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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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

Jun 17, 2016

This week we talk about 5 shifts in church planting in the last ten years... 5 reasons pastors avoid politics... and an update about our friend, Ed Stetzer!

Jun 10, 2016

Immigrants Lead Theology School Growth

As mainline seminaries close down, consolidate, or sell off property and evangelical schools struggle to remain sustainable, theological schools serving immigrants are seeing renewed vitality. Both Pentecostal and Asia-based schools are seeing increases in enrollment as their American counterparts continue to experience cuts.

Source: Inside Higher Education

Evangelism Pastor Will Be New Position for the Church

Thom Rainer writes that many churches will seek to hire a pastor of community evangelism in the future. Rainer writes that evangelism continues to be a struggle for many churches, and one person to lead local evangelism efforts will be key. Most churches are not evangelistic and they struggle to coordinate events, ministries, and social media connections, leading to a need for a new position.

Source: Church Central

Reasons for the Decline of the SBC

Thomas S. Kidd and Barry Hankins, professors of history at Baylor University, write that the SBC is in decline because its members have, for the most part, lost their commitment to evangelism. SBC parents have also struggled to retain their children, while allowing their doctrine to become diluted by a kind of American deism and political involvement in the Republican party.

Source: Washington Post

Jun 3, 2016

The Dangers of Exhaustion for Pastors

When pastors are exhausted, they are in danger of making bad decisions, eating bad meals, acting impulsively or negatively, and responding with anger to others. Rest is essential for ministering effectively, let alone for being present with family and friends. Pastors may need accountability from colleagues, church members, or family to ensure that they take time to rest.

Source: CrossWalk

Emoji Bible Converts Text into Characters

While the Twible by Jana Reiss converted the Bible into a series of tweets, the new Emoji Bible adds a Millennial spin to tweeting the Bible by inserting emojis into the text, using over 200 symbols that are typically used for text messages and on social media. The book is 3,300 pages and is subtitled: Scripture 4 Millennials, selling for $2.99.

Source: The Guardian

Work Continues to Invade Our Private Lives through Technology

From work emails to phone calls and social media, more employees are struggling to divide their personal and work lives, especially executives. One third of Americans never even turn off their cell phones, and the constant access to work communication can prove stressful, especially for the extroverts who fear missing out. More introverted employees can sometimes disconnect better from work communication while at home, but the most important factor of all was having a clear, intentional plan for using social media and communicating with work while at home. 

Source: Insead

May 29, 2016

Groeschel Warns Churches Against Growing Too Fast

Pastor Craig Groeschel shared at the recent Catalyst One Day in Birmingham, Alabama that churches should be careful about growing too fast. Warren Bird agrees with Groeschel's warning, noting that churches should maximize what they have before expanding and make sure any expansion is rooted in a strong leadership team and is financially responsible.

Source: The Christian Post

How Pastors Can Lead During the Rise of Trump

In the midst of the political chaos surrounding the rise of Donald Trump, pastors can use this opportunity to refocus their congregations on faithfulness and the Gospel message. In addition, there are political values that don't line up with God's values. God shows favor to the humble, God's means will bring about God's results, and the seeming pragmatic choice isn't always the right choice.

Source: CrossWalk

Young Adults More Likely to Live with Parents

A married partner is no longer the most likely living option for young adults, ages 18 to 34. As of 2014, 32.1% of young adults live with a parent, while 31.6% live with a spouse or partner. In addition, 22% live in a dorm, prison, or other relative. This overall number is not as high as in country's such as Italy, but in some cases this arrangement could be a failure to "launch" into adulthood. 

Source: NYT

May 20, 2016

Gender Gap in Church Attendance Narrows

As women shift toward the religious "nones," the gap between men and women for church attendance is shrinking dramatically from 13% in the 1980's to just 6% in the early 2010's. The explanations for this include men who are more likely to attend church, the overall decline of younger women attending church, and the increase of women in the workforce.

Source: Pew Research

Christians in the Middle East Treat Refugees as Guests

Richard Stearns of World Vision returned from a trip to Lebanon and Iraq where he was inspired by the Christians there to treat refugees as guests. Stearns shared, “Let’s try to see these refugees through the eyes of God” after his visit to the city of Erbil that has over 11,000 Christian refugees. overall, there are an estimated 11 million Syrian refugees and 4.4 million Iraqi refugees.

Source: RNS

Abortion Clinics Blessed by Clergy in Cleveland

Clergy from Episcopal and Methodist churches in Cleveland, OH visited an abortion clinic in order to show their support. One of the clergy members tweeted that God is the ultimate escort into the clinic. The clergy also held signs thanking God for abortion providers.

Source: BreitBart

May 13, 2016

Younger Pastors Disagree with Older Pastors on Allegations Procedures

Churches remain uncertain about how to handle a pastor who has been accused of a scandal. 47% believe the pastor should step aside while allegations are investigated, but 21% are uncertain. Among older pastors, 36% believe pastors should remain in their positions during investigations, but younger pastors are less likely to agree (27%). Pentecostals (43%) are the most likely to keep pastors in their positions during investigations, while 24% of Reformed or Presbyterian pastors take the same view.

Source: LifeWay

Pastors Crave Financial Training and Need Help Saving for the Future

A recent survey found that 29% of pastors have no funds in savings. In addition, only 14% have received financial training in seminary and only 38% had financial training in college. Only 23% are completely confident in managing their finances, while 46% are confident in managing their church finances.

