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.