Monday, January 31, 2011


Should euthanasia be the new definition for black?

"Do not kill yourself," said world pianist Arthur Rubinstein, "you’ll regret it within a year."

He knew what he was talking about. 21-year-old, penniless and desperate, he decided to take his life. The question was: how? "I had no guns, no poison, and the thought of jumping out the window was disgusting - I could well be forced to go through life with broken arms and legs."

It got to be hanging. Young Arthur drew the belt from his old coat and fixed it on a hook in the bathroom. But when the suicide attempt was made the belt slipped off and he tumbled to the floor.

This happened in Berlin in 1908. In those days one could not get suicide assistance. But 100 years later the suicide industry seems to thrive.

Holland has been at the forefront of active euthanasia. As the first country after Nazi Germany legalized, its practice was legalized in 2002.

More and more people make use of their new rights. In 2003 the number of people killed were 1815 people, the 2008 number was 2331 and the year after that, 2636.

This week, Dutch Radio reported that the association NVVE, "Dutch Association for Voluntary Death", is now seeking funding to open a suicide clinic where not only dying, but also people with mental illnesses and early dementia, can be helped to kill themselves.

Whether the clinic becomes a reality or not, it is a frightening development.
When a euthanasia debate begins in one country - as it has in Sweden - is it always the most severely ill, the dying, those with irregular pains, which are taken as examples of people who should be allowed to "die with dignity", as they say in these contexts.

Now, nine years after the groundbreaking law in the Netherlands we are talking about people who are not dying, but that is - so what? Looking into the near future will it include, the guilt-ridden, the lonely, victims of poor mental health?

We should not be surprised at the development. When a society has abandoned the view that health care is to cure and alleviate illness, and begin to see death as a "cure", then there really is no upper barrier.

People can, of course, be deemed unworthy to live meaningless, unbearable lives for almost reasons whatsoever.

Moreover, it is conceivable that the better standard of living people attain to, the more "security addictive' the influential middle class can afford to become; the tighter and more luxurious is the definition of what constitutes" a dignified life ".

In Holland, euthanasia opponents argue that the increase in active death-assistance is because life-care has deteriorated since the law was enacted They are not alone in that interpretation. Even former Health Minister Els Borst, who pushed through the law, has complained that it appears to have undermined the palliative care.

What would happen if a society became accustomed to the idea of mental illness and dementia (sufferers) may / can / should choose death?
How would it affect health care resources? And, above all, what would it be like to have a psychiatric diagnosis and to know that the "dignified" way to confront it, according to the prevailing norm, is to ask to die?

Arthur Rubinstein said in his memoirs that after the suicide attempt ended he emerged into a changed world. Before his mental trial, he had prepared himself by painting everything in gloomy colors. But now: "The streets, trees, houses, dogs chasing each other, men and women, everything looked different." His life changed forever.

"In this chaos, I discovered secret of happiness, which I still cherish: Love life for better or for worse, unconditionally."


translation: Dr. Sven Ljungholm

Thursday, January 27, 2011

WHAT SAY YOU ???? Survey posted on the right...

Candidates for election for the nineteenth General of The Salvation Army, from left: Commissioners John Matear, Christine MacMillan, Barry Swanson, William Roberts, Max Feener, Linda Bond, Robert Street, William Francis and Dick Krommenhoek)

COME BEFORE WINTER...






In re-reading Paul’s last recorded words last week, in preparing for the corps' Bible study, I was left wondering, did Timothy make an effort to “come before winter” and see his mentor one last time ? Did he risk traveling on the often treacherous autumn seas to bid Paul farewell before he was led from his dungeon, past the gates of Rome, and beheaded as the sun rose over the Roman hillside? We don’t know the answer, however, it’s the type call we’ve all faced, and it's repeated again each year. In our case it’s the personal investments we are asked to make each autumn in accordance with what the Lord requests of us. For us it’s a matter of committing before winter to use the resource of time and talent gifted to us, and to plant and invest them wisely for eventual harvesting some months later. It's the type of investment made by others that brought and kept you and me in the fold. But, perhaps young Timothy said to himself, ‘Paul should know that I have my hands full… how can he assume I can drop it all and run errands for him?! I’m already busy tending to the many requests and expectations he and others have placed on me!”


