Prayer zone for a better, empowering, inspiring, promoting, prospering, progressing and more successful life through Christ Jesus

Posts tagged ‘American Bible Society’

Are Americans Prioritizing Scrooge and Ralphie Over Jesus?.


'A Christmas Story'
A survey found that while 30 percent make a tradition of watching the 1983 film ‘A Christmas Story,’ only 15 percent say reading the Bible’s account of the birth of Christ is part of their holiday traditions. (Facebook)

A new Christmas poll finds less Americans are actually reading the Bible’s account of Christ‘s birth for Christmas, especially in comparison to those who make watching Christmas movies a tradition.

According to the results of a survey released Wednesday, 94 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas. For most, this will be a time for traditions. Whether it is watching a classic movie, reading a Christmas poem or short story, or opening up the pages of Scripture, traditions will play an integral part of their holiday celebrations.

The new survey commissioned by the American Bible Society and conducted online by Harris Interactive in November among more than 2,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and up found that while 30 percent make a tradition of watching the 1983 film A Christmas Story and 28 percent look forward to watching a film or TV version of the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol, just 15 percent say reading the Bible’s account of the birth of Christ is part of their holiday traditions.

“There is nothing wrong with enjoying some of the great Christmas films that have been made over the decades,” says American Bible Society Chief Communications Officer Geoffrey Morin. “It is just important that Christians don’t make holiday celebrations more about Scrooge and Ralphie than about Jesus.”

The survey also found that knowledge of the biblical account of Christmas was lacking. Fewer than half of Americans (42 percent) were able to correctly identify what the Bible says brought Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem for Jesus’ birth—reporting for a census. Worse still, just 28 percent of those ages 18 to 34 knew the right answer.

“Everything we know about Christmas comes from the pages of the Bible,” Morin says. “I hope these survey findings will encourage people to take a step back and consider making the biblical account of Christmas part of their celebrations.”

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

Why Two-Thirds of Americans Want the Bible in Public Schools.


Bible in classroom

The place of the Bible in public schools has been debated since the 1963 Supreme Court ruling in the consolidated cases of Abington School District v. Schempp and Murray v. Curlett. The debate continued earlier this year with the Texas Freedom Network findings, “Reading, Writing and Religion II.”

But as kids head back to the hallways this week, what do Americans really believe about the role of the Bible—and its values—in public schools?

A recent study found Americans overwhelmingly (77 percent) believe morals and values are declining in the U.S., and 75 percent believe a valid reason to teach the Bible in public schools is because it would provide kids with moral principles that are badly needed. Currently, only Arizona, Oklahoma, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas allow elective Bible courses in public high schools. Arkansas, Wyoming and North Carolina may soon follow suit.

The American Bible Society details the findings in its annual “State of the Bible” survey, which also reports Americans’ beliefs about the Bible, its role in society, its presence in U.S. homes and more. The “State of the Bible in 2013” survey, conducted by Barna Group on behalf of the American Bible Society, found that:

  • 66 percent of adults think it is important for public schools to teach the values of the Bible.
  • 75 percent think teaching about the Bible in public schools could be valid because it teaches moral principles badly needed today.
  • 45 percent think a valid objection to teaching the Bible is that it would favor one religion over another.
  • 32 percent fear it might offend people.
  • 11 percent think it would take time away from learning other subjects.
  • 9 percent believe there is no valid reason to teach the Bible in schools.

American Bible Society President Doug Birdsall says it may not be wise to shelter children and young adults from the best-selling book in history.

“While our intention may be to protect students from the influence of ‘other people’s’ religion, the effect has been that we are raising a generation ignorant about the most influential book of all time,” Birdsall says.

The producer of the miniseries The Bible, which beat out The Walking Dead in viewership its first week, agrees.

“I really, really believe the Bible should be taught in public schools,” said reality show megaproducer Mark Burnett (SurvivorThe Voice) on The O’Reilly Factor. “It is embarrassing for young Americans to go overseas in their mid-20s after college and do business in Rio de Janeiro or Berlin or Paris and not know who David and Goliath are.”

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

ABBY CARR

Dot-Bible Takes Scripture From Gutenberg to Google.


computer
With fewer and fewer domain names available, American Bible Society will facilitate the addition of countless web addresses by releasing the .BIBLE top-level domain. (gesinek/rgbstock.com)

With fewer and fewer domain names available, American Bible Society will facilitate the addition of countless Web addresses by releasing the .BIBLE top-level domain (TLD), making the message of the Bible even more accessible to people in a way that best fits their digital lives.

Upon finalizing a contract with the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), American Bible Society will have the rights to operate the .BIBLE TLD. The addition of the .BIBLE TLD will accelerate global online Bible access and facilitate engagement in ways not previously possible.

“The goal of making the Bible more accessible has inspired innovation since the 1400s when the printing press was created, so it is not surprising that the Bible would continue to be pushing progress,” said Scott Wennermark, director of strategic advancement for American Bible Society. “The .BIBLE top-level domain will allow American Bible Society to increase the availability of Bibleresources and expand the reach of Scripture in new and relevant ways.”

