Charismatics: 'Most Biblically Astute'
A recent survey by a respected Christian pollster explodes the myth that Pentecostals are theological lightweights. While discovering widely varying religious beliefs among the 12 largest denominational groupings in the country, the Barna Research Group (BRG) found that charismatics are "the most biblically astute people."
The nationwide study of 6,000 adults by the California-based organization revealed that when it comes to having biblically sound beliefs, adults who attend charismatic and nondenominational Protestant churches emerged "at the top of the continuum"--while those attending Catholic or mainline churches ranked at the bottom.
The report, which evaluated people's opinions on eight faith-related perspectives, found "a clear-cut pattern" within the data: "Individuals associated with charismatic or nondenominational congregations were more likely than adults from other types of churches to possess biblical views on each item."
BRG president George Barna said the survey challenges some widely held assumptions about charismatics. "Overall, charismatics have lower levels of education but higher levels of biblical accuracy, while individuals attending mainline churches are generally better educated but are more likely to have theological perspectives that conflict with the Bible."
Source: Barna Research Group
DENOMINATIONS that WITNESSED
Most Protestants aren't telling others about Jesus. According to a recent study by the Barna Research Group (BRG), only 1 out of every 3 adults attending a Protestant church witnessed to a nonbeliever last year.
The study--which looked at the common religious practice among 6,000 adults-- found "a whopping 47-percentage-point difference in regard to sharing one's faith with non-Christians." Surprisingly, only 4 out of every 10 adults who attend a Baptist church had verbalized their faith in Christ to a non-Christian in the last year even though the denomination is often known for its evangelistic focus.
Acceptance of personal evangelism responsibility was most widely adopted by those who attend nondenominational, Pentecostal, Assemblies of God and Foursquare churches (73 percent) and least widely accepted among Episcopalians (12 percent) and Catholics (17 percent).
BRG president George Barna expressed concerns about the overall pattern in beliefs revealed by the survey. "The Christian body in America is immersed in a crisis of biblical illiteracy," he said. "How else can you describe matters when most churchgoing adults...see no need to evangelize.
From Pigskin to Pulpit
Just as other National Football League (NFL) quarterbacks, St. Louis Rams star Kurt Warner enjoys making his living taking snaps behind the center. But the 1999 Super Bowl and NFL MVP can also picture himself behind the pulpit someday.
Warner, who thanked Jesus during the Super Bowl awards ceremony two years ago, has an evangelist's heart. "I definitely wouldn't rule it out [being a pastor or evangelist someday]," Warner, 30, told Ministries Today. "There have been a lot of times that I've thought about it."
Warner and his wife, Brenda, who along with their four young children attend St. Louis Family Church, "definitely feel a calling" to some type of ministry. "We just kind of have to let things fall and see if the Lord leads us to be pastors of a church or even a youth group, or a traveling ministry," said Warner, whose team hopes to return to the Super Bowl this season.
Hotel Fire Was 'Enemy Attack'
Texas preacher Don Clowers sensed a burden for "heavy intercession" before an August conference he had organized in Manila, Philippines. He soon realized it was preparation for a tragedy.
On the last day of a four-day gathering, a hotel fire claimed the lives of some of those attending Clowers' Destiny Conference, which was expected to draw 40,000. According to Christian Aid Mission, 70 of the 80 dead and a majority of those seriously injured were pastors and church workers from various Philippine provinces.
"It was an attack from the enemy to distract the good that has been done," said Clowers, who has had a satellite ministry in the Philippines for 30 years. "But greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. Psalm 46:1 says, 'God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.' That's what we're praying for them. For us, we're believing Psalm 46:10, 'Be still, and know that I am God.'"
Source: Charisma News Service
Black Demonination Picks White Pastor
For the first time in 150 years, the historically all-black African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church has chosen a white American to lead one of its churches. In August, Ed Schneider of St. Louis took over as senior pastor of Spottswood AME Zion Church in Denver.
Schneider has preached and taught in approximately 300 churches, representing 16 denominations. He has been a senior pastor in urban, rural and suburban churches--ranging from 60 to 1,500 members. "Rev. Schneider has unrestrained energy," said Norman Hunt of Zion United Church of Christ in Poland, Ind. "During his service to our church there were remarkable gains for the cause of Christ. He represented the best qualities in leadership--enthusiasm, vision and power."
Source: Charisma News Service
"Crown Him With Many Crowns"
"There Shall Be Showers of Blessing"
"The Church's One Foundation"
"Holy, Holy, Holy"
"There Is a Green Hill Far Away"
"Standing on the Promises"
"Open My Eyes That I Might See"
"I Surrender All"
"Send the Light"
"I've Got a Mansion, Just Over the Hilltop"
Pastor's Video Critiques 'Harry Potter'
Robert McGee wants to bring parents out of the closet concerning the Harry Potter phenomenon. The associate pastor at the First Baptist Church of Merritt Island, Fla., helped create the little-known video--Harry Potter, Witchcraft Repackaged: Making Evil Look Innocent--which claims youngsters are enticed into witchcraft by the very books applauded by parents and educators for turning children to literature.
