- NPR has a fascinating article on the growth of Christianity in China. “Official Chinese surveys now show that nearly one in three Chinese describe themselves as religious, an astonishing figure for an officially atheist country, where religion was banned until three decades ago.” (via Redeemer Blog)
- Also from Redeemer: Interesting insight into Tim Keller’s Daily Devotions including this quote to ministers: “what your people need most from you is your personal holiness.”
- A GREAT list – What’s in, What’s Out in Leadership – “Generosity, sharing, serving, and “giving it away” is in.”
- Benson Hines has a helpful list of things to think through for your college ministry website (and read the comments – the first one especially is helpful).
- For Parents: Joel Miller with an excellent, short article on “Why God Gave us Kids” – The short answer= “So we’ll stop being children ourselves”
Archives For July 2010
This is heartbreaking. I’m truly sad for her, but also because her story is playing out in thousands of untold “I quit Christianity” stories on a daily basis across America.
Anne Rice, an author best known for her vampire books, became a Christian 10 years ago. Today via Facebook she announced that she is quitting Christianity.
Look familiar unChristian readers? The common theme? Christian = anti.
And obviously her thoughts resonate with many. She has close to 2,000 comments on those two posts alone.
To me, the most hearbreaking part:
Here’s what she posted a few days ago when she still was an “us”:
What are your thoughts on all this?
Photo courtesy of Llima via Flickr
And we’re pushing it hard at our weekly meeting (I’ll give a big plug for it in my first Cru talk): “Buy these for only $5 at the back! If you don’t have $5 just take one. There’s no better way to start your semester!”
The idea of the devotional = commit to spend time with the Lord each day for 28 days. The intro alone is worth the price of the book – great, brief explanation on how to have a QT.
The devotions take you through the Gospel of Luke and are very well written – great balance of giving you some help but allowing room for self-discovery and having a go at it without training wheels.
Buy it here. $9 – (around $5 for Crusade staff if you buy enough of them- I think 100)
As I mentioned before in a post about GCL: Almost zero prep. Incredible heart-probing, Christ centered content. If you buy enough of them (100 or more) they are cheap – $1/copy.
I love the format:
- Read and discuss a passage
- Read/Discuss an article
- Do Application/Disussion questions
- Pray together
I think the Article especially helps. It communicates incredible truths very succinctly (and you’re not dependent on a Joe Sophomore Bible study Leader to articulate to his Freshman study what it means that “the heart is an idol-factory”). It gives you a crystal clear understanding of the topics that you wouldn’t get from just a free-for-all discussion of a Bible passage (with multiple rabbit trails and heresies flying)
The ultimate goal would be that our students in Cru Community Groups would be more thoroughly gospel-centered Christians (many even understanding Christianity for the first time).
Here’s a link where you can purchase it from World Harvest Mission (it’s written by a couple of former Cru staff – Bob Thune and Will Walker). You download the file from them – it’s $7 for one copy, $40 for the license to print 20 studies.
What are you using this Fall?
I think one of the best ways to develop as a leader is by subscribing to and reading blogs. You won’t grow as a leader if you’re not being exposed to new ideas and great leaders. And there’s no quicker way than to read great blogs. They’re short and to the point – my favorite kind of reading.
For those of you who don’t know, I explain how (and why) to subscribe to blogs here.
Here are my favorite blogs that I read almost daily (I’ve added these to my Resources Tab).
Let me know in the comments what your favorite blogs are.
The quick list – My top 3 favorite overall:
The full list by category:
- Justin Taylor – If all you did was follow his blog you wouldn’t be missing much else on the internets. By far the best Christian blog out there.
- Tim Challies – voracious Christian book reader/reviewer. Rock-solid theology.
- Tim Keller – doesn’t post very much but when he does. . .
Church Relevance has a good list of the top 100 Christian blogs.
- Seth Godin – brilliant thinker/writer on leadership and marketing. at least once a week I bookmark one of his posts for use with my staff team.
- What’s Best Next – incredible thoughts on productivity and leadership (I also use a lot of his posts with my staff)
- Ben Arment – not sure why I like this blog so much. Random compilation of leadership thoughts and design. Ben is probably the best Christian event planner in the world. Great creative mind and eye for design.
- Michael Hyatt – CEO of Thomas Nelson publishing. Great thinker on Leadership
- Signal vs. Noise – from the authors of Rework. Leadership, design, etc.
- Smashing Magazine – a must read for designers (especially web design)
- Already Been Chewed – a Christian designer with mad motion skills
- New York Times Editorials by David Brooks – what do all my favorite NYT editorials have in common? David Brooks wrote them. Often looks at religious topics (from a secular point of view)
- Abuzeedo – overwhelming number of new posts every week. But great inspiration for designers (plus free fonts/textures/tutorials/etc)
- Church Marketing Sucks – “The site to frustrate, educate and motivate the church to communicate, with uncompromising clarity, the truth of Jesus Christ”
College Ministry (in no particular order):
I didn’t even discover this category of blogs until Summer 2010. So I’m new to the game here. I’m sure I’m missing some stellar blogs in this category.
photo courtesy of neXres via Flickr
Lots of free (legal) music for you.
Get some good Christian music (wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to put the “good” adjective there to clarify?) from upcoming albums. You have to give them your e-mail but they don’t spam you:
Some Free Summer Samplers from Amazon. In the left hand column there are Sampler Albums from 10 different Music Labels.
