Sunday, December 21, 2008

Changing The Culture ~ We're in the Midst of a Radical Shift


Research shows that pastors' views of the gospel and mission are changing.
But should we celebrate or repent?
a Leadership Survey Report by Helen Lee

Missional Shift or Drift?

In the summer of 2000, Mike Lueken had every reason to be proud as a pastor of Oak Hills Church in Folsom, California. Every Sunday, thousands of people flocked to Oak Hill's sixteen acre campus with its 35,000-square-foot facility, and the church was doing everything that a thriving, suburban megachurch with a $2 million budget was supposed to do. But then Lueken took a class at Fuller Seminary taught by Dallas Willard. The experience led to a complete change of course for him and Oak Hills Church.

"[Willard] was teaching on the Sermon on the Mount and conveying the heart of the gospel through Jesus' teaching, and I felt I was sitting there listening to something I'd never heard before," Lueken recalls. "We realized that we had to rethink what the gospel was about. Does the Bible teach only the gospel of heaven and forgiveness of sins? Or is it about a new way of living that involves the power of God, the peace of God, along with your sins being forgiven and going to heaven when you die?"

Lueken's story illustrates the change occurring among today's pastors, change that reflects new—or renewed—interest in a fuller picture of the gospel and in a sense of mission.

In order to gain a better understanding of these changes, Leadership conducted a survey in May 2008 asking nearly 700 evangelical pastors how their perceptions of the gospel and mission currently compare with their understanding a decade ago. The results clearly indicate that pastors' attitudes and beliefs are shifting.
What the survey actually says

The survey was designed to uncover movement, not simply raw numbers, and this is important when analyzing the data. When asked if "the kingdom of God is a present reality, a future reality, or both," 37 percent of pastors said they currently believe the kingdom is a future reality in heaven, 20 percent said the kingdom is a present reality on earth, and 33 percent said both. But 58 percent said that ten years ago they believed it was a future reality, and only 9 percent said they believed ten years ago that it was a present reality. The movement is clearly toward understanding the kingdom as a present, earthly reality, even if it remains a minority view. Here are more trends uncovered by the research. Compared to ten years ago:

* Pastors are focusing more on the Gospels than on the Epistles.
* More pastors believe the gospel is advanced by demonstration and not simply proclamation.
* More pastors say the goal of evangelism is to grow "the" church rather than to grow "my" church.
* More pastors believe partnering with other local churches is essential to accomplishing their mission.

The typical survey respondent was a white male pastor in his 50s, with an average church size of about 400 people, with about twenty years of pastoral experience.
The Christian life has to be demonstrated, not just explained.

Leadership spoke with numerous church leaders to examine these results. And most were not surprised by the shifts.
===>Click headline to access complete article . . .

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Friday, December 19, 2008

SHARE ~ Merry Christmas, 2009!

By Steve Sjogren
It's a Wonderful Life--if you live it in the outflow of kindness, just like George Bailey!

Serve! Spotlight
Holiday Glow
By Jim Reklis
Grace Church of Chapel Hill, North Carolina shows how to do an effective street festival outreach.
Connect Card Ideas
Awesome Holiday Connect Cards!
By Kindness Resources
Just in time for the holiday season! We now offer a number new connect card designs for SE/Outflow projects.
Servant Evangelism: Advice From a Pro
By Ken Glassmeyer
Even if you haven't put together a Christmas Outreach yet, it isn't too late!
Living In The Outflow
Not Just A Day On The Calendar!
By Camey Gravley
Living in the outflow means not letting the thing that hangs on our wall tell us when we should be thankful or decide to show kindness to others. . .
Ask Dr. Savant
By Dr. Stimpy Savant
Dr. Savant helps this "scardeycat" evangelist.
Billy Bob's Movie Reviews
Who is the Best Scrooge? (CONTEST!)
By Billy Bob Briggs
Billy Bob puts a challenge out to our readers this issue to convince him the best all time Scrooge is. The winning entry will be awarded fabulous prizes!

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Not Too Late For Next Year ~ A Grand Prayer-Care-Share Christmas Idea

Tempe McFarlane <> wrote to leadership in Treasure Valley (Boise):

Hey guys...we had such a great time tonight. We had our annual "Old Fashioned Christmas". We gathered, prayed, broke into teams and went Christmas caroling. We handed out an invite asking people to donate a can of food for our food pantry. On the other side of that was an invite to our Christmas eve service. After caroling for an hour, we returned for hot cocoa and home-made desserts. It was a great family-friendly event in less than 2 hours. We had amazing small miracle and "touches".
  • One lady said her husband was diagnosed today with Leukemia and she was so glad we came to bring joy. She let us pray for her.
  • Another lady gave us a 12 pack of tuna and asked us a ton of questions about our church, food pantry, etc.
  • Many people thanked us for keeping tradition alive
  • The kids who caroled were really touched by helping bring in canned foods for the hungry AND we got a bunch of food.
  • Another gal on my team had never caroled before and had no idea how easy and fun it could be to love people in such a simple way.

Even though the roads were bad and the night very cold...we had over 50 people show up and they were all blessed. We felt like we touched lives.

SO....what if....

What if...every Christian church in the Treasure Valley did the same thing. What if we picked a day (probably next year, 2009) that we all go Christmas caroling on the same night, and we impact an area maybe a mile or 2 radius around our own churches. We would make a huge impact in our cities AND it's such a fun event...Santa hats and all :)

Whadda ya think ?

:) Merry Christmas


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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cityreachers Christmas Party!

The tradition continues. For our December cityreaching conference call, we grab a beverage, dial in and listen to short "sound bites" from cityreaching friends across the country.

We hope you will join us (Glenn and Jarvis) for the December 18th conference call at 10 am CST, both to listen and share how the Lord has brought you and taught you through the last year in your cityreaching ministry. We learn from each other, whether it is what worked or what didn't work.

Glenn and Jarvis look forward to this time with y'all. They have a gift for the first 50 who RSVP for the call! Email requesting the dial-in number.

Your hosts,

Jarvis Ward, Mission America City/Community Ministries
Glenn Barth, GoodCities

P.S. Transcripts of previous calls are available at at the “view and listen” tab.

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

LC2Connections ~ Collaborating in Prayer-Care-Share

Loving Our Communities to Christ logo

Communicating · Cooperating · Collaborating
Quick Clicks
Leadership Teams
LC2C 101
Loving Our Communities to Christ
Dear Collaborators in Christ,

As the culture shifts from turkeys to reindeer, believers continue to give thanks, now focusing on our savior's birth. And our energies and efforts at mobilizing the Church into a praying-caring-sharing lifestyle expresses our gratitude in thousands of ways in cities across the nation.

Your LC2C coaches and team members will be eager to report to donors and city leaders the stories of how God has been glorified in your city. No better time than Christmas to recast the vision!

Merry Christmas blessings

Phil Miglioratti, for the entire LC2C team

Collaboration among Youth Ministries
in Cedar Rapids has Impact Potential
Student ministry pastors have embarked upon an ambitious collaboration.

SOS - Save Our Schools - eliminates the distinctions of various church youth groups and identifies every Christian student in a positive and constructive way. Check out this prayer-care-share. initiative thta just might impact the student population of Cedar Rapids.

Check it out - click here ...

LC2C Strategic Partner ~


Dear "LC2C" City Leadership Teams:

As you may know, Alpha is a strategic partner to Loving Our Communities and is already connecting in a some LC2C cities to reach the unchurched with the good news of Jesus Christ.

  • Over 12 million people have gone through Alpha in 163 countries.
  • In the USA we estimate that near 2 million have attended the course.
  • We have 9,000 churches registered to give the course.
  • Alpha works ANYWHERE! ~ It fits in a private home, church facility, prison, workplace environment, military base and school campus.
  • Our Alpha Marriage course is transforming many marriages.

We've taken a look at the churches that run Alpha in your LC2C cities and I'm attaching that list for your review. Some of these congregations might belong to your collaborative work already.