The .BIBLE domain names are anticipated to become available in 2015. ICANN is currently finalizing the steps of the expansion program, and as soon as the process is completed, American Bible Society and its supporting partners will finalize preparations for launching .BIBLE.

American Bible Society intends to make .BIBLE domain names available to individuals and groups who have a healthy respect for the Bible.

“This is the Bible’s moment to move from Gutenberg to Google,” adds Doug Birdsall, American Bible Society president. “I can think of no better way to signal to today’s generations that the Bible is wide open for a bold and promising future.”

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

AMERICAN BIBLE SOCIETY

Phil Cooke: It’s Time to Rethink ‘Missions’.


missions
Is it time to rethink missions in the digital age? (IMB)

“Studying NFL football is like preparing for war on the playing field. Sometimes that war requires you to study your opponent.”sports journalist Jay Bee, Bleacher Report

The most successful military generals and athletes ruthlessly study the strategy and tactics of their adversaries. In a similar way, effective pastors and ministry leaders have always studied the enemy. The Bible is very clear about evil, and there’s no question the enemy will stop at nothing to destroy God’s people. But in my experience, the vast majority of pastors and leaders aren’t recognizing a new but remarkably effective tool in the enemy’s arsenal: distraction. 

Today’s digital culture has brought great convenience. Who doesn’t love their iPhone, Android or iPad? The ability to connect instantly with thousands of people through social media has proven to be a powerful way to share Christianity with the culture.

But along with convenience comes something far more sinister than we realize: distraction.

The average person today is exposed to 3,000 to 5,000 media messages every single day. The cable TV service in our home boasts nearly 500 channels. Last year, 300,000 books were published, with another 3 million self-published. More than 60 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Hollywood studios released nearly 1,000 movies last year alone. Nearly 40 percent of the average employee’s day is spent sending or receiving email. Even more dire, studies reveal the distraction of social media is rapidly destroying the study habits of this generation of students. From radio and TV commercials, billboards, Internet banner ads, magazines, social media and more, we’re literally being overwhelmed.

So what does all this have to do with the church influencing culture? 

Let’s say the typical pastor teaches a congregation an hour a week. I’ll even be generous and stretch that to two hours with a mid-week service or Bible study thrown in for good measure. How do those two hours compare with the impact of TV’s Nielsen ratings indicating the average home in America is watching television about 8 hours and 18 minutes a day? (And we wonder why we’re losing the battle for the hearts and minds of this generation.)

The simple truth is that we desperately need to re-examine the Great Commission in light of today’s digital culture.If you think this isn’t serious, consider this: A few years ago, the Los Angeles Times reported on a Korean mobile phone study that indicated teenagers in that country were making up to 94 cell phone calls per day. While it’s inconclusive, some researchers are beginning to link rising rates of depression with high cell phone use. Simply put, this generation values their “digital time” more than their “people time,” resulting in fewer personal relationships or real connections with friends and family.

I love the remarkable advances digital technology has brought us, but at the same time we need to be aware of how that technology is impacting our behavior and undermining the influence of the church. And we need to find new and innovative ways to leverage technology to engage a non-believing culture.

Historically, Christianity has always had a love/hate relationship with the culture—particularly the media. Innovation and technology have more likely been perceived as a threat than a friend. Centuries ago, the Catholic church rose up against the specter of the printing press, fearing the common man’s ability to read the Bible for himself would undermine the church’s authority. Since that time, the church has learned some important lessons. By 1833 the largest publisher in America, Harper and Company, boasted one horse-powered printing press and seven hand presses while the American Bible Society owned 16 new state-of-the-art, steam-driven presses and 20 hand presses.

Early in the 20th century, the church embraced the mediums of motion pictures and radio, then television and now the Internet and social media. But in the vast majority of cases, we’re not using those platforms beyond church walls. Instead, we’re living inside a bubble. From our own Christian websites, publishing companies, record labels, TV networks, universities and more, the last 50 years have seen a remarkable withdrawal of the church from mainstream culture and a move back to a cloistered, protective bubble.

Perhaps the church isn’t losing its voice; maybe it’s giving it away. But this approach is antithetical to the life Jesus lived. He never advocated protective bubbles or retreated from the challenges of the culture around Him. He spent His life where the people were—in the marketplace, social gatherings or the Temple. He wasn’t afraid to answer the hard questions. And in Acts 17, the apostle Paul went directly to the pagan philosophers at Mars Hill. He understood their beliefs as much as they did, and they were so intrigued they invited him back. But today, when it comes to the culture around us, the church is far more likely to protest, criticize and condemn, rather than actually engage.

How can we regain our voice in today’s distracted culture?

To break through the clutter and get your message heard by your congregation, the greater community or the world, remember these five critical principles:

1. Perception matters. To re-engage today’s digital culture, we need to understand the power of perception. In a digital culture, perception matters, and it happens in the blink of an eye.

