News That Illustrates: January 7, 2013
Look Who's Coming to Church?
The Christian Science Monitor ran a fascinating report on the changing landscape of church attendance in one of the most spiritually cold places in the country—the New England area. While traditional churches are declining, evangelical and Pentecostal groups are doing just the opposite. "They're expanding their footprint in what statistics show are America's four least religious states: Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts." But here's the real exciting, challenging, or encouraging angle on this story: the growth is coming from "immigrant vitality." New, spiritually vital ethnic congregations are "buying warehouses and remodeling them." The article includes an impressive story about the 1,500-member Congregacion Leon de Juda in Boston. The article is filled with preachable quotes and stories about a movement of God that's happening quietly in some unlikely places.
PREACHING ANGLES: Revival; Missions
Chicago, nicknamed the Windy City, is becoming known as Murder City. Early on Friday morning December 28th, police recorded the city's 500th homicide. This sad "milestone" caused one commentator to ask, "Why is the country not in an uproar? Why is Chicago not in an uproar? Have we become inured to the violence in Chicago and other cities with appallingly high murder rates? Have we stopped asking why so many people hold human life in such contempt? The country was rightly shocked and outraged by the killing of school children in Sandy Hook. That was unpseakably evil. But where is the outrage about what happens virtually every day and night in Chicago and places like it? Many of the victims of these atrocities are children, too."
PREACHING ANGLES: Evil; Murder; Violence
Here's a very interesting stat that could be used anytime, but it's especially appropriate if you're preaching on pro-life issues on January 20th. From 1968 through 2011, there were 6.4 million abortions in England and Wales. Of these, only 143 (or 0.006 percent) were performed under Section 1(4), a provision that allows abortions "to save the life of the pregnant woman or to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman."
PREACHING ANGLES: Abortion; National Sanctity of Life Sunday
A List of Highly-Entertaining and Preachable Lists
The two-way, an NPR blog, ran a tantalizing and incredibly fun list of 21 lists. Preachers, save this link because it includes a bank of potential sermon illustrations for the upcoming year. The blog post links to all kinds of interesting lists, including "100 Things We Didn't Know Last Year" (like "It takes more energy to sit through a 15-minute meeting than it takes Usain Bolt to run three Olympic 100m races), to "The 13 Greatest End of the World Prophecy FAILs," to the "10 Biggest Lies in History," the "Best of Craigslist ads," and "The Best (and Worst) Media Errors and Corrections of 2012."
The "Rape Capital" of India
After the Newton school shootings, the Jewish commentator Dennis Prager said, "The most important thing any society can accomplish is to build good men." But that isn't just true in America. A brutal rape case has shown the global need for the church of Jesus Christ to build good men. A 23-year-old female student was brutally raped in Delhi, nicknamed by locals as the "rape capital of India." Sadly, on December 28th she died from the vicious sexual assault. Six young men attacked her while she was riding on a public bus. The woman's death has become a rallying point in India, where masses of demonstrators have expressed outrage. Throughout India there were 228,000 crimes against women in 2012.
PREACHING ANGLES: Manhood; Violence
Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf
Norman Schwarzkopf died this past week. He was 78. "Stormin' Norman," a four-star general, was known for his military leadership that drove former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's forces out of Kuwait. Here are a few preachable quotes from this respected leader:
- On Honor in Leadership: "It doesn't take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle."
- On Righteous Anger (he was often criticized for having a bad temper): "An awful lot has been written about my temper. But I would defy anyone to go back over the years and tell me anyone whose career I've ruined, anyone whom I've driven out of the service, anyone I've fired from a job. I don't do that. I get angry at a principle, not a person."
PREACHING ANGLES: Anger; Leadership
Bring on the Clowns
Here's a great story to set up a sermon on our inheritance in Christ. The article reported, "Many of us have fantasized about getting a nice inheritance from a departed relative. When Richard Levine's father-in-law passed away, Levine didn't inherit a million bucks or a mansion. Instead, he got clowns." Technically, he got about 13,000 clown objects—dolls, puppets, floppy shoes, red noses, you name it. Levine had to take six round trips in a 30-foot truck to transport the clowns to a warehouse near his home in southern Florida. Despite the strange inheritance, Levine is trying to make the best of it. He told reporters, "Once you put this paint on your face and when you get it in your mouth, you get it in your blood and now you're a clown forever."
PREACHING ANGLES: Inheritance