Do church growth tactics attract the unchurched?

The best argument for adopting the techniques of the Church Growth movement–contemporary worship, non-traditional styles, and culturally-relevant practices–is to reach the lost, the unbelievers, the unchurched.  Such “missional” concerns often trump all other considerations.  It’s hard to argue against the importance of evangelism and the Great Commission.

But the question remains, do the Church Growth techniques that have given us so many megachurches, in fact, attract non-Christians and others who do not normally go to church?

I stumbled across a study of those who attend megachurches–one that is actually pro-megachurch in many ways–that found that only 2% do not describe themselves as “committed followers of Jesus Christ,” and only 6% do not come from other congregations. [Read more…]

And now LINOS

In the political world, you will hear talk of RINOs, Republican In Name Only.  LCMS President Matt Harrison, an accomplished translator, posts his rendition of a letter by the Nazi-battling German theologian Hermann Sasse, who, in praising the Missouri Synod, gives us a useful concept:  Lutherans In Name Only (LINOS). [Read more…]

When Christianity comes across as dull

The redoubtable Anthony Sacramone tells about how he was influenced–indeed, evangelized–by  C. S. Lewis.

Mr. Sacramone had gone through through a Lutheran parochial school, learned the Catechism, was confirmed.  But, like many young people, he left all of that behind as soon as he could.  Christianity, he says, “seemed so small, constricting, even petty.”  He became an atheist, but in the course of researching a story idea, he stumbled upon Lewis, who “made Christianity bigger than anything I could imagine.”  Later, he came back to Lutheranism.

Read about this after the jump, and then I want to pose some questions.   Christianity has mind-blowing teachings–the infinite God becoming a man, then taking the evil of the world into Himself and resolving it by dying and rising again and offering free forgiveness and everlasting life–so how in the world is it possible to make them seem dull?   I mean, I can see why someone might not believe it, but how can Christianity be so poorly presented that it  seems “small, constricting, even petty”?  And yet somehow that’s the way it comes across to many people, especially young people brought up in the church.  This is surely a communication fail of the highest magnitude.  [Read more…]

Conservative Lutherans start dialogue with Catholics

Roman Catholics and the Lutheran World Federation made a splash a few years ago when they came to some agreements about Justification by Faith.  But the much-hyped talk of the two parties getting together has floundered, since many of the liberal Lutherans of the LWF have jumped off the deep end, as far as Catholics are concerned, when it comes to issues of sexuality. Another limiting factor is women’s ordination, practiced by most LWF church bodies, but ruled out by Roman Catholics.

But now, the world organization of conservative Lutherans, the International Lutheran Council (ILC)–whose churches do not ordain women and continue to uphold traditional teachings about sexual morality–is starting talks with Rome.  The goal is surely not union, nor papered-over agreements on justification and other important doctrines, but we’ll see what comes of it.  (Any ideas of what might be some legitimate areas of agreement and co-operation?)

Mathew Block (yes, one “t” is correct), the communications director of the Lutheran Church-Canada, tells about it, including who is involved (including someone from the LCMS)  after the jump. [Read more…]

Court throws out pastors’ housing allowance tax break

Pastors and other church workers have long been able to take part of their compensation as an untaxed housing allowance, resulting in substantial tax savings.  But a federal court has ruled in a suit brought by the Freedom from Religion Foundation that the tax break for clergy is unconstitutional.

The ruling has been stayed, pending appeal, but if it stands, pastors and their families will take a significant hit in their income. [Read more…]

80 lashes for receiving Communion

Aspects of our faith that are so commonplace that we often take them for granted are serious crimes in other countries, bringing horrible punishments.  Yesterday we blogged about North Korea executing people for simply possessing a Bible.  In Iran, since Islam forbids the consumption of alcohol, if you are a Muslim convert, receiving Christ’s blood in the wine of Holy Communion is punishable by 80 lashes.  Evangelism–that is, the crime of spreading Christianity–can mean 3 years and 8 months in prison.  Would we pay prices like that for our Bibles, for Holy Communion, for witnessing to our faith? [Read more…]


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