Religious Affiliation State-by-State

A faithful reader pointed out to me that USA Today has published the breakdown of religious affiliation state-by-state using a very cool Flash graphical display. Just put your cursor over a state to see the breakdown.

The most important category, to me, is “unaffiliated,” which would indicate the most “unchurched,” although a person might self-identify as “unaffiliated” and yet have grown up in a church, and someone might self-identify as “evangelical Christian” despite not having been to church in years.

It’s a fascinating tool.

Posted in Church Trends, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

What Must the Church of Christ Do to Be Saved? The Baptism Question, Part 2

We’re working our way through Leroy Garrett’s book: What Must the Church of Christ Do to Be Saved? The paperback is $7.95, but it’s also available in Kindle edition for $0.99. For $0.99, it’s really an offer you can’t refuse!

Now, by “saved” Garrett doesn’t mean that he questions the salvation of the individual members of the Churches of Christ. Rather, he is concerned to save the Churches of Christ as a “viable witness to the Christian faith. What must it do to escape extinction in the decades ahead …?”

The comments in this series have largely focused on the baptism question — which is inevitable given that Garrett is urging us to fellowship denominations other than the Churches of Christ. The comments follow very much along the traditional lines, and I’d urge us to think of the question in some different ways. After all, people have long-ago stopped listening to the traditional arguments — on both sides. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized, What Must the Churches of Christ Do to Be Saved? | 48 Comments

Bible Software

A reader emailed me asking for my recommendation on Bible software. I’m not the expert, and so I thought I’d ask the readers for their advice while sharing what little I know.

First, you have to decide whether you need Greek and Hebrew resources. If you don’t need the original languages, there are plenty of inexpensive or even free products that may work very well for you, such as eSword, a free download with considerable capabilities.

Second, what are you willing to pay? It’s a fairly efficient market, meaning that you get what you pay for, and what you really want is likely a little more than what you’d prefer to pay. Continue reading

Posted in Bible Study Resources, Uncategorized | 14 Comments

What Must the Church of Christ Do to Be Saved? The Baptism Question, Part 1

We’re working our way through Leroy Garrett’s book: What Must the Church of Christ Do to Be Saved? The paperback is $7.95, but it’s also available in Kindle edition for $0.99. For $0.99, it’s really an offer you can’t refuse!

Now, by “saved” Garrett doesn’t mean that he questions the salvation of the individual members of the Churches of Christ. Rather, he is concerned to save the Churches of Christ as a “viable witness to the Christian faith. What must it do to escape extinction in the decades ahead …?”

The comments in this series have largely focused on the baptism question — which is inevitable given that Garrett is urging us to fellowship denominations other than the Churches of Christ. The comments follow very much along the traditional lines, and I’d urge us to think of the question in some different ways. After all, people have long-ago stopped listening to the traditional arguments — on both sides. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized, What Must the Churches of Christ Do to Be Saved? | 34 Comments

A Cappella “Music” in a Mainline Presbyterian Seminary

It’s a Romans rap! It’s a Romans rap!

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Is this contextualization?  Or what?

Knowing a little Calvinism and the attitude of the Presbyterian Church toward [censored] helps. There’s an inside joke or two buried in the lyrics.

But, you know, at least it’s a cappella.

Now, who among us would be willing to teach Romans this way?

Posted in Instrumental Music, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Thought Question: The Church Between Gospel and Culture

The Church Between Gospel and Culture (Gospel & Our Culture)This is a quotation from The Church Between Gospel and Culture by Hunsberger and Gelder –

Our current movements to convert and make a difference generally do not arise from such a way of life. They are too much marked by a failure to recognize as intrinsic to our faith a fundamental departure (over against comfortable accommodations to the culture) and a sacrificial immersion (over against sectarian withdrawals from the society). As Donald Posterski has put it, we have ironically done what is seemingly impossible. We have inverted the dictum of Jesus: we are of the world but not in it. We have become “both captured and intimidated by the culture.” In our minds and hearts we have not sufficiently departed to the loyalties of the gospel, and with our hands and feet we have not become deeply enough immersed on behalf of the gospel.

