links: this went thru my mind

 

Church, consumerism & mega-churches: How Churches Became Cruise Ships

“Today, half of all churchgoers in the United States attend the largest 10 percent of churches. What rarely gets reported, however, is that on average 50 smaller churches close their doors every week in the U.S. The church-as-destination model hasn’t advanced the church in America, it has consolidated it.”

Children, parenting & technology: * 9 Most Dangerous Apps for Kids; * Five Ways to Mess Up Your Kids [required reading]

* “New apps are constantly being created, so it’s important to monitor what your child downloads. Being aware of the online tricks predators use will help you know what to look for …”

* “… it is possible to parent in such a way as to make it difficult for them to grow up, mature, and live as Christ-followers. The following are some ways to mess up your kids …”

Discouragement & ministry: Seven Ways to Hurt Your Pastor

“… they are real people who can really be hurt. The pastors I spoke with this past week shared with me seven common themes of the things that hurt them the most. So, if you really want to hurt your pastor, follow these guidelines carefully.”

Hispanics, immigrants & jobs: Latino Jobs Growth Driven by U.S. Born

“For the first time in nearly two decades, immigrants do not account for the majority of Hispanic workers in the United States. Meanwhile, most of the job gains made by Hispanics during the economic recovery from the Great Recession of 2007-09 have gone to U.S.-born workers …”

Small groups: Two Common Misuses of Small Group Ministry

“Small groups are actually best as a context for the ‘one anothers.’ Whether your church is big or small, you need some kind of system where people can show and be shown the kind of love the Bible commands the church to show. They often pop up in the New Testament as ‘one anothers,’ and this is what small groups are best for.”

this went thru my mind

 

Faith & marriage: * Marrying Out of the Faith; * Interfaith Unions: A Mixed Blessing

* “Interfaith couples tend to marry without thinking through the practical implications of their religious differences. They assume that because they are decent and tolerant people … they will not encounter difficulties being married to someone of another faith.”

* “Before the 1960s, about 20 percent of married couples were in interfaith unions; of couples married in this century’s first decade, 45 percent were. … interfaith marriages often come with a heavy price. They are more likely than same-faith unions to be unhappy and, in some circumstances, to end in divorce. They also tend to diminish the strength of religious communities, as the devout are pulled away from bonds of tradition and orthodoxy by their nonmember spouses.”

Law, people, and righteousness: Four Kinds of People

“It is helpful to see that there are four kinds of people in the world … law-obeying, law-relying … law-disobeying, law-relying … law-disobeying, not law-relying [and] … law-disobeying, not law-relying.”

Same-sex marriage: * Nelson Lund: A Social Experiment Without Science Behind It; * How Different are the Adult Children of Parents Who Have Same-Sex Relationships?

* “A significant number of organizations representing social and behavioral scientists have filed briefs promising the court that there is nothing to worry about. These assurances have no scientific foundation. Same-sex marriage is brand new, and child rearing by same-sex couples remains rare. Even if both phenomena were far more common, large amounts of data collected over decades would be required before any responsible researcher could make meaningful scientific estimates of the long-term effects of redefining marriage.

“The conclusions in the research literature typically amount at best to claims that a particular study found “no evidence” of bad effects from child rearing by same-sex couples. One could just as easily say that there is no reliable evidence that such child-rearing practices are beneficial or harmless. And that is the conclusion that should be relevant to the court.”

* “In this debut article of the NFSS, I compare how the young-adult children of a parent who has had a same-sex romantic relationship fare on 40 different social, emotional, and relational outcome variables when compared with six other family-of-origin types.”

Small groups: 9 Great Things Many Group Members Hate About Small Groups

“If a group leader is going to see transformation at a meaningful level in a group member’s life, the group leader cannot give the group member a pass on these expectations. Rather, the group leader must graciously and wisely move the group member into these seemingly dangerous places.”

this went thru my mind

 

Banks, money, oppression & payday loans: Major Banks Aid in Payday Loans Banned by States

“While the banks, which include giants like JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, do not make the loans, they are a critical link for the lenders, enabling the lenders to withdraw payments automatically from borrowers’ bank accounts, even in states where the loans are banned entirely. In some cases, the banks allow lenders to tap checking accounts even after the customers have begged them to stop the withdrawals. “Without the assistance of the banks in processing and sending electronic funds, these lenders simply couldn’t operate,” said Josh Zinner, co-director of the Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project, which works with community groups in New York.”