Please consider these ideas of how we might work together to love these cities for Christ:

  1. Alpha USA would be very interested in meeting with your local leadership teams to present Alpha and discuss a strategic, customized plan for your city.
  2. "Taste of Alpha"is a 1.5 hour lunchtime event where a local pastor who has already hosted Alpha invites pastors from other churches for a time of fellowship, hearing Alpha testimonies, view a short sample of an Alpha talk plus Q & A.
  3. Alpha fits well on all LC2C levels.
    1. "Micro" ~ Offer Alpha to local congregations as a way to stimulate prayer-care-share among Christian believers (even if only a few respond, it raise the level of praying, caring, sharing in your city). [congregational]
    2. "Mezzo" ~ Several congregations in a specific location can work together or a particular denomination may want to coordinate an Alpha emphasis. [Community]
    3. "Macro" ~ Your Leadership Team might consider a citywide emphasis; a sharing of calendar and finances to blanket the city with the Alpha Invitation ... The Invitation brings churches in a community together to raise awareness for the course in advance of new courses being started.The results in Lake County, IL were extraordinary 30 city Invitations are being planned for 2009 across the country! [Citywide]
    4. "Getting Started Course": Alpha resources churches run this one-day training for area churches that want to run the course. We could provide this training for LC2C churches.


Some of you may know of Alpha or even participated in an Alpha course. If I may, I'd like to briefly tell you how I connected with Alpha.

I met my wife, Angelika, in Germany, some 14 years ago. A one year foreign study program turned out to be 20 years spent studying and working in Germany and Switzerland. Angelika and I were non-believers. I returned to the US in the Summer of 1996 with a new wife and 6 month old child, but without a job. I ended up in the Chicago area working in international HR for Abbott Laboratories. Thinking that our daughter Julia should be "exposed" to the Christian faith, we went the responsible route (but without conviction) and joined a local church. At a dinner party one night Angelika sat next to a lady who told her about Alpha and suggested that she "try it out". This lady was very persistent and Angelika reluctantly agreed to go - just one time. As the weeks went by I began to notice a change in my wife's attitude, and I could only attribute it to Alpha. By week seven she had given her life to Christ and was now working on me to attend the next Alpha course.

Long story short, I attended the next course and I too gave my life to Christ! During the past 8 years Angelika and I have supported Alpha as a small group leaders in our local church. We've probably run 25 courses, a few of them being at the local county jail. Seeing lives transformed on every course is such an awesome experience and Barna research has shown us is that 50% of the people who attend an Alpha course make a commitment to Christ (either first time or re-commitment).

In July 2007 I left my corporate job at Abbott to join Alpha fulltime. ( Working for Alpha has been such a blessing and I have the passion to share it with everyone who has a heart for those who don't know Christ.

We would consider it a privilege to partner with you to help transform your cities for Christ.

How can Alpha serve you in sharing the Gospel across your city?

In Him,

Burt Lohoff-Gaida, Director Marketing and Project Management
Alpha USA, Central Support Team

Tel. : 224-588-8532 / Cell: 312-451-6527 / Fax: 847-317-9627

LC2C 101

Question ~" Phil, how do you describe "LC2C?"
Response ~ Here is a quick and, hopefully, comprehensive way of describing the LC2C process...

Loving Our Communities

is a catalytic expression of congregations and ministries working in collaboration to change the culture of the Church into a prayer-care-share lifestyle that results in believers of all ages loving their communities

... FOR Christ = Our motivation

... WITH Christ = Our power

... TO Christ = Our goal


· Community Impacting Prayer
Pray FOR the community

Pray IN the community

Pray WITH the community

· Care
Acts of Mercy = individuals

Service Projects = collaborative teams

Community Development = partnering with social service agencies

· Share


Citywide Church

Been Blogged Lateyl?
LC2C in Tuscaloosa, AL

LC2C Brethren--

Thought you'd be blessed by this report from a service last night in Tuscaloosa. This is MAJOR breakthrough! Reported by John Kearns, United Methodist pastor.

Tom White, LC2Coach

Dear Friends,
You all had a hand in what happened last night, so I wanted to fill you in.
One result of our Israel trip was an immediate entree with the Tuscaloosa mayor. After only two months of meetings with him, God gave him a plan to impact the city by joining the strengths of the municipal government and the churches. Congregations were asked to adopt one of the seven worst neighborhoods of the city, and partner with the congregations located in that area to do home mission work. As a result, last night five African-American churches from the west side invited three white churches from the north side to join them in a Thanksgiving worship service. It was anointed.
One black church hosted, a choir from another black church led worship, a white pastor prayed, and black pastor preached, a white pastor gave the invitation, and a white man from the richest neighborhood in Tuscaloosa came down the aisle of a church in the poorest neighborhood in town to accept Jesus as his Savior!!! It was quite a moment. At the first worship service to come out of the Hope Initiative a person was saved to eternal life. THAT is good stuff.
The eight churches will gather again on January 18th for a service of prayer and praise. We look very forward to what is going to happen in, and through, our people as this continues. Thanks for having a part in it.
John Kearns
How Can We Help?

1:1 Coaching > Talk with your LC2C coach when you face decisions or relational circumstances.
1:3 Communicating > Your LC2C needs direct access to (at least) three key persons: 1) Your prayer contact (we ask intercessors across the nation to pray for you), 2) Your communication contact (the person who will forward this e-letter to your network of participating pastors and leaders), and 3) You leadership team contact (for scheduling information).
1:12 Consulting > Invite your LC2C coach to your Leadership Team meetings to give feedback and perspective on strategic planning and action steps for mobilizing congregations and marketplace leaders.
Conferencing > Involve the LC2C team of coaches and facilitators in a one-day gathering of pastors and leaders to cast a prayer-care-share vision

Put us to work on behalf of your efforts to love your communities to Christ!

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Collaborating Youth Ministries in Cedar Rapids

Collaborating Youth Ministries in Cedar Rapids

A creative approach that has potential to impact Cedar Rapids schools ...

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CARE ~ Collaborating Churches Serve the City

See and hear the amazing response of the Church in Cedar Rapids t the devastating floods od the summer of 2008 . . .
  • Healing the Heartland (Long Version – Part 1) or
  • Healing the Heartland (Long Version – Part 2) or
  • Healing the Heartland (Short Version) or

Use these links to embed the video in your local website.

Let me know if you have any questions,

Brent Watkins, Assoc. Pastor

River of Life Ministries

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The "L" in Loving Our Communities to Christ

Love is the Center

John H. Armstrong

I believe very strongly in the principle and practice of the purity of the visible church, but I have seen churches that we have fought for purity and are merely hotbeds of ugliness. No longer is there any observable, loving, personal relationship even in their own midst, let alone with other true Christians.

Francis A. Schaeffer

The aim of the early church was the evangelization of the world. The purpose of oneness was to show the world that God loved the church and through the church the world could then see his great love. When believers, and churches, are torn apart by heresies, strife, dissensions and schisms then the world is rightly scandalized.

What Means Do We Have for Co-operation?

Christ gave us his divine life. He manifested the glory of his Father to his disciples. This was done by the gift of the Holy Spirit, the “love bond” (Augustine). This is why the earliest creeds put the doctrine of the church, and thus its oneness, in the third section where the Holy Spirit is directly confessed. And this is why John testified about Jesus with these words: “For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit” (John 3:34)

To use the words of Peter we “participate in the [mystery of the] divine nature” (2 Peter 1:3–4). This amazing grace should prompt awe. It should also become the means by which we pursue unity in Christ. (Consider further statements such as these; 1 John 3:2; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Hebrews 12:10.)

What all this means is that Christians should never conceive of life in community apart from his divine nature. All of the riches of the Godhead are found in Christ and these riches are ours. Pardon, righteousness, love, joy, wisdom, kindness, gentleness and tenderness are in him. And they are now at work in us by the Holy Spirit’s power.

What this also means is that we have at our disposal the grace to pursue both the relational and co-operational unity that Jesus prayed for in John 17. It is only because we refuse to draw on his grace that we maintain our considerable divisions and sad disunity===> Click headline to access complete article . . .

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

PRAYER ~ Praying for my Neighborhood

Praying for My Neighborhood

by Arlyn Lawrence

When God works in a community, He doesn't just use adults. He also uses the prayers of kids! Praying for My Neighborhood includes prayers that children can pray to invite God to make a difference in their neighborhoods. Sold in packs of 20 cards.

