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Faith in Christian media, Open atheists, Church prohibits lesbians, 'Football' church Evangelist scrutinized, Offering plates bypassed, Ministries Today at the movies, and much more
CULTURE

Atheists Receptive To Christian Radio, TV

Atheists may not believe in God, but some will watch and listen to televangelists. According to a July study by the Barna Research Group, an unexpectedly large proportion of atheists, agnostics and non-Christians intentionally absorb information from Christian media.

"More than one-fourth of that group listened to Christian radio, one-quarter watched Christian TV, and one-seventh read a Christian book," George Barna said. "In other words, of the 50 million adults who are not aligned with Christianity, there were more than 15 million who had some degree of exposure to Christianity."

The nationwide survey of 1,007 adults also surprisingly discovered that among the 65 million unchurched adults--those who have not attended a church service in the last six months--42 percent (27 million people) had been exposed to Christianity through Christian media in the last month. Christian radio, which 27 percent of all unchurched adults listened to, was the most commonly used medium.
Source: Barna Research Group

Having Faith in Christian Media

The psalmist rejoiced with those who said to him, "Let us go to the house of the Lord." However, the Barna Research Group (BRG) has found that more adults experience Christianity through Christian radio, television or books in a typical month rather than going to God's house.

The BRG study discovered that more than six out of 10 adults (63 percent, or 132 million) attended a church service in the last month. In contrast, two out of three adults (67 percent, or 141 million) were exposed to Christian radio, television or books in the last month.

Released in July, the nationwide survey of 1,007 adults also revealed that Christian radio reached 52 percent (109 million adults) during the previous month. Additionally, it showed that 43 percent (90 million adults) had watched some Christian television, and 33 percent (70 million adults) claimed to have read a Christian book other than the Bible in the last month.

"The Christian media industry has come a long way," Barna said. "Much of the substance now available directly addresses the felt needs of contemporary society, using the technology and information that makes the presentations interesting and relevant."
Source: Barna Research Group

MORALITY

Church Bars Lesbian Duo

A charismatic Texas church has turned away a lesbian couple who refused to leave their gay lifestyle. Houston Vineyard Senior Pastor Michael Palandro formally told Marti and Donna Rickard--who married at another church--in a letter this spring that they were "no longer welcome" at the congregation they had attended for almost two years.

"It's the nature of the Christian life to call each other to obedience to Christ, to repentance of sin and to a changed life," Palandro said.

The two women began attending the Vineyard in April 2000, drawn by its contemporary services and friendly members. Although they were told they could not be members, leaders or serve, except "behind the scenes," if they continued in their homosexual lifestyle, they decided to stay at the church because they wanted to try to change its position.
Source: The Houston Press

CHURCH GROWTH

'Meet God' at NFL Team's Church

Visitors at Southpoint Community Church in Jacksonville, Fla., are experiencing God in the charismatic congregation known in the area as the "Jaguar church" because it was started in 1996 as a home Bible study by Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell.

When the church opened in 1999, bulletins asked guests not to seek autographs from National Football League players. "They come to see how the players worship," pastor Russ Austin said. "Where do they sit? Do they raise their hands? But after 10 minutes, that's gone.

"They meet God here. They find hope for a broken marriage and hope for a troubled child. It's not all about the Jaguars." Currently meeting in an office park, the 850-member church plans to build a 2,500-seat sanctuary within three years.
Source: The Jacksonville Times-Union

Famous healing evangelist Benny Hinn has been scrutinized for "relentlessly seeking souls and money." In an April report by the Associated Press (AP), Hinn was criticized for "melding the promise of healing with support" for the Trinity Broadcasting Network.

CONTROVERSY

Evangelist Benny Hinn Scrutinized

Neither Hinn nor ministry representatives responded to numerous interview requests made through World Healing Center Church, his corporate headquarters in Grapevine, Texas, so the AP mainly talked to his critics. While TV evangelists Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker have fallen from grace in the last two decades, Hinn plows ahead because "he's no threat," one skeptic said.

