Church growth


Public Sees Religion’s Influence Waning

Posted: 26 Mar 2015 05:52 AM PDT

Nearly three-quarters of the public (72 percent) now thinks religion is losing influence in American life, up 5 percentage points from 2010 to the highest level in Pew Research polling over the past decade. And most people who say religion’s influence is waning see this as a bad thing.

http://factsandtrends.net/2015/03/26/public-sees-religions-influence-waning/#.VRRAS8so5Fs

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“Let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.  And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds,  not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:22-25 (NRSV)

Why is it important for Christians to gather? Some people would say we need to gather to collect offerings, so the church can survive. Others may think that it is necessary to gather because church is the place where God can be worshiped by God’s people. I have heard also that when people miss church, they feel empty. We need to remember that Paul is writing for the first century church, which is not probably the same image we think about church today.

Churches back in that time were basically houses hosting a few people who gathered clandestinely to know more about this Jesus, the son of God. They were simultaneously surrounded by multiple gods lifted up by people who praised living kings and rulers from the empires.

Paul, once convicted about Jesus’ love, talks about the power of gathering, because by getting together, it gives identity to the people of God. Identity in love, compassion, grace, and favor. Identity that is marked by the faith. Faith in the one who came to give his life against all political systems imposed. Through Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice, Paul was able to teach that a king is not the one who rules through oppression, but who loves with such power that it brings hope to those lacking of it.

Gathering on a regular basis helps us to build self-discipline, and while the discipline takes place, our souls are transformed gradually to become what God intents for us. How? Through gatherings we may see the reflection of our sinful nature in each other, and at the same time we may reflect the grace that God provides. As part of congregational formation, the transformation may occur to help us grow as individuals, as well as Body of Christ.

Now, the challenge that Paul brings us in this letter is to not only taking the image of gatherings in a place like our church, but also taking this personal and communal formation to other spheres of lives: home, work, friends, and enemies with the purpose to see “one another to love and good deeds.”  It liberates us, frees us, and reshapes us.

 Prayer: God almighty. Guide us to intentionally be open to your voice, so we can take the church -your church- with us wherever we go. Break the barriers of our minds, hearts, and souls, and change us in such a way that the transformation never ends. Please, forgive us for limiting your gatherings to one place. Merciful God, in your powerful son’s name, we pray. Amen.

Carlos Reyes
Infinite Grace Fellowship
Washington DC

2014 Lenten Devotional

You can request our Lenten devotional to be sent to you daily. Email to info@infinitegracefellowship.org

For immediate release July 6, 2013

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CHRIS DEMBECK APPOINTED AS NEW CAMPUS PASTOR AT WEST BALTIMORE UMC/INFINITE GRACE PARISH

Mr. Christopher Dembeck. has been appointed as a campus pastor for the West Baltimore United Methodist Church and Infinite Grace United Methodist Church by resident Bishop Marcus Matthews of the Baltimore-Washington Conference. Christopher Dembeck began his duties at West Baltimore July 1. The church is located at 5130 Greenwich in Baltimore, on the city’s historic “40 West” corridor.

Mr. Dembeck, a native of Baltimore, Maryland, was formerly a technical recruiter for various technical and non-technical growing companies within the Baltimore Washington Corridor and assisted them in finding and hiring top IT talent in the region.

Chris has been attending and volunteering at Catonsville United Methodist Church for several years in different roles including: High School Sunday School teacher, Stephen Minister, and Contemporary Worship leader.  Just this year Chris has been confirmed as a Certified Candidate for Ordained Ministry by the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church. 

Chris is married to Laura Dembeck, and they have one daughter, Ava and one son, Samuel.  Chris earned his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a Marketing concentration from Towson University.  He will be starting Seminary full-time in the Fall at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington D.C.

The Baltimore-Washington Conference of The United Methodist Church is comprised of 694 congregations with nearly 200,000 members. It is the home of Methodism in America, with the founding of the denomination at Lovely Lane Chapel in 1784.

Ministry Matters™ | Articles | The Reason for a ReStart.

 

According to one report, 188,000 orthodox churches in America today are in need of a reStart. The U.S. has 200,000 orthodox Christian churches, and 300,000 churches overall. What recent history has made very clear is that the mainline church in America is dying. Thom Rainer, in a U.S. study of 1,159 churches (2002), said that 94% of American churches are in decline. Recent church attendance records show that in America, real attendance numbers are not near 40% as previously reported, but a shocking 17.7% (2004). These numbers also report a trend for growth in small (less than 49) and large (over 2000) churches, while a sharp decline in medium-sized churches.

Yesterday Andy Lunt (Director of Congregational Development), Paul Nixon (Path One Consultant) and I drove through the City of Baltimore.  We were loaded down with maps, demographic reports and news clips about about the various communities, that comprise the Charm City.  Our goal was simple, to identify places where a UMC community of faith was missing.

We drove through Franklin Square, Lafayette Square, Bolton Hill, Fells Point, Canton. Paterson Park, John Hopkins Hospital and then straight out Belair Road to Overlea and back across the city to Catonsville, through PIkesville and Mt. Washington.  As we drove through and talked to people, observed the community differences and the obvious challenges I was most disturbed and shaken by the extreme poverty that exists in several neighborhoods where there is no UMC.  I know that the rule of thumb in starting a new church is go to where there is community growth.  I get that but we need a new strategy for our urban communities and for city centers.

I am praying that God will send ministry servants who care and will participate in a ministry to directly address the plight of the poor, the working poor and those living in communities where the social problems including food insecurity, access to healthcare, drugs being sold on the streets and addictions of every kind outweigh and overshadow the hope that there is a better life and the realization of God’s love in their lives.

My prayer is that we develop a team to change one neighborhood in a major way to reflect the Reign of God’s kingdom here on earth. If you will join me in this prayer, please leave a comment.

Imagine if we lived in a world where success wasn’t measured by the accumulation of wealth, but by the lives of marginalized people that we positively impact personally on a daily basis? I know, crazy right? That just sounds like some weird stuff you’d hear from a first century Palestinian Jew running around trying to convince people to love each other….Nevermind.

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