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Minimizing Domestic Violence

A telephone survey of 1000 senior pastors by LifeWay Research in Protestant churches in America revealed that most of them are aware of domestic violence in their congregations, but 42% of them “rarely, if ever” address the issue.

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In addition, the majority of pastors (52%) do not believe they have sufficient training to address situations of domestic violence.

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Most pastors said that less than 5% of people in their congregations have been victims of domestic violence. When in reality, more than 1 in 3 (35.6 percent) women and 1 in 4 men (28.5 percent) have “experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime”, according to a report from The Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This statistic is virtually the same for Christians and non-Christians.

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As the above chart illustrates, only 5-10% of pastors correctly identified the percentage of domestic violence in their congregations.

Clearly, pastors are not aware of the extent of domestic violence in their churches. The Lifeway study revealed that over half of senior pastors (52 percent) do not feel that they have sufficient training to deal effectively with domestic or sexual violence.  And most (81%), say they would do more to reduce domestic violence if they had more training.

Domestic violence can take many forms. Commonly, we think of domestic violence as only being physical or sexual. The Duluth Model shows some of the other forms.

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For example:

Emotional Abuse: Undermining an individual’s sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem is abusive. This may include, but is not limited to constant criticism, diminishing one’s abilities, name-calling, or damaging one’s relationship with his or her children.

Economic Abuse: Is defined as making or attempting to make an individual financially dependent by maintaining total control over financial resources, withholding one’s access to money, or forbidding one’s attendance at school or employment.

Psychological Abuse: Elements of psychological abuse include  – but are not limited to – causing fear by intimidation; threatening physical harm to self, partner, children, or partner’s family or friends; destruction of pets and property; and forcing isolation from family, friends, or school and/or work.

These forms of abuse can be equally harmful to people.

We need to address domestic violence, both inside and outside of our churches. What can we do?

  1. Get domestic violence training. The National Center for Domestic and Sexual Violence provides training, as well as several community agencies. This applies to pastors, church members, and anyone that works with families. I get trained two times a year with the Northwest Marriage Institute.
  1. Provide training in schools. One of the best ways to avoid problems is to be proactive. This means addressing potential problems with children. Many of them are already either victims of domestic violence or they have witnessed domestic violence firsthand.
  1. Keep your eyes open. We should not assume a family is not struggling with domestic violence issues. According to the Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

What would you like to add to this discussion?

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Study Reveals Decline in Religious Orientation Among Teens

One of the largest studies on religious beliefs in American youth has just been released. It revealed that change in culture is strongly influencing lower religious involvement.

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As the above figure illustrates, the gap between teens and their parents’ religious affiliation is widening. Since 2000, there has been a steep decline in religious “nones” (those that do not claim adherence to any religion). Between 2000 and 2013:

  • 87% more college students claim no religious affiliation.
  • 50% more 12th graders claim no religious affiliation.
  • 43% more 10th graders claim no religious affiliation.

As the chart below reveals, girls, whites, and those living in the Northeast had the largest decline in religious affiliation.

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The trend of religious decline affects all demographic groups, except possibly for African Americans.

The authors of the study present some possible explanations for the decline in religious orientation:

  1. An increase in individualism. This is characterized by focusing less on religious adherence and more on the self. Dr. Twenge, one of the researchers, stated, “Individualism puts the self first, which doesn’t always fit well with the commitment to the institution and other people that religion often requires.” She added, “when people become deeply involved in religious faith, they may be committing to a value system that may bring some costs to the self – albeit with the hope of benefiting others.”
  1. An increasing acknowledgment that religion is inconsistent with science. The researchers said it is possible that “debates about teaching creationism or intelligent design in U.S. schools, such as those in Kansas in 2005, pushed some young people away from religion.”
  1. Increasing religious pluralism in the U.S. “This could also result in the questioning or minimizing of all faiths”, the study suggested.
  1. Increase in online activities. The study stated that “a generation of “digital natives” heavily involved in online activities might simply have been less interested in religious teachings.”

