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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Now displaying: 2016
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

Sep 23, 2016

Digital Revolution Has Exposed Our Addiction to Activity

Russell Moore writes that the greatest threat to the Christian faith isn’t hedonism, it’s distraction. Christian leaders have made the mistake of thinking that the church needs to shout more into our busy world and make more noise, but the true need is for the church to be a refuge.

Source: Washington Post

Where Do the Religiously Unaffiliated Come From?

A closer look at the trends driving the growth of the unaffiliated may suggest that the trend is in part a result of those with a low religious commitment being more comfortable stating they are not religious, as those with that commitment level shifted by 9% toward unaffiliated. In addition, the overall growth of the nonreligious, including atheists and agnostics has grown from 10% of Americans to 23% of Americans.

Source: Pew Research

What Will Healthy Churches Look Like in 10 Years?

Thom Rainer speculates that the most important factors in determining a healthy church over the next 10 years will be an emphasis on outreach and stability. Pastors need to think long term and help the congregation invest in their community so that they can meet the needs around them and begin to reflect the diversity of their surrounding area.

Source: Church Central

Sep 16, 2016

Pastor Pete Wilson Resigns from Cross Point Church

Pastor Pete Wilson of Cross Point Church has resigned after founding the church in 2002 and seeing it grow to 7,500 attendees in six locations. Wilson noted in his resignation address that he has been leading on empty for a long time and that he is fully confident in the elders and leaders of the church. The elders commented that his resignation was 100% his decision.

Source: The Tennessean

ESV Bible Translation Finalized

After making changes to 52 words in 29 verses, the English Standard Version has been declared “finalized” by Crossway publishing. The particularly literal translation aims to offer a word for word reading rather than capturing the general sense of each passage. However, one of the changes included a rewording of Genesis 3:16, implying male dominance in marriage that has proven controversial.

Source: Christianity Today

Churches in Washington D.C. Reach Millennials

Over 600 attendees at District Church in Washington D.C. are primarily millennials, who value living their faith with actions in the community, serving others, working toward racial reconciliation, and tutoring at local schools. While they would not call themselves evangelical, they remain committed to the core values of teaching the Bible and sharing their faith.

Source: Washington Post

Sep 9, 2016

Christians Resist GOP Calls to Ban Refugees

Among the 10,000 Syrian refugees who have settled in America in 2016, over 1,000 churches partnering with the Christian group World Relief have played a critical role in providing what these families need. While Republican governors in the south who are affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention continue to resist Syrian refugees, their own denominations are providing groceries, logistics support, and household items.

Source: NY Times

Mondays Are the Most Challenging for Small Church Pastors

Karl Vaters shares that the search terms used to find his website on small church ministry are particularly bleak on Monday morning. Search terms include questions about failure, quitting, and problems with growth or rough times in general. He encourages these pastors to seek community and support for their ministries.

Source: Christianity Today

Man Chooses Jail over Wife

Federal authorities say Larry Ripple chose a life behind bars over another minute at home with the wife. On Friday afternoon, according to a complaint filed in federal court, Ripple, 70, walked into the Bank of Labor in downtown Kansas City, Kan., handed over a note to a teller which said, “I have a gun, give me your cash,” and was given $2,924 in currency from the drawer...

Source: The Washington Post

Sep 2, 2016

Inside the Social Media Rules of Teens

Instagram and Snapchat dominate the social media habits of teens, and they have developed rules and practices for interactions. For instance, all teens tend to keep their accounts private, but some teens have also set up second Instagram accounts under a different name to post party pictures. In addition, teens must at least “like” a friend’s selfie and, typically, post an emoji offering support. Vague comments like “nice” are overanalyzed. Oversharing is termed, “awkward.”

Source: Wired

Location and Service Determine How Americans Choose a Church

A survey of Americans who have looked for a new place of worship found that 83% place a high priority on the sermon and 74% prioritize the style of the worship service. In addition, 79% valued being welcomed by leaders and lay members, and 70% valued the location. Less than half prioritized volunteer opportunities.

Source: Pew Research

Russell Moore Warns That We Have to Live with Our Witness in the Future

At the Southern Baptist Convention’s  Religious Liberty Commission’s National Conference, Russell Moore shared that evangelical Christians are in danger of making politics a religion that is creating cynicism and disillusionment. Moore warned against putting too much stock in election cycles and focusing on witnessing to the truth in a way that today’s generation can live with when looking back in the future.

Source: Christian Today

Sep 1, 2016

Facebook Live Videos Adopted by Churches

A reported 70% of churches are using social media in order to connect with their members, and today many churches are using live video broadcasts on Facebook in order to stream services or to recap their sermons during the week. Crossway Baptist Church has 70,000 subscribers who view sermons through Facebook Live.

