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There was a time when American culture looked favorably
upon Christianity. We now live in ... a post-Christian America. A crucial
question for Christians in a post-Christian culture is this: Will we continue
to preach? Practicing Christianity continues to cost us nothing. We can go to
church, pray, read our Bibles and even enjoy our holy days. However, preaching
the gospel to those outside our ranks is crossing the line. Doing so opens us
to the scrutiny and ridicule of society.
Voddie Bauchams call to all Christians to preach the gospel in his
book The Ever-loving Truth: Can Faith Thrive in a Post-Christian Culture
(Broadman & Holman, 2004)
Instead of trying to make society more Christian, we need to focus on making
ourselves more vitally Christian in society.
John Fischer, artist, thinker and communicator in Relevant
magazine, January 2004
We believe in the Cooperative Program. We maintain a three-fold emphasis in
mission ministry and send several groups each year all over the world, but we
cannot go into all the places our [Southern Baptist] missionaries can go. When
we give to CP Missions, it makes us a part of a greater work. Supporting the CP
is a serious intent to fund Gods command to go into all the world. We do this
because Gods command is clear. Its a matter of obedience.
Frank Page, pastor of FBC Taylors, South Carolina, reflecting on why his
church feels giving to CP is so important. The church gives 14.5 percent of the
churchs undesignated offerings.
Source: Baptist Press, June 3, 2004
I think if Jerry [Jenkins] and I were cut, wed both bleed red, white, and
blue... We believe that God has raised up America to be a tool in these last
days to get the gospel to the outermost parts of the earth.
Tim LaHaye, Newsweek, May 24, 2004
A sign of the timesCan you believe it? The American Civil Liberties Union
threatened to sue the County of Los Angeles, because someone noticed that there
is a tiny cross on the countys seala detail representing the countys historical
heritage traced back to early Spanish missions. So the ACLU is suing to have
the cross expunged as an unconstitutional establishment of religion. Perhaps
the ACLU hasnt noticed that the countys name itself means the Angels which is
not a reference to the baseball team in Anaheim but to the spiritual beings
whose existence is affirmed by Christian teaching. Whats next? Will the city of
Santa Cruz wind up in court because its name means Holy Cross? Or will it be
Corpus Christi, which means the Body of Christ? The County of Los Angeles Board
of Supervisors voted 3 to 2 to remove the cross from the 47-year-old logo.
Source: World, June 12, 2004
Christianity has been growing rapidly in China. Official figures put the
number of Protestants at 15 million and Catholics at 10 million. The number of
registered churches cant accommodate the growing number of Christians. Beijing
has nine Protestant churches for 40,000 followers, and attendance is growing at
a rate of 1,000 a year. As a result, house churches are springing up around the
city and across the country. Unless a church is registered with the state, it's
officially considered illegal. Tens of millions of Christians, including Roman
Catholics, belong to these unauthorized churches.
So why is the officially atheist Communist government suddenly building
churches in Beijing? To put it simply: the 2008 Olympics. Chinese leaders are
aware that the impression the city will make on the world will last longer than
the two-week games. They want the image of Beijing to reflect an open, modern
international city. With two Protestant churches going up, one can only presume
that the government hopes to draw Christians away from the underground churches
to the state-sanctioned ones.
The book, Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity is Transforming China and
Changing the Global Balance of Power by David Aikman, argues that
Christianity could spread to one-third of Chinas population in 30 years and has
already been embraced by top party officials.
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 5, 2004. Atlanta hosted
the 1996 Olympics.
Does true love wait?
Do U.S. teens who pledged to remain virgins until marriage have trouble
sticking to their guns? Eighty-eight percent of those who signed a pledge of abstinence went on to
have premarital sex, ignoring their promise, according to a study of 12,000
adolescents ages 12 to 18 who were re-surveyed six years later by researchers
at Columbia and Yale.
