The Changing Church  2

See also The Postmodern Church

December 2001

A Phenomenon of Biblical Proportions: "...thanks to an Atlanta preacher, Jabez has been transformed into a religious and marketing sensation. Strange miracles are reported by people who recite his prayer. Three Jabez books have bounded to the top of national bestseller lists. The buzz has inspired Jabez coffee mugs, bath gels, neckties and--perhaps the truest measure of success--a parody book.

      "...Wilkinson, a by-the-book Christian who graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary, calls Jabez 'a daring prayer that God always answers,' and promises that his 30-day program will unlock a flood of supernatural blessings and miracles.....
      "Part of Jabez's appeal is that 't gives people a sense that they can control their own destiny,' says Lynn Garrett, religion editor at Publisher's Weekly. 'Americans like results; they like a faith that works.'...
      "Oregon-based Multnomah Publishers has authorized a cavalcade of official merchandise, including Jabez backpacks, Christmas ornaments, vanilla-scented candles, mouse pads, even a framed artist's conception of Jabez himself. Jewelry is also in the works, but a proposal for Jabez candy bars was rejected. 'We want to be careful about not over-commercializing this,' says Leslie Nunn Reed, the licensing agent.....

     "In one [passage from the book], Wilkinson discusses Jabez's request that God enlarge his territory: "If Jabez had worked on Wall Street, he might have prayed, 'Lord, increase the value of my investment portfolios.' ... When Christian [businessmen] ask me, 'Is it right for me to ask God for more business?' my response is, 'Absolutely!' If you're doing your business God's way, it's not only right to ask for more, but he is waiting for you to ask." Here is a major problem in today's changing church. We assume that God agrees with us -- that He thinks like we do and shares our goals for this world. He doesn't. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are my ways your ways,' says the Lord.' See Isaiah 55:8-9, Psalm 50:21 and Phil 2:3-13

 

Report on a Consultation on Gospel and Culture (Sponsored by the Lausanne Theology and Education Group): "... a culture cannot be brought under the Lordship of Christ without a radical change of allegiance.... Culture holds people together over a span of time.... In many societies certain elements of the culture are communicated directly in rites of initiation, and by many other forms of deliberate instruction. Action in accordance with the culture is generally at the subconscious level.... At its centre is a world-view, that is, a general understanding of the nature of the universe and of one's place in it. This may be "religious" (concerning God, or gods and spirits, and of our relation to them), or it may express a "secular" concept of reality, as in a Marxist society....
      
"Men and women need a unified existence. Participation in a culture is one of the factors which provide them with a sense of belonging. It gives a sense of security, of identity, of dignity, of being part of a larger whole, and of sharing both in the life of past generations and in the expectancy of society for its own future...." An amazing statement from the Lausanne Committee! Can Christ's disciples seek unity, "belonging" or "dignity" in the culture -- in the world around us? Can we cannot conform to its changing philosophies?"  
2 Cor 6:12-18 and Rom 12:2-9 and The Global Church (See also comment on this page: The Changing Church)

Terrorist attacks did not change most Americans spiritually: "Americans went to church in droves after September 11th, but few of them found anything 'sufficiently life- changing' to keep them there, says George Barna, whose most recent poll was released this week. Barna also found that after Black Tuesday fewer people believe in absolute truth, rather they lean toward a circumstantial ethic....The most 'startling shift,' according to Barna, was that moral truth got muddier among Americans after the attacks. Prior to Sept. 11, four out of ten adults [38 percent] agreed there were absolute moral truths that fit into any circumstance, yet after the attacks only two of ten adults [22 percent] claimed to believe in the existence of absolute moral truth.
       "Barna also found that the most common source of moral guidance among Americans is their feelings [25 percent] followed by the lessons and values they learned from their parents [14 percent]. Only one out of eight [13 percent] adults look to the Bible when they make moral and ethical decisions." Statistics for the Changing Church
and Deliver us from evil

 