Source: Ozy

Bibles Will Be Dropped into Iraq by a Swedish Church

After being approach by Middle Eastern Christians in need of Bibles, Livets Ord (Word of Life) church in Uppsala, Sweden has provided the funds in order to send an airdrop of thousands of small, electronic Bibles into the ISIS controlled areas of Iraq. The church will uses drones to drop digital Bibles that are roughly the size of a pillbox and cost $15 each to create.

Source: Christian Today

Most Pastors Won’t Be Asked to Perform Same Sex Weddings

Only 11% of Protestant pastors have been asked to perform same sex weddings. Only 1% of Baptists were asked to perform same sex weddings and 9% of Methodist pastors were asked the same. The most likely to be asked to perform a same sex wedding were Presbyterian pastors, 26%, and Lutheran, 19%.

Source: Christianity Today

Aug 18, 2016

How to Focus Your Ministry Time

Thom Rainer writes that pastors can waste a lot of time on social media, counseling that they aren’t qualified to do, and handling phone calls and meetings that can drain time and energy. He suggests minimizing meetings, handling conversations as they come up, focusing on meeting agendas, and cutting non-essential tasks or having a secretary administrative tasks.

Source: Church Central

Nigerian Pastor Says Don’t Marry a Woman Who Can’t Cook

Pastor Enoch Adeboye, pastor of Redeemed Christian Church of God, shared in a recent sermon his guidelines for marriage. Adeboye advised his members to marry within the church so that pastors can help them during difficult times, but he added that men should not marry a woman who cannot cook and who cannot pray for at least an hour.

Source: Christian Today

Transgender Bathroom Mandate Challenged by Ohio Pastors

After the U.S. Department of Education called for schools to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their gender identity, 100 pastors in Ohio wrote a letter calling on a change to the law and vowing civil disobedience. The pastors from Richland County argued that the mandate defied logic and could lead to privacy concerns.

Source: World Religion News

Churches Will Resemble Their Pastors

Churches tend to resemble their pastors, and that is especially true for new churches. The healthier the pastor, the more spiritually healthy the church will be. While sometimes a predecessor can create a toxic culture that can last for years, in many cases a church will begin to resemble the pastor after 5 years of influence.

Source: Christianity Today

Why a Baptist Pastor Fought the Beatles

After John Lennon joked that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus, Baptist pastor Rev. Thurman H. Babbs of New Heaven Baptist Church in Cleveland threatened to revoke the membership of anyone who supports the Beatles. One person posted a sign along a Pennsylvania road that read: “God Forever, Beatles Never.” Lennon apologized for the remark, but ticket sales surged in the wake of the controversy.


Aug 12, 2016

How to Understand Who Your Donors Are

In current church giving trends, 15% of the church will donate roughly half of the church’s budget, and that percentage tends to drop the larger the church. In addition, half of that 15% will donate half of the capital campaign dollars. This small segment of donors are critical for the success of any fundraising campaign or meeting a church budget.

Source: The Charis Group

Churches Add Security in America

A series of threats and vandalism incidents in America have many church attendees on their guard in the event of a radical Islamist attack. With plentiful guns and easy online access to radical teachings, many fear that a church could be the next terror attack target after the murder of Rev. Jacques Hamel, in the Normandy town of St.-Étienne-du-Rouvray. Many churches are adding security guards and working on ways to prepare members for an attack.

Source: FOX news

How Generation Z Will Change Our Culture

Generation Z, those born after 1998, are the first generation that has been truly native to the internet and to computers. They make up 25% of the US population and will turn 18 this year. They are more culturally diverse and have yet to exert their influence on the wider culture, but they will soon, and changes are coming. They are wired to social media frequently, but social media also impacts their self-esteem. They report that they prefer Instagram and video content, averaging 11 hours of viewing online video content per week.

Source: Facts and Trends


Aug 5, 2016

Our Brains Are Wired to Respond to Text Messages

Smartphones are addictive and our brain's instinctively respond to pings and social media updates, triggering dopamine rewards that make it a pleasure to check your phone. The expectation of text messages and the dopamine reward override the judgment of the prefrontal cortex where most judgment and reasoning occurs.

Source: CNN

Cell Phones Blocked in British Bar

The Gin Tub, a bar south of London, has employed technology from the 1830’s called a Faraday Cage to block cell phone signals inside of the bar. Patrons are unable to use their phones in the bar, and for the most part, it has changed the culture of the bar, winning the loyalty of many who enjoy the experience.