Click here to preview a free sample of this card or place an order.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

SHARE ~ Relational Prayer-Care-Share Lifestyle Training

Relational Evangelism Training Testimonies

Dallas Anderson / September 2007 and April 2008

We are very blessed to serve alongside Dallas Anderson as we seek to bring the genuine life of
Jesus Christ to our community. The following 54 quotes tell less than half the story of what happened throughthe authentic teaching of Dallas concerning what many of us now call the Relational Prayer-Care- Share lifestyle. I highly recommend our friend and brother Dallas Anderson to any community! Please – call me with any questions you might have.
Charles P. Daugherty Sr., Pastor – Executive Director; Serve The City Resource Group Inc.

1. “In the last 35 years, this is the best information I have heard to walk out the Christian lifestyle” GC
2. “I am over 60 years old--have struggled years with guilt for not ‘doing’ evangelism, this seminar set me
free!!” FS
3. “This training teaches a way to ‘communicate’ with others my faith in Christ, not just give a presentation.”
4. “Fresh way of looking at evangelism. An “I Can” way! Starts with your story and ends with the greatest
story.” JO
5. “This put evangelism in a whole new light…natural, non-threatening and easy.” MP
6. “For all who have a desire to share the Gospel, but are scared of how to start. Dallas teaches by providing
examples from experience in a way that I can see myself sharing. It is awesome that God can work through
me despite myself.” MB
7. “I think Dallas helps the listener connect with the ‘real’ people in the ‘real’ situations that we will be in.
He is extremely motivating. Lots of GRACE!” KD
#8 and #9 go together
8. “The information shared is biblical, relevant and practical. But Dallas Anderson is what makes this
seminar fantastic. His heart for the Lord, the Church and the lost under girds everything he shares.
Overall, it helps put hands and feet to the Prayer, Care and Share lifestyle.” BW
9. “I agree with this statement fully! It is hard to find someone who is both funny and humble yet passionate
in his desire to see the church mobilized to reach the lost. Dallas, you are a precious gift to Serve The
City.” GA
10. “I appreciated learning the questions to guide someone toward ‘God talk.’” JA
11. “I am 74 years young and I found your presentation very helpful. You brought it to me in a very easy to
understand way. You are like a ‘close friend’ telling me how to talk to others about Christ.” MR
12. “Something for everybody. Glad I was here. Evangelism made easy. My eyes were open that anyone can
do it. Excited about what I’ve learned and anxious to use the tools given me in sharing Christ.” CN
13. “Helped show us the way we need to communicate a Christian way of life with others.” KJ and DJ \
14. “Very educational and informative for me. Really made me stop and think about how God can use me to
witness. I just need to watch for open doors and listen to God.” HCS
15. “Seeing the lost. Think how we can serve and reach them for Jesus.” BS
16. “Dallas has an incredibly down-to-earth style of communicating Kingdom values as they relate to the lost,
the church, and the place we play in bringing the two together.” TK and CK
17. “For me, the stories of how Dallas has seen God move and use simple people were so powerful. As Dallas
taught us how God has gone before us to prepare hearts before we even get there – I felt so empowered to
take the step of faith to share Christ more.” CP
18. “Very practical seminar teaches importance of prayer and emphasizes caring for the lost and sharing our
faith fearlessly.” KJ
19. “Dallas helps make it clear—as a process—making it so practical in our everyday lives.” MB
20. “God has given me the same understanding as Dallas. I am thrilled that he is clarifying the path to
reaching the lost in such an easily understandable manner. God bless you as you minister to the churched
people. Good job! Loved the stories!” JS
21. “I feel I am being called to bring Christ to the marketplace. This affirms in me the need to respond and
share the Good News in the marketplace.” LK
22. “Dallas shared that we have eternity to worship God, but we don’t have eternity to share our faith with
those who are blind to the truth! That was profound to me.” GB
23. “The Holy Spirit used Dallas to light a fire of urgency to reach out to others with the Gospel. I knew the
scriptures he used, but suddenly there came a conviction I hadn’t had before. Overall excellent and do-
able!” JB
24. “The most impactful few hours I can remember. Dallas sheds new light on old concepts and delivers
practical tools that empower believers to more faithfully walk-out their calling.” MJ
25. “Too many evangelism trainings only teach you about the harvest. Dallas teaches you to start from the
beginning, partnering with God to be His witness to the world.” TV
26. “Dallas teaches evangelism in a clear and concise manner resulting in enhancing my teaching style of
discipleship classes.” IV
27. “I have been a Christian for 34 years and have not done all God wanted me to do in the area of evangelism
because I lost sight of the fact that evangelism is a process. I believe that truth has made a huge difference
in who Jesus has called me to be to the world.” TV
28. “I appreciate a better understanding of evangelism and feel, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I can share my
faith.” FA
29. Only a life lived for others is worth living. Thank you, Jesus, for dying for me. Live for Jesus (at least
try).” FS
30. “This is the best evangelistic training I have ever participated in. It makes sharing the Gospel of Jesus
Christ so much simpler and easier. I look at witnessing in a completely different light. If this training was
shared in every congregation, I believe that the Body of Christ would increase by leaps and bounds!” LS
31. “I have attended gospel presentation training in the many years I have been in ministry. However, Dallas
speaks and teaches with clarity and passion that has challenged me to not only share my faith in Christ
more, but to teach this material to the church I pastor.” MG
32. “I have been in evangelistic work for many years, but this is the most comprehensive, yet the simplest,
seminar I have ever attended. It is very thorough and very clear.” SR
33. “This is not rocket science. Dallas has brought this in a way that is simple and practical.” ER
34. “You made the complex simple.” PD
35. “Meet people where they are. Pray for all. Let God be in control. The Spirit will show you the way.” EB
36. “I’m 39 years of age and from Newark, NJ, and basically the streets. However, by coming to this meeting,
he has shown me that I can be myself and reach others like myself, but God has placed something in me
through his training and his love to reach those I thought I never could before.” JS
37. “Engaging presentation that equips believers to practically share the gospel with those God has placed in
their lives – moving them one step close to Jesus Christ.” AD
38. “You have helped me with my struggle with witnessing.” JJ
39. “This was a nice opportunity for me to learn more about the tools of witnessing. I know now that I am not
the only one who has fears and to overcome them in Christ.” JS
40. “The practical information and tools give me confidence to intentionally pray, care and share God’s love
and truth into the people around me at the level they are willing to receive.” SD
41. “It helps to see how fully we can incorporate our witness into every aspect of our lives.” HM
42. “I feel better able to know how to speak to non-Christians about God and to share God with them.” DS
43. “Dallas opened up my heart to seek what God wants to do with me concerning evangelism, what type and
level, and he motivated me to witness more and to pray more.” LS
44. “Great seminar. It’s a release to understand the witness vs. evangelist concept. I’m one of the 90%!” KW
45. “I was overwhelmed by his speech. Learned a lot. Very good speaker. I know now that God is in my
heart.” WO
46. “Dallas gave me more confidence to share the Gospel and my own testimony by breaking them down into
portions that make sense without draining me.” LKE
47. “This teaching caused me to be more sensitive about sharing the Gospel from where people are at. After
taking this class I found the Lord creating opportunities to witness. Interesting!” JA
48. “This training has encouraged me to share, share, share! I will be looking for new opportunities to share
the gospel. Exciting!” MK
49. “As an evangelist, I was a total failure. Since I sat in on the first session, I’ve been talking to a young
neighbor man (37). He was open to my loving him and the tidbits I gave him about how much Jesus loves
him. I have visited with him twice and he was glad when I said I would come again.” JB
50. “I think Dallas has given me a great walk down the Christ path and a great understanding.” BG
51. “Wow, how simply put! ‘Everything I say and do should help others take one step closer to God.’ I don’t
need to make it complicated because it really isn’t.” LN
52. “One step closer to Christ’ makes evangelism do-able.” EN
53. “The share part was very practical and helpful. It emphasized how to discuss the gospel and not just
present it.” RD
54. “The faith stories were a wonderful way of connecting faith with everyday life.” CW
55. …and they are still coming in!

