Wednesday, October 04, 2023

Wednesday's Catch: 'The Next Generation Is Leaving the Faith Earlier Than You Realize' And More

The Next Generation Is Leaving the Faith Earlier Than You Realize
The next generation is often leaving the faith while under the supervision of parents who believe they’re passing on their religious values.
Parents who attend church with their children once or twice a month are not conveying to their kids the importance of church attendance or the Christian faith.
Lay Preachers Meet Growing Need
Attending worship in Episcopal congregations increasingly means hearing a homily from a layperson rather than a priest. The faithful are hearing heartfelt accounts of what it’s like to follow Christ in today’s messy, complex world. And a new program is making sure laypeople are trained in the homiletic craft — more trained, in fact, than most priests are — when they step into the pulpit.
Both the United Methodist Church and The Methodist Church in Britain license lay persons not only to preach sermons but also to administer the sacraments, that is baptize and consecrate the bread and wine for Holy Communion. In the light of the shortage of vocations and the aging of existing clergy, the Episcopal Church and other mainline denominations need to consider taking that step.
Serving God in Our Winter Years
You will never reach the age when there is not a good work for you to do for God’s kingdom. Don’t let others tell you that your best days are behind you. Don’t buy the lie that the rest of your life is an extended vacation. God still has something for you yet.

A Case for Christian Optimism
Once the preserve of the middle-aged and elderly, ‘declinism’ has reached the mainstream in the Western world. The nagging feeling that life is on a downward trend, that things are not what they once were, that our future is less bright than our past, now plagues public discourse and popular media. The complex causes for this range across political, social, ecological, economic and religious arenas, and are symptomatic of an increasingly polarised culture where people on opposite sides of almost everything fear the consequences of their enemies’ ideas or the end of the world.

Why Every Single Word in the Bible Matters for You Today
Sam Rainer shares his take on the Bible.

The Power of Humor and Storytelling in Sharing the Gospel
There is power in indirect communication. When we go about our evangelism efforts, sometimes we forget how to communicate effectively with those we are trying to reach. We go about it directly. And sometimes that works. But most of the time, people are interested in stories they can identify with to know that if it happened for someone, it could happen for them.

3 Ways Worship Leaders Can Encourage Worship
It’s amazing to see the spiritual growth happen in corporate worship as your people slowly, but surely, let go and embrace biblical expression to their God. As a worship leader, you can be a catalyst for that growth, and help encourage worship.

7 Simple Prayer Ideas for Daily Prayer
It’s helpful in daily prayer to explore simple prayer ideas. Here are seven prayer ideas which are practiced consistently in Scripture. They would be useful in corporate settings as well in personal prayer.

6 Church Members Who Build Up the Church
I recommend sharing this article with members and attendees of your church. It offers a number of ways that they can help to build up the church.

Mainline Protestant pastors more likely to be liberal than their congregants: survey
Pastors at mainline Protestant churches are much more likely to identify as liberal than their congregants as most of them hold progressive positions on hot-button social issues, according to a new survey.
There are no surprises in the findings of this survey. A widening gap between mainline clergy and their congregations has been observable since the 1980s if not earlier.

Tuesday, October 03, 2023

Tuesday's Catch: 'To America With Love: Why U.S. Christianity’s Resurgence Will Come From Immigrants' And More

To America With Love: Why U.S. Christianity’s Resurgence Will Come From Immigrants
As Ed Stetzer underscored in his May/June 2023 From the Editor column, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that “by 2030 immigration is projected to become the primary driver of population growth in the United States.” That means more people are predicted to be added to the population through net international migration than through new births minus deaths. Pew Research Center has put a number on a similar forecast: 82% of U.S. growth from 2005 to 2050 will come from new immigrants and their families. This development has huge implications for your church’s outreach and growth.
While some Americans view the growing immigrant population with fear and trepidation, feelings exploited by uscrupulous politicians for their own ends, for US Christians this growing population segment represents a God-given opportunity to spread the gospel, make new disciples, and enfold them into vibrant new churches.
Rural Churches Fuel Economies
A new study suggests there’s a whole lot of valuable things going on in rural churches — including smaller congregations — beyond Sunday morning worship.
I may have posted a link to this article earlier. It, however, is a useful reminder that a rural church that is actively enaged with the commuity in which it is located can be a valuable asset to that community in a number of ways.
Single Christian Women Are Much More Than Their Wombs
The early church elevated females for their faith witness, not their fertility. We should do the same today.
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Experiences of female clergy are often overlooked in accounts of the SBC schism, professor says
A gender struggle was central to the Southern Baptist Convention schism, but interpreters of the controversy largely have failed to deal with this reality, a Baptist professor said during a lecture in Louisville, Ky. 

Pope suggests blessings for same-sex unions possible in response to 5 conservative cardinals
Francis’ letter marks a reversal from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's 2021 noting saying the church couldn’t bless gay unions because “God cannot bless sin.”
For readers who are following the controvery swirling around North Point's hosting of the "Unconditional Conference, here are links to two articles related to that controversy: I’ve ‘Never Subscribed to His Version of Biblical Christianity’—Andy Stanley Claims Al Mohler’s Version ‘Is the Problem’ and Andy Stanley’s Version of Christianity.
Harvest festival at to St Paul's highlights growing food poverty
A Harvest festival was held in St Paul's Cathedral for the first time in years at the weekend amid concerns of a return to "Dickensian" levels of food poverty. The service was held in partnership with City Harvest, a charity that provides meals to vulnerable people across London while also working to save food from landfill.
Food insecurity is not only a serious problem in the United Kingdom but also in the United States.
7 Warning Signs of Faking Sincerity in the Pulpit
If any of these warning signs are present in our lives, chances are we are faking sincerity on some level.

Today’s pet blessings might have seemed strange to Francis of Assisi
What would Francis have thought?

Research: Parents Feel Ill-Equipped to Disciple Kids
A parent’s primary responsibility is to disciple their children, which entails serving as a role model and mentor to help them think like Jesus, so that they can act like Jesus throughout their lives. However, according to new research from veteran researcher Dr. George Barna, most parents today admit to feeling ill-equipped for this task, and children are frequently overlooked when it comes to discipleship efforts.

