According to a new CNN/Kaiser Family Foundation poll, most white, working class evangelical voters don’t have a very favorable view of America, and most think their values are under attack. Six-in-10 said that America’s best days are behind it, and somewhat a shocking 90% said that “Christian values” are under attack. By comparison, just 41% of Americans with no religious preference believe that Christian values in the U.S. are somehow under attack.
Most of the same group, also are concerned about Muslim immigration, with 75% believing immigration from Muslims countries increases the risk of terrorism.
The poll also showed a racial divide among evangelical voters. From CNN, “While black evangelicals are solidly against the GOP nominee, among white working-class evangelicals, about three in four—76%—say they'd consider voting for Trump.” Discuss
The pastor of one of the country's fastest growing churches is resigning. This Sunday, Pete Wilson, who has served as the pastor of Nashville’s Cross Point Church for 14 years, told his congregation that he was stepping down, saying he was tired and broken . Wilson is also known for his best-selling book Plan B.
We have a community here at Cross Point where everyone’s welcome because nobody’s perfect and we really believe that anything’s possible … I haven’t prioritized some other things that were equally as important. Leaders who lead on empty don’t lead well. For some time, I’ve been leading on empty …
I think the best thing for Cross Point is for me to step aside. And so I’m resigning as the pastor of Cross Point … I really need your prayers and I need your support. We’ve said that this is a church where it’s OK to not be OK, and I’m not OK. I’m tired. And I’m broken and I just need some rest. I love you all; I love the vision of this church more today than I ever have.
Wilson founded the church back in 2003, and it's since grown to multiple locations, drawing more than 7,000 every week. The elders released a statement following Wilson’s announcement, saying,
Pastor Pete's resignation was 100% his decision. In fact, we tried to talk him out of it as we told him to take as much time as he needed. But he was ready to get rest and start a new season … Pete even indicated he would always be available to help us answer any questions—we plan to take him up on his offer … We can’t wait to watch all that God has in store for Pastor Pete."
Americans want to keep politics out of church. According to a study from Lifeway Research, 79 percent of Americans said that it is “inappropriate for pastors to endorse a candidate in church.”
There is currently a legal ban against 501(c)(3) organizations (like churches) being active in any sort of political campaigns, though, it’s become increasingly unpopular among some evangelical leaders. As Lifeway notes, during the 2008 election, a group of pastors around the country observed “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” which encouraged pastors to sign up “to preach an election sermon.” Evidently, their congregants aren’t as excited about the proposition (in 2008, 86 percent of American said it was inappropriate).
In a statement, executive director of LifeWay Research Scott McConnell explained, “Americans already argue about politics enough outside the church. They don’t want pastors bringing those arguments into worship.” Discuss
According to new research from the group Church Growth Today, America’s megachurches are getting even bigger. Founder John Vaughan began studying churches in the mid-‘80s when there were just 27 non-Catholic churches around the world that drew at least 6,000 people per week. Only 11 of those were in the U.S. Since then, the megachurch phenomenon has exploded—especially among evangelicals—and today there are more than 200 6,000+ non-Catholic churches across the country.
And, not only has the number of megachurches grown, so has attendance among the most mega. From 2000 - 2010, the 100 largest churches in the U.S. doubled in size. Currently, every weekend across the U.S. 1.6 million attend one of the country’s 100 biggest megachurches. 1.6 million.
The largest remains Lakewood Church in Houston, pastored by Joel Osteen, which alone, brings in more than 52,000 every weekend. (Though, the multi-site church Life.Church draws 70,000 in locations across seven different states.) According to the research, these churches are, for the most part, continuing to grow. The group wrote, “This newest research indicates that among the 100 largest churches 60 percent are growing, 20 percent have plateaued, and only 11 percent have decreased in attendance during the past five years.” Discuss
This past Sunday, the congregation of Empowerment Temple AME Church in Baltimore joined a demonstration started by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and remained seated while the National Anthem played in the church.
For several weeks, Kaepernick has refused to stand during the National Anthem, explaining to NFL.com, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.”
In an Instagram post after Sunday’s sermon, pastor Jamal Bryant explained, “Today was amazing ...preached in my frat brother #kapernick signed jersey and the entire church sat during star spangled banner with raised fist!”
I wanted to in fact operate in the tradition of the black church in civil disobedience. I’ve honored our veterans and those who in fact laid down their lives, my grandfather and my uncles … have served nobly and honorably …
I am appreciative. God chastens that which he loves. If I didn’t think America would be great, I wouldn’t care. Because I believe it has the capacity to be great … The authentic prophets have got to challenge America to be what it is supposed to be.
After explaining some of the historical context of the "Star Spangled Banner" regarding slavery, Bryant said,
I’m going to do something for our dear brother, and let him know that only two football players in the whole league will sit with him … I wanted him to know that there is a conscientious black church in Baltimore that’s got his back.
Bryant had all of the veterans present join him on stage.
Since his first demonstration, several players have joined him, and in the past few days, several others across the league have reportedly discussed joining, including the entire Seattle Seahawks team. Discuss
The former pastor of South Carolina megachurch NewSpring has released a statement on Facebook, saying that he is now out of rehab to address his problem with alcohol.
Back in July, he was removed from leadership after the church announced that he "had made unfortunate choices and decisions that have caused much concern,” noting his abuse of alcohol and his “posture toward marriage.” Following his dismissal, he explained in a statement, “ This was a spiritual and moral mistake on my part as I began to depend on alcohol for my refuge instead of Jesus and others. I have no excuse—this was wrong, sinful and I am truly sorry.”
Now, Noble has taken to Facebook to announce that he is out of rehab, and is working on a plan to put his life back together, and to one day, return to ministry. He wrote (you can read the full statement here):
I spent 30 days in a treatment facility in Arizona from mid-July until mid-August. Being in that place allowed me to come face to face with issues from my past as well as my current struggle, and placed me in a place to successfully overcome my overmedication via alcohol.
I’ll be honest, being in treatment was one of the most difficult things I’ve EVER experienced; however, often times our next steps in life are not easy even though they are the best things for us.
Noble said that he will “humbly place myself under the authority” of his therapist John Walker: “He will serve as my pastor, my psychologist and my spiritual formations director in this next season.”
Noble wrote, “Together John and I will work through/develop a plan that will lead to the health and well being of my family, and, over an extended period of time, a return to ministry is some sort of capacity.” Along with working on relationships in his own family, Noble said he would “go dark” on social media.
Noble ask for prayer, and ended by saying, “I have no idea in what capacity He will use me in over the next several years; however, I do know that it will be immeasurably more than all I could ask for or imagine--because, in Christ, the best is ALWAYS yet to come.” Discuss