A really cool commercial featuring Jonsi’s (of Sigur Ros) song Go Do from his great solo album Go:
This is part 3 in a series of posts inspired by the book Souls in Transition.
Young people are sharing their faith less, but why? My gut is they do it less because they believe (& have been told) a myth.
Keith Davy reports on an interesting survey called “How teenagers faith practices are changing” (link to a great summary on the survey – a quick, must-read for college ministers):
Here’s my 2 cents on what causes students (and all of us) to share the gospel less:
- Lack of understanding of the gospel. If we really understand it, we can’t help but share it.
- They’re gun shy. We’ve all heard the doom and gloom of “post-Christian” America and are scared to approach people who surely must hate Christians.
It’s something that I’ve noticed in students in the last few years – an almost embarrassment to tell others that they are Christians. The book unChristian really hits the nail on the head as far as students’ reluctance to share their faith:
But here’s the interesting thing, and back to the whole “myth” thing.
Souls in Transition says something REALLY interesting: that it’s a myth that young people are hostile or averse toward talking about religion (christian teens’ fears are unfounded). In their research the authors find non-Christian students “generally seem happy to talk about religion if it happens to come up.” (page 144)
So, to me, the 2 questions we need to address are:
- How do we help students more fully experience/understand the gospel (besides the obvious answer of having them listen to TIm Keller sermons 24/7)?
- How do we help them “get in the game” and simply talk about their faith as a way of life?
photo courtesy of Tiago Ribeiro via Flickr
I’ve added a few pages of good resources divided into Books, Sermons, and Online Resources (I’ll add a list of articles at some point).
I think the Sermons page is particularly helpful because I have no shortage of books I want to read, but whenever I’m picking out a sermon to listen to I’m kind of flying blind. Sure, I have my favorite pastors (Tim Keller, Tim Keller, and Matt Chandler) but I’ve never found a good way to find recommended sermons. So, check out my favorites and tell me your favorites in the “Sermons” comments.
For those of you in ministry, do yourself a favor and start with Tim Keller’s “Preaching to believers and unbelievers” (at the bottom under “Ministry”). Mind-blowingly-good.
Just hover over “Resources” at the top of this page and you can click on a category.
Photo courtesy of San Jose Library via Flickr
This is part 2 in a series of posts on the book Souls in Transition.
First the bad news: College-aged young people are “the least religious adults in the United States today.” Only 20% attend religious services at least once a week. They are morally adrift and alienated from religion.
These are a few of the findings of the Authors of the book Souls in Transition.
Based on five years of academic research, Souls in Transition presents the best information to date on the spiritual beliefs of the current generation of college students.
Here is what they report about how Emerging Adults (what they call those age 18-22) line up spiritually (and I find this to be less “doom and gloom” than I’d feared):
- 15% are Committed Traditionalists who “embrace a strong religious faith, whose beliefs they can reasonably well articulate and which they actively practice.” (p 166)
- 30% are Selective Adherents who “are not that interested in matters religious or spiritual” but do hold to certain aspects of their religious tradition that they pick and choose (p. 167, 295)
- 15% are Spiritually Open, who “are not personally very committed to a religious faith” but mildly interested and open to some spiritual topics or activities. (p 167)
- 25% are Religiously Indifferent who “simply [don’t care] one way or the other”. They “religion really doesn’t count for that much” (p 168, 295)
- 5% are Religiously Disconnected who have little exposure to religious ideas or people. Religion is not a particular interest. They lack “the social and institutional ties to religion to know or care that much about it in the first place.” (p 168,295)
- 10% are Irreligious who “hold skeptical attitudes about and make critical arguments against religion generally, rejecting the idea of personal faith.” “Religion just makes no sense” (p 168)
So on your typical campus:
- 15% are “solid believers”
- No more than 10% are “atheists/agnostics” –
- 30% come from a churched background (this would be more like 60% on our campus) but are moral relativists
- 45% are what I would call “Unspiritual but Open” – they would be very receptive to Christians and having a conversation about God
Obviously (like I mentioned re: our campus) you’d have to adjust for your campus but these findings would/should definitely shape the way you approach outreach on your campus.
A few takeaways for our ministry:
- It might be helpful for staff/students to be able to think through: “which category does the person I’m talking to fit into?” And then training students how to communicate the message of the gospel to each group. You wouldn’t talk to a “Religiously Disconnected” student in the same way that you’d talk to a “Selective Adherent”. The former has never really been exposed to religious beliefs or people. The latter has been inoculated to the gospel and now want little to do with it (at least during college).
- At our campus we need to get a lot better at communicating the gospel to our average student: The churched kid who picks and chooses which parts of Christianity he wants to follow: “sex before marriage? Perfectly fine. Attending church? Optional. Alcohol/drugs? Why not. But I feel really guilty. Thanks religion” The authors summarize their outlook: “I do some of what I can.” They are religious moralists (and pretty crummy ones, at that) who do not understand the gospel of grace..
- My heart really goes out to those in the “Unspiritual but Open” category – it just seems like if they just consistently rubbed shoulders with a passionate follower of Christ over the course of a school year, they would be open to the gospel.
What are you takeaways after reading these findings?
Photo courtesy of Neil Dorgan via Flickr