1) Watch Vision America on C-Span this Sunday 2) A Prayer Answered and a Tribute to Tom DeLay 3) Barna Research Reveals Increased Attendance at Church
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Please mark your calendars to watch C-Span this Sunday morning (April 9) at 8:30 a.m. E.T. / 7:30 a.m. C.T. I have been asked to sit in for a 45 minute live interview to discuss the impact of our “War on Christians and the Values Voter in 2006” Conference and the retirement of Congressman Tom DeLay. Also, please pray that the interview will glorify God and advance His kingdom.
A Prayer Answered and a Tribute to Congressman Tom DeLay
As you know, our prayer for the event was to not just have a well-run conference with a list of excellent speakers, but for God to use the Conference to greatly impact hearts and minds and to literally advance the Kingdom of God on earth through our work. I continue to be amazed at how God is answering this prayer.
I believe that the most significant moment during our entire conference occurred when Congressman Tom DeLay spoke. He seemed to me to be incredibly liberated during his talk as he discussed openly the future of America, our Nation’s Christian roots, and his own faith in Christ. His time at the Vision America Conference moved not only those that heard him but accordingly to Congressman DeLay it moved him as well. In his own words, he told Time magazