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 >>
An alleged Ponzi schemer who was once endorsed by Bishop Eddie Long has been arrested by federal authorities in Missouri.
Ephren Taylor, formerly a financial advisor to megachurch congregations like Long's New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia, surrendered to authorities in Kansas City on Tuesday.
Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas, led by Pastor Ed Young, has launched a 90-Day Challenge, encouraging members of the multi-campus megachurch to put God to the test by "bringing (their) tithes and offerings to the House."
"Each of us has a unique opportunity to be a part of the incredible life change happening around us at Fellowship Church by bringing our tithes and offerings to the House," reads a description of the 90-Day Challenge. "If you are not tithing already, the 90-Day Challenge is the best place to start. We commit to you that if you tithe for 90 days and God doesn't hold true to his promise of blessings, we will refund 100 percent of your tithe."
The campaign, tied to a sermon series titled, "The Tipping Point," references Malachi 3:10 in the New Living Translation: "'Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,' says the LORD of Heaven's Armies, 'I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won't have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!'" 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 >>
NEW YORK — Joel Osteen invited more than a dozen area pastors, such as A.R. Bernard, Carl Lentz and Hezekiah Walker, to join him on stage to declare God's blessings over the thousands in attendance this weekend at his "America's Night of Hope" event at Yankee Stadium in New York City.
"You know, we believe it makes a difference to speak words of faith and speak words of victory, so I'll ask some of the great pastors of the New York area to join me tonight…" Osteen explained to a cheering audience. "I've asked them to take a moment to just make a declaration by faith over our schools, over our government, over our firefighters, our police force, teachers, nurses, everything about the city, and not only that but about your life as well."
Each minister then took the mic for a minute or two and stated their declaration before handing it off to the next pastor. The leaders represent congregations from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, with all but one of them members of Lakewood Church's Champions Network, a national network that helps Christians find churches in their area (read about the network here). Hillsong NYC Pastor Carl Lentz, currently not listed in the Champions Network, was included in the declaration lineup Saturday night, although his name did not appear in the printed program. more >>
NEW YORK — Victoria Osteen, one-half of the dynamic duo in charge of America's fastest growing megachurch, was far from her Houston, Texas, base on Thursday when she, along with volunteers from Lakewood Church and its service-oriented Generation Hope Project, made an appearance at the Bronx Zoo. She was there, amid a brief period of rain, to visit with about 250 local school children, some of whom were in hysterics when they spotted the petite blond otherwise known as Mrs. Joel Osteen.
Amid squeals of "Victoria!" and whispered observations of "she's so pretty," Mrs. Osteen greeted the Generation Hope Project volunteers manning check-in tables, shook hands with Wildlife Conservation Society officials (in charge of New York City's five zoos), and spent a few minutes with local media, while Lakewood's in-house crew captured it all on film.
However, Osteen spent most of her time under a canopy not far from the main entrance embracing and sharing laughs with the kids, a mixed bunch of predominantly teens and pre-teens, some of whom were clad in their school uniforms. more >>