Saturday, March 19, 2011

Missouri House Safeguards Religious Liberties

Legislation designed to safeguard the religious liberties of Missouri residents passed the state House with a 126-30 vote. HJR 2, sponsored by Republican Rep. Mike McGhee, would amend the state Constitution to clarify the rights of Missourians to pray and acknowledge God in public and private settings. The bill includes a key provision stating that public school students have the right to pray and acknowledge God in school. Students also would be assured of the right to express their religious beliefs in written and oral assignments.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Missouri Legislation Toughens Penalties for Sex Traffickers

The Missouri House also passed legislation to expand the definition of sex trafficking and increase fines and prison time for offenders by a 155-0 vote. The vote came just a few days before a state inmate and a Kansas City woman were indicted on federal sex-trafficking charges. The measure also requires offenders to pay restitution to victims, which could include the cost of mental and physical rehabilitation. It also would provide law enforcement officers with training on how to recognize a victim. []

If you'd like to know more how you can help in the fight against modern day slavery (not the kind Adrian Peterson of the Vikings was talking about, the real kind) visit International Justice Mission -

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Church in Action in Japan

If you are looking for a recommendation for an organization to donate towards relief in Japan, I recommend CRASH that is listed below.

While the devastation caused by last week's earthquake and tsunami in Japan becomes more and more apparent, Christian relief agencies and church groups in Japan and around the world have begun the hard work of bringing aid to those in need. Here is a small sampling of some of the ways that Christians are attempting to show the love of Christ in very tangible ways.
  • The Salvation Army in Japan has three emergency service relief teams operating in areas affected by the earthquake and tsunami. One team is assisting people displaced from areas where there is potential danger because of damage to nuclear power stations.
  • A Samaritan's Purse disaster relief team has arrived in Japan and is preparing to provide relief supplies to those affected by the disaster. Japanese church partners have obtained permission and secured trucks to distribute supplies to the areas most in need.
  • The N.C. Baptist Men's search and rescue team is in Japan assessing needs and distributing food.
  • The United Methodist Committee on Relief and the General Board of Global Ministries are working through relief and church partners in Japan to provide immediate and long-term assistance.
  • The group Christian Relief, Assistance, Support and Hope (CRASH) is setting up a base in Sendai, Japan to coordinate relief efforts. "We just confirmed that trucks of goods will start moving there today," said CRASH spokesman, Paul Nethercott on Wednesday.
  • The Japan Evangelical Alliance and its member churches and organizations, such as the Salvation Army of Japan, the Japan Alliance Christ Church, World Vision Japan, the Japan Evangelical Church Association, Jesus Christ Church in Japan, are also engaged with relief operations.
  • On March 15, the Russian Orthodox Church announced that it started fundraising to help the Orthodox communities in Japan and the earthquake victims.
  • The Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church is working on relief operations with its two congregations in Sendai, a city particularly hard-hit, as well as with other denominations. The Anglican-Episcopal Church in Japan has set up relief headquarters at its office in Tokyo.
  • The Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, is giving an initial $200,000 to two Lutheran church bodies in Japan to provide disaster relief — the Japan Lutheran Church and the West Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Hail Mary for dieing churches

The following is a great post from Bill Easum.  Many churches would be well served to heed some/all of this advice.

By Bill Easum
The average church in the U.S. is under a hundred in worship. Churches with less than 50 people in worship make up 40% of all churches in the U.S. The average age in these churches with less than 50 people in worship is over 65. Add to that less than 2% of these churches are growing and you have a formula for major disaster over the next fifteen years for 40% of all the churches in the U.S.

If there is to be any hope for the vast majority of these churches radical action must be undertaken within the next few years or most of them will go out of existence. So, I am suggesting a “Hail Mary Strategy” for these churches.  You get the image. It’s the last five seconds of the football game; your team is down by six points; and you are on your own 45 yard line.  Only a touchdown will allow you to win the game. So you call the play and launch the ball as high and as far as you can hoping beyond hope the ball will come to rest in the arms of your receiver somewhere over the goal line.

