Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Whose life gets changed?

One out of three kids will go on a cross-cultural mission trip before they graduate from High School -- and this year alone, roughly 1.6 million American youth and adults will go on some kind of short-term "mission trip," either at home or abroad.

Good news?

Maybe -- as critics (even within the church) like to point out, there's precious little evidence of long-term benefits for those who go (and even less for those on the receiving end of these trips).

Not pleasant news, I know. So take a deep breath, and click on the title of this post for the article in The Christian Science Monitor.

Big Brother can preach at your church every Sabbath!

It's called "godcasting" -- and if past trends are any guide, it's going to start hitting the Adventist church big-time in two to four years.

Here's how it works:
  1. Find a pastor who knows how to preach.
  2. Record his or her sermons.
  3. Get a team who knows what they're doing to edit and add special effects.
  4. Show it on Sabbath morning.
  5. Use a local team of lay people to provide worship music during the service (and personal follow-up afterwards).

The advantages: church people get a good sermon every week (and the Conference saves on pastoral salaries).

The disadvantages: if you're over 50-years-old, you probably won't like it . . . and yes, it does open the possibility of good preachers gaining a cult-like following.

Click on the title for the article in The Christian Science Monitor.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Let it shine

Click on the title for an article in the New York Times about a Christian youth group that meets in an elite New York public school.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

So that's why they call them "cell groups"!!!

So you're a Chinese Christian stuck working in some out-of-the-way town where nobody speaks your language . . . but you have a cell-phone with free weekend-minutes? Welcome to the Church of Grace -- a Chinese-language Christian church that holds services by conference call. Click on the title for the article in the New York Times -- and let me know if anyone out there would like to start something similar.

Does this mean "Kumbayah" is making a comeback too?

Interesting article in the Washington Post about the political rebirth of the religious left. The big question: sure, mainline Christians who care about the environment, poverty, and the poor are better organized than they have been in years -- but do they have the numbers to make a difference?

Friday, May 12, 2006

Perhaps the House of Representatives needs to read Matthew 6:5-8?

Every now and then, I get asked to have prayer at a public meeting -- a city council meeting, Kiwanis, whatever. And whenever I do, I always ask myself just how "Christian" this prayer should be. Many of the people taking part, after all, are not church members -- and some are most definitely and defiantly not Christians!

So . . . do I pray "in Jesus name" or not?

It turns out that military chaplains struggle with the same issue -- and for a quick look at the issue, click on the title for a link to the relevant article in the Washington Post.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Gnostic gnews

Click on the title for a ton of links that will help you deal with questions about the Gospel of Judas.

The real question: why is Tom Hanks wearing a mullet?

Click on the title for lots and lots of links to stuff that will help you deal with The DaVinci Code.

Attack of the phantom church members

The good news? Roughly 40-percent of all Americans will tell you they were in church last week.

The bad news? Somewhere between one-fourth and one-half of the people who said this were lying (or mistaken).

Click on the title for a link to the article in Christianity Today.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

With Jesus in the family . . .

Nothing brings people back to church like having children -- but what happens when the parents still don't believe, even though they'd like their children to have all the benefits that come with going to church (or synagogue)? Click on the title for an interesting article on this topic in The Washington Post. (And while I'm at it -- have any of you run into a similar experience in your church? What was it like, how did you handle it, and what was the result?)

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Wait until they hear my eight-part sermon series on the Book of Habakkuk

68-percent of the people who attend church say that music is their favorite part of the service. Click on the title of this post for the latest poll results, as well as quick updates on Moslem attitudes towards women, the Catholic church and condoms, and religion in public schools.