Your address will show here +12 34 56 78
Ponder if you will the state of our world; and in particular the condition of America. Although one can easily argue the United States is still the greatest nation in the world and a country so many desire to come to— even risk their lives to enter into—there is no denying America’s social, moral and spiritual fabric continues to deteriorate at an accelerated pace. For many this is an alarming and discouraging trend. Now consider the fact that 76% of Americans claim to be Christian, making the United States one of the highest per-capita Christian nations in the world. A nation full of Christians in a deteriorating society? If this indeed be the case then WHERE ARE THE CHRISTIANS? To solve this conundrum author Eric Shuster gives us a book that bears this question as its title with the promise of answers and unique journey for readers. Where are the Christians? uses the classic format of who, what, where and how to explore Christianity and the dynamics that unite and divide the religion into the unrealized potential it suffers from today (thus the subtitle of the book—the Unrealized Potential of a Divided Religion). The book enlightens readers as to who the Christians are from a historical perspective; what a Christian is from a spiritual perspective; where the Christians are from a behavioral perspective; and how Christianity can be strengthened and more united from a societal perspective. Where are the Christians? examines hundreds of Biblical and scholarly sources, analyzing data from a multitude of studies leading to unique perspectives and solutions to the challenges facing Christianity in the modern era. Where are the Christians? contains 17 chapters arranged into four sections: SECTION 1: WHO ARE THE CHRISTIANS?—a history: 4 chapters providing a concise history of Christianity spread across four distinct periods: Evangelization and Formation, Legitimacy and Codification, Corruption and Division, and Reform and Denominational Proliferation. SECTION 2: WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN?—a definition: 4 chapters examining the definition of a Christian from the perspectives of the world, the Bible, landmark religious studies, and what Shuster refers to as Modern Day Pharisees. SECTION 3: WHERE ARE THE CHRISTIANS?—a categorization: 5 chapters profiling the five types of modern Christians including a unique and enlightening exercise to help readers understand what type of Christian they are among the five. SECTION 4 – HOW IS CHRISTIANITY TO UNITE?—a vision: 4 chapters describing the ways Christians in America can unite into a force for good by focusing on individuals, families, churches and communities. To watch the book trailer, take a survey to find out what type of Christian you are, and to pre-order the book go to www.findyourchristianity.com.
1

The church has enjoyed ‘tax-exempt’ status in America for many years… but that doesn’t mean this will continue forever. In fact, this article claims that the US Government could make $71 Billion a year just by stopping this practice.  (Actually, I bet it’s much more). I think the day is coming that, at some point, the door will at least be opened to closing some of the tax benefits churches receive. My guess is that the first to go will be the clergy housing allowance. Anyway… read this from Derek Beres and let me know what you think… Derek writes: While the desire to tax churches is not new, it seems as far from reality as possible at this moment. As has been commented, no atheist could possibly hope to win an election in today’s political climate—a freethinking man like Robert Ingersoll would have no influence with the majority of our electorate. Our cultural dependency on the necessity of faith is affecting our society: According to a University of Tampa study, not taxing churches is taking an estimated $71 billion from our economy every year, and this fact remains largely unquestioned. The general argument over why churches do not pay taxes goes like this: If there is a separation of church and state, then the state (or fed) has no right to collect money from the church. In exchange, churches cannot use their clout to influence politics. While this would seem to make for cozy bedfellows, it’s impossible to believe that none of the 335,000 congregations in the United States are using their resources for political purposes, especially when just last week the Kansas governor called for a ‘Day of Salvation’ in his state. Churches not paying property and federal income taxes (along with a host of others, including reduced rates on for-profit properties and parsonage subsidies) is filed into that part of our brain marked ‘always been.’ Never mind the conundrum that the most religious are often the most patriotic—what could be less patriotic than not paying your fair share for the good of the country, especially when church structures and those who work for them use the same public utilities as the rest of us? As noted in the Tampa study, churches fall into the category of ‘charitable’ entities. This is often a stretch. The researchers calculated the Mormon church, for example, spends roughly .7% of its annual income on charity. Their study of 271 congregations found an average of 71% of revenues going to ‘operating expenses,’ while help to the poor is somewhere within the remaining 29%. Compare this to the American Red Cross, which uses 92.1% of revenues for physical assistance and just 7.9% on operating expenses. The authors also note that Wal-Mart, for instance, gives about $1.75 billion in food aid to charities each year, or twenty-eight times all of the money allotted for charity by the United Methodist Church and almost double what the LDS Church has given in the last twenty-five years. // Read more via How To Make $71 Billion A Year: Tax the Churches | 21st Century Spirituality | Big Think. Do you think any of the tax advantages the church has enjoyed will go away any time soon? Do you think the housing allowance will continue to be a benefit for pastors, or will that go away soon? What impact would taxing the church have in YOUR congregation? Todd
4

The general outlines of a growing church probably won’t surprise you. Representing 25% of congregations in the United States, growing churches: Have fewer worshipers older than 65 years of age compared to other churches. Attract many new worshipers, staying ahead of member departures and deaths. Attract more of the unchurched or first-time worshipers. Offer an engaging vision for the church’s future. Experience some conflict as the congregation deals with change. But is what you think you know about the pastors who lead these growing congregations true? Not young or old. One assumption is that younger pastors, under the age of 45, serve growing or soon-to-be growing churches. As the chart below shows, that’s not true. In fact, pastors of all ages lead in growing churches! The largest age group serving growing churches are those pastors who are between 51 and 60 years old.[i] Overall, young pastors are a relatively small demographic group. Only 12% of pastors are 40 years old or younger. Yet one in four (26%) of these younger pastors serves as the senior or solo pastor in a growing church. That margin is even greater among pastors in their fifties, however, with almost one in three (30%) leading a growing church. // Read more here:   Who Pastors Growing Churches? – Beyond the Ordinary. What do YOU think?  Anything surprising here? Todd
5

Franklin Graham thinks it may be.  Here’s what he told Charisma News: In just a few days, we in the United States have the privilege of electing the people who will serve in office for the next several years. Since we believe this is one of the most important elections in our lifetime, my father and I have taken a strong stand in the past few months to encourage voters to support candidates on the national, state, and local levels who embrace biblical values. My father watches the news every day, and he is deeply concerned about the enormous moral issues facing our country. That’s why your vote on Nov. 6 is so critical. This is a crucial hour for our nation. Above all, this is a time for deep, intercessory prayer on behalf of our great country, which is in grave danger unless we repent of our sins and turn back to the God of our fathers. The Bible says, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Tim. 2:1–2). When America’s leaders actively promote and legislate immorality, restrict the religious freedoms that our country was founded on, and are openly hostile to men and women of faith, then I believe we are ripe for God’s judgment. So pray and then vote on Nov. 6, asking God for His mercy and grace upon our land. There’s still time to turn from our wicked ways so that He might spare us from His wrath against sin… This could be America’s last call to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, who is coming again one day very soon to save His own and to judge those who don’t know and worship Him. You can read more here. // Could this not have been written in 2008, 2004, or 1964? Is America MORE ripe for judgment in 2012 than during the civil rights turmoil, or when our country condoned slavery, or during the ‘free sex’ sixties? Will people really vote for their candidate because of threats of impending judgment, or is this a rallying cry for a very conservative evangelical base that, up until now, has somewhat listened to Franklin? What do YOU think? Todd
0