community church – Three Wise Men Blog http://threewisemenblog.com/ Sun, 13 Mar 2022 12:42:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.9.3 https://threewisemenblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/3.png community church – Three Wise Men Blog http://threewisemenblog.com/ 32 32 World Overview – Dr. James Emery White’s Christian Blog https://threewisemenblog.com/world-overview-dr-james-emery-whites-christian-blog/ Thu, 10 Feb 2022 08:00:00 +0000 https://threewisemenblog.com/world-overview-dr-james-emery-whites-christian-blog/ There are two ways to assess the state of Christian faith in relation to culture. One is to look locally at your own immediate context, the other is to look at things globally. So if you live in the Global North, like Europe and North America like me, the picture isn’t very pretty. As I […]]]>

There are two ways to assess the state of Christian faith in relation to culture. One is to look locally at your own immediate context, the other is to look at things globally. So if you live in the Global North, like Europe and North America like me, the picture isn’t very pretty.

As I wrote in a blog post earlier this year, the Pew Research Center revealed that in 2021 the percentage of Americans who self-identified as atheists, agnostics, or no particular religion rose to 29% of all American adults. That’s nearly one in three adults, up 10 percentage points from the 2011 survey. board questioned, self-designation marks 39%. The same survey found that the number of professing Christians fell from 75% in 2011 to 63% in 2021. The Pew researchers’ conclusion was fitting: “The secularization changes evident in American society so far in the 21st show no signs of slowing down. .”

But if you live in the Global South, it’s a whole different story. So, if those in the North were taken out of their cultural context, what would they find? Here are two headlines taken from the latest statistics from the Center for the Study of World Christianity.

1. Christianity grows

Worldwide, the number of people who embrace the Christian faith continues to grow, albeit modestly at a growth rate of 1.17%. By the middle of 2022, nearly 2.56 billion will identify as Christians. This number is expected to reach 3.33 billion by 2050. Moving down these numbers, the largest Christian group (about 1.26 billion) is made up of Catholics, and Evangelicals and Charismatics are growing fastest. The growth of Charismatics is particularly dramatic, from less than one million identifying as Pentecostals or Charismatics in 1900 to a projected billion by 2050.

2. The Global South is Exploding

The anchor for the global growth of Christianity is the Global South, particularly Africa (2.77% growth rate) and Asia (1.5% growth rate). To put this growth into perspective, in 2000, 814 million Christians lived in Europe and North America, compared to 660 million in Africa and Asia. Currently, the entire Global North has only 838 million Christians, while Africa and Asia alone have soared to nearly 1.1 billion followers of Christ. In the lead is Africa, where the Christian population is growing faster than any other continent. In fact, more Christians live in Africa than on any other continent in the world. By 2050, Africa will have nearly 1.3 billion Christians. North America? Only 276 million.

One conclusion is clear: the Global North has always been the one that sent missionaries out into the world for the sake of the gospel, usually to the Global South.

Now we need Africa to send them here.

James Emery White

Sources

Gregory A. Smith, “About three in ten American adults are no longer religious”, Pew Research CenterDecember 14, 2021, read online.

“Status of World Christianity, 2022, in the Context of 1900-2050,” Center for the Study of World Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, read online.

Aaron Earls, “7 Encouraging Trends in Global Christianity in 2022,” Lifestyle ResearchJanuary 31, 2022, read online.

About the Author

James Emery White is the founder and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the assistant professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book After “I believe” is now available on Amazon or at your favorite bookstore. To take advantage of a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on TwitterFacebook and Instagram @JamesEmeryWhite.



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Children, School, and Church – Dr. James Emery White Christian Blog https://threewisemenblog.com/children-school-and-church-dr-james-emery-white-christian-blog/ Mon, 31 Jan 2022 08:00:00 +0000 https://threewisemenblog.com/children-school-and-church-dr-james-emery-white-christian-blog/ Public health expert Tyler VanderWeele and his Harvard team looked at more than a decade of developmental data from 12,000 children. This was a longitudinal study examining “social, physical, and mental tendencies within the group, such as substance abuse, anxiety/depression, community engagement, and sexual activity.” Specifically, they wanted to know how four categories of schools […]]]>

Public health expert Tyler VanderWeele and his Harvard team looked at more than a decade of developmental data from 12,000 children. This was a longitudinal study examining “social, physical, and mental tendencies within the group, such as substance abuse, anxiety/depression, community engagement, and sexual activity.” Specifically, they wanted to know how four categories of schools – public, private, religious, and homeschooling – “could affect the long-term well-being of adolescents.”

Many will find the results surprising.

  • In terms of key health indicators, there was little difference between the long-term well-being of adolescents who attended public school and those who attended private school.
  • There was only a marginal difference – 10-15% – between those who were sent to public schools and those who attended church schools. Specifically, those who attended religious schools were slightly “more likely to register to vote, less likely to be obese, and more likely to have fewer lifelong partners by the time they became young adults.” Negatively, those in religious schools were “slightly Continued likely to indulge in excessive alcohol consumption. Children who attended faith-based schools were also “only slightly more likely to attend church services as young adults than those who attended secular private or public schools.”