The creative team at Cooke Pictures (cookepictures.com), our media production company in Burbank, Calif., discovered that in a 300- to 500-TV channel universe, most people only take two to three seconds to decide what channel to watch. It’s not much different from deciding the next book you’ll read or church you’ll attend. In a world of nearly unlimited choices, your initial, split-second perception is critical. The slightest distraction is all it takes to sidetrack people. How often do you meet someone for lunch and put your mobile device on the table just in case you get an important email, text or phone call? We live today in a state of continuous partial attention.

As a result, I believe the most valuable commodity of the 21st century will be undivided attention. When was the last time you felt that a friend, co-worker or even spouse was fully in the moment in a conversation? This isn’t the world I would like, but it’s the world we live in. The bottom line is that it doesn’t really matter how powerful or anointed your message if you can’t get anyone in the door to hear it, or get them to focus once they arrive.

2. In a digital world, word travels fast. Amazon.com Founder Jeff Bezos says that a few years ago if a customer had a bad experience with a company, he would complain to seven of his friends. But today through social media, he can complain to 7,000 friends. In an email and text-messaging world, you can’t outrun your reputation. What are people saying about your church or ministry? Find out. Start thinking less about Google as a search engine and more as a tool for reputation management.

A few years ago, I actually had a pastor tell me he didn’t want his congregation to know about his yacht. I politely told him he was living under a rock. In a digital world, a reasonably sharp sixth-grader could download the yacht’s title online and, with Google Earth, could print a satellite photo of the boat at the dock. You can’t hide anything anymore. In a digital era, Christian leaders have to live more transparently than ever before.

3. In a cluttered world, original ideas stand out. There’s a reason Super Bowl commercials capture the public’s imagination or blockbuster movies make such an impact. I’ve always been fascinated that God chose to introduce Himself to us in the first verse of Genesis as a Creator. And yet so few Christians really understand the power of creativity to influence the culture.

Throughout history, Christians have led in the arts, letters, science, academia and politics, and today we need creative leaders more than ever. And the most creative approach is often the simple approach. For instance, I advise our ministry clients that their website design is finished when we’ve eliminated everything we possibly can. Keep your website clean, simple and to the point. We earnestly think that the more information we cram into our sermons, websites and brochures, the more they will help communicate our message. But Jesus didn’t overly complicate His stories, and neither should we. I love the quote from jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie: “It’s taken me all my life to learn what not to play.”

4. It’s time to rethink “missions.” As I write this, Facebook has more than 1 billion members, which by population makes it the third largest country in the world—somewhere between India and the United States. Who’s sending missionaries to that country? Who’s planting churches there? To be effective in a media-driven culture, we need to stop thinking of missions solely in geographical terms and start thinking virtually. This year, my wife, Kathleen, and I are launching a new nonprofit organization called “The Influence Lab” to research and discover new ways the church can influence today’s culture, particularly through media. One of our most exciting initiatives will be a short-term missions program for communication and technology professionals.

While traditional missionaries will always be needed, we receive request after request from mission organizations around the world for a short-term web developer, video editor, photographer, IT professional and more. Funding such an innovative outreach will be a challenge, but it will help shift our thinking about the future of missions. As a result, it’s one of my most important personal priorities for the future.

5. We must be strategic. Social media is a far more powerful tool than simply letting your church members know you’re at Starbucks. In my book Unique, I write about remarkable stories from local churches using social media to create “brand ambassadors” who are sharing their own stories of transformation with their friends and followers. For example, Kristen Tarsiuk, communications director at Oasis Church in Los Angeles, has used social media to minister to women fighting eating disorders; pray with people who have just lost loved ones; share the gospel globally; and help people outside Los Angeles find a local church home.

The key is understanding that social media isn’t about “marketing” your church or message; it’s about “connecting” with people who want to make your story part of their story. Making that connection doesn’t happen randomly, but rather through an intentional, strategic plan that fosters connection.

In his book Viral: How Social Media is Poised to Ignite Revival, thought leader Leonard Sweet writes: “Can you imagine doing ministry the last five hundred years and getting away with ‘Sorry, I don’t do books’? Can you imagine doing ministry in the next five years and getting away with ‘Sorry, I don’t do Facebook’?”

The great challenge of the church today is speaking into a culture that more and more simply perceives us as an irrelevant, out of touch museum piece. During my lifetime, living by Judeo-Christian principles was assumed and taken for granted. But in a world where best-selling books are titled God Is Not Great, and hostility to the faith is championed by much of the culture, we must react differently if we’re to engage the hearts and minds of those around us.

The new rules of communication in the 21st century are about cutting through the clutter and connecting. Media today is interactive, and a new generation has grown up understanding it’s a two-way conversation. After all, they pick the next American Idolby texting on their cell phone, so they know they have power. That kind of engagement is transforming education, business, politics—and the church as well.