Harry Potter - a spiritual perspective (Part 2): "IMAGINATION.... 'Our spiritual famine has concluded,' Episcopal priest Lauren Artress wrote in her 1995 book Walking a Sacred Path. 'We are just beginning to restore the honor of the imagination.'  ...As an expression of our creativity, imagination enables us to boldly explore the world. What is the first clue in the movie that Harry is a creative and exceptional young boy? How have you exercised your imagination this week in your exploration of the world?" These study questions from Spirituality & Health, Trinity Church's "magazine for spiritual outreach" illustrates how churches are drifting away from their anchor in God's Word. See Gen 8:21 and Harry Potter and the Power of Suggestion

 

Megachurches cluster in Bible belt: "Nearly 72 percent of churches with average weekly attendance of at least 2,000 persons are found in swath from Georgia and Florida across Texas to California. ...

        Worship styles in these large congregations are different, according to the survey. They are not highly liturgical. They use visual projection devices, electronic amplification, and between a third and a half of the megachurches have a radio and/or a television ministry. Nearly 8 out of 10 of these churches utilize electronic keyboards, guitars and drums in their services. ... Fifty-nine percent have sports and physical fitness teams...." See The Global Church

November 2001

Terrorist attacks did not change most Americans spiritually: "Americans went to church in droves after September 11th, but few of them found anything "sufficiently life- changing" to keep them there, says George Barna, whose most recent poll was released this week. Barna also found that after Black Tuesday fewer people believe in absolute truth, rather they lean toward a circumstantial ethic....The most 'startling shift,' according to Barna, was that moral truth got muddier among Americans after the attacks. Prior to Sept. 11, four out of ten adults [38 percent] agreed there were absolute moral truths that fit into any circumstance, yet after the attacks only two of ten adults [22 percent] claimed to believe in the existence of absolute moral truth.
       "Barna also found that the most common source of moral guidance among Americans is their feelings [25 percent] followed by the lessons and values they learned from their parents [14 percent]. Only one out of eight [13 percent] adults look to the Bible when they make moral and ethical decisions."
Statistics for the Changing Church
and Deliver us from evil

 

Church puts faith in Harry Potter: "The St Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Syracuse, New York state, is running classes comparing Potter - the creation of Edinburgh-based writer J K Rowling - with Jesus Christ. ...During the lessons the baptism of Christ is compared to Harry's 'calling' to be a wizard where he overcomes the evil Lord Voldemort. Children aged 10 to 12 are taught how Christians are redeemed by Christ, just as Harry is quick to forgive his friend Ron and his teacher Dumbledore when they argue. ... Father John Wagner, priest at the St Elizabeth Ann Seton church, was congratulated by his superiors at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse for the lessons. 'With this approach you are teaching the children about religion and they don't even realise until it's all over,' he said."

       The last sentence is true, but the religion taught is a pagan blend, not Biblical Christianity. The end product of this popular compromise is distortion and deception, not truth or understanding. Apart from the promotion of witchcraft, the simplistic explanation of redemption mocks God's justice, trivializes the cross, and distort the message of redemption. 2 Cor 6:12-18, Twelve reasons not to see Harry Potter movies and America's Spiritual Slide

 

Stores, Not Churches, Seeing Post-Terrorism Spiritual Awakening: "If the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks really did spark a significant religious revival in America, it's being experienced in stores rather than churches. For if more people are still looking for God, they are doing so at the checkouts rather than in the pews. That is according to mixed reports that have church leaders reporting attendance at back-to-normal levels, while bookstores post booming sales for Christian titles and music.
     "In the early days after Sept. 11, newspapers and local TV news stations across the country reported churches being crowded as people looked for comfort and hope. But Frank M. Newport, editor in chief of the Gallup research group, now says there is little indication of 'great awakening or profound change in America's religious practices.' ... 'It looks like people were treating this like a bereavement, a shorter-term funeral kind of thing, where they went to church or synagogue to grieve,' Newport said. 'But once past that, their normal churchgoing behavior passed back to where it was.'"
Josh 24:15-16

