Archives For Research

Tuesday_BriefingTHE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

The days start early for Disaster Relief volunteers helping to feed families displaced by recent flooding in Illinois. Around 5 a.m., the small team tasked with preparing 1,000 meals a day starts on lunch. It’s cooked and packed before most people have eaten breakfast. Then, they start on dinner.

For more than a week, Disaster Relief blue cap Jim Weickersheimmer has led the effort out of Woodland Baptist Church in Peoria. The team is using a mobile kitchen owned and operated by Illinois DR, and also has full run of the church’s kitchen facilities.

“And we are quite an imposition,” said volunteer Jamie Kincaid. “I mean, they have stuff going on every day and we’re kind of in their way, and they have been unbelievable.”

Disaster Relief volunteer Betty Stone prepares meals to be delivered to victims of recent flooding in Illinois.

Disaster Relief volunteer Betty Stone prepares meals to be delivered to victims of recent flooding in Illinois.

Woodland is sharing their building with more than just the Disaster Relief volunteers – twice a day, Red Cross ERV’s (Emergency Response Vehicles) pile into the church parking lot, waiting to be filled with meals that will be distributed around Peoria. The feeding effort will close down today, but relief efforts are far from finished.

A “mudout” team also is expected in Peoria this week to help residents begin the process of cleaning their homes, and similar work is taking place 90 miles to the northeast, in Marseilles. Illinois teams will continue to work in those locations and others, likely with help from Disaster Relief crews from neighboring states. Since flooding began in mid-April, nearly 50 counties in Illinois have been declared State Disaster Areas.

To donate to Illinois Baptist Disaster Relief, click here.

Other news:

ESPN’s Broussard ‘resting on the scriptures’ amidst controversy
After ESPN’s Chris Broussard came under fire for comments about homosexuality, he thanked Christians for supporting and praying for him. “I believe God is getting all the glory from this and I’ve been resting on the scriptures, ‘blessed are you when you are persecuted for righteousness sake.’ So I know this is a blessing,” the basketball analyst said during a teleconference hosted by the K.I.N.G. Movement, a ministry he founded. Broussard shared his view – that living a homosexual lifestyle is “open rebellion to God” – in the wake of NBA player Jason Collins’ announcement that he is gay. Read more at ChristianPost.com.

Ravi Zacharias: From attempted suicide to life in Christ
Author and Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias writes about his early struggle with failure, and how it led him to attempt suicide, in a column for ChristianityToday.com.

More like Jesus, or more like the Pharisees?
New research from Barna shows 51% of people who identify themselves as Christians are “Pharisaical” in their attitudes and actions, where only 14% are characterized by the actions and attitudes of Jesus Christ. Read more at Barna.org.

‘Experiencing God’ – the movie
The “Experiencing God” discipleship study authored by Henry Blackaby and Claude King is subject of a new documentary film and the inaugural release of LifeWay Films, a division of LifeWay Christian Resources. “Experiencing God” was first published in 1990; it has since sold 7 million copies and has been published in more than 45 languages. Read more at BPNews.net.

bar_chart_BarnaTHE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

Temptation is an age-old problem. But even it isn’t immune to new challenges posed by the digital age. A new study by Barna Research found 44% Americans admit to being tempted by the decidedly “digital” sin of spending too much time on media, like the Internet, video games and television.

Other technological temptations also beckoned respondents, including viewing pornography or sexually inappropriate content (18%), and reacting angrily via text message or e-mail (11%).

The study, done in conjunction with publisher Thomas Nelson for the new book “Our Favorite Sins,” asked more than 1,000 online respondents about which sins tempt them. Barna then grouped their answers into categories like “new temptations,” “old temptations,” and “particularly Western temptations,” which includes the sins of procrastinating, worrying, and being lazy.

Only the temptations to procrastinate (60%), worry (60%), or eat too much (55%) were more prevalent than spending too much time on media distractions. Spending too much money was also a temptation for 44% of respondents.

Go to Barna.org for more.

Other news:

Stanley responds to inauguration sermon criticism
Megachurch pastor Andy Stanley drew fire when he called President Obama the “pastor in chief” during a pre-inauguration sermon for the President, his family and advisors. But the title came as a result of the President’s actions following the tragic shootings in Newtown, Stanley told Christianity Today.

