You don't need a ton of proof to know that more and more churches are struggling to survive. It seems churches that are in this predicament have one of two options: revive or die. There are a lot of books, seminars, and workshops given on how to go about reviving a church. However, there is not one cookie cutter, full-proof, and effective strategy in reviving a church. Having said that, it doesn't mean that it is impossible. There are many examples of struggling churches that have successfully revived the congregation, increased the health of the church, and expanded their ministry.
We are looking for 1,000 pastors to debunk a myth based on the political assertion that government doesn't have any responsibility to poor people. The myth is that churches and charities alone could take care of the problems of poverty -- especially if we slashed people's taxes. Both this assertion and myth contradict the biblical imperative to hold societies and rulers responsible for how they treat the poor, and ignore the Christian tradition of holding governments accountable to those in need. Faith-based organizations and government have had effective and healthy partnerships, and ultimately, the assertion and myth have more to do with libertarian political ideology, than good theology.
When trying to make sense of the changes that new media have brought to us, we can use either supplementary or substitutionary logic. With supplementary logic, Facebook et al. extend the range of our embodied relationships; with substitutionary logic, social media replace them. Those who want to use social media to enhance their churches' outreach implicitly use supplementary logic. Those who want to worship online and don't want to change out of their pajamas or meet other people in their messy particularity ... well, you get the idea.
A recent trip to New York City for a first meeting of the New Media Project Research Fellows reminded me of the superiority of supplementary to substitutionary logic. This happened because the neighborhood around Union Theological Seminary is so deliciously, specifically, embodiedly particular. Union itself is a marvel: its gothic architecture makes it unmistakable that this is a place with history. Niebuhr taught here; Bonhoeffer smoked and worried and decided to go home here; James Cone and Christopher Morse teach here; Serene Jones leads here. The neighborhood extends this particularity; the Jewish Theological Seminary, down Seminary Row, has a glorious crest above its door: "And the bush was not consumed." A tunnel under Union leads you to the grandeur of Riverside Church, where Fosdick and Forbes thundered. Go a few blocks south and east, and you're at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the largest interior church space in North America. The morning I visited, the light shone blue through the rose window, filling the clerestory with incandescent beauty. The chapel at Columbia University, with its stained glass above the altar depicting St. Paul preaching on Mars Hill, is a perfect image for situated Christian truth vis-à-vis the gods on campuses and in Manhattan.
Here’s a little round up of links from around the Web you may have missed this week:
- School lunches from around the world.
- Imagine an America in which all-female families survived the depression.
- Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, on Why Women Should Be In Charge.
- Speaking of commencement speeches, here are excerpts from Aron Ralston’s speech at my alma mater: “May your boulders be your blessings.“
- Fresh out of college, women still make less than men.
- Saudi women driving in protest.
- Withdrawal from Afghanistan gains congressional support.
- Want to work at Sojourners?
Here's a little round up of links from around the Web you may have missed this week:
- One in four children in the United States are in poverty.
- Ben&Jerry's Ben Cohen talks to Sojourners about ice cream, oreos, and military spending.
- Female college graduates are getting paid less than their male peers.
- Is Capitalism's popularity waning?
- If your house was burning, what would you take with you? (My house almost burned down once. I had time to grab my computer, family photos, and a signed copy of Deadeye Dick.)
- Any winos out there?
- Have you ever been to Paris?
- I remain obsessed with tiny living. (Amazing!)
- Cathleen Falsani on the end of the world.