Activist and U2 frontman Bono recently recorded a video message for the congregation of Willow Creek Church, encouraging them in their projects caring and advocating for refugees. He used the Gospel to show why it is so important. Quoting the book of Matthew, Bono said,
Exile was close to heart of who Jesus was … ‘Foxes have holes, birds have nests, the son of man has no where to lay his head.’ Not just no room at the inn; Jesus was a displaced person. His family, fleeing to Egypt for fear of the life of their first-born child. Yup, Jesus was a refugee.
The church recently took part in a “Celebration of Hope”, a church- and community-wide initiative focused on human rights campaigns and projects around the world. About 4,000 runners recently took part in the church’s "Run For Refugees” 5K, which raised money for refugee families throughout the globe. Discuss
America is now less religious than it’s ever been. A recent study published in the journal Sage Open led by San Diego State University psychology professor Jean Twenge found that in 2014, belief in God was at an “all-time low” in America. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, the amount of people who say that they pray has plummeted: It’s five times less than the number of individuals who prayed 35 years ago. The biggest drop in both categories was in the 18-29 demographic.
These types of findings are becoming increasingly common, so the numbers aren’t really overly surprising; but, there was one revelation in the data that seems to reveal something critical about millennials. Despite belief in God and prayer hitting statistical lows, the amount of individuals who believe in some sort of afterlife actually increased.
It’s hard to quantify exactly why more people now believe in life after death despite not believing in God, but the study’s author has a theory. "It might be part of a growing entitlement mentality—thinking you can get something for nothing,” she wrote.
Maybe she’s right, and Americans—particularly millennials—are developing stronger senses of entitlement, but the idea that “you can get something for nothing” becoming more prevalent, isn’t necessarily a bad thing when it comes to faith. Obviously, for Christians, salvation requires a commitment to Christ, but the idea of grace is that salvation can’t be earned—it can only be received. Maybe that’s part of the message we should be more focused on. Discuss
[The church] will host its first ever gathering at 5pm on Easter Sunday March 27, 2016, at the Glass and Garden Drive-In Church in Scottsdale, Arizona. In time, we look forward to launching The Trinity Church. In time, we look forward to launching The Trinity Church. In the meantime, we did not want to pass up this historic opportunity to gather for the first time on the 50-year anniversary of the landmark building, which opened on Easter 1966. Even though it’s last minute, as the ink on our rental contract is still wet, we look forward to meeting you at our modest open house and prayer meeting. Pastor Mark will be sharing our church vision as we begin gathering our launch team.
Driscoll is a controversial figure in evangelicalism. After founding Mars Hill Church in Seattle back in 1996, Driscoll became a prominent pastor and author. But, after growing the church to 15 locations and attracting more than 12,000 weekly members at its peak, severalhigh-profilecontroversies eventually led to the ministry being dissolved in January of last year. Driscoll is currently being sued for racketeering, being accused by several former Mar Hills members for misusing ministry funds and misleading congregants about how their donations were actually being used.
Driscoll told RNS that the allegations were “false and malicious,” adding, “I’m certain that the most recent examples are without any merit.” Discuss
A new statement from a Vatican commission created by Pope Francis himself says that bishops must report any incidents of sexual abuse they are aware of to law enforcement. The new statement, which calls the reporting of abuse a “moral and ethical responsibility” of the church, actually counters a previous recommendation by French Monsignor Tony Anatrella last fall that said it was the families’ role to report abuse to police, not church officials’. However, the commission—which was created as part of an effort by Pope Francis to fight sexual abuse within the Catholic Church—said in a statement,
As Pope Francis has so clearly stated, ‘The crimes and sins of the sexual abuse of children must not be kept secret for any longer. I pledge the zealous vigilance of the Church to protect children and the promise of accountability for all.’ We, the president and the members of the commission, wish to affirm that our obligations under civil law must certainly be followed, but even beyond these civil requirements, we all have a moral and ethical responsibility to report suspected abuse to the civil authorities who are charged with protecting our society.
According to a new investigation, at least 231 boys suffered physical abuse—at least 50 of them also claimed to be sexually abused—in a famous children’s choir which was run by Monsignor Georg Ratzinger at the time. He’s the brother of Pope Benedict XVI. An attorney hired by the Diocese of Regensburg led the investigation into the German choir and two schools related to the program, and said that abuse happened over a four decade-span. For 30 of those years, Ratzinger served as the choir conductor.
The investigator claimed Georg Ratzinger must have known about the repeated abuse of the children. In an interview with the AP, the attorney said that even though there was knowledge of the abuse internally, there were “almost no consequences.” As RNS notes, back in 2010, Georg Ratzinger told the German newspaper Passauer Neue Presse he didn't know about the sexual abuse: "The problem of sexual abuse that has now come to light was never spoken of." Discuss
One of the world's largest college ministries is embracing the Black Lives Matter movement. This weekend at “Urbana”—the huge missions conference put on by the college ministry InterVarsity Fellowship—activist, speaker and the director of Faith for Justice, Michelle Higgins, discussed why the Church needs to embrace the growing and, at times, misunderstood movement. As RNS notes, it’s a major move for a such an influential Christian organization. The ministry currently has more than 41,000 people involved in chapters around world. This year’s conference hosted well-known leaders including David Platt, Francis Chan and Christena Cleveland.
During her session (which you can watch below), she discusses issues of systematic injustice that parts of the Church are often silent on and the need for unity. Higgins explains, “Black Lives Matter is not a mission of hate. It is not a mission to bring about incredible anti-Christian values and reforms to the world. Black Lives Matter is a movement on mission in the truth of God.”
UPDATE: InterVarsity has released an additional statement called "InterVarsity and #BlackLivesMatter" (which you can read in its entirety here) saying,
We chose to address #BlackLivesMatter at Urbana 15, InterVarsity’s Student Missions Conference, because it is a language and experience of many college students. Many Black InterVarsity staff and students report that they are physically and emotionally at risk in their communities and on campus. About one-half of those at Urbana 15 are people of color, including more than 1,200 Black participants. InterVarsity chose to participate in this conversation because we believe that Christians have something distinctive to contribute in order to advance the gospel.
InterVarsity does not endorse everything attributed to #BlackLivesMatter. For instance, we reject any call to attack or dehumanize police. But – using the language of Francis Schaeffer and Chuck Colson – we are co-belligerents with a movement with which we sometimes disagree because we believe it is important to affirm that God created our Black brothers and sisters. They bear his image. They deserve safety, dignity and respect. InterVarsity believes all lives are sacred – born and unborn. Interim president Jim Lundgren says, “Scripture is clear about the sanctity of life. That is why I’m both pro-life and committed to the dignity of my Black brothers and sisters.”