Serve Christ by Serving the City - together
“Seek the Welfare of the City where I have sent you” Jeremiah 29:7
A Mission America Coalition Partner – Serving His One Church –
P. O. Box 11333. Cedar Rapids, IA 52410-1333 Phone: 319-378-0337 Email:

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Thoughts on Collaboration


The most serious problem the Christian witness faces today is not opposition from atheist ideologies and rival religions; it is disunity among the churches. This disunity ranges all of the way from simple lack of communication across denominational lines to outright and intemperate attacks upon the theological claims and structures of each other.

Harold A. Bosley

We saw last week how badly some have misinterpreted John 17:20-23 in their attempts to make this prayer fit with the present realty of the divided church. Even many local congregations have used this kind of interpretive approach to justify their continual divisions and arguments. The question we need to ask now is what does this text really mean, positively?

Relational Unity

So, what is Jesus really praying for? I suggest he is praying for our relational unity. If you please, the unity that he prays for is spiritual, in the sense that is it a Spirit-given and Spirit-sustained unity; i.e., it is not something that we can create on our own. (I am not using spiritual here as a synonym for invisible.) If the unity that Jesus prays for is between people in human relationships then this is a unity that can be kept or lost to divisions, rivalries, factions and church splits.

Jesus is not addressing the issue of denominations (since they did not exist) nor universal church councils (which also did not exist yet). Most biblical scholars, including modern Catholic ones, agree with this point. Remember, he is praying that all his followers will live as he lived. This has a clear reference to his own personal relationship with his Father. But you say, "His oneness with the Father was eternal." Right you are, but this is not what is in view here. Look more carefully at the text. The second person of the eternal Trinity, the Logos, was incarnated in the man Christ Jesus. Jesus lived fully and completely as a human person. In his humanity Jesus lived day-to-day in total dependence upon his Father. This relationship, lived in and by the fullness of the Holy Spirit, was one of unity. Thus this relational oneness between Jesus and the Father was a perfectly expressed unity of persons in relationship. Thus this relational aspect is clearly what is in view here in John 17.

This becomes particularly clear in verse 23 where Jesus prays that his disciples, "will be brought to complete unity." We already have perfect spiritual unity in our relationship with Jesus but we do not experience this unity relationally unless we are "brought" into it through our day-to-day experience. This tells me that there is a process going on in our shared life with the Trinity and our fellow believers. When Christians respond to one another in the way that Jesus prayed for the results will be exactly what this prayer asked the Father to give to them: "Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me" (verse 23).

Divide and Multiply

Theologian Ben Witherington, III, has noted that the first law of American Protestant ecclesiology seems to be: "Thou shalt divide and multiply." I learned this principle in my first pastorate. In Chicago my denomination desperately wanted to plant new churches. As a result of this desire the church I served as pastor had split from another church that had once been part of a different church where I had previously been a member. Confused? Simply put, here were three congregations, all within a few miles of each other in two suburban cities. In each case a church split had been brought about by quarreling, petty personality disputes and jealousies. I had been a member of one of these churches and now pastored a split church that came out of that congregation. And we all worked together to reach Chicago for Christ in the same church fellowship.

One day I decided to ask our denominational executive what this was all about. He eagerly told me that dividing churches was a healthy way to reach people. I expressed my concern about schism and the obvious lack of holiness I saw in these three churches. Later I would hear this man tell ministers that dividing churches, through any means, would multiply churches and this was a good thing. To put it mildly, I was appalled.

I couldn't imagine how encouraging schism could ever be right. But this is America.

There is always a tension in the church between unity among believers and truth as it is understood and held by believers. Protestantism has tended to hold up Truth, with a capital T, while intoning unity with a lowercase u, with the end result that Protestant churches and denominations have proved endlessly divisive and factious. On the other hand, Catholicism and Orthodoxy have held up Unity with a capital U, and at least from a Protestant viewpoint this has been at the expense of Truth. In others words, no part of the church has adequately gotten the balance between truth and unity right, it would seem.1

While one can question the simplicity of this observation the conclusion remains helpful. Deep inside I knew for many years that the stance I took for capital T truth, verses capital U unity, was a false dichotomy. One could choose to embrace both Truth and Unity. But it would be awhile before the Spirit broke thorough my pride to teach me how my view opposed Christ.

I do find it surprising that the famous German liberal Rudolph Bultmann, in his commentary on the Gospel of John, wrote: "the actual division of the church . . . does not necessarily frustrate the unity of the proclamation." (This is one of those odd instances where the most serious conservative separatists, who despise Bultmann, agree with his faulty interpretation!) But the late Lesslie Newbigin understood this correctly: "A proclamation which is contradicted by the practice of those who proclaim it is not what Jesus here prays for. This attempt to justify the fragmentation of Protestantism is not a legitimate exposition of the text. Jesus is praying for visible unity among [all] those who believe."2


Frankly, it never ceases to amaze me how so many Christians will argue positively for division and schism and then attempt to prove that this is precisely what Christ wanted in the light of John 17. As odd as it may seem the citation from Rudolph Bultmann I just quoted really is closer to the view of many conservatives than almost any of them will admit. Bultmann is no conservative role model for biblical exegesis and the authority of Scripture. When we deny the obvious meaning of a text, in order to justify our sin and division, it seems that we will go to almost any measure to support our sinful conclusion.

1 Ben Witherington, III. John's Wisdom: A Commentary on the Fourth Gospel (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1995), 274.

2 Lesslie Newbigin, The Light Has Come: An Exposition of the Fourth Gospel (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982), 235. The Bultmann quotation is cited by Newbigin as well.

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Sunday, November 02, 2008

A lifeverse for a lifestyle for a lifetime

I have chosen a new decadal life verse! Since 1997 I had claimed Philippians 3:10- "That I may know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings".

Even now my mind reflects back to the last 10 years of trusting, sinning, repenting, despairing, and hoping. God has been with us. We are glad, and we hope. Marie and I would say that the 10 previous years have been more trying and yet more fulfilling than our first two decades together.

But now, I happily claim *Psalm 96:2, 3*:
Sing to the Lord, bless His name;
Proclaim good news of His salvation from day to day.
Tell (Publish- ESV) of his glory among the nations,
His wonderful deeds among all peoples.

I am the most fortunate man on the planet. Because of the way God has built me, and because of the enormous privilege of serving him at the Billy Graham Center with some of His finest servants, these verses live in me. I can sing of his love, proclaim his salvation, and tell and publish of his mighty deeds to all His people. I pray and hope through His grace and ever present Spirit to become skilled at all three of the verbs above- singing
praise to his name, proclaiming the glorious message of salvation in Christ alone, and publishing his truth among the nations and all his people.

On behalf of the team at the Billy Graham Center, and my family,
Lon Allison, Billy Graham Center, Wheaton College

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

CARE ~ A New Web Resource for Citywide Collaboration & Communication

Hi Phi,

You suggested in your last email that I send you some information about CharityTracker for your blog. Listed below is an overview of the impact CharityTracker is having in communities all across America. We are very thankful for the Lord's orchestrated process in enabling us to create this software, which surprisingly, has real community-building power.

Thanks for helping us spread the word.



Simon Solutions is a "marketplace ministry" that enables local communities to mobilize and maximize their caring power. Using up-to-date internet technology, we've discovered a simple and practical way for churches, non-profits, and government agencies to work together in charitable giving.

Hundreds of organizations in 116 cities now use CharityTracker to keep track of the people they love and serve. Together, these organizations help build a 24/7 communication network for information-sharing, shared case management, and area-wide bulletins/alerts. So far they have logged in over 168,000 assistance records.

CharityTracker online community networks are simple to use, easy to implement, and affordable. This makes it easy for care providers to:

  • Securely share valuable information with each other.
  • Prevent duplication of services; saving thousands of dollars.
  • Broadcast area-wide bulletins and alerts.
  • Identify needs and mobilize resources.
  • Encourage collaboration and cooperation.

In a time when we all need to do more with less, it's important that the right resources get into the right hands. CharityTracker helps increase levels of accountability and efficiency, making it easier for care providers to measure their impact and secure contributions.

CharityTracker provides communities with a powerful relational infrastructure on which to build partnerships and unite care networks throughout the city. To learn more how CharityTracker can help mobilize the caring power of your community, check out our website. Take a moment to watch the short video, which briefly explains the simplicity of CharityTracker.