What other possible explanations do you see for the decline in religious orientation in American youth?

Source: Jean M. Twenge, et. al. (2015). Generational and Time Period Differences in American Adolescents’ Religious Orientation, 1966–2014. May 11, 2015 DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0121454

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Why You Should Not Plant a Church

7_reasons_your_church_plant_might_fail_190307698Recently I co-taught a session at the Pepperdine Bible Lectures entitled, “Why You Should Not Plant a Church.” The title is a little tongue-in-cheek. We basically said one should not plant a church unless you are willing and able to face certain realities. There is nothing “sexy” about church planting.

Don’t plant a church unless:

  • You have spent a lot of time in prayer first.
  • God has clearly revealed to you His desire to use you in this way.
  • Your faith is mature and you are willing to continue to grow.
  • Your family is with you.
  • You are prepared to fight spiritual battles.
  • You are prepared for hard work.
  • You are committed to the vision God has given you.
  • You are prepared to manage your time effectively.
  • You are ready to experience disappointment, heartache, and pain.
  • You can handle freedom.
  • You are willing to grow.
  • You are prepared to meet people where they are.
  • You are passionate about developing relationships with non-Christians.
  • You are prepared to face opposition (even lose friends because of your convictions).
  • You are willing to face risk.
  • You are prepared to experience joy of changed lives.
  • You are ready for an adventure.

These are all based on my own personal experiences. Church planting is certainly not for everyone!

Which point speaks to you?

What else have you experienced and grown from?

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10 Lessons Learned in Urban Church Planting

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How Much Does it Cost Your Church to Reach One Person for Christ?

This article struck a chord with me. Thanks, Lane!

Lane Corley

Got an interesting question that has me working the calculator this morning. How much money does it take to reach a person for Christ in the average SBC Church? So many factors could be thrown in to the equation here, but just some quick figuring in a few major population areas in Louisiana.

  • A sample of 66 churches in one city spent $40,845,337 in 2013.
  • The same 66 churches reported 503 baptisms in 2013.
  • So it took this group of 66 churches $81,203 to baptize one person.
  • Looking at the new churches in this group of 66, the total spent per baptism went down to $21,276.
  • I’m guessing, it will go up for the age of the church, but more study will be needed.

How much does it cost your church to baptize one new convert? is this a good question to gauge our effectiveness? What do these figures tell us about…

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Book Review: The Name Quest

downloadThe Name Quest, by John Avery, is a well-written, exhaustively researched manuscript on the various names of God found in the Bible. Although Avery digs deep into the Scriptures, there is nothing stuffy or erudite about his approach. On the contrary, his prose is both personal and easy to digest.

Avery does more than simply regurgitate information. Because he focuses on the characteristics of God and our relationship with Him, the author draws the reader into the very heart of God. For example, when discussing God as the God of Daniel, Avery beckons, “As we walk through life’s challenges, each one is a new opportunity to know God better. What will people learn about God’s nature from your relationships with Him?”

Many times, Avery reveals the limitless care that God demonstrates to us. For instance, God is the God of Comfort, and He is our Helper, Comforter, and Advocate. Avery states, “He meets us where we are and comforts us.”

Avery often shares personal stories as a testimony to God’s character.  For example, he explains the care of God by relaying a difficult experience he had at school and the way God showed him favor. He said, “God soothed me with a sense of his presence.”

Avery describes the person of Christ as being woven in four threads: Son of David, Son of Man, Son of God, and The Suffering Servant. He says that Jesus “linked messiahship with service and suffering”, thus redefining kingship. Avery substantiates this by quoting Jesus in Mark 10:45: “Even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

The Name Quest would be appropriate for personal or group study. It is full of encouragement and life-giving words for all of us. Avery ends his book with the tone existent throughout—by challenging us to be transformed into the image of God. I cannot think of a more fitting goal.

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