SEEN IN PASSING Items of interest from various sources of religious news and opinion, in print and on the web.
The Great Pastoral Resignation? A study released by the Barna group in November revealed that over twenty thousand Christian pastors left the ministry during the recent pandemic, and half of those who remain say they would leave if they could afford it. “Pastors in the ministry for 20 years or more were more likely to tell us they were considering quitting,” said David Kinnaman, president and CEO of The Barna Group. The study noted that church attendance has softened quite a bit since the pandemic started. “During and after the pandemic, one-third of practicing Christians disengaged from their congregation—just sort of stopped showing up. . . . I think the long-term effect of this is going to be a stronger church, but probably a smaller church,” Kinnaman said. Carter, Brody. “New Barna Survey Finds That 38% of US Pastors Have Considered Leaving Ministry.” US. Cbn.com, 16 Nov. 2021. Web. 18 Mar. 2022.
It’s a Thing – Virtual Reality Church. Corrina Laughlin, a professor of media studies at Loyola Marymount, writes in the Atlantic Magazine about how evangelical Christians are frequently at the cutting edge of technology advances, early adopters of any technology that promises to broaden the scope of their ministry. An example is Bishop D.J. Soto, a pastor who founded “VR Church” in 2016. About two hundred people attend his services virtually, each wearing a VR headset. At first Soto mostly replicated the experience of attending a physical church—there were VR pews to sit in and a pastor on stage preaching. But then, said Soto, “the light bulb came on in our brains and we’re like, Hold on—we are in the matrix; we are in the metaverse, where the possibilities are endless because we control time and space.” Now the congregation will often meet in VR spaces modeled on actual sites in the Holy Land. Last year’s Christmas Eve service, for example, was set in the plains outside Bethlehem where, through the help of special effects, the congregation “saw” the heavens opened and angels proclaiming the Savior’s birth. Laughlin, Corrina. “Why Evangelicals Are Early Adopters of New Tech.” Ideas. TheAtlantic.com, 21 Dec. 2021. Web. 23 Dec. 2021.
Marry Young or Wait? A popular narrative about marriage states that those who wait until they are older to wed are more likely to enjoy stability and happiness in their marriage. Delaying marriage, so the thinking goes, gives one time to develop a career, build wealth and gain maturity. But in a wide-ranging recent study, Brigham Young researcher Alan Hawkins found that there are distinct advantages to marrying young. His study compared so-called “foundation stone” marriages (those who marry at age 20-25) to “capstone” marriages (those who marry at age 25-35). His data indicated that early-marrieds enjoy slightly higher levels of marriage satisfaction and happiness than their older counterparts. “These findings run counter to the cultural narrative that early-marrieds will struggle in their relationships,” Hawkins wrote. “At least today, those marrying in their early 20s appear a little more likely to enjoy wedded bliss than those marrying later.” The research also indicated that religious couples are significantly more likely to marry young than are secular couples. Hawkins, Alan. “Don’t Diss the Early-Marrieds.” Research. ChristianityToday.com, 9 Feb. 2022. Web. 13 Feb. 2022.
Financial Aid Applications. Immanuel Lutheran High School, College, and Seminary has a financial aid program that helps students to attend by assisting with loans, multi-student grants, individual student grants, scholarships, and work study. All students are encouraged to submit an application, especially since this year the application includes the possibility of a High School tuition grant. While the scholarships are automatically applied based upon academic performance, the other aids are provided upon application made by the responsible party. In order to be as helpful and as equitable to all, these forms need to be submitted by the deadline, which is May 1, 2022, for the 2022-23 academic year. If any potential student is showing any interest in attending Immanuel, applying now ensures that you will be considered for financial assistance. While applications have already been provided to the families of current students, you may still find them at ilc.edu/resources/ under the heading “Financial Assistance Forms & Info.”
—Pastor John Hein, Chairman, CLC Board of Regents
Sponsors Needed. The Kinship Committee is in need of individual sponsors for both orphans and seminarians in our overseas sister congregations. Fields of opportunity are continually expanding, as are the needs for support from those who are moved do to do. Please consider helping. Financial support ranges from $25/month to $50/month. For more information please see, call, email, or text Dan Roehl— email@example.com / 507-381-2042.
—Dan Roehl, Sponsor Liaison, CLC Project Kinship