Trend prediction is both an art and a science. It is a science in the sense that I utilize the good objective research of credible research organizations like LifeWay Research and others. It is an art in that I depend on observations, anecdotal information, and ongoing interaction with church leaders and members.
At the beginning of every year, I attempt to present to you the major trends for congregations for the coming twelve months. I review my predictions from previous years to see how accurate I am. I have come to two conclusions. First, I am far from perfect in my predictions. Second, I do have a decent track record.
Some of my trends are called "tipping points." Formally defined, a tipping point is the critical moment in an evolving situation that leads to a new and somewhat permanent reality. In simple terms, a tipping point here means that something has changed in our churches to the point that it appears to be permanent. more >>
WASHINGTON – Last year saw the highest level of persecution of Christians the world has seen since the fall of the Soviet Union, according to a report by a Christian persecution watchdog group released Wednesday.
Open Doors USA highlighted that in the 24 years that Open Doors has been tracking numbers on global persecution, 2014 was the most violent year of Christian persecution and was far worse than the year before.
"Perhaps most chilling is the fact that all the factors, all of the issues that made this a violent year for Christian persecution are still in place," said David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors, at the press conference. more >>
A Pennsylvania pastor who struggles with same-sex attraction has come forward to talk about his marriage to his longtime friend and wife who says their challenges are no different that every other married couple.
Allan Edwards, a pastor at Kiski Valley Presbyterian Church in Leechburg, married his wife, Leanne, who he met at a Christian summer camp. The couple is now expecting a baby in July, and despite having feelings for men, Edwards insists that he's happily married.
"It was a pretty immediate realization that it [his attraction to the same sex] was in conflict with my faith," Edwards told NPR in a report that was broadcast on Sunday. "I didn't know anyone else who experienced same-sex attractions, so I didn't talk about it much at all." However, he did find acceptance at one of the places he least expected it — a small, Christian liberal arts college. more >>
A baby Jesus statue was stolen from a Nativity at a New Jersey church for the fourth time in the last five years on Saturday.
The baby was taken from Saint Stanislaus Kostka Church in Sayreville, New Jersey, and was captured on video. It occurred around 8:20 p.m. Saturday night, according to the video which the church hopes to use to catch the vandals and have the prop which costs around $100 returned.
"Our Nativity is very close to the road and we actually had video surveillance that we had installed because of the multiple times [the baby Jesus] has been stolen and it looks like it's a prank," said Deacon David Mikolai, who serves at Saint Stanislaus, to The Christian Post. "It looks like there's two guys that just for the novelty they're [stealing] it, I have no idea why." more >>
Episcopal Church of Maryland Bishop Heather Cook, 58, may have been too shocked to check if she really hit a cyclist in an incident that claimed the life of 41-year-old married father of two, Thomas Palermo, on a Baltimore roadway on Dec. 27, according to a conversation she had with a clergyman shortly after the tragedy occurred.
Her shock after the incident was highlighted in a statement from the church after a closed door meeting with more than 100 Episcopal clergy at the Claggett Center in Buckeystown, Maryland, on Tuesday.
According to the statement, Rev. Scott Slater, chief assistant to Diocesan Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton who fielded a call from Cook immediately after the incident and later joined her at the scene, addressed the clergy and fielded questions from them to take back answers to their concerned parishioners. more >>
Nine members of the School of Theology at the University of the South in Tennessee are visiting the Episcopal Cathedral of Havana, Cuba, this week as part of a religious venture.
The Rev. Donna Mote, who's known as the Vicar of ATL for her work as an airport chaplain, is one among a nine-member delegation that will be in Cuba through Saturday, which will be the fourth trip that a delegation from the School of Theology has made to Cuba and the Episcopal seminary there.
"It's been a strange experience to always have to get permission, through a license through the Department of the Treasury in order to travel because of our economic embargo," Mote told Atlanta's NBC affiliate11-Alve news on Sunday. more >>