Source: Church Law and Tax

Missionary’s Abuse of Children Prompts ABWE to Make Changes

Former medical missionary Donn Ketcham served from 1961 to 1989 in Bangladesh with the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE). Ketcham was accused of having at least four affairs and sexually abusing at least 18 girls under the guise of medical care. Ketcham lived with a number of missionary families on a compound where the abuse continued unchecked for years. A 280-page report from Professional Investigators International (Pii) confirmed the abuse allegations and prompted ABWE to issue apologies and to begin the process of paying for counseling for the many victims. ABWE has also improved its reporting procedures and abuse training for staff.

Source: Christianity Today

May 6, 2016

4 Megachurch Pastors Host Talk Show on Fox

“The Preachers” is a new talk show hosted on Fox that aims to resemble the format of The View. The show will feature four prominent megachurch pastors that includes: Dr. Jamal Bryant, pastor and founder of Empowerment Temple AME Church in Baltimore, Maryland; John Gray, associate pastor at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas; Dr. E. Dewey Smith Jr., senior pastor at The House of Hope Atlanta, Georgia and The House of Hope of Macon, Georgia; and Orrick Quick, pastor of God Seekers Church in High Point, North Carolina.

Source: The Examiner

Why Church Members Criticize the Appearance of Pastors

Male and female ministers are regularly critiqued over their appearance, how they dress, their hair styles, and how they carry themselves. Women are especially scrutinized for their weight and hair styles, some reporting that their hair is more important than their theology to some. This troubling trend reveals that churches feel a sense of ownership over their pastors that even extends to how they dress and style themselves. Church members hold pastors up to impossible ideals that are demoralizing and degrading for pastors.

Source: Sojourners

UMC Clergy Come Out Before Conference

Just days before the 2016 United Methodist General Conference, 15 clergy and clergy candidates in New York state came out as lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer. The group did so with fear and trembling, but they shared that it has been spiritually suffocating to be in the closet for so long. Over 100 proposals related to LGBT issues in the UMC are up for vote at the conference.



May 1, 2016

Is Your Church Bank Account Safe from Hackers?

As churches move more of their transactions and accounts to online programs, there is an increased threat of cyber attacks and theft. While there should be clear controls in place for writing checks and making deposits, churches also need security procedures for ensuring the safety of accounts. Virus detection and removal software as well as email and network safeguards are essential for blocking potential attacks.

Source: Worship Facilities


Immigrants Help Millennials Top Boomers as Largest Generation

By 2036, Millennials are projected to reach 81 million in the U.S. Today they number 75.4 million and have surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest generation in America. As the Baby Boomers decline in numbers, Generation X is expected to outnumber them by 2028 with 65 million members.

Source: Pew Research


Church Attendees Have Less Time, Trust, and Money

Karl Vaters notes that most adults attending church today have less disposable income and are working longer hours, sometimes with multiple jobs, just to keep up with rising expenses. They can only attend church three times per month, rather than three times per week, and they are less likely to donate to a building campaign but will donate to help meet a need.

Source: Christianity Today

Apr 22, 2016

Pastor Accused of Sex Abuse Cover Up Tells Church to Protect Pastors

Amid allegations that he helped cover up a series of child sex abuse scandals of his Sovereign Grace Ministries congregations, pastor C.J. Mahaney followed his address at Together for the Gospel with a sermon at his church that called on the congregation to protect their pastors. Mahaney said that Hebrews 13:17 tells congregations to stand by their pastors and to challenge allegations. Abuse survivor networks have protested Mahaney’s appearance at Together for the Gospel.

Source: Baptist New Global


What Should Pastors Know about the Offering?

Thom Rainer shares a list of different arrangements for tracking giving in your church. In one model, a pastor and a key volunteer keep track of the funds and giving trends together, but other churches prefer a committee, an appointed staff member, or a single volunteer. Still other churches hire someone outside the church to keep track of donations and to notify the staff of any important trends.

Source: The Christian Post


Churches Are Opening Faster Than They Close

There was an average of 77 churches planted each week in 2014 according to the statistics from 34 denominations. That means there were 4,000 churches planted compared to the 3700 churches that closed. Church plants are one of the most effective ways to reach new people with the gospel since 42% of those worshipping in churches launched since 2008 are either new to church or returned after many years away.

Source: Facts and Trends


Apr 14, 2016

39% of Americans expect Vatican to accept homosexuality within 30 years

In his new statement "On Love In The Family" Pope Francis calls Catholics to be more merciful and understanding of abortion, homosexuality and divorce. When polled, 39% of Americans believe that the Vatican may change it's teaching on Homosexuality within the next 30 years while 50% thought the church would never reverse it's stance on abortion.

Source: CapX


An Experiment In Sharing: One Building, 3 Religions

Brookville Church in Long Island was built in 1732, it is home to a picturesque steeple, classic architecture and four, inter-faith congregations. The Muslim Reform Movement Organization, New Synagogue of Long Island and Interfaith Community of Long Island all share this tiny building. Not only do they rotate services through the space, they also blend services and support interfaith families. 

Source: The Washington Post


Need A Laugh? Check Out Yelp's Church Reviews.

Odds are you've headed to Yelp to check out a restaurant or hair salon, but did you know some users are reviewing churches as well? From ridiculous to completely relevant, these comments are both hilarious and helpful. As much as it may hurt to read that your church is perceived as stuck up or unfriendly, wouldn't you rather know?

Apr 8, 2016

Christianity Pared Down in Theology Studies at Oxford

Baptist Church Expels Governor

Tony Evans thinks the church isn't helping


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