NACBA Weekly Update
Oct. 22, 2010

Walking away from church
Los Angeles Times
The most rapidly growing religious category today is composed of those Americans who say they have no religious affiliation. While middle-aged and older Americans continue to embrace organized religion, rapidly increasing numbers of young people are rejecting it. As recently as 1990, all but 7 percent of Americans claimed a religious affiliation, a figure that had held constant for decades. Today, 17 percent of Americans say they have no religion, and these new "nones" are very heavily concentrated among Americans who have come of age since 1990. Between 25 percent and 30 percent of twentysomethings today say they have no religious affiliation — roughly four times higher than in any previous generation. So, why this sudden jump in youthful disaffection from organized religion? The surprising answer, according to a mounting body of evidence, is politics. More

5 things your church can do immediately to increase giving
Recently, Keith Hamilton of Church Financial Services of the Georgia Baptist Convention surveyed 1,800 pastors to discover if their church offerings had increased in 2009. Keith wanted to discover what churches were doing during these difficult economic times to increase giving. Pastor after pastor reported how unemployment had hit their church hard, but survey respondent Pastor Matt Stacy voiced their collective belief; "The cure for our current economic hardship is not to wring our hands over pitiful funds, but to wrap our arms around our Providing Father." Matt was on target with his response and words of encouragement. The responses from the churches that had increased their giving recently fell into the following five common categories.More

Study: More link Christian faith to being American
The Christian Century
As the U.S. has grown more diverse, more Americans believe that being a Christian is a key aspect of being "truly American," researchers say. Purdue University scholars found that between 1996 and 2004, Americans who saw Christian identity as a "very important" attribute of being American increased from 38 percent to 49 percent. Scholars said the findings, published in the fall issue of the journal Sociology of Religion, couldn't be definitively tied to a particular event but they suspect the 9/11 attacks and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could have played a role.More

Top 400 charities see billions less in donations
The Associated Press
A new ranking of the nation's 400 biggest charities shows donations dropped by 11 percent overall last year as the Great Recession ended — the worst decline in 20 years since the Chronicle of Philanthropy began keeping a tally. The Philanthropy 400 report to be released Monday shows such familiar names as the United Way and the Salvation Army continue to dominate the ranking, despite the 2009 declines. The survey accounts for $68.6 billion in charitable contributions.More

Becoming a multicultural congregation
Church Executive Magazine
Church executives are responsible for launching new programs, making new hires and setting new budgets. This requires the stewardship of our personal time, energy, intellectual capital, and creative assets — and this extends to our personnel and congregations. That’s why we do strategic planning, cost/benefit analysis and probe into the unintended consequences of our decisions. So in the grand scheme of church life as a church executive, why in the world would you want to add becoming a multicultural congregation to your goals list?More

Being off duty as a pastor
Associated Baptist Press
Since a pastor is a shepherd of a particular group of people, it is always important to know the folks you are serving alongside -- really know them. What do they do for work? What makes them tick? What upsets them more than anything? How do they live? What do they fear the most? And the list could go on. The only way to begin to know these things is to spend time with your people. Dinners, coffee meetings, birthday parties and anniversary celebrations are among the many social engagements that come with the job. But, as you might imagine, all of this can be quite weighty on a pastor when everyone expects him or her to be at everything.More

Tim Keller: Churches worldwide need to move into cities
The Christian Post
New York pastor Tim Keller awed the crowd Wednesday evening with his well thought-out argument on why churches around the world need to move into cities. Keller, founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan told attendees of Lausanne III that if Christians want human life to be shaped by Jesus Christ then churches need to go into cities. Cities are where churches can reach the next generation (young adults want to live in the city); reach more unreachable people (people are far more open to the Gospel in the cosmopolitan city than in their hometown); reach people who have a big impact on the world (filmmakers, authors and businessmen); and reach the poor (about one-third of city dwellers live in shanty towns).More

The importance of adult influence in teen faith development
Youth Worker
Adults set the standard. Adults are who teenagers look to and who they want to emulate when they get older. We may not realize it, but teenagers are looking to us for examples of how faith is supposed to be represented. So why are we not setting the examples very well? As adults, we have an extreme influence on teenagers and how they understand faith. We need to help them get a better understanding of faith through how we live, help them gain a fuller understanding of living faith by growing with them.More

Does age really matter in your pew?
Resonate or Die
If you walk through the doors of most any community church, you will notice one of two things: a mix of many ages and life stages OR no one who “looks” like you. Today’s population is comprised of individuals separated by four and even five distinct generations and, while many factors contribute to how and why someone chooses your church, it is important to recognize that your church also has a generational personality. This personality has a lot to do with who attends and participates in your ministry. Here’s a quick bio of each generation.More

The principle of the leadership lid
Church Central
The principle of the leadership lid is simple, if not simplistic: An organization can move no higher than the leadership qualities of the leader. Like any so-called principle, the leadership lid certainly has exceptions. It is not an ironclad rule. But it does merit consideration. This principle does suggest, for example, if the leader has character deficiencies, the organization will suffer. Or if he or she has a work ethic problem, the organization does not reach its potential. It is also possible, even likely in many situations, that the leader does not and cannot possess key leadership skills. Again, the organization is weaker because of a weak leader. Every leader should consider this principle whether the leadership responsibility is over a few or thousands. What, then, are some basic steps in evaluating oneself in light of the leadership lid?More

Evolving your Web strategy
Christian Computing Magazine
Church websites are becoming anchor points for community life...a place where people can connect, engage, learn and worship. The core questions that any church should be asking themselves right now are, 1) how can we reach people where they are, 2) how connected do we want to be with our congregants and how connected do we want them to be with each other, 3) can we use technology to further spiritual discipleship, and 4) how do we do it?More

Social investment policies for churches
Your Church
Church leaders find themselves in charge of endowments, capital accounts, and, in some congregations, pension funds. They may have to make big decisions about investment policy or small ones (relatively speaking) about which funds to include in a 403(b) plan. But how can leaders discern what companies should be avoided, based on social or moral grounds, and also know the right investment funds to purchase?More

New Web life for the Dead Sea Scrolls
The New York Times
The scribes who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls could not have imagined their texts’ one day being Googled. But the Israel Antiquities Authority, the custodian of the scrolls, the 2,000-year-old biblical and apocryphal texts discovered last century in caves in the Judean desert, announced Tuesday that it was collaborating with Google’s research and development arm in Israel on uploading newly digitized images of the closely guarded manuscripts and making them available to all online in a matter of months.More

Church starts service for kids with special needs
Saint Andrew's Episcopal Church in Harrington Park, N.J., began All God's Children, a special service for children with special needs and their families on Oct. 3, and will be holding the service every first and third Sunday of the month. The service is designed to cater to "short attention spans and a wide range of physical emotional abilities," the program director, Paul Shackford, said. He added that it was especially appropriate for children with autism, attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, Down syndrome, and other developmental, emotional or physical challenges.More

Natwivity takes Christmas story to Twitter users
Christian Today
Christians and all other fans of the Christmas season will be able to follow the Nativity story on Twitter from Dec. 1. Twitter users will be able to follow Natwivity throughout Advent, when different figures from the world's most famous story will bash out 140-character updates each day. They include Joseph, Mary, the shepherds, the three wise and King Herod.More