Wednesday, October 27, 2010

THE RIGHT TO REFRAIN FROM PERFORMING TASKS THAT VIOLATE MY CONSCIENCE

It may sound sympathetic and tolerant to argue health professionals' right to freedom of conscience ", as shared jointly by Christina Doctare, Bengt Malmgren and Tomas Seidal in the Focal Point 21/10. But what about the right to freedom of conscience for others? And how far can individuals claim a right to have their beliefs met in the workplace?

Assume, for instance, that all healthcare workers in a particular hospital would see it as incompatible with their conscience to assist in or perform abortions. What happens to the women's right to have an abortion performed? Should a woman have to find another hospital where the staff's ethical beliefs are consistent with the law as the law allows her to have an abortion performed? What are the particular rights of the individuals in the health sector who exercise the right to veto to perform surgery?

There is also a fundamental part of the argument, which often gets lost. If the point is that employees should be exempt from duties that conflict with their beliefs, it must reasonably relate to such convictions – assuming that they at the very least to be strong enough to be known by the individual. This applies not just to those who claim that the right to life includes the fetus, but also those who do not want their children to receive sex education, or who do not want their daughters to have gymnastics classes with boys. And the men who for religious reasons do not want to take care of women, or people who do not want to deliver mail to (those belonging to certain political parties) Sweden Democrats, or who do not want to build trucks for export to a country whose foreign policies they dislike.

If it's just the emotional strength of conviction that matters, there appears to exist almost limitless opportunities for individuals to claim that their work obliges to exemption from duties and that it would be "discriminatory" not to employ them or to dismiss them because of their beliefs makes it difficult for them to perform certain tasks.

But jobs are not normally arenas for the employees exercise of their belief or faith. The workplace is not for the employee's sake, but to deliver requested or necessary goods and services. Publicly funded services in a secular democracy is to preserve and enhance the individual the freedom and welfare. It is therefore the rights of citizens, not public sector employees conscience who should be the focus.

As taxpayers, we should not fund activities in which the practitioner's beliefs are given more importance than the recipient's needs. Nor should we fund activities dedicated solely to the sectarian’s beliefs, to please them, such as the circumcision of young children for non-medical (religious) reasons. Ultimately this is about safeguarding the strained period between secular democracy with equality before the law, and a confessional society, with exceptions and special solutions which are determined by groups or individuals' beliefs.

Per Bauhn
Professor of Moral Philosophy
University Linnaeus


(translation; Dr. Sven Ljungholm;
Development of Human Values)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What is Lausanne's Cape Town 2010?


Trevor Persaud
After months of preparation, prayer, discussion and debate, more than 4,000 evangelical leaders have gathered in Cape Town, South Africa for the Third Lausanne Congress on Global Evangelization.
So now that they're there, what exactly are the organizers and delegates in Cape Town hoping to accomplish?
One important goal of the Congress becomes clear when we notice how missionary conferences have changed over the years. This is a picture from the famous and influential World Missionary Conference 100 years ago in Edinburgh, Scotland:















This is a picture from Cape Town 2010.













Just for fun, here's another one, from the opening ceremonies:

