Pastor Luke mentioned a new law (the “Yarovaya Law”) in Russia that prohibits pretty much any kind of religious activity outside church buildings. Christianity Today has an article that describes the law in some detail:
To share their faith, citizens must secure a government permit through a registered religious organization, and they cannot evangelize anywhere besides churches and other religious sites. The restrictions even apply to activity in private residences and online.
Ed Stetzer has a series of articles (part 1, part 2) on trends in church architecture:
Much ecclesiological conversation these days indicates a love-hate relationship with church and church buildings. Yet historically, many people find and follow God in sacred places and spaces.
… Buildings can be a telling of God’s story to our culture. If we are going to have buildings—which is actually neither a biblical requirement nor always helpful—then we should at least use them well, leveraging them for maximum influence needs to be part of our strategy.
It’s worth thinking about what a building does, besides keeping the snow off you when you worship. What would you try to communicate if you were designing a brand new church building? What does it communicate to people who worship there? To people who drive by it during the week?
Common areas in church buildings are one of the trends Stetzer pointed out (in part 2).
Community (People) Space. If you look closely at old modern church architecture, there isn’t much of a lobby or gathering place for people to congregate before proceeding into the worship space. Step in, grab a bulletin, step forward, and you’re in the back of the auditorium.
Community space is a designated area where people can congregate and fellowship prior to entering the auditorium. Many churches have large lobbies or foyers with standing and seating areas. Others have created full coffee areas and cafés where people can grab refreshments before and after the service. …
Connection Space. Another common area in church buildings today, regardless of the kind of church, is a connection space. A connection space is a designated area where people can find information about the church. This could range from a Welcome Desk for first time guests to larger areas that include information on small groups, children/youth ministries, and mission opportunities. For instance, North Point Community Church’s newest campus (Woodstock City Church) created “The Gallery,” which is a nicely designed area for guests looking for more information about the church.
Thom Rainer offers this list of Five Things I Pray I Will Not Do as a Senior Adult:
I pray I will not feel entitled because I am a key financial supporter in the church. This attitude means I consider the money my money rather than God’s money. That means I am giving with a begrudging heart.
That’s the first one. The whole list is worth reading.
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.
This candid picture was taken during the chariot races at the PD Church conference I attended in June:
(Speaking of which, the trailer for the movie remake of Ben Hur looks pretty good.)
Here is another very helpful message from this past Sunday that we found online. Andy Stanley had a candid conversation with two African Americans to help bridge the divide between how events like those this past week in Minneapolis, Louisiana, and Dallas are perceived by the black minority and the white majority in our culture. Stay to the end because there’s an application that everyone can do. The message can’t be embedded, so follow this link.