The Call of God to Ministry: Should You Be a Children’s Pastor?
The call of God to ministry is a fascinating topic. Volunteers, students, and teachers often wonder, “Is God calling me to ministry? Should I return to school and serve in the church full-time?” So how do you know you are called to ministry?

5 Ways Technology Helps Accelerate Church Growth
First-time guests are the lifeblood for churches. Yet, the average number of first-time guests that become regular attendees in churches today is only 10 percent. While most church leaders want to make a good first impression, it takes more than good intentions to accelerate church growth and effectively engage guests in a way that helps them move toward becoming a fully-engaged member. Technology can play a key role in helping your church identify, improve, activate and accelerate church growth assimilation processes that grow your church by effectively integrating first-time guests.
While less people are likely to visit a church today than in the past, churches do not want to lose those who do. They not only want them to return but also to become an active member of the congregation.

Monday, October 02, 2023

Monday's Catch: '5 Strategies for Reaching the Hispanic Community' And More

When we reach out to our neighbors, including our Hispanic community, we invite the Holy Spirit to do His work in our churches.

It’s Time for a New “Finest Hour”
The title was meant to shock: “Britain Is No Longer a Christian Country, Say Frontline Clergy.” But which cultural observer was saying it was? If there is any settled understanding, it is the post-Christian nature of the Western world.

Andy Stanley Affirms Traditional View of Marriage Following Controversial ‘Unconditional Conference’
On Sunday, Oct. 1, pastor and author Andy Stanley addressed swirling speculation about his stance on gay marriage during a service that was not livestreamed. In the comments Stanley made Sunday morning, he publicly affirmed the traditional view that marriage is meant to be between one man and one woman while also emphasizing the need for compassion for those with LGBTQ+ identities.

Pastoral Whiplash Syndrome: Five Causes
The metaphor has changed. For most of my ministry, we often referred to the up and down of pastoral ministry as a roller coaster. Today, the metaphor is whiplash, a sudden and dramatic jolt from very good to very bad or vice versa.

How to Use Your Hymnal
Jacob Crouch looks at the different ways that we can use a hymnal

6 Goals of an Effective Small Group Ministry
There is way too much of a mess to clean up all alone! You need some people! And that’s what an effective small group is for.

What to Do When a Volunteer Is Burned Out
Burn out. It happens. It can happen to pastors. It can happen to volunteers. It can happen to anyone who serves in children's ministry. Let's talk today about volunteer burn out.

VWant to Reach the World? Evangelize the Church.
It’s not just that skeptics must doubt their doubts—Christians must believe their beliefs.

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Sundays at All Hallows (Sunday, October 1, 2023) Is Now Online

Welcome to Sundays at All Hallows.

This Sunday is the first Sunday of October. It is also World Communion Sunday, a special Sunday that several Christian denominations observe on this particular Sunday. The purpose of its observance is to promote Christian unity and ecumenical cooperation.

At Murray State University the first half of the fall semester ends on October 4 and the students go on fall break on October 5.

Murray’s Dairy Queen will celebrate All Hallows Eve with a costume party on October 31, after which it will close for the winter months to reopen in the spring. It is a local tradition.

Around the town the red, gold, and bronze hues of mums will be brightening steps, porches, and gardens.

Readings: Ezekiel 18:1–4, 25–32; Philippians 2:1–13

Message: God’s Amazing Grace


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May Sundays at All Hallows be a blessing to you.

Saturday Lagniappe: 'Do They Know That They Belong?' And More

Is there a place in our faith community where our children and youth can speak and really be heard? Is there a space for them to know that the person or persons they are talking to aren’t just half-listening to be polite but truly listening because they care? Do they know that they belong?

Is Your Church Invested in God’s Work?
How would the leaders of your church go about getting people invested in the work of the Kingdom?

Christian and Missionary Alliance, Which Now Ordains Women, Loses 8 Congregations
Following a recent policy change regarding women in ministry, the Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA) experienced the departure of eight congregations, mostly in its southern district. In June, denominational leaders adopted recommendations allowing women to be ordained and hold the title of pastor. But women still may not hold the position of senior pastor or elder.

The Coming Pastoral Shortage as a Missional Concern
From where will come the pastoral leadership of the future? The systems for recruiting, training, and deploying congregational leadership are likely to look very different in the future.

How to Design and Lead a Healthy and Productive Church Board
When it comes to selecting your church board, don’t give in to politics, people-pleasing, or pressure. Always start with biblical standards (I Timothy 3:8-10)

The fruit of the Spirit is not optional, despite what you might witness online
Before social media, I honestly never knew people who claimed to be Christians would treat one another with such cruelty.

Jean Twenge’s ‘Generations’: Four Takeaways for Youth Ministers
Twenge’s newest book, Generations: The Real Differences Between Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, Boomers, and Silents—and What They Mean for America’s Future, covers the values and demographics of each of the living generations, beginning with the Silent Generation. In it, she offers fresh insights about Gen Z as they come of age and begins to forecast some of the trends we may see with Gen Alpha (born in 2013 to roughly 2029).

What Do Mormons Believe About the Holy Spirit?
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) view the Holy Spirit in ways both familiar and foreign to traditional Christianity.

Friday, September 29, 2023

Friday's Catch: 'Are Aging Churches a Bad Thing?' And More

Are Aging Churches a Bad Thing?
Rather than risk burnout by trying to attract populations that might not exist in their communities, rural churches in communities where recent retirees are the fastest growing population have a significant opportunity to lead. In doing so, they can help reframe the rural narrative and breathe new life into their towns.

Talking about Money in a Small Member Church
Amy Mayo-Moyle discovered that her church was not unique in that it members did ot pledge. Upon discussion with a clergy cluster group, she found it to be the same with other small, rural congregations. Many do not pledge, do not want to talk about money, and do not want anyone to know their business.