"The biggest thing is they [children] don't have fear of witchcraft anymore," McGee said. "We want [parents] to see the truth about these books." According to the 60-minute, $20 video that has been shown to hundreds in northeast Florida churches so far, the truth is that "children as young as kindergarten are being introduced to human sacrifice, the sucking of blood from dead animals and possession by spirit beings."
The video is available at www.therealpotter.com. The first movie based on the books, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, comes to theaters
Source: Orlando Sentinel
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Pastors' Wives Find Support
From frequent relocation to an unspoken requirement to have a perfect wardrobe, ministers' wives often live in a fishbowl.
"I'm always telling young women in seminaries, 'Don't expect your husband to be at home to put your children to bed,''' said Jill Briscoe, whose minister husband, Stuart, traveled for years establishing overseas missions. "The ministry family, by nature, isn't a normal life.''
Briscoe, chief editor of Just Between Us, a magazine for pastors' wives, said loneliness is the main problem for her readers, who struggle to find time to make friends because they are often forced to relocate with their husbands.
But help and support are available in a variety of places, including Bible schools that offer leadership training courses and retreats for women, as well as various Web sites and newsletters.
Source: The Associated Press
Church's Telemarketing Turns Some Off
A telemarketing pitch by televangelist Robert H. Schuller struck out with some who were offended with his message. The founder and pastor of Crystal Cathedral called hundreds of thousands of Southern California homes this spring, using 30-second, upbeat messages to ask listeners to watch his Hour of Power TV show or visit his Garden Grove church "and bring a friend."
The approach--which reached more than 400,000 homes in a single week--was somewhat successful, boosting TV ratings and Sunday attendance. But it also made some enemies, as it has sparked about 50 complaints out of 80,000 calls from people.
"What an incredible intrusion," said Polly Stanbridge, who received two recorded calls from Schuller, but didn't complain to the church. "I get so incensed. I'm not so sure why it's so offensive--it's just way too gimmicky for me."
Source: The Los Angeles Times
Tammy Faye Protested at Gay Event
Former televangelist Tammy Faye Messner's July appearance at a gay "PrideFest" in Tampa, Fla., was marked by a group of protesters who were dispersed by police. Minutes before Messner's arrival, demonstrators distributed pamphlets outside the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, proclaiming: "Tammy Faye, shame on you!"
But the weekend gathering's keynote speaker was unswerved. "They need to read what the Bible really says," Messner said. Some gays have called Messner a "cultural icon." The documentary The Eyes of Tammy Faye chronicles how Messner and then-husband Jim Bakker invited those with HIV to tell their stories during their Praise the Lord TV ministry in the mid-1980s.
"God loves you just the way you are," Messner said during her "PrideFest" speech.
"I've been called everything by the media but a Christian. Yet I think God loves unique people. Like you, I've suffered. We've all been misunderstood."
Source: The Tampa Tribune
Pastor Saves Boy, Preaches Gospel
A Minneapolis pastor rescued a young boy's life and then tried to save the crowd that witnessed the dramatic rescue with his preaching. Jasper Abeyta, 38, plunged into the Gooseberry River by Lake Superior in July to help look for a 9-year-old boy who had disappeared from a nearby group picnic.
The pastor of The Potter's House, a nondenominational full gospel congregation, dove seven times, but the water was too deep. He then prayed for God's help, and within seconds touched the boy's submerged body with his feet.
Initially not breathing, the boy came around and was later airlifted to a hospital. "It was a miracle of God that we found him under water. I stood and preached for a good five minutes," said Abeyta, noting around 100 people gathered to watch the rescue. "No one came forward, but many heard the gospel."
Source: The Duluth News Tribune
Pastor's 'Hoop Dreams'
Eric Smith was looking to be "PC"--pastor/coach. This spring, the pastor of Cherry Grove Friends Church in Battle Ground, Wash., applied for the Portland Trail Blazers' head coach position. Smith promised "not only prayers but some sorely needed leadership" for the Portland, Ore., National Basketball Association (NBA) team.
He sent a letter to Blazer officials, describing himself as a "seasoned coach" for a YMCA preschool and kindergarten basketball team, as well as a minister.
"My players do what they are told, never get ejected, take drugs only from their doctor, and shoot at the correct basket most of the time," wrote Smith, who got the idea from preaching a "Prayer of Jabez" message. "I am skilled at preaching about second chances and new beginnings, talk regularly about a resurrection, and know how to comfort in times of great loss. I also do funerals."
In June, the team hired former NBA player Maurice Cheeks as its new coach, but Smith received a letter from a staffer who said: "I loved reading your qualifications!"
Source: Christian News Northwest