While 2015 starts tomorrow, we want to thank you for a tremendous 2014. Here are the 10 posts you made the most popular here at Facts & Trends.
10. Hope for the Afflicted: The Church and Mental Illness
Would it surprise you to learn that every fourth person you meet struggles with a mental health challenge?
Twenty-six percent of American adults experience a diagnosable mental disorder each year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Mental illness affects people of all ages, races, and walks of life.
But many church leaders and churchgoers don’t understand mental illness and don’t know how to support sufferers. A September 2013 Lifeway Research survey found nearly half (48 percent) of evangelicals, fundamentalists, and born-again Christians believe that with prayer and Bible study alone people can overcome serious mental illness.
It’s a fascinating thing. When Christians discuss evangelism, we almost always focus on non-Christians. We talk about how hard it is to share Christ with them. They don’t want to listen. Their hearts are hardened. They’re too secular.
We make it sound like the harvest is the problem.
When talking about the harvest 2,000 years ago, the word Jesus used to describe the harvest was “plentiful.” He saw the problem lying with the workers — they were few. Despite our attempts to shift the blame onto the harvest, the situation is the same today as it was then.
Theologian, author, and speaker Leonard Sweet describes himself as a semiotician, “one who reads the signs of the times,” and believes the key to determining where those signs are pointing is to see where Jesus is. “He is the ultimate sign,” said Sweet. “He is there [in the future] before us.”
But Sweet, author of The Well-Played Life and The Greatest Story Never Told, said much of it is “connecting the dots and putting things together” that are happening in the church and culture. Recently, Facts & Trends caught up with Sweet to ask him about the church’s future.
Looking out now, according to Sweet, there are at least two major developments coming. With those shifts, he gave ways congregations and leaders could respond.
While the decline of biblical literacy has been well documented (less than half of American Protestant churchgoers read the Bible more than once a week), the Bible still has extraordinary staying power in our everyday conversations.
Committed Christian or ardent atheist, we all use phrases or words from the Bible, particularly the King James Bible, often without realizing it. Because everyone had that book in common, the phraseology became part of the daily lexicon.
With less Bible knowledge as a whole, and additional translations, English speakers often don’t realize the genesis of their words (pun very much intended). Here are 11 common phrases with a divine origin.
After his record breaking performance in the 2014 World Cup as the goalkeeper for Team USA, Tim Howard received calls from President Obama and numerous other government officials to congratulate him on helping the U.S. advance into the knockout stage.
But Howard recently made his own special congratulation call of sorts. The goalie recorded a video thanking staffers at Lifeway’s Camp Ridgecrest for their support of Team USA and their sacrifice of spending a summer teaching campers about Christ.
Some people are surprised when, as CEO of a large company, I confess to being an introvert. Admittedly, it’s an odd combination. I’m required to be out front leading and speaking every week when, honestly, I’d rather be alone.
Through the years, I have tried to compensate for my strong tendencies toward introversion. Indeed any leader must compensate to lead effectively. Here are seven principles for leading as an introverted leader.
One of the dangers of being a reporter who goes to church is that you know when the preacher is wrong. Not wrong in theology. Wrong in facts.
Like this one, which came halfway through a recent sermon on marriage. Things are scary out there, the preacher told us. And there’s no difference between people sitting in these pews and everyone else when it comes to divorce.
It made a great sermon illustration. Only it’s not true, says Bradley Wright, a sociologist at the University of Connecticut and author of “Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites … and Other Lies You’ve Been Told.”
Lifeway Research found 70 percent of young adults who indicated they attended church regularly for at least one year in high school do drop out of regular church attendance. That does not mean, however, they have left never to return. In fact, according to Lifeway Research, almost two-thirds return and currently attend church (within the time frame of the study).
That same study found most don’t make a conscious decision to leave due to a doctrinal dispute or significant disagreement. They simply drift away because the church doesn’t seem as important to their lives as it once did. Many have looked at a church and decided it is no longer relevant.
So how can churches change that? What can you do to draw millennials to your church and have them plant roots in your congregation?
How will God use your church in 2014? Here are 52 easy ideas to inspire you:
1. The 52 Challenge: Members commit to personally invite one person—friend or stranger—to church every week this year, and write the names on their personal calendar.
2. Snow Day: Build dozens of snowmen on the church lawn. Decorate snow-families with creative props and signs inviting folks to church.
3. Plan a baby shower for a local pregnancy center on Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, January 19.
4. Sunday Brunch: Deliver invitations to homes located near the church building inviting them to worship services and to a Sunday brunch beforehand with their neighbors (and some friendly church members).
Why aren’t Millennials at your church? You don’t want them there.
I know it sounds harsh and is admittedly a bit hyperbolic, but that is the basic reason any group of people are not actively involved in your church body. You have created, be it intentionally or unintentionally, an environment in which they do not feel welcome.
If your church does not have anyone under the age of 35, it is because of the culture you have established. They don’t feel at home there and until they do, they won’t be there.
Obviously, I am using generalizations to speak about a large group of people. This will not apply to every Millennial everywhere. But we can still learn from the characteristics that are frequently found among young adults.
What was your favorite story from Facts & Trends this past year? Is there a topic we should cover in 2015?