The AP also noted that Hinn has not joined the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, an organization that assesses the financial integrity of Christian organizations.

But Hinn supporter Freda Lindsay, 88, co-founder of Christ for the Nations, a Dallas-based church-building ministry, said: "Benny Hinn is very sincere. I would vouch for him that he's a man of God. He's not a phony."
Source: The Associated Press

FINANCES

Churches Offer No Offerings

A rising number of congregations are bypassing collection plates because they want to remove the stigma from people who think churches are just after their money, according to a recent report by The Christian Science Monitor.

At Seattle's Emmaus Road church, worshipers have the option to give via a small white box at the rear of their meeting room. The church jettisoned the traditional collection six years ago, but still covers its annual $100,000 budget.

At New England Chapel in Franklin, Mass., pastor Chris Mitchell believes going back to the plate would reduce his church's income. The church has met its $300,000 budget annually since doing away with the collection in 1997.

Paul Sangree wants to drop the offering at Bethany Congregational Church in Foxboro, Mass. "My highest value is reaching out to lost people because I think lost people matter to God," he said. "And surveys say their [lost people's] No. 1 negative concern about the church [in general] is that all they want is your money."
Source: The Christian Science Monitor

Hymns for Seasoned Citizens

"The Old Rugged Face"
"Precious Lord, Take My Hand, and Help Me Up"
"It Is Well With My Soul, but My Knees Hurt"
"Nobody Knows the Trouble I Have Seeing"
"Amazing Grace, Considering My Age"
"Just a Slower Walk With Thee"
"Count Your Many Birthdays, Name Them One by One"
"Go Tell It on the Mountain, But Speak Up"
"Give Me That Old-Timers' Religion"
"Blessed Insurance"
"Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah, I've Forgotten Where I Parked"
Source: www.mikeysfunnies.com

RESEARCH

Poll Shows Low Trust in Religion

Americans' confidence in religious institutions is at a 30-year low, despite interest in spiritual matters being sparked by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

According to an annual Gallup Poll released in July, just 45 percent expressed trust in organized religion. In comparison, the televangelist scandals in 1989 regarding sex and money pushed down American confidence in religion to 52 percent.

For this year's Gallup survey on 16 kinds of institutions, religion ranked sixth. The poll, which interviewed 1,020 adults, found religion lagged behind the police (59 percent), the president (58 percent), the U.S. Supreme Court (50 percent) and banks (47 percent) on the confidence scale.
Source: The Washington Times

CHURCH MINISTRY

Resurgence of Sunday School

Sunday school is alive and growing strong. Debunking a common held belief, researcher George Barna has reported that Sunday school attendance grew nationally by 6 percent, from 19 percent to 25 percent, between 2001 and 2002. The growth represents the largest year increase in more than a decade and placed adult Sunday school attendance at the highest level since the 1980s.

The largest increase in Sunday school attendance was seen in black and Hispanic Sunday school attendance, increasing 11 percent (to 40 percent) and 15 percent (to 26 percent), respectively.

"I believe George Barna's report points to an emerging trend of growth in Sunday school," Assemblies of God Sunday school promotions coordinator Sharon Ellard said.
Source: Assemblies of God News

ENTERTAINMENT

Ministries Today at the Movies

Ministries Today has made its Hollywood debut--albeit the cameo lasted just a second or two. A Walk to Remember, a PG-rated teen romance drama set in the mid-1990s, is now available on video and DVD. The movie focuses on a reckless high school teenager who falls for the daughter of a Baptist minister in the port town of Beaufort, N.C.

Based on the 1999 best-selling novel by Nicholas Sparks, the movie stars Mandy Moore, Shane West, Daryl Hannah and Peter Coyote, who plays the pastor. Although it isn't the focus of the brief scene, Coyote's character is shown holding a copy of Ministries Today. Well, at least we didn't end up on the cutting room floor.

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