rather St. Lazarus, the dead man raised to life in the Gospel of John. The festivities are part of an All Saints’ Day party hosted at the Bowie, Md., home of Sam Fatzinger, a Catholic mother of 12, who wanted a more sacred alternative to Halloween. This year especially, some families question whether it is appropriate to revel in ghouls and goblins since Halloween falls on a Sunday, the first time since 2004. More
See related article: No trick, no treats: Parish bans Halloween on Sunday (The Times-Picayune)

Inside bi-vocational youth ministry
Youth Worker Journal    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The apostle Paul, who served as an evangelist, church leader and tent maker, was Christianity's pioneering bi-vocational minister. Today, being bi-vocational means youth workers can stay in ministry when a full-time post isn't available. Hiring a bi-vocational youth minister also helps small churches maintain a healthy youth ministry despite financial constraints. Being bi-vocational is not part-time work, says Rev. Bo Brown, the senior pastor of Community Baptist in Maylene, Ala. Instead, it means ministers have two jobs. More

Putting the "fun" back in fundraising
Round Trip Missions    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
What's the quickest way to send church members or church school parents scurrying in every direction? Say: “We need to do a fundraiser!” Immediately, images of day-long car washes and never-ending bake sales come to mind—events that require hard work but bring in little cash. The good news is that the “fun” is back in fundraising! An exciting array of programs and products and excellent support from firms specializing in fundraisers makes it easier than ever for church groups to raise lots of money. More

The single life: Bible study, solo style
Crosswalk    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
When it comes to Bible studies, the author of this article points out there are basically two types of people: groupers and go-it-aloners. Groupers are those who study in groups—they sign up, do their homework (or not), and enjoy the camaraderie of going on a journey with other people. There's nothing wrong with that! Other people often see things from other perspectives; digging into the Word as part of a team can be a richly rewarding experience. But sometimes that's not an option. Then what do you do? How about joining the ranks of those who study solo? More

How many versions of the Bible do we need?
Religion News Service via the Kansas City Star    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
If you stacked all the Bibles sitting in American homes, the tower would rise 29 million feet, almost 1,000 times the height of Mount Everest. More than 90 percent of American households own a Bible, and the average family owns three. The American Bible Society hands out 5 million copies each year; 1.5 billion Gideon Bibles wait in hotel rooms worldwide. Some Christian scholars wonder whether that popularity can sometimes be a bad thing, as a major new translation and waves of books marking the 400th anniversary of the venerable King James Bible inundate the market this fall. More

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Study: Religion helps, hurts depression
The Salt Lake Tribune    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Religion cuts both ways when it comes to depression, according to two Utah Valley University researchers. People who see themselves as active participants in their faith are less susceptible to depression. But for those who feel alienated from their religion, it makes them more likely to be clinically depressed. Jack Jensen, director of UVU’s mental health services, and Cameron John, associate professor of behavioral sciences, decided to survey UVU students after Mental Health America ranked Utah in 2007 as the most depressed state in the nation. More

Churches urge souls to the polls
The Charlotte Observer    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
With Election Day just over a week away, churches on the left and right are preaching the same message: Go vote - and do it early. By law, churches - tax-exempt organizations - are not permitted to endorse individual candidates from the pulpit. But both political parties are counting again on churches friendly to their side to mobilize members to vote. And though they may differ on many issues, many pastors agree that churches do have strong positions on moral and social issues and should take the lead in encouraging big voter turnouts among their congregations. More

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1 in 4 Americans can't think of recent positive contribution by Christians
Denver Post    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
One in four Americans said they couldn't think of a single positive societal contribution made by Christians in recent years, according to a nationwide survey released Monday. Also, one in 10 adults said they couldn't think of a recent positive contribution because Christians hadn't made one, the Barna Group reported. On the positive side, almost one in five mentioned how U.S. Christians help poor and underprivileged people. Those under the age of 25 were most likely to reference such service. More

Chaplains bring spiritual aspect to workplace
Kansas City Star    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Most companies have an employee assistance program, often a toll-free phone number workers can call in a crisis. But at some businesses, employees need only hail the company chaplain for help. Corporate Chaplains of America, a Christian non-denominational counseling service based in Raleigh, N.C., provides chaplain service as a workplace benefit. The chaplains can assist with stressful situations that affect workers, including divorce, financial problems, and lately, home loan modifications and foreclosures. More

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