Christian Communications Make Headlines

There has been quite a bit in the media recently about church communications. Here are a few excerpts from articles you may find interesting.

George Barna published a study last month that has rocked many Christian leaders’ worlds. “More than seven out of ten Americans (72%) claim they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is important in their life today.” However… “Only 17% of adults said that ‘a person’s faith is meant to be developed mainly by involvement in a local church.’ In other words, while there appears to be an increase in spirituality, fewer people are finding the local church important to their spiritual development.

The L.A. Times published an article yesterday entitled “God’s Call Comes by Cellphone.” It cites examples of how Christian churches are using the latest technology to connect with people. “Nearly 60% of Protestant churches have websites now, up from 35% in 2000. More than half use e-mail blasts to communicate with their congregation — and 12% let the faithful tithe online, according to the Barna Group, which conducts research for Christian ministries. In the sanctuary itself, more than 60% of Protestant churches spice up their services with video clips shown on oversize screens.” There has also been an explosion in churches that podcast the audio of their sermons, utilize text messaging, and even do video broadcasting of their services online.

Even the Wall Street Journal got into the act with an article called “Churches Embrace the Web In Bid to Attract Members.” It describes an Episcopal priest who has used MySpace to draw people to his church as well as a youth ministry that is using MySpace to connect with teens. “‘MySpace is a great tool for creating buzz,’ he said, ‘The trick is, how do you create buzz without endorsing something that can be potentially harmful?’”

It leads me to two questions…

  1. How does a church decide what technology to embrace?
  2. By providing podcasts and video services, is the church actually contributing to the problem that only 17% of Americans believe a person’s faith is meant to be developed in the context of the local church?

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In His Service,
Paul Steinbrueck
OurChurch.Com

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

12 Responses to “Christian Communications Make Headlines”

  1. REACHING PEOPLE BY WHAT EVER MEANS IS GREAT. BUT THERE IS NOTHING THAT WILL TAKE THE PLACE OF GOD’S PEOPLE COMING TOGETHER. TO DRAW STRENGHT FROM ONE ANOTHER. I ORDER CD AND TAPES FROM MINISTRIES AND THEY BLESS MY SOUL, BUT THERE STILL NEEDS TO BE A COMING TOGETHER. A BATTLE PLAN IS ALWAYS TO DIVIDE AND CONQUER. NO MAN OR WOMAN IS AN ISLAND, AND PEOPLE JUST DON’T WON’T TO BE BOTHER WITH COMMITTMENT ANY MORE. THERE IS A REASON OUR LORD PUT IN THE WORD” NOT FORSAKING THE ASSEMBLING OF OURSELVES TOGETHER, AS THE MANNER OF SOME IS; BUT EXHORTING ONE ANOTHER: AND SO MUCH THE MORE, AS YOU SEE THE DAY APPROACHING. HEBREWS 10:25. IS IT NOT SAD WHEN WE BECOME SO LAZY THAT WE DON’T WON’T TO GET UP AND GO TO THE HOUSE OF THE LORD AND GIVE THANKS!

  2. I can believe these percentages. I am a Certified Unitwd Methodist Lay Speaker, but I am also Ordained thru the “First Church of the Gospel Ministries”, because I have a Jail ministry, and several unchurched folks who call on me from time to time, for things like Baptism, marrage, and counceling because of problems. http://www.victorynetwork.org/Index.html . Take a look. Rev Ray

  3. I believe the “church without walls” concept and philosophy is expanding the opportunities to choose different sources for maximizing spiritual growth and the use of technology helps to eliminate the walls.

    The one, local church, is still the best way to establish relationships, fellowship with other Christians and develop and utilize spiritual gifts. This also promotes the requirement of scripture in Hebrews 10:25…Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. NIV. D Tyler Brown, author, producer and gospel spoken word artist.

  4. I heard about the LA Times article this morning, and the most disturbing thing about it to me is the Internet Evangelism Coalition’s advice not to use “churchy” words like “salvation.” Huh? What then are we evangelizing for if not the salvation of souls?

    Plus, while I think the Internet is a great way to reach the unsaved, unchurched and dying world, we should also steer those who come to a saving knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to a local church body where they can have actual interaction with fellow believers, opportunities to serve the Body of Christ, and to grow a a disciple.