Nevertheless:

  • There was a significant difference between those who attended public school and those who were homeschooled. “We found a lot of positive and beneficial results from home schooling,” VanderWeele said. Specifically, homeschoolers “were more likely to volunteer, to forgive others, to possess a sense of mission and purpose, and to have significantly fewer lifelong sexual partners.” Homeschoolers were also “51% more likely to attend religious services frequently into young adulthood.”
  • Church attendance during adolescence was very important in terms of health and well-being, and much more influential than attending a denominational school. “What we found was that church attendance makes a bigger difference than religious schooling,” VanderWeele said. “Attendance of religious services has beneficial effects on different types of schools and has stronger effects than religious schooling.”

Translation: “…children who grew up attending church regularly achieved much higher overall well-being as young adults than those who went to a religious school but did. do not attend church services during their formative years. And for those who have done both? Church attendance among young people “was clearly the most dominant force.”

In a previous article for Christianity today, VanderWeele noted that “Regular attendance at services helps protect children from the ‘big three’ dangers of adolescence: depression, substance abuse, and premature sexual activity…. People who attended church as children are also more likely to grow up happy, to be forgiving, to have a sense of mission and purpose, and to volunteer.

So, beyond homeschooling getting more than a few shoutouts, perhaps the biggest headline is that, regardless of school type,

…you have to bring your family to church.

James Emery White

Sources

Stefani McDade, “Getting Kids to Church Matters More Than ‘Good’ School, Study Suggests,” Christianity todayJanuary 25, 2022, read online.

Ying Chen, Christina Hinton, and Tyler J. VanderWeele, “Types of Schools in Adolescence and Later Health and Well-Being in Young Adults: A Global Analysis of Findings”, Plos OneNovember 10, 2021, read online.

Tyler J. Vanderweele and Brendan Case, “Empty Benches are an American Public Health Crisis,” Christianity todayOctober 19, 2021, read online.

About the Author

James Emery White is the founder and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the assistant professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book After “I believe” is now available on Amazon or at your favorite bookstore. To take advantage of a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on TwitterFacebook and Instagram @JamesEmeryWhite.



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The Importance of Innovation – Dr. James Emery White Christian Blog https://threewisemenblog.com/the-importance-of-innovation-dr-james-emery-white-christian-blog/ Thu, 27 Jan 2022 08:00:00 +0000 https://threewisemenblog.com/the-importance-of-innovation-dr-james-emery-white-christian-blog/ Innovation is one of the least talked about issues within churches. We talk about the importance of evaluating current approaches in light of continued effectiveness and the strategy to adopt in adopting new methods, but these topics are different from innovation. What most churches talk about is whether to embrace something other churches are doing. […]]]>

Innovation is one of the least talked about issues within churches. We talk about the importance of evaluating current approaches in light of continued effectiveness and the strategy to adopt in adopting new methods, but these topics are different from innovation. What most churches talk about is whether to embrace something other churches are doing. They don’t discuss creating something new on their own. But evaluating current approaches against other “existing” models or methods is only half of what is needed. The other half is your own raw innovation.

Jim Collins, one of the best organizational leadership thinkers I know, suggests that there are at least six basic elements of what it means to be an innovative organization:

  1. Receptivity to ideas from everywhere
  2. “Be” the customer
  3. Experimentation and errors
  4. people are creative
  5. Autonomy and decentralization
  6. Awards

Here’s a primer on what he means by each:

First, “responsiveness to ideas from everywhere” is really about fostering a culture of learning. It’s reading books, listening to podcasts, attending seminars, and reading blogs.

“Being the customer” is about doing all you can to experience the world – and more specifically, people’s interaction with you – as they do. For churches, it’s about trying to get so close to the people you’re trying to reach that you’re experiencing what they’re experiencing.

“Experiment and error” involves the willingness to take risks, try new things, and not worry too much if the majority fails. Collins notes how Thomas Edison went through over 9,000 iterations before successfully inventing the light bulb. When one of his associates asked him, “Why do you persist in this madness? You have failed over 9,000 times. Edison replied, “I haven’t even failed once; 9,000 times I’ve learned what doesn’t work.

The idea behind “people being creative” is nothing more than helping people develop their creative abilities. It can be as simple as providing books on creativity, such as A blow to the side of the head by Richard Van Oech or Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull, who was president of Pixar and Disney Animation. Anything that will inspire people to challenge conventional wisdom.

For example, from Catmull, we learn several key organizational principles that foster creativity and are particularly suited to the church, such as:

  • If there are people in your organization who feel they are not free to suggest ideas, you lose. Don’t overlook ideas from unexpected sources. Inspiration can and does come from anywhere.
  • It is not enough simply to be open to the ideas of others. Engaging the collective intelligence of the people you work with is an active and ongoing process. As a manager, you need to coax ideas from your staff and constantly push them to contribute.
  • When it comes to shutting down alternate viewpoints, nothing is as effective as being convinced that you are right.
  • Failure is not a necessary evil. In fact, it’s not bad at all. It is a necessary consequence of doing something new.
  • A company’s communication structure should not reflect its organizational structure. Everyone should be able to talk to anyone.
  • Beware of making too many rules. Rules can make life easier for managers, but they can be humiliating for the 95% who behave well. Don’t create rules to control the remaining 5%, deal with abuses of common sense individually. It’s more work but ultimately healthier.
  • Tackling exceptionally difficult problems forces us to think differently.

