This Week in Ministry

Each week, Todd Rhoades and Matt Steen look at the top stories affecting pastors and ministry leaders across the country.
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Apr 29, 2017

Sermon Content Is What Appeals Most to Churchgoers

Court Says Disaffiliated Church's Property Belongs To Local Congregation, Not PCUSA

Will Livestreaming a Worship Service Hurt a Church’s Attendance?

Southlake-based Gateway Church confirms it will cut staff by 10-15 percent

Has Lying Become Normal and Acceptable in American Society?


Apr 21, 2017

What The Tech? Bible in virtual reality


Less than half of German Christians believe in heaven


Neuroscience of religion reveals hidden cultural trends


Special report: 1 in 4 Americans don't think one-night stands count as cheating

Apr 14, 2017

A quarter of Christians do not believe in the resurrection

Number of U.S. adults cohabiting with a partner continues to rise, especially among those 50 and older

What Would Jesus Disrupt?

5 things churches lose when they give up hymnals

Todd's Favorite Hymn Verse (See verse 5!)

Mar 24, 2017

Religion Is Declining Where It’s Needed the Most

Poor communities have the greatest need of religion’s benefits, since it creates stronger social ties, offers hope, and keeps younger community members out of trouble. However, the decline in religion throughout America is the greatest in the poor communities who need it the most. Where there is greater affluence and education, religion is more likely to be declining at lower numbers and rates.

Source: Washington Post


Social Media Is Replacing Phone Calls

Young adults and teens today are more likely to share social media contact information rather than their phone numbers. In 2015, 62% of teens reported sharing a username from Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, or Skype rather than sharing a phone number. Only 13% relied on phone numbers as the primary form of communication.

Source: NY Post


Princeton Seminary Reaches Compromise Over Keller

In a compromise reached in consultation with Rev. Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, Princeton Theological Seminary president Rev. Craig Barnes announced that Keller will deliver the Kuyper lecture on April 6, but he will not receive the Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Witness. Keller had been chosen for the award, but many within the Princeton community opposed Keller because of his teachings about female submission and opposition to same sex marriage.

Source: RNS

Mar 20, 2017

This week, we discuss a recent trip Matt took to Greece to help a group of local church planters.

Feb 17, 2017

As a direct result of the recent decision by the Trump Administration to dramatically reduce the number of refugees resettled in the U.S. throughout fiscal year 2017, World Relief has been forced to make the difficult decision to layoff 140+ staff members across its U.S. Ministry and close local offices in Boise, Idaho; Columbus, Ohio; Miami, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee; and Glen Burnie, Maryland. Collectively, these five offices have resettled more than 25,000 refugees over the past four decades.


When Adrien Koch retired last summer from her job with FEMA in the Bay Area, she and her husband resettled in the wooded mountains of north Idaho. They had visited only a few months before on a vacation but had quickly fallen in love. For Koch, Idaho reminded her of the California she knew in the 1970s.



Feb 10, 2017

Pastor's Families Generally Happy But Report Ministry Drain

Many pastors are satisfied in their work, they admit that it takes a toll on their family life, according to a recently released study by the Barna group. As a matter of fact, an impressive 70% of US pastors claimed to have happy marriages and healthy family lives. However, when asked if their church work has been hard on their family life, 40% admitted that it certainly has.

Source: PJ Media


The Normalization of Lay Pastors

The use of lay leaders for preaching, teaching and organization is becoming increasingly more common across the United States. Research shows that the number of congregations led by part-time clergy rose from 29 percent to 38 percent from 2010 to 2015. If you’re on paid staff this might seem alarming but many congregations who rely heavily on lay leadership and preachers report increased ownership, faith and engagement.

Source: Christian Science Monitor


Aging Pastors Struggle to Find Viable Replacements

The Barna Group has released a new study entitled “The State of Pastors, 2017” which shows that the age of most Senior Pastors is increasing, often due to a struggle to find a suitable, younger replacement. In fact, 69% of pastors report that it's “becoming more difficult to identify promising pastoral candidates" due to a number of factors including delayed spiritual maturity of millennials and financial struggles.

Source: Christianity Daily

Jan 27, 2017

Stetzer Pleads for Christians to Share News Responsibly

In an editorial for Christianity Today, Ed Stetzer writes that the truth will set us free, but Christians have been among some of the most likely to share fake news, with a popular Christian news site providing one of the clearest examples of bad reporting. Stetzer encouraged readers to consider sharing true, factual news as part of their Christian witness and reliable Gospel messengers.

Source: Christianity Today

Don’t Break the Law During the Super Bowl

Churches are allowed to host Super Bowl viewing parties regardless of screen size, but there are several key restrictions. For starters, a church cannot charge admission, although donations to cover food costs are permitted. Churches also cannot use official logos for the NFL or the teams playing in promotional material.

Source: Facts & Trends

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Jan 21, 2017

Pastoral Missteps and Renewed Faith Top CT News

In the list of the top 20 stories from Christianity Today, a number of pastoral missteps and removals topped the news in 2016, including Andy Stanley’s regret that he said it’s selfish to attend a small church and the resignation of Darrin Patrick from Acts 29 and his St. Louis church The Journey. However, the charismatic renewal of Bethel Church continues and former atheist Nicole Cliffe wrote about how God messed up her “happy atheist life.”

Source: Christianity Today


Why this story matters for church leaders:

People will always want to know about pastors who failed or overstepped their boundaries in some way, so church leaders should have clear accountability and restoration plans should a misstep happen.


  • Communication Mishaps: With recorded sermons today, a comment can go out of context quickly and become news.
  • Review Processes: Is your church at a stage where it may help to have a trusted colleague or member to read over your sermon notes in order to catch potential problems?
  • Testimonies Are Powerful: One of the most popular stories at Christianity Today was a conversion story, which reminds us that a testimony can still encourage many.

Is there one particular lesson or action step your church can take based on this story?

Jan 13, 2017

Quarter of Americans Look to Presidents for Solutions

A LifeWay poll asking Americans who they look to in order to solve the problems in America found that only 23% relied on the U.S. president to solve their problems. Only 11% trusted in preachers and 10% looked toward college professors. However, 33% choose “none of the above” in their response.

Source: LifeWay


3 Growing Trends for Healthy Churches

Thom Rainer has noticed three key trends that are leading to healthier churches throughout America. For starters, he’s seeing longer pastoral tenures, and he hopes that will continue since longer tenures tend to correlate with more effective ministry. Rainer also sees renewed emphasis on practical ministries and a commitment to ongoing learning within the ministry context.

Source: Facts and Trends


Compassion International Finds All Sponsors for Four Countries

All of the children available to be sponsored through Compassion International in four countries, El Salvador, Indonesia, Rwanda, and Tanzania, were sponsored at a recent event, making it the largest surge in sponsorships to date. Roughly 14% of the 50,000 conference attendees at a Passion event signed up to support children with education, healthcare, food, and the gospel for $38 a month.

Source: Christianity Today

Dec 23, 2016

The Pitfalls of “Facebook Lurking”

We all do it, end our day by scrolling our Facebook feed, scanning photos and updates and articles to see what our social network is up to. The problem is that this "Scrollaxing" may actually be making you miserable, studies show. University of Copenhagen shows that this practice is making us miserable and unhappy. To fix it, either cut back, avoid certain sections or "it may be difficult to change one's way of using Facebook. If this is the case, one should consider quitting Facebook for good" researchers say.

Source: Mashable

Russell Moore’s Backlash Over Criticizing Trump & His Followers

Baptist leader Russell Moore is being harshly denounced by many evangelicals for his negative opinions on President-elect Donald Trump. "The religious right, turns out to be the people the religious right warned us about" he said in an October speech.  Moore’s organization, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission could lose funding because of his stand on Trump.

Source: NPR

Dec 16, 2016

89% of Protestants Have Services on Christmas Day

This year the debate over church services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day have been resolved with the answer: both. In fact, 63% of pastors reported that they would hold services on both days. While 71% were planning to hold only a Christmas Eve service, 89% planned to host only a Christmas Day service.

Source: Christianity Today

Church Restoration Halted Over Facility Dispute

Cancer survivor Greg Thomas was featured in a series of headlines eight years ago because he spent his treatment days restoring a small chapel known as Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church. While Thomas beat cancer back then, with it only returning recently, the church took issue with the repairs he had made after collecting more than $70,000 in donations and banned him from the property. Thomas argues that the church has become a show piece instead of a source of community unity.

Source: KARE 11

Evangelist Screams at Children Waiting in Line for Santa

Westboro Baptist Church supporter and Last Frontier Evangelist David Grisham filmed himself shouting at children who were waiting in line for Santa. Grisham shouted that Santa does not exist and that Christmas is all about Jesus. Two men eventually prompted Grisham to leave.

Source: Metro

Dec 9, 2016

Non-denominational Evangelical minister, Episcopal priest: One man leads two congregations in historic Catonsville church


Ohio ‘Pastor Protection Act’ Clears House Committee


Beaver walks into Md. store, finds only artificial Christmas trees, and proceeds to trash it

Dec 2, 2016

How Fidel Castro's Death Will Affect Cuba's Christian Revival


3 Assumptions & 5 Realities About Why So Many Churches are Small


Tullian Tchividjian Emerges From Scandal With New Wife, Preaches Sermon on God's Redemption

Dec 2, 2016

Christian Universities Divided Over Election Results

Younger evangelicals have broken from the white evangelical majority who supported Trump by 81%, and that means evangelical colleges are seeking to reassure their students who feel betrayed by those who supported a candidate who is outspoken in his prejudice and sexism. At Wheaton College, 42% of students were likely to vote for Clinton, while 52% of students at Grove City College were planning to vote for Trump. Philip Ryken of Wheaton College wrote to assure his students that Wheaton stands against prejudice and hatred (including racism and sexism), embraces ethnic diversity as part of God’s design for humanity in Christ. Students at Taylor University also reported racial intimidation.