Source: Digital Trends

Politics More Comfortable Than Religion for Americans

A LifeWay study found that 64% of Americans have had at least three conversations about politics in the past month, and 59% would rather talk about politics, compared to 41% who would rather talk about religion. 2 in 1 evangelicals talk about their religion more than politics. Men were more likely than women to prefer politics over religion.

Source: Facts and Trends

Jul 29, 2016

Over 500 Sign Petition to Bring Back Perry Noble

Former NewSpring Church pastor Perry Noble was removed on July 1st due to his struggles with alcohol abuse. However, over 500 members of his church have signed a petition to bring him back. The petition soon stalled out and was closed. Noble commented that he is focusing on getting better and serving his family.

Source: Charisma News

Doubter’s Club Hosts Conversations with Christians and Atheists

Pastor Preston Ulmerson, 29, has launched a group called “Doubters Club” alongside atheist Trax Henderson. The two have started the group in Colorado in order to help Christians and atheists have conversations about current topics. The group started with 10 members and has grown to 60, with two locations.

Source: Metro West Daily News

What Pastors Need to Know about Pokemon Go

The Pokémon Go mobile app for smartphones lets users track Pokemon characters by enabling the GPS on their phones to work with the app. Characters will appear as players walk around town, and oftentimes churches are one of the landmarks used, resulting in players venturing to churches whether or not they have an interest in it. This is an opportunity to meet people in your community and to be present with your congregation in a simple, fun way.

Source: Cross Map


Jul 22, 2016

Christians in America Fear Discrimination

A new survey from PRRI found that almost have of Americans believe that Christians face discrimination in America that is equal to the inequality that other groups face. Eight in ten white evangelical Protestants held this view, rising from six in ten back in 2012. Among the supporters of Donald Trump, three-quarters agreed that Christians face discrimination in America.

Source: The Atlantic

Christian Mingle Loses Lawsuit Over Same Sex Users

A California court ruled that Christian Mingle and Catholic Mingle, among other religious dating sites, cannot ban same sex users. Both sites will change “men seeking women” and “Women seeking men” options to simple questions about the gender of a user and then allowing users to search based on their orientation.

Source: Religion Clause

Ark Attraction Is a Blessing and a Curse for Kentucky Town

Williamstown, Kentucky has seen both the blessings and curses of the Ark Encounter attraction that is opening this summer through Ken Ham’s Answers in Genesis ministry. Ham promises jobs and revenue for the struggling region in northern Kentucky, and so far Williamstown has seen a boost in downtown business. However, the tax breaks and moral code for ark employees leaves many worried that the project could come with too many drawbacks.

Source: NPR

Jul 15, 2016

This week we talk about the big story of the week: Perry Noble being released from Newspring Church. Matt and Todd talk honestly about our thoughts and feelings about this story (and others like it that have happened recently).

Jul 8, 2016

This week we look at the tragic events of this past week, including police shootings in Baton Rouge and Minnesota, as well as the police shootings in Dallas. Where is the Church and how should she respond? We take an introspective look at this week's events and call the Church to action.

Jul 1, 2016

Dobson Says Trump Is a Baby Christian

Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family may be one of the only people in America who can call Donald Trump a “baby” and not get attacked on Twitter. However, Dobson was referring to Trump’s faith, claiming that Trump had recently converted to Christianity, just in time to run for president. Trump did not comment on Dobson’s assertion.

Source: The Christian Post

Minority Infants Now Are the Majority

The population of non-hispanic white infants was finally matched by minority infants in 2013, and as of 2015, the number of minority children reached 50.2%. It’s estimated that in the coming decades America will no longer be majority white and that not no single group will be the racial majority.

Source: Pew Research

Unchurched Will Serve with a Church and Talk about Spirituality

Nearly 80% of the unchurched shared in a LifeWay survey that they would be open to hearing a friend talking about spirituality if it’s an important part of his/her life. Only 1 in 3 were open to being invited to church, but more than half would be likely to attend a community service or community safety event if hosted by a church.

Source: Facts and Trends

Jun 24, 2016

How Has Ministry Changed in the Past 40 years?

Ministry has shifted dramatically in the past 40 years, especially with the widespread use of technology for communication and for church meetings. From pastors inundated with emails to multisite churches, technology has made it harder to be more personal in ministry. In addition, families are more likely to be blended or divorced, the culture has embraced LGBT issues, and the church is more aware of global churches.

Source: Ministry Today

Trends for the Future of the Church

A number of changes are coming in the next 10-20 years for the church, including a need for more churches to rely on bi-vocational pastors and minimizing the role of seminary. Some churches will rely on seminary students with online degrees. Home churches and creative fundraising will also become important as more churches struggle to survive financially.

Source: Ethics Daily

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