“Autonomy and decentralization” are key to innovation, and I have written in previous books about the importance of rethinking traditional church structures, especially in Rethinking the Church and What They Didn’t Teach You in Seminar. The decision-making and management structure of a church will determine whether innovation is stifled or unleashed. As I wrote in What They Didn’t Teach You in Seminar,

“I can’t begin to tell you how frustrating it is to lead a seminar or conference, lay out a simple decision or action that would radically improve the health or effectiveness of a church, and then do it. meet by a chorus of leaders saying, ‘We can’t do that.’ And nine times out of 10, it’s not because they don’t have the money, or the volunteers, or the facilities, or even the desire, it’s because they don’t have the freedom.”

The final element of innovation, “rewards,” may be more difficult for some to translate into a church environment, but the essence of the idea is actually highly transferable. It is enough to make it legal that the time is spent not only on the management of things, but also on their development. And yes, create incentives for that. And for many church staff around the world, the freedom to devote time to new endeavors would itself be the reward.

All this to say that the next time you feel the need for something new, before you turn to other churches, maybe look to yours,

…and become the innovation leader.

James Emery White

Sources

Jim Collins and Bill Lazier, BE 2.0: Transforming your business into a great sustainable business.

Ed Catmull with Amy Wallace, Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Get in the Way of True Inspiration.

James Emery White, Rethinking the Church.

James Emery White, What they didn’t teach you in Seminar.

About the Author

James Emery White is the founder and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the assistant professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His last book After “I believe” is now available on Amazon or at your favorite bookstore. To take advantage of a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on TwitterFacebook and Instagram @JamesEmeryWhite.



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Pray for India – Dr. James Emery White Christian Blog https://threewisemenblog.com/pray-for-india-dr-james-emery-white-christian-blog/ Mon, 24 Jan 2022 11:05:00 +0000 https://threewisemenblog.com/pray-for-india-dr-james-emery-white-christian-blog/ The director of our mission partner in northern India made an unusual request when he visited the United States last summer. We wanted to interview him on camera, and he politely declined. He said it wasn’t safe. He even asked if we would refrain from mentioning his name, the name of the ministry, as well […]]]>

The director of our mission partner in northern India made an unusual request when he visited the United States last summer. We wanted to interview him on camera, and he politely declined. He said it wasn’t safe. He even asked if we would refrain from mentioning his name, the name of the ministry, as well as anything that would refer to where in India they were operating.

Again, it wasn’t safe.

I have been to India for the past few years, and the climate there regarding Christianity has been rapidly deteriorating for some time. When I last visited, mobs attacking churches, homes of pastors and individual Christians were not uncommon, especially in outlying villages. Today Hindu nationalism is rampant and violence against Christians is becoming the norm across the country.

When the New York Times covers the persecution of Christians, you know it’s wrong, and that’s precisely what happened in a story called “Arrests, Beatings and Secret Prayers: Inside the Persecution of India’s Christians ” by Jeffrey Gettleman and Suhasini Raj. It is worth a full read.

In the article, an attack on a Christian church in the city of Indore is detailed, including the beating of pastors, assaults on terrified women and children who are in hiding for their lives. When the police arrived, they did not arrest the attackers; they arrested and imprisoned pastors and other church leaders who were still physically reeling from the assault. Christians were

“…accused of violating a newly enforced law that targets religious conversions, a law that mirrors at least a dozen other measures across the country that have sparked an upsurge in mob violence against Indian Christians. .a growing anti-Christian hysteria spreading across this vast nation….”

There are over 30 million Christians in India, making it “one of the oldest and largest Christian communities in Asia”. A community that now lives in fear as anti-Christian vigilantes “sweep villages, storm churches, burn Christian literature and assault worshippers”. And, like the New York Times reports that in many cases, the police and members of the ruling party in India help them. “From church to church,” they write, “the very act of worship has become dangerous.”

You may have read recently that even the revered Missionaries of Charity, founded by Mother Teresa in what was then Calcutta (now Kolkata) in West Bengal, were recently denied the opportunity to receive and use sources of foreign funding, thus ending the ministry in this nation. International outcry was enough for it to be quickly reinstated – for example, the UK Parliament began debating blocking foreign NGO funding in India – but it was a harbinger of the effort aimed at cutting off the flow of outside money to help Christians and Christians. ministry in the nation.

What motivates the persecution? Again, from New York Times:

“For many Hindu extremists, the attacks are justified – a way to prevent religious conversions. For them, the possibility that some Indians, even a relatively small number, will reject Hinduism in favor of Christianity is a threat to their dream of turning India into a pure Hindu nation.

This makes the situation more serious in central and northern India,

“…where evangelical Christian groups are making inroads among lower-caste Hindus, albeit quietly. Pastors hold clandestine ceremonies at night. They perform secret baptisms. They distribute audio Bibles that look like little transistor radios so that illiterate farmers can surreptitiously listen to the scriptures as they plow their fields.

For our part, we will continue to support our partner in India in every way possible. But every church in the West should have India – one of the most populous nations on the planet (second only to China) – in their hearts and minds.

And in their prayers.

James Emery White

Sources

Jeffrey Gettleman and Suhasini Raj, “Arrests, Beatings and Secret Prayers: Inside India’s Christian Persecution”, The New York Times, 23 December 2021, read online.

“The Indian government. Allows MC nuns to continue to receive foreign donations,” Vatican News, January 8, 2022, read online.