Giving and Receipts: What You Need to Know
One of the most exhilarating and sometimes frustrating subjects that face nonprofits today is, you guessed it, money! How motivating and exciting it is to receive support from friends, family, and even strangers, but what do you do when that initial excitement and willingness to support dies down?

A Stewardship Lesson from an Unlikely Source
Calvin Lane shares what he has learned from playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

10 Essential Ways Leaders Build Relationship With Their Team Members
The quality and enduring nature of your relationships will make or break your leadership. That axiom is true in every arena of leadership but especially so in the church.

Confronting Pastoral Hypocrisy: Perception Versus Reality
Live in reality instead of perception. Acknowledge even the painful parts of depravity, and live in freedom, knowing Jesus is redeeming you.

Preparing for Retirement: What Will Your Last Lap Look Like?
For most pastors, there will be a season of service that isn’t vocational. So why do some ministers dread retirement and preparing for it?

A pastor’s relationship to his congregation must extend beyond preaching and one-on-one counseling. Hospitality is conducive to fellowship, and fellowship is conducive to building the bonds of unity within the church.

TGC Announces The Carson Center for Theological Renewal
Colin Hansen announces the the launch of a major new initiative: The Carson Center for Theological Renewal.

VOICES: 3 ways to stop preaching boring sermons
The way to dampen the dust in any sermon is to spray it with three things: Humor, anecdotes, and sermon-points.

The Potentially Pernicious Power of Pesky Pronouns
A pastoral reflection on the use of “I” and “we” in corporate worship.

Church of Nigeria to dissolve its North American-based dioceses
The general synod of the Church of Nigeria has adopted a resolution dissolving the church's two North American dioceses and redesignating them "mission areas" effective February 2, 2024. The two mission areas will continue under the episcopal oversight of the primate of the Church of Nigeria.
I found the title of this press release misleading. The Church of Nigeria has simply changed the designation of its North American branch--a move apparently intended to ease tensions between the Church of Nigeria and the Anglican Church in North America (or to make an appearance of seeking to do so.)
Filipino lay leaders call for autonomy
United Methodist lay leaders in the Philippines are calling for the Philippines Central Conference to become autonomous from The United Methodist Church without going through the process laid out in the church’s Book of Discipline.

Conference's 'Re-affiliation' Policy Seeks to Welcome Disaffiliated Churches Back Home
While U.S. annual conferences are going through the throes of more painful disaffiliations through the end of 2023, Alabama-West Florida Conference's board of trustees has set up a policy for churches with "buyers' remorse" over their disaffiliation to rejoin The United Methodist Church.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Thursday Evenings at All Hallows (Thursday, September 28, 2023) Is Now Online

Welcome to Thursday Evenings at All Hallows.

As summer gives way to fall, we continue our examination of the teaching and example of Jesus as found in the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew’s Gospel is the first book of the New Testament and one of the three synoptic Gospels, the other two being Mark and Luke’s. It is believed to be the second oldest Gospel next to Mark’s. It appears to contain material from Mark’s Gospel and two other sources. A Gospel is a unique form of literature intended to give an account of Jesus’ life and teaching.

Reading: Mathhew 10: 40-42

Message: How Christians Treat Others Matters


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If you are new to Thursday Evenings at All Hallows, you may find these directions helpful:

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-An ad may follow a song so as soon as the song is finished, close the tab.

May Thursday Evenings at All Hallows be a blessing to you.

Thursday's Catch: 'Embracing an Aging Congregation' And More

Embracing an Aging Congregation
There is a stigma that an aging congregation is a dying congregation. If you were to ask a pastor if you want to go to an aging church with a building with a host of deferred maintenance, many would run in the other direction. Who would blame them?

You Can’t Fix What You Can’t See – 6 Steps to Define and Redesign Your Church
Here's a question you must answer: If an outsider saw your ministry model, would it appear intentionally designed to move people along a discipleship journey?

What Smaller Churches Get Wrong When They Look at Bigger Churches
What things do smaller churches get wrong when they look at bigger churches? Here are eight suggestions....

The History of Evangelical Innovation
The story of Christianity is the story of those disciples of Jesus Christ who were driven to do well with the time given to them. The history of Christianity is marked by seasons of advance and decline. Those seasons of gospel-driven advance focused on reaching people for Christ. Movements spawned innovation driven by a conviction of the authority of Scripture and that burden to reach people for Christ.

Practicing Christians more likely to be 'spiritually open' than non-Christians, study finds
As America's religious landscape grows more syncretic and the population's connection to Christianity continues to weaken, data from a recent Barna study shows that practicing Christians are more spiritually "open" or interested in exploring other spiritual traditions than non-Christians or Christians who don't practice their faith.

Hispanic students report highest levels of discrimination in some educational institutions
In post-pandemic America, in a world dominated by anti-immigrant rhetoric, Hispanic students report higher levels of discrimination than any other ethnic group, according to new data from Gallup and the Lumina Foundation.

Biotech’s repugnant new advance is worthy of everyone’s critical attention
Scientists have swapped human reproduction for a different process entirely.

5 Things at the Heart of a Pastoral Visit
Pastoral visitation is a powerful means of spiritual encouragement and a tangible demonstration of the love of Christ to his people. It is a ministry which can reap slow but rich dividends in the lives of individuals and the life of the church and provides an opportunity for genuine fellowship between Christians.

The Physicality of Faithful Worship: Why We Bend Knees and Lift Hands
Whether you lift your hands high on Sunday mornings or keep them below your waistline, God gives us at least three reasons why it’s important to display the worth of Christ with our bodies.

How to Study the Bible Online
May books and resourcs are now oline and are available free if you know where to ook.

Five Blessings of Marking Up Your Bible
Kevin Halloran explains why he chooses to marks up his Bibles.
I do not mark up my Bibles. I keep a notebook in which I jot down notes on passages that I am studying. This enables me to examine a passage each time with a fresh perspective, one not influenced by my previous study of that passage. I find writing out a passage in a notebook helpful in understanding and interpreting it. Unmarked Bibles also last longer. 
2 Common Pitfalls to Avoid When Evangelizing Muslims
We are called to bring the gospel of hope to our Muslim neighbors, but there are some mistakes that Christians can make—intentionally or unintentionally—that we should avoid.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Wednesday's Catch: 'When it comes to preventing abuse, are all churches equal?' And More

When it comes to preventing abuse, are all churches equal?
As an Anglican bishop faces a church trial for allegedly minimizing abuse and misconduct, observers are wondering: Could this have happened anywhere?
I have been a longtime observor of the Anglican Church in North America from the pre-GAFCON, Common Cause-Anglican Communion Network days. Among the things that I observed is that many of the people who would become a part of the ACNA were incredibly naive. They clung to the notion that since the bishops of the fledgling denomination were in their estimation "godly," nothing like what had happened in other denominations could happen in the ACNA.They listened to ACN moderator Robert "Bob" Duncan who spoke dismissively of the detailed governing documents of other Anglican entities and insisted that the new denomination only needed a barebones constitution and canons. Now the piegeons are coming home to roost.
The Late Great Planet Church
It’s not exactly news, but there are fewer people attending church now than before the pandemic. What we’re finding out now is just how big of a drop it was.

Rural churches fuel economies
A study of 87 rural churches in North Carolina suggests that each rural church contributes between $488,598 to $735,000 of value to its local economy each year. Rural churches support local businesses and provide community meeting space, early childhood education and more. The economic contributions of rural churches suggest they should be measured by more than the length of their membership rolls.

It’s Time to Release Churches from the Myth of Infinite Expansion
Every church has limiting factors. No church grows exponentially every year. Infinite expansion isn’t possible. Even the largest churches stay at the top of the list for only about twenty years. Each generation has its own group of biggest congregations or fastest-growing congregations. Compare any lists of the largest churches from the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, or 2000s and you’ll find different churches leading the way. By virtue of their size, big churches are constantly shifting. Indeed, some of the largest churches from twenty and thirty years ago no longer exist today. They grew rapidly, declined just as quickly, and eventually disbanded.

U.S. immigration policies are harming persecuted Christians, evangelical leaders warn
The United States can help alleviate the suffering of persecuted Christians worldwide by restoring its refugee resettlement program to pre-Trump levels and restoring due process to its asylum system, World Relief and Open Doors US said in a new report.

Why potluck and Wednesday night dinners are important
In a country where 50% of the population has reported being lonely, it’s time to bring back the tradition of gathering and having meals with one another.

The Next Worship Leaders
People gather in homes, churches and pubs saying “Where, when can I go and meet with God?” The “worship leader” of every age says “What about here, what about now?” and lights the candles of music, visual art, design, architecture, sacramental actions and other languages of worship for the gathered community of faith.

Kids Ask: How Can Jesus Be in Heaven and with Us?
Kids ask lots of questions, and sometimes they ask big questions about God. Here’s one that’s come up recently: “How can God be in all places at once?” And, “If God is everywhere, is he inside my nose and mouth too? How can God be with so many people at the same time? That’s too many people!”

7 simple and surprising ways to help accelerate your teenagers’ spiritual growth
What are some other ways to help teenagers accelerate in their spiritual maturity?

Youth Conferences: 9 Christian Events to Recharge Faith & Ministry
With all these options, you can find a youth conference or event that fits your needs. Be sure to take note of registration deadlines. And take advantage of any early-bird pricing.

Is It Time To Edit the Voices You Follow on Social Media?
Are the voices you follow the voices you want speaking into your life?

Faithful Presence Where Your Feet Are
What if the limitations of your time and place were part of God’s grace to you?

Four Steps on the Path to Repentance
In some ways, Murdaugh’s trial provides a case study of how difficult it is to confess sin. While most of us will never have to confess a string of crimes as bad as Murdaugh’s, there will come a moment when we’re confronted with our sin and we’ll have to decide what to do. And what we do when we are confronted with our sin is, according to Scripture, a matter of life and death.

What Does the Bible Say About Fear?
Despite the prevalence of fear in our culture, the Bible equips Christians to respond appropriately when fear arrives.

Making disciples who make disciples
In the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 28, Verses 19-20, we find the essence of the Christian mission encapsulated in what is commonly known as the Great Commission. Jesus, after His resurrection, imparts a profound mandate to His disciples, instructing them to go and "make disciples of all nations". These two verses have been the rallying cry for Christian outreach and ministry for centuries, driving the expansion of Christianity to every corner of the globe. But what exactly does it mean to "make disciples who make disciples"?

Are Americans ‘spiritual’ or ‘religious’ or both or neither?
Only 2% of Americans describe themselves as both “religious” and “spiritual,” while most others claim to be one or the other, according to a new study that examines how U.S. adults envision their faith identities. “Nearly half of Americans (47%) describe themselves as religious, another 33% say they are spiritual but not religious,” Gallup said in the survey released Sept. 22. However, while most Americans use one of those designations to describe their attitude toward the supernatural, the 18% who claimed neither term is double the share measured when Gallup began posing the question in 1999.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Tuesday's Catch: '5 Current Challenges Facing U.S. Churches' And More

5 Current Challenges Facing U.S. Churches
The latest report from “Exploring the Pandemic Impact on Congregations” tracked challenges that may be warning signs for U.S. churches.

Pastors Wonder About Church Members Who Never Came Back Post-Pandemic
New research shows disagreement over COVID-19 policies drove changes in attendance, but “a lot of it is a mystery.”
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COVID-19 Hit Black Churches Harder, but They Weathered It Better
New research shows how Black churches suffered during the pandemic. But these congregations also found unity where others were torn apart.

Put Out the Welcome Mat
Your church board has invited the community to share unused church space in a future partnership. Now what?

100,000 Reuses for the Church to Find
With a record number of congregations predicted to close their doors by 2025, multiuse developments may be the future for shrinking congregations and empty buildings.

The Church Can’t Ignore Mental Health Any Longer
There are some essential resources to help you and your church navigate the current mental health crisis.

Hymn Versus Song—Is There a Difference?
In a world that sometimes seems like hymn vs song, let’s look at characteristics of a true hymn.

