A married pastor and father of three from Ohio who was about to lose his job after confessing to an affair with a member of his flock earlier this month, reportedly took his own life on Friday inside the church-owned parsonage where he lived with his wife and three children.
The Rev. Seth Oiler, 42, of First United Methodist Church, died by suicide inside the parsonage on Friday morning, according to the Newark Advocate. The report noted that the church had sent a letter to the congregation earlier this month informing them that Oiler had been placed on leave after confessing to the affair.
"The bishop (Gregory Palmer) requested a meeting with Seth at which time Seth freely confessed to sexual misconduct with an adult in the congregation. Seth requested a voluntary leave of absence. He agreed with the bishop that stepping aside from his current appointment at First United Methodist Church was best in order to provide a time of counseling for himself and his family," said Lisa Streight, communications director for the West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church, in a statement to the Newark Advocate late Tuesday. more >>
There has been considerable discussion on the Pew Research Center's new report titled, "America's Changing Religious Landscape." The conclusions of the report certainly seem troubling: Christians are declining as a share of the U.S. population, while those unaffiliated with any faith tradition continue to grow. The report shows that since 2007, Catholicism has seen a 3.1 percent decline, as Catholics decrease from 23.9 percent of the American population to 20.8 percent. Even more worrisome, another recent study on American adolescents' religious orientation, shows that the losses to the Christian faith are especially pronounced among our young people. This report states, "In just the 13 years between 2000 and 2013, 87 percent more college students chose no religious affiliation."
So what's next? Is Christianity dying a slow and painful death in America?
Hang on for a moment before jumping to any doomsday scenarios. more >>
A conservative Presbyterian church that was founded in 2012 in response to the growing theological liberalism of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has reached its 200th member congregation.
The Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians gained congregation number 200 when First Presbyterian Church of Griffin, Georgia, joined the denomination earlier this month, following a unanimous vote.
"We have planned for it. We have dreamed about it. The hardest part has been waiting, but the wait is almost over," noted First Presbyterian in their May newsletter. "It will bring deep satisfaction to move into this next chapter together. It will also bring rest. And the truth is, we need both." more >>
There is an ongoing silent migration away from the church of an estimated 3,500 individuals each and every day. A 2014 study indicated that over 1.2 million people will leave the church in the next year. Several factors are contributing to this trend, but the majority of individuals who are leaving the church report that they no longer feel connected. Can this be reversed? Can the church connect with these people before it is to late?
This movement away from the church has been ongoing for several decades. The number of churches that are closing their doors every year is leading to an overall decline in church attendance. In 2015, it is estimated that over 10,000 churches will close their doors. This has lead to a growing host of Christians who no longer have a place to connect with other believers. In fact, The Barna Group reports that the average size of a church congregation in America is just 89 adults. That means for each church door that closes, almost 100 people are left without a spiritual home.
When asked about the importance of church in their lives, 80% of 14-33 year olds reported that church was 'not important' to them. Millennials, as they are often called, have very different preferences of what church should look like compared to their parents. Millennials prefer worship spaces that are quiet and decorated in a classic style. They prefer casual dress and a sense of community over privacy. Clint Jenkin with the Barna Group says, "Millennials don't look for a church facility that caters to the whims of pop culture. They want a community that calls them to deeper meaning." In short, churches do not need to create ultra modern worship spaces to connect with young people, but rather create an environment that engages and inspires. more >>
Hillsong UNITED's new album Empires released this week with a message for Christians to "be building, speaking and living for the unseen aspects of God's kingdom," according to frontman Joel Houston.
Empires is Hillsong UNITED's first album release since Zion, their fastest-selling album to date. Houston, who leads Hillsong's famed worship band as well as Hillsong NYC, told The Christian Post that the album addresses two worlds — the "image-obsessed" world we live in and the mysterious kingdom we cannot see.
"We are in this world and also we're of a different world as well, so it's playing on that sense of duality that exists," Houston explained. "It applies to everything. I'm in New York and I look at the buildings, I look at everything in front of me, every single person walking the street, at the thousands of people in city, [and] they are physical bodies and spiritual bodies — two things going on at once." more >>
Not many Christians know what they're talking about when they discuss racial reconciliation and their reliance on the modern social construct of "race," as opposed to the Bible's approach to the term, which leads to an "incomplete Gospel" and underestimation of the pervasiveness of racism, according to a New Testament scholar.
"I think when we in the Christian community, when you listen to a lot of folks talk about ... when they actually talk about racial reconciliation, I'm not convinced that many know what they're talking about," said Jarvis J. Williams, associate professor of New Testament interpretation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. "There's a sense of confusion about what race is, in terms of the modern social construction of race and how race functioned in the biblical word."
He suggested that the "typical evangelical Protestant Christian" thinks the Gospel is limited to how one becomes a Christian. "And I'd be the first to say, 'Certainly, that's the foundation of what we find in the New Testament.' How does one become right with God, trusting Christ by faith, believe that God offered Jesus to die on the cross for our sins and He raised Him up from the dead. But the Gospel is not only that. It is that, but it's more," Williams insisted. more >>