God's Sovereignty over Evil: "...when Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell suggested that God might be calling our country to repentance, they were severely chastised, even by conservatives. President Bush was reported as calling the comments 'inappropriate.' Even the conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh called their remarks 'indefensible.' Bill O'Reilly, an outspoken Roman Catholic with Fox News, spent an entire section of his news program suggesting that other religious and conservative groups no longer work with or associate with Falwell and Robertson. One might expect these comments from the Far Left, or from groups that Falwell speaks out against - but from conservatives? President Bush ran for election as a born-again evangelical Christian, and yet he could not stomach the ministers' warning of judgment." Neh 1:3-10 and Deliver us from evil

Church 'must adopt contemporary image': "The Christian Church faces imminent decline unless it adopts urgently a more contemporary image to attract younger worshippers... The Church Life Profile, jointly undertaken by the Baptist Union, the Church of England, the Methodist Church, the United Reform Church and the Salvation Army, as well as a number of other independent churches, is the first national survey in this country into the way in which Christians worship."  The crisis is real but the reasons go deeper than the survey shows -- and the solution is not to adapt the Church to the youth culture that has embraced Harry Potter. Rom 12:2-9

 

"Quality Management" for the Church: Involve Everybody Who Cares: "... building participation is not optional. As leaders, we have no choice but to figure out how to invite in everybody who is going to be affected by change. Those we fail to invite into the creation process will surely and always show up as resistors and saboteurs. But I haven't become insistent on broad-based participation just to avoid resistance, or to get people to support my efforts. I've learned that I'm not smart enough to design anything for the whole system. None of us these days can know what will work inside the dense networks we call organizations. We can't see what's meaningful to people, or even understand how they get their work done. We have no option but to ask them into the design process." See The Global Church

 

Organizational Learning Ventures - Helping church leaders transition from the present to the future: "The convergence of three shifts in culture has combined to provide a new opportunity for effective [church] organizational and staff development in the 21st century. [1] Over the past three decades, the US culture has moved from one of observation to participation, from involvement to experience. [2] A second shift is from training to learning, for a one-time transfer of information based on a classroom model to a life long process of discovery and learning that is interactive...... [3] A final shift is from individual learning to collaborative learning or shared leaning in the context of a team."  This shift in from facts to feeling or experience -- and from individual to group our collective learning -- parallels UNESCO's global education system. See Molding Human Resources for a Global Workforce

 

Preaching in Today's Culture: "Yes, people are used to images but good storytellers pay less attention to the sound byte rules. Since we are a story soaked culture, to preach in any other way is just not going to attract people." This message from "The Leadership Network" is part of a series called "Helping Church Leaders Transition from the Present to the Future." This transition includes training church leaders to persuade their people through stories that manipulate feelings rather than through the facts and truths that build a solid foundation.

 

Peter Drucker on the Church and Denominations: "...there is a substantial critical mass of people and churches that are already moving.' ...While acknowledging that there are still many unhealthy churches, there is a justified 'change in basic premises, basic attitudes, basic mind set... on the whole, we are on the march.... The congregation we are dealing with is a very different congregation that the one in which most of us bean... It is a congregation that sees itself in partnership...." See The Global Church

 

Canadian House Church Resource Network: "It is our desire as the Canadian House Church Resource Network to help facilitate what the Holy Spirit is doing in Canada through assisting in the resourcing and networking of multiplying, reproducible house churches that He is raising up to see this nation discipled!"  House churches can be great - unless the growing networks of church management systems try to "facilitate what the Holy Spirit is doing." Don't let these global institutions facilitate God's work in you or your group. If you belong to Him, He will lead you by His Spirit in you. 2 Cor 2:14What it means to be a Christian and The Global Church