Source: RNS

Is New York City Trending Toward a Revival?

The Barna Group believes that according to surveys conducted in the 1980’s and then again in 2010 the population of New York City is shifting toward Christianity, with an increase from 20% to 32% for Christians. Over the past five years there has been a noticeable increase in revivals and religious events throughout the city.

Source: Christianity Daily

Here are the Major Trends Coming This Year

A report of major trends coming this year include a more fluid, less gender specific use of signage, polyamory for married couples, and an increased focus on the morality of using AI. In addition, there is a greater awareness of people with disabilities and that could lead to new economic opportunities. Insects may become a new source of food as well.

Source: PR NewsWire

Nov 18, 2016

Why Do Churches Overpay for Staff?

Churches have often made the mistake of hiring staff rather than empowering a volunteer to minister or outsourcing a simple task to an expert organization. However, churches also struggle to see staffing as a stewardship issue. Sometimes staff members need to be reevaluated and reallocated in order to meet the changing needs of a congregation.

Source: Thom Rainer

Women Are Ministering as Authors and Speakers

Authors such as Jen Hatmaker and Ann Voskamp, who have grown through blog posts and social media, have created a new version of women’s ministry that is not depending on a congregation. Their social media followers are larger than most pastors and any church, while their books tend to outsell some of the best known Christian authors. Women who don’t see a place for female leaders in their congregations are turning to authors such as Hatmaker for guidance.

Source: Christianity Today

Churches Reach Out to Neighbors After Terror Attack

The Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando left 49 people dead and 53 others wounded. However, the challenges faced by the police and the trauma of the community became a key opportunity for churches in the area to host first responders and to care for neighbors suffering from anxiety and panic attacks after witnessing the terror of those fleeing the nightclub.

Source: Christianity Today

Nov 11, 2016

Will Robots Take Over Your Job?

With robots and automation taking over many manufacturing and transportation jobs, Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX believes that there will need to be a universal basic income provided by governments throughout the world. Switzerland had recently put such a measure up for a vote but struck it down.

Source: CNBC

Anglicans Are the Most Educated Denomination

A survey of 30 religious groups and denominations found that 77% of Hindus and 67% of Unitarian Universalists hold college degrees, while 59% of Anglicans and Episcopalians have college degrees. On the other end of the spectrum, 19% of Southern Baptist Convention members and 20% of Nazarenes hold college degrees.

Source: Pew Research

Technology Is Transforming Ministry Today

Smartphone based and computer based apps are changing how churches receive donations, share curriculum, and keep worship teams on the same page. Curriculum and leadership materials can be accessed online or via apps, and even childcare volunteers can use computerized programs to keep track of children in the nursery and other classes.

Source: Facts and Trends

Oct 28, 2016

How Church Leaders Can Communicate Better

Church leaders may see what needs to change, but their words can have a powerful impact on culture if not used well. For instance, leaders should say what people can handle and what can help them grow. In addition, a leader’s words can carry more weight and kill conversations or motivation. Speak when necessary and use your words carefully.

Source: Tony Morgan Live

Key Ways Ministry Has Changed

Pastor Ron Edmonson writes that ministry has changed in many significant ways since he started serving at his church. Edmonson’s own ministry has changed as he’s had to be a better leader since people aren’t naturally committed to serving the church, there is more competition for time, more competition for teaching, and the concerns of pastors have gotten more complex, with security taking on a bigger part of their time.

Source: Ron Edmonson

Oct 14, 2016

Millennials Aren’t Really a Thing, We Made Them up

We long to create categories in ministry, but "Millennials aren’t really a thing. We made them up" says Karl Vaters. This is why any ministry targeted at them must view them as a group with which no "one size fits all" strategy will work. We must also keep in mind that many of the relationships that worked for their parents are now broken and unstable.

Source: Christianity Today

Are You Sharing a Pew with a Heretic?

A new poll by LifeWay Christian Research shows that the beliefs of many who identify as Christian may be fairly shallow. "Sometimes, as Christians in America, we’re so busy running from one thing to another without taking the time to really closely see how this relationship with God works” says pollster Scott McConnell.

Source: Christianity Today

InterVarsity Set to Fire Any Staffer Who Admits Support of Gay Marriage

InterVarsity, one of the largest Evangelical college groups in the country, has told it's 1300 members that they will be dismissed for disagreeing with their newly penned policy on gay marriage. "If you are in disagreement, then we are going to ask you, with integrity, to identify that and leave” says InterVarsity VP Greg Jao.

Source: Christianity Today

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