Weekend Roundup

Karl Vaters: Why Most Pastors Aren’t Answering Your Phone Calls.

Tod Bolsinger: The Future of Church Leadership. Times really have changed:

He swirled his drink and said to me, “You know, when I began my ministry in a church in Alabama, I never worried about church growth or worship attendance or evangelism. Back then, if a man didn’t come to church on Sunday, his boss asked him about it at work on Monday.”

Seven Things Google Tells Us About Evangelism in the United States. Analytics FTW.

What Makes a Church Welcoming?

What makes a church welcoming? Writing in the ADN, Chris Thompson offers some thoughts. I especially like this one:

I’ve recommended for years that multiple teams from a specific church need to visit other churches, every Sunday, to see how they are treated, and look for encouraging practices worthy of emulation. By and large, churches refuse to do this, plain and simple.

I do this every time I’m away from our congregation. (During a two week study-leave/vacation, I worshiped with three different congregations — taking lots of notes and a few pictures — in addition to the conference I attended.)

Thompson links to another article he wrote describing one of his visits. This is the sort of thing he’s talking about:

As I entered the doors someone said hi. Going up the steps to the sanctuary level, I was greeted by a man named Roy who offered his name first, a guest-friendly practice. I responded with my name. Spotting me as a guest, he invited me to sign the guest-book, indicating no one would call on me. I mentioned that was not my experience and preferred not to do so, whereupon he seamlessly shifted to offering to find me a seat even though the church was not full. …

Whenever you attend worship somewhere, let me know. I’d love to sit down with you and compare notes about your observations.

Alaska Youth Attend Presbyterian Youth Triennium

A group of youth from Alaska’s Yukon Presbytery attending the every-three-years Presbyterian Youth Triennium are profiled in this article:

Coming from all parts of Alaska, including Barrow in the North to Anchorage in the south, where average temperatures in July range from 60–70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 40–50 degrees Fahrenheit in the evening, Indiana greeted them with temperatures approaching or exceeding 90 degrees, and humidity percentatges in the high 70s and mid-80s each day.

(See the picture posted in this Tweet by Chip Hardwick.)

Weekend Roundup — July 24, 2016

UMC: Western Jurisdiction elects openly gay United Methodist bishop. It’s worth reading the press release in its entirety:

In a statement issued following Oliveto’s election, Bishop Bruce R. Ough, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, said, “This election raises significant concerns and questions of church polity and unity.”

More information appears in another, later, article also from the official UMC website.

ADN: Top Saudi clerical body renews fatwa against Pokemon. So apparently there are at least a few people who don’t like Pokémon Go.

In Germany, Calls for compulsory school Islam classes after axe attack. (I don’t know if they still require education in Christianity, but Germany has a long history of state religion.)

Outreach: What happens when a small church begins to grow?

…she asked, “Pastor, can I tell you something?” I nodded an affirmative yes and braced myself. “I think we have enough people now. I think the church is big enough.” She … was all for new people coming to Jesus. But now we had enough. “I like knowing everyone and feeling like a family. With all the new people, our church feels different.”

Churches bless their community: The Halo Effect:

By exploring almost fifty different factors in twelve congregations, the research group tested a new quantitative approach to how congregations influence local economies. The study explored seven broad areas, …. Relying on a variety of different valuation methods, the study offered an estimated annual economic contribution of almost $52 million, leading the authors of the study to conclude that local congregations can “now be viewed as critical economic catalysts.”

Critics routinely question the tax exemption of religious institutions, but people are asked to vote for taxes to buy football stadiums on shakier grounds.

Related: Churches Offer a “Third Space.” The latest in Ed Stetzer’s series of articles about Trends in Church Architecture I blogged about previously.

And sort-of related: Living Through a Church Renovation.

Any church that has ever considered a building renovation must eventually wrestle with questions like these: What is God calling us to preserve? What is God calling us to make new? In what ways do we hold continuity with the past, and in what ways do we embrace change? And how do we find order and grace in the midst of all this messiness?

And, possibly related: There’s a rule of thumb that says no more people will come to a church service once it’s 80% full. Outreach Magazine argues otherwise: Why the 80-percent rule is wrong.

It was Christmas Eve several years ago, and our service had so many guests show up that we were doing everything we could to create room on the fly: We had to set up folding chairs, we brought in rolling office chairs, we even had people seated on the floor. … There was an energy and vibe in the room that you can’t get without it being over capacity. … During the last couple years, we’ve learned that instead of ensuring we have more than enough space, it is sometimes better to have barely enough space.