Over the past several years, it's become apparent in the church that the Global South and East--Africa, Asia, and South America--have grown just as active in sending missionaries as they are in receiving them. Conferences like Cape Town are partially about making it clear that Christianity in the 21st century regards mission work as a fully global partnership.
"The church in the South tends to look at herself through the eyes of the North," wrote Daniel Bianchi of Buenos Aires earlier this year as part of the Lausanne Movement's Global Conversation. "When you convince someone that he needs help you also convince him that he can’t help others, somebody said. The church in the [South and East] needs to regard herself as valuable, capable and responsible as the rest of the church."
But the Congress wants to do more than just make the statement. By bringing the delegates together in Cape Town, organizers hope that mission-minded Christians from across the world can get to know each other, become aware of the strengths, weaknesses, problems and opportunities apparent in every part of the world, and come to a common consensus and strategy on how missions is supposed to work in the next century.
That's one of the reasons the conference has the word "Lausanne" in its name. The original Lausanne Conference--the First International Congress on World Evangelization, held in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1974 and organized by such influential evangelicals Billy Graham and John Stott--produced the Lausanne Covenant, a very influential missions manifesto which became "a rallying point for many evangelicals all around the world," in the words of Chris Wright, chair of the Lausanne Theology Working Group. Claiming the original conference in their heritage, the organizers of Lausanne III hope to refresh the agenda for global evangelization.
"Just as Lausanne I produced The Lausanne Covenant and Lausanne II [in 1989] produced the Manila Manifesto, Cape Town 2010 will also produce a major document that we pray will help unite and guide the Church in the years to come by helping establishing missions and evangelization priorities," writes Doug Birdsall, executive chair of Cape Town 2010.
One of the planks of the Lausanne Movement's platform is that "evangelization requires the whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world," to quote the original Covenant. The "whole gospel," according to Wright, means bringing to the world both God's message of sin and redemption and God's "passion against political tyranny, economic exploitation, judicial corruption, the suffering of the poor and oppressed, brutality and bloodshed."
And we can only reach every part of the world, he adds, by utilizing every part of the church.
"None of us can engage in every area," Wright writes. "That is why God created the church with a multiplicity of gifts and callings, so that we can, as a whole church bear witness to the whole gospel in the whole world."
That, in a thumbnail, is the stated mission of Cape Town 2010.
(Photos courtesy Wikipedia, Lausanne Movement Flickr Photostream)

Friday, October 22, 2010

NIAGARA FALLS, OCT.21, 2010


















The wild sky, confused and unsure,
Of what it was or will become
Is torched in the west by a tired sun
whose work is almost and finally done.

A violent fall throws a veil of mist
Between the glorious end of a day
And a witness who wonders
How long this can stay.

With the heavy hint of winter’s coming
dark billows hover low but above
him. Black like the wet charred remains
of a burnt, doused home once filled with love.

A fiery ring where the sky meets the land
Leads his eye to the place where the day once began
And there on the opposite side of all that has been
A brilliant arc marks the where and the when.

Between the joy and brightness of the start
And a beautiful end that sometimes breaks a heart
Lies a torrent, a violent hurricane life
Filled with all sorts of unanticipated strife.

And so for a moment alone I stand
Between the beginning and the end
First looking back then at what’s ahead
And wonder in wonder at the wonder. Amen.

Sam Fritz
Former, USA East

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Secret to Forgiving Yourself

Have you ever made a mistake you thought was so bad that you simply couldn’t forgive yourself? So bad that you sunk into a depression and were unable to move on? Why are we so hard on ourselves? Why can’t we forgive ourselves for our mistakes? How long must you flog yourself before you are worthy of forgiveness?

I was working with a client recently who was very upset because she was going to have to declare bankruptcy due to the failure of a start-up business. She had quit her job a year prior, taken all the money she and her husband had in savings, and started a business making and selling jewelry online. She made beautiful jewelry, but lacked the business acumen and experience to get enough sales. After a year of sinking into debt, she and her husband had to admit defeat and were preparing to declare bankruptcy. The weight of the guilt crushing her spirit was overwhelming her. She simply could not forgive herself for “ruining her family’s financial lives.” She had become depressed, withdrawn, and forlorn. She had even considered suicide because she couldn’t bear her shame and the disappointment she read on the faces of her husband and children. She felt like a complete and utter failure.

… Knowing how to forgive yourself and how to move on after tragedy strikes is a skill you would benefit from developing. How did they do it?

They told me to ask her this question… “If your best friend came to you with this problem, what would you tell her?”
“Oh I would tell her that she shouldn’t be so hard on herself, everyone makes mistakes. I would tell her that she is resourceful and intelligent and can recover from this setback. I would tell her not to give up, but to dig in, make better choices, learn from her mistakes, and move on.”

