Growth of Social Networking

Social Network Use Over Time

In early 2005 less than 10% of American adult internet users participated in social networking.  By late 2013 the number had risen to 72%.  These statistics and the chart at right come from Pew Research survey data. So What? A few key matters stand out to me as I review this data: the younger the internet user the higher the likelihood of participating in social networking, roughly half of those aged 65+ now use social networks, and ten years ago the usage rates were so low Pew Read More …

America’s Most Charitable Cities

cities

The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently published its annual "How America Gives" special report.  It includes information about the most charitable large cities (only the 50 largest metropolitan areas were considered) in the United States based on how much people within the city give to charitable causes.   Within this list: only 2 cities had giving rates of 5% or greater, 7 of the top 10 cities had higher giving rates in 2012 than in 2006, and the bottom half of the cities featured Read More …

PostChristian Opportunity

PC

Christian Piatt's new book postChristian: What’s Left? Can We Fix It? Do We Care? topped my list of September reading recommendations.  In January, he will be making a stop in Southwest Florida at two UCC congregations: Tuesday, January 13 @ 7pm -  Naples United Church of Christ, and Wednesday, January 14 @ 10am - United Church of Marco Island. Note: Registration is not required for these free events. All are welcome. About the Book Check out Christian's new book tour trailer Read More …

Marketing Adult Ministries

2015

Last week the fourth annual Naples United Church of Christ Adult Enrichment brochure was published.  While this booklet is shared with around 1,000 households by old fashioned postal mail in a single mailing, the electronic version is shared with an even larger audience over a much longer time period. History Like most newer initiatives in an established congregation, this marketing piece has developed over the years. A basic timeline: 2012 - a simple booklet offering information about Read More …

Americans Pray For

Pray For

Results of a new LifeWay survey suggest that Americans tend to focus their prayers on themselves and close family and friends rather than the well being of the world or people or causes that are beyond their immediate influence.  More specifically, when given the opportunity to select as many things from a list as they wished, participants indicated they prayed most for family or friends - 82%, own problems and difficulties - 74%, good things that have recently occurred - 54%, and own Read More …

Prioritizing Innovation

innovation

Sustained innovation doesn't happen by accident in an organization.  Unfortunately, I have encountered more than a few people for whom the phrase innovative congregations/churches was an oxymoron.  For many in the mainline the phrase is one that doesn't connect to current or prior experiences in church life. While a younger congregation (one established more recently) is more likely to be innovative because of where it is within the organizational life cycle, churches of all ages (as well as Read More …

October Book Recommendations

Changing Faith

This month's list features a few well known authors alongside others worth getting to know.  All but the lowest rated book below are ones I heartily recommend to those engaged in lay and pastoral leadership roles in communities of faith focused on following the way of Jesus. (5+) Changing Faith: The Dynamics and Consequences of Americans' Shifting Religious Identities by Darren Sherkat (2014) (5) The Mainliner's Survival Guide to the Post-Denominational World by Derek Penwell Read More …

Most Important Values to Teach Children

Value

The Pew Research’s new American Trends Panel survey asked respondents to pick the three most important values to pass on to children (from a list of twelve).  Overall, respondents selected being responsible - 55% hard work - 42%, and religious faith - 30%. So What? When an additional filter is applied, the results look quite different.  When you compare the most conservative respondents with the most liberal two rather different sets of responses emerge: Consistently Read More …

Stop Redecorating & Start Making Real Changes

ehrich

Tom Ehrich, a writer and Episcopal priest, recently slammed the work of an Episcopal task force. For him, the task force's focus on what can be done at the level of the denomination "seems a bit like redecorating and recalibrating the home office of a company in which the home office plays a minor role." The time for that type of change ended decades ago.  The mainline denominations (a group that includes Episcopalians) are a shell of what they once were, and are now "down more than 42 Read More …

Parable of the Good Hamas Member (Good Samaritan)

amy-jill-levine

Amy-Jill Levine's latest book is among her finest.  Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi explores nine of Jesus' best known parables.  Levine not only effectively places each in its context, but also helps establish parameters for the range of possible meaning today.  In keeping with her contention that Jesus' parables are more provocative than they are often presented today in lectures or sermons, her contemporary re-telling of the Parable of the Good Read More …