Sound vaguely familiar?


Do you remember the unfulfilled promises made last autumn or the year before? I'm certain we all do... Aren’t we all very much the same? How can my corps officer or Pastor possibly expect more from me ? I’m carrying a full load and doing more than most !


Some things must be done “before winter” or they will not and cannot be done at all. There are doors of service, of ministry that open before us, individually and as a Christian body, and if we do not act on them, they will be forever shut by springtime. Some assignments demand an immediate response; an 'act now' reaction!


As this new worship season of service begins, in what area of your life is God calling you and me to act…to plan for and commit to before winter?  ALL MY DECLARED INTENTIONS ARE AN INSULT TO GOD'S GIFTING AND TIMING UNLESS  MY PRACTICAL SERVICE MEASURES UP TO JESUS' DEMANDS.


The story is told of the famous conductor George Solti rehearsing the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in the 1812 Overture. He was asking repeatedly, as they rehearsed the Finale, to ‘play it as loud as you can!’ But it wasn’t enough and he asked again, ‘play it as loud as you can – please, play it as loud as you can!’ When they finally reached the top of an incredibly loud crescendo he said, ‘now play it louder still!!’


Yes, I know- I’ve been there often in life and have said in my mind, please don’t add any more to my plate, only to reevaluate both the need and the resources and in the process recalling that great truth that we have His presence, His plan and His power leading us.


Thomas Merton said: “A true encounter with Christ liberates something in us. A power we did not know we had, a hope, a capacity for life; a resilience, an ability to bounce back when we thought we were completely defeated, a capacity to grow and change, a power of creative transformation.”


Do you recall that holy moment when you were sworn in as a SA soldier? Chances are that the scripture read was the end of Paul’s masterful and edifying letter to the Ephesians where he concludes with this most important exhortation: "Finally, be strong in the Lord and his mighty power." It is this instruction that precedes his famous words about the whole armour of God.


The SA used to be immersed in the language of warfare. We can garner much by studying and learning from our roots; to fit ourselves for battle! Paul told the Ephesians that, as believers in Christ, they were engaged in a cosmic battle. "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”. The battle can’t be put on hold…


For the clock of life is wound but once.

And no one has the power,

To tell just when the hand will stop,

At late or early hour.

Now is the time we have.

Live, love, toil, work with a will,

Do not wait for tomorrow,

For the clock may then be still.



Pray, asking for His presence to guide you as you deliberate where you will give more time and talent this season…


Galatians 6:9 (NIV) "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."


For the sake of our gospel, come before winter!





Dr. Sven-Erik Ljungholm
Former SA Officer
Govan Corps UKT

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

YOUR MISSION STATEMENT IS WHAT ?

Sharing from the daily blog (one of the most active and eclectic daily blogs by a SA officer- Peter Baronowsky, Reg. Commander, Latvia- Visit the site and click on PAGES IN ENGLISH. See the daily devotions as well, written in English by his Ministry partner, Rut)
…………………………….


Monday morning reflections…

(Posted on www.rupeba.se two years ago, but worth repeating.)

Corporations and organizations typically devote great energy in formulating concrete business concepts; a "Mission Statement", a mission statement to clarify on what they ought to focus. It ought to be as succinct as possible in order to be easily remembered verbatim. It should answer the questions: Who are we? Who are we targeting? How will we accomplish our goal?

At the start of this year you may wish to formulate a Personal Mission Statement. - To make his "calling and election sure" (2 Peter 1:10).  Some questions that help me formulate my mission statement include:

·      Who (what kind of person) do I want to be?
·      What is my mission in life? What do I hope to accomplish with my life?
·      Who do I intend to become?
·      How ought I work toward that goal?

If I have formulated a mission statement for the upcoming year, or indeed for life, it is often easier to make decisions in one’s everyday life. I will, as a consequence, decide in the present what I want to put my time and energy into and concurrently opt out of or give less attention to other things.

