The conversation was both predictable and profound. It was predictable because I have been asked a similar question many times. It was profound because it represents the very nature of the challenges our congregations face today. "Thom," he began. "I have been serving as pastor of my church for over 20 years. I have never had more difficulty leading growth in a church. What is going on?"
My pastor friend emphasized two points clearly. First, he was not looking for an excuse for the lack of growth. Second, he wanted information so he could address the issue.
The pastor was right. Growth is indeed more difficult today in American congregations. And there are some clear reasons why this reality is true. more >>
The United Methodist Church will soon implement changes to its employee insurance coverage that will increase out-of-pocket expenses due to the Affordable Care Act.
In late August the Board of Directors for the UMC General Council on Finance and Administration agreed to revise the insurance coverage for bishops and general church employees.
As the Mainline denomination Evangelical Lutheran Church in America continues to wrestle with declining membership, one of its congregations is experiencing rapid growth.
Lutheran Church of Hope, an Iowa-based multi-site Lutheran megachurch boasting tens of thousands of members, continues to increase its size and scope.
Less than a year after being founded, the Waukee satellite congregation of Lutheran Church of Hope, the newest of five sites for the megachurch, will be moving into the building currently owned by a church called Point of Grace in early October. more >>
David Platt, the International Mission Board president for the Southern Baptist Convention, has penned an open letter to address cuts in funding to missions worldwide due to financial shortfalls.
Platt said that the IMB plans to cut between 600-800 missionaries around the world over the next six months.
"This is certainly not an announcement that I, in any way, wanted to make," Platt wrote. "At the most recent meeting of the SBC in Columbus, I shared with messengers how IMB spent tens of millions more dollars than we received last year. In our budgeting process over the last couple of months, other leaders and I have recognized that we will have a similar shortfall this year, and we are projecting another shortfall of like magnitude next year." more >>
Iranian Muslims seeking asylum in Germany are reportedly converting to Christianity at a high rate, and one Berlin church has seen its membership jump from 150 to 600 in a short time, with most of its new members being Muslim converts.
These new believers have been baptized in the name of Jesus Christ and wish to never return to their home country to the intense persecution from radical groups like Islamic State.
Becoming a Christian also helps migrants' and refugees' chances of staying in Germany, but the pastor of the booming Berlin church isn't worried about the motives behind the conversions. more >>
Pope Francis has urged every Catholic parish and religious community in Europe to take in at least one refugee family and help Europe with its migrant crisis, noting that the Vatican would take two families itself. With hundreds of thousands of refugees making their way toward Western Europe, countries such as Germany and Austria are said to be near the "tipping point" of how much they can help.
"May every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every sanctuary of Europe, take in one family" Francis told the crowds at St. Peter's Square on Sunday.
"Before the tragedy of tens of thousands of refugees fleeing death in conflict and hunger and are on a journey of hope, the Gospel calls us to be close to the smallest and to those who have been abandoned," he added, according to Vatican Radio. more >>