So the question is this – “Will the leaders of your church wake up to the fact that the church is in serious trouble and the only way to move it from survival to thriving is by starting over?”
Starting over means the following based on the “Hail Mary Strategy.”
  • Find a way to have a full time pastor/planter who will commit for three years . I know you can’t afford this at the moment but you must find a way or you will continue to decline. A part time pastor does not have the time to do all that is necessary to restart a church.
  • Suspend all of the present ways/policies/hidden agendas/system stories regarding decision making and day to day running the church and allow the pastor and a launch team to give direction to the church during the three years. This also means disbanding all of the existing committees and the Administrative Council.
  • Do away with the present mission statement and come up with one that a six year old can remember as well as short enough to be written on a t-shirt.
  • Allow the pastor to bring together and disciple/equip a re-launch team of a seven people and give them full authority to make all of the decisions for the next three years.  These people need to have four faith characteristics: one, a renewed belief in Jesus Christ and the mission of the church; two, a servant’s heart; three a deep compassion for the lost; and four, a more focused prayer effort.
  • The pastor should be personally responsible for spending 80% of his or her time in the community, dreaming up ways to reach the unchurched, and responding to the visitors to worship. I’ve never seen a church this size grow without the pastor being the direct cause of the growth. Just think how it would change the church if the pastor personally brought in fifty new members over the next eighteen months?
  • Begin an indigenous worship service designed specifically for people 25-50 which means rock music and tons of visuals.
  • The pastor must find a musician who believes in the mission and is willing to give his or her time to developing the music and musicians for this service. I know you don’t have a clue how to do this but you get what you look for and if part of the 80% of the time the pastor is spending on the unchurched is devoted to finding this person the pastor will find them.  These people are out there waiting to be asked to play in worship rather in the bar scene.
  • Send out six off-the-wall direct mail pieces to all the households with five miles of the church announcing the start of the new worship service.  These mail out pieces will focus on two things- a new service and a new sermon series designed to catch the imagination of the people under 50 years of age. It must not look churchy.
  • Develop one or two signature ministries.  Churches with less than 300 in worship can only do one or two key ministries. I suggest one of these be a children’s ministry fashioned after Promise Land from Willow Creek. You will not be able to afford  to purchase it, but you can easily put your own program together once you understand the basics.
  • Keep the present worship service intack for the present members. These folks have kept the church open all these years and need to be honored for their commitment. What I am suggesting in no way diminishes their past or future contributions to the God’s Kingdom.
  • Have a capital fund drive to raise enough money to accomplish the above. One of the roles of the present members will be to “pray and pay” for what needs to be done to reach young adults for Christ and cause your church to thrive once again. With a solid plan in place you can probably borrow more from your bank.  This should be more than enough money to do what is necessary.  Now you see why I call this a “Hail Mary” strategy. But it works if you have the right planter/restart/pastor.
The one thing you know for sure; if you keep doing what you’ve been doing you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting. Surely you’re not satisfied with that.  So roll the dice; spend everything you have; and see what happens. If it doesn’t work, it just means you’ll close the doors a few years sooner and with a lot less grief.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Pain-Based Abortion Ban

Yea Minnesota!