So then I said, “And why can’t you say this to yourself? Why doesn’t this apply to you?”

She was stunned for a moment, speechless. Then she said, “But I don’t deserve to be forgiven.”

So I said, “How come your friend deserves forgiveness but you don’t?”

She didn’t answer.

“Forgiving yourself doesn’t mean you are free from the consequences of your actions. Yes, there will be consequences, but those consequences don’t have to include feeling guilt, shame and depression. Guilt, shame, and depression aren’t going to make you resourceful or stronger, in fact, they will weaken you and make it harder for you to recover. Don’t you owe it to your family to keep your vibration high so that you can help navigate out of this situation in the fastest and best way possible?”
She replied, “Yeah, I suppose I do owe them that. But if I forgive myself and act all happy again won’t people think I’m not taking my failure seriously?”

By the time our conversation was over she was feeling much better than when the call started. She adopted a new belief about her situation. Instead of thinking of herself as a failure, she started thinking of herself as a “success in progress.” She was committed to spending her time and energy on improving her situation instead of beating herself up over it. And she finally accepted the forgiveness her family had offered but which she couldn’t take before. She started treating herself the way she would treat others in the same situation.

The secret to forgiving yourself is to take responsibility for your actions, but not to let your perceived failure bury you. When you fail, when you make a mistake, learn from it and move on…. Become more resourceful, and ask for help when you need it. Give yourself the forgiveness you so willingly give to others. You are worthy of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is the gift you give yourself that acknowledges you’re human. You can’t always prevent failure, but you can always forgive yourself for failing.

Erin Pavlina

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

LESSONS FROM BELOW THE SURFACE



Most of us have been following at some point in time these last few weeks the story of the miners trapped in a Chilean mine. Like millions around the world, I'd stayed up until past 3:00 AM watching events unfold, clicking the remote between channels. And, I'm told that it's the single most popular live 'tweet' event ever with millions following the coverage of the rescue workers' attempts to pull up the stranded miners from their refuge, a half mile under Chile's surface.

At the time of this writing seven of the miners have been brought back to the surface and reunited with family. More will follow as the world eagerly follows the event and celebrates life ! As I'm pretty much house-bound I'll be checking back to the news throughout the day...

Reports about the the two month ordeal of the trapped miners tell us they’ve been living in tight, extremely uncomfortable quarters ever since, while multiple attempts to rescue them have been underway. Families of the trapped men have set up camps around the rescue effort, cooking food that is sent down in small tubes through tiny shafts drilled for supplies. A small rescue vessel is lowered so the men can be freed one at a time. The process is cumbersome and the rescue and after-care will likely take days, perhaps even weeks.

'Every step of the operation had been meticulously planned, from the engineering that went into the construction of the rescue capsule to Tuesday's tests of the winch.' According to reports, the men have not been arguing and fighting about who will go first, but rather, who will go last. The news report said the men have bonded in their time together, and a brotherhood has been created amongst the workers.

They are modern day examples of the age-old truth, that character is only molded in conflict...
And there's also the one that speaks of, 'the last shall be first...'



Sven Ljungholm

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A HAMILTON CORPS FLASHBACK...


General Wickberg on his training days:

"We were 500 Cadets in my Session. Our Training Principal was Commissioner Charles Jeffries. But we did not see much of him except in big meetings and lectures. He had opened our work in China, and he loved China. He often spoke about that great country. But it impressed us more to learn that he had been the leader of the "Skeleton Army" that fought William Booth and his Salvation Army on the streets of Whitechapel. Until he was converted and became a Salvationist himself. He was a 'he-man', a quick-witted Londoner, a man of few words, always to the point, who could preach about hell-fire and the tail of the devil, so that we seemed to smell sulphur and brimstone!

