Monday, December 28, 2009

Today's Quote

Unless God’s people have a clear understanding of where we are headed, the probability of a successful journey is severely limited.

Mainline Churches Declining, Aging and Lacking Diversity, New Study Reveals

Mainline Protestant churches in the United States have declined dramatically since the days of Eisenhower—from more than 80,000 churches in the 1950s to only about 72,000 today, according to a new report released by The Barna Group in early December.

No longer can the six major mainline denominations boast holding the majority of American congregants. According to the report, which was based on several national telephone surveys comparing data from studies conducted in 1998 with statistics from a new 2008 study, membership in mainline churches has taken more than a 25 percent dive. Only 15 percent of all American adults associate with a mainline church today, researchers found.

In addition to addressing the decline in mainline churches, the Barna report also examined the changes in the types of people who attend them as well as in the clergy overseeing them.

For example, the study noted, mainline churches are not doing a good job of attracting young adults and minorities. With more than one-third of mainline attendees being age 60 and above—and with the number of Hispanic and Asian congregants running at only 6 percent and 2 percent, respectively—the mainline church, it seems, is aging fast and not keeping pace when it comes to racial diversity.

One wonders if an aging clergy has something to do with those figures. Ten years ago, researchers noted, the average age of mainline senior pastors was 48. Now it’s 55. According to the study, this occurred because not enough young pastors are entering vocational ministry, and too many older pastors are refusing to retire.

For the full report, visit

[from - From the President]

Developing Effective Leaders

Developing your team into effective leaders requires more than just explaining how to do something. You must explain the why behind the how. Understanding the science behind a method is crucial to being able to effectively lead in times of unusual circumstance.

When it comes to systems, most rules have exceptions, but you can’t appropriately identify these exceptions unless you understand the principles behind the rule. Teaching rules alone creates carbon copy robots. Teaching principles creates leaders.

The Pharisees lived by rules with such rigidity that they missed the principles and the purpose behind the rules. Jesus knew the rules, but more importantly, Jesus understood the more important principles behind the rules. As a result, He made exceptions that made His ministry dramatically more fruitful and impactful than the office of a Pharisee.

Here’s the challenge – it is much easier to teach the how without the why. Teaching the science and principles behind it all requires the investment of a mentor. Often, it requires modeling. Managers teach rules. Leaders teach principles.

[This is a guest blog post from Kent Shaffer. Check-out his blog:]

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Enjoy from The Chapel on Vimeo.

Merry Xmas

Does "Xmas" take Christ out of Christmas?

Some people erroneously believe that the term Xmas was devised as part of an effort to “take Christ out of Christmas” or to literally “cross out Christ;” it is seen as evidence of the secularization of Christmas, as a symptom of the commercialization of the holiday (as the abbreviation has long been used by retailers).

Actually, the word “Christ” and its compounds, including “Christmas,” have been abbreviated in English for at least the past 1,000 years, long before the modern “Xmas” was commonly used. “Christ” was often written as “XP” or “Xt;” there are references in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as far back as AD 1021. This X and P arose as the uppercase forms of the Greek letters X and P used in ancient abbreviations for Xpiotoc (Greek for “Christ”), and are still widely seen in many Eastern Orthodox icons depicting Jesus Christ. The labarum, an amalgamation of the two Greek letters rendered as XP, is a symbol often used to represent Christ in Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christian Churches.

The labarum, often called the Chi-Rho, is a Christian symbol representing Christ. The occasionally held belief that the “X” represents the cross on which Christ was crucified also has no basis in fact. Saint Andrew’s Cross is X-shaped, but Christ’s cross was probably shaped like a T or a †. Indeed, X-as-chi was associated with Christ long before X-as-cross could be, since the cross as a Christian symbol developed later. (The Greek letter Chi X stood for “Christ” in the ancient Greek acrostic IXOYE ichthys.) While some see the spelling of Christmas as Xmas a threat, others see it as a way to honor the martyrs. The use of X as an abbreviation for “cross” in modern abbreviated writing (e.g. “King’s X” for “King’s Cross”) may have reinforced this assumption.

In ancient Christian art, X and XP are abbreviations for Christ’s name. In many manuscripts of the New Testament and icons, X is an abbreviation for Christos, as is XC (the first and last letters in Greek, using the lunate sigma); compare IC for Jesus in Greek.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

My Christmas CD Pick 2009

My favorite Christmas CD this year is "I Love Christmas" by Bonita Eileen. It is absolutely awesome!

