Brittany Smith

Christian Post Reporter

Bless Friday: Houston Churches Offer Black Friday Alternative

Black Friday may officially kick off the Christmas shopping season in many people’s minds, but for some in Houston, Texas, it also means a day of service and a time to help those in need. This year, eight local churches are providing an alternative to the frenzied Christmas shopping occurring on the day after Thanksgiving through a project called Bless Friday.

'One Day's Wages' Fights Poverty, 2 Years On

When Eugene Cho went to visit the country of Burma, he spent time traveling and visiting schools in the area. It was there he discovered, to his shock, the salary of a school teacher in those small towns and villages was roughly $40 a year.

The Church of Facebook: How Online Churches Affect Worship

In an age dominated by technology, having church online seems like the natural progression of things. Liberty University recently threw its hat into the virtual ring with a church service held via Facebook. Johnnie Moore, vice president for Executive Projects at Liberty, said it was the first time students on campus had the chance to join Liberty’s online students in a worship service where they could all participate. Usually the university, located in Lynchburg, Va., holds a Wednesday night service in the basketball arena or in a nearby Baptist church. But last week, both venues had conflicts. So, instead of leaving the almost 5,000 people who attend the worship service hanging, school officials held a service on the social networking site. In a recent post for CNN’s religion blog, Moore explained the reasoning behind the virtual service. He compared Facebook to church asking, “What is Facebook, after all? It’s a community. What is church, after all? It’s a community. For us, doing church on Facebook isn’t innovative. It’s intuitive. Church and Facebook are places where we share in life together, learn about one another, encourage each other, laugh together and live our lives in some kind of ramshackle harmony with one another.” About 200 people physically gathered for the service on location, and then broadcast it via Facebook to other students on campus and locations around the world. Moore says he is convinced that if the Apostle Paul were alive today he would find a way to bring the Gospel to Facebook. Liberty’s online broadcast is part of a growing trend cropping up across the nation. An online church is usually defined by not having a physical building where worshippers attend, though many churches, including, offer online church in addition to services held at physical locations. Even though it’s nice to have the option not have to leave your house on a Sunday morning, some see online churches as a serious theological issue. Dr. Michael Svigel of Dallas Theological Seminary wrote in a recent blog, “virtual church is anti-church.” He spoke on The Janet Mefferd Show Monday about online/virtual churches. During the radio show he said online churches basically reduce “the entire live worship experience to an on your desktop or on your laptop medium.” Svigel also wrote extensively about this growing trend in a blog post. “Before any evangelical could end up careening over the cliff into legitimizing an exclusively online church, his or her evangelical tradition had to have taken four wrong turns,” he said. He highlights those “wrong turns" throughout the post, and also talks extensively about what he calls, “Fan-ification,” or turning the congregation into an audience.” This keeps churches from having a full-bodied ministry because no one is in contact with anyone else. He writes that there is no way to promote historical realities or strengthen people’s "theological convictions” in this type of setting. Moore noted that for their Facebook broadcast, groups of students and dorms came together to watch it. It “wasn’t just a TV presentation.” He said people were still able to participate in church together, “We’re using Facebook, already a place for community, to catalyze further community." The recent broadcast served as a test for the campus, to see what the response would be, and as they move forward they hope to start broadcasting all their services online beginning in the spring.

New Book Tackles Shortcomings of Modern Church

Over the years, Craig Olson witnessed many problems with the church. But the straw that really broke the camel’s back for him was when his wife committed adultery, and began living with the man she left her husband for and attending Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill. He claims that she was able to go to the megachurch and “not be challenged in any way” for her actions.

Francis Chan Helps Plant Churches in Apartment Buildings

The Tenderloin district of San Francisco is one square mile. There are 37,000 people in that one square mile living in 586 apartment buildings. And San Francisco City Impact wants to plant a church in every single one of those apartments. Francis Chan, author of CrazyLove and former pastor of Cornerstone Community Church, is working with the new initiative

Ohio Ministries Help Vets Get Back on Their Feet

In Ohio, churches and ministries are reaching out to help veterans. This week, small groups from Fairfield Christian Church of Lancaster, Ohio, met to prepare care packages for a group of eight veterans coming to live in a home recently purchased by Lutheran Social Services.

Bank Shocks Ga. Church With Building Donation

With the Occupy Wall Street movement dominating the news, banks aren’t exactly being recognized for their generosity. But this Saturday at a ribbon cutting ceremony, First Baptist Church in Tucker, Ga., will be saying thank you to Wells Fargo. The bank recently donated a former bank branch building to the church

Feeding the 5,000: Food Ministries Adapting to Economic Downturn

Unemployment is on everyone’s mind these days. The effects of joblessness on families and communities can be grave. Church-based ministries have been there to help in times of need, especially when it comes to food. But as unemployment numbers rise, more and more ministries across the nation are changing their approach to meet the growing population in their communities that need food.

More Religion Equals Less Crime?

It’s rare to hear about street hardened criminals in a prison sneaking around to share the Gospel with fellow inmates. But it happened at a faith-based prison in Houston, Texas. Criminologist Byron R. Johnson explores in his book an emerging conversation on the effects of religion on criminal behavior, and how it can change behavior for the better.

Americans for Life Celebrates 40 Years of Pro-Life Work

Americans United for Life celebrated its 40th Anniversary Gala Wednesday night at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Chairman of the Board for AUL Jay Cunningham kicked off the evening with a brief history lesson to remind the 300 in attendance what the world was like 40 years ago when AUL began, and said their vision had not waivered for the unborn

New Ads Push for Passage of Ohio 'Heartbeat' Bill

The “Heartbeat” bill is still waiting to see legislative action in the Ohio Senate, but the group Ohio ProLife Action is taking a proactive approach to speeding up the legal process. This week they released a new ad urging the Ohio Senate to send the bill to committee, and to do it quickly.

Angry Birds App Gets Competition From the Bible

The Bible is the #1 bestseller of all time. But this month it has a new claim to fame, beating out Angry Birds in the never ending app download competition. Publishers Weekly reported this week that we are in the midst of a “digital Bible explosion.” With companies and book publishers across the board searching for new ways to market their products in the digital age, Bible apps with hands on, personalized features are becoming extremely popular in the Christian world.

Public Records Demanded in Planned Parenthood Document Destruction Case

Operation Rescue, a Wichita, Kan.-based pro-life activist group, filed a round of open records demands with the Kansas Governor's office and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) this week. The group is seeking public records that may reveal who was involved in the shredding of incriminating evidence against Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri in 2005.