"Towards the end of the Session nearly all the men had had an interview with the Principal – but not I. I had almost given up hope of being called. Then one day, after a lecture at Mildmay, I was called. But not into an office. The Commissioner was just ready to leave - putting on his coat. "How are you, Wickberg?" he asked. "What do you read?" - What a question I thought – and then I said: "I read the Bible and Orders and Regulations."

""Of course, you do," said the Commissioner, "what else?"

"Again I thought: 'What a question!' But then I took courage and said: "Well, there isn't much time here to read much else." I shall never forget his reaction. He grabbed me with one hand, looked straight into my eyes and said: "Wickberg, if you are going to do the work of a Salvation Army Officer as you should, you will never have more time than you have here." This he said and departed. But I never forgot it."

A short while later Lt. Erik Wickberg was commissioned to command the HAMILTON TEMPLE CORPS.

--------------------------
I recall General Erik Wickberg's visit to my officer parents' home. Whether there for a few hours or overnight, his visits always included taking time to look through my father's extensive library; many of those books are now on my shelves, including two gifted to me by the General.

Want an immediate insight into a person's thinking, their mind, their soul ?! On your next visit to someone's home, take time to peruse the shelves in their study- remove a book or two to ascertain the amount of wear and tear... What are the treasured resources that speak to their soul and molds their spirit ? The Bible might be the place to begin.

Dr. Sven Ljungholm

(Erik Wickberg (July 6, 1904 – July 5, 1996) was the 9th General of The Salvation Army (1969-1974).
Born in Stockholm to Officers David and Betty Wickberg. He had a keen mind, and as a teenager, he once beat the national Swiss chess champion. Erik became a Soldier of the Salvation Army in 1924 at Berne II Corps, being sworn in by Captain Otto Brekke. In 1925, Erik became an Officer from Bern 2 Corps, Switzerland. His first appointment was corps officer in Hamilton, Scotland. He then took on the role of Training (Education) Officer in Germany, and Private Secretary to the Chief Secretary and Territorial Commander. He went on to become Private Secretary to International Secretary, IHQ. Soon, he moved to Sweden as International Headquarters Liaison Officer. During World War II, he was appointed to Germany, where he was often obliged to sleep in air raid bunkers. When the war was over, he was assigned Divisional Commander of Uppsala, Switzerland Chief Secretary, Sweden Chief Secretary, Territorial Commander of Germany, and Chief of Staff, before becoming the General.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Disciplined to a fault...


A cowboy, who just moved to Wyoming from Texas , walks into a bar and orders three mugs of Bud.

He sits in the back of the room, drinking a sip out of each one in turn. When he finishes them, he comes back to the bar and orders three more.

The bartender approaches and tells the cowboy, "You know, a mug goes flat after I draw it. It would taste better if you bought one at a time."

The cowboy replies, "Well, you see, I have two brothers. One is in Arizona , the other is in Colorado .

When we all left our home in Texas , we promised that we'd drink this way to remember the days when we drank together. So I'm drinking one beer for each of my brothers and one for myself."

The bartender admits that this is a nice custom, and leaves it there.

The cowboy becomes a regular in the bar, and always drinks the same way. He orders three mugs and drinks them in turn.

One day, he comes in and only orders two mugs. All the regulars take notice and fall silent. When he comes back to the bar for the second round, the bartender says, "I don't want to intrude on your grief, but I wanted to offer my condolences on your loss."

The cowboy looks quite puzzled for a moment, then a light dawns in his eyes and he laughs.

"Oh, no, everybody's just fine," he explains, "It's just that my wife and I joined the Salvation Army and I had to quit drinking."

"Hasn't affected my brothers though."


HAVE A GREAT WEEK !
Sven

Sunday, October 10, 2010

TURN AROUND TIME ?