CLICK HERE to take a look.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Our Christmas Card - From Us to You

[Click on image to enlarge]

Bishop Elwood Matthews Funeral Online

The memorial service for Bishop Elwood Matthews will be webcast live on Sunday, December 20, beginning at 5:00 PM EST.

You may view the webcast by visiting the host church's website at

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Voices of Lee Interview

Candace (Fuller) Whittington (R) from Mentone, Alabama.

Vote For Voices of Lee

Voices of Lee from Lee University has advanced to the final round of the “Sing-Off,” an a cappella competition on NBC. The show aired for the third straight night Wednesday and will culminate in a live finale, Monday, Dec. 21, when the results of voting will be revealed and the winner will be named.

The four-night NBC prime-time special began with eight a cappella groups and has narrowed the field this week to three groups. From these, the nation will choose a winner to receive a $100,000 cash prize and a Sony recording contract.

According to NBC producers, over 800 singing groups were considered as contestants, before eight were chosen in auditions around the country. Those eight, including Voices of Lee, were flown to California two weeks ago to prepare for this week’s “Sing Off” show.

The full episode and other video clips can be viewed at
Voting will determine the winner that will be announced on Monday evening’s LIVE finale at 8:00 p.m. on NBC. Voting is opened at the end of Wednesday’s broadcast and closes on Sunday, December 20 at 9:00 a.m.

Those wishing to vote for Voices of Lee may do so by land-line, cell phone, text messaging, or email. There is a maximum allowance of ten votes per format:
  • For text messaging, text the number 3 to 33088
  • By land line and cell phone, call 1-877-674-6403
  • By email vote online at

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Voices of Lee

The Voices of Lee, an a cappella singing group from Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee, is competing on NBC's Sing-Off this week. Tonight they won the opportunity to continue tomorrow night (8:00 PM EST).

Tonight, Candace (Fuller) Whittington (pictured above), sang a great solo with Voices of Lee. Candace is from Mentone, Alabama and is the granddaughter of a former COGOP pastor. She has blessed many local churches in the area with her singing for several years.

If you would like to vote tomorrow night, support the Voices of Lee.

Be their friend on Facebook: Voices

"Let My Spirit Go" - Elwood Matthews

Death Announcement - Oral Roberts

TV evangelist Oral Roberts has died at age 91, a day after he fell at his California home and was hospitalized.

Roberts founded Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla., in 1963 and served as its president until 1993.

"Oral Roberts was the greatest man of God I've ever known," said his son, Richard Roberts, according to Tulsa TV station KTUL. "A modern-day apostle of the healing ministry, an author, educator, evangelist, prophet, and innovator, he was the only man of his generation to build a worldwide ministry, an accredited university, and a medical school."

Death Announcement - Elwood Matthews

Bishop Elwood Matthews, a long-time International leader in the Church of God of Prophecy passed away this morning. Below you will find the details of his memorial service which will be held on Sunday.

Elwood Matthews Memorial Service
Sunday, December 20, 2009 at 5:00 p.m.
New Life Fellowship, 6755 South Washington Avenue, Titusville, Florida 32780

For those wishing to send a card, Sister Roberta Matthews may be contacted at the following:

Roberta Matthews
7420 North U.S. Highway 1
Unit 206
Cocoa, FL 32927

Thank you for your prayers for the family during this time of loss.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Encourage Family Christmas Traditions

Family celebrations create memories that last a lifetime. We can all remember birthdays and holidays — the special occasions we celebrate every year and how our individual families do it and then as our children arrive on the scene we want to have them experience the good things that happened to us on those holidays.

Traditions are especially important during this season because they create a continuity of family heritage, drawing grandparents, parents, cousins and children together in a way that may happen only once a year. They are the threads that link one generation to the next.

Maybe the way your family celebrated Christmas was not the storybook kind. Whose is anyway? But the good news is we all get a chance to change and recreate our children’s memories and legacies. One word of caution, don’t be too hard on your parents, as my mom says, we did not have all the resources you kids do.

What will you do this year to create family traditions in your home?