Paul typically opens his letters with a type Mission Statement. He writes: "Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— (Romans 1:1). He knew who he was and his mission. He was able to clearly focus and did not waste time and energy on irrelevant matters.
My Mission Statement is:

“I want to live close to Jesus, learning to know Him better, listen to and heed His words.

I want to live in such a way that it stirs a thirst in the people I meet to recognize, seek and entrust themselves to Jesus and become His disciples.”

That was Paul's mission and one I’ve used in formulating my own ‘Mission Statement’. And yours? 

PS
If you meet me and don’t believe I live by my ‘mission statement’, please remind me who I claim I want to be.

SA RHQ Latvia

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

COMMISSIONER ANDREW STUART MILLER



      October 14,
1923 - January 19, 2011

Jesus, the very thought of thee with sweetness fills my breast; But sweeter far thy face to see, and in thy presence rest   
Bernard of Clairvaux

In the morning hours, with shouts of "Hallelujah, Praise the Lord", one of the Lord's most Valiant powerful forces for the Kingdom, Commissioner Andrew S. Miller entered through the gates to his Eternal Home from Sunrise at Webb Gin, Lawrenceville, GA, surrounded by loved ones. 

What a home coming it was as he was greeted by family, friends and those who received the Lord and were touched by the ministry of this wonderful man of God. You would often see "Andy", as he was affectionately known, at the altar leading a lost soul to the Lord. It did not matter who they were;  a homeless man on the street or an important government official.  He wanted to make sure that everyone heard the Message of the Gospel.

A Memorial Service is planned for a later date.  Information will be forthcoming.

Let us be in prayer for his dear wife of 64 years, Mrs. Commissioner Joan Miller; daughter, Commissioner Susan (Barry) Swanson, London, England; sons, Major Andrew Miller, Jr of Kansas City, MO and Envoy William Miller of Minneapolis, MN; 9 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.

Messages of condolence and prayer may be sent to Mrs. Commissioner Joan Miller, Delmar Gardens, 3100 Club Dr., Apt. 132, Lawrenceville, GA 30044-2591.


Major Diane Boush
Retired Officers Representative
January 19, 2011







Andy Miller’s two strongest contributions to the evangelical movement: He is part of the leadership that has pursued a seamless connection of the church’s evangelistic and social service heritage. And he bucked the separatist impulse of the most conservative churches and reached out to secular leaders–at the same time he stroked the hair and provided food and shelter for the poorest of the poor.
Miller, who held many positions during his 47-year career and served as the national commander from 1986-89, made it a priority to maintain the church’s historic connection of evangelism and social service. He resisted bifurcation of the church and insisted that its social ministry must be evangelistic and its evangelism must include a social service delivery system. “When we do it right,” Miller said, “you can’t tell the difference.”
This breadth was captured in The Salvation Army’s longtime slogan: “Soup, Soap, and Salvation. There is ongoing concern that the social will eclipse the spiritual, and today some in the church are concerned that the national command’s recent approval of the more secular slogan “Doing the Most Good,” may signal that slide. That worry is magnified because the social service effort is so large and the church body that meets in worship each week is relatively small in the U.S.
Although the The Salvation Army’s work can be found in nearly every region of the country and in communities large and small, its people—particularly its staff and clergy–are relatively insulated from both secular culture and the larger evangelical church. Salvationists have traditionally found their worship, social interaction, church conferences, even summer camping and recreation within the denomination, and adherents have traditionally found their marriage partners within the group. These trends have shifted in recent years and the U.S. membership is stagnant, even as giving has increased—bucking national trends.
In the midst of this insular subculture, Miller had an expansive tenure that introduced the church to the powerful and influential of his time. He had a commitment to bear witness about Christ with at least one person every day. After telling President Reagan about this in a meeting, Miller was called back to the White House several weeks later. The President wanted to tell the Salvationist leader that he had taken the opportunity to witness to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in a face-to-face meeting. In private, Gorbachev told Reagan that his grandmother had him baptized as a young boy and that she had told him about Jesus.
Miller found ways to befriend powerful men as easily as others. He was an usher at Robert Kennedy’s funeral because he met and formed a friendship with the former U.S. Attorney General while jogging on the streets of New York City.
“He is a Salvation Army original,” his biography reads,” and at the same time a symbol of the Army, keeping the Army true to the Army, to its birthright and mission. His life story is the miracle of a bush that burned with fire and yet was not consumed.”
–Jim Jewell