October 2001

Church calls for unity on climate change: "I think God is weeping when he looks at the ecological damage that human beings have caused to the planet," said David Hallman, Coordinator of the World Council of Churches (WCC), during the ongoing climate talks in Marrakech.... 'The issue of climate change is also a matter of international justice, which we need to protect,' said Hallman, who is also Energy and Environment Officer for the United Church of Canada. ... 'We need to reflect on how Christians and Muslims can work together in tackling the threat of climate change and its consequences.'" See Conforming the Church to the New Millennium and Four Faces of Islam

An Idolatrous Silence - Evangelicals & the Egalitarianism of Sin: "...I woke up to find myself the campus minister of a banned Christian fellowship. In a trial held over the preceding midnight, the Tufts University student judiciary met secretly to "derecognize" the Tufts Christian Fellowship for its refusal to allow a gay advocate into leadership. We were politically isolated on the Tufts campus and abandoned even by other Christian groups at Tufts....
        "Many Christians (not just Evangelicals) swallowed the argument: 'Jesus talked more about greed than about sexuality, and aren’t we also guilty of being greedy?' The philosophical laziness of their reasoning should be apparent–although it is not to them or to much of their audience–since they fail to make the obvious distinction between acknowledged moral lapses and the wholesale abandonment of a moral standard. ..." 
Rom 1:22-32

Unorthodox Ministry Invites the Alienated Back to Church: "We're enabling people to discover God themselves, maybe through Jesus, maybe through Buddha, maybe through any number of ways," Brunett said. "It's not a back-door way to catch people and bring them to the Episcopal Church."
       "I like the intent of people coming together to seek something -- not having the answers is a nice part of it," said Sheila Campbell, who grew up in a Southern Baptist family and now is a member of a Unitarian Universalist Church in Washington. "You can give yourself over to the moment."
Col 2:8

 

The Passion Experience Tour: "Dive in to all of who God is! One hundred eighty minutes worth... and all your life. Undignified reverence." This "experience" seems to major on emotional highs while minimizing truth -- a shift that is transforming the church. It may sound exciting, but you don't become a Christian through a "dive into all of who God is!" See The Global Church and What it means to be a Christian.

 

Most church youth programs are spiritually shallow: "Barry St. Clair has been involved in youth ministry for more than 30 years, writing some 20 books on the subject. So when he recently called most youth ministry programs 'a mile wide and an inch deep,' he had quite a few intent listeners.
       "The Georgia-based speaker, who is a Southern graduate, said the goal of youth ministry should be to 'reach every student on every campus with the life-changing message of the gospel.' But too many youth ministries are falling short of that goal, St. Clair said, because they have the wrong emphasis -- entertainment."
 See What it means to be a Christian and Biblical versus Cultural Christianity.

"The Presidential Prayer Team is an independent, non-profit effort for the purpose of encouraging daily prayer for the President, his advisors and the Nation." 

        Presidential Prayer Team Grows. "Launched just two weeks ago, the Presidential Prayer Team is experiencing phenomenal response from around the world in the wake of terrorist attacks.... 'Today, 100,000 Americans have already registered to pray daily for the President, his Cabinet and the Nation. That number is now rising by over 2,000 new members per hour. Now 17 days into this effort 215, 989 people have become team members.'"

         Susan Conway sent this warning: "This Presidential Prayer Team is for people of all faiths. The members of the Honorary Committee must be Christian. As of yesterday these included Henry Blackaby, Paul Cedar, Bill McCartney.... I called the number for Sally Barton in the news article. The pleasant woman who answered the phone (not Sally Barton) answered in the affirmative that this was for people of any faith...Hindu, Buddhism, Christian...and added that one's beliefs or philosophy did not matter."

       Beliefs do matter! God tells us to pray for our leaders, but we must pray together to Him, not to the gods and spirits of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam or other religions. Inter-faith unity may sound noble, but to invite prayer to "other gods" as well as to the Biblical God mocks Jesus Christ who died for us to separate us to Himself. 2 Cor 6:12-18

David Hankins advocates church as 'counterculture' : "The church should seek to transform culture by challenging it directly with a biblical worldview, rather than disconnect from or surrender to it, David Hankins said at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Hankins identified three stances....

  • The church as "pro-culture" -- that is, to be immersed in the culture so much that there is little difference between the two. Hankins noted that this is what the church did in the Holy Roman Empire.

  • The church as anti-culture. Taking this approach, the church completely disconnects from culture, essentially forming its own subculture. Hankins said he witnessed this during his college days in the 1960s with the Jesus Movement.

  • The church as countercultural. "This is what the New Testament means when it says to 'be in the world but not of the world,'" he said. This is the tact the church should take, speaking prophetically to the world system, transforming and converting it to the kingdom of God...."  This vision is not Biblical. The world system will always resist God's ways -- especially as we approach the global system prophesied in Revelation 13. God tells us to bring the person -- not the world -- into His kingdom. But as the church embraces the the 'language' of consensus, it compromises the gospel to please the world. " See The Global Church

September 2001

Thousands of Churches to Take Part in 'Faith and Freedom Sunday:' "... Alan Sears, president of the Alliance Defense Fund, which coordinates Faith and Freedom Sunday, says churches will educate their members about the loss of religious liberty in America, and how to pray for the courts and their country....  For example, evangelists in at least seven states have been jailed or threatened with arrest for passing out free Christian literature on a public sidewalk."

Americans Turning to Prayer and Worship: "In the wake of terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, Americans have been turning away from their usual sources of solace in times of crisis and instead are going to their places of worship to seek meaning in a tragedy that took the lives of close to 7,000 of their fellow citizens." Nehemiah 1:3-10

It's Not About Y2K...An Old Virus Revisited: "The young minister dreaded the duty before him. He walked into the crowded room only to find himself surrounded by the cold intimidation of prominence, pride and pomposity, some repeatedly glancing at their watches, others jotting down memos and a few even raising an eyebrow at him, as if to say, "Lets hurry up and get this over with....I've got important things to do.

      "...it wasn't the good news that made this so difficult to discuss. Actually, he looked forward to that part of the message. But the good news was meaningless until the bad news had effectively been delivered, received and believed. There was something terribly wrong in the world and unless they came to grips with it, the good news would be irrelevant and incite nothing but a hearty round of indifference...."  See What it means to be a Christian

Prophecy. National Council of Churches Condemns Israel in Letter to Colin Powell: "We come with support for your effort to end the Israeli-Palestinian cycle of violence and rebuild the trust and mutual confidence that are critical for a negotiated settlement."  See the history of the NCC in Conforming the Church to the New Millennium 

The Today Church:  "The congregation at the Today Church may be smaller than most, but that hasn't changed the message that ministers have been delivering for more than 30 years. 'We still teach the empowerment of the individual,' said Joyce Kahle, minister. 'We use the Bible to teach a higher way of living but not in the traditional sense.' She calls Today a 'church for intellectuals and spiritually motivated people choosing to march to a different drumbeat.' ...'It's a very psychological approach to living spiritually.'" Col 2:8

How John Calvin Led Me to Repent Of Christian Psychology: "The contrast between Calvin on the one hand, and the Christian psychology book on the other was like day and night. God drew a line in the dirt and pointedly said, “Which side are you on?” I couldn’t straddle the line. I had to repent of the psychologized version of the faith I had drifted into and turn back to God-centered Christianity, founded on the all-sufficiency of Christ and the Scriptures. That was in 1991, and since then I have grown more certain of the evil of blending Christianity and psychology. Just as in Israel of old, men both “feared the Lord and served their own gods according to the custom of the nations” (2 Kings 17:33), so I believe many American Christians have fallen into a syncretistic blending of Christianity and worldly psychology. But the two do not mix!

