Changes in Religious Landscape

For a while I have been gathering articles and texts I have been planning to read and disect to understand the changes in our religious landscape, mostly wondering about the declining role of the church.

On a regular basis I am confronted with this reality. There are many empty pews on Sundays, not only in Europe but in America. There is also a declining interest in theological education in formal seminaries. So as the church decline continues there is even a more rapid decline in people willing to serve, which might accelarate the church decline.

There are writing about this issue from various perspectives and some of them are listed here below.

Michael Lipka looks at the religious landscape based on a study by The Pew Research Center. He looks at 5 Key Findings about the Changing U.S. Religious Landscape.

Some people try to find an obvious reason that makes all the difference. One of those is to blame some aspect of the multifaceted tasks that pastors have. One aspect that is fun to blame is pastoral care. Carey Nieuwhof writes an article, How Pastoral Care Stunts the Growth of Most Churches. In it, Carey Nieuwhof points to reports by Barna Group that is interesting and helpful.

The Barna group reports the average Protestant church size in America as 89 adults. Sixty percent of Protestant churches have less than 100 adults in attendance. Only 2 percent have over 1,000 adults attending.

He then adds that when churches grow to more than 200, the pastoral care demands become unbearable and unsustainable, leading to a failure.

Dr. Marjorie Royle writes an article, Denominational Identity – A Plus or a Minus?, about church planting and different attitudes towards denominational identity.

Heather Hahn writes: What draws people to church? Poll has insights. In the article she looks to Barna Group, a research done for United Methodist Communications.

Carlos Wilton reminds us that the declining church participation is not a new concept in the article, Are the Pews Half Empty or Half Full? Lessons From 734 A.D.

Here are three articles about what might slow down the decline.

Here are two articles about what might accelarate the church decline.

 

4. Mósebók 22. kafli

Frásagan af Bíleam og talandi asnanum sem reynir að fá Bílaem ofan af því að slást í f=r með Balak Sippórssyni gegn Ísraelsþjóðinni er áhugaverð, en ekki endilega fyrir það sem bókstafstrúarfólk staldrar við (þ.e. asna sem sendiboða Guðs) heldur vegna þess að Bíleam er í beinum samskiptum við Guð, eitthvað sem við vitum að t.d. Aron átti aldrei í. Continue reading 4. Mósebók 22. kafli

Pride and Despair

Almost eight years ago I attended a lecture (overview in Icelandic) at Pontificial College Josephinum, where Dr. R. Scott Appleby introduced the project Fundamentalism Observed, which he edited with Martin Marty.

Daniel Malotky mentions Fundamentalism Observed as an excellent source when looking at fundamentalistic movements in his article Fundamentalist Violence and Despair. Continue reading Pride and Despair

From an Interview with Marcus Borg

He was executed because he had become a radical critic of the way that world was put together and he was beginning to attract a following. To be very blunt, it’s difficult for me to imagine how anybody who has seen what the Bible and Jesus are about could vote for policies that actually maintain or increase the wealth of those at the top in our day.

I came across an interesting interview with Marcus Borg. Even though I might agree to all his theological conclusions. He is without a doubt worth reading.

Kólussubréfið 3. kafli

Að segja skilið við hið jarðbundna er ekki forsenda lífs okkar í Kristi, heldur afleiðing þess að eiga trúna á Krist.

Íklæðist því eins og Guðs útvalin, heilög og elskuð börn hjartagróinni meðaumkun, góðvild, auðmýkt, hógværð og langlyndi. Umberið hvert annað og fyrirgefið hvert öðru ef einhver hefur sök á hendur öðrum. … Continue reading Kólussubréfið 3. kafli

3. Mósebók 11. kafli

Ég hef fjallað um 3. Mósebók eins og um sé að ræða línulega frásögn af ákveðnum viðburðum í lífi Ísraelsþjóðarinnar í eyðimörkinni. En auðvitað er þetta ekki svo einfalt. Þessi texti er fyrst og fremst texti sem er ætlað að móta helgihald og líf Ísraelsþjóðarinnar. Hér er um að ræða helgisagnir, ráðleggingar og lög sem eru sett í ákveðið form af prestastéttinni í Ísrael, og prestastéttin var ekki ein. Við höfum annars vegar musterishefðina (P-hefðin) og hins vegar fyrirheitnalandshefðina (H-hefðin).  Continue reading 3. Mósebók 11. kafli

Viðaukar við Daníelsbók

Viðaukar við Daníelsbók er eitt af apókrýfuritum Gamla testamentisins. Ég fjalla e.t.v. seinna um hvaða aprókýfurit eru í íslensku kristnihátíðarþýðingunni af Biblíunni og af hverju, en að þessu sinni mun ég beina sjónum mínum að Viðaukunum við Daníelsbók. Continue reading Viðaukar við Daníelsbók