Chicagoland pastor will run coast to coast for clean water
Steve Spear, a regional campus pastor for Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill., quit his job earlier this year to get a running start on a project that will provide a lifetime of clean drinking water for 30,000 Kenyans. Beginning in April, Spear will run the 3,000-mile span between the U.S. east and west coasts in a fundraising endeavor sponsored by World Vision. Read more at christianpost.com.

NewYork_DR_page4_0128Illinois students help Staten Islanders start fresh after Hurricane Sandy
Collegiate volunteers spent part of their winter break on a whirlwind trip to New York, where residents are still deep in recovery mode after last fall’s super storm. Read the full story in the January 28 issue of the Illinois Baptist.

Cynthia Barbee from Maplewood Park Baptist Church in Cahokia, Ill., washes dishes in a Disaster Relief kitchen trailer stationed on Staten Island, N.Y.

THE BRIEFING | Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers deployed after Hurricane Sandy have prepared more than 1.2 million meals for families affected by the super storm. The volunteers also have assisted with chainsaw and mudout jobs, and have reported 56 individuals who have made professions of faith in Christ as a result of SBDR ministry. Next on the horizon: The North American Mission Board will coordinate church-to-church partnerships in the region and will mobilize student volunteers for long-term ministry and service in the Northeast. Read more at BPNews.net.

Other news:

84 new missionaries commissioned by IMB
The International Mission Board appointed 84 new missionaries Nov. 15 at Second Baptist Church in Springfield, Mo. Among them: a former deer meat processor, a doctor, a nanny and a nurse. They’re going to the ends of the earth not to settle down, but to press forward to the ends of the earth, said IMB President Tom Elliff. Read more at BPNews.net.

Most voters support traditional marriage
Despite victories by gay marriage supporters in Maine, Maryland, Washington and Minnesota on Election Day, a majority of voters nationwide still believe marriage is between one man and one woman, according to a new survey by the Polling Company. The research found that 60% of voters in this year’s election agreed that “marriage is between one man and one woman.” Of those surveyed, 34% disagreed with the statement. Read more about the survey at BPNews.net.

Barna launches Hispanic research division
Barna Research has launched a new division and web page to focus on trends among Hispanics. The site, Hispanics.barna.org, currently includes articles and infographics specifically related to the Hispanic population’s views on marriage, family and youth. For example, Barna found 66% of Hispanics agree with a traditional definition of marriage, and 60% agree that sex should take place within the context of marriage. For more findings, go to Hispanics.barna.org.

LifeWay launches new digital resources
To keep up with the growing demand for digital content and mobile-ready resources, LifeWay Christian Resources has launched a new ebookstore and mobile ebook reader app. The free LifeWay Reader app allows users to build a digital library, access some previously purchased LifeWay content, and link quickly to Bible references in their books. The app also comes with a free pre-loaded copy of the Holman Christian Standard Bible. Read more at LifeWay.com.

COMMENTARY | Immediately after the Pew Forum released new findings about the current state of American Protestantism, writers and thinkers took to their blogs to warn us not to put too much stock in the so-called shift, at least not for the reasons we might think.

“…Many will likely trumpet this as a huge shift. It’s not. This is simply the natural progression of what is taking place in our context,” said LifeWay’s Ed Stetzer of the research, which states that for the first time in history, Protestants are not a majority in the United States. Rather, the 48% that claim to be Protestants are a plurality at the top of a list of choices that also includes Catholic (22%), Mormon (2%), Orthodox (2%) and “Other Faith” (6%). That means nearly 20% of Americans aren’t affiliated with any faith, the highest percentage ever in Pew Center polling.

“A big part of what is happening is that the ‘Nominals’…are shifting and becoming the ‘Nones,'” Stetzer wrote. “This makes sense, as the cultural currency (in other words, the value a society places on identifying as a Christian) is decreasing. And thus, we see a movement away from Christian identity as a cultural value.”

Stetzer identifies these three main points from the research:

1. “On a growing basis, identifying oneself as a Christian is not a means to societal advancement but can actually be a means to societal rejection.”

2. What he calls the “squishy middle,” or nominalism, is going away. Southern Seminary’s Russell Moore also blogged about this following the Pew Center’s research. “Most of the old-line Protestant denominations are captive to every theological fad that has blown through their divinity schools in the past thirty years-from crypto-Marxist liberation ideologies to sexual identity politics to a neo-pagan vision of God—complete with gender neutralized liturgies.