        "...there are many people in evangelical churches who have been told, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace.”  They think they’re right with God because they went forward or prayed a prayer, but they have never known anything of their own corruption of heart through the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit.  They do not feel, as Spurgeon put it, the noose around their neck, and so they do not weep for joy when the Savior cuts the rope.  In many cases, they have not been truly converted.  I believe that the Christian psychology movement is built on this faulty view of salvation that minimizes depravity and makes conversion something the sinner can do by deciding for Jesus." See What it means to be a Christian

 

The global gospel 'gap': What will it take to bridge it? "All the resources of the modern mission movement didn't get the news of Jesus to one Asian village soon enough to save the lives of three young boys. A Christian worker preached the gospel for the first time in the village earlier this year. The local chief sadly asked him, "Why did you not come here two weeks earlier?" The chief explained that a sorcerer had promised him prosperity if he would sacrifice three small children. "I was carried away by his words and kidnapped two 5-year-old boys from a neighboring village, and I sacrificed them to the gods," he confessed. "But I failed in all my attempts in kidnapping the third child. Finally, I took my 7-year-old son and sacrificed him also. If you had told me about this Jesus a little earlier, then I would have never killed those innocent children." Mark 13:10-11

 

Internet Christianity: A Success Story: "Religion is one of the hottest topics in cyberspace. According to a Pew Internet and Public Life survey, 21 percent of Web surfers seek spiritual information online. In the U.S. alone, the Christian consumer market's annual retail volume is estimated at $3.6 billion in videos, tapes, books, CDs and other products and services. Moreover, religious chat rooms are among the busiest on the Net. Does this mean that the cyberchurch is competing with the traditional church? Is the virtual congregation about to replace the real one?"

       "...Christianity.com, created in January 2000, is unique in many ways. To begin with, it is well funded, with $34 million so far from Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network; Sequoia, a blue-chip Silicon Valley venture capital firm; and Comdisco, a top-tier lender to leading technology companies.... Although Christian Coalition founder Robertson is the chairman, Christianity.com is not as predominantly evangelical as Crosswalk.com, nor does it cater to an assortment of religions as does Belief.net." Rom 12:2

August 2001

Christianity Almost Beaten Says Cardinal: "CHRISTIANITY has almost been vanquished in Britain, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor told a gathering of priests yesterday. Christ was being replaced by music, New Age beliefs, the environmental movement, the occult and the free-market economy, the Archbishop of Westminster said. In a candid and unscripted passage of his speech, the Cardinal also spoke of the damage and shame brought to his church by the scandal of paedophile priests. His analysis of Britain’s spiritual decline echoed the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, who last year said: 'A tacit atheism prevails. Death is assumed to be the end of life. Our concentration on the here-and-now renders a thought of eternity irrelevant.'” John 3:19

 

Schools to show 'cocaine and sex' film about Jesus: A film crammed with references to sex and drugs and featuring Jesus as a 15-year-old schoolboy and Mary Magdalene as a single mother is the latest ploy to woo young people back to church. In an effort to curb the decline in young church-goers, a missionary agency has made a 30-minute film.... Called An Absence of Stones, the film will be screened in secondary schools this autumn with the aim of convincing teenagers of the relevance of the Bible to their lives.

       ... At one point Jesus accompanies Mary Magdalene to an abortion clinic, although he says he "hates" what she has done. In the end she decides to keep the baby. Instead of a crucifixion scene, Jesus is murdered by a schoolfriend and is resurrected in a Leicestershire beauty spot. Nigel Roberts, scriptwriter and producer for Youth for Christ, said his aim was to defy the Church's 'stuffy' image." 

        "This film should be entitled: Re-inventing Jesus. Clearly, it is another crude attempt to customize Christ for the Global Church," says Paul Proctor, author of The People's Church. See also Gal 1:6, Deut 28:15 and The Global Church.