The Ultimate “Adiaphora” – The Words of Worship

In my theology studies, one of the strangest things I did was a dictionary study for worship. I came across the list (at least part of it) yesterday and decided to put it out here. Continue reading The Ultimate “Adiaphora” – The Words of Worship

Jeremía 31. kafli

Þannig er sátmálinn sem ég mun gera við Ísraelsmenn þegar þessir dagar eru liðnir, segir Drottinn: Ég legg lögmál mitt þeim í brjóst og rita það á hjörtu þeirra. Ég verð Guð þeirra og þeir verða lýður minn. Enginn mun framar þurfa að kenna landa sínum og bróður og segja: Þekkið Drottin. Allir munu þekkja mig, bæði stórir og smáir, segir Drottinn. Ég mun fyrirgefa þeim sekt þeirra og minnist ekki framar syndar þeirra.

Framtíðarsýn Jeremía felst í endurkomu þjóðar Guðs til borgar Drottins. Fyrirheitna landið mun að lokum standa undir nafni. Þegar ég les lýsingarnar rifjast upp nálgun mín á kvikmyndinni Munich sem ég skrifaði fyrir margt löngu. Framtíð Jeremía hefur ekki ræst í huga allra.

Rising Restrictions on Religion

“Rising Restrictions on Religion,” a recent report by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, finds that restrictions on religious beliefs and practices rose between mid-2006 and mid-2009 in 23 of the world’s 198 countries 12%, decreased in 12 countries 6% and remained essentially unchanged in 163 countries 82%.

via Rising Restrictions on Religion – The Pew Charitable Trusts. (via Arni Svanur)

Er hægt að kaupa vellíðan?

Grein Steindórs J. Erlingssonar í tímariti Félagsráðgjafafélagsins er til umfjöllunar í Smugunni í dag. Steindór gagnrýnir í grein sinni ofuráherslu geðlæknasamfélagsins á kenningar um að flestir geðrænir kvillar stafi af efnaójafnvægi í heila. Í greininni á Smugunni er komið stuttlega inn á pólítískar afleiðingar þessara hugmynda.

„ef við setjum mannlega þjáningu, eymd og sorg inn í lífvísindareiknilíkan,þá er engin ástæða til að breyta samfélagsgerðinni, því að okkur nægir að koma reglu á taugaboðefnin“

Hér er hægt er að nálgast grein Steindórs í heild.

Leaving ELCA (or not)

Out of 10.230 congregations in ELCA, 199 have already taken two votes and decided to leave ELCA due to its decision at Church Wide Assembly 2009. When this is written 136 are in the process of making the second vote to leave after having passed the first. This means that in case all of the 136 decide to leave, ELCA has decreased in number of congregations by 3.2%.

What would be an interesting statistics in comparison with this number, is the number of members that have left. My assumption is that congregations that are most likely to leave are on average larger than those that stay. This is of course only a feeling, based on only one example (UALC) and a gut feeling about the nature of congregations. Of course I might be wrong.

based on pretty good lutherans » Blog Archive » ELCA by-the-numbers and numbers from the ELCA site.

Why Anne Rice Has Never Been More of a Christian

Whatever backlash Anne Rice might eventually receive from her Christian readers, or from the Evangelical establishment itself, the undeniable fact is that the decision of this sensitive, passionate, and devout woman to leave Christianity is one that Christ himself would likely understand, even applaud, even as He would likely weep at the holocaust of hatred, bigotry, and collateral carnage that has devolved from the grimy, shopworn religion to which His glorious name has been affixed.

via Michael Rowe: Why Anne Rice Has Never Been More of a Christian.

The Religious Landscape in America

Here, I will look at few issues addressed in the book After the Baby Boomers and/or the US Religious Landscape Survey. Those issues caught my attention when I read those originally two years ago, but it is not an attempt to represent either reading, far from it. I decided to write them down randomly as an invitation to further speculations rather than trying grasp them in any fullness. Continue reading The Religious Landscape in America

Biblical Therapy or Biblical Counseling or Biblical Whatever

David Winfrey wrote an interesting article in Christian Century, January 23, 2007. In the article called “Southern Baptists reject ‘pastoral counseling’- Biblical Therapy” he addresses a change in practices by Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The change is to reject psychology as a tool for counseling and focus solely on the Bible as know-it-all information about human behavior. What is more, the pastoral counseling model that is being rejected for Biblical counseling was partly pioneered in Southern Seminary by Wayne Oates, according to David Winfrey. Vicki Hollon is quoted in the article saying:

Their movement away from science reveals a lack of faith, or at least a fear that somehow science is outside the realm of God’s creation and domain.

What is of special interest is that this rejection of scientific methods, and a move towards the Bible as a some kind of an ultimate handbook of all human behavior is a relatively new phenomena. Its origins are after mid-20th century, and it seems that it is getting stronger in the beginning of the 21st century.