Friday, October 31, 2008

Statistics, Statistics, Statistics !!!

An excellent source of free statistical study of religious trends may be found on the web site of the Association of Religion Data Archives. (Click Here) Denominational profiles, interactive maps, census data, religious affiliation by zip code, and many other features are available.

A note to fellow Lutherans: Increasingly one finds LCMS and WELS grouped among "evangelical protestants" and ELCA grouped among "mainline protestants." This sometimes splits the Lutheran population in data charts unless specific "Lutheran" segments are given.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Semper Reformanda: "Forever Building; Always Decaying; Always being Restored"

With the celebration of another Reformation Day, I am reminded of the words of T.S. Eliot in his poem, "The Rock":

And the Church must be forever building,
And always decaying,
And always being restored.

David T. Olson, in his fine new book, The American Church in Crisis (Zondervan, 2008), comments: "Always decaying" indicates that every organic entity diminishes and decays over time. In fact, in the biological world, decay is often necessary for new life to appear. "Forever building" depicts the pattern of creative initiatives that promote life and vitality. Building may be unplanned or strategic, and that choice will usually determine the level of its influence and its longevity. "Always being restored" describes a spiritual and supernatural act of God. Restoration takes place when God acts through the power of the gospel story and the movement of the Holy Spirit, breathing new life into His church.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Admit it: "I Am Not Cool"

One of the things that happens in a time of paradigm shift and rapid change is that the older generation must often learn from the younger generation as opposed to the "traditional" learning of "Fiddler on the Roof". Earl Creps in his book Reverse Mentoring:Learning from Unexpected Sources, writes:

"Mainly, I've learned to be OK with the fact that I am not cool. Also, my young friends have taught me that Boomers trying to be cool are doomed to failure. But I've also observed that cool has the shelf life of the average ripe tomato. That means it erodes very quickly for all of us. My wife Janet and I love the moment when we get to tell an audience of Millennials that their younger brothers and sisters already see them as hopelessly obsolete, that in fact they will grow up to be us--only sooner.

In a backwards way, then, the decay of cool is what we all have in common; it's a kind of glue if we think about it the right way."

Click HERE for a feature article and interview with Creps.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Shift Happens

Those interested in the missional impact of cultural change and the rate of change will want to view and perhaps download an information packed Power Point entitled "Shift Happens" from a web site named Slide Share. ( Type "Shift Happens" in the search box) Did you know, for example, that ...

+ China will soon be the number one English speaking country in the world.
+ 1 of 8 couples married last year met on the internet.
+ Half of what a technical college student learns in the first year of studies may be outdated by the time of the third year.
+ A week's worth of The New York Times contains more information than a person was likely to come across in a lifetime in the 18th century.

Check it out!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

More on Generations

I just finished reading Charlie Mueller's latest "Just Watching" newsletter, available by clicking on the Wheat Ridge web site . In his own practical, down-to-earth way, Charlie points to the challenges that have always existed in communication between the generations and offers some great resources for congregations seeking to bridge the generational gaps. It's an article worth reading.