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.


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.

Weekend Roundup — July 16

See the separate posting of my links related to the police-and-race related tragedies in Baton Rouge, Minneapolis, and Dallas.

Don’t be this person: Florida Woman cited after admitting to police she was driving with her eyes closed, deep in prayer.

The New Line on Your Pastor’s Job Description. I’m ahead of the curve, apparently, due to postings like this one.

People Magazine: Meet the Man Who Has Helped 2,100 Families Afford Adoption. (And the TEDx talk he mentions.)

Pew Research: Which U.S. religious groups are the oldest and youngest?

A new multi-part series of articles from Christianity Today about Churches in America starts here, but you may want to skip to Mainline and Evangelical Protestants.

Book: A Week in the Life of a Roman Centurion.

Also How the Author of Ben Hur saved the Nation’s Capital. (And you don’t want to miss the picture of me in a chariot.)

Washington Post: As a psychiatrist, I diagnose mental illness. Also, I help spot demonic possession.

Carey Nieuwhof: 9 Things that Worked in Church a Decade Ago That Don’t Today.

How Your Burial Can Point to Your Faith: lessons from the Kidron Valley (east of Jerusalem).

Racial Healing in America

Skin in the Game: A candid conversation between Pastor Andy Stanley and two African American friends.

John Ortberg at Menlo Church: The Darkness Has Not Overcome It.

In moving speech, GOP Sen. Tim Scott Describes Being Racially Profiled.

Leon Wolf, a writer for Red State(!): The Uncomfortable Reason Why It Came To This In Dallas Yesterday:

…a huge, overwhelming segment of America does not really give a damn what cops do in the course of maintaining order because they assume (probably correctly) that abuse at the hands of police will never happen to them. As long as the cops keep people away from my door, they have my blessing handling “the thugs” in whatever way they see fit.

And, perhaps related, in the Alaska Dispatch News: Report: US spending on prisons grew at 3 times rate of school spending. Spending is not a great measure (is it a cause or an effect? what does the money pay for? after the growth is factored in, what is the actual amount of spending?) … but this is a provocative finding nevertheless.

UPDATE: I learned in my email about the following event this weekend:

A unity march for Anchorage will take place this Saturday, July 16 starting at 10 am. The march will originate at either Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church (855 E 20th) or the Fairview Community Recreation Center (1121 E. 10th), and will link with Greater Friendship Baptist Church and other churches along the way, ending up at the Martin Luther King Memorial on the park strip. The event should conclude around 1 pm. This will be a peaceful event. Municipal permits are being requested. City leaders and the chief of police are being invited. All signs and posters will carry only positive messages.

This is a chance to show unity with all the citizens of Anchorage. I will be working at the Food Bank this Saturday, but I encourage members of our congregation to march with our brothers and sisters in Christ this Saturday. Please pray and consider your participation.

Weekend Roundup — April 23, 2016

The UMC is working on a new cloud-based United Methodist Hymnal.

Methodist Harriet Tubman to grace the $20 bill. (Tubman was a friend of William Seward. I learn new things every day!)

A grim achievement: US suicide rate surges to 30 year high (ADN).

Eric Metaxas: What do Joseph Stalin, Kim-Jong Un and American library-goers all have in common?

Get Religion: 50th Anniversary of Time’s “Is God Dead” cover. (Is Time Magazine still alive?)

Ed Stetzer: how the Church can reach the de-Churched.

Weekend Roundup — April 8, 2016

ADN: Pope Francis offers hope to divorced Catholics, says no to gay marriage.

Catholic/Methodist Dialog: “If we cannot as yet think alike in all things, at least we may love alike”

Stetzer on Church Revitalization

Acton: Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe.

Wayne Stiles: How I Got Robbed on the Good Samaritan Road.

April Fool: Archaeologists Find Q

The Babylon Bee: Stone Hearted Man Scrolls Past Jesus Meme Without Sharing.