Research has shown over the last few years an increase in the number of atheists as well as an increase in the number of religiously-unaffiliated Americans, a sign to some that Christianity is on the decline. However, others argue that the number of convictional Christians, compared to the number of cultural Christians, remains stable. But how long will that stability last? And how can Christians remain relevant and authentic witnesses in an ever-increasing post-Christian America?
Tony Evans, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, and president of The Urban Alternative, recently took on this issue in an interview with The Christian Post.
His suggestions? more >>
Last month, Southern Baptists reported its seventh straight year of declining numbers. Yet, even as the largest American Protestant denomination, along with many other Mainline denominations, continue to lose members, the charismatic Assembles of God has experienced its 24th year of attendance growth in the United States.
The Pentecostal denomination, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, reported an uptick of just over 30,000 in attendance from 2012 to 2013, bringing their total number of adherents to 3.1 million, up from 3.09 million.
According to reports from the AG National Leadership & Resource Center, in 2013 in the United States, 137,373 "water baptisms" and 83,731 "Holy Spirit baptisms" were recorded. These numbers were up from 131,713 and 81,345 respectively. The 2013 figure surpassed the previously highest number of "water baptisms," which was recorded as 131,935. "Holy Spirit Baptisms," on the other hand, were within several thousand of the past five years and roughly 2,000 more than 2012 figures. (The AG defines "Holy Spirit Baptisms" as when an individual speaks in tongues.) more >>
North Point Community Church lead pastor Andy Stanley clarified to The Christian Post about tweets he made earlier in the week that appeared to be criticism of Southern Baptist Convention leaders calling for a spiritual revival, explaining that he was talking about local revival rather than a Great Awakening-style revival.
On Tuesday, Stanley tweeted,"Instead of praying for revival leaders of the SBC should go spend three weeks with @perrynoble Why pray for one when you can go watch one." "Praying for revival equates to blaming God for the condition of your local church." "Why not call the Church to pray for the things Jesus & New Testament writers prayed for? Why add Revival to the list?""Churches that need reviving most are the very churches that resist it most."
Stanley conceded that the conversation spiraled beyond what he had intended it to be after he and others began diverging on what they meant by "revival." more >>
The number of very large churches continues to increase, as our graphic dramatically illustrates. And within that group, the biggest churches continue to get bigger. In the past I've written about everything from sanctuary sizes (very few new ones over 5,000) to the first megachurch (start with Pentecost when "about 3,000" were converted, per Acts 2:41) to global megachurches (Korea and Nigeria are currently leading).
But what about the people who attend really big churches? Fellow researcher Scott Thumma and I surveyed some 25,000 of them, with some fascinating discoveries:Nearly two-thirds of attenders have been at these churches 5 years or less. Many attenders come from other churches, but nearly a quarter haven't been in any church for a long time before coming to a megachurch. New people almost always come to the megachurch because family, friends or coworkers invited them. Fifty-five percent of megachurch attenders volunteer at the church in some way (a higher percentage than in smaller churches). What first attracted attenders were the worship style, the senior pastor and the church's reputation, in that order. These same factors also influenced long-term attendance, as did the music/arts, social and community outreach, and adult-oriented programs. Attenders report a considerable increase in their involvement in church, in their spiritual growth, and in their needs being met. Attenders can craft unique, customized spiritual experiences through the multitude of ministry choices and diverse avenues for involvement that megachurches offer. In many ways, large churches today are making good progress in reaching people and moving them from spectators to active participants to growing disciples of Jesus Christ.
For more interesting facts about people who attend megachurches, download the free report Not Who You Think They Are: The Real Story of People Who Attend America's Megachurches. more >>
BALTIMORE – Southern Baptists say that unlike other church bodies, their denomination will not waver on its stance on gay marriage or be harmed by debate on the issue.
In a panel discussion Tuesday at the Southern Baptist Convention's two-day annual meeting, a group of Southern Baptist leaders, including Dr. Albert Mohler, stated that the SBC should maintain their opposition to homosexuality and gay marriage.
Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told The Christian Post that the "Southern Baptist Convention has this clearly as a matter of conviction; it was put into our confession of faith as revised in just the year 2000." more >>
An annual Holy Spirit-centered interdenominational movement called Empowered21 was underway this week in Georgia and being hosted by an Assemblies of God leader who believes that young people are hungry for the supernatural, but have been seeking it in the wrong places.
Alton Garrison serves as the assistant general superintendent of The General Council of the Assemblies of God, a Pentecostal denomination that counts more than 66,000,000 adherents worldwide with about three million of them living in the United States, based on 2012 statistics. He, along with pastors Greg Surratt and Rich Wilkerson, are co-hosts of this year's Empowered21 U.S.A. Congress.
Empowermed21's stated purpose is to "unite the global Spirit-filled movement together intergenerationally for the purpose of seeking a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the 21st century." The movement's vision "is that every person on Earth would have an authentic encounter with Jesus Christ through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit by Pentecost 2033." more >>