Showing posts from November, 2021

The State of Religion & Church Life in America, 2021 (Pt. 2)

This week I’d like to focus on a couple things – the demographics and the faith practices of the United Church of Christ. To do this, I’d like to compare the UCC to a similarly sized denomination that is distinctly Evangelical in nature as well as distinctive altogether, the Seventh-Day Adventist Church of America (SDA). One reason why it is distinctive altogether is the fact that it’s Sabbath and day for Worship is Saturday. Another distinctive feature of the SDA is that most of its adherents practice vegetarianism. According to the 2015 American Religious Landscape Survey, the SDA, along with non-denominationalists and Pentecostals, were the only 3 Christian groups that saw growth between 2007 and 2014. So, the SDA is doing something right. That said, juxtaposing the UCC next to the SDA helps us have a helpful frame of reference. This is, as mentioned especially so when UCC and SDA are similar in size.   I’d like to begin by considering the age range of the SDA and UCC. SDA i

The State of Religion & Church Life in America, 2021 (Part 1)

Covid-19 – it changed everything. Or did it? In some ways, yes. In some ways, no. To see the similarities and differences between pre-Covid and amid-Covid church life, we must first go back to the years before Covid. What were sociologists, researchers, and church-people telling us? A couple huge surveys measuring religion in America painted a grave picture of church life in the few years before Covid. All in all, things were not looking so good for institutional churches. The Religious Landscape Survey put out by Pew Research Center in 2014 and the American Values Atlas put out by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) in 2016 both agreed that religion in America had shifted in major ways. The number of Christians in America was steeply declining. The number of religiously unaffiliated Americans was steeply rising. PRRI indicated that in 2016, 69% of Americans were affiliated with some form of Christianity. In 1976, it was 87%. What made up the difference, mostly those who clai

Our Daily Bread

I want to begin with a quote from the book we’ve been reading for Wednesday’s Bible Study, A More Christlike Word. The author Bradley Jersak begins the book with he calls, a reliable one-liner. Here it goes: “The Word of God is inspired, inerrant, and infallible. And when he was about eighteen years old, he grew a beard.” This quote gets at the heart of the book’s thesis – that we must read the Bible through the lens of Jesus, which the Bible itself declares to be the Word of God. Christ and his Spirit, the primary Word of God, are the reading glasses we need to read the Bible and get to the heart of the Bible’s truths. The Bible points to Jesus and so he is the lens through which we decipher each text. This morning I want to give a working example of reading scripture through the lens of Christ as we focus on our reading from the Old Testament, also known as the Tanakh or the Hebrew Bible. Our story from I Kings 17 is a wonderful one. It resonates on its own, doesn’t it? The c