Two Trends Worth Watching in 2012

The modal image of Christianity in America is face-to-face meetings predominately attended by families. These meetings can be weekend services, prayer meetings or small groups, but they involve interacting with other people in person. Also, there are often a lot of families and married couples at these meetings; in fact, marriage and child-bearing are occasions that prompt many people to turn to faith.

With this in mind, two societal trends worth watching regard how we communicate and how we form relationships.

People, especially the young, increasing communicate via texting, tweeting, and other forms of technology, and this affects how we as a society do social interactions. For example, over the holidays a friend of mine, who’s an engineer, bemoaned that his younger coworkers will ask him questions via texting rather than walking over to his cubicle—even if they’re only several cubicles away. While time efficient, this approach works against the long, problem-solving conversations that are integral to his type of work.

As communication becomes less face-to-face, [Read more...]

Which Churches are Growing? FACTS on Growth 2010

Faith Communities Today, a program out of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, has recently released their latest FACTS report.  It comprehensively examines a simple but vitally important question: Which congregations are growing?

So, let’s see you know the answers to these questions…. which churches are the most likely to be growing?

- Those in rural areas, suburbs, or downtowns?

- Those in the South or elsewhere?

- Predominately white or non-white?

- Conservative protestants or mainline congregations?

- Those with electric guitars in their services or those without?

Want to know the answers?  Well, check out the report here for these and many other interesting facts.

Thanks to Scott Thumma for the link!

Emotions in Church

I would like to pose some questions about emotions in church. What should be the emotions expressed from the pew? From the pulpit? How might the church’s emotion-rules hurt it’s people and hinder its mission?

Here are my thoughts:

In most churches there are clearly defined implicit rules about which few emotions are appropriate to express.

For the church goer, the modal expression should be polite interest, and the face should show either a neutral expression or, even better, a smile. It’s okay to sometimes laugh or look troubled when prompted to from the person leading the service. Attending a church service in the U.S. often proves to be a cognitively-rich but emotionally-passive experience, and I wonder if these services would hold more appeal, and have a greater impact, if the congregation was more emotionally involved in the service. Black churches, with typically more active participation from the pew in all parts of the service, seem to get this more right than white churches.

For the pastor, the rules of emotion are even more strict. Before and after the service itself, when greeting people or talking with them, pastors are limited to [Read more...]

A Social Network Map of the New Testament

It’s either really cool or social statistics run amok (or both), but here is a social network map of the relationships in the New Testament. It’s done by the folks at the English Standard Version Bible.

Obviously the New Testament is not a sociometric survey, so what we learn here is the Bible’s description of relationships. So, for all we know Luke and Titus were drinking buddies. Still, it’s a useful description of this aspect of the New Testament.
I was surprised by Peter’s circle being bigger and more central than Paul’s–speaks to Peter’s role in early church leadership.

(Click for larger size)


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