Ministry Matters






SOCIETY

Childhood faith, Nonbelieving nation, Ministries' X-rated conversions, Stabbed pastor forgives, Ministry honors postmen, Humor, and much more

'Train Up a Child...'
By Eric Tiansay

Children who grow up going to church are likely to keep the faith. That's the conclusion of a Barna Research Group (BRG) survey that found adults who attended church regularly as children are three times as likely to be churchgoers as adults than are peers who avoided church during childhood.

The BRG survey of 1,003 adults found that of the 71 percent who had regularly attended church as youngsters, 61 percent still went to church regularly. But 78 percent of those who were not churchgoers as children remain absent from churches.

The most shocking finding of the study, though, was the limited impact long-term church attendance has had on Americans' theological beliefs. The survey revealed that adults from both churched and unchurched backgrounds held similar views--often at odds with biblical teaching--regarding the Holy Spirit, Satan, salvation, the Bible and Jesus.

"People who were churched as youths were much more likely to state that their religious faith is very important in their life today, but there was not much evidence that such faith had made much of an impact on their belief structure," BRG president George Barna said. The study also discovered that church attendance is declining through the generations, regardless of childhood church experience. But the drop is steeper among adults who did not go to church as a child.
Source: Barna Research Group

Multiplying Nonbelievers

A study of religious affiliation has discovered that people who do not adhere to any religion have multiplied nationwide. Released in October by the Graduate Center of New York's City University, the American Religious Identification Survey, 2001, was a follow-up to a survey conducted in 1990. The latest survey found that 52 percent of American adults are Protestant, 24.5 percent are Catholic and 14.1 percent are not affiliated with a religion.

The number of adults who identify with a non-Christian religion rose from about 5.8 million to 7.7 million. Perhaps more alarming, researchers found that the number of adults identifying with no religion more than doubled, from 14.3 million (8 percent) in 1990 to 29.4 million (14.1 percent) in 2001, the Associated Press reported.

The study, based on more than 50,000 respondents, found that Protestant and other non-Catholic denominations continue to have the majority of adult adherents--more than 105.4 million--but their proportion dropped from 60 percent in 1990 to 52 percent in 2001.
Source: The Associated Press

CRIME

Pastor Not Angry Toward Attacker

A Chicago-area minister who was stabbed in the throat by a homeless man he had been ministering to believes in the biblical admonition to forgive and pray for your enemies.

Tom Severson, 41, was giving Luis Rocha a ride on Sept. 27 when the man attacked the pastor of Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Elgin. Rocha, 28, was charged with attempted murder.

"I never felt any anger toward him," said Severson, an Elgin police chaplain and father of seven. "I just feel like he is not living up to the potential God created for him." Despite being in critical condition and losing 20 percent of his blood, Severson recovered.

During his hospital recovery, Severson recited Bible verses, Christian hymns and Bob Dylan songs in his head. "Only two things matter," he told his congregation. "Loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and loving your neighbor as yourself. The rest of my life is going to be an experiment in loving God and loving others."
Source: The Chicago Daily Herald

CYBERSPACE

Ministry Web Sites Become 'Porn Again'

A growing number of defunct church and ministry Web sites are being resurrected--as porn spots. The takeovers involve domain names whose registrations have expired after owners abandon an old site and switch to a new name--forgetting to renew the old one.

N2H2, a Web filtering company that tracks pornography on the Internet, said a couple of companies, including one in Armenia, "buy lapsed domain names and convert them to porn sites."

The Good News Web Designers Association (GNWDA) has issued an "Alert Warning to Christian Web Site Owners" cautioning them not to let domains lapse after reports surfaced of pornographers based in Russia buying sites and holding them for ransom.

"Often, you can buy your old domain name back from the new owner, but they are typically ransoming such domain names for no less than $500," GNWDA said. GNWDA's Web site is www.gnwda.org.
Source: Wired magazine

HONORS

Ministry Honors Postal Workers

Financial ministry leader John Avanzini brought some good news to postal workers, saluting them for their service in light of last year's anthrax scare. The Fort Worth, Texas-based teacher and writer took out a full-page ad in October in USA Today urging people to pray for their mail carriers.

The ad features a smiling mail carrier alongside a fireman, soldier and police officer, and the statement: "One more group joining the list of American heroes." Addressing the country's postal workers in a "special proclamation," the ad says that in the past their services may have been taken for granted, "but never again." Best known for his Debt Free rallies and Financial Freedom seminars, Avanzini said the days of making jokes about postal workers are over.
Source: Charisma News Service

ETHICS

Ex-Scam Artist Preaches New Message

Barry Minkow is passionate about preaching against the dangers of greed and warns businessmen how to avoid being de-frauded. As a former scam artist, the pastor of Community Bible Church in San Diego knows the subject firsthand.

At 16, he started a carpet-cleaning business that was worth $280 million by the time he was 21. But his empire was all built on lies and came tumbling down. Minkow was convicted of 57 counts of fraud and sentenced to 25 years. He became a Christian while behind bars and was released after 7-1/2 years.