...for Church Leaders and Consultants - Generations at Work: As complicated as dealing with workplace dynamics is with three generations and an emerging fourth, the church culture is more complicated as it seeks to deal with five generations at once.... A growing diversity means that unity is no longer defined in churches on the basis of conformity to one set of bounded standards as represented by a dominate generational viewpoint. Unity must now be defined by the consistent practice of a centered set composed of the mission, purpose, and core values of the church."  [In other words, Total Quality Management!  Would TQM teams and consensus values replace Biblical guidelines?] "... By the year 2010, ten percent of all churches need to have an attendance of 750 or more to be able to meet the needs and wants of Nexters to congregate." See Rom 12:2 and  Faith-Based Compromise.

In defense of Jabez: "Bless me indeed,' Jabez prays. And because God grants his petition, we can assume that the man's motives were pure, since God knows the secrets of the heart (Psalm 44:21). Presumably, the motive of an honorable man to request blessings would be so that he could be a blessing to others."  True. There is nothing wrong with Jabez' prayer. The problems are the promises Wilkinson makes to all his readers -- whether or not they have received Jesus Christ and whether not they their motives are pure. See The Prayer of Jabez.

 'Super Dude' episodes move from comics to video: "The live-action, one-hour video of Super Dude and the CP Squad will be distributed to youth missions in more than 44,000 Southern Baptist churches worldwide.... 

       'Super Dude is just a lot of fun. What we decided to do is fashion him more as a super hero like in the old '60s campy Batman television show. It's a spoof, a comedy. So we put a lot of humor into it. I mean, how serious can you get with a 13-year-old in a cape and tights?'' said Starnes of his creation. To make his point, he holds up a huge water gun on the Super Dude set. ''To a lot of people this looks like a Super Soaker. But to us, it's an emergency baptism kit,'' he said.

       "Super Dude starts out as mild-mannered David Hicks, a teen-ager who wins a 700-year-old Bible as part of a Bible drill competition. After he cracks the Holy Bible, a surfer dude angel turns him into a blue-tighted, yellow-cape-wearing Christian super hero. .... Super Dude has a job to do. And that's to show kids the power of the Bible and learn a little bit along the way, such as the power of self-esteem and the danger of having too much pride."  Could this be the next shameless adventure into trivializing the Christian faith through juvenile humor and tasteless gimmickry from The People's Church? Can we teach spiritual maturity and biblical truths -- and honor our Lord -- through childish skits, silliness and irreverent behavior? Psalm 89-7 and The Global Church

Prayer of Jabez best-seller 'deserves a mixed review': To the extent it motivates the reader to attempt great things for God and expect great things from him, TPOJ points toward the blessed life in Christ. But, to the extent Wilkinson makes more absolute promises than God does, hedges on the sovereignty of God, misdirects worship or motivates the reader to use Jabez' prayer as something of a "Christian mantra" in the context of the Word of Faith movement, it may lead the reader astray. It seems to me that TPOJ deserves a mixed review. It may be in some places as hurtful as it is in many places helpful." Prov 3:5-7

 

Pat Boone: An unusual faith: "Boone believes 'we don't all have our doctrine all completely correct but God doesn't judge us on our understanding of doctrine. He judges our heart, our intent, our purpose, our love and how we treat other people.'"  2 Tim 4:3-4

New book finds faith in Simpsons: "The Gospel According to the Simpsons," to be published Sept. 1 by Westminster John Knox Press, devotes 164 pages to an examination of the spiritual lessons from the long-running animated TV series.... The show, once branded sacrilegious by many conservative Christians, offers a unique look at how the average American actually lives out a religious faith, claims Mark Pinsky, the new book's author....  

       " More than any other prime-time television series (except maybe "Touched By An Angel" or "Seventh Heaven"), "The Simpsons" presents an American family that experiences religious faith like many real American families, Pinsky said.... 'For all those folks who have argued that repeated exposure to sex and violence on the screen has a coarsening effect on more impressionable viewers, those folks ought to look at the corollary offered by the Simpsons,' he said. 'If repeated exposure to a family that believes and prays, if you watch them week in and week out, might that not have a salutary effect in the same way?'"     

