Cool Church is NOT Cool

cool-churchChurch attendance has plummeted among young adults. In the U.S. 59% of people 18 to 29 with a Christian background have, at some point, dropped out. According to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, among those who came of age around the year 2000, a solid quarter claim no religious affiliation, making them significantly more disconnected from faith than Gen-Xers were at a comparable point in their lives and twice as detached as Boomers were as young adults.

In response, many churches have sought to lure Millennials back by focusing on style points: cooler bands, hipper worship, edgier programming and impressive technology.

Recent Barna Group research found 67% of Millennials prefer a “classic” church over a “trendy” one, and 77% would choose a “sanctuary” over an “auditorium.” They also exhibit an increasing aversion to exclusive, closed-minded religious communities masquerading as hip places.

Barna’s David Kinnaman said “Millennials are not disillusioned with tradition; they are frustrated with slick or shallow expressions of religion.”

Least and Most Religious Countries Worldwide

A global survey by WIN/Gallup International has ranked the U.K. as among the least religious countries in the world along with Czech Republic, Sweden, Japan and China. Only 30% of Britons describe themselves as religious; 53% are not religious, and 13% say they’re atheists. In the U.S., only 56% said they are religious; 33% are not, and 6% identify as atheists.

Worldwide, 63% claim to be religious, 22% were not, 11% as atheists, and 4% did not give an answer. Morocco, Georgia, Bangladesh, Armenia and Thailand made up the list of countries where people most often described themselves as religious. The total number of religiously unaffiliated people in the world is 16% and is projected to drop to 15% by 2050.

Click the picture below to see the breakdown of the world’s religions.

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Random Thought Thursday: May 7, 2015

A MERE SHADOW OF A FIGHT
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The Mayweather – Pacquiao fight was a joke.  This should have been their 3rd and final fight, not their first.  I remember the  Sugar Ray Leonard – Roberto Duran trilogy of fights in the 1980s.  Those were awesome! They fought twice in 1980 (both winning once) and one last time in 1989 – an epic fight between old foes who were beyond their prime.  If you want to see boxing in its prime, check out their fights on You Tube.

GREEN CHILE STEW…I LOVE YOU
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I’m not sure where I would be in life or what kind of man I would be if not for green chile stew.  It’s like eating New Mexico, and it’s wonderful.  Those of you who don’t live in the Land of Enchantment won’t understand, but for those of you who do, can I get an “Amen?!”

CHEATER CHEATER PUMPKIN EATER
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I admit I don’t like the New England Patriots because my favorite team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, have a hard time beating them these days. However, the findings from the “Deflate-gate” investigation are in, and it has been discovered that indeed the Patriots cheated…again. A few years back, they secretly taped a teams practice so that they could steal their signals. I’m not saying they’re not a good – perhaps great – team. I’m just saying that their cheating diminishes their accomplishments over the past 10 years in my eyes.

A SUPERB READ
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I just finished this book recently, and it’s one I recommend you read too. It’s the story of the 1936 USA Olympic rowing team that brought home gold from the Berlin Olympics – back when rowing was a big deal in the U.S. As the story is told, the reader is given a bird’s eye view of the horrible impact the Great Depression had on our country and the resilience of the American people to survive and ultimately overcome it. Simultaneously, a detailed look into the preparation of Hitler’s Germany for the Olympics is given which includes a peak into the Nazi propaganda machine that used the Olympics to convince the world that Nazi Germany was not horrible like the rumors were saying. It worked, and the world was lulled to sleep by the grandeur of the Olympics and the Nazi façade that allowed Hitler to get away with murder – literally – for years after. The story follows the account of the last survivor of the 1936 rowing team, and his family story alone would make for a fascinating read. Add to it the Olympic struggle and the maddening deceit of Nazi Germany, and it makes for a superb read.

Baseball, Pizza, and the Resurrection

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Supreme. It’s a pretty powerful word that unfortunately in our culture has been reduced to the kind of pizza we eat at Pizza Hut. The word actually means strongest, most important, or most powerful. It is the thing or the person that is superior to all others. It’s not a word that should be used carelessly, and when it comes to deciding who we will allow to be supreme in our lives, we really need to exercise great discernment and caution.

When we were small children, perhaps our parents were supreme in our lives. My father was a large man – both in size and in presence. His voice could boom, and it did when he was excited. I remember when I was 6 years old playing infield on my t-ball team and threw out a base runner for the first time ever. My dad, who was also my coach, jumped up and down in the dugout and roared with excitement. It nearly made all of the other 6 year olds in the dugout cry! I remember to this day the great feeling of not only knowing that I got the base runner out but knowing that I made my dad – the one who was supreme in my life – happy with me.

11From then on, I remember trying to do things that would re-create that moment between me and my dad. I wanted to have him jump up and down and roar his approval of me like that again and again. When I was in grade school, I played whiffle ball with my friends on the school playground at recess. It just so happened that I could hit the ball pretty far, so I asked my dad if he would come by at recess and watch me hit. I’m sure he didn’t have the time nor the desire to do so, but the next day as we ran to the ball field for morning recess, there was my dad, sitting in his car waiting to watch. I don’t know if I hit the ball well that day or not, I just know that I wanted to please my father and make him excited about me again like he was before. He was a big deal to me because he was supreme in my life back then.

You and I have since grown up, and no longer are our parents supreme to us – but someone has most likely taken their place. There is someone in our lives who is more important than all others, and the challenge for the Christian is to fight the temptation to put our spouse, our children, or some other human in that spot. Christ must be the one who we allow to reign supreme in our lives. We must recognize Him as the most important – superior to all others – and live our lives in light of this. Just as I had a driving desire to please my earthly father because I saw him as supreme, so should we desire to please our heavenly Father because He is supreme.

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Read these words from the Apostle Paul about the supremacy of Christ from Colossians 1:15-20: He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Paul clearly states that Christ is supreme (preeminent) because He is “the firstborn from the dead.” His resurrection from the grave (an event we celebrate this month with great rejoicing!) has propelled Him to supremacy over all things and all people. Because of the resurrection, Christ is the strongest, most important, most powerful One and is superior to all others. May we be reminded of this once again as we celebrate His resurrection this month, and may we live in such a way that we affirm His supremacy over us by our worship, our obedience, our delighting in Him, and our desire to please Him in all we do.

A Very Sad Picture

One year ago, I journeyed through Egypt, Nairobi, Kenya and London. I posted many pictures along the way, but recently, I processed many of them through Lightroom editing software. The difference is amazing, so I thought I’d post them occasionally throughout the month of February. Click on each one if you’d like to see more detail.

Here’s the saddest picture I took in Africa. I didn’t even know what I was taking until I saw the picture later. I just thought it was a nice picture of a dad hanging out with his boys with some vibrant colors in the background…

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The Traditional Women of Egypt

One year ago, I journeyed through Egypt, Nairobi, Kenya and London. I posted many pictures along the way, but recently, I processed many of them through Lightroom editing software. The difference is amazing, so I thought I’d post them occasionally throughout the month of February. Click on each one if you’d like to see more detail.

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On life, learning, love, and laughter.