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Seen in Passing February 2015

Items of interest from various sources of religious news and opinion, in print and on the web.

Faithful doesn’t Always Mean Big.
A top evangelical church planter pointed out the things that people (often falsely) identify as signs of success in a church: “. . . People showing up (above all else, this is the number one sign to people of your legitimacy, whether that’s fair or not), the presence of children, recommendations from a friend, ample funding, quality leaders, nice signs, nice space, and a quality website.” But a congregation that doesn’t enjoy these blessings may still be doing exactly what God has called them to do: “It is quite possible that God in his mercy has called you to a place of desperation as he did Jesus and Paul. Their ministry thrived and found its completion and fullness in the Garden of Gethsemane, shipwrecks, beatings, public crucifixion, imprisonment, human contempt, appearances of failure and abandonment by the big crowds. God caused their ministry to bear great fruit in settings of desperation. Is it possible that is your calling also? If it is, are you willing to receive that calling? An old adage says, ‘Everyone wants a revolution, but nobody wants to do the dishes.’” Anonymous, ‘The Dirty Secrets Of Church Planting (Part 1)’. Leadership Journal. 9 Dec. 2014. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.

‘Dogs In Heaven? Pope Francis Leaves Pearly Gates Open.’
Pope Francis has previously given hope to gays, unmarried couples and advocates of the Big Bang theory. Now, he has endeared himself to dog lovers, animal rights activists and vegans. During a weekly general audience at the Vatican last month, the pope, speaking of the afterlife, appeared to suggest that animals could go to heaven. Gladstone, Rick. ‘Dogs In Heaven? Pope Francis Leaves Pearly Gates Open’. New York Times, 11 Dec.2014. Web. 16
Dec. 2014.

What Protestants Pray For.
A survey by LifeWay Research asked American protestants to list the things they most commonly pray for. The leading answer, with 51% of respondents including it on their list, was “. . . for my own sin.” This was followed by “… for my enemies” (46%); “. . . for people in natural disasters” (44%), “. . . for people of other faiths or no faith” (26%), “. . . to win the lottery” (20%), “. . . for God to punish someone who hurt me” (14%), “. . . for my favorite team to win a game” (11%), “. . . to find a good parking spot” (9%), and “
. . . not to get caught speeding” (7%).
‘Gleanings’. Christianity Today 2014: 16. Print.

Church Growth Methods Don’t Work on “Nones”. 
In a review of the book Rise of the Nones, by James Emery White, Kyle Rohane notes that the percentage of Americans responding “none” when asked their religion has almost tripled over the last 25 years, to about 20%. Megachurches are having trouble attracting the nones, he says, because their “seeker-sensitive” approach (contemporary music, coffee shops, theater seating) isn’t working. “This approach may have worked in the 1980s and ‘90s, but that was because the typical unchurched person was a baby boomer who had been raised in a church and was just starting to have kids. . . .They actually wanted to find a church. Not so with the nones.” Rohane, Kyle. ‘“Nones” are Your Business’. Leadership Journal Fall 2014: 70. Print.