One Ring to Rule Them All

Just as one ring ruled all others in the trilogy The Lord of the Rings, one principle rules all others in today’s distracted and cluttered world: brutal honesty. If you’re insecure, need to be constantly affirmed or were born with a fragile ego, this task may not be for you. It doesn’t take long on Twitter or Facebook to realize that this generation holds back very little when it comes to personal opinions. On my blog, my readers don’t care about my feelings and are brutally honest in their opinions. When I contribute to other online platforms such as The Huffington PostFoxNews.com or Fast Company magazine, it can get even worse.

While it often stings, there’s also something refreshing about sharing your faith to an unchurched audience. A generation ago, a local pastor could preach his entire lifetime and never have his message reach farther than the county line. But today my Twitter followers stretch from the United States to Africa, India, Russia, Australia, South America and more. Under that kind of scrutiny, leaders can’t afford to phone it in. We have to share our faith with integrity, truth and honesty. Anything less, and I can guarantee you, someone will call you out.

Two thousand years ago, a tiny, obscure, marginal group following the teachings of Jesus became the dominant religious force in the Western world. They didn’t have political power, an army or vast wealth. But they understood how to change the perception of Rome, which allowed them to eventually impact the world.

What about today?

The message is the same, but how we communicate it in today’s distracted digital culture will determine if we have the same impact.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.


Phil Cooke is a media consultant focused mainly on the Christian market, as well as a vocal critic of contemporary American and American-influenced Christian culture. Click here to visit his website.

Phil Cooke: The New Rules.



F-Cooke
LIFE MISSION: Film producer Phil Cooke has spent the last 30 years telling stories and finding ways to leverage media to engage a non-believing culture with the gospel (© Cooke Pictures)

The most successful military generals and athletes ruthlessly study the strategy and tactics of their adversaries. In a similar way, effective pastors and ministry leaders have always studied the enemy. The Bible is very clear about evil, and there’s no question the enemy will stop at nothing to destroy God’s people. But in my experience, the vast majority of pastors and leaders aren’t recognizing a new but remarkably effective tool in the enemy’s arsenal: distraction. 

Today’s digital culture has brought great convenience. Who doesn’t love their iPhone, Android or iPad? The ability to connect instantly with thousands of people through social media has proven to be a powerful way to share Christianity with the culture.

But along with convenience comes something far more sinister than we realize: distraction.

The average person today is exposed to 3,000 to 5,000 media messages every single day. The cable TV service in our home boasts nearly 500 channels. Last year, 300,000 books were published, with another 3 million self-published. More than 60 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Hollywood studios released nearly 1,000 movies last year alone. Nearly 40 percent of the average employee’s day is spent sending or receiving email. Even more dire, studies reveal the distraction of social media is rapidly destroying the study habits of this generation of students. From radio and TV commercials, billboards, Internet banner ads, magazines, social media and more, we’re literally being overwhelmed.

So what does all this have to do with the church influencing culture? 

Let’s say the typical pastor teaches a congregation an hour a week. I’ll even be generous and stretch that to two hours with a mid-week service or Bible study thrown in for good measure. How do those two hours compare with the impact of TV’s Nielsen ratings indicating the average home in America is watching television about 8 hours and 18 minutes a day? (And we wonder why we’re losing the battle for the hearts and minds of this generation.)

The simple truth is that we desperately need to re-examine the Great Commission in light of today’s digital culture.If you think this isn’t serious, consider this: A few years ago, the Los Angeles Times reported on a Korean mobile phone study that indicated teenagers in that country were making up to 94 cell phone calls per day. While it’s inconclusive, some researchers are beginning to link rising rates of depression with high cell phone use. Simply put, this generation values their “digital time” more than their “people time,” resulting in fewer personal relationships or real connections with friends and family.

I love the remarkable advances digital technology has brought us, but at the same time we need to be aware of how that technology is impacting our behavior and undermining the influence of the church. And we need to find new and innovative ways to leverage technology to engage a non-believing culture.

Historically, Christianity has always had a love/hate relationship with the culture—particularly the media. Innovation and technology have more likely been perceived as a threat than a friend. Centuries ago, the Catholic church rose up against the specter of the printing press, fearing the common man’s ability to read the Bible for himself would undermine the church’s authority. Since that time, the church has learned some important lessons. By 1833 the largest publisher in America, Harper and Company, boasted one horse-powered printing press and seven hand presses while the American Bible Society owned 16 new state-of-the-art, steam-driven presses and 20 hand presses.

Early in the 20th century, the church embraced the mediums of motion pictures and radio, then television and now the Internet and social media. But in the vast majority of cases, we’re not using those platforms beyond church walls. Instead, we’re living inside a bubble. From our own Christian websites, publishing companies, record labels, TV networks, universities and more, the last 50 years have seen a remarkable withdrawal of the church from mainstream culture and a move back to a cloistered, protective bubble.

Perhaps the church isn’t losing its voice; maybe it’s giving it away. But this approach is antithetical to the life Jesus lived. He never advocated protective bubbles or retreated from the challenges of the culture around Him. He spent His life where the people were—in the marketplace, social gatherings or the Temple. He wasn’t afraid to answer the hard questions. And in Acts 17, the apostle Paul went directly to the pagan philosophers at Mars Hill. He understood their beliefs as much as they did, and they were so intrigued they invited him back. But today, when it comes to the culture around us, the church is far more likely to protest, criticize and condemn, rather than actually engage.