CharityTracker has really saved us time and money.

"CharityTracker has really saved us time and money. It is really a help to be able to interact with other churches and groups. We are able to assist more people and feel like the people we help are the ones that really need the help." Debra Tuten, First United Methodist Church — Florence, AL

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SHARE ~ Do we witness to the way or just the truth of Jesus?

An Excerpt From

The Jesus Way
by Eugene H. Peterson

The ways employed in our North American culture are conspicuously impersonal: programs, organizations, techniques, general guidelines, information detached from place. In matters of ways and means, the vocabulary of numbers is preferred over names, ideologies crowd out ideas, the gray fog of abstraction absorbs the sharp particularities of the recognizable face and the familiar street. My concern is provoked by the observation that so many who understand themselves to be followers of Jesus, without hesitation, and apparently without thinking, embrace the ways and means of the culture as they go about their daily living “in Jesus’ name.” But the ways that dominate our culture have been developed either in ignorance or in defiance of the ways that Jesus uses to lead us. . .

Jesus as the truth gets far more attention than Jesus as the way. Jesus as the way is the most frequently evaded metaphor among the Christians with whom I have worked for fifty years as a North American pastor. We cannot skip the way of Jesus in our hurry to get the truth of Jesus as he is worshiped and proclaimed. The way of Jesus is the way that we practice and come to understand the truth of Jesus, living Jesus in our homes and workplaces, with our friends and family. . .

The local congregation is the primary place for dealing with the particulars and people we live with. As created and sustained by the Holy Spirit, it is insistently local and personal. Unfortunately, the more popular American church strategies in respect to congregation are not friendly to the local and personal. The American way with its penchant for catchy slogans and stirring visions denigrates the local, and its programmatic ways of dealing with people erode the personal, replacing intimacies with functions. The North American church at present is conspicuous for replacing the Jesus way with the American way. . .

Jesus’ metaphor, kingdom of God, defines the world in which we live. We live in a world where Christ is king. If Christ is king, every thing, quite literally, every thing and every one, has to be re-imagined, re-configured, re-oriented to a way of life that consists in an obedient following of Jesus. A total renovation of our imagination, our way of looking at things—what Jesus commanded in his no-nonsense imperative, “Repent!”—is required. . .

We can—we must!—take responsibility for the way we live and work in our homes and neighborhoods, workplaces and public squares. We can refuse to permit the culture to dictate the way we go about our lives. . .

Ways and means that are removed or abstracted from Jesus and the Scriptures that give witness to him amount sooner or later to a betrayal of Jesus. In this kingdom-of-God world, the person that we follow is the primary shaping influence on the person that we become. Christians follow Jesus.

Excerpted from The Jesus Way: a conversation on the ways that Jesus is the way by Eugene H. Peterson (Grand Rapids, MI, Eerdmans, 2007), pp. 1, 4-5, 9, 13, 15. Used by permission.===>Click headline to access Perspectives newsletter . . .

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October 2008 Mission America Coalition Update

News and Trends

Christian Marketplace Influencers Executive Marketplace Intelligence for Ministry Decision Makers!

Time Magazine on Rick Warren Rick Warren says he and his staff have given “purpose-driven training” to 500,000 pastors worldwide, and that 1 out of 20 U.S. churches has done 40 Days of Purpose exercises. In all, says fellow mega-pastor Joel Hunter, Warren’s is “easily the broadest and most influential church network in the world.” He (Warren) got a conventional theology doctorate and an unconventional education from a friend, management guru Peter Drucker, who refined Warren’s organizational gift and offered a secular vocabulary with which to express it.” (Time 8/7/08)

Defining ‘Evangelical’ Ellison Research asked the average adult American what they believe is an “evangelical Christian.” 36% said they had no idea. 18% said it is a Christian who tries to spread his or her faith. 9%: Christians particularly devoted or zealous about their faith (but not to the point of fanaticism) and totally sold-out to their beliefs. 8%: focused strongly on the Bible, believing in the Bible as God’s inerrant word allowing it to guide their lives. 8%: saved by Christ, saved by grace, believe in a born-again experience, and believe in eternal life through Christ, among other theological definitions. 2% gave a dramatically off-base theological definition. 6%: conservative, ultra-conservative or radical right, anti-homosexual, Republican, highly involved in politics, etc. 5%: fanatical about their beliefs. 4%: closed-minded about religion. 3%: focus on money rather than God. 3%: want to impose their beliefs or standards on others. Researchers stressed almost half of Americans cannot give a definition of evangelical that has any substance to it. (The Christian Post 9/4/08)

Avoiding Dropout Further analysis of an earlier released LifeWay Research project on reasons 18-22-year-olds drop out of church finds these views together best predict a young person will stay in church:

  • “I wanted the church to help guide my decisions in everyday life (prior to age 18).”
  • “At age 17 my parents were still married to each other and both attended church.”
  • “The pastor’s sermons were relevant to my life (prior to age 18).”
  • “At least 1 adult from church made a significant investment in me personally and spiritually between the ages of 15 and 18.” (LifeWay Research Insights 7/08)

Amish Growth In the last 16 years, the Amish population has nearly doubled, according to researchers from Elizabethtown College’s Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies. Over the same period, Amish settlements have been established in 7 new states (Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, Washington and West Virginia), putting them in at least 28 states. (The Associated Press)

Diverse Religion The U.S. is one of the most religiously diverse countries in the world with adherents from all of the world’s major religions. A recent Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life survey finds the U.S. is on the verge of becoming a minority Protestant country for the first time in its history. The number of Americans who claim they are members of Protestant denominations is now barely 51% vs. more than 60% in the ’70s and ’80s. More than 25% of American adults have left the faith in which they were raised in favor of another or no religion at all. (The Pew Forum 8/20/08)

U.S. Religious Affiliations Evangelical Protestant Churches 26.3% Historically Black Churches 6.9% Mormon 1.7% Orthodox 0.6% Jewish 1.7% Muslim 0.6% Other World Religions <0.3%>

Morality 55% of American adults discuss moral issues with others in a typical week. The Barna Group asked adults about 8 moral behaviors. Liberals were twice as likely as conservatives to participate in morally questionable activities. Evangelicals were the most likely to follow traditional morality, while atheists and agnostics most unlikely. While evangelicals averaged 6% participation in each of the 8 behaviors, skeptics averaged 29%. Within the Christian community, there were few differences between Protestants and Catholics in relation to moral behavior. George Barna says, “The consistent deterioration of the Bible as the source of moral truth has led to a nation where people become independent judges of right and wrong, basing their choices on feelings and circumstances.” (The Barna Group 8/25/08)

Divine Intervention When it comes to saving lives, God trumps doctors for many Americans. A Univ. of Connecticut survey reveals widespread belief that divine intervention can revive dying patients. And, researchers said, doctors “need to be prepared to deal with families who are waiting for a miracle.” 57% of randomly surveyed adults said God’s intervention could save a family member even if physicians declared treatment would be futile. And nearly three-quarters said patients have a right to demand such treatment. When asked to imagine their own relatives being gravely ill or injured, nearly 20% of doctors and other medical workers said God could reverse a hopeless outcome. (The Church Report 8/20/08)

Digital World Internet Retailer reports, in early ’07, 12% of all retail sales of consumer media products (books, music, video, etc.) were via e-commerce. This is twice the percentage of all retail products sold through e-commerce. (CBA Retailers+Resources 8/08)

Bible Sales In a bleak retail economy, including many independent Christian retail stores, Bibles continue to be one of the bright spots. Not only do Bibles remain the heart and soul of a Christian retailer’s mission, but they also continue to be in strong demand. (Christian e-Tailing 8/21/08)

Pastor Pay Churches of 101 to 300 people weekly pay their senior pastor $72,664 annually, including benefits. Churches of 310 to 500 pay an average of $88,502, while those with 501 to 750 pay $102,623. On average, pastors who complete post-grad work earn $14,000 more than those with a master’s and $24,000 more than those with a bachelor’s. Presbyterian and Lutheran senior pastors earn the most: $100,751 and $100,593. (The 2009 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff)