Singing Hymns in Church – 4 Reasons You Should Keep Them
...older hymns in our gatherings silences the rich voices of church history. Some churches seem uninterested in any song that is more than two years old, much less two hundred years. Yes, the church will continue to write and sing new songs (Psalm 96:1), but it is also good and helpful for us to sing old songs.

Audio Mixing 101
One of the hardest things to teach a new sound operator is how to mix. It requires the development of an “ear” for what to change, when to change it and what levels are appropriate.

5 Ways the Digital Age Is Changing the Way We Think
Our tendency is often to think of these technologies as just neutral “tools” that do whatever we ask them to do. But this is not quite right. The Web is a language-shaping habitat that transforms how we think. The question is not whether we will be shaped by the Web; the question is, How is the Web shaping us, and how do we respond?

Four Practical Reasons for Small Groups
We may attract attenders through preaching, but disciples are made in small groups.

Christianity's decline likely due to collapse of marriage, fatherhood: survey<br/> Churches must work to restore healthy marriages and fatherhood to combat a growing decline in Christianity, according to a survey released by a faith-based group.
This may be a contributing factor but other research shows that a number of factors are responsible for the declining influence of Christianity in the United States.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Monday's Catch: 'Food Stamps Are Helping Millions, Including Those in Your Church' And More

Food Stamps Are Helping Millions, Including Those in Your Church
A Christian vision for supporting government food assistance.

The Church That Could in a Town of 714 People
Bardwell Baptist Church is located in Bardwell, Kentucky, a town of 714 people. Twenty years ago in 2020, the population was 799. Bardwell is, for the most part, an unknown town in a rural area of Kentucky. But God knows where Bardwell is.

Five “Short-Timers” Who May Not Stay Long at Your Church
One of the reasons there is more than one church in nearly every town in America is because none of us is capable of being everyone’s pastor. Furthermore, while we should do all we can to “close the back door” so that we are doing an adequate job of keeping up with those we disciple, there is nothing we can do to close that door completely.

3 Lessons on Change From Nehemiah
If your church is not changing, it’s not growing.

Bring the Family Together at Church
If your church is looking for a way to get the family together at church, here are five different approaches that could help make that happen. These ideas come from a variety of different church backgrounds and traditions, so they may not ALL work for your ministry context, but chances are one might strike a chord and you will be able to begin working towards more and more times where the family experiences faith formation together with their faith community.

The Ultimate, Hidden, Deepest Secret to Recruiting for Your Fall Fest Event
What’s the secret to recruiting for your next fall fest event? It may sound basic, but the ultimate, hidden, deepest secret to recruiting for your fall fest comes down to this: If you want volunteers, you have to ask.

5 Principles for Genuine Discipleship in an AI-Generated Culture
Helping confused churchgoers navigate culture with AI will require skill and grace. Here are five principles to consider.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Sundays at All Hallows (Sunday, September 24, 2023) Is Now Online


Welcome to Sundays at All Hallows.

Fall is in the air. Mornings are chillier. As the sun rises higher and the day grows warmer, monarch butterflies flitter among the grass and flowers on the beginning of their long migration south to Mexico. Their annual migration is one of the many events that mark the change of seasons in westernmost Kentucky. It is a reminder of our own transitory existence in this world.

The Anglo-Saxons compared life to a sparrow flying into a fire-lit hall through the hall’s smoke hole, to flutter around the hall, then fly back out into the darkness of the night.

Christians have taken a different view of life. While they acknowledge the brevity of this life, they place their hope and confidence in Jesus Christ and his promises.

Readings: Jonah 3:10–4:11; Philippians 1:21–30

Message: Citizens of Heaven


Please feel free to share this link with anyone who may be interested.

If you are new to Sundays at All Hallows, you may find these directions helpful:

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-If an ad plays when you open a link to a video in a new tab, click the refresh icon of your browser until the song appears.

-If a song begins partway through the video, click pause, move the slider to the beginning, and then click play.

-An ad may follow a song so as soon as the song is finished, close the tab.

May Sundays at All Hallows be a blessing to you.

Saturday Lagniappe: 'Growing Southern Baptist churches more likely in Northeast, among newer churches" And More

Growing Southern Baptist churches more likely in Northeast, among newer churches
The Southern Baptist Convention is made up of mostly smaller churches dotting the southern U.S., but only the Northeast region is growing.
This is an interesting development since the Northeast has long been considered one of the most difficult regions in the United States to plant new churches ad to grow existing ones.
What does it mean to be a Southern Baptist living in 21st century America?
Weighty topics such as Baptist political theology and the Conservative Resurgence were among several discussed during a conversation on “Baptist Public Theology, Democracy, and Principled Pluralism” hosted by the Land Center at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

SBC expels Oklahoma church over pastor’s racial impersonations
An Oklahoma church has been expelled from the Southern Baptist Convention because the pastor performed in blackface at a church event and impersonated a Native American woman at another.

The Worrying and Fearful Leader
Worry and anxiety can stifle the effectiveness of the best leader. In my life when anxiety gets the best of me, my leadership always suffers. So, what goes on in the mind of a leader when he or she worries and what can we do about it? Consider these suggestions.

Calvin’s Take on Venerating Relics
Venerating relics continues to be part of the core of Roman Catholic theology and devotional practice. Praying to the dead, asking for the intercession of saints, attaching to physical objects as mediators of grace, and centering life around folk devotional practices aren’t fringe aspects of the faith; they’re in the mainstream. This is why John Calvin’s Treatise on Relics remains relevant in our day.

New ‘Gospel’ Manuscript Discovered? (What It Is and Why It Matters.)
Well over 40 percent of our New Testament papyri come from the single site of Oxyrhynchus.

The omnipresence of Christ
The biblical proclamation in Matthew 18:20, where Jesus assures, "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there among them," beckons us to delve into the depths of the divine mystery of Christ's omnipresence. This concept, though challenging to fathom, invites us to explore how Christ can be present in multiple places at once.