Church attendance in Britain is declining so fast that the number of regular churchgoers will be fewer than those attending mosques within a generation, research published suggests. The number of actively religious Muslims will DOUBLE to 1.96 million by 2035. A comprehensive statistical analysis of religious practice in Britain, published by Christian Research, reports that Hindus will come close to outnumbering churchgoers within a generation. The forecast to 2050 shows churchgoing in Britain declining to 899,000 while the active Hindu population, now at nearly 400,000, will have more than doubled, And by 2050 there will be 2,660,000 active Muslims in Britain - nearly three times the number of Sunday churchgoers.

Forty two years ago John W.R. Stott reminded the church: “We are under orders. The risen Lord has commanded it to "go," to "preach," to "make disciples"; and that is enough. THE CHURCH ARMY engages in evangelism today, not because it wants to or because it chooses to or because it likes to, but because it has been told to. Evangelistic inactivity is disobedience. It is right, therefore, to go back to the very beginning and re-examine the Church's marching orders."

These were the introductory words of a sermon that Dr. Stott presented at the 1968 World Congress on Evangelism. At the time John W.R. Stott was chaplain to the Queen of England. The modern royals however, see it differently; many faiths have a home in Britain, a fact supported by the Prince of Wales who, on his Coronation, hopes to become Defender of Faith rather than Defender of the Faith.

The crisis is particularly acute for Methodists and Presbyterians, as many worshippers are aged over 65. The report predicts that by 2050 there will be just 3,600 churchgoing Methodists left in Britain. The report predicts that by 2030 there could be just 350,000 people attending just 10,000 Anglican churches, with an average of 35 worshippers each, and halved again by 2040.

And what about The SA in Scotland, our mission field ?













































Sven Ljungholm
Soldier, Hamilton Corps Scotland

Saturday, October 9, 2010

PREFACE TO: THE STATE OF THE SA, HAMILTON, SCOTLAND (Sunday Oct. 10)


In the days of the Roman Emperor Nero, a band of soldiers known as the Emperor’s Wrestlers served him. They were picked from the best and the bravest of the land, recruited from the great athletes of the Roman amphitheater.

In the great amphitheater they upheld the arms of the emperor against all challengers. Before each contest they stood before the emperor’s throne. Then through the courts of Rome rang the cry: “We, the wrestlers, wrestling for thee, O Emperor, to win for thee the victory and free thee, the victor’s crown.”

When the great Roman army was sent to fight in Gaul (France) , no soldiers were braver or more loyal than this band of wrestlers led by their centurion Vespasian. But news reached Nero that many Roman soldiers had accepted the Christian faith. Therefore, this decree was dispatched to the centurion Vespasian; “If there be any among your soldiers who cling to the faith of the Christian, they must die!”

The decree was received in the dead of winter. The soldiers were camped on the shore of a frozen inland lake. It was with sinking heart that Vespasian, the centurion, read the emperor’s message.

Vespasian called the soldiers together and asked: “Are there any among you who cling to the faith of the Christian? If so, let him step forward!” Forty wrestlers instantly stepped forward two paces, respectfully saluted, and stood at attention. Vespasian paused. He had not expected so many, nor such select ones. “Until sundown I shall await your answer,” said Vespasian. Sundown came. Again the question was asked. Again the forty wrestlers stepped forward.

Vespasian pleaded with them long and earnestly without prevailing upon a single man to deny his Lord. Finally he said, “The decree of the emperor must be obeyed, but I am not willing that your comrades should shed your blood. I order you to march out upon the lake of ice, and I shall leave you there to the mercy of the elements.”

The forty wrestlers were stripped and then, falling into columns of four, marched toward the center of the lake of ice. As they marched they broke into the chant of the arena: “Forty wrestlers, wrestling for Thee, O Christ, to win for Thee the victory and from Thee, the victor’s crown!” Through the night Vespasian stood by his campfire and watched. As he waited through the long night, there came to him fainter and fainter the wrestlers’ song.

