Sunday, May 16, 2010

You cannot enter here!

What Do You Live For?

There’s an old story about St Augustine. Early on in his Christian life, he was intensely absorbed in the writings of Cicero. And around this time, he had a dream that he had died. And now he was standing at the pearly gates. And the keeper of the gate said, "Who are you?" And he said, "I’m Augustine." Then the keeper said, "What are you?" Augustine said, "I’m a Christian." The gatekeeper said, "No, you’re not a Christian. You’re a Ciceronian!" Augustine said, "What are you talking about? I’m a Christian!" And the gatekeeper said this: "All souls on earth are judged by what dominated their interests. In you, Augustine, it was not the Christ of the gospel. It was the Cicero of Roman literature. You are not a Christian. You cannot enter here!" Augustine was so startled that when he woke up, he resolved then and there to be fully committed to Jesus Christ for the rest of his life. And to live for Him.

Contributed by: Marc Axelrod

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ranked family as the important issue in their lives

Five Major Trends for Churches in America

Discerning future trends can be difficult if not risky. If we miss a trend, we risk missing opportunities because we had our resources directed elsewhere.
Mon, May. 10, 2010 Posted: 07:35 PM EDT

Discerning future trends can be difficult if not risky. If we miss a trend, we risk missing opportunities because we had our resources directed elsewhere.

I am thus careful when I do trend projections. I am especially careful when I am projecting trends that will have a direct impact on the churches in America.

The Basis for the Trends

The trends that follow were not created in a vacuum. Most the information is based on studies we have done at LifeWay Research. But much of this research provides us information and facts about today’s realities. It does not offer certitude for future trends.

The process is analogous to weather forecasting. We can see all the ingredients that will likely cause a specific outcome. But those factors can change, so we can never say that we are 100 percent certain.

Five Major Trends

Because most of the research that is the basis for these trends was related to American demographics, we must not extend the projections beyond our nation’s borders. Nevertheless, it is possible that some of the research could have implications beyond American churches.

1. Our nation will see the emergence of the largest generational mission field in over a century. According to our current research, the Millennial generation, those born between 1980 and 2000, will have a very low Christian representation. Our estimates now are that only 15% are Christian. With a huge population of nearly 80 million, that means that nearly 70 million young people are not Christians.

2. The dominant attitude of this huge generation toward Christianity will be largely indifferent. Only 13 percent of the Millennials rank any type of spiritual matter as important to their lives. They are not angry at churches and Christians. They simply ignore us because they do not deem us as meaningful or relevant.

3. Senior adult ministries in churches will experience steep declines. As the large Baby Boomer generation moves into their older years, they will resist any suggestion that they are senior adults, no matter how senior they may be. Unfortunately, many churches are slow to adapt to new realities. If they do senior adult ministry the way they’ve always done it, it will be headed for failure.

4. The large Boomer generation will become more receptive to the gospel. Our data is anecdotal for now, but we are seeing indications that the Boomers may actually become more interested in spiritual matters in general, and Christianity specifically. If so, this trend will be counter to other trends where adults tend to become less receptive to the gospel as they age. The Baby Boomers have tried it all and found no joy. They may likely turn to the hope of the gospel.

5. Family will be a key value for both of the large generations. For the Millennials, family is their most important value. Nearly eight out of ten of the Millennials ranked family as the important issue in their lives. They told us that they had healthy relationships with their parents who, for the most part, are Baby Boomers. Some churches say they are family friendly, but few actually demonstrate that value. Churches that reach both of these generations will make significant changes to become the type of churches that foster healthy family relationships,

The Opportunity to Respond

We believe these trends may indeed become reality. They admittedly do focus only on two generations, but these two groups are the largest two generations in America’s history. They cannot be ignored.

Trend projecting is a meaningless exercise if it fails to engender action. Ultimately each local church must determine where God is leading the congregation. In the case of the five trends noted here, the opportunities seem significant. May the response of Christians and churches be nothing less than radical obedience.

