It'd be easy to fret about the dramatic drop off in new church construction—which NPR reports as being at its lowest point since 1967—but the news isn't actually as bleak as it might appear. NPR suggests one possible reason for the decline in new church buildings is the rise of the house church movement. "With more religiously unaffiliated Americans than ever before, many congregations say they've become more committed communities by losing the pews and stained-glass windows of a central building."
"I don't know that everyone needs to do house churches," says Gary Alloway, who pastors a house church in Bristol, Penn. "But every church should be doing the things that house churches are doing — that ability for people to come into something right away and be known" ... Discuss
In a recent interview with Oprah about his new book, former Mars Hill Church pastor Rob Bell expressed a firm belief that the Church is "moments away" from accepting gay marriage. "It's inevitable," he said.
One of the oldest aches in the bones of humanity is loneliness. Loneliness is not good for the world. Whoever you are, gay or straight, it is totally normal, natural and healthy to want someone to go through life with. It's central to our humanity. We want someone to go on the journey with.
He went on to say that church was risking irrelevance by holding off on an embrace of gay marriage. "I think culture is already there," he said. "And the Church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense, when you have in front of you flesh-and-blood people who are your brothers and sisters, and aunts and uncles, and co-workers and neighbors, and they love each other and just want to go through life" ... Discuss
Ground has broken on a massive new ‘Museum of the Bible’ in Washington D.C. The $400 million facility will be home to more than 500 biblical texts and items of historic biblical significance, as well as, galleries and displays dedicated to the Bible. The project is the vision of Hobby Lobby President Steve Green who plans on using the museum as a way of sharing his family’s collection of Bible artifacts with the public and seminary students. The president of the Museum of the Bible, Cary Summers, told reporters at a press event this week, "Hopefully, it will be a great addition to this city. As you know, Washington, D.C. is the capital of museums in the world." The ‘Museum of the Bible’ will open sometime in 2017 ... Discuss
Hillsong Church has just signed a deal with Hollywood agency William Morris Endeavor, in what The Hollywood Reporter describes as “the first known instance of a major agency working on behalf of a church itself.” The magazine said that WME will be used to “expand [the church's] TV viewership of more than 10 million globally.” Though Hillsong, which brings in more than 100,000 attendees every Sunday morning in its campuses around the globe, is the first actual house of worship to work with WME, the group is no stranger to Christian audiences. The agency already represents Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes and LightWorkers Media, the faith-focused production company of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey ... Discuss
It continues to not be a great month for companies and bankruptcy, as America's largest Christian bookstore chain, Family Christian Stores, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Blaming the rise of digital media and the recession as reasons for their financial struggles, FCS says it "does not expect" to close any of its stores or lay off any employees. There are currently 266 Family Christian Stores in the United States, employing some 4,000 people. As FCS president and CEO Chuck Bengochea says:
We strive to serve God in all that we do and trust His guidance in all our decisions, especially this very important one. We have carefully and prayerfully considered every option. This action allows us to stay in business and continue to serve our customers, our associates, our vendors and charities around the world.
Pope Francis' papal commission on sex abuse is nearing an agreement for what sort of punishment should be leveled at bishops who protect priests who have been accused of sexual abuse. As Religion News Service reports, Peter Saunders, a British man who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of his priest when he was a boy, is one of two victims invited to sit on a panel and hear out the commission's report and recommendations. Saunders told reporters that he agreed to the meeting “with a fair degree of trepidation” as to whether or not anything significant would result, but says that the meeting has eased his concerns. He says that the committee is made up of a “group of quite remarkable and determined people,” and that “I’m actually very, very hopeful that there are going to be some very significant things happening" ... Discuss