       "This is another dialectic trap," says Paul Proctor who wrote The People's Church. "To endeavor find God in godlessness is the equivalent of heralding the 'good' in sinful man."  See What it means to be a Christian

Faith Communities Today: "Early in the year 2000... national religious organizations began to conduct a massive survey of congregations from Maine to Hawaii. Through Faith Communities Today, the religious bodies are reviewing the findings, studying the implications, and planning ways to help their local congregations serve men and women, children and youth."  Here's a short glimpse of the massive new networks and system preparing to manage the 21st century church." See Reinventing the World

ELCA Assembly Orders Study on Homosexuality: "The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will begin study on homosexuality following a 899-115 vote at the 2001 Churchwide Assembly Aug. 13. ...The theme for the biennial assembly is 'Making Christ Known: Sharing Faith in a New Century.' 

       "...the assembly vote began a process that will create 'a study document on homosexuality for use in congregations, synods, and in sponsored hearings and focus groups across this church. This document shall include study of the Lutheran understanding of the Word of God and biblical, theological, scientific, and practical material on homosexuality."' God's Word -- our standard for right and wrong -- will be tested to group consensus and conformed to human wants. Rom 1:22-32, 1 Cor 6:9-11

 

Organized oblivion: "Among the first actions the new communist regime took in Russia in the winter of 1917, was to begin dismantling the Russian Orthodox Church. Its priests were killed or imprisoned, its buildings razed or appropriated for secular purposes. Why? The new government wanted no moral opposition to its agenda....

       "John Adams, our second president, wrote... 'It is the duty of the clergy to accommodate their discourse to the times, to preach against such sins as are most prevalent, and recommend such virtues as are most wanted.'  ...later, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, Adams wrote, 'Have you ever found in history, one single example of a Nation thoroughly corrupted that was afterwards restored to virtue? … And without virtue, there can be no political liberty.'

        "Today America's children are drowning in a sea of moral degeneracy, political corruption and expediency, ethical nihilism, and sensual overload that is enslaving their bodies, minds and spirits....  Where is the Church?"  Trying to please the world, meet "felt needs" and find "common ground" -- or ready to face the world's hostility for refusing to compromise? Mark 8-38 and Rom 12:2-9

Internet Christianity: A Success Story. But how many are truly Christians? See next story:

The Year's Most Intriguing Findings - From Barna Research Studies. Read the article with the understanding that no one knows how many people are truly born-again Christians (remember the wheat and tares), then consider what these sad points mean to God's Church and our nation today:

 

Good News Bad News Very Bad News
In the last four years, " there has been a rise in the proportion of adults who read the Bible..." "... Christians spend seven times as much time on entertainment as they do on spiritual activities." Although 2/3 of all teenagers say they know all the basic teachings... of the Christian faith, 2/3 reject the existence of Satan, 3/5 reject the existence of the Holy Spirit, and 1/2 believe that Jesus sinned....
"Among adults who are lay leaders in their church, more than nine out of ten prioritize their faith in their life goals." "Desiring to have a close, personal relationship with God ranks just sixth among the 21 life goals tested, trailing such desires as 'living a comfortable lifestyle.'" "A minority of born again adults (44%) and an even smaller proportion of born again teenagers (9%) are certain of the existence of absolute moral truth.
"Half of all unchurched and non-Christian adults admit that they are seeking meaning and purpose in their life - providing a meaningful entry point for evangelizers." "In a representative nationwide survey among born again adults, none of the individuals interviewed said that the single, most important goal in their life is to be a committed follower of Jesus Christ." "Large proportions of the lay leaders in Christian churches hold a range of unbiblical religious views regarding the holiness of Christ, the reality of Satan, the existence of the Holy Spirit, the reality of the resurrection, and the means to salvation."

Growing Congregations Spur Church Construction Boom. Notice the last paragraph, then read the first two reports on the 21st Century Church by Dr. Robert Klenck: The 21st Century Church

For more links, click on The Changing Church - 1


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