4 Prayers for Teachers This Fall
These are hard days for teachers. For the last several years, this is one particular group of people who have been on the frontlines of shutdowns, reopens, shifting guidelines, and cultural shifts. They have found themselves at the center of issue after issue, all while trying to do a very difficult job without all these issues complicating it.... In light of that here are several specific ways to pray for our teachers this fall....

Can Christians Be Demon-Possessed? Evangelist Greg Stier Answers
Can someone who is a follower of Jesus Christ be possessed by a demon? The answer to that question, says evangelist and ministry leader Greg Stier, is an emphatic, “No.”

The Reality of Spiritual Warfare
What is spiritual warfare? How do we recognize spiritual warfare in our life and ministry? How should we respond to spiritual warfare?

Spiritual Warfare and Evangelism
What does the Bible say about spiritual warfare? What implications does spiritual warfare have on how we approach evangelism? How can pastors equip their church members to be more evangelistic?

The Very False Dichotomy Between Evangelism and Discipleship
The sad truth is that the already convinced do not naturally turn outward and reach out to friends and family members with the message of the gospel. Rather they are more than content to stay within the comfort of the Christian bubble in which they live.

Two-thirds of Evangelicals in two-adult households do their giving as a couple: study
Two-thirds of Evangelicals living in two-adult households donate to charity as a couple, even as individual spouses in many relationships have unequal influence over where the money goes, a new study suggests.

A fifth of Mormon college students in the US say they’re LGBQ, new study shows
Among US Mormon college students, 78% said they were heterosexual and 22% identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or something else.

Friday, September 22, 2023

Friday's Catch: 'Why Churches Without Broken People Are Broken' And More

Why Churches Without Broken People Are Broken
It is a natural thing for Christians to want to be around other Christians. Something special happens in the fellowship of believers but too much of a good thing can lead to broken churches.

How Asbury Marketing Navigated the Potential Pitfalls of Revival Fame
“This was not ours. And we don’t take credit.”

Over 1,000 students attend Texas A&M Corpus Christi worship event; 124 baptized
More than 120 people were reportedly baptized during a recent revival event on the Corpus Christi campus of Texas A&M University, a gathering that has spurred increased attendance in church young adult groups in recent weeks.

More Singaporeans are choosing Christianity or no religion at all
Acting as an international crossroads for trade and culture, Singapore is known for its unique nature as an island, city and nation all in one. Now, a new report from the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan fact tank, has revealed its distinct approach to religion sets it apart from surrounding nations in yet another way.

Episcopal Attendance Bounces Back 19% from Pandemic Low
After declining yearly for decades, average Sunday attendance (ASA) at domestic Episcopal churches soared 19.2 percent in 2022. But of course, there’s a catch — attendance plunged during the pandemic. Despite the healthy increase in 2022, ASA is still down a third compared with five years earlier, and down 44 percent over 10 years.

3 Soul Toxins that Derail Servant Leadership
Joe Stowell1 describes servant leadership as “leading for the benefit of others.” That captures it well. Servant leadership is easily understood, but not so easily practiced on a consistent basis.

21 Simple Habits That Can Benefit a Pastor’s Overall Health
These health practices can allow a pastor to make the greatest impact for the gospel and lead his family well.
A number of these practices may not be for you. If your doctor has put you on a low sodium diet or told you to cut back on your consumption of red meat, you will not want to eat half a teaspoon of Himalayan pink salt in the morning or eat steak. I would recommend comparing these practices with those health experts recommend.
How Jesus Wanted Us to Read His Gospel
"Often, I’d argue, when we’re reading the Gospels, we also eat the lesser bread," writes Ashley Anthony. "At times I open a Gospel to wrestle over Jesus’ teaching, a parable or a specific teaching point, and I forget to see the One who’s teaching. I forget that, by reading the Gospels, we don’t just learn about Jesus, but we can know him."

Jonah Is More Like Us Than We Realize
Jonah is pitifully oblivious to the evil of his own heart and the unmerited mercy of God over him.

Men and congregational singing: The rest of the story
There are multiple factors that have sent all congregational music into decline in many churches.

Using Loops in Worship
How can we successfully bring loops into our worship set? Many small churches want to start using loops – laptops running some sort of rhythmic or musical software in the background of different songs. How do we use loops in worship tastefully in a way that works for our congregation and feels authentic to our worship dynamic? Here are 5 non-negotiables when it comes to using loops in worship.

God Looks at the Heart - For Better or for Worse
If God looks at the heart, then we are all laid bare before the Lord at any given moment. He knows the real us. Better than anyone else. Better than ourselves. And to make matters worse, this One from whom we cannot hide is the One to whom we must give an account. In a world in which we carefully construct our platforms, our personas, our masks, that is a terrifying thought.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Thursday Evenings at All Hallows (Thursday, September 21, 2023) Is Now Online


Welcome to Thursday Evenings at All Hallows.

This coming Saturday, September 23, is the first day of Fall. It is the time of year for pumpkins, apple picking, and Fall festivals. All Hallows Eve and Hallowmas, the Feast of All Hallows, are only weeks away and Thanksgiving follows closely on their heels. The smoke from the tobacco barns is in the air here in western Kentucky. For the Christian all these things are a reminder of the far-flung fields and those closer to home in which God calls his Church to work and God’s bounty ripening there, ready for harvest.

Reading: Matthew 9: 35-38

Message: A Prayer for Harvest Workers


Please feel free to share this link with anyone who may be interested.

If you are new to Thursday Evenings at All Hallows, you may find these directions helpful:

-When you open the link to a video in a new tab, check auto-play to make sure it is in the off position. Otherwise, a second video with a different song will follow the first.

-If an ad plays when you open a link to a video in a new tab, click the refresh icon of your browser until the song appears.

-If a song begins partway through the video, click pause, move the slider to the beginning, and then click play.

-An ad may follow a song so as soon as the song is finished, close the tab.

May Thursday Evenings at All Hallows be a blessing to you.