About the Author

James Emery White is the founder and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the assistant professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book After “I believe” is now available on Amazon or at your favorite bookstore. To take advantage of a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @JamesEmeryWhite.



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It’s a TikTok world – Dr. James Emery White Christian Blog https://threewisemenblog.com/its-a-tiktok-world-dr-james-emery-white-christian-blog/ Thu, 20 Jan 2022 11:05:00 +0000 https://threewisemenblog.com/its-a-tiktok-world-dr-james-emery-white-christian-blog/ The most popular site in 2021 was not Google, Amazon, Facebook or YouTube. It was TikTok. If you’re unfamiliar with TikTok, it’s a Chinese video-sharing platform similar to YouTube that allows users to post videos of up to a minute or less. TikTok stars now earn more than most of America’s top CEOs, such as […]]]>

The most popular site in 2021 was not Google, Amazon, Facebook or YouTube.

It was TikTok.

If you’re unfamiliar with TikTok, it’s a Chinese video-sharing platform similar to YouTube that allows users to post videos of up to a minute or less. TikTok stars now earn more than most of America’s top CEOs, such as Charli D’Amelio’s $17.5 million in 2021; and not too far behind her was her sister Dixie who made $10 million.

The demographics of TikTok users are young. Almost a quarter of its users in 2021 were between the ages of 10 and 19. This helps explain the number of viral TikTok videos that have been dangerous or, in many people’s minds, just plain stupid, coining phrases such as a TikTok video that has gone “tok-bottom” or “a- tok-alyptic”.

Two dynamics fuel the popularity of TikTok content: it’s short and it’s visual. I talked about the importance of both dynamics in my book Meet Generation Z.

Attention spans

What has been the conventional wisdom is true: attention spans have dramatically decreased in recent years; more dramatically than most realized. According to research from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the average attention span has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to just 8.25 seconds in 2015. That’s down about 25% in just over a decade. So what does this mean for, say, a church trying to reach an internet-based generation? Here are some internet browsing stats that may make you rethink everything:

  • Average length watched of a single internet video: 2.7 minutes
  • Percentage of page views that last less than 4 seconds: 17%
  • Percentage of pageviews that lasted more than 10 minutes: 4%
  • Percentage of words read on web pages of 111 words or less: 49%
  • Percentage of words read on an average web page (593 words): 28%

At the end of the line ? Everything we try to convey, let alone explain, will need to be communicated more frequently in shorter bursts of “nibble content – at least early in the engagement phase.”

Some have suggested that what really works are highly evolved “eight second filters”. Generation Z, for example, grew up in a world where options and information are virtually limitless; time, of course, is not. So they developed, almost out of necessity, the ability to quickly sort through huge amounts of data. Or they rely on sources that do it for them, like trending information in apps.

The good news is that once something Is it that catch their attention, and is deemed worthy of their time, they can become intensely engaged and focused. The very internet that forced them to develop “eight-second filters” is the same internet that allows them to delve into any topic they want and learn from a community of other interested parties. This means you can still engage people on a very deep level with the truth. The bad news? You have eight seconds to pass their filters. As one 18-year-old UCLA student put it, “Gen Z instantly absorbs information and loses interest just as quickly.” That’s why Dan Schawbel, managing partner of Millennial Branding, a New York-based consulting firm, tells his advertising partners “that if they don’t communicate in five words and the big picture, they won’t achieve that generation”.

This leads to what might be the most needed overhaul of all: this “big picture”. In other words, the importance of being visual.

The importance of the visual

As I wrote in The rise of the nuns, a lesson from history could be in order as to the importance of the visual. The Lindisfarne Gospels, a 1,300 year old manuscript, are revered to this day as the oldest English version of the Gospels. Lindisfarne is a small island located just off the English coast of Northumberland. It is often called Holy Island. Tidal waters cut it off from the rest of the world for several hours each day, adding to its mystique as a spiritual pilgrimage.

Produced around AD 715 in honor of St Cuthbert, largely by a man named Eadfrith, the Bishop of Lindisfarne, the Lindisfarne Gospels feature a copy of all four New Testament Gospels. But he is not revered simply for his age. Its pages reveal curved and embellished letters, strange creatures and spiraling symbols of exquisite precision and beauty. In the 8th century, pilgrims flocked to St Cuthbert’s shrine where he was housed, making the Lindisfarne manuscript one of the most visited and viewed books of its day. His artwork and symbols helped convey his message to those who could not read.

Professor Richard Gameson of Durham University considers it a precursor to modern multimedia because it was designed to be a visual, sensual and artistic experience for its audience. Michelle Brown of the University of London notes that the book’s impact was similar to today’s film and electronic media. As Gameson adds, “the focus was on reaching as many people as possible.”

I have written elsewhere that there are striking parallels between our time and that of the Middle Ages. If Western society enters a new era akin to the earlier medieval era, what Umberto Eco called the neomedieval, What does it mean? One thing is certain: there will be a profound need for communication of a visual nature. Over the past 20 years, we have moved decisively to a visually-based world. The most formative influences aren’t books, theater or even music, it’s video.

