When finally given the opportunity to simply attend, and not preside or preach at a given church on Sunday, two notable Christian leaders found out just how difficult it was to fit into and connect to a new church today.
Having no current pastoral obligations, Geoff and Sherry Surratt, who have both served extensively at churches like Seacoast and Saddleback, visited over the past few months nine different churches, attending as anonymous visitors.
"It has been an eye-opening experience," Geoff Surratt shared on ChurchLeaders.com. Discovering firsthand the obstacles of connecting with a new church, the former Seacoast Church executive pastor shared a few pointers on how to "make your church stickier" and retain visitors. more >>
Atheist groups are targeting African-American communities by asking them to think about leaving their church during Black History Month – but a number of pastors and scholars are saying that is not going to happen any time soon.
National ad campaigns launched by atheist organizations have been growing in regularity in the U.S., but a new initiative by African-Americans for Humanism (AAH) is targeting black Americans in particular who have historically been strongly linked with religion.
"A lot of people think there's one black experience. A lot of people think that if someone's black it means that they're religious. So we want to be able to show people that that's not true, that there are non-religious people out there," said Debbie Goddard, director of AAH, referring to the billboards asking "Doubts about religion? You're one of many." The billboards feature images of famous historical black freethinkers alongside photos of a contemporary black atheist leader. more >>
Prominent media coverage of many of the nation's leading Christian pastors often places their lives and actions under the public microscope. From Joel Osteen's recent CNN interview, to last week's Elephant Room conferences, the very public lives of the country's top religious leaders frequently bring strong criticism. With many of these pastors leading churches with exploding congregations, and with many having best-selling books, one of the most vulnerable areas for criticism for them stems from their finances.
A recent article by The Huffington Post highlighted this issue, and it was claimed that the best paid pastors in America can receive hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars each year.
However, looking at the clergy jobs in America as a whole reveals they are layered like much of the rest of the country – only a select few pastors take in a large annual income; but those who do tend to contribute hugely to a wide range of charities and community outreach efforts. more >>
Compared to other religious groups in the U.S., mainline denominations had the slowest growth rate with only 19 percent of their congregations reporting growth between 2005 and 2010, according to a researcher from The Episcopal Church.
By contrast, conservative Protestant churches had the highest growth rate at 43 percent, followed by non-Christian congregations with 33 percent.
C. Kirk Hardaway, Congregational Research Officer for the Episcopal Church and chairman of the research task force for the Cooperative Congregational Studies Partnership, presented the findings on Tuesday. more >>
Two years after a devastating earthquake killed an estimated 300,000 people in Haiti, Christianity is fast replacing Voodoo in the lives and practices of the people, a missionary has revealed.
According to the Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook, there is a fusion of beliefs in Haiti – 80 percent of people profess to be Catholic, and another 16 percent are Protestant yet roughly half of the population still practices Voodoo.
However, it is no secret that Christianity has been expanding as a religion in Haiti – and a host of Christian missionaries and charity organizations who flew to the Caribbean nation to help the millions in desperate need have also contributed to a large conversion movement. more >>
The greatest evangelical impact Christians can take part in is to plant new churches, say leaders at the Acts 29 Network, an organization aimed at facilitating a global church planting movement.
Pastor Scott Thomas, who is the president of the group and lead pastor of church planting at Seattle-based Mars Hill Church, recently re-published an article by pastor and bestselling author Tim Keller on the subject.
Keller, who leads Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, published his thoughts about the importance of starting other churches 10 years ago. His article was condensed in a post last week titled, "Why Church Planting?" on Acts29Network.org. more >>