What do you think?

Posted in Thought Questions, Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Church Leadership: Switch

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard  -             By: Chip Heath, Dan Heath    I’ve not read it yet, but I’m planning to read Switch: How To Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath at the first opportunity. A great summary of the book may be found at LeadershipJournal.net.

Borrowing an analogy from the book The Happiness Hypothesis, Heath and Heath describe this tension as a conflict between an Elephant, our emotional side, and its Rider, our rational side. “Perched atop the Elephant, the Rider holds the reins and seems to be the leader. But the Rider’s control is precarious because the Rider is so small compared to the Elephant.” But get the two to work together and clear the way for them to succeed, and change comes easily. Heath and Heath explain the three steps to lasting change. Continue reading

Posted in Book Reviews, Leadership, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

What Must the Church of Christ Do to Be Saved? Chapter 4

We’re working our way through Leroy Garrett’s book: What Must the Church of Christ Do to Be Saved? The paperback is $7.95, but it’s also available in Kindle edition for $0.99. For $0.99, it’s really an offer you can’t refuse!

Now, by “saved” Garrett doesn’t mean that he questions the salvation of the individual members of the Churches of Christ. Rather, he is concerned to save the Churches of Christ as a “viable witness to the Christian faith. What must it do to escape extinction in the decades ahead …?”

Chapter 4 is entitled, “Recover our heritage as a unity movement.”

Below the stern likeness of Thomas Campbell is the most quoted line in our history outside the Bible itself: “The Church of Christ upon earth is essentially, intentionally, and constitutionally one.” This is taken from his Declaration and Address, the most famous document of our heritage, being an angry denunciation of division among Christians and a call for the unity of all God’s people. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized, What Must the Churches of Christ Do to Be Saved? | 25 Comments

Communion Meditation: On Being Thankful for What Makes Me Happy

Supper1In a profoundly insightful post, Matt Dabbs wrote,

If I am honest with myself 99.9% of the things I am thankful for make me happy. But when you read Jesus’ thankfulness over his broken body and his poured out blood I cannot help but ask myself if there were more sacrificial things I could be a part of that might make me more thankful. Our world avoids pain. Jesus embraced it because he knew that what had to take place could only happen through pain and suffering. How much richer would our lives be if we understood that and lived that on a regular basis?

As we take this bread, let’s remember that Jesus gave thanks for his own death, his own crucifixion, his own sacrifice. What are we to give thanks for?

I think we are to give thanks that God has saved us from a purposeless, pointless life that would end in our destruction — and given us a mission that’s larger than ourselves and a purpose that extends into eternity. God has given us a place in Christ’s body so we can continue his work on earth, as well as a chance to participate in God’s cosmic plan to redeem the world. And that role requires personal sacrifice, submission, and even carrying a cross.

Rather than thanking God for the good life, the American Dream, let’s thank God for the abundant life, the life that matters, the life that costs everything. Let’s celebrate what we must give up to be a part of God’s Kingdom.

Posted in Communion Meditations, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Church Plants: David Fitch argues that we stop planting churches

David Fitch is an author and frequent speaker at church seminars. He recently posted on his blog a request that we stop planting churches!

Instead of funding one entrepreneurial pastor, preacher and organizer to go in and organize a center for Christian goods and services, let us fund three or four leader/ or leader couples to go in as a team to an under-churched context (Most often these places are the not rich all white suburbs where evangelicals have done well planting churches).

Fund these leader/leader couples for two years instead of three. Fund them only with health insurance (in the States) and a reasonable stipend for housing. This gives them space to get a job on the ground floor of a company, at the bottom of the pay scale, learning a skill, proving themselves. They can do this because they have certain benefits and a place to live for two years. Continue reading

Posted in Church Plants and Foreign Missions, Uncategorized | 10 Comments