Corporate worship, judgmentalism & maturity: Thumbs Up? Thumbs Down? by Terry Rush [required reading]

“In ministry, in outreach, in worship, and in study, life is about God being glorified. Too many across the broad range of Christian concepts plop themselves down upon padded pews to judge the hour’s program. Thumbs up? Thumbs down? Yet Jesus didn’t construct a court of judgment. He is building a church that would give Father attentive glory.”

Church names: Should Your Church’s Name Include Its Denomination?

“Churches with denominational references (vs. none) in their name are: Four times more likely to be perceived as ‘formal.’ Three times more likely to be perceived as ‘old-fashioned.’ Almost three times more likely to be perceived as ‘structured and rigid.’ Three times less likely to be perceived as ‘open-minded.’ … The main caveat is age … In general, older Americans are more comfortable with denominational church names than are younger people. People age 65 and older are especially likely to see non-denominational names as the church trying to hide what they believe … and as making them feel uncertain … as well as to see denominational names as welcoming new visitors … and as a church they might consider visiting … On the other hand … Younger adults are also more likely to see non-denominational names as welcoming to new visitors …, as a church for people like them …, or as one they might consider visiting …”

Learning: The Lesson You Never Got Taught in School: How to Learn! [very interesting]

“A paper published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest has evaluated ten techniques for improving learning, ranging from mnemonics to highlighting and came to some surprising conclusions.  … Be aware that everyone has their own style of learning, the evidence suggests that just because a technique works or does not work for other people does not necessarily mean it will or won’t work well for you. If you want to know how to revise or learn most effectively you will still want to experiment on yourself a little with each technique before writing any of them off.”

Marriage: 25 Years of Evangelizing My Husband

“On Sunday mornings I would tear up. If only my husband was sitting next to me at church. If only he would thumb through a Bible. If only he could hear this sermon. From my balcony view, I would glare at the backs of other husbands, arms draped over their wives’ shoulders. Surely these husbands led nightly devotionals, volunteered at Vacation Bible School, and prayed before meals. If only …”

Ministry: A Letter to the Church, from a Pastor by Ron Edmonson

“I’m blessed with so many pastor friends. I have the opportunity, through my blog and personal ministry, to interact with hundreds of pastors every year. After hearing many of their concerns, I decided to write a letter to the church. Obviously, I can’t and won’t attempt to speak for every pastor, but this will represent many.”

Parenting: * Ten Things I Want To Tell Teenage Girls by Kate Conner; * Dear Boys

* “All attention is not equal.  You think you want attention, but you don’t.  You want respect.  All attention is not equal.”

* “You’ve got to wake up in the morning determined to meet your potential head on, to no longer judge your success by the products that they’re peddling, but to judge yourself by standards that have existed since the beginning of the time: Am I going to make excuses or am I going to make something happen? Am I going to make my life count or am I going to waste it?  Am I going to make my life about what I have or about who I am?”

Small groups: Why Small Groups Don’t Fail by Scott Boren

“Small groups work when leaders operate like shepherds. They do the under-ground, consistent, steady work of caring for the sheep. That is hard to promote and measure. It’s different from developing programs in the church which can be seen and measured as we build buildings, develop budget-dependent programs and attract more and more people to a centralized venue. Small group ministry happens without such clear sizzle. But it’s the way people grow and it’s the way that we impact the world with love.”

Time management: Respect Yourself and Take Back Control of Your Calendar

“Your time is your life. So when you surrender control of your calendar to other people, you put them in control of your destiny. Our digital world has broken down the natural boundaries on how and when people can tell you what they think you should be doing.”

this went thru my mind

 

Caregiving & stealing: 5 Signs a Caregiver Is Stealing From You

“Be careful, proactive, and alert. Here, some of the key warning signs that a caregiver is on the take.”

Children & death: Talking to Your Children about Death by Caleb Wilde

“The implications of this study suggest that, despite all of the challenges involved in talking to a child about death and even in the very demanding circumstances of a child facing his or her imminent death, it is most often better to go ahead with such conversations.”

