Statistics compiled from churches belonging to Southern Baptist Convention for the association's Annual Church Profile for last year show declining numbers in several key areas, including membership, average attendance, baptisms and total monetary giving. Despite some positive news shown by an increase in the amount of membership churches, SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page expressed his discouragement.
"When I first heard the report of our ACP, I said, 'God forgive us and God help us.' We are thankful for every person won to Christ and every person enrolled in Bible study and discipleship and involved in missions," said Page, as reported in a Baptist Press article by the communications director for LifeWay Christian Resources.
"We are thankful for the millions who are a part of worship in our Southern Baptist churches," he said. "However, my heart breaks when we realize the overall decline in our numbers." more >>
The number of churches that were dismissed from Presbyterian Church (USA) last year has increased by fivefold compared to 2011, says a recently released report.
According to statistics released Thursday by the Office of the General Assembly for PC(USA), 110 congregations were granted dismissal in 2012 in order to join other denominations; in 2011, the reported number was only 21. In 2010, at the 219th General Assembly of PC (USA), a majority of presbyteries, or regional bodies, voted to approve Amendment 10a, which lets presbyteries allow for the ordination of openly homosexual clergy. Because of this amendment, many conservative congregations in PC (USA) decided to pursue dismissal from the mainline denomination, usually for more conservative Presbyterian sects.
Emily Enders Odom, communications coordinator for the OGA of PC(USA), talked about the issue of dismissal within the denomination in a press release sent out on Thursday. Odom noted that most of the mainline protestant denomination did not experience these dismissals. "Even as congregations and their respective presbyteries faithfully, although often painfully, sought to discern their denominational affiliation in serving Christ's mission…only 29 percent of the denomination's 173 presbyteries dismissed churches in 2012," said Odom. more >>
Christian broadcaster SAT-7, which transmits programs to the Middle East and North Africa, recently launched its own YouTube Live channel, dramatically expanding its evangelistic reach by use of the latest technology, the media organization announced this week.
YouTube Live broadcasting is free and will increase the reach of SAT-7 ARABIC broadcasts exponentially, say SAT-7 officials. "Arabic-speakers who live outside of the satellite footprints of SAT-7 channels now have yet another and better way to watch major events live on Android and iOS smart phones, iPads, tablets, computers, laptops, and smart TVs. This is especially important for a large community of Arabic-speakers living in the United States and Canada," the organization states.
Earlier this month, the SAT-7 ARABIC channel on YouTube (both live and videotaped) reached a milestone when it exceeded 10 million views since its creation in 2008. The milestone was achieved the day Orthodox Christians celebrated Easter on May 5. more >>
Pastor Derwin L. Gray of Transformation Church in Indian Land, S.C., is one of a growing number of Christian leaders in America who want to see churches do a better job of teaching discipleship in order to develop multi-ethnic congregations. The former NFL linebacker said that a key to helping Christians mature within churches that are struggling is to model after the ethnically diverse churches of the first century.
"As a pastor of an intentional, Gospel-centered, multi-ethnic church, the biggest problem is getting our people to believe that the Gospel of Grace is really as wonderfull as it is," Gray told The Christian Post via email. "Because we are ethnically, socially, economically, and generationally diverse, we are constantly teaching our people that at the heart of the Gospel, is servanthood."
He believes Christians should ask, "How can we embrace one another and learn from one another just like ethnically diverse churches of the 1st Century?" Adding, "Unity in the midst of diversity is simply breath-taking and a powerful witness to the unbelieving world." more >>
Three brothers from Oklahoma won the Game Show Network's "American Bible Challenge" that broadcasted Thursday night, and will donate their entire winnings of $140,000 to their family's ministry, Wagner International Ministries.
The Wagner brothers – Joshua, 23, Jesse, 21, and Daniel, 19 – said growing up in the family's ministry and training for the Assemblies of God Bible Quiz prepared them well. "All of us have memorized books of the Bible," Jesse told The Christian Post on Friday. "I have memorized 11 books, Josh has memorized 9, and Daniel, 14." Jesse said he has memorized many of Paul's epistles, the Gospels of Mark and John, and the book of Acts, as well.
"My favorite book to memorize was the Gospel of John. That's always been my favorite Gospel," Jesse said. more >>
Dick McClain, the president of The Mission Society, will be retiring in March 2014.
Joining the organization in 1986, he became president in 2009 and is currently the longest tenured member of staff.
McClain was born into a missions family in China and was raised in India and Hong Kong before going on to seminary and eventually pastoring young churches. more >>