    Staying at home and getting all of your spiritual nourishment from TV, radio or Internet preachers does a great disservice to the body of Christ.

  5. Ken R. Anderson May 19, 2006 at 7:59 pm

    The question is asked, “By providing podcasts and video services, is the church actually contributing to THE PROBLEM that only 17% of Americans believe a person’s faith is meant to be developed in the context of the local church?”

    I confess I must take issue with the original article when it refers to being “out of church” as a “problem.” I have been a non-church going Christian for over a year, and I can assure you that when it is done in the will of God, it is anything but a problem.

    But I disagree even more so with those who have so glibly quoted Hebrews 10:25, and sadly judged those of us who no longer attend “church” as uncommitted, lazy, and disobedient to the Word of God. How presumptious for them to think they know my heart, or my motives. If I was looking for a reason to “forsake” the “church,” attacks such as those would surely be more than enough.

    Do I believe I have really “forsaken” assembling together the way the Lord wants. No, I do not believe I have. Instead, I believe most Christian gatherings are far removed from what the Word is refering to when it talks about meeting together. I think that if the Apostle Paul were to visit most “churches” he would address the assembled and ask, “What in the world do you think you are doing.”

    It is not persons such as myself who have “forsaken” meeting in a scriptural manner. The church has. And I have little interest in participating.

    Interestingly, most of the New Testament was written by men who were unable to be “in church” on Sunday to worship with the beloved. St. Paul wrote most of his epistles from prision. And John was in exile on Patmos when he wrote the Book of Revelation. Neither had been “in church” for a long, long time when the Holy Spirit moved upon them to write.

    Ken

  6. This reply addresses the George Barna study that rocked many Christian leaders’ worlds. “More than seven out of ten Americans (72%) claim they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is important in their life today.” However…“Only 17% of adults said that ‘a person’s faith is meant to be developed mainly by involvement in a local church.’ In other words, while there appears to be an increase in spirituality, fewer people are finding the local church important to their spiritual development.

    Scripturally, what does the word “church” mean? The “church” is the body of Christ. (“And He ((Jesus Christ)) is before all things, and by Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence. Colossians 1:17-18 KJV) The “church” or “body of Christ” is made up of all persons who confess with their mouths the Lord Jesus, and believe in their hearts that God has raised Him from the dead. (“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Romans 10:9 KJV)

    The word “church,” as in Colossians 1:17, appears seventy-seven times in the King James Version, all in the New Testament. The Hebrew word translated “church,” Strong’s Number 1577, is ekklesia (ek-klay-see’-ah); from a compound of NT:1537 and a derivative of NT:2564; a calling out, i.e. (concretely) a popular meeting, especially a religious congregation (Jewish synagogue, or Christian community of members on earth or saints in heaven or both). A pastor we know says the ekklesia are “the called out ones.”

    “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 KJV God is teaching us to change the way we speak, and our desire is to be scripturally correct without being critical or legalistic. Can we change what has commonly been called “the church” to “the local body of Christ” or “the congregation” or “the assembly” or “a gathering of believers” or “the called out ones” or “those who have been saved?” Can we change “unchurched” to “unsaved?”

    God continues to “sanctify and cleanse it (the Church, the Body of Christ) with the washing of water by the Word.” (see Ephesians 5:26) What about Hebrews 10:25, then, which says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching?” KJV If we are not “going to church,” have we forsaken assembling together? We don’t believe we have. Sadly, much of what is considered and spoken of as “the church” today is merely the religious establishment. Are we assembled or gathered together right now in the name of Jesus, and is He in our midst? “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20 KJV

    God has given us much more on this topic, and we have written an essay at His web site, Harvest Ministry, called “Are You Going to Church?” at http://www.harvestministry.us/view/?pageID=236403

    May God give you the eyes to see Him and the ears to hear His call to intimacy through His Holy Spirit. May the blessings of God’s peace rest upon you as you ponder in your heart and mind what the Holy Spirit is saying to His Church today.

