Friday, May 9, 2014

All Around the Web - May 9, 2014

Liberate - Pastor Tullian’s Philosophy of Preaching

Albert Mohler - Constitutional Wisdom and Common Sense on Ceremonial Prayer — An Important Victory
In a landmark decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled yesterday that prayer before the opening of a legislative body does not violate the U. S. Constitution. The decision is a victory for both the Constitution and for common sense, and the controversy about it points to the deep cultural divide over one of the founding principles of the nation — religious liberty.

That divide was evident in the Court itself, with the justices breaking along liberal and conservative lines. The 5 to 4 decision is an indication that this case, Town of Greece, New York v. Galloway, stands at the epicenter of cultural conflict.

The case emerged after two women filed suit against the town of Greece in New York, claiming that the town’s practice of opening town council meetings with prayer violated their liberties and the Constitution. The facts presented in the case indicated that the vast majority of citizens who prayed were Christians, and that their prayers were Christian in content. The women charged that this practice violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. They did not demand that the practice of prayers before council meetings cease, but that the only prayers offered would be “inclusive and ecumenical prayers” and that all references would be to a “generic God.”

Thom Rainer - Eight Reasons It’s Easier Not to Attend Church Today
  1. In most areas, it is no longer culturally expected for persons to attend church. I live in the heart of the Bible belt in the Nashville area. But when I leave for church services on Sunday mornings, I see numerous families out playing with their children, walking the subdivision, or just enjoying the day outside. They don’t feel the cultural pressure to attend church. To the contrary, they are joining the majority who opt out.
  2. Congregational expectations of the attendance of members are lower. In the recent past, the absence of a frequently-attending church member was noticeable. He or she might get a call from another member to check on them. Today, if a church member attends three of four weeks, rarely does another member inquire about their absence. By the way, if every member, on the average, attends one less Sunday per month, the overall attendance of the church drops 25 percent.
  3. Unchurched persons are often very demanding about the perceived quality of worship services. Though some of us bemoan this reality, the entertainment culture is now pervasive. If an unchurched person attends a perceived low-quality service, he or she may not return.
  4. Many church members are less friendly to guests today. I understand that this statement is categorical and not statistically verified. But I can say, after over 25 years of doing surveys of church guests, I hear more and more about unfriendly church members. So either the expectations of friendliness are higher, or many church members are really not that friendly to guests.
  5. Churches do not emphasize involvement in groups as much as they did in the past. Simply stated, if a person is only involved in the worship services, he or she is likely to leave the church within a few years or even months. But those involved in groups, such as home groups or Sunday school classes, have natural accountability. They also have stronger relationships to other church members that engender more frequent attendance.
  6. Most churches have no clear purpose. An organization without a clear and poignant purpose will have members wandering aimlessly. And many of them will wander out the figurative door of regular attendance.
  7. Most churches have no clear plan of discipleship. This factor somewhat overlaps with the previous issue. Church members are more likely to be faithful attenders if they understand how they can become a better disciple for Christ through the ministries of the church.
  8. The typical church in America is a low-expectation church. I have written on this issue extensively. And the less you expect of members, the less you will get, including attendance.

Trevin Wax - 5 Observations about Younger Southern Baptists
1. Younger Southern Baptists have chastened expectations regarding political engagement.
2. Younger Southern Baptists tend to be Reformed
3. Younger Southern Baptists tend to be theologically conservative without holding to certain cultural distinctives.
4. Younger Southern Baptists are all over the spectrum when it comes to eschatology.
5. Younger Southern Baptists are focused more on local church ministry and less on Convention meetings.

Joe Carter9 Things You Should now About Prayer
1. There are 650 prayers listed in the Bible. (Here is the entire list and where they can be found.)

2. There are approximately 450 recorded answers to prayer in the Bible.

3. The first time prayer is mentioned in the Bible is Genesis 4:26 (earlier dialogues where initiated directly by God, e.g., Genesis 3:8-13, Genesis 4:9).

4. The Bible records Jesus praying 25 different times during his earthly ministry.

5. In the Bible, Paul mentions prayer (prayers, prayer reports, prayer requests, exhortations to pray), 41 times.

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