Underpaid 51% of Americans feel they are underpaid for their work, finds a Gallup survey. 46% feel they are paid about the right amount, while 3% feel they are overpaid. Middle- and lower-income Americans are more likely to say they are underpaid. 62% of those making less than $75,000 a year agree vs. 38% of those making more than $75,000. 47% of men and 55% of women say they are underpaid. 51% of both whites and non-whites feel underpaid. Also, 49% of those with high school educations or less say they are underpaid vs. 52% of those with at least some college. (Pastors Weekly Briefing 8/22/08)

Childless The percentage of childless women in the U.S. who have reached the end of their child-bearing years has doubled from 10% to 20% in the last 30 years, reports the U.S. Census Bureau. The survey reports, “Women 40-44 will end their childbearing years with an average of 1.9 children each, a number below replacement-level fertility.” This compares to 3.1 in ’76. 36% of the women who gave birth in ’06 were separated, widowed, divorced or never married. 5% were living with a partner. Most women who go on to post-secondary education wait until age 30 to 34 to have children. 27% of women with undergraduate degrees and upwards are childless. Only the U.S. Hispanic and Black populations are replacing themselves with an average of 2.3 and 2.0 children born per woman, making them the only stabilizing force in the population. At this rate, experts say, whites will be the U.S. minority by 2042. (LifeSite News 8/19/08)

Inappropriate A national survey shows more than a quarter of Christian women personally have experienced sexually inappropriate behavior, and a fourth of those said it happened in a church or ministry setting. Not all incidents reported fall under the legal definition of sexual harassment, i.e. “unwelcome attention due to one’s gender.” 53% who have experienced inappropriate behavior say they do not plan to report these instances to avoid stirring up controversy. Nonprofit attorney and CPA Frank Sommerville says, “Juries tend to award larger damages to victims of sexual harassment within churches, because they think a church should be a safe place.” (Pastors Weekly Briefing 8/22/08)

Woman Power The economic power of women is huge: $3.7 trillion in consumer spending and $1.5 trillion in commercial spending each year. Women make most of the consumer decisions about everything, including more than 80% of big ticket decisions like automobiles and homes, as well as everyday decisions. Over 91 % of women feel advertisers don’t understand them. 66% feel misunderstood by health care marketers, 74% by auto makers and 84% investment marketers. (American Marketing Association Newsletter 8/9/08)

Donors cite the #1 reason for ceasing their support is the way they were treated, from not being thanked to an avalanche of needy appeals. It is indeed cheaper to keep a customer/donor than to find a new one. Thank your donors 3 times as often as you appeal for donations. Make your thank-you message personal and show them their impact. (Network for Good Learning Center 8/14/08)

Young Adult Readers Up “There have been significant increases in sales of YA (young adult) books over the past several years,” says Zonderkidz Marketing VP Alicia Mey. A Children’s Book Council Sales Survey finds YA sales have increased from more than 13% in ’01 to more than 34% in ’05. Mey adds, “We know that in the Christian channel, teens want more books to meet their spiritual needs as well as their entertainment needs.” An ’06 Barna Group study says 66% of all born-again Christians make a profession of faith before age 18. Nelson, Zondervan, FaithWords, Multnomah and NavPress have all recently launched or beefed up their YA offerings. (Christian e-Tailing 8/26/08)

VeggieTales characters take to the stage this fall to perform for audiences nationwide during their 50-city, major-market VeggieTales God Made You Special, Live! Tour. Kicked off on Sept. 4 in Austin, TX, other cities include Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Boston, Minneapolis, Nashville, Orlando and Phoenix. (CBA Retailers+Resources Industry Brief 9/2/08)

Home-Schooled Students do just as well or better than their public school peers. They typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests, according to the National Home Education Research Institute. ( 8/25/08)

Church Kids Get Better Grades Church attendance has as much greater effect on a teen’s GPA than whether the parents earned a college degree. 7th to 12th graders who went to church weekly also had lower dropout rates and felt more a part of their schools. On average, students whose parents received a 4-year college degree average a GPA 0.12 higher than those whose parents completed only high school. Students who attend religious services weekly average a GPA 0.144 higher than those who never attend services, found the Univ. of Iowa study. Why do these students do better? • They have regular contact with role model adults from various generations. • Their parents are more likely to communicate with their friends’ parents. • They develop friendships with peers who have similar norms and values. • They’re more likely to participate in extracurricular activities. Other studies have shown regular church-goers breathe easier and live longer. Kids whose parents go to church are better behaved and more well-adjusted. Researchers cite the social-network and psychological benefits of churches. (CR Online 8/23/08)

Teens and Marriage Center for Law and Social Policy research finds almost 70% of white girls ages 15-19 who got pregnant in the first half of the ’60s chose to get married. By the early ’90s, that number had fallen to 19%. Among black teens, it fell from 36% to less than 7%. According to Time’s 9/1/08 issue, 1 of every 3 mothers who gave birth in the past 12 months was unmarried, separated, divorced or widowed at the time. (

Economy Because of higher gas and food price concerns, 48% of U.S. consumers plan to reduce their household spending by more than $100. In addition, consumers will change where and how they shop. The number of people who shopped at club stores such as Costco, B.J.'s and Sam's Club increased 3.6% from 9/07 to 4/08. (Center for Media Research Brief 8/21/08

Debt Burden The average American household is now buried under mortgage debt of $84,911, car and tuition loans of $14,414, home equity loans of $10,062 and credit card debt of $8,565—in sum, outstanding debt totaling $117,952. Federal Reserve data says the average household savings this year are a mere $392. (AARP Bulletin 9/08)

U.S. Not Alone According to a Financial Times/Harris Poll, most people in France, Germany, Great Britain, Spain and the U.S. believe their economies are getting worse. Within the past year, 72% of British adults feel their household’s economic well-being has become worse, compared to 56% of Germans and Americans. (Harris Poll Weekly 9/3/08)

Asian Americans Although Asians only represent 5% of the U.S. population, they are among the most educated and affluent U.S. consumers. Census Bureau data reveals the median age among Asian Americans is 34.8 vs. 36.2 for the total population. They spent $459 billion on products and services in ’07. Direct-mail influences 22% of their product purchases. 48% have earned a bachelor’s degree, and they earn an impressive median annual income of $63,900. They are also among the most active in the digital world. (Deliver Magazine Issue 4, Vol. 4, 9/08)

Wealthy The U.S. government estimates 20% of all U. S. households have an income of $100,000+, accounting for more than one half of the nation’s household income. (Center for Media research Brief 9/19/08)

Spain’s “Express Divorce” Law, which has facilitated the dissolution of marriages, has resulted in a divorce rate of 69%, that is, for every 4 marriages celebrated, 3 are broken. (LifeSite News 9/9/08)

Shower Your Pig According to Agence France-Presse, new legislation adopted in Switzerland spells out in detail how all domestic animals are to be treated. For example, live goldfish may not be flushed down the toilet but must be first knocked out and then killed before the body can be disposed. The law applies to pets, farm animals, wild animals in zoos/circuses and animals used in experiments. The law also bans catch-and-release fishing; stipulates that hamsters, sheep and goats should not live alone; and that pigs have the right to a shower. (,

Global Warming Myth Contrary to major media reports, data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center finds a dramatic increase in sea ice extent in the Arctic regions. The growth over the past year covers an area of 700,000 square kilometers, an amount twice the size of Germany. With the Arctic melting season over for ’08, ice cover will continue to increase until melting begins anew next spring. August ’08 data indicates a total sea ice area of 5 million square kilometers, up 13% from a year ago. (Daily Tech 9/3/08)

Social Media Sleuths A new survey finds 22% of all hiring managers have combed through social media profiles (mostly on LinkedIn and Facebook) to help evaluate potential hires, up from 11% in ’06. (Online Media Daily 9/11/08)

Fast Facts:

  • 31% of men who experience major depression have always attended religious services vs. 24% among those who have stopped attending.
  • A Gallup Poll finds 66% of Americans said if they needed a mental health professional, they would prefer going to one with spiritual values and beliefs.
  • More than 80% of Americans prefer to have their own values and beliefs integrated into their counseling process.
  • 56% of Protestants and 62% of Catholics participated in at least some training in the past year. (LifeWay Research Insights 8/15/08)
  • 50% of Americans know a member of the Christian clergy very well, while another 20% know one casually. (LifeWay Research Insights 8/15/08)
  • An estimated 220,000 black students were home-schooled in ‘07, up from 84,000 in ’99.
  • About 78% of women use the Internet for product information before making a purchase.
  • 77% of Hispanics have a bank account versus 98% of general market consumers.
  • 72% of the general consumer market has a retirement account (including 401(k) and IRA) vs. just 4% of African Americans and 32% of Hispanics.
  • Microsoft spends more than $8 billion per year on research and development.
  • There have been 4.3 million births in the U.S. since ’06 (latest data available). This is the highest birthrate since 1961.
  • 14% of self-described evangelicals have no definition of what an evangelical is.
  • 23% of pastors say their congregation has little or no security screening for the people working with young people.
  • Barna Research reports there are 24 million teens in the U.S., and more than half attend a church on a weekly basis.
  • An additional 31% of U.S. teens experiment with attending church but have not committed.
  • 75% of teens discuss matters of faith with their peers.
  • 33% of U.S. young people are members of Christian clubs at their high schools and colleges.
  • 75% of U.S. young adults have participated in at least one psychic- or witchcraft-related activity during their teens.
  • 94% of Millenials say they would accept a lower salary to work with a socially responsible company.
  • Wal-Mart distributes 25% of America’s newsstand products.
  • Gallup data shows people who have TVs in their homes report greater well-being than do those who do not.
  • On average, the effects of owning a TV are stronger in poorer as opposed to wealthier countries.
  • Depression affects about 121 million people worldwide, 17 million in America.
  • 30% of U.S. adults will experience depression at some point in their lifetimes.
  • The World Health Organization predicts by 2020, depression will be second only to heart disease in its impact on global health.
  • Food price inflation averaged just 2.3% from ’96 to ’06 vs. 6.1% from ’07 to 6/08.
  • A Nielsen Mobile study finds 1 in 5 U.S. wireless households could be wireless-only by the end of ’08.
Information compiled and edited by Gary Foster, President of Gary D Foster Consulting, a firm that assists Christian ministries and product companies in solving management, marketing, donor/customer service and product development problems. Contact Gary at: 419.238.4082, or go to

Dear MAC Partner,

Paul CedarWe have just concluded our 2008 MAC Annual Gathering in Minneapolis. It was an outstanding meeting. In fact, I believe that it was one of the best and most powerful of any that we have experienced over the past years.

Our focus was on reaching out to the younger generations of our nation with the good news of Jesus Christ with the prayer-care-share lifestyle. If you were unable to attend, I encourage you to go to our website at and read the conference report.

We pray that you will be able to join us for next year’s Annual Gathering scheduled for October 6-8, 2009. In the meantime, we thank the Lord for you and pray that you will enjoy a significant and encouraging fall season in serving the Lord and sharing His love with others.

Prayerfully yours – in Christ,

Paul Cedar Chairman

Mission America Coalition News

Promise Keepers Revisits Charleston, W. Va.

PKRon Thaxton, city leader for Loving Our Communities to Christ in Charleston, W. Va. sent this report from the recent Promise Keepers convention:

Our local team was essentially the same guys that God had forged together in the wonder of our 2004 (Promise Keepers) Conference - but there was a change in their perspective. They were not seeing the conference as an end in itself, but as part of the means toward community transformation. The bond had not only endured over the four-year interim - it had strengthened!

More than 220 men responded to the invitations to initially commit their lives to Christ, to deepen their relationship with Him or to come to Him as the One who is able to set them free from their bondage. We have established twenty small discipleship groups throughout our region to provide ongoing support--Mountaineer Disciple Keepers. After an initial four-week study we will be encouraging the guys to get involved in the desperate needs of their communities.

- Rev. Ron Thaxton, Church in the City, Charleston, W.Va.

Join the Conference Call to Launch “Ready Church” in Your City Thursday, Oct. 23, 10 a.m. CDT CENJoin a “Ready Church” conference call Oct 23 to find out how to position your city network to play a critical role in responding to emergencies of all kinds. You’ll learn how to restore the church’s role as an agent of positive change in your community, how to strengthen and sustain your city reaching efforts, how to win permission to share the gospel, and learn more about a Biblical collaboration opportunity to transform cities for Christ. Guests on the call include: Mary Marr, Christian Emergency Network Founder and Chairman; Dr. Sam Tillery, Together in Christ (Sonoma county/city leader), John Howland (Local Chapter champion), Dr John Schmitt (Santa Rosa champion pastor). Email for the call-in phone number and code.

The Ready Church Report is available online at

Evangelism News

Making the Leap from High School to College YTNA Youth Transition Network (YTN) website,, offers students connections to 5,450 ministries on more than 3,000 campuses and roommates on more than 4,300 campuses to help students connect with other Christians at college, or as they plan for college. YTN also offers “Be Prepared” campaign offers online and DVD materials to help motivate, prepare, and connect graduating high school students to their next spiritual home. On February 7, YTN will launch a “Live Above” webcast for junior and senior high youth to help them transition to college. Involve your church! More info.

Help for Parents of Teenagers Re-CreateRon Luce, founder of Teenmania Ministries has authored a new book: Re-Create - Building a Culture in Your Home Stronger than the Culture Deceiving Your Kids.

In an interview with CBN, Luce says, “You don't have to look very far to see that the cultural war is hammering our kids. Whether it's MTV, or the garbage just off regular television, the music world, video games and all that. This is the parent answer book. This is the book of hope for parents who are saying, ‘What in the world do I do?’” More info.

Student Views Shift Left in College On issues of morality and religion, college students shift noticeably to the left from the time they arrive on campus through their junior year, new research shows. The reason, according to UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute, is the powerful influence of fellow students. More info.

Children’s Pastors’ Conferences To Meet INCMThe International Network of Children’s Ministry is hosting two conferences for children’s pastors. Jan. 5-8, the Children’s Pastors’ Conference will be held in San Diego, and Feb. 4-7 in Nashville. The events will equip children’s ministry leaders with skills to know how to lead children to Christ, to help children and children’s ministry leaders grow in their faith, and to offer strategies for outreach events and church programs that connect with children and families. More info.

The Strategic Importance of Student Ministry. Students The September issue of the Lausanne World Pulse offers five articles on the strategic importance of reaching students. One article by Dana Ryan, International Bible Church, Tempe, Ariz., international church reaching out to skeptical, intellectual grad students. More info. (photo: Lausanne World Pulse)

See You at the Pole Prayers More 'Politically Charged' See You At the PoleEvery year, on the fourth Wednesday of September, Christian students meet at “See You at the Pole” prayer rallies to intercede for their leaders, schools and families, asking God to bring moral and spiritual awakening to their campuses and countries. This year around 2 million students nationwide participated and many sought divine intervention for political issues. More info. (Photo: NNYM)

FOX Picks Up Inspiring Christian Sports Show for Teens Jejuna “The Real Winning Edge” is running on Saturdays this fall in more than 75% of the nation, including New York City, on FOX affiliate stations. The episodes of the show are geared toward teenagers and feature the personal stories of outstanding young people. Introducing the stories is an all-star team of high-profile, professional athletes and celebrities. More info. (

Thousands of California Christian Youth Empowered to Defend Marriage Fine LineThousands of believers across the state of California were encouraged and empowered to take a stand for traditional marriage through an event that was broadcast live to more than 160 churches in California and countless others across the Internet. On Wednesday, Miles McPherson hosted “The Fine Line” at his San Diego megachurch – the city’s largest Christian congregation and one of the fastest growing in the United. More info. (photo: Rock Photo / Brother Joe)

Study: Church-Going Teens Have Higher GPAs Regular church attendance may boost a student's GPA, according to a new study. Students who attend religious services weekly average a GPA of 0.144 higher than those who never attend services. More info.

Leading Like Christ Outcomes Magazine, from the Christian Leadership Alliance (previously the Christian Management Association and the Christian Stewardship Association) has published several articles on partnership and collaboration by MAC partners: “Collaboration Is Key to the Great Commission,” an interview with Steve Douglass, President of Campus Crusade for Christ, International, and “Working Together – It’s a God Idea,” with Phill Butler, Dave Hackett and Bill Sunderland of visionSynergy. More info.