Dr. Thom Rainer is president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Thom S. Rainer

Christian Post Guest Columnist

Thursday, May 6, 2010

“Facing the Challenges of Contemporary Pastoral Issues”

Doctor of Ministry Degree

Singapore Bible College

8 hours per day, for five days.

15 – 19 November, 2010

Facilitator: Dr Tony Chi, BTh, MA, PhD

Course Outline


In the ministry and enjoying it! Or not? Needless to say that there are many issues Pastors face at home, in the church, and in society. Pastoral ministry issues may be for some, the most critical. These can impact their church’s life as well as take a heavy toll on the Pastor’s ministry in particular. There are some pastoral issues that never seem to go away, and there are some answers that never seem to be adequate. The next five days will give you the opportunity to reflect, pray about, and interact with your peers on some of these Pastoral issues (again).
Issues on Marriage and Sexuality: (2 days)

How do we deal with cohabitating couples? How do we define and understand “cohabitation”? What is the Biblical viewpoint and how should the church respond to people in such situations? There are other complications - what if the couple has a child or children? Is there a place for these children in schools, the church’s children’s ministry etc? Will you baptise such a child? Naming ceremonies and affirming children who are born out of wedlock.

Divorced members. An exercise on an accelerated research on the Biblical injunctions regarding divorce. Are there exceptions or extenuating circumstances which must be brought into consideration? There is an urgency to involve the whole church in forming an adequate and Biblical view on whether divorcees can re-marry, take positions in church leadership, or even teach Sunday School. Where does “singlehood” fit in all this, and how does a church leader respond to a “converted divorcee” who now believes he/she is now called into fulltime church ministry?
Homosexuality. Here we will explore the contemporary and Biblical view on homosexuality. Should self-declared homosexuals be welcomed in church? What are other churches in other countries doing to minister to people who currently and openly practice homosexuality. We will also need to look into new civil laws and regulatory issues covering such matters as same sex marriages, welfare aid for such families, and same sex church memberships.

Issues on Interfaith Dialogue (or Diversion) - 2 days

Some experts on Interfaith issues have insisted that dialogue and planned conferences are the way to better harmony between differing faiths. Others are now looking at new and more practical methods of people from differing faiths to come together at social and religious gatherings to better relate to each other as neighbours.

Consider the following issues – and help us know what you are doing about it as a local church Pastor, and/or what your local church is doing about it.

Your neighbours or your church members’ neighbours are Buddhists or Muslims, or Hindus. The impact of inter-religious tolerance in a multi-religious society. What do you understand by “public space” and “private space”? What are some of the positive ways that churches today are doing to connect with people of other faiths (especially in their own setting e.g housing estate?) What advice will you give to your church members regarding active and personal involvement/participation in Taoist or Chinese religious funeral rites and ceremonies? Can Christians eat food offered to idols. What about the practice of yoga, tai chi, acupuncture, and the frequent use of alternative medicine and Chinese traditional medicine?

Apart from the Bible, where are your spiritual resources that will enhance your Christian stance on the above issues?

Evangelism in the Marketplace: 1 day

Would the following statement sound “prophetic” to you if we say: “the days of doing church in church only have come to an end”? What is “marketplace” evangelism or ministry? What is the church’s current understanding of going out to the places of work and impacting lives for Christ there? How many Christian lay people do you know who are actively making their places of work a “mission field” on a daily basis?

This session will explore the implications as well as the opportunities of the role of the Christian Church today in contemporary society. What really is the church? Where are our active church members and what are they doing – the other six days of the week? Should “church” be done only on Sundays? Is “church ministry’ the prerogative of only fulltime clergy and paid Christian church workers?

Have you heard of the “Multichannel Church” or of a church ministry today called “”? These ministries are high powered, high tech, and widely appealing to the computer generation of pre-believers. How much of such use do you think is applicable to your own church setting? Some churches today have a “virtual audience” through cyberspace and attractive websites. Comment on some Pastors today who have very successful local church ministries by being active social networkers, using blogs, twitters, and Facebook as means of connecting with people.