I would have never expected the response to a topic that seemed so innocuous. On this blog many people were very vocal that they really didn't like the stand-and-greet time during the worship services.
To be fair, there were some defenders of this practice. I was able to segment the hundreds of responses into three groups.Guests: Overwhelmingly, guests do not like stand-and-greet. Very few indicated they did. Church members who are strong extroverts. This group tended to be the vocal supporters of stand-and-greet. They really like speaking to both strangers and acquaintances. The rest of the church members. The majority of the church members did not like the practice. It is the time of the worship service they dread.
So almost all of the guests do not like the stand-and-greet time, and the majority of the church members agree with them. As a consequence, many churches have dispensed with this practice. more >>
J.D. Greear, lead pastor of Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, has been noted for taking a 300-member church and growing the congregation to more than 9,000, making it one of the 100 fastest-growing churches in the U.S. So perhaps Greear can afford to say that pastors should stop their obsession with "gathering and counting" and instead get excited about the possible impact of "raising up and sending out" their members.
But what the North Carolina pastor suggests is not exactly revolutionary, as he points to the nearly 2,000-year-old command of Jesus for his believers to "go and make disciples of all nations," the basis of what Christians call the Great Commission, found in Matthew 28:16-20.
Another passage Greear points to is John 14:12. more >>
Christianity is said to be on the decline in the United States, according to a Pew Research survey, and 2 billion people around the world still haven't heard the name of Jesus Christ, according to David Platt, president of the International Mission Board, an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention.
At a time when more people are said to be turning away from faith, one group of believers has developed a new, innovative way of spreading the Gospel to ultimately propel people closer to God, and it seems to be working.
Socality has been described by its founder as a "new form of evangelism" and a movement that is "committed to creating spaces of belonging online and turning these into real life transactions." To put it simply, Socality connects believers and non-believers alike, mostly via social networking sites like Twitter and Instagram, for the purpose of bringing them closer to faith. more >>
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 >>
Christians in India marked the seventh anniversary of the Orissa attacks on Monday, praying for close to 100 Christians who were massacred by Hindu extremists who were pressuring them to convert. An Archbishop has said the faith of Orissa's Christians has grown stronger in the face of persecution.
The Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, His Exc. Mgr. John Barwa SVD, told Fides News Agency that Christians "gather in prayer for the victims, reiterating, all together, our common commitment to promoting peace, justice and hope. The faith of Christians in Orissa has become stronger in the face of persecution."
The major attacks on August 31, 2008, in Orissa also left close to 56,000 Christians homeless after 300 churches and 6,000 homes were raided and looted. The Hindu mob reportedly organized against Christians who they accused of converting Indians to Christianity. more >>
With the rise of Christian persecution at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party over the past year, Chinese Christians are starting to speak out after many have been arrested for defending church crosses from forceful government removal.
"At least nine people I know have been taken away by the police and that figure is still rising," an unnamed church leader in the eastern province of Zhejiang told The Guardian on Thursday.
"We think it is a campaign targeting church leaders across the province. It can only be a co-ordinated action initiated by the provincial government." more >>