Consider the suggested parallel with the Middle Ages. In medieval times, there was widespread spiritual illiteracy, as well as actual illiteracy. People couldn’t read. This is why pilgrimages were so important to pilgrims. Beyond the relics and holy places they thought could bestow grace, the cathedrals they visited usually told the story of faith through a medium they could understand: stained glass. In other words, pictures. Thus, even if people could not (or could not) read, they could not help seeing, and seeing, understanding.

It’s no different today.

We are spiritually illiterate and visually oriented and visually informed. Only now, instead of stained glass, we have TikTok.

An entire subgenre known as “Christian TikTok” exists where Christian TikTok influencers post everything from sermonettes to Bible study best practices. And many young content creators “are on a mission to spark a revival among Gen Z.”

But that’s of course what any church can do too.

James Emery White

Sources

Ben Cost, “The 12 TikTok Trends That Defined 2021: From Hilarious to Terrifying”, New York Post, 21 December 2021, read online.

Joseph Pisani and Theo Francis, “These TikTok Stars Made More Money Than Most of America’s Top CEOs”, The Wall Street Journal, 13 January 2022, read online.

James Emery White, Meet Generation Z (baker), order on Amazon.

“Meet Generation Z: Forget Everything You Learned About Generation Y” Sparks and honey, June 17, 2014, read online.

On attention spans, see the National Center for Biotechnology Information, as well as the US National Library of Medicine, as reported by the Statistic Brain Research Institute online here.

For Internet browsing statistics, see Harald Weinreich, Hartmut Obendorf, Elco Herder and Matthias Mayer, “Not Quite Average: An Empirical Study of Web Usage”, in the ACM Transactions on the Web, flight. 2, no. 1, February 2008, article n° 5.

On “Eight-Second Filters”, see Jeremy Finch, “What Is Generation Z, and What Does It Want?” fast business, 4 May 2015, read online.

James Emery White, The rise of the nuns (baker), order on Amazon.

Alex Williams, “Move on Millennials: Meet Gen Z,” The New York Time, September 20, 2015, read online.

Flavia Di Consiglio, “Lindisfarne Gospels: Why is this book so special?” » BBC Religion and Ethics, March 20, 2013, read online.

Umberto Eco, Journeys in Hyper Reality: Essays, trans. William Weaver (San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1986).

Rachel Seo, “Meet the TikTok Generation of Televangelists”, Christianity today, October 20, 2020, read online.

About the Author

James Emery White is the founder and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the assistant professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His last book After “I believe” is now available on Amazon or at your favorite bookstore. To take advantage of a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @JamesEmeryWhite.



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Add Pastors to the Great Resignation https://threewisemenblog.com/add-pastors-to-the-great-resignation/ Mon, 17 Jan 2022 08:00:00 +0000 https://threewisemenblog.com/add-pastors-to-the-great-resignation/ According to statistics from the Bureau of Labor, more Americans quit their jobs in April 2021 than in any other month on record. This record was then broken in July 2021, which was then broken in August. And then it was broken again in September. This is called the “Great Resignation”. Derek Thompson, writing for […]]]>

According to statistics from the Bureau of Labor, more Americans quit their jobs in April 2021 than in any other month on record. This record was then broken in July 2021, which was then broken in August. And then it was broken again in September. This is called the “Great Resignation”.

Derek Thompson, writing for Atlantic, notes that most of those quitting are low-wage workers getting better jobs in industries that raise wages to get desperately needed new employees. So, as Thompson writes, this part is more accurately a “big change” than a “big stop”.

But for many, it’s also a matter of burnout. People in jobs that have been particularly impacted by all things COVID – think educators, healthcare workers and

… pastors.

As the Washington Post reported last month,

“an exodus of clergy…left the ministry in the past two years due to a powerful combination of pandemic demands and political stress. Amid fights over masks and vaccination mandates, how far religious leaders can go to express political views that could alienate some of their followers, on whether Zoom creates or stifles the spiritual community, pastoral exhaustion has been brought up.

It’s true. A survey conducted by Barna Research in November last year found that 38% of all Protestant pastors said they had considered leaving full-time vocations ministry in the past year. That was a 9-point increase from when Barna asked the same question in early 2021. When you bracket age groups, an alarming 46% of pastors under the age of 45 plan to leave the ministry. In the pastoral health survey, only 36% fall into the healthy category when compared to categories such as spiritual, emotional, professional, physical and financial.

As quoted in an article written by Bob Smietana of Religious News Service,

“Chuck DeGroat, professor of counseling and Christian spirituality at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, said pastors have long had to mediate disputes over church theology or practice, such as the role of women in the church or the so-called “worship wars”. of the last decades. They now face additional strains from the pandemic and polarization, with people willing to leave their churches over mask policies or talk of race.

What has most stressed pastors are the deep polarizations that have made their role as spiritual leaders agonizing. Whatever the issue, whatever the decision, you were going to alienate and anger one group or another. And these are inevitable problems and decisions:

  • conspiracy theory(ies) sweeping the congregation
  • to get vaccinated
  • open or closed
  • masked or unmasked
  • the 2020 election
  • the response to the death of George Floyd

Added to this is the shift to all things digital, which was not a skill taught in seminary, and the social isolation that many pastors felt from the practice of ministry.

I write all of this with deep empathy as a pastor myself. It has been two difficult years. I had to deal with similar decisions and similar problems as all the other pastors. And the same fallout.

