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Almost Christian
Sep 14th, 2010 by Mike

An excerpt from “The Ivy Jungle Network Campus Ministry Update September 2010”:

Princeton Seminary Professor Kendra Creasy Dean shares what she considers some depressing news in her new book, Almost Christian. As a researcher in the National Study for Youth and Religion, she helped conduct in depth interviews with more than 3300 teenagers who call themselves Christians.  Her findings show that most “Christian” kids are indifferent and inarticulate about their faith. The faith they do discuss often boils down to what has been labeled “moralistic therapeutic deism” – a belief in a generally good God who exists primarily to help make people happy.   This “imposter” faith contributes to the massive departure of so many young people from the church during their high school and college years.  Too often parents and churches have low expectations for teenagers.  Too many youth groups are designed to keep students out of trouble and simply being nice – not truly exploring the faith.  However, she did find some who had a passion for their faith and an ability to talk about it in a meaningful way.  These committed teenagers most often came from Mormon or evangelical backgrounds.  She identified four common traits among this group: They have a personal story about God they can share, a deep connection to a faith community, a sense of purpose and a sense of hope about their future (CNN August 27, 2010)

© 2010 – 2013, J. M. Erickson. All rights reserved.

Inconsistent Religion
Jul 18th, 2008 by Mike

From The Ivy Jungle Network Campus Ministry Update Summer 2008

Although the US is one of the most religious nations in the world, a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life shows many believe things which contradict their stated faith.70% of those who claim religious affiliation believe multiple religions can lead to salvation and 68% believe in multiple interpretations of their own religion.57% of self-identified evangelicals believe multiple religions can lead to salvation.21% of self-identified atheists believe that some kind of God exists.80% of respondents believe in moral standards of right and wrong, but only 29% claim their religious teachings help them determine those standards. A copy of the report can be read at www.pewforum.org(SFGate.com June 23, 2008)

© 2008 – 2013, J. M. Erickson. All rights reserved.

Religious People Give More
Jan 29th, 2008 by Mike

From the “Campus Ministry Update 2008” published by the Ivy Jungle:

Religious People Give More:  Religious Americans give more money and time to charitable causes than their non-religious neighbors.   A new book by Arthur Brooks, Who Really Cares, analyzed ten data sets, concluding that religiosity is one of the best predictors of charitable giving.  Religious citizens give 3.5 times more money, volunteer with organizations twice as often, are 57% more likely to help the homeless, and 66% more likely to donate blood than those who are not religious.   The findings also paint an unexpected political picture as those who are more religious also tend to be more conservative in social and political issues.  In fact, of the 25 states with above average charitable giving, 24 voted for George Bush in the last election.  In Arkansas, citizens donate an average of 3.9% of their income, while in Massachusetts it is only 1.8%.   Good news for religion, however, among religious people, the data showed nothing distinctive about those who consider themselves evangelicals.  (Books and Culture January/February 2008 p. 11)

© 2008 – 2013, J. M. Erickson. All rights reserved.

Heaven and Hell
Sep 25th, 2007 by Mike

The following was summarized in the “Campus Ministry Update” from IvyJungle:

Do You Believe in Heaven and Hell: In 1997 only 56% of Americans claimed to believe in hell. That number spiked to more than 70% after the September 11 terrorist attacks. However, recent polling indicates the number has once again fallen to less than 60% of the population.1

© 2007 – 2013, J. M. Erickson. All rights reserved.

- - - - - footnotes - - - - -
  1. ABC News July 11, 2007 []
Irv Kupcinet Quote
Sep 22nd, 2007 by Mike

“What can you say about a society that says that God is dead and Elvis is alive?”

© 2007 – 2008, J. M. Erickson. All rights reserved.

Why Would Jesus Not Waterboard?
Aug 7th, 2007 by Mike

In response to an earlier post, where I defended waterboarding as not being torture1, my sister-in-law, Georgette, asks Read the rest of this entry »

© 2007 – 2008, J. M. Erickson. All rights reserved.

- - - - - footnotes - - - - -
  1. I was not addressing the moral issue of waterboarding []
Social Justice Interest Up On Campus
May 29th, 2007 by Mike

Quoted from the Campus Ministry Update from the Ivy Jungle:

Increasing Interest in Social Justice: As the election cycle heats up, both parties are taking notice of the increasing interest of younger Christian voters in a number of issues related to social justice. AIDS, poverty, and the environment are all of interest to a demographic long associated only with abortion and homosexual issues. One indicator is that evangelical Wheaton College (IL) boasts the second most active chapter of the Student Global AIDS Campaign – behind Harvard. Coupled with greater involvement by a number of campus ministries, today’s students see a very real connection between the gospel and social engagement. (Daily Northwestern April 25, 2007)

It remains to be seen, however, whether either party can get students to the polls.

