1) Don't know if you've seen the new U.S Religious Landscape Survey, conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, but if you are mainline denominational pastor, the results are brutal. Not only do the numbers of "mainline protestant traditions" continue to decline, but they also are aging. 51% of all those asked responded that they are 50 years of age or older. And of the 49% under the age of 50, a whopping 36% are over the age of 30. Thus, brings to mind the fears I keep hearing expressed by the likes of church consultants like Lyle Schaller, and more recently the denominational bigwigs, that while the baby-boom echo has resulted in a generation larger than the Baby-Boomers themselves, slowly we are losing touch with this generation, which is under the age of 30.
So, to put this in perspective, while the number of people who consider themselves as being "Not Religiously Affiliated" and "Mainline Protestant Tradition" are running about even (14% of the country), more than 30% of of the NRA's are under the age of 20, while only 13% are MPT's. And considering that according the article in USA Today larger numbers of people are turning their back on the denomination they were raised in, who knows where the future is leading. With the rise in non-denominational churches coupled with the lack of doctrinal/denominational loyalty, mainlines will be getting squeezed by both trends of non-denom and "nothing" growth. No wonder the publisher of the survey summed it up in three words: "churn, churn, churn".
Makes me wonder if in 40 years there will even exist a United Methodist Church for my sons to attend.... let alone possibly lead. I'd say that's my stomach churning.
2) It's another snow day here in the Lima area as the most brutal winter anyone can ever remember continues. Rain, sleet, snow, ice, snow as deep at 11 inches, rampant flooding, wide temperature fluctuations (in a recent three day period it went from high of 8, to a high of 41, to a high of 17)..... you name it, we've had it all. It's been a real challenge.At this point, we are seriously jonesing for spring. Chirping birds, sunshine, flowers blooming... the whole nine yards. I'm even looking forward to mowing the lawn, and I hate mowing the lawn. So, check that, I'm looking forward to teaching Max how to mow the lawn, and playing with a baby on a freshly cut lawn. That's what keeps me going.
3) As for the baby watch, still nothing to report. Aimee continues to feel increasingly miserable, and every day I look at the phone more nervously. Last weekend, I even had one of our lay-people, Carol Thomas, on-call to step in with a sermon just in case we had to go into labor on Saturday or Sunday (my associate pastor is in Haiti). We're just waiting, and if this Bucher is anything like his three brothers, we could be waiting as long (Aimee, look away now) as March 13th. Yikes! Let's hope this one has a plethora of his mom's genes and shows up a little early.
4) Bill Clinton was in town Sunday evening, and drew a huge crowd at Lima Senior High School the other night. A member of the congregation went and emailed me about it. They said he was great, and they'd vote for him, but not her, which I thought was interesting. That's about the fifth member of the congregation who'd I'd consider ideologically aligned with the Democratic Party who said they wouldn't vote for Hillary. Three of those people were women, by the way, all professional types who supposedly make up Senator Clinton's base. I don't know what this means exactly, but I suspect that whatever traction Hillary Clinton had going into the primaries has largely been lost. More and more you see the media referring to a McCain/Obama showdown (hence the push on the part of the media to get this thing down to a true two-candidate race.... much to the disappointment of my reader who is a Ron Paul fan). The Clintons have had more political lives than a whole barrel of cats. They've lived through scandals of every kind, unpopularity, fiscal issues and everything else you can imagine.
Have all those lives been lived? I think in Texas and Ohio we'll find out March 4th.
5) Have been listening quite a bit to Lenny Kravitz new album, "It's Time For a Love Revolution":
If you like stripped down rock n' roll that keeps driving forward, it's for you. If you don't, then maybe it's time you stepped up to Imogen Heap:
or maybe you'd like one of Max's new favorite bands, Hawk Nelson:
or if you want to go off the map and out of the mainstream with my friend Aaron to listen to bands that sound perpetually depressed like The Kooks:
In any event, it's obvious I've nothing to write, so I leave you this day with another personal fav, Ms. Sara Groves. A great video taken during a visit she made recently to Rwanda. "Your courage asks what I'm afraid of, your courage asks me what I am made of". Amen.