But if you attend Meck, don’t worry. I’m not in the 38% (and if I were younger, I wouldn’t be in the 46%). It’s not that I’m better than those men and women (I’m definitely not), it’s just that the stress of the past two years has eased for me. The vast, vast majority of Meck members and attendees supported and even celebrated our response to the issues and decisions made. For that, I am both grateful and humbled.

But we still had families leaving, people angry, disagreements expressed and conflicts raging.

So to all you pastors who are teetering on the edge, please, for the love of Jesus and your church, try to hold on. The fact that the last two years have left you so drained shows that your heart is in the right place and in the right game. We need you. Your church needs you. The world needs you. Don’t make a decision in light of a season in life that you might regret for the rest of your life.

And to all of you connected with a local church, could you say a prayer for your pastor? Could you give them a sympathetic pardon on any answer to a question or decision they had to make that you may have disagreed with? You know it couldn’t have been easy and they went for it with a clear conscience. And ask yourself – is the masking, an election, a vaccine, at the level of doctrine, mission or Christian community? Leadership is a difficult role. Can’t we agree to disagree…pleasantly?

The Great Resignation shows no signs of slowing down. Unfortunately, even when it comes to pastors. But they don’t leave for a better salary. They are leaving,

…because people don’t make life easy for them.

James Emery White

Sources

Derek Thompson, “Three Myths of the Great Resignation”, AtlanticDecember 8, 2021, read online.

Michelle Boorstein, “The First Christmas as a Layman: Exhausted by the Pandemic, Many Clergy Have Quit Over the Past Year,” The Washington PostDecember 24, 2021, read online.

“38% of American pastors have thought about leaving full-time ministry in the past year,” barnaNovember 16, 2021, read online.

Bob Smietana, “For some pastors, the past year was a sign from God that it was time to stop”, Religious News ServiceMay 7, 2021, read online.

About the Author

James Emery White is the founder and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the assistant professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His last book After “I believe” is now available on Amazon or at your favorite bookstore. To take advantage of a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on TwitterFacebook and Instagram @JamesEmeryWhite.



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Call me a simp – Dr. James Emery White’s Christian Blog https://threewisemenblog.com/call-me-a-simp-dr-james-emery-whites-christian-blog/ Mon, 10 Jan 2022 08:00:00 +0000 https://threewisemenblog.com/call-me-a-simp-dr-james-emery-whites-christian-blog/ There is a new word that is being used as slang. Men who are “too nice” to women are called “simps”. It comes from the word silly. Initially, it was used to make fun of men who flattered women into sleeping with them. Now it is used for any man who treats a woman with […]]]>

There is a new word that is being used as slang. Men who are “too nice” to women are called “simps”.

It comes from the word silly. Initially, it was used to make fun of men who flattered women into sleeping with them. Now it is used for any man who treats a woman with kindness and respect.

If a man compliments a woman, opens the door for her, gives up a seat on a crowded bus, buys her a night taxi instead of trying to take advantage of it, buys flowers… he’s a simp.

You might find it harmless. I do not. I agree with author Destin Gerek: “When we ‘simp’ shame, it sends a message to men that caring about the fate or well-being of women is not a ‘manly’ thing to do. “, he says. “But it should be the exact opposite; not caring is the ‘manly’ thing.

It becomes darker. When we look down on men who are kind, sensitive, or protective of women, it simultaneously elevates traits like dominance, aggression, and even abusiveness.

Sure, I can hear some men’s frustration. They fear what has sometimes been called “benevolent sexism”. This is when a woman can feel offended because you opened the door. You are afraid to hear: “I can open the door by myself, thank you. Some men genuinely fear that acts of chivalry will be seen as declarations of superiority.

Sigh.

As for me, I will continue to open doors and give way. I will continue to buy flowers for my wife. I will continue to treat my daughters and granddaughters like the princesses they are.

Not because women are inferior to men. It’s because in my economy, they’re simply worthy of honor. So go ahead…call me a simp.

I will wear it with pride.

James Emery White

Sources

Jenna Ryu, “Men who are ‘too nice’ to women are called ‘Sims.’ Why this insult is problematic”, USA todayDecember 28, 2021, read online.

About the Author

James Emery White is the founder and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the assistant professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His last book After “I believe” is now available on Amazon or at your favorite bookstore. To take advantage of a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on TwitterFacebook and Instagram @JamesEmeryWhite.



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Nones Just Keep Rising – Dr. James Emery White Christian Blog https://threewisemenblog.com/nones-just-keep-rising-dr-james-emery-white-christian-blog/ Thu, 06 Jan 2022 08:00:00 +0000 https://threewisemenblog.com/nones-just-keep-rising-dr-james-emery-white-christian-blog/ I have long argued that the most important religious trend of our time is the rise of no. As I wrote in my book The rise of the nuns, the “nones” are those with no religious affiliation. When asked about their religion or religious affiliation in various surveys and polls, they answer neither “Baptist”, nor […]]]>

I have long argued that the most important religious trend of our time is the rise of no. As I wrote in my book The rise of the nuns, the “nones” are those with no religious affiliation. When asked about their religion or religious affiliation in various surveys and polls, they answer neither “Baptist”, nor “Catholic”, or any other defined religion. They simply say “I am nothing” or tick “none”.

When I first started researching and writing about the noes, they made up one in five Americans, making them the second-largest religious group in the United States, just behind Catholics. And not only that, but they were also the fastest growing religious group in the country.