© 2007 – 2013, J. M. Erickson. All rights reserved.

Three RIPs
May 16th, 2007 by Mike

Jerry Falwell is dead. He died yesterday after being found in his office at Liberty University. Whether hated or loved1 he made a giant impression on the political and religious attitudes of America. Here are a few links to relevant observations: all valid:

I saved TDD for last as a reminder for Christians that we have two ways to present ourselves to the world: (1) As a judgment or (2) as a grace dispenser. The choice we make will have a serious affect on how the world perceives the God and Savior for which we are ambassadors.

© 2007 – 2009, J. M. Erickson. All rights reserved.

- - - - - footnotes - - - - -
  1. There was probably no in-between for those who knew (of) him []
Church At A Crossroads Revisited
May 13th, 2007 by Mike

In all of the Internet, I could find only one more article on the Pilgrim United Church of Christ decision on whether or not to allow a convicted sex offender membership in their congregation previously featured in MMM.

The article appears in the San Diego Union-Tribune online site SignOnSandDiego and written by Logan Jenkins whose expressed opinion is entirely pragmatic as opposed to spiritual.

Read the rest of this entry »

© 2007 – 2009, J. M. Erickson. All rights reserved.

Church At A Crossroads
May 4th, 2007 by Mike

I was watching ABC News tonight, a rarity for me. They had an article about a tough decision that Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Carlsbad, California, is about to make. A registered sex offender has asked to be accepted for membership in the church.

In keeping with typical ABC viewpoint, in the linked video, except for the minister, Madison Shockley, ABC interviews those who have great reservations about accepting this man into the church. One man was a victim of sexual abuse as a child and a woman was expressing reservaitons about having her child in close proximity to a sex offender. Both viewpoints, from a modern human point of view, seem valid. And we can certainly empathize with these folks.

Read the rest of this entry »

© 2007 – 2008, J. M. Erickson. All rights reserved.

Dual Life Trend
Apr 22nd, 2007 by Mike

Here is some disturbing news from the Ivy Jungle:

The Dual Life Trend: At Urbana and two state youth conventions, the Youth Transition Network met with more than 500 high school students asking them why so many students fall away from church when they go off to college. One of the consistent top reasons among the two dozen given was hypocrisy among youth group members. Students said that many live an “intentionally deceptive” “dual life”. They believe that between 75% and 95% of the students in their groups lead such dual lives. (YTN Memo April 17, 2007)

This is especially disturbing to me. Charlene and I work with youth in our church and have worked with youth for around 20 years. We know hypocracy exists in the church youth community–just as it exists in the whole church body–but the notion that church youth are leading “intentionally deceptive” “dual lives” at the rate of 75-95% is hard to believe.

Really. Teens gravitate to people who are “real” in their walk with God. Most of the teens I have mentored are struggling with sin, just like I do. But to be intentionally leading a dual life deceptively is a rare occurance to me. I can think of several reasons for the survey results:

  1. I’ve been completely fooled by all the youth I’ve mentored over 20 years and they really are leading intentionally deceptive, dual lives.
  2. The youth surveyed have misinterpreted others’ struggles trying to reconcile their sin on the one hand with their desire to lead a life pleasing to God on the other. (I think all Christians struggle with their desired walk conflicting with their actual walk. Can someone really desire to act one way but actually act another? Absolutely!)
  3. Maybe I’ve gravitated to the teens who are the 5 to 25% of teens who do not live “intentionally deceptive” “dual lives”.

Regardless, the survey tells us that teens are human. We all want to protect our darkest secrets from the people whom we respect and admire. Thus, our focus in youth ministry–indeed any ministry–needs to be on God’s grace rather than God’s judgement. God’s grace, as disbursed through His ambassadors, allows people to shed their facade; reject their dual lives; live in the Light. When the threat of judgment is removed, people can become brutally honest.

I believe we spend too much time in ministry trying to “disciple” folks into a set of rules instead of encouraging people into a loving realtionship with God. God want’s to forgive. God wants to wrap His arms around everyone and give them love and peace. God wants to accept people the way they are.

When we communicate judgment, we force people to hide their real selves from us and try to hide their real selves from God. When we communicate grace, people are free to be themselves and to allow God to work in their lives…

© 2007 – 2013, J. M. Erickson. All rights reserved.

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