At an Alpha training conference in Detroit, a dozen people came forward to testify to the power of the Alpha program. One couple had been close to divorce when they encountered Alpha. The course inspired them to salvage their marriage and become active in a church.
Churches seeking a new pastor tend to want a man under 40, preferably married to a nonworking woman who volunteers on church committees. It’s a caricature, but only slightly so, says sociologist Adair Lummis, who is describing not congregations from the 1950s, but those today.
When the longtime professor of preaching at Bethsaida Theological Seminary retired, no one at the school could have predicted the ordeal that lay ahead. A search committee was appointed, and a position description crafted. The candidate needed to have a Ph.D., an appreciation for Bethsaida’s theological tradition and at least some experience as a pastor and as a teacher of preaching.
Almost every American seminary student knows H. Richard Niebuhr’s typology of five ways of relating Christ and culture. I have often used Niebuhr’s book Christ and Culture in the classroom. Presenting these ideas to students at the Russia United Methodist Seminary, however, was a new experience.