NACBA Weekly Update
Aug. 13, 2010

Teens avoid church groups and other aspects of religion
USA Today
"Bye-bye church. We're busy." That's the message teens are giving churches today. Only about one in four teens now participate in church youth groups, considered the hallmark of involvement; numbers have been flat since 1999. Other measures of religiosity — prayer, Bible reading and going to church — lag as well, according to Barna Group, a Ventura, Calif., evangelical research company. This all has churches canceling their summer teen camps and youth pastors looking worriedly toward the fall, when school-year youth groups kick in.More

At-risk religious lands being preserved nationwide
The Associated Press via the Seattle Times
Deals to buy religious land, or its development rights, are being made with the help of conservationists from Washington state to Colorado and New Jersey. In a tough economy, such land is a tempting asset for churches and religious orders to trade for solvency. But many are choosing to conserve it, sometimes for less money than private developers would offer. "There's a rising consciousness among a lot of different religious groups that the environment is very important," said Kathy McGrath of the Religious Land Conservancy Project. Some, she said, "think about land conservation as a spiritual activity."More

Small groups give churches room to grow
The Rev. Brad Kalajainen’s new church in suburban Grand Rapids, Mich., had grown to about 180 members when “a spirit of grumpiness” haunted the United Methodist congregation. The reason, he concluded, was that Cornerstone Church had enlarged to the point that parishioners no longer knew the names and faces of all their fellow worshipers. They no longer felt part of a tight-knit community with a shared Christian mission. The solution, he discovered, was to start small groups. With the groups, the church continued to grow in membership while members could grow in faith in the intimate setting they craved.More

Clergy couples cope with pain of dismissal
Associated Baptist Press
The best statistics tell us that 1,600 ministers are dismissed or forced to resign every month in America. Leadership magazine reported more than a decade ago that nearly 23 percent of all ministers will be forced out before their careers end -- and that 67 percent of those affected will face forced termination more than once. The author of this article recently sat in a room with 13 ministers and their spouses who had gathered from across the country for a week-long retreat. The group was connected by a common thread: Each minister had been dismissed from the church he or she had served. Some were young, just starting; some were gray-haired and in their 60s. Some had been senior pastors; some had served in other staff positions.More

More young adults going into ministry
USA Today
For years, churches across the USA have prayed that more young people would explore careers in ministry as a wave of Baby Boomer pastors prepares to retire. Now it seems their prayers are being answered. For the past 10 years, the estimated median age of candidates for master of divinity degrees has fallen steadily, from 34.14 in 1999 to 32.19 in 2009, according to an analysis by the Center for the Study of Theological Education (CSTE) at Auburn Seminary. That marks a reversal: From 1989 to 1999, the estimated median age had climbed steadily from 31.4 to 34.14. Denominations hail this new pattern as a positive sign now, as churches increasingly depend on aging leaders and struggle to attract parishioners under age 30.More

Worship is a big deal
The Christian Post
There’s a growing trend in some churches to offer door prizes to any returning visitor. But we ought to come to worship expecting first and foremost to see God. We come to encounter his glory, to be awe struck by his majesty. A worship service isn’t the place to showcase human talent but the place for God to showcase his divine treasure. We gather not to be impressed by one another-how we sound, what we wear, who we are-but to be impressed by God and his mighty acts of salvation.More

Evangelism as a discipline
Baptist Press
It doesn't take a new Christian long to figure out this new life in Christ is a challenging experience. It is easy to look at others and diagnose their problems. However, the real difficulty is in addressing our own problems. Discipline becomes a vital component of the Christian life.More

Methodist study finds four marks of church vitality
The Christian Century
What is the key to a healthy church? United Methodists have paid big bucks to find out. As the sour economy and aging buildings wreak havoc on church budgets, United Methodists are trying to get ahead of the problem and assess the health of their congregations in a bid to reverse declining fortunes. The denomination recently concluded a study of more than 32,000 of its congregations across North America, seeking the "key factors impacting vital congregations." The study surveyed everybody from bishops to district superintendents to people in the pews.More

Your pastor needs time off and you can help
As a deacon, elder, or other church leader, you have an opportunity to encourage your pastor to get regular rest, refreshment, and spiritual renewal. A practical way to do this is to make certain your pastor takes regular time off and ensure that he has a way to do it. As a personal mission, ensure that your pastor takes time-off in the following three areas. More

Help brand your church with customized tickets for your event
Christian Computing Magazine
Do you remember the first time you became aware of a brand? It might have been Coke and their "Have a Coke and a smile." Or, maybe it was the U.S. Army's "Be All That You Can Be!" For me, it was Nike and its "Just Do It!" campaign. The idea is to come up with a slogan or symbol that no one will forget and will recognize every time they hear or see it. Pretty simple, yet brand awareness can mean everything to a campaign - be it for a worldwide brand or your local church event. That's where custom branded ticketing through online church ticketing software plays an important role.More

A missional approach to sports
Church Central
More and more churches are reporting to me they are having conflicts over the sports schedule and the churches schedule. This has been a growing problem since the 80s. Why not see this as a missional opportunity and train your youth to be ambassadors for Christ and participate in the sport rather than being at the youth group. Instead of fighting it, or bad mouthing the sport for conflicting with church, equip the youth to participate in the sports as an ambassador for Christ. Let them know their church is behind them if they will practice their Christianity in a way that it brings people to Christ and the church.More

Transform your parking lot
Building for Ministry
A parking lot takes up a large percentage of church property, yet it seems to get the least attention. "That's sad," says landscape architect Doug Rockne of Littleton, Colo. Even if you own a lot with ample space for parking, you shouldn't just slap down concrete or asphalt. If you own a small lot, you must get even more creative about parking for your members and guests.More

Playground opens doors for ministry
Wesleyan Life
Children in Covina, Calif., have a new playground to enjoy with the help of a local Wesleyan church. In partnership with Kaboom! and Dr. Pepper Snapple, Neighborhood Christian Fellowship (NCF) constructed a state-of-the-art metal playground for area children. With the help of 225 volunteers on May 6, 2010, the project took only six hours to complete. Pastor Gordon Coulter isn’t surprised that so many people joined together to accomplish this building feat.More

California megachurch's founder take 50 percent pay cut
Orange County Register
Crystal Cathedral founder Robert H. Schuller, his wife Arvella, and their five children and respective spouses will all take a voluntary 50 percent pay cut for the next four pay periods, according to an e-mail from Sheila Schuller Coleman to all cathedral employees. Coleman, who is now officially heading the ministry, stated in an Aug. 5 e-mail that the pay cut for Schuller family members as well as for other employees for the next two months, was done to meet the demand of vendors to whom the megachurch collectively owes millions.More

North Texas church building house for needy hasn't found family that qualifies
Dallas Morning News
It's a summer tradition at Christ United Methodist Church of Plano, Texas. Volunteers spend their Saturdays building a house for a needy family. But this time – though the walls are up, the roof is on and the interior just got a coat of paint – the church has yet to find an applicant who can qualify for the modest mortgage. "Normally, we've got a family by May or June, when we start," said Glen Thornton, project manager for the church's House on the Corner mission. "This year it's been tough."More