On this past Monday, Minnesota legislators introduced a bill in the state Senate and House of Representatives that would prohibit the killing of preborn children at 20 weeks and older due to intense pain felt by the baby during an abortion. Scott Fischbach, executive director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, said overwhelming anatomical, behavioral and physiological evidence confirms that the developing preborn child is capable of experiencing tremendous pain by 20 weeks post-fertilization. []

Friday, March 11, 2011

Supreme Court Rules For Religious Liberty

In the past week, the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of religious liberty on two occasions. In the case of Badger Catholic v. Walsh, the Court declined to hear the University of Wisconsin's appeal of the 7th Circuit Court ruling which favored a Catholic student group at the campus. The university violated the First Amendment by refusing to fund certain events of Badger Catholic, a registered student group whose events contained religious expression, while providing funding for the events of other student organizations. In a second decision, the Supreme Court declined to hear a Michael Newdow case challenging the use of the National Motto, "In God We Trust," on U.S. currency. Newdow believes that any mention of "God" by a governmental entity is an unconstitutional "establishment of religion" in violation of the First Amendment. []

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Majority of Evangelical Leaders are Premillennial

I found the following info quite interesting.  I wouldn't have guessed the % of pre-mil to be this high (though I would've suspected it to be a majority).

A new poll released this week by the National Association of Evangelicals shows that 65 percent of evangelical leaders identify with premillennial theology. The January Evangelical Leaders Survey also revealed that 13 percent adhere to an amillennial view and 4 percent hold to post-millennialism. Seventeen percent responded "other." 

Premillennialism refers to the belief that the return of Christ will take place prior to His 1,000 year reign (a "millennium"). Postmillennialists believe Christ's second coming occurs after the 1,000 year period during which humanity gradually improves under the reign of Christ, and amillennialism is the view named for its rejection of the belief that Jesus Christ will have a 1,000-year long, physical reign on the earth. 

Roy Taylor, of the Presbyterian Church in America, who was one of the leaders who took the survey said, "As far as predicting the approximate time of Christ's Second Advent is concerned, I have resigned from the Planning Committee and have joined the Welcoming Committee." 

According to the NAE Website, "the Evangelical Leaders Survey is a monthly poll of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Evangelicals. They include the CEOs of denominations and representatives of a broad array of evangelical organizations including missions, universities, publishers and churches." Click here for more information about the survey.

Learning about Lent

I wrote the following for our local newspaper. It was in Wednesday's newspaper and is also available online at their site.

Learning about Lent by Pastor Chris Meirose

At the beginning of any discussion about Lent it should remind ourselves that if you think of Lent as a season to earn God's favor by your good intentions or good works, then you've got a theological problem. God's grace has been fully given to us in Jesus Christ. We can't earn it by doing extra things or by giving up certain other things in fasting. If you see Lent as a time to make yourself more worthy for celebrating Good Friday and Easter, then perhaps you shouldn't keep the season until you've grown in your understanding of grace. If, on the other hand, you see Lent as a time to grow more deeply in God's grace, then you're approaching Lent from the right perspective.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Tackling Biblical Illiteracy

This week, a group of 30 seminary professors launched and made themselves available to provide free education to the public in an effort to combat biblical illiteracy. The blog features daily posts by faculty from Biola University's Talbot School of Theology and will have regular posts ranging from prayer and spiritual formation to historical theology and biblical exposition. Overall, the Good Book Blog aspires to be a resource for anyone seeking biblical scholarship and a vital addition to the online evangelical discourse. []

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Christianity still thriving in the world today

According to a recent report published by the International Bulletin of Missionary Research, Christianity continues to thrive with about one third of the world population professing to be Christian. According to the research, it is estimated that there are about 2.3 billion Christians in the world with about 1.5 billion of them attending church on a regular basis. It is also estimated that there are 5 million congregations around the globe compared to about 400,000 in the year 1911.
The annual bulletin, which is released each year in January, also reveals that:
  • The world population includes 1.6 billion Muslims, 951 million Hindus and 468 million Buddhists.
  • Atheists are in decline globally with a current number of 137 million.
  • Each day, about 80,000 Christians and 79,000 Muslims are added to the worldwide totals.
  • The number of Atheists drops each day by about 300.
  • Each day, 270 Christians are martyred for their faith.
  • In 1900, about 9 million Christians resided in Africa, compared to 475 million today.
Click here for more information on the International Bulletin of Missionary Research.