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The simple act of posting a status update on Facebook can make you feel more connected, researchers have found — even if no one pays attention to your update. The study, conducted by the Universitat Berlin, focused on the Facebook posts of 100 student volunteers at the University of Arizona over the course of a week. The students were asked to do two things: fill out forms assessing their mental health and well-being throughout the week, and post to Facebook more than they normally would. A control group wrote exactly their regular amount of updates. // Read more here… Thoughts?
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A recent LifeWay Research study found that Americans with even a slight curiosity about an ultimate purpose to life are more likely to participate in worship services, while half of those who never attend church never wonder about life’s ultimate purpose. Approximately 75 percent of the 2,000 adults surveyed nationally indicate that they either agree or strongly agree with the statement, “There is an ultimate purpose and plan for every person’s life.” However, 50 percent of respondents who never attend worship services disagree with the statement. “This contrast has significant implications for churches,” said Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research. “It is no wonder that many of the unchurched are unengaged in church activity when they don’t believe an exclusive purpose exists for their own lives – in other words, why go to church to learn about God’s plan if you don’t think there is one.” The study examined three other aspects of meaning and purpose. More than two-thirds of Americans agree (strongly or somewhat) that the pursuit of meaning or purpose is a priority, but only half wonder about it each month. Seventy-eight percent agree “It is important that I pursue a higher purpose and meaning for my life” while 67 percent agree “A major priority in my life is finding my deeper purpose.” When asked, “How often do you wonder: ‘How can I find more meaning and purpose in my life?'” 51 percent of Americans indicated at least monthly, including 18 percent who wonder about it daily. Thirteen percent wonder about finding more meaning and purpose yearly and 28 percent never think about it. The study asked two questions about how often people think of specific aspects of the afterlife, the first being, “How often do you wonder: ‘If I were to die today, do I know for sure that I would go to heaven?'” Thirty-one percent of Americans wonder about this at least monthly, including 8 percent wondering about it daily. Eleven percent think yearly about personally going to heaven and 46 percent never think about it. via Ultimate purpose and meaning: Some say they pursue it, others do not. // How does this study influence the people you are trying to reach that are far from God?
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The majority of Americans have a favorable impression of Southern Baptists, according to a recent LifeWay Research study. However, 40 percent of respondents have an unfavorable view of the denomination, more than a third strongly assume an SBC church is not for them, and the negativity is higher among the unchurched. The study was conducted in September 2011 after the president of the Southern Baptist Convention appointed a task force to consider a possible name change for the 166 year-old convention. The study indicates a segment of Americans have unfavorable opinions of Southern Baptists in comparison to other faith groups. However, with 53 percent being favorable toward Southern Baptists (including 15 percent very favorable), both sides need to be considered, said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research. “On one hand it does look like the SBC has higher negatives than other faith groups – and the unchurched numbers are particularly disconcerting,” Stetzer said. “But on the other, most people don’t seem to be concerned either way because there is a level of indifference to denominations or religion in general.” In fact, two-thirds of Americans are without strong feelings in regards to all the Christian faith groups included in the survey with a third or less either very favorable or very unfavorable to them. via Study: Americans have mixed impressions of Southern Baptists’ identity.   Thoughts?