Fast forward.

In 2021, the percentage of Americans who identified themselves as atheists, agnostics, or of no particular religion rose to 29% of all American adults. That’s nearly one in three adults, up 10 percentage points from the 2011 survey. The same survey found that the number of professing Christians rose from 75% in 2011 to 63% in 2021.

Digging deeper, Pew found that over the same 10-year period, those who prayed daily dropped by 13 percentage points, and the number of those who said religion was important to their lives dropped. of 15. The conclusion of the Pew researchers was appropriate: evident in American society so far in the 21st century shows no signs of slowing… The share of the public with no religious affiliation is six percentage points higher than what it was five years ago and 10 points higher than ten years ago.

From around 5% in the 1940s to 29% today, it is clear that we are experiencing a vast cultural realignment. Even more astonishing, when you put aside those who are between 18 and 29 years old, the youngest on the polled side, self-designation scores 39%.

These changes are reflected in church membership. According to a recent Gallup survey, Americans’ membership of places of worship has continued to decline to such a degree that it has now fallen below 50% for the first time in Gallup’s eight-decade trend. In 2020, only 47% of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue, or mosque, down from 50% in 2018 and 70% in 1999. As anyone in the social sciences will tell you, this precipitous drop in si short period of time is simply breathtaking.

As you might expect, when analyzed by generation, the younger you are, the more likely you are to be non-religious. Among those whom Gallup calls “traditionalists,” that is, those born before 1946, 66 percent belong to a church. It drops to 58% among baby boomers and drops to just 36% among millennials. Early data on Gen Z suggests the percentage of involvement is at least as low (if not lower) than that of Gen Y, meaning the future of the American church is a generation away from being devastated . So, while Christianity remains the most widespread religion in the world and is even on the rise in countries of the South, it is no longer the dominant cultural force in the West.

It should be noted that the rise in nuns and the decline in church attendance and membership are not the same as a decline in belief in a god. Indeed, in places like the United States, the overwhelming majority are theists. So you can think of it this way: we have a world filled with people who are open to God and even believe in God, but reject religious paths to this God, religious dogmas about this God, and religious groups adhering to this God.

The verdict is in: God, yes. Religion, no.

James Emery White

Sources

James Emery White, The rise of the nuns (baker), order on Amazon.

Gregory A. Smith, “About three in ten American adults are no longer religious”, Pew Research CenterDecember 14, 2021, read online.

Betsy Cooper, Daniel Cox, Rachel Lienesch, Robert P. Jones, Ph.D., “Exodus: Why Americans Are Leaving Religion—and Why They’re Improbable to Come Back,” PRRI, September 22, 2016, read online.

Jeffrey M. Jones, “American Church Membership Falls Below Majority for the First Time,” GallupMarch 29, 2021, read online.

About the Author

James Emery White is the founder and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the assistant professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His last book After “I believe” is now available on Amazon or at your favorite bookstore. To take advantage of a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on TwitterFacebook and Instagram @JamesEmeryWhite.



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2021 in review https://threewisemenblog.com/2021-in-review/ Thu, 30 Dec 2021 08:00:00 +0000 https://threewisemenblog.com/2021-in-review/ It’s time to recap the year that has been. And what a year it was. There are several ways to do this, many of which are interesting. You can look at a year in terms of notable deaths, viral events, political rises and falls, and more. But how do you really get a 12-month snapshot […]]]>

It’s time to recap the year that has been. And what a year it was.

There are several ways to do this, many of which are interesting. You can look at a year in terms of notable deaths, viral events, political rises and falls, and more.

But how do you really get a 12-month snapshot of a culture’s zeitgeist?

I would say two words: Google searches.

I’m not saying this will be what historians will mark in 10 years, let alone 100 years… let alone what is most significant. But I will say it is perhaps the clearest window into our current soul.

So we’re going there with some glimpses of our inner world in 2021, courtesy of Google itself.

Top 10 searches:

1.NBA
2.DMX
3. Gabby Petito
4. Kyle Rittenhouse
5. Brian Laundry
6. Mega Millions
7. AMC action
8. Verification of the stimulus
9. Georgia Senate Race
10. Calamari game

Top 10 news searches:

1. Mega Millions
2. Action AMC
3. Dunning checks
4. Georgia Senate Race
5. GME
6. Dogecoins
7. Hurricane Ida
8. Kyle Rittenhouse Verdict
9. Afghanistan
10. Ethereum Price

Top 10 “How to be” searches:

1. How to qualify for a stimulus check
2. How to be more attractive
3. How to be happy alone
4. How to be a villain
5. How to be a good boyfriend
6. How to kiss well
7. How to be a flight attendant
8. How to be happy with yourself
9. How to be aware
10. How to be romantic

And finally, the Top 10 people searches:

1. Kyle Rittenhouse
2.Tiger Woods
3. Alec Baldwin
4. Travis Scott
5. Simone Biles
6. Derek Chauvin
7. Morgan Wallen
8. Henry Ruggs III
9. Pete Davidson
10. Shailene Woodley

Welcome to our world.

James Emery White

Sources

See “Year in Search 2021” for the United States, Google, read online.

About the Author

James Emery White is the founder and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the assistant professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book After “I believe” is now available on Amazon or at your favorite bookstore. To take advantage of a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @JamesEmeryWhite.