Thursday's Catch: 'Reach a Whole Region' And More

Every time multiple churches are planted within a geographical area, a local network is naturally formed. Networks, in turn, lead to greater levels of multiplication, because networks mean strength in numbers, shared common goals and pooled resources.
Among the reasons that the churches of some Anglican entities in the United States struggle is that they are few and far between. They lack the advantage of being a part of a regional network that shares common goals and pooled resources. They are largely on their own.
VOICES: Why Reformed Cessationists should not quote church history to support their position
Although it is common for my Calvinist, non-charismatic friends to point to church history in support of their cessationist position, it’s really a mistake for them to do so. A big mistake. Church history actually works against them.

The Key to Satan’s Winning Strategy
James Emory White explains how disbelief in Satan and belief in the paranormal play into the hands of the spiritual forces of evil.

5 Myths about Mental Illness
A number of myths surround mental illness. It is high time that we disabused ourselves of these myths.

Retaining Leaders in a Throw-Away Culture
When it comes to retaining group leaders at your church, you may be quick to affirm keeping them is a high priority. Here are next steps.
This article reminded me of one of my grandmother's favorite adages, "Waste not, want not." She and my grandfather had lived through World Wars I and II, the 1926 General Strike, and the Great Depression.
It’s Worth Saying Again: You Need Repetition
Trevi Wax draws to our attention how evangelicals in their desirefor sincerity and passion will "prioritize whatever is new, often at the expense of the old." As a result, they may go too far, "for repetition is one of the most formative elements of spiritual development."

Your Life vs. Your Lips: Which Demonstrates True Belief?
You can have all the right theology and still not enter the kingdom of heaven.

When a Friendship Falls Apart: Finding God’s Path for Healing, Forgiveness, and (Maybe) Help Letting Go
Even in the closest friendships, sometimes hurt happens. Misunderstanding. Distance. Disagreement. Even betrayal and deceit. Perhaps you have experienced this kind of anguish, this kind of brokenness, firsthand. The loss can be staggering, a blow not only to your happiness and way of life but also to your confidence and sense of identity. The pain may haunt you for years to come.

The PCA at 50: Essential Elements from the Past Will Guide the Future This article was adapted from an address originally presented at the 50th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America.

Open Doors warns 'America no longer the safe haven' for persecuted Christians it once was
International religious freedom advocacy groups released a joint report Wednesday warning that the number of persecuted Christians being resettled into the United States from countries where they face most persecution still hovers near historic lows even as much of society has regained a sense of normalcy after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Wednesday's Catch: 'Behind the Decline: Unraveling the Forgotten Reasons of Fading Neighborhood Churches' And More

Behind the Decline: Unraveling the Forgotten Reasons of Fading Neighborhood Churches
The white flight of churches was horrid, but it alone does not explain the decline of neighborhood churches. More was at play and is still affecting neighborhood churches.

Repurposing Your Space
As you look out on the landscape of your community from the perspective of your small church perch, you might have asked, “What can we do to help the community?” The one thing a faltering church typically has is space: empty classrooms, parking lots, education buildings, or offices. How can your local church leverage that area to help the community?

7 Ways to Help Your Church Engage in Hispanic Heritage Month
As churches celebrate Hispanic heritage, instead of merely committing to a single month, make it a year-round endeavor.

11 Tips for Prioritizing Family in the Never-Ending Work of Ministry
How can I balance ministry and family? It’s a question that burns in the hearts of a lot of pastors and ministry workers. Until Jesus returns, the work of ministry is never finished. There’s always another person to reach and another sermon to preach. If you let it, your ministry will overtake all of your time with your family.

4 Reasons Fitness Matters for Your Ministry
Lessons learned from Greg Stiers' "out-of-shape" days.

3 Habits Every Youth Leader Needs to Succeed
How to structure your life for long-lasting ministry impact.

Beware the Corrosive Quest for Respectability
Few things are worse for the individual Christian’s soul—and the broader Christian witness—than the quest for cultural acceptance. To consciously pursue credibility among the “cool” and applause from the cosmopolitan elite is, almost always, a step in the direction of theological compromise and spiritual atrophy.

Self Assessment: Are You Like Christ?
Here is Joe McKeever's list of ten signs–indicators, markers–that we are growing in Christ, that we are getting it right.

Does Evangelism Objectify People?
We live in an increasingly pluralistic society. Ironically, it tends to celebrate diverse religious views while criticizing attempts at religious conversion. Critics accuse evangelism of objectifying the people it seeks to convert. What should Christians make of this claim?

Riding a wave of converts, one group aims to fuse Orthodoxy with Southern values
At the group’s inaugural event, the majority of attendees appeared to represent the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, though few were ‘cradle’ Orthodox Christians.
The Russian Orthodox Church has close ties to Moscow, the Kremlin and the Russian government. It is not surprising to find supposedly semi-autonomous part of the Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia promoting pro-Russian views among a disaffected segment of the US population, which is already pro-Russian in its leanings.
Episcopal Church lost over 90K members in 2022, but worship attendance increased: report
The Episcopal Church saw a decline of over 90,000 members in 2022, but also witnessed a considerable increase in Sunday worship attendance, according to a new report.

Evangelical Christian numbers on the rise in Spain
An update from the Observatory of Religious Pluralism in Spain has shone a light on the changing face of religious belief in the European nation, revealing some of the challenges and opportunities facing Christians in the traditionally Catholic country.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Tuesday's Catch: '4 essentials to leading change in a rural church context' And More

4 essentials to leading change in a rural church context
This article is an excerpt from the book Four Essentials - Leading Effective Change in a Rural Church Context.

7 Encouraging Trends in Global Christianity for 2023
Even if many U.S. churches are facing challenges, global Christianity is advancing in ways previous generations could have only imagined.

What Does It Mean to Love Your Neighbor?
...are there any limits on the ways that Christians should pursue relationships with nonbelievers?

Living into Baptism through Diakonia
A article on the diaconate from a United Methodist perspectve. In the United Methodist Church the diaconate is a lay order.