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Most pastors believe pornography has adversely impacted the lives of their church members, but almost half cannot estimate what percentage of their congregation views porn. That is the finding of a newly released survey by LifeWay Research of 1,000 American Protestant pastors. When presented with the statement, “Pornography has adversely affected the lives of our church members,” 69 percent of pastors surveyed agree. That includes 42 percent who strongly agree and 27 percent who somewhat agree. Nine percent somewhat disagree and 8 percent strongly disagree. Fourteen percent do not know or preferred not to answer. “Most pastors know pornography’s poisonous effects,” LifeWay Research President Ed Stetzer said. “They’ve seen it destroy marriages, wreck lives and warp America’s moral compass when it comes to sexuality.” When asked to estimate the percentage of men in their congregations who view pornography on a weekly basis, 43 percent are unable or unwilling to respond. Of those able and willing to estimate, a majority (62 percent) say less than 10 percent, 24 percent say 10-24 percent, 10 percent say 25-49 percent and 4 percent say 50 percent or more. via Baptist Press – Pastors: porn a big problem among members – News with a Christian Perspective. QUESTION:  What do you think the percentage of porn use in your church is?  among men?  among women? How has porn affected your ministry in your church? Todd
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The survey by LifeWay Research of 1,000 randomly selected Protestant pastors found that a majority (58 percent) will perform weddings for couples they know are living together. Nearly a third (31 percent) will not, and 10 percent are not sure. The survey’s results, published in the summer edition of LifeWay’s Facts and Trends magazine, also found that only five percent of pastors will not perform a marriage ceremony if the bride or groom has been divorced. The majority (61 percent) will perform a ceremony for a divorced person “depending on the reason for the divorce” while 31 percent will perform a ceremony for a divorced person “regardless of the reason for the divorce.” “Marriage is a much-debated topic today and we wanted to see how Protestant pastors handled marriage requests,” said Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research. “Like the churches they serve, their standards for whom they will perform marriages vary greatly.” When it comes to cohabitating couples, pastors who consider themselves mainline are more likely to perform weddings then those who consider themselves evangelical. In response to the question, “Will you perform a marriage ceremony for a couple whom you know is living together?” 68 percent of mainline pastors say yes compared with 57 percent of evangelicals. Twenty-four percent of mainline pastors and 34 percent of evangelicals say no. A minister’s level of education also reveals differences in pastors’ willingness to perform marriage ceremonies for couples who are living together. A full 62 percent of pastors with at least a master’s degree will marry cohabitating couples while only 52 percent of those with a bachelor’s degree or less will perform weddings for couples living together before marriage. Twenty-nine percent of pastors with at least a master’s degree will not perform such ceremonies compared with 36 percent of those with a bachelor’s degree or less. More here…   Thoughts?  What’s your (or your church’s) stance on marrying live-ins?  And… has that stance changed over the past 10 years? If it has… why?  And is it a good or bad thing? Love to hear your comments… Todd  
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A University of Pennsylvania professor and a secular research group decided to try to put a dollar value on churches.  They came up with a list of 54 categories and attempted to calculate what they described as the “halo effect” of 12 churches (10 protestant, a Catholic church, and a Jewish synagogue).  Here’s how they did it, according to Philly.com: A University of Pennsylvania professor and a secular research group decided to try to put a dollar value on churches.  They came up with a list of 54 categories and attempted to calculate what they described as the “halo effect” of 12 churches (10 protestant, a Catholic church, and a Jewish synagogue).  Here’s how they did it, according to Philly.com: They added up the money generated by weddings and funerals, festivals, counseling programs, preschools, elder care. They tallied the salaries of staff and the wages of roofers, plumbers, even snow shovelers. They put dollar signs on intangibles, too, such as helping people find work and teaching children to be socially responsible.  They even measured the diameter of trees on church campuses. The end result:  for all 12 churches, Over $50 million in annual economic benefits. Here is some more from the article: The valuation for 300-member Gloria Dei (Old Swedes’) Episcopal Church in Queen Village, for instance, was a middle-of-the-road $1.65 million. By contrast, the figure for Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Roman Catholic parish in Kensington, with 7,000 congregants, a parochial school, and a community center, was $22.44 million. The numbers, culled from clergy and staff interviews, “just blew us away,” said Robert Jaeger, executive director of the research group Partners for Sacred Places. The study is not yet published. When it is, the robust sums are likely to be challenged, predicted lead author Ram Cnaan, a Penn professor of social policy. Some valuations were drawn from existing academic research, such as $19,600 for pastoral counseling that prevents a suicide and $18,000 for an averted divorce. Cnaan himself arrived at other values – for example, $375 on “teaching pro-social values” to a young child. This is an interesting study.  I think it’s important for churches to bring economic advantages to their community. But what’s not even a part of this study is the spiritual advantage your church brings to your community? [box type=”info”]Have you ever stopped to consider how valuable your church is to your community from an economic standpoint? How would your church do in a study like this? And how would your church do in the more important study of the spiritual value you bring to your community?[/box] It’s something to think about… You can read more here… Todd
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