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Why I Left the Ordained Ministry -2-

My father didn't want me to be a pastor, and for a long time I was angry about that. Now I understand. He didn't want me to experience the pain that he had. 


It is acceptable to freely and sometimes brutally criticize the pastor. My oldest brother used to say that people went to work and got dehumanized by their own bosses, so they'd come to church and take it out on the pastor. Things people wouldn't say to their worst enemy was ok to say to the pastor-- after all, they're supposed to be so holy that they can take anything. They can be criticized about everything from the kind of car the pastor drives, what he/she wears, what kind of music they like, how they keep the house, what restaurants she/he goes to, who they're friends with, how they raise their children, how many times they visit the nursing home, what hymns they choose and how many, how fat or thin they are, etc. It's all free game.

My father experienced it, and inevitably so did I. That person who for some reason unknown even to them, hates the pastor. So they openly criticize the pastor in meetings, behind her back, or block any efforts they make to get something done. And others, even those who disagree, choose not to speak up. The pastor is on his own. One person can bring down a pastor, much less a church. I've seen it happen again and again.

You may think I exaggerate these things. I grew up in the Church as a pastor's kid and lived in parsonages all my life. I saw my father and mother go off into a room and lock the door to "dialogue" about things that were happening in the church that they wanted to protect me from knowing. I saw my father suffer great pain at the hands of parishioners who decided he wasn't Christian enough, didn't bring in enough new members, or thought he was soft. I saw my mother suffer alone in the midst of ongoing conflicts in the church without a friend she could confide in. I felt the tension of making Dad look good to his parishioners and all four of us kids couldn't live up to the ideals of the perfect kid.

I went into it because I was called into it. I went through much of the same things that my father went through and more. I ran into conflict with the Church of Scientology-- who'da thunk? I had an SPRC committee ask me to pay them for the Sunday I missed while being bedridden during my pregnancy when I was bleeding and I was interrogated as to how much time I expected to spend with this coming baby and would it interfere with my church work?

I served a church where my predecessor had an affair with a parishioner and the church was angry that he was removed, and took that anger out on me and my co-pastor husband. More than once I was sent to a parish where I made less than a full-time salary and had to leave that situation to avoid bankruptcy.

I even lived in a parsonage that had snakes in the living room sometimes.

I still believe God called me into ministry back in 1989-- the experience was undeniable. I pray that my work was fruitful and inspired by God. But I also believe that God called me to a different form of ministry, that God led me out of the Church. My years in the Church are still a huge part of who I am, and I hope to write more about the good parts, the good people and the images of God at work that I did experience. I often used to joke that it was hard to be a pastor and a Christian at the same time. But I knew it wasn't a joke. I finally had to get out of it in order to save my own soul, my own relationship with God. In the last couple of years I knew it was killing me. It's an impossible job.

When I left I didn't know if I could ever be a part of any church, but I know that my relationship with God is too much a part of me to be discarded. I doubt I can be a United Methodist again, but I am a child of God, and I will continue to allow God to lead me in ways that I can serve God and nurture my faith in ways that give life. If I'd stayed, I'd be bitter. I'm not bitter. I'm ready to live honestly and generously and fully. 

It's a new year. Peg


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Why I Left the Ordained Ministry -1-

I doubt I can summarize all the reasons, all the emotions and struggles of many years that led to that life-changing decision of 2009. But as part of moving on, let me try.