As morning drew near one figure, overcome by exposure, crept quietly toward the fire; in the extremity of his suffering he had renounced his Lord. Faintly but clearly from the darkness came the song: “Thirty-nine wrestlers, wrestling for Thee, O Christ, to win for Thee the victory and from Thee, the victor’s crown!”

Vespasian looked at the figure drawing close to the fire. Perhaps he saw eternal light shining there toward the center of the lake. Who can say? But off came his helmet and clothing, and he sprang upon the ice, crying, “Forty wrestlers, wrestling for Thee, O Christ, to win for Thee the victory and from Thee, the victor’s crown!”

Friday, October 8, 2010

International Theology and Ethics Symposium Begins (Report 1)


7 October 2010

THE anticipation was palpable as 49 officer and soldier delegates from 26 Salvation Army territories gathered in the historic mansion of Sunbury Court near London in the UK for the commencement of the International Theology and Ethics Symposium, a global gathering of Salvation Army theological thinkers and ethicists.

A symposium is defined as 'a formal meeting where several specialists make presentations'. In that purposeful regard this gathering of Salvationists is accurately convened.

This is the third in a series of symposia, following on from gatherings in Winnipeg, Canada, in 2001 and Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2006. Collectively they have produced a collation of doctrinal and theological papers that articulately convey Salvationist scholarship. Sunbury Court 2010 will augment this collection.

Called by the international leader of The Salvation Army, General Shaw Clifton, and steered by the International Doctrine Council (IDC), these appointed delegates, representing a wide array of appointments and ministries, communicated a collective sense of privilege for the opportunity to attend and participate.

'We come as Salvationists, [as part of] God's divine design,' observed Commissioner William Francis, Chairman of the IDC, in his opening welcome.

The central theme of the presentation of theological papers during the ensuing days is the doctrine of holiness. This will be 'studied carefully' said the commissioner, 'for when we focus on holiness, we study the very character of God.'

During the opening evening delegates saw a documentary video of the historic first High Council convened at Sunbury Court in 1929, culminating in the election of General Edward Higgins, the Army's first elected international leader.

Commissioner Robert Street, vice chair of the IDC, presented the opening paper by General Shaw Clifton: 'Our Holy Heavenly Father – Characteristics of a Holy God'. The tone for the symposium was set with a cogent, scholarly and forthright treatise that arrayed essential attributes of the first person of the Trinity.

The opening hours could not have concluded more poignantly than under the devotional leadership of Lieut-Colonel Karen Shakespeare, who asked delegates: 'What are you bringing to the Symposium?' and 'What will you take back from the Symposium?'

The words of Salvationist writer Colin Fairclough outlined in the closing song beautifully summarise the shared aspirations of the Symposium:

Gracious Lord, thy grace apply,
Both to save and sanctify;
All my life wilt thou control,
Calmly ordering the whole,
That the world may ever see
Christ, and only Christ, in me.

Report by Lieut-Colonel Richard Munn

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

LAWSUIT; CHILD ABUSE IN OAK GROVE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH...

TRENTON, NJ - As the photo above shows, one major danger of infant baptism is when the pastor inadvertently pinches the infant's forehead. And the poor thing can't do nothing but scream ! Suffer the little children indeed.

As congregations in the USA get older, pastors get older as well. Recent studies prove that Presbyterian and Lutheran pastors in particular are struggling with worsening eyesight. When this happens, the pastor is much more likely to accidentally pinch the child instead of sprinkling him.

Research estimates that one out of every 20 babies is now pinched by a pastor with poor eyesight. For example, this past Sunday at Oak Grove Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Trenton saw baby Thomas Reed bruised by pastor Gerald Holmes. According to Daniel Reed (Thomas' father), "We had been looking forward to Sunday for some time. Thirty-two of our family members were in attendance at the service. It was a joyful day until our pastor ruined it by making little Tommy cry. He left a nickel-sized purple and red spot right on Tommy's forehead. My wife started to cry and couldn't stop. The whole baptism was ruined... yep, we're thinking lawsuit; child abuse !"