“What we should pay attention to instead may be the fresh wind of orthodox Christianity whistling through the leaves-especially throughout the third world, and in some unlikely places in North America, as well. Sometimes animists, Buddhists, and body-pierced Starbucks employees are more fertile ground for the gospel than the confirmed Episcopalian at the helm of the Rotary Club.”

3. “It is still a vast overstatement to see this as a collapse of the Christian faith in North America,” Stetzer wrote. “The reality is that evangelicals have been relatively steady as a percent of the population over the last few years, however there is still great cause for concern here – and for action.”

That action must take shape as a willingness to seize opportunities explain exactly what a Christian is, Stetzer said. “…As society moves away from Christian identification, let’s meet them on the road and say, ‘We did not believe in that expression of Christianity anyway. Let me tell you about Jesus and how he changes everything.'”

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

When Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Ca., announced his church will not host a forum featuring presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, he cited uncivil political discourse as a main reason why.

“The forums are meant to be a place where people of goodwill can seriously disagree on significant issues without being disagreeable or resorting to personal attack and name-calling. But that is not the climate of today’s campaign,” Warren told The Orange County Register.

Saddleback Church hosted a 2008 Civil Forum with then-candidate Obama and Sen. John McCain, and Warren had announced his hopes to have a similar meeting this year, although no officials plans had been made. In a Q&A posted on the church’s website, Warren called the current campaign climate “the exact opposite” of the purpose of the church’s Civil Forums.

Much of the negative talk is in the political advertising that will inundate American households – those with a TV, at least – from now until the November 6 election.

“I haven’t watched any of the debates, but I’m struck by the negative, accusatory campaign commercials that I’m hearing about,” said Curt Starner, pastor of Erven Avenue Baptist Church in Streator, Ill. “They say to me that the attitude of the writers is, ‘He can’t win on his record, so let’s destroy his opponent’s reputation and character. Maybe he can win that way.’”

While it’s clear the country is in for its share of negative campaigning in the months to come, Warren and Saddleback Church are shifting their focus to religious freedom, an issue he said is “more significant and has far greater implications for America’s future.” The church will host a Civil Forum on the topic in September. Read more about the event, and Warren’s response to the political climate at saddleback.com/blogs/newsandviews.

Other news:

Huckabee joins Missouri Baptists in support of embattled Akin
The Christian Post reports former Arkansas Governor and prominent conservative pundit Mike Huckabee participated in a conference call with hundreds of Baptist pastors August 24 in support of Todd Akin, the U.S. Senate candidate currently under fire for his controversial remarks about rape. (Speaking against abortion in cases of rape, Akin said medical science supports that contraception is rare in that context because women’s bodies can prevent such pregnancies. He has since backed away from that claim). The conference call was convened by Don Hinkle, who edits the Missouri Baptist Convention’s newspaper The Pathway.

John Yeats, executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention, was also on the call. Politico.com quoted him as saying, “One of the things we have to remind ourselves of and remind our people of is that Congressman Akin represents the mainstream of our values. He is the mainstream of our values.” Read more at politico.com.

Slow economy continues to weigh on pastors
Giving in their churches may have stabilized, but nearly two-thirds of pastors say the economy is still negatively impacting their churches, according to a new survey by LifeWay Research. That’s the bad news, but the good news includes fewer churches with declines in giving, and fewer falling below budget. Get the full survey results at LifeWay.com.

‘American Bible Challenge’ a success for Game Show Network
Nearly two million viewers tuned in for the debut of “The American Bible Challenge” on the Game Show Network on August 23, according to the marketing website broadcastingcable.com. The game show, which asks Bible trivia questions of three teams playing for charity, drew 1.7 million viewers, the network’s largest ratings to date. For more on the show, go to ChristianPost.com, or tune in Thursdays at 7 p.m. (CT).

Women report more ‘modern’ struggles than ‘traditional’ sins
An extensive study by Barna Research on the state of the Christian woman found more women report to struggling with flaws like disorganization and inefficiency than more “traditional” sins like envy and lust. Half of the women surveyed admitted disorganization is a struggle, making it the most frequently reported problem, followed by inefficiency (42%), anger (36%), selfishness (25%), excessive arguing (19%), arrogance (16%), envy (13%) and lust (8%). Read more findings at barna.org.