A friend of mine once said that if you're in the ordained ministry and have never once thought of leaving it, you're in serious denial. Quite honestly, I thought about leaving it many, many times from the very beginning. It was in the last two years that it became more and more imperative, and unavoidably clear to me that I would not retire from the United Methodist ordained ministry. A lot of things happened. 2007 was a year of many, many deaths in my church. Not that I hadn't had that many funerals in one year before, but in 2007 there were deaths that were sudden and very unexpected. The year started off with a man in his forties dying of blood clots moving from his legs to his heart. A man I'd come to feel close to in about six weeks of pastoral visits to the hospital. He was an outsider, but he embraced me as his pastor, his confidante. He made me feel like what I did mattered. After that, we lost some dear pillars of the church, again, suddenly. There were accidents, a suicide, and cancer.

Death and grief have a way of stripping away all pretenses from your eyes, like scales falling away. Maybe it's like cataract surgery. Honesty becomes essential.

A pastor has no job description, no contract that we sign agreeing to certain hours and duties. It is wide open, and therefore, you have as many supervisors as you have members of your church. All with different agendas, different needs, and therefore different images of what a pastor should do. A pastor is expected to be an exceptional preacher, inspiring worship leader, a crisis counselor, grief counselor, Bible scholar, administrator, conflict resolution expert, and mind reader. A pastor is expected to know when people need a phone call or a visit, without anyone telling them. A pastor is expected to relate to little kids, youth, young adults and old people all equally well, and to know how to reach all of them in their interests and entertain them. They are on call 24/7. They are supposed to be always available, day or night. They are expected to be calm in every situation. They are expected to inspire new members to call on them at any time, particularly young families, but do that without upsetting the older people.

The pastor's family is always on display. They are not supposed to have any problems, and when I was growing up, the pastor's wife was supposed to be fulltime assistant to her husband without pay. It's preferable if she plays the piano, is willing to be president of the UMW, keep an immaculate house just in case a parishioner shows up unannounced, lead Bible Studies at the church, and be the perfect mother. She is expected to make the pastor look good.

But the pastor is not allowed to have friends, unless they are other clergy. If the pastor has friends in the congregation, they are accused of having favorites, and the pastor is expected to love everyone equally. They are supposed to attend all the sports games at the school, all the musical programs, and still visit everyone in the nursing home. They are not supposed to ever get angry or depressed. People rarely ask the pastor how they're doing and really want to know, but everyone is surprised when a pastor gets sick or suffers a crisis that makes the incapable of doing their job. Pastors don't trust other pastors, especially in the UMC, because they could one day be their D.S. And if a D.S. knows some weakness of yours, they can send you to a backwoods church where no one else wants to go.

A pastor, when they are ordained in the UMC, agrees to go wherever they are sent "without reservation." Which means that a pastor cannot ever choose where they want to live, how much money they want to make, or what schools their children will attend. They cannot choose what house they will live in. When you live in a parsonage, you cannot make decisions about the house you live in. You have to humbly make your requests to a committee of people that generally think that a pastor should live in poverty, it's part of the call. The general value of the pastor him or herself is called into question. Is she worth a new carpet? Does she really need pipes that don't leak? Can't we just patch that linoleum in the kitchen that was put down in 1960? Back East, the church even furnished the parsonage, you didn't have your own. And the parsonages were usually furnished with pieces from parishioner's basements-- the furniture that was not good enough for their houses was somehow fine for the pastor's house. It's that poverty thing again. Besides, a pastor should not be concerned with such worldly things as furniture that matches.


Peg (Nebraska)





Wednesday, January 12, 2011

TRUST

Trust: Gordon MacDonald on The Root of Leadership

GordonmacdonaldFrom time to time I refer to Gordon MacDonald on this blogsite. I think Gordon is an amazing kind of leader. I've had classes with him. He has been to Living Word Community Church several times for leadership conferences. I've read most of his books and many of the articles he has written.
He is one of those wise, senior leaders who has so much to say for any who will take the time to listen and learn.


Here are some words about trust that come from an article in Leadership, Winter 2003, "The Root of Leadership."