Church: Are Churches Any Better Than Nightclubs? by Pete Enns

“… it’s hard to be real in church because the whole system seems to work better if you’re not. Which is not good. The problem, though, is what to do about it.”

Church, dropouts, & younger folks: Why Are Young Adults Leaving Church? A Comprehensive Answer by Matt Dabbs [required reading]

“There has been a mass exodus of young adults from Christian churches (including but not limited to Churches of Christ) over the last few decades. … There are a variety of reasons young adults leave the church in their early 20s. They are not all leaving for the same reasons and not every reason is the church’s fault (which tends to be the chorus out there … the church is fully to blame. Not really). I believe there are four categories that all work together into a devastating mix that have resulted in this movement.”

Giving: Atlas of Giving Predicts Gloomy Year for Churches

“Atlas of Giving, a Texas based firm that specializes in forecasting financial trends for non-profit organizations, is predicting that 2013 will be a ‘gloomy’ year for the religious community.”

Just for fun: Barn Owls at Church

“Three young barn owls looking out of the quatrefoil of a church in North Norfolk, England.”

Small groups: * How Do Groups Fit into the Overall Strategy of Your Church? by Eric Geiger; Friendship in Small Groups by Scott Boren

* “Church leaders must know how their groups (classes, Bible fellowships, etc.) fit into their overall discipleship strategy/process, and many don’t. They simply have groups. Once leaders know how groups fit into their overall church discipleship plan, they must harmonize their group leaders, training, and content with the overall discipleship plan.”

* “It is easy to idolize the success of the organization of the church to such a degree that we sacrifice the core of the Gospel, loving people to the point of living in friendship with them. This is a subtle trap where the organization takes priority over the people.”

this went thru my mind

 

Awareness, focus, inattentional blindness, & thinking: Why Even Radiologists Can Miss A Gorilla Hiding In Plain Sight [required reading]

“… what we’re thinking about — what we’re focused on — filters the world around us so aggressively that it literally shapes what we see.”

Books & bookstores: Buying is a Hard Thing for Bookstores to Do Effectively, and That Becomes an Increasingly Important Reality for Publishers

“As the shelf space for books being managed by retailers that accept the high cost of managing book inventory and commit to doing it effectively continues to decline, publishers need to understand that it will be really hard for non-book retailers to replace them.”

Churches of Christ: “Why Churches of Christ are Shrinking” Blog – More Thoughts by Joshua Tucker

“Lord, help us not to be bound by personal preference, but by an overwhelming desire to please You and see Your Church grow. Help all of us to be selfless, full of Your Love, and the ability to judge things objectively.”

Civil War & Les Miserables: In Camp, Reading ‘Les Miserables’

“Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables” was published in 1862 and English translations of the five parts that constitute the novel began to appear in America by year’s end. … While Hugo may not have had the Civil War in mind, American reviewers certainly did and many viewed the novel through the prism of the war.”

Death & fear: America’s Culture of Death by Ben Witherington [required reading]

“When a culture replaces the value of everlasting life, with the value of this life extended as far as possible, the culture has become totally myopic, unable to see beyond the immediate, the tangible, the empirical. And oddly enough when the lie that ‘this life is all there is’ is believed, it makes it much easier to allow death to rule one’s mind, one’s fears, one’s behavior. Death simply becomes the price of doing business, or surviving. A culture becomes fear based and makes decisions on the basis of fear, rather than faith and a belief in the life to come.”

Millenials: FactChecker: Are Millennials More Self-Sacrificing and Community-Minded Than Previous Generations?

“For those who pay attention to the different opinions and declarations on how the various generations are different than the ones that came before, you have no doubt heard that while Generation X was the slacker generation, Gen Y, or the Millennials, are very different, the most community service-minded, action-oriented, let’s change-the-world-generation alive today, perhaps in the history of our nation. Generation We. It’s taken as a nearly uncontested reality. Except it’s not true. The best research on this topic, relying on nationally representative research by the leading scholars on the issue comes to essentially the very opposite conclusion.”

Small groups: Small Groups for the Rest of Us by Chris Surratt

Parts one [introverts], two [guys] & three [anyone].

Submission: The Most Offensive Word in America [required reading]

“The most offensive word to Americans is a simple, two-syllable word that insults our beliefs and violates our value system: submit. We inherently believe no one has the right to tell us how to live, where to go or what to do. We are our own masters.”