How can we regain our voice in today’s distracted culture?

To break through the clutter and get your message heard by your congregation, the greater community or the world, remember these five critical principles:

1. Perception matters. To re-engage today’s digital culture, we need to understand the power of perception. In a digital culture, perception matters, and it happens in the blink of an eye.

The creative team at Cooke Pictures (cookepictures.com), our media production company in Burbank, Calif., discovered that in a 300- to 500-TV channel universe, most people only take two to three seconds to decide what channel to watch. It’s not much different from deciding the next book you’ll read or church you’ll attend. In a world of nearly unlimited choices, your initial, split-second perception is critical. The slightest distraction is all it takes to sidetrack people. How often do you meet someone for lunch and put your mobile device on the table just in case you get an important email, text or phone call? We live today in a state of continuous partial attention.

As a result, I believe the most valuable commodity of the 21st century will be undivided attention. When was the last time you felt that a friend, co-worker or even spouse was fully in the moment in a conversation? This isn’t the world I would like, but it’s the world we live in. The bottom line is that it doesn’t really matter how powerful or anointed your message if you can’t get anyone in the door to hear it, or get them to focus once they arrive.

2. In a digital world, word travels fast.Amazon.com Founder Jeff Bezos says that a few years ago if a customer had a bad experience with a company, he would complain to seven of his friends. But today through social media, he can complain to 7,000 friends. In an email and text-messaging world, you can’t outrun your reputation. What are people saying about your church or ministry? Find out. Start thinking less about Google as a search engine and more as a tool for reputation management.

A few years ago, I actually had a pastor tell me he didn’t want his congregation to know about his yacht. I politely told him he was living under a rock. In a digital world, a reasonably sharp sixth-grader could download the yacht’s title online and, with Google Earth, could print a satellite photo of the boat at the dock. You can’t hide anything anymore. In a digital era, Christian leaders have to live more transparently than ever before.

3. In a cluttered world, original ideas stand out. There’s a reason Super Bowl commercials capture the public’s imagination or blockbuster movies make such an impact. I’ve always been fascinated that God chose to introduce Himself to us in the first verse of Genesis as a Creator. And yet so few Christians really understand the power of creativity to influence the culture.

Throughout history, Christians have led in the arts, letters, science, academia and politics, and today we need creative leaders more than ever. And the most creative approach is often the simple approach. For instance, I advise our ministry clients that their website design is finished when we’ve eliminated everything we possibly can. Keep your website clean, simple and to the point. We earnestly think that the more information we cram into our sermons, websites and brochures, the more they will help communicate our message. But Jesus didn’t overly complicate His stories, and neither should we. I love the quote from jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie: “It’s taken me all my life to learn what not to play.”

4. It’s time to rethink “missions.” As I write this, Facebook has more than 1 billion members, which by population makes it the third largest country in the world—somewhere between India and the United States. Who’s sending missionaries to that country? Who’s planting churches there? To be effective in a media-driven culture, we need to stop thinking of missions solely in geographical terms and start thinking virtually. This year, my wife, Kathleen, and I are launching a new nonprofit organization called “The Influence Lab” to research and discover new ways the church can influence today’s culture, particularly through media. One of our most exciting initiatives will be a short-term missions program for communication and technology professionals.

While traditional missionaries will always be needed, we receive request after request from mission organizations around the world for a short-term web developer, video editor, photographer, IT professional and more. Funding such an innovative outreach will be a challenge, but it will help shift our thinking about the future of missions. As a result, it’s one of my most important personal priorities for the future.

5. We must be strategic. Social media is a far more powerful tool than simply letting your church members know you’re at Starbucks. In my book Unique, I write about remarkable stories from local churches using social media to create “brand ambassadors” who are sharing their own stories of transformation with their friends and followers. For example, Kristen Tarsiuk, communications director at Oasis Church in Los Angeles, has used social media to minister to women fighting eating disorders; pray with people who have just lost loved ones; share the gospel globally; and help people outside Los Angeles find a local church home.

The key is understanding that social media isn’t about “marketing” your church or message; it’s about “connecting” with people who want to make your story part of their story. Making that connection doesn’t happen randomly, but rather through an intentional, strategic plan that fosters connection.

In his book Viral: How Social Media is Poised to Ignite Revival, thought leader Leonard Sweet writes: “Can you imagine doing ministry the last five hundred years and getting away with ‘Sorry, I don’t do books’? Can you imagine doing ministry in the next five years and getting away with ‘Sorry, I don’t do Facebook’?”

The great challenge of the church today is speaking into a culture that more and more simply perceives us as an irrelevant, out of touch museum piece. During my lifetime, living by Judeo-Christian principles was assumed and taken for granted. But in a world where best-selling books are titled God Is Not Great, and hostility to the faith is championed by much of the culture, we must react differently if we’re to engage the hearts and minds of those around us.