MacDonald says,


I learned quickly in my youngest pastoral years that people would follow only so far if I traded exclusively on my natural gifts; words that came easily, personal charm, new ideas and dreams . . .
The pastor learns the hard way that good ideas and promising strategies are not enough. They can't make it without trust . . .
I once forfeited the trust of people I cared for very much. I lost some very precious friendships. And I lost my honor. To regain any of what was lost took a long time.


Trust2These words hit me. Unlike Gordon, I haven't lost trust like he did for large numbers of people in such a short time. But like Gordon, I have lost the trust of individuals. And I have also made the mistake of thinking I had trust when I didn't.


I, like many leaders, think our gifts and abilities, our good vision and strategies, our position or title are sufficient to keep followers. Yes, we can "wow" some of the people some of the time. Yes we can impress some of them some of the time. But people will only follow so long on a "wow" factor.


Trust takes time. It is why leadership longevity is crucial.
Trust requires a substance of character that consistently does the right thing.
Trust happens in relational contexts of healthy, loving interaction.
Trust is hard to gain and easy to lose.


Keep it on the front burner of your life and leadership.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

THE SECRET DRIVEN LIFE

I have only heard Gordon MacDonald speak one time. It was in the early summer of 1988. His talk encouraged me emotionally during a very painful period in my private life. His subject? The Private Life of the Public Person. I identified profoundly with him because my secret struggles were just surfacing. After he spoke I timidly introduced myself to him and mumbled a thank you through tears. The interchange was no doubt as forgettable for him as it was memorable for me.

At the time, my private life and public persona were beginning to merge. My secrets had been discovered. My self deception was ending. The appearances I managed so carefully were cracking like the cheap veneer on a dresser at Good Will. It felt like my soul’s fabric was held together by only a thread. God used Gordon MacDonald that afternoon to do some mending.
As I continued to mend, I was furious when I hit the walls of secrecy at church. In recovery meetings everyone told the truth. At church keeping our secrets seemed safer than telling the truth. Once I recognized my previous participation in such secrecy and gathered bits of grace on my recovery journey, I became less angry but the dysfunction of our secrecy still troubles me deeply. Recently I visited Christianity Today’s web site and discovered God was once again touching my life through Gordon MacDonald. His article, The Secret Driven Life, speaks succinctly to my frustration with the Church’s aversioin to truth telling.
I invite you to read The Secret Driven Life posted on LeadershipJournal.net  in its entirety by clicking here. Then, please return to share your heart and your views. If you are a Ministry Professional or spouse of one please take the current poll on the right regarding leaders and secrecy. The following is a brief excerpt from the article:
I was reminded of churches where people are nice, reasonably polite, and cooperative. But with some regularity, one learns that underneath this appearance of religious composure, this person or that one is hurting terribly: firings, divorces, personal failures, doubt, addictions, sexual identity issues … the list is long. But no one speaks: neither the person in trouble nor the ones who know of the trouble. Why? Because that would threaten the fantasy that everyone’s fine. This kind of church culture starts with the idea that everyone is presumed fine until they prove differently.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

CROSS OUT 3 OUT OF 4....

Imagine a group photo of all the students who come to your church (or live within your community of believers) in a typical year. Take a big fat marker and cross out three out of every four faces. That's the probable toll of spiritual disengagement as students navigate through their faith during the next two decades," warns David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group. Why are they leaving? How can the church better communicate the gospel in a way that makes sense to this generation of "leavers"?

This 15-page resource is designed to help you reach out to a generation that is leaving the church in unprecedented numbers—and to reverse the trend before it gets worse.

NOTE: You have permission to make up to 1,000 copies of this resource to be distributed in a church or educational setting.