However, teens who participate in True Love Waits cant be lumped with those
across the board who sign abstinence pledges, Richard Ross, one of TLWs
founders, noted. Also, programs like TLW dramatically reduce teen pregnancy by
at least 40 percent, according to the Heritage Foundation.
Source: Time, March 22, 2004 and Baptist Press, March 10
and April 19, 2004
The times they are a changinIts amazing to compare the popular girls magazine
Seventeen from the 1950s and 1960s, prior to the onset of the womens
liberation movement, to Seventeen magazines today. Sprinkled
throughout the earlier magazines are multitudes of advertisements for Lane hope
chests, engagement rings and sterling silver flatware. Compare those
advertisements to advertisements in current Seventeen magazines. One
ad for a popular teen fashion line shows a girl waiting in line for a concert
ticket with a bare midriff and the strap of her thong underwear visible above
her low-rider jeans. Tucked inside the strap of her underwear is her concert
ticket. A girl behind her, who is holding a ticket in her hand, is clearly
miffed as a handsome boy unlatches a velvet rope and allows the young lady with
the precariously placed concert ticket early entrance to the show.
Teenagers today endure a constant barrage of negative messages from
television, movies, music, magazines and the Internet. Here are just a few of
the consequences of these so-called hip messages.
The number one wish for girls ages 11 to 17is to be thinner.
Nationwide, 46 percent of students have had sex.
Eighty-three percent of teens say that moral truth depends on the
Sex is the number one searched-for term on the Internet today.
Two out of every three shows on television contain sexual content.
Twenty-five percent of high school seniors report using illicit drugs in the
past 30 days.
Source: Your Girl: Raising a Godly Daughter in an Ungodly World by
Vicki Courtney (Broadman & Holman, 2004)
Blue-haired mommas are inBritish
Broadcasting Companys (BBC) Parenting magazine asked its readers what mom would
they most like to be like. Marge Simpson, the matriarch of the popular TV show
The Simpsons, was their top pick.
Source: Newsweek, May 10, 2004
Thirty-eight states safeguard marriage
In February, Ohio became the 38th state to pass a Defense of Marriage Act
(DOMA), defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman. The fact
that 38 states now have DOMAs bodes well for the Federal Marriage Amendment.
Thats exactly how many states are needed to ratify it.
Source: Citizen, April 2004
Consumerism beyond 50
Businesses and entrepreneurs are racing to fulfill the desires of an aging
America. This year 78 million Baby Boomers are between the ages of 40 to 58.
Boomers create huge shifts in consumer demand whenever they reach a new stage
of life. The combination of wealth and numbers "gives entrepreneurs a giant
opportunity, if they act fast," says media executive Myrna Blyth, former editor
of Ladies Home Journal and More. Boomers are shopping for everything
from furniture to vacations to specialized health careanything that will
enhance their lifestyle.
Households headed by a person aged 55 to 64 spend 52 percent more than the
national average on hotel and motel rooms. They also spend 48 percent more on
gifts and 34 percent more on womens clothing.
In the next decade, the number of Americans ages 55 to 64 will increase 33
percent to 40 million, while the number of Americans ages 65 to 69 will
increase 54 percent to almost 16 million.
Source: AARP Bulletin, June 2004
Taking it all in strideGet walking,
ladies. Thats the news from a study in the American College of Sports Medicines
journal. Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise reports that
40- to 66-year-old women who walked more than 10,000 steps a day (about five
miles) averaged 18 percent less body fat and had slimmer waists than those who
walked fewer than 6,000 steps. Heres a thought: while youre getting fit, take
time to prayerwalk your neighborhood and community.
Source: Newsweek, May 17. 2004
photo by kristen nicole sayres
Would you keep working?
One out of three older workers surveyed would continue working longer than
otherwise planned if their employer offered a phased retirement program,
according to Watson Wyatt Worldwide. According to the survey, more than half
(57 percent) of current workers in phased retirement entered into the
arrangement voluntarily to have more leisure time. When asked their primary
reason for choosing phased retirement instead of full retirement, 42 percent
said they enjoyed their work, while 28 percent said they needed the income.