[from Howtoencourage

Friday, December 4, 2009

"Merry Christmas"

A new Rasmussen national telephone survey finds that 72% of adults prefer "Merry Christmas," while only 22% like "Happy Holidays." The survey also found that older Americans favor "Merry Christmas" more than younger adults. See the full article.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Episcopal Bishop Gives Clergy Green Light to Wed Same-Sex Couples

Episcopal clergy in eastern Massachusetts are now allowed to solemnize marriages for "all eligible couples," including gay and lesbian couples.

“It’s time for us to offer to gay and lesbian people the same sacrament of fidelity that we offer to the heterosexual world," Bishop M. Thomas Shaw told The Boston Globe.

Shaw's decision to permit priests to officiate at same-sex weddings went into effect on Sunday. It comes five years after Massachusetts became the first state to legalize marriage for same-sex couples.

"Christian marriage is a sacramental rite that has evolved in the church, along with confirmation, ordination, penance, and the anointing of the sick, and while it is not necessary for all, it must be open to all as a means of grace and sustenance to our Christian hope," the Episcopal bishop stated.

Leaders of the diocese met in August to develop a policy in response to a resolution passed by The Episcopal Church's highest legislative body this past summer. In July, The Episcopal Church adopted a resolution stating that “bishops, particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church.”

The resolution also noted the need to consider providing theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender relationships.

The Episcopal Church's House of Deputies further approved a resolution opening the ordination process to all baptized members, including practicing homosexuals.

Dallas bishop the Rt. Rev. James M. Stanton rejected the resolution, declaring that the Diocese of Dallas would continue to "stand with the larger Church in affirming the primacy of Scripture, the sanctity of marriage and the call to holiness of life."

But over the past few months a number of dioceses have decided to lift bans on the blessing of same-sex unions, with the Diocese of Massachusetts taking a step further to allow clergy to solemnize same-gender marriages.

"Your bishops understand this (resolution) to mean for us here in the Diocese of Massachusetts that the clergy of this diocese may, at their discretion, solemnize marriages for all eligible couples, beginning Advent I," Shaw explained. "Solemnization, in accordance with Massachusetts law, includes hearing the declaration of consent, pronouncing the marriage and signing the marriage certificate."

He made clear that the provision is an allowance and not a requirement and that any member of the clergy may decline to wed gay and lesbian couples.

The eastern Massachusetts bishop noted to The Boston Globe that the diocese includes "a significant number of gay and lesbian clergy who are in partnerships" along with many gay and lesbian parishioners.

The Diocese of Massachusetts includes approximately 190 parishes and 77,000 church members.

[By Lillian Kwon, Christian Post Reporter]

Is this what happens when a denominational Bishop decides he is God?

U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Allow Freedom of Speech

The Supreme Court for the second time in as many weeks refused to hear the case of a high school valedictorian who spoke about their faith in a graduation speech.

The high court said Monday that it would not hear the appeal of Erica Corder, who was forced to apologize for her 2006 speech at the Lewis-Palmer High School commencement in Monument, Colo.

Two weeks earlier, the justices said they would not revive the lawsuit filed by Brittany McComb of Henderson, Nev., who accused school officials of violating her free speech rights and having engaged in viewpoint discrimination when they censored her speech in 2006 because of its Christian content.

In both cases, school officials had screened the valedictorians’ speeches in advance and removed religious references, but the two speakers went forward with talking about their faith.

In Corder’s case, the principal threatened to withhold the valedictorian's diploma unless she issued a public apology for her actions. Notably, however, Corder was still not allowed to graduate even when she issued the apology and wasn't issued a diploma until she added the sentence: “I realize that, had I asked ahead of time, I would not have been allowed to say what I did.”

In response, Corder sued, but federal courts threw out her lawsuit, saying the school didn't violate her rights because her remarks were "school-sponsored," rather than private speech.

Fla.-based legal group Liberty Counsel, which asked the Supreme Court to hear Corder's case, argued that "a valedictorian’s speech is not government speech."

“Everyone knows that a valedictorian earned the high GPA and understands the speech belongs to the student,” stated Liberty Counsel Founder Mathew Staver when his legal group filed the request with the Supreme Court in August. “It is reprehensible that the school district threatened to withhold Erica Corder’s diploma, merely because a few sentences of her 30-second speech included references to God.”

Despite the arguments, the school district maintains that "all actions taken by school officials were constitutionally appropriate."

The case is Corder v. Lewis-Palmer School District No. 38.