This Training Pack contains all of the following:

Young people are fleeing the faith and many may not return.
Drew Dyck

Postmodern Spirituality 
Lessons learned in evangelism and Christianity while serving a cynical generation.
Brett Lawrence

Young people don't need hip leaders; they want older Christians committed to being present in their lives.
Josh Riebock

Six Kinds of Leavers 
Use these categories to better understand why young people leave the faith, and how to reach them.
Drew Dyck

Bridging the Generational Gap 
The fast-changing culture and skepticism of young adults requires a different approach to evangelism.
interview with T.V. Thomas

Churches that Connect with Millennials 
These nine traits characterize churches that reach disaffected young adults.
Ed Stetzer

Calling Them Home 
Seeing prodigals return means participating in what God's already doing in their lives.
Drew Dyck

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Six Megathemes Emerge from Barna Group Research in 2010 -



5. The postmodern insistence on tolerance is winning over the Christian Church.
Our biblical illiteracy and lack of spiritual confidence has caused Americans to avoid making discerning choices for fear of being labeled judgmental. The result is a Church that has become tolerant of a vast array of morally and spiritually dubious behaviors and philosophies. This increased leniency is made possible by the very limited accountability that occurs within the body of Christ. There are fewer and fewer issues that Christians believe churches should be dogmatic about. The idea of love has been redefined to mean the absence of conflict and confrontation, as if there are no moral absolutes that are worth fighting for. That may not be surprising in a Church in which a minority believes there are moral absolutes dictated by the scriptures.


The challenge today is for Christian leaders to achieve the delicate balance between representing truth and acting in love. The challenge for every Christian in the U.S. is to know his/her faith well enough to understand which fights are worth fighting, and which stands are non-negotiable. There is a place for tolerance in Christianity; knowing when and where to draw the line appears to perplex a growing proportion of Christians in this age of tolerance.
6. The influence of Christianity on culture and individual lives is largely invisible.Christianity has arguably added more value to American culture than any other religion, philosophy, ideology or community. Yet, contemporary Americans are hard pressed to identify any specific value added. Partly due to the nature of today’s media, they have no problem identifying the faults of the churches and Christian people.


In a period of history where image is reality, and life-changing decisions are made on the basis of such images, the Christian Church is in desperate need of a more positive and accessible image. The primary obstacle is not the substance of the principles on which Christianity is based, and therefore the solution is not solely providing an increase in preaching or public relations. The most influential aspect of Christianity in America is how believers do--or do not--implement their faith in public and private. American culture is driven by the snap judgments and decisions that people make amidst busy schedules and incomplete information. With little time or energy available for or devoted to research and reflection, it is people’s observations of the integration of a believer’s faith into how he/she responds to life’s opportunities and challenges that most substantially shape people’s impressions of and interest in Christianity. Jesus frequently spoke about the importance of the fruit that emerges from a Christian life; these days the pace of life and avalanche of competing ideas underscores the significance of visible spiritual fruit as a source of cultural influence.


With the likelihood of an accelerating pace of life and increasingly incomplete cues being given to the population, Christian leaders would do well to revisit their criteria for "success" and the measures used to assess it. In a society in which choice is king, there are no absolutes, every individual is a free agent, we are taught to be self-reliant and independent, and Christianity is no longer the automatic, default faith of young adults, new ways of relating to Americans and exposing the heart and soul of the Christian faith are required.

About the Research
This summary is based upon a series of national research studies conducted in the Barna Poll by the Barna Group throughout 2010. Each study was conducted via telephone interviews with a random sample of adults selected from across the continental United States, age 18 and older. With one exception, each study included a minimum of 1,000 adults; the exceptions were one study among 400 adults, and one among 603 adults. Each survey included a proportional number of interviews among people using cell phones. The data set for each study was subjected to minimal statistical weighting to calibrate the aggregate sample to known population percentages in relation to several key demographic variables.


Mosaics are individuals born between 1984 and 2002. Baby Busters are individuals born between 1965 and 1983.


Barna Group (which includes its research division, the Barna Research Group) is a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization that conducts primary research, produces media resources pertaining to spiritual development, and facilitates the healthy spiritual growth of leaders, children, families and Christian ministries. Located in Ventura, California, Barna has been conducting and analyzing primary research to understand cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors since 1984.


If you would like to receive free e-mail notification of the release of each new, bi-monthly update on the latest research findings from the Barna Group, you may subscribe to this free service at the Barna website (www.barna.org). Additional research-based resources are also available through this website. 
© Barna Group 2010.