A few years ago Nick Ryan, Bruno Bottarelli and myself traveled from Chicago to Americus, Georgia at the invitation of Millard Fuller. We were there to learn and represent the Institute for Community. We got to spend a good part of the day with Fuller and see the work of Habitat for Humanity. It was simply amazing to hear the story of a guy who was a self-made millionaire by the age of 30; gave it all up to start this not-for-profit. Habitat has gone on to be the largest home builder in the world. It was remarkable to hear him explain his “theology of the hammer” and then look us in the eye and say, “don’t you believe that every person deserves a simple decent place to live?” The answer was obvious. As a follower of Jesus he gave his life for the Kingdom of God. Millard Fuller died on February 3rd.
This photo was taken over 30 years ago as Rod Blagojevich winked at a ring side photographer while fighting in the Golden Gloves tourney. I know what is currently going on is pathetic and sad, but this photo made me laugh and made me wonder what kind of caption goes with this photo. So, just for fun if you have a second, leave a comment and tell us what caption goes with this photo.
First, according to Rodney Stark a world renown sociologist we have some good news: church membership in the United States has been on the increase for the last 200 years. Sounds great, until you hear from the Barna group that church attendance has fluctuated and remained stable for the last 20 years or the research from Dave Olson who says only 19% of Americans really attend and most exaggerate their regular attendance. So which is it “good news or bad news?”
Back to the good news: in the middle of a tough economic crisis MSNBC is reporting that Americans continue to be generous and give to charitable causes. And now for some bad news from The Barna Group that is reporting non-profits and churches in particular are in for a really tough time and could stand to lose billions of dollars.
So, what is it people, good news or bad news?
The Sunday Chicago Tribune had a fascinating and informative front page story titled, Jesus in China. The article begins, “Christianity’s rapid rise is reshaping the officially atheist nation, it’s politics and the way many Chinese view the world…”
One of the reasons that I was so interested in this article is that I’m increasingly convinced that the church in the west must learn from the church in the east. There is so much growth and innovation happening in places like China, India, South Korea and beyond – we must learn what God is teaching them. At this next years Exponential Conference we are going to feature leaders from the east in our main sessions so that we can expose leaders from the west to what God is doing in other places around the world. It’s going to be awesome!
You might also want to know that the Public Broadcasting Service and Chicago Tribune are airing a TV special: Jesus In China on Tuesday, June 24th, 8 pm CST on PBS stations.
I got an e-mail last night from the Willow Creek Association saying that Bill Hybels had video response to some of the buzz about the them “abandoning the seeker movement” and some of the controversy surrounding the Reveal study. If you want to see the video click HERE. Attached is written response; if you want to read it click HERE
I will get a chance to see Bill this afternoon and I’m sure it will come up in conversation. I think most of the misunderstanding is because people forget that Bill is at heart a passionate evangelist and consequently so is the church and association that he leads. He does what flows out of his God-given gifting and I’m all for that.
It looks like we know for sure who the democratic candidate will be and we have known for some time the republican candidate for president. Despite trying to closely follow the election I’m still not really excited about either candidate. Tim Stevens on twitter put it this way: “The presidential choices scare me. It’s like, ‘You want a suppository or a catheter?'”
So, here is your chance to convince me and a whole bunch of regular readers why one candidate (or perhaps a third??) is better than another. Comments?
If you got a moment check out my blogging mentor’s post on Keeping A Pulse On Culture. I ran into Scott Hodge at MY Starbucks when he was working on this post (which may explain why he gave me some link love!?!) But there is some great content and I totally agree that we need to be creating culture, not just imitating it!
I have been going literally non-stop for the last four days! Mostly I have been in Orlando for the Exponential Conference where I’ve done some speaking and serving as conference President. I’ve been going so hard I didn’t have enough time to stop and celebrate some absolutely amazing stuff going on at Community and some amazing stuff going on here in Orlando! So, I am going to play a little catch up in the next several hours. Check back — great stuff coming your way!!
I woke up in the middle of the night last night (which I never do) and could hear the little television in our bedroom shaking. Sue whispers to me, “is it raining?” It turns out we had a 5.4 earthquake centered down in West Salem, Illinois and felt throughout the Midwest. Just heard it was the perhaps the strongest earthquake ever centered in the Midwest
So,did you feel it?