Monday, September 27, 2010

Church website overhaul

Last week I entirely overhauled our church website at (aka ) for First Congregational Church of Waseca, MN where I pastor.  If you have a few minutes I'd appreciate any constructive criticism you might have of this overhaul.  I'm sure it can get better, and appreciate anything others may catch.  I'm a pastor & not a designer, but for the cost and time involved I am pretty happy with how it looks and functions.  Someday we'd like to purchase a site from someone like Clover, but for now, this is in our budget.  But cheap doesn't have to = bad, so give me any ideas you might have!  In the end it is another tool in the transmission of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so may it bring Him fame and glory!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Most Support Student-Led Prayers

A national survey, conducted in July and August of this year, shows that a clear majority of Americans believe that public school students should have freedom to express their religious faith in school. 

In their latest State of the First Amendment poll, the First Amendment Center asked 1,003 adults a series of questions relating to a variety of First Amendment issues. Of those polled, 80 percent agreed, either strongly or mildly, that students should be allowed to offer a prayer at public school events. Of that group, 59 percent said they don't practice religion themselves.
The survey also found:
  • Seventy-five percent believe that students should be able to speak about their faith at public school events.
  • Seventy-five percent support the proclaiming of a National Day of Prayer by the Congress or the President.
  • Sixty-one percent believe that the freedom to worship "applies to all religious groups regardless of how extreme their views are."
  • Twenty-eight percent said that freedom to worship "never was intended to apply to groups most people would consider fringe or extreme."
  • Sixty-six percent believe that the First Amendment requires a clear separation of church and state.
"Clearly, most Americans want to keep government out of religion, but they don't see an expression of faith by a student at a public school event as a violation of the separation of church and state," said Ken Paulson, president of the First Amendment Center. For the complete report go to the First Amendment Center.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Improve your meetins by having a...

WHO will do WHAT by WHEN” list.  Then follow up and check back (NOT micromanage) to make sure it is taking place.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sexy Too Soon

The battle against the sexualization of our children

Monday, September 20, 2010

41 flowers on the orchid I keep in my office

My office orchid has 41 open blooms on it!

This orchid blooms a couple times a year at minimum.

Lovely and long lasting flowers.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Religion Is Good for Humanity

According to a new Family Research Council study, religious practice in the home has a significant, positive effect on a child's level of academic achievement. The study showed that the grade-point average of students involved in religious activities is 14 percent higher than those not involved. It also shows that religious students spend more time on their homework. Click here for the full report.

(from FotF's Pastor's Weekly Briefing)

Thursday, September 09, 2010

First Amendment Rights Upheld on College Campus

Asserting "separation of church and state," the University of Wisconsin-Madison had refused to fund Badger Catholic, a student-led organization (formerly known as the Roman Catholic Foundation), because its events included prayer and worship. However, the university chose to fund other sectarian groups such as the Jewish Cultural Collective, as well as secular groups including Sex Out Loud, which "counseled" students how to engage in "healthy sexuality" and how to be a "critical consumer of porn," etc. The Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the Alliance Defense Fund, who represented Badger Catholic, that the university unconstitutionally discriminated by being guilty of "viewpoint discrimination." []

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The Exchange with Ed Stetzer - Notes from 9/7/2010 - Small Churches Episode

#smallchurch Twitter hashtag

A lot of this come from Stetzer’s book - Transformational Church:  Creating a new Scorecard for Congregations.

Normal Church in America is under 100 in weekly attendance.

How is God working outside the walls of your church?

Ed Stetzer & Thom Rainer
Vibrant leadership, Relational Intentionality & Prayerful Dependence

Discern --> Embrace --> Engage --> Discern…
The “how” of ministry is shaped by the who/when/where of the culture.

Vibrant Leadership

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Religious Hiring Rights Threatened

In May 2010, Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), who has personally battled addiction and bipolar disorder, introduced a bill (H.R. 5466 — SAMHSA Modernization Act of 2010) that would amend Titles V and XIX of the Public Health Service Act to revise and extend the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for the first time in 46 years — and to remove religious exemptions related to hiring for faith-based organizations that receive federal funding.

The bill would outlaw any government funds or contracts with religious organizations that do not agree to "refrain from considering religion or any profession of faith" when making employment decisions. According to the bill, it would affect "licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, pastoral counselors, psychosocial rehabilitation specialists, and any other individual determined to be appropriate by the Secretary."

A letter was sent to every member of Congress last week (Aug. 25) from several evangelical charities such as World Vision, the U.S. Catholic Bishops and Orthodox Jews that said the bill "would be catastrophic" to their religious freedom and to their missions to serve the needy. It asked lawmakers to reject any legislation that would "dilute the right of faith-based social service organizations to stay faith-based through their hiring."
"Stripping away the religious hiring rights of religious service providers violates the principle of religious freedom, and represents bad practice in the delivery of social services," said Anthony Picarello, general counsel of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The religious leaders say the religious hiring rights can be traced to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and even to the First Amendment of the Constitution. A unanimous 1987 Supreme Court decision also upheld the right of religious organizations to hire people of the same faith, ruling that the practice does not violate the constitutional principle of separation of church and state.

Interestingly, on Monday, Aug. 23, a federal appeals court ruled that World Vision, the Christian humanitarian giant, who signed and released the Aug. 25 letter, can fire employees who do not share its theological tenets. (See article below)

Another open letter was sent to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder also urging him not to "dilute the right of faith-based" charities to "stay faith-based through their hiring." Many of the 100 signatories were presidents of small Christian colleges. [,,, Catholic News Service]

Court Rules in Favor of World Vision
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 on Monday of last week that World Vision, a faith-based relief organization, was free to hire and terminate based on its statement of faith. The case has been closely watched by religious organizations and nonprofits who receive federal funding. The ruling is a result of three World Vision employees who were found to have lied during the hiring process about specifics of their faith and were immediately released. The former employees are expected to appeal the decision. The 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits religious discriminations; however the court ruled that World Vision was exempt from Title VII of the Act for "a religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society with respect to the employment of individuals of a particular religion to perform work connected with the carrying on by such corporation, association, educational institution, or society of its activities."

Steve McFarland, chief legal officer for World Vision, was pleased with the ruling and said, "What's at stake is the religious freedom of every individual and church and para-church organization and faith-based organization in the country. Every member of Congress asks and discriminates against job applicants based on their political persuasion. Even Planned Parenthood asks where your politics are with respect to the sanctity of human life. You can call it the bad word 'discrimination,' but it's called 'free association.'" []

(From FotF's Pastor's Weekly Briefing)