5 Qualities to Seek in the Heart of a Leader
The heart of a leader is more important than any other characteristic.

All About That Tenor: Why Men Don’t Sing in Worship
Music experts say we don't need more "manly songs," but we do need to help lower voices find their place.
If you do not have a CT subscription, you can read this article by copying the page and then pasting it in a Word document.
It Will Be Well – PDF’s & Postcards From 700 Years Ago
Free post card ad Instagram images to use to encourage congregatios and frieds.

Reaching Gen Z Students Before They Graduate can we as Christ-followers individually, and our churches corporately, begin to reach the Gen Z teens where we are? Here are seven steps you can take to make an impact and shift the tide of a generation back to Jesus.

7 Tips for Leading Small Group Worship
The two most significant barriers to having meaningful worship in small groups are musical leadership and the misconception that worship is synonymous with music. Biblical worship is, of course, more than music and is not synonymous with it (see Romans 12).

Disciples of Christ lost one-fifth of its membership from 2019-2022: report
The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has lost about one-fifth of its members from 2019 to 2022 as the mainline Protestant denomination's membership is only a fraction of what it was in 2000, according to a new report.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Monday's Catch: 'Four Reasons Why Church Giving Is Up While Attendance Is Down' And More

In the midst of significant challenging news for churches, the level of giving remains remarkable. What is taking place? How is giving increasing while attendanceThese attitudes and commitments are vital for any worship team! Each has a corresponding question we can all ask of ourselves that will keep the culture of our worship teams healthy and thriving!
continues to decline? As we work with churches across America, we see four compelling reasons.
On the other hand, research on giving and declining churches done in the last century found that declining churches frequently experience a period of increase giving. This increased giving, however, is a common reaction to declining membership and attendance figures and not evidence of a rebound or a healthy church.
Combating Abuse Is Central to the Mission of the Church
Seeking to pay careful attention to the sexual abuse issue is not a distraction from the gospel mission of the church.

Signing On do you experience the rewards of the new community? By joining one!

Why do I still go to church? It’s a good question.
There's more to it than community or spirituality or even wanting to raise my kids right.

5 Life Changing Things You Can’t Do In A Hurry
Escaping the tyranny of hurry requires an intentional cultivation of margin and the discipline to use that time wisely.

10 Attitudes And Commitments Of A Healthy Worship Team
These attitudes and commitments are vital for any worship team! Each has a corresponding question we can all ask of ourselves that will keep the culture of our worship teams healthy and thriving!

Public Pulpit Prayers can you prepare for public prayer?

PRAY For One Another And Watch God Do AMAZING Things!
When we pray for others, we’re asking our all-powerful God to take action. We’re asking God to do what we can’t. Praying for others should be our first action, not our last resort!

Bringing up children in a post-Christian world
...millions of Christian parents have themselves not been adequately discipled in their faith, and as a result haven't a clue how to pass the faith onto their children. Parents either do a bad job or just desert the field all together and leave the education of their children up to others – whether schools, media, youth groups or Sunday schools.

How Can I Respond to Coworkers Who Think Christianity Is Bigoted? should we respond to coworkers who’ve taken offense not over our own actions but over those of other Christians?

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Sundays at All Hallows (Sunday, September 17, 2023) Is Now Online

Welcome to Sundays at All Hallows.

In J. K. Rowling's fantasy novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the "deathly hallows" are three powerful magical objects. But "hallow" also has other meaning from the one used in Rowling's novel. We find it used in the Lord's Prayer, "...hallowed be thy name...," we pray, "... holy is your name."

In "All Hallows," "hallow" is an old English way of saying "saint" or "holy one," and refers to those who in the words of the apostle Peter have been called out of darkness into God's marvelous light to proclaim God's goodness. In other words, all who are followers of Jesus Christ.

We celebrate Halloween, the eve of the feast of All Hallows, or Hallowmas, on October 31st and the Feast of All Hallows on November 1st every year.

Readings: Genesis 50:15–21, Romans 14:1–12, and Matthew 18:21–35

Message: The Teachings of Jesus: Forgiveness


Please feel free to share this link with anyone who may be interested.

If you are new to Sundays at All Hallows, you may find these directions helpful:

-When you open the link to a video in a new tab, check auto-play to make sure it is in the off position. Otherwise, a second video with a different song will follow the first.

-If an ad plays when you open a link to a video in a new tab, click the refresh icon of your browser until the song appears.

-If a song begins partway through the video, click pause, move the slider to the beginning, and then click play.

-An ad may follow a song so as soon as the song is finished, close the tab.

May Sundays at All Hallows be a blessing to you.

Saturday Lagniappe: 'Keeping Our Eyes on the Mission in Divided Times' And More

What may be the greatest challenge for US Christians in this century is getting and staying focused on the Great Commission. US Christians appear to be quite open to letting other things distract them from the chief task our Lord entrusted to his discples.

Embracing the Risk of Being Bold for Christ
Everything in life involves some risk.

Is Yours an Equipped Church?
Church leaders who claim to be serious about leading a disciple-making church aren’t going to get very far with such a claim if their flock isn’t equipped. But the equipping of the saints for ministry is one of the greatest failures among church leaders today.

7 Things that Happen when Church Leaders Don’t Pray Much
Here are some things that happen, though, when we church leaders don’t pray much....

6 Simple Strategies That Help Me Pray More
Here are some more practical ways that help Chuck Lawless. Maybe one of these ways will help you, too....

Survey: Mainline clergy are more liberal than their congregants
Mainline clergy are more supportive than their congregants of LGBTQ rights, more likely to have opposed the overturn of Roe v. Wade and less likely to believe America is in danger of losing its culture and identity.

Survey Shows Political Divides Between Mainline Clergy and Churchgoers
A new national survey report provides insight into the ways mainline Protestant clergy are politically distinct from white mainline Protestant churchgoers. The report, “Clergy and Congregations in a Time of Transformation,” considers the perspectives of more than 3,000 mainline Protestant clergy from the seven largest mainline Protestant denominations on the cultural and political divides facing the nation, and how such divides are impacting their own congregations.

The latest US Census figures show the harm done by letting poverty programs expire
The success of COVID-era programs followed by an immediate reversal after they ended makes clear that the persistence of poverty is a political choice.