  7. Rev. Jerry Allen May 21, 2006 at 4:43 pm

    I hear so many people defend not going to church. If you notice their defense is full of holes. The church is not one person, it is made up of a body of believers. If the church is not important why would Jesus run out the money changers.
    Where were Peter and John going when they healed the lame man?
    When Paul wrote Romans, I & II Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, I & II Thessalonians, he may have been in prison, but he wrote the letters to the CHURCHES, not to any one individual.
    I agree that there is alot of hypocrisy in many churches and many people are leaving the church over it. But, how is it helping the situation by leaving? Why not stay and pray those who are in leadership, who are damaging the church to leave. And, pray God to send the ones who will stay true to His Word.
    From one who is still hanging in there I would like to encourage those who no longer go to a church to come back, we need you!

  8. We used technology in our church and it has enhanced the messages that I preach. I started using PowerPoint to gauge its value because I thought it was gimmicky. After a few weeks I discovered that my congregation, especially my leaders, were able to understand the depths of the vision. I was amazed.

    They say you remember 10% of what you hear, 50% to 60% of what you see and hear and 70% or more what you teach. It convinced me to keep the PowerPoint.

    People who state they can hear God clearly without going to church are being deceived and there is nothing like self-deception because that person is ultimately right, just asked them.

    The bible tells that we should gather the more as we see the day approaching but people have gathered less and appointed themselves as the personal savior. The church is to equip the believer so that they will do the work of the ministry. It point to a lack of accountability in a person’s life. No one is going to tell them what to do.

  9. It amazes me to see how the church has divided itself, Jesus last prayer was that the church be in unity. My comment is this, first we go to God’s word for the answer, the word says that we should assemble ourselves with other believers to grow spiritually , we are the church, rather it be in a building or in a home group or in a garage or even the park, the problem with the church today, there is no spiritual growth, no healing, and no help, people leave the same way they came in, the church is hurting and no voice to be heard, what needs to be preached is repentance and remission of sins in His name among all nations. In the book of Luke the Lord was working with the deciples going forth preaching everywhere and confirming the word with signs following. He said preach the gospel to every creature. Every one will see and hear the word, yes even those who are crippled will see it preached on TV & yes even the blind who can’t see will be able to hear it over the radio. So lets workout our own salvation with fear and trembling. Jesus spoke a new command, He said: that ye love one another; and then He said: by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples” how can we love one another if all we do is fight amongs each other my breathren, my sister over how many we can pack in the church. Let’s get busy for the kingdom and win souls, have we not wasted enough time already, the world is hanging on by a string while the days are rapidly moving towards his second coming. Where are the Peters and the Pauls, amen.
    Your sister Provi.

  10. Ken R. Anderson Jun 19, 2006 at 5:57 am

    Here is what I have read in the above comments:

    “People who state they can hear God clearly without going to church are being deceived and there is nothing like self-deception because that person is ultimately right, just asked them.”

    “IS IT NOT SAD WHEN WE BECOME SO LAZY THAT WE DON’T WON’T TO GET UP AND GO TO THE HOUSE OF THE LORD”

    “I hear so many people defend not going to church. If you notice their defense is full of holes.”

    “I point to a lack of accountability in a person’s life. No one is going to tell them what to do.”

    These harsh comments from the “you must go to church” advocates convince me even more that it is not the place for me.

    And if, as one person said, “The church is to equip the believer so that they will do the work of the ministry,” (to which I say AMEN!) and a church was actually doing that, rather than training people to sit in parallel pews and listen . . . God just might lead some of us who are “out” to come “in.” But, until then, no thanks.

    Rather than take a defensive posture, if local “church” leaders would just LISTEN to what we “out of churchers” are saying, they just might hear what the Lord is saying to the “church.”

    Ken R. Anderson

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. » The Dangers of the Church’s Pursuit of Technology - May 31, 2006

    [...] Thursday, I blogged about two articles – one in the L.A. Times the other in the Wall Street Journal – that took a look at how churches are using the latest technology to reach people. It caused me to ponder the question, “How does a church decide what technology to embrace?” [...]

  2. » Can the virtual church replace the physical church? - Jun 13, 2006

    [...] A couple weeks ago I blogged about a study published by The Barna Group which found that while “more than seven out of ten Americans (72%) claim they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is important in their life today…” only 17% of adults said that “a person’s faith is meant to be developed mainly by involvement in a local church.” [...]