"I'm able to say, 'I failed,' and I'm not ashamed to admit it," said Minkow, 35, who also speaks at financial-security seminars. "Perhaps my story can be inspiring to somebody who feels like they're on the wrong side of life, the law, God--everything that I used to feel."
Source: KGTV Channel 10 News

ComfortableHymns

"Praise God From Whom All Affirmations Flow"
"Pillow of Ages, Fluffed for Me"
"When Peace, Like a Trickle"
"What an Acquaintance We Have in Jesus"
"We Are Milling Around in the Light of God"
"Blest Be the Tie That Doesn't Cramp My Style"
"I Surrender Some"
"Standing on the Premises"
"Sweet Minute of Prayer"
"Blessed Insurance"
"Come We That Like the Lord"
"Onward, Social Workers"
"Avoid the Good Fight"
"The Gold-Plated Cross"
"Some for Jesus"
"I Have My Own Way"
Source: www.mikeysfunnies.com

OUTREACH

Pastor Wins With Casino Ministry

A Methodist pastor's decision to take the gospel to a Mississippi community's gaming population is proving to be a winner. Huey Wood and his wife had retired after 45 years of ministry when they agreed to serve at Robinsonville United Methodist Church, located in an area where there are 10 hotel/casinos along its river employing 14,000 people.

Because Sunday morning is one of the busiest of the week, many people working for the gaming establishments are not able to attend church services. So Wood, 80, started a service at 9 a.m. on Tuesdays, giving casino employees an opportunity to worship. "I believe Jesus went where the people were, and I know John Wesley did," said Wood, referring to the founder of Methodism. About 25 people showed up for the first service, and growth has continued.
Source: United Methodist News Service

FINANCES

Giving 'Has Been Cooling'

Giving by Christians has dropped noticeably in the last three decades, according to the Empty Tomb (ET). The Champaign, Ill.-based research group released a report in December that shows the portion of house hold income given to churches has dropped from 3.1 percent in 1968 to 2.5 percent in 1991.

More of the money that is given is staying with the church, too, with less being given to community, national and international needs. "Even when we give money to the church, we spend it on ourselves," said ET executive director Sylvia Ronsvalle. "Our view is, the way you spend your money is the thermometer of your spiritual condition--whether you're hot or cold. Since the late 1960s, the temperature has been cooling."

Overall, members of the 43 denominations surveyed by the group donated more than $71 billion in 1991. During the same period, Americans spent $110 billion on fast food, $58 billion on cola and almost $24 billion on jewelry. If all church members had tithed 10 percent, they would have contributed an additional $133 billion.
Source: The Empty Tomb

WEDDING

Minister's 'Unforgettable' Wedding

A Tennessee minister's wedding last fall was unforgettable. Singer Natalie Cole, 51, wedded bishop Kenneth Dupree in an October private ceremony at Victory Baptist Church in Nashville. It was the third marriage for Cole and the second for Dupree.

"The ceremony was very low-key andsimple, very spiritual and sacred," wedding coordinator Jayne Bubis said. "It was just like Natalie--elegant."

The duo married at the church Dupree founded in 1988 and featured guests Dionne Warwick, TV personality Star Jones, actress Jennifer O'Neill and David Foster, who produced large parts of Cole's Grammy-winning Unforgettable, With Love. Since 1991, the album, Unforgettable, With Love--which features Cole's famous duet with her father, Nat King Cole--has sold 14 million copies.
Source: The Associated Press

OUTREACH

Needy Driven By New Hope

A ministry in a Florida community that distributes complimentary vehicles is driving the gospel home. Since July 1999, New Hope Christian Ministries (NHCM) has given away 25 automobiles to qualified men and women who have been referred by local social services.

NHCM receives the donated autos from individuals who receive a tax write-off from the nonprofit ministry. NHCM president Stephen Dal Pian said anyone awarded a vehicle is required to hear an evangelistic testimony from a person in ministry. They also are given Christian literature and encouraged to attend a Bible-based church of their choice.

"Each person who has received an auto has a story of abuse and being unloved, but is easily reached with the gospel," said Dal Pian, who got the idea from a similar ministry in Vermont. "No one has ever reached out to them in Jesus' name and shown love that reaches right where they live." The program is in such demand that 125 families are on a waiting list.
Source: Charisma News Service

CRIME

Unlikely 'Spiritual Warfare' Lessons

English vicars are getting a leg up on an unlikely form of "spiritual warfare"--martial arts-style self-defense. The lessons were made available to protect clergy from assaults after it was revealed that they are more vulnerable to physical attacks than even doctors and probation officers, two other high-risk professions.

Research for the Manufacturing Science and Finance Union, which represents hundreds of clergy in the Church of England, revealed that 70 percent had experienced some kind of violence in the ministry.

"Most clergy receive no training at all in dealing with violent people, so we are making a start with our own self-defense classes," said union spokesman Bill Ward. "It is a sad fact of life that members of the clergy will come into contact with individuals who are likely to resort to violence."
Source: The London Daily Telegraph

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