The new rules of communication in the 21st century are about cutting through the clutter and connecting. Media today is interactive, and a new generation has grown up understanding it’s a two-way conversation. After all, they pick the next American Idolby texting on their cell phone, so they know they have power. That kind of engagement is transforming education, business, politics—and the church as well.

One Ring to Rule Them All

Just as one ring ruled all others in the trilogy The Lord of the Rings, one principle rules all others in today’s distracted and cluttered world: brutal honesty. If you’re insecure, need to be constantly affirmed or were born with a fragile ego, this task may not be for you. It doesn’t take long on Twitter or Facebook to realize that this generation holds back very little when it comes to personal opinions. On my blog, my readers don’t care about my feelings and are brutally honest in their opinions. When I contribute to other online platforms such as The Huffington PostFoxNews.com or Fast Company magazine, it can get even worse.

While it often stings, there’s also something refreshing about sharing your faith to an unchurched audience. A generation ago, a local pastor could preach his entire lifetime and never have his message reach farther than the county line. But today my Twitter followers stretch from the United States to Africa, India, Russia, Australia, South America and more. Under that kind of scrutiny, leaders can’t afford to phone it in. We have to share our faith with integrity, truth and honesty. Anything less, and I can guarantee you, someone will call you out.

Two thousand years ago, a tiny, obscure, marginal group following the teachings of Jesus became the dominant religious force in the Western world. They didn’t have political power, an army or vast wealth. But they understood how to change the perception of Rome, which allowed them to eventually impact the world.

What about today?

The message is the same, but how we communicate it in today’s distracted digital culture will determine if we have the same impact.


Phil Cooke is a media consultant focused mainly on the Christian market, as well as a vocal critic of contemporary American and American-influenced Christian culture. Click here to visit his website.


F-Cooke-Sidebar© Cooke Pictures

About Our Guest Editor…

A preacher’s kid growing up in the South, Phil Cooke knew he wanted to work in media when his college film professor saw one of the young filmmaker’s high school film productions and screened it in film class. After the film, the students began to discuss what they had just seen and in that moment the future was clear for Cooke.

“I had the most crystal clear moment I’ve ever experienced,” he says. “The thought occurred to me that if I could do something with a camera that would make people think, then that’s what I was supposed to do with my life. I changed my major that day and never looked back.”

At Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla., as a student directing primetime network Christian and family TV specials, Cooke began working with leaders to help them communicate their message.

“Oral was remarkable in his ability to connect with audiences through the camera,” he remembers. “I learned things from him back in those days that I still teach pastors and leaders today.”

Now living in Los Angeles and working in his Burbank, Calif., office, Cooke, who holds a PH.D. in theology, works with many of the most well-known and loved media ministries in the country, helping them reshape their brand and leverage media to tell their story in a changing, disrupted culture. A TV producer, media consultant and founder of Cooke Pictures, he has produced media programming in nearly 50 countries.

Cooke is a recognized expert, speaker and author on branding, having appeared on NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, CNN and Fox News. His latest book, Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media, provides a blueprint to help churches cut through the clutter of information today, communicate their story and impact their audience. It’s a message he fervently and prolifically writes about, known for his straight talk to church leaders and boldness to ask questions like, “How compelling is your service? Do your people want more of God or a better seat at the buffet down the street?”

Even as a kid, I remember vividly the negative image Christians had in our culture, and I’ve always felt it could be changed,” he says. “No matter how powerful our message, if people aren’t paying attention, then we’ve failed. Bad hair, tacky clothes, poor production quality, or cheesy ideas should never stand in the way of changing people’s lives.”

Written by Phil Cooke

American Bible Society’s Latino Advisory Council Appoints First Chairwoman.


Tessie DeVore
The Latino Advisory Council of American Bible Society recently elected its first chairwoman, Tessie DeVore. (Facebook)

The Latino Advisory Council (LAC) of American Bible Society has announced the election of its first chairwoman, seasoned publishing executive, Tessie DeVore.

Only a few years after its founding in 1816, American Bible Society began its historic ministry to the Spanish-speaking community. To continue this great legacy, the LAC was formed in 2002 in order to maintain an active dialogue with the Spanish-speaking community and as a way to advise the American Bible Society in the development of relevant Latino programs, projects and resources. Today, they review existing and explore new programs, projects and Scripture solutions that meet the needs of the diverse Latino community in the US.

DeVore, a Cuban-Puerto Rican, is a 25-year veteran in both the English and Spanish Christian publishing world. She is the executive vice president of Charisma House, the book group of Charisma Media. In that role she is responsible for spearheading the growth and development of all book imprints. Under her leadership, Charisma House has published 11 New York Times best-sellers.

