Must Read Monday: Who is going to lead the conversation in 2017?January 9, 2017
America’s conversation leaders, ranked: Pastors fall between Trump and Kanye– Christianity Today
LifeWay Research asked Americans who they believe could lead the conversation on solving our nation’s challenges? There is little agreement, and the largest group of respondents picked “none” — rejecting given options of the President, pastors, celebrities or other public leaders. The bad news is a vacuum of public leadership. But we see a positive here! How? There is a distinct opportunity each of us has to be the leader of conversations in our homes, neighborhoods and daily circles.
The question of identity, and particularly sexual identity, is not limited to the US or even Western societies. According to culture watchers in China, parents reacting to the country’s One Child Policy are overprotecting their sons and producing a nationwide masculinity crisis. Those concerned believe young boys growing up today in China have forgotten what it means to be a man. Those opposed to special “masculine” training believe the government should not perpetuate the “entrenched cultural notions of femininity and masculinity.” This debate is a familiar one here at home. So, what does it mean to be a man or woman? A key question to keep in consideration as Christians is what does it mean to approach this conversation from a distinctly biblical perspective, not just a culturally conservative one? We actually spoke with Owen Strachan and Warren Cole Smith about this question and the need to return to God’s good design for man and woman as communicated in Genesis. Listen to this conversation here: Spotlight Interview: Owen Strachan & Warren Cole Smith on Trends to Watch in 2017
As if we needed more evidence that these questions are not going away, National Geographic made a big splash announcing a special edition focusing on the global “Gender Revolution,” For more equipping on responding to these questions of gender and identity Denny Burk, Professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Andrew T. Walker , the Director of Policy Studies at The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, have written this detailed response.
Liberal churches are dying. But conservative churches are thriving.– Opinion, Washington Post
David Millard Haskell is a professor of religion and culture at Wilfrid Laurier University. He writes in the Washington Post about a study he recently completed comparing the growth of theologically liberal and conservative churches:
” Over the last five years, my colleagues and I conducted a study of 22 mainline congregations in the province of Ontario. We compared those in the sample that were growing mainline congregations to those that were declining. After statistically analyzing the survey responses of over 2,200 congregants and the clergy members who serve them, we came to a counterintuitive discovery: Conservative Protestant theology, with its more literal view of the Bible, is a significant predictor of church growth while liberal theology leads to decline. The results were published this month in the peer-reviewed journal, Review of Religious Research.”
Christians supported Donald Trump — sometimes while holding their noses— in a large part because of religious liberty concerns with a Hillary Clinton presidency. Now, as we look ahead, Emma Green runs down the biggest religious liberty questions likely to come up under a President Trump in the next year. Particularly helpful in this discussion are the religious liberty concerns of religious minorities in this country. While their concerns may not seem relevant to a majority population at this point in time, the policies and restrictions in place today for others can easily apply to Christians in the future. Religious liberty is only freedom when it applies to all.
As we have discussed at length with the Public Religion Research Institute (see here and here), the biggest trend in religion in this country is actually away from formal religion. Gallup outlines other major trends in the religious makeup of this country worth reading as we seek to understand better our communities and neighbors.