Sources: NewsDash from PLANSPONSOR.com, March 23, 2004
Big City Life
Take a look around the streets of Americas cities and youre likely to see more
than a few gray heads. These baby boomers in their 50s and 60s are not just
visiting the museums or a trendy restauranttheyre moving in.
The 2000 U.S. Census showed a substantial number of cities reversing decades
of population decline. Many believe that this increase of downtown residents is
fueled by two groupsyoung professionals and empty nesters. Those most likely to
move and stay downtown are older adults, says Mark Muro at the Brookings
Institutions Center of Urban and Metropolitan Policy.
Older residents are frequently the backbone of a neighborhood, says Claudia
Coulton, co-director of the center on Urban Poverty and Social Change at Case
Western Reserve University. Neighborhoods are safer when there are older people
around. Theyre experienced and knowledgeable, they know their neighbors, theyve
been around a long time, theyre home; these are the things that raise a
Lower crime rates in U.S. cities have made downtown areas more appealing to
seniors considering relocation, and safer streets make older urbanites feel
more comfortable about venturing out. An urban environment with its public
transportation and walkable communities enables seniors to be more mobile and
more social. While most seniors in suburbs and rural areas suffer from
isolation because they cant get around without a car, seniors in cities are
involved in a flourish of activities. From the Golden Gate to the Great White
Way, empty nesters are flocking to the cities.
Ministry Idea: Out & About
More than 20 percent of Americans over age 65 dont drive, making trips to the
doctor, grocery store, church services or any other outing difficult and
The risk of isolation for older Americans who dont drive is on the rise,
according to research by the Surface Transportation Policy Project. The
likelihood of isolation is greatest in Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and
Tennessee, where nearly 7 out of 10 older residents who dont drive stay home
simply because they lack transportation options.
Older citizens who dont drive make 15 percent fewer trips to the doctor, 59
percent fewer shopping trips and 65 percent fewer trips for social, family and
religious activities. Perhaps members of your church would be willing to
provide taxi service for the shut-ins or older residents in your community.
Worship trendsWhose worship is getting more
illustration by dale glasgow
What would Jesus wear?If youve flipped
through the pages of People or tuned your television to E! or MTV lately, you
may have noticed a new trend in fashion among Hollywoods hottest stars. It
seems that wearing Jesus-related clothing, such as shirts and caps that say,
Jesus is my homeboy, is the cool thing to do. Madonna, Beyonce, Pamela
Anderson, Brad Pitt and Ashton Kutcher are just a few of the celebrities who
have been seen sporting the religious garb.
photo by WireImage
Guess who doesnt believe in God?Ten
percent of Protestants, 21 percent of Roman Catholics and 52 percent of Jews do
not believe in God.
Whats your worldview?Only 4 percent of
American adults have a biblical worldview. Worldview is a term used to describe
the belief system by which a person understands or makes decisions about the
Sources: Netscape News, February 9, 2004 and Texas Baptist
Crossroads, published by the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention,
By the Numbers
60% Percent of Americans believe the Bible is a literal
74% Percent of evangelicals feel the mass media are hostile
to their moral and spiritual values
75% Percent of evangelical Christians steadfastly believe
they are part of the American mainstream
ABC Primetime News, February 16, 2004, Religion & Ethics
NewsWeekly/U.S.News & World Report Poll, 2004
1. North Korea
2. Saudi Arabia
4. Central Highlands of Vietnam
9. Myanmar (Burma)
Fast factsBy the year 2010, more than 100
million Americans will look elsewhere than church for spiritual direction.
What we believeNewsweek asked Americans their opinions on the Book of Revelation and
the end times. Here's what they said.
36% believe that the Book of Revelation contains true
55% think that the faithful will be taken up to heaven in
74% believe Satan exists. Among evangelicals, the number
increased to 93 percent.
17% believe that the end of the world will occur during
Source: Newsweek, May 24, 2004
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