Completely bilingual and fluent in English and Spanish, DeVore was named in 2002 as one of the Top 100 Hispanic Journalists and Media Personalities in the U.S. by PR Newswire. In 2005, Charisma magazine recognized her as one of “30 Emerging Voices Who Will Lead the Church in the Next Decade.” DeVore was the first female president of the Spanish Evangelical Publishers Association (SEPA). She is also the first Latino woman to serve on the Oral Roberts University Board of Trustees.

The Rev. Emilio Reyes, executive director of Multi Language Ministries for American Bible Society notes, “Recent studies show that only 8 percent of the Latino community engaging with the Bible regularly. ABS has an unprecedented opportunity to impact this growing segment of the population and are very pleased that Tessie will help lead this charge as chairwoman of the Latino Advisory Council. After all, today’s Spanish-speaking immigrants are tomorrow’s Bible-reading Americans!”

DeVore adds: “I believe the future of the United States will be directly impacted by the Latino Community. We have already seen this and the influence is only going to increase. The Latino Advisory Council is critical to the mission and vision of the American Bible Society, as Spanish-speaking people are a key component of ABS fulfilling and sustaining its mission and goals.”

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

Park Service Backpedals on Free Bible Ban.


stack of Bibles
Bibles (Bright Adventures / Creative Commons)

In a victory for free speech and the First Amendment, the National Park Service is once again allowing distribution of Bibles on federal property.

Since 2011, Shirley Elliott has sold produce and homemade jellies at Thibodaux Farmer’s Market near Jean Lafitte National Historic Park in Louisiana. Additionally, Elliott has provided free Bibles on her table for anyone to take at will. On December 1, a park ranger told her to take the Bibles off her table because “they were on federal property.”

Market regulations allow vendors to sell locally grown produce and other foods and handcrafts that are traditionally produced on a farm. In addition, the regulations stipulate “nonprofit organizations with missions related to … education, youth and/or nutrition are invited to participate in the Market” on an equal basis as vendors.

“A decision to allow free distribution of the things mentioned above, while disallowing and requiring the removal of Bibles and other religious literature … would be improper and discriminatory,” Liberty Counsel attorney Richard Mast told the superintendent of Jean Lafitte National History Park.

Two days later, the acting superintendent wrote, saying, “We regret the misunderstanding regarding the distribution of religious materials … The NPS [National Park Service] respects the right of vendors to make free religious materials available. Please assure Ms. Elliott that she is welcome to offer free Bibles at her produce and homemade jellies table.”

“We are thankful that the Park Service reversed its decision and protected Ms. Elliott’s First Amendment right to distribute literature,” says Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel.

“Thankfully, Ms. Elliott did not allow herself to be bullied by those who want to remove Christianity from the public square. It is the right of every American to advocate a religious viewpoint. Offering books or literature to willing recipients is protected by the First Amendment. Mere disagreement with the content of the speech is not sufficient to deny those constitutional rights,” Staver says.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

NICOLE LANGE

Poll: Failing to Read Bible Related to Declining Morals in US Society.


Bbile study

A new report released Tuesday finds that Americans overwhelmingly believe morals and values are declining in the U.S. (77 percent). The most-cited cause for the decline? A lack of Bible reading.

The findings are reported in American Bible Society‘s annual State of the Bible survey released Tuesday. The report details Americans’ beliefs about the Bible, its role in society, its presence in U.S. homes and more. As in previous years, the survey found that the Bible remains a highly valued, influential force in America.

But beliefs about the Bible and its role in society are becoming increasingly polarized—particularly when the data is examined by age group.

The research also uncovered a significant disconnect in belief versus behavior. While 66 percent of those surveyed agreed that the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life, 58 percent say they do not personally want wisdom and advice from the Bible, and about the same amount (57 percent) read it fewer than five times per year.

The State of the Bible 2013 survey, conducted by Barna Group on behalf of American Bible Society, found that:

  • The Bible continues to dominate both mind space and book retail space as America’s undisputed best-seller.
  • One in six people reported buying a copy of the Bible in the last year.
  • Eighty percent of Americans identify the Bible as sacred.
  • Americans have plenty of copies at their fingertips—an average of 4.4 Bibles per household.
  • Fifty six percent of adults believe the Bible should have a greater role in U.S. society.
  • But actual Bible reading and perceptions about the Bible have become increasingly polarized, with 6 million new Bible antagonists in the last year alone.
  • More than half (57 percent) of those ages 18-28 report reading the Bible less than three times a year or never.
  • While those ages 18-28 are the least likely age group to read the Bible, they are the most interested in receiving input and wisdom from it on several topics including:
    • Parenting (42 percent, compared to 22 percent of all adults);
    • Family conflict (40 percent, compared to 24 percent of all adults);
    • Dating and relationships (35 percent, compared to 16 percent of all adults);
    • Romance and sexuality (30 percent, compared to 17 percent of all adults).
  • In a non-election year, an increasing number of adults believe the Bible and politics do not mix (54 percent, compared to 49 percent in 2012). However, 69 percent still say their faith influences their views on political issues.
  • Full Findings & Infographic of Study Highlights at TheStateoftheBible.com.