Two Evangelical Groups Announce Global Partnership World Evangelical Alliance, which claims to represent some 420 million evangelical Christian worldwide, and World Vision International, which works in 98 countries and serves nearly 100 million, have agreed to work together on initiatives that bring holistic care to children, promote social justice, and contribute to Christian unity and cooperation. More info.

Mass Distribution of 80-Author Prayer Guide Underway Praying PastorsAn extensive prayer guide, written by 80 different professors and national prayer leaders, is being distributed to clergy nationwide at no cost to help tackle what many see as the top issue facing the church today. America’s National Prayer Committee recently launched The Praying Pastors Project to distribute Giving Ourselves to Prayer: An Acts 6:4 Primer for Ministry and other prayer resources to clergy. More info. (image:

Most Protestants Fall Short of Spiritual Maturity One researcher found that most Protestant churchgoers are not where they should be in their spiritual formation. According to Brad Waggoner, vice president of B&H Publishing Group, and his survey findings, only 17 percent of Protestant churchgoers in America demonstrated a "decent" level of discipleship or spiritual maturity. More info.

How to Keep People from Quitting Church When it comes to growing a healthy church, Pastor Larry Osborne doesn't survey the front door to see how he can attract large crowds and wow them with a special program. For the most part, his eyes are glued to the back door. That's because so many churches have been losing people, and some, without even noticing. More info.

Outreach 100: Largest and Fastest-Growing Churches in America For the first time since Outreach magazine has compiled its annual report of the largest churches in America, all 100 largest and fastest-growing churches were listed with 7,000 weekend attendants or higher. More info.

Innovate '08 Urges Churches to Stop Talking, Start Doing Mark Beeson of Granger Community Church says it's time to pop the church bubble many Christians are in - some so long that they have disengaged from the world. Beeson spoke at Innovate 2008, an annual conference hosted at his church in Granger, Ind., in September. All of the speakers were part of some of the most innovative churches in the country and challenged conference attendees to "start doing" for the purpose of transforming lives. More info.

Evangelicals Make Case for Bolder Poverty Response Joel HunterThe Rev. Joel Hunter, senior pastor of Northland Church in Orlando, Fla., and a board member of the World Evangelical Alliance, was one of a number of prominent American evangelical leaders who called on their government, the United Nations and the Church in September to adopt a bolder, more aggressive plan to combat global poverty. More info. (Photo:

Fireproof Offers Church Resources Through partnerships with ministries like Focus on the Family and 10 Great Dates, resources are available for churches to use following up the powerful message of the movie “Fireproof.” More info.

Missiologist Ralph D. Winter Receives Lifetime Achievement Award Ralph WinterRenowned American missiologist Dr. Ralph D. Winter and founder of the U.S. Center for World Mission recently received the 2008 Lifetime of Service Award that honored his lifetime of service to the cause of global mission. More info. (Photo:

Some Churches Have It, Some Don't Already in its second printing, a newly released book by one of the country's most innovative pastors is fast-becoming a must-read for church leaders who really want to have 'it.' Craig Groeschel, founder of, talks about a transformational agent he calls "it" in his new book It: How Churches and Leaders Can Get It and Keep It. More info.

U.S. Churches Urged to Confront Lukewarm Giving A survey by Empty Tomb, Inc., found that, on average, two cents of each dollar donated to congregations in 2006 funded international missions through the denominations – a level of support for overseas missions that was lower than that in the 1920s. Only $26 a year per evangelical Christian is required to fund over $544 million in efforts toward global evangelization, the report estimates. The estimated cost to stop global deaths of children under five years old is $239 per evangelical Christian, or $5 billion in total. More info.

Non-U.S. Christians Identify Problems in American Missions Christian leaders from around the world recently met in Dallas to share how the American church is viewed by believers in the Global South. Many of the more than a hundred pastors gathered noted that though the support of the U.S. church is still needed, American Christians should help foster local leadership instead of imposing its own model of church overseas. More info.

Lutherans Launch Celebration toward Reformation's 500th Year LutherLutherans in Germany and around the world have begun a decade of celebrations, honoring an Augustinian monk who helped spark the Protestant Reformation. The "Luther Decade" kicked off in Wittenberg, Germany, in September, marked 500 years since Luther moved to the city. More info. (photo: Picture Alliance ZB)

Faith-Based TV Program Finds Success in U.S. Prisons A faith-based television program, “Second Chance,” dedicated to ministering hope and restoration to thousands of men and women incarcerated throughout America is gaining in popularity with correctional officials, according to TBN, the network behind it. More info.

Expelled Released on DVD ExpelledLanding the title as “Top Grossing Documentary” of 2008, EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed made its debut on DVD. Distributed by Vivendi Entertainment, the film opened in the Top 10, achieving the #5 position on a per-screen average. It has already made its place in history as the #12 Top Grossing Documentary of all time and the #1 Conservative Documentary. More info.

Facing Off Against Hollywood FireproofFor a week, Hollywood and the media elite took notice of the movie Fireproof. Stories on ABC News, the New York Times, and Time Magazine told of a church making movies and Fireproof was in the top 10 movies in the country for its first three weeks in theaters – showing to 2.2 million people. The Love Dare, originally a plot device, became the No. 1 bestseller on the New York Times list of paperback advice books and #4 on There is still a short window of time available to see it! More info.

Southern Calif. Church Enters Movie-Making Business A 900-member church in Southern California began filming its first full-length movie in July with the goal of impacting the lives of at-risk teens. Written by New Song Youth Pastor Jim Britts and Executive Pastor Steve Foster, "How to Save a Life" deals with the tragic issue of teen suicide. More info.

First Creation Festival Tour Set to Kick Off in October The first-ever Creation Festival tour kicks off next month, set to hit more than 30 cities across the Northeast, Midwest and South with performances from some of the top names in Christian music as well as local outreach. More info. (image: Creation Festival)

Pro-Life Movie Touted for Potential Political Impact Come What MayA pro-life movie, largely produced by over 40 homeschooled students, is being praised for presenting solid legal arguments against the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision while captivating audiences with an engaging storyline that is both entertaining and thought-provoking. “Come What May” is the maiden project of Advent Film Group (AFG), a faith-based film production and distribution corporation founded by filmmaker George Escobar. More info. (photo: Christian

Emerging Church Spoofs Strike a Chord A spoof of the megachurch phenomenon in America has attracted over 45,000 viewers on YouTube as well as a recently won Emmy award.

“Though we use humor and satire, there is a purpose,” says Steve Gray, co-host, creator and executive producer of The Steve & Kathy Show, which came out with Emmy-winning “Real Preachers of Genius: Mega Church Pastor,” modeled after the Super Bowl commercial of a similar name. “We are exposing the absurdities of religion while bringing hope to the very ones who have been excluded by it.” Gray serves as senior pastor of World Revival Church of Kansas City. More info.

Collaborative Evangelism Calendar

Church of God Pastors Prayer Summit Oct. 21-23, Washington State. More info.

Seeking the Peace of the City - CCDA Oct. 22-26, Miami, Fla. More info.

Toronto Prayer Summit Oct. 23-24, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. More info.

Bottom-Up Approaches to Global Poverty Oct. 23-25, Waco, Tex. More info.

Christian Community Development Youth Conference Oct. 24-26, Miami, Fla. More info.

American Baptist Church Conference Oct. 25, Boise, Idaho. More info.

Tuscaloosa Prayer Summit Oct. 27-29, Tuscaloosa, Ala. More info.

Nashville Prayer Summit Oct. 30-31, Nashville, Tenn. More info.

The Call - California Nov. 1, San Diego. More info.

International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church Nov. 9, Worldwide. More info.

New England Pastors and Ministriy Leaders Prayer Summit Nov. 17-20, New England. More info.

Children’s Pastors’ Conference Jan. 5-8, 2009, San Diego, Calif. More info.

Conservative Baptist Pastors Prayer Summit Jan. 11-14, 2009, Arizona. More info.

Live Above Webcast Feb. 7, 2009 More info.

Children’s Pastors’ Conference Feb. 4-7, 2009, Nashville, Tenn. More info.

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