Not long after the worship service, the ACLU contacted Oak Grove to tell them that if they baptized any more babies, the ACLU would sue for child abuse.

As of this morning, the leadership at Oak Grove is considering leaving the PCA to join ARBCA.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

THE CHURCH IN DENIAL MODE...

Pope Benedict XVI has expressed grave concern over the decline of church participation in Western Europe. His trip to the UK last week provided opportunities for him to address it. Most commentators in religious and secular communications found almost nothing that he said or did which might help reverse the downward trends. The fact that large crowds appeared at several of his appearances did not impress them; throngs line up for popes as celebrities. I’ve asked after each of Pope John Paul’s travels, which often drew masses of young people: did his Pope-mobiled words and gestures, eloquent though they be, lead any young man to enter the seminary ranks with intention to become ordained? Did mass attendance swell a month or a year later? Maybe the answer is yes, but it’s hard to find evidence.

Observation of the North American scene and data gathered by many polling agencies provide a cause for separating this continent’s milder declines from the plot which defines Europe today. So sudden have been the marked trends showing disaffection that leaders have not internalized the evidence.

Exceptions? Yes, for now, Latino/a Roman Catholics sign up enough to keep the Catholic rolls deceptively high, if only relatively. For now, some astute, market-oriented mega-churches keep prospering, though even among them opinion-pollers and people-counters see signs which prompt concern.

Those who do care and who set out to address the issue of decline begin in a state of alarm. I was recently on a panel with an official who knew all about weapons of mass destruction, from nukes to germ-warfare capsules. Someone asked, “Knowing all that, how do you sleep?” He answered, “I sleep like a baby—for fifteen minutes, and then I wake up crying.” But sleeping or crying does not help and will not help people who seek to address the issues signified in the trends.

Some graphs and paragraphs in Lovett H. Weems, Jr.’s *Christian Century*show that from 1994 to 2000, two of four studied mainline Protestant churchbodies showed modest gains and two others saw only modest losses. But from2001 to 2008 the “growing” United Methodist Church saw the greatest plunge and its losses were almost matched in the other three. Disconcerting to church-growth experts was Weems’s note that in the earlier decade, greatest growth was among the largest local churches—but that in themore recent decade, the largest among them suffered most decline.

Some readers may wonder why in columns like this, which are to be about “public religion,” we talk about church and synagogue (etc.) attendance and participation–aren’t their institutions part of “private religion?” Emphatically no. They are the bearers of traditions, the living expositors of sacred texts, the tellers of stories, the troop-suppliers for voluntary
activities, the shapers of values fought over in the political realms.

Why are they declining? Certainly not because a few atheists write best-sellers. I always look for the simplest causes, such as rejection of drab and conflicted congregations and denominations. Or changes in habits. I watch the ten thousands running past in Sunday marathons or heading to thekids’ soccer games and recall that their grandparents and parents kept the
key weekend times and places open for sacred encounters. Oh, and “being spiritual” is not going to help keep the stories, the language of ethics, and the pool of volunteers thriving. Their disappearance has consequences.

Lovett H. Weems, Jr. “No Shows: The Decline in Worship Attendance.”
*The* *Christian Century*, September 22, 2010.
——

Friday, October 1, 2010

CAN YOU ADD TO THE LIST?


Significant factors that motivated me to ministry as a Salvation Army officer:

CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES

SIGNIFICANT OTHERS

DIRECT CALLING

CAREER CHANGE

SPOUSE

COLLEGE/SEMINARY TRAINING

MENTORS/MODELS/SUPERVISORS in early years of ministry

THE ENCOURAGEMENT FACTOR

RELATIONSHIPS with Leaders

SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES

DENOMINATION: STRUCTURE; ORGANISATION –

NEED FOR OFFICERS