“Americans overwhelmingly recognize the decline of morality in our nation,” said Doug Birdsall, president of American Bible Society. “The good news is the Bible is the ultimate instruction guide on how to live a moral life. Unfortunately, more than half of Americans rarely, if ever, read it.”

The disconnect between belief and action when it comes to Bible reading is troubling, says Birdsall.

“If we had a cure for cancer, wouldn’t everyone with cancer take it? Americans are telling us that the cure for declining morality is sitting on our bookshelves,” says Birdsall. “But more than half of Americans are simply letting the cure gather dust.”

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

ANN CARROLL

Jeremy Camp Organizes Free Facebook Concert.


Jeremy Camp
Jeremy Camp (BGEA)

Grammy-nominated and GMA Dove Award-winning artist Jeremy Camp will offer a free concert broadcast exclusively on Facebook. The concert is part of the May 9 launch of FANetwork’s faith-based community, Global Sounds.

Camp will bring 90 minutes of songs and the stories behind them live from his Nashville, Tenn., home. Facebook users will be able to interact with him directly through the “Jeremy Camp Live” Facebook app.

Excited to be the first artist featured through FANetwork’s Global Sounds, Camp said: “I love that through Facebook and social media we can now broadcast around the world and allow people who may not typically get to come to a show experience all the stories behind the songs.”

FANetwork has partnered with Berean Christian Stores, American Bible Society, HearItFirst, New Release Tuesday, Surrender Magazine and Urban Gospel Alliance to present the event. Owners Joseph and Deanna Gimelli said Berean Christian Stores is “honored” to take part in the event. “When one worships God from the heart, the body of Christ becomes unified,” they said.

Along with the concert, fans can support Camp’s nonprofit Speaking Louder Ministries through a $5 pledge for individuals or $20 for youth groups and receive a 60-day, all-access pass to content from Camp, accessed through the Facebook app.

“Global Sounds is more than a one-time concert, it is a way to gather the body of believers and give Christian artists an opportunity to express themselves and engage with fans like never before,” said Charlie Stuart Gay, president of FANetwork. “Camp’s heart is evident in his songs, but Global Sounds offers a chance for him to share the inspiration and meaning behind them, as well as his music’s impact for the Lord around the world.”

Available through the Web as well as on mobile phones and iPads, Global Sounds will feature access to a new artist each month.

In addition, Global Sounds is hosting the “Express Yourself: Upload. Share. Connect.” contest through its Facebook page, providing 25 Camp fans the opportunity to receive a shout-out on the live broadcast and win a VIP fan pack. Global Sounds is inviting youth groups to enter for the chance to win a personal Skype session with Camp by sharing a video. Details are available at FANetwork.

The May 9 concert will air live at 9 p.m. EDT/6 p.m. PDT on multiple Facebook pages. For individuals who pledge, the broadcast will be accessible through video-on-demand with special bonus content.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

By Christian Retaling.

Survey: Americans Believe Bible, Book of Mormon Share Same Spiritual Truths.


Bible

Should the Quran and the Book of Mormon be on par with the Holy Bible? In disturbing findings that shed light on the state of Christianity in America, about half of Americans seem to think these three books are fairly interchangeable.

Indeed, on the heels of Gallup’s assessment of the religiosity by state, American Bible Society is releasing in-depth findings from its State of the Bible survey. The survey details Americans’ beliefs about the Bible, its role in society, its presence in U.S. homes and more.

According to the survey, conducted by Barna Group on behalf of American Bible Society, 46 percent believe the Bible, the Quran and the Book of Mormon are different expressions of the same spiritual truths. An equal number disagree.

In some better news, the study also reveals 47 percent of American adults believe the Bible has too little influence in society today. Only 16 percent believe it has too much influence, with the remaining adults expressing neutral opinions.

What’s more, 55 percent read the Bible to be closer to God, but that’s down 9 percent from just a year ago. And although 79 percent believe they are knowledgeable about the Bible, 54 percent were unable to correctly identify the first five books of the Bible.

“Findings from The State of the Bible 2012 survey show Americans desire to read the Bible more and turn to it for the answers to life questions but have an increasingly less reverent view of its contents,” said David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group.

Indeed, 62 percent of adults age 66 and older believe the Bible contains everything a person needs to know about living a meaningful life, dropping to 54 percent among boomers (age 47 to 65), 44 percent among those age 28 to 46, and dropping even further to 34 percent for those age 18 to 27.

On average, 85 percent of U.S. households own a Bible, and the average number of Bibles per household is 4.3. Thirty-six percent of Americans read the Bible less than once a year or never while 33 percent read the Bible once a week or more.

“In order to further our efforts to make the Bible accessible to people in a way that best fits their lives, it is imperative that we have a firm grasp on the views and actions of Americans around the Bible,” says Lamar Vest, president of American Bible Society. “While the message of the Bible is unchanging, how we deliver it is ever changing. The State of the Bible 2012 helps us to better understand how Americans are interacting with God’s Word.”

By Charisma News Staff.

Tag Cloud

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,680 other followers