When I pack my suitcase for the meeting of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), I often think of the words of 2 Samuel 11:1: “In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab with his officers and all Israel with him.” We Presbyterians decided recently to gather every other year instead of every year, partly in the hope that with an extra year t
Romans 8 sharpens my eyes to see more clearly a hope I cannot see on my
own. Paul has a way of encouraging me to peek over his shoulder. He
shares his spectacles of faith so that I can see with him—through the
immediate, into a wide-open country of all living hope.
The Fourth of July is certainly not a church holiday, but it is an opportunity for the church and the preacher to reflect on the history of the republic, the extraordinary group of leaders who gathered in Philadelphia to declare independence and their remarkable conclusion that at the heart of the American revolution would be individual liberty and freedom of conscience.
Construction of religious buildings is at its lowest level since record keeping began in 1967. Declining participation and financial funding and a shift away from megachurches are cited as reasons for the decline. Congregations are also deciding to put more money into ministry rather than structures. The building of religious structures peaked in 2002 and has been decreasing ever since, though there are signs that it may have bottomed out in 2013. Mormons and Muslims, both with growing populations, are exceptions to this trend (Wall Street Journal, December 4).