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The Real Christmas Carol (2021) https://threewisemenblog.com/the-real-christmas-carol-2021/ Thu, 23 Dec 2021 11:05:00 +0000 https://threewisemenblog.com/the-real-christmas-carol-2021/ Most people have seen one or more versions of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol. By far, this is one of my favorite Christmas tales: the story of Ebenezer Scrooge having his consciousness awakened by the appearance of his former partner, Jacob Marley, and the ghosts of Christmases past, present and future. I like the characters. […]]]>

Most people have seen one or more versions of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol.

By far, this is one of my favorite Christmas tales: the story of Ebenezer Scrooge having his consciousness awakened by the appearance of his former partner, Jacob Marley, and the ghosts of Christmases past, present and future.

I like the characters.

I love the Christmas charm of the Victorian era, with frosted windows, mistletoe and plum pudding.

I love the streets of old London.

But when I first read the novel itself, after watching different versions of the film, I was shocked. Scrooge isn’t the jester, almost cartoon-like character some movies claim to be.

He’s really mean. Cruel. Malicious. He is a dark and sinister man. The story reads more like a Stephen King novel.

When you study the time itself that Dickens wrote about, you realize that it was dark and evil as well.

Historian Lisa Toland has written a fascinating essay on the reality behind the story.

She explains that nearly 75% of London’s population was considered a working class, with many children working in factories. In fact, every member of a family had to work in order to survive. Dickens himself worked as a young boy to support his family while his parents were in debt prison. And he published A Christmas Carol in 1843 as a social declaration against harsh child labor practices.

The time was known as the “Hungry Forties” because there was a depression with a period of bad harvests. The London skyline was little more than chimneys producing sooty sand clouds that covered the roofs and cheeks of young chimney sweeps.

It was the charcoal dependent nature of these factories that created the famous London Fog. It wasn’t fog at all, but a combination of smoke, soot, and gravel. The streets were covered with rainwater, the contents of chamber pots and animal droppings. Rats were plentiful.

Small children, often emaciated, sold flowers and matches as the upper class carriages passed. The poor of London were forced to shrink into residential areas. Several families lived in single rooms in dilapidated buildings.

It was Dickens’ London.

And people had turned a blind eye because there were supposedly “services”. When two men ask Scrooge for money, he replies, “Aren’t there any prisons? What about the Union workshops? Are they still open? … The conveyor belt and the Poor Laws are in full force, then? Without context, there is a lot that we fail to understand.

What makes Scrooge’s comments so biting is that the Poor Law and its accompanying workhouses were looked down upon by the poor. The guiding principle was to make conditions in these places worse than the way they would have lived and worked if they had had a job. And in trying to figure out who deserved to go, the group that fell through the cracks was the kids. The father or mother was sent home to work, leaving the children alone to beg in the streets.

Or worse.

If you died while working in a labor house, your body would automatically be returned for dissection. You wouldn’t even get a funeral. The conditions were so bad and the people there were treated so badly that many of the poor in London chose to beg on the streets or prostitute themselves in order to avoid the workhouses.

From that darkness Dickens told us a story of redemption.

The story of someone who is saved.

But it’s not just Hollywood that’s guilty of romanticizing a truly dark story. There is a story that many of us tend to romanticize as well.

We’ve all seen the Christmas cards coming out: pictures of Mary in flowing dresses, sweet animals lovingly looking at the baby who still has blue eyes, a blonde and, although supposedly newborn, has the appearance and weight of a six-month-old.

It wasn’t like that.

Mary and Joseph were desperate for a place to give birth and couldn’t find one. They ended up in an outdoor breeding area. Impure, neglected, intrusive. Tradition – dating back to Justin Martyr in the 2nd century – says it was probably some kind of cave. Smelly, wet, cold.

They were to use a manger as a bassinet. The word “nursery” is very warm and hazy, but don’t romanticize it. A manger was a manger for animals.

It was a hopelessly austere and sad scene.

And alone.

The Bible tells us that Mary wrapped the baby in clothes. It was common for the day. Long strips of fabric were used to wrap the baby tightly and keep his legs and arms straight and secure. The process is called swaddling.

This tells us something about the lonely nature of Mary’s motherhood that Luke reports that shewas the one who enveloped Jesus after his birth. In other words, there was no midwife or a parent’s help, which would have been the norm.

And she was young. Very young.

The engagement usually took place immediately after the onset of puberty, so Mary might have just entered her teens – 13, 14, or, at most, 15.

And out of this darkness, we are given another image of redemption.

Another story of being saved.

Another story that can be fictionalized, but was very, very real.

Real in a way that brings us to our knees to marvel at God who came to Earth to save… we.

James Emery White

Sources

Lisa Toland, “The Dark Side of ‘A Christmas Carol'” Christianity today, December 2, 2009, read online.

Editor’s Note: This blog was originally published in 2010. It is a favorite of the Church & Culture team and is reposted annually during the Christmas season.

About the Author

James Emery White is the founding and principal pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the assistant professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book After “I believe” is now available on Amazon or at your favorite bookseller. To take advantage of a free Church & Culture blog subscription, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can browse past blogs in our archives and read the latest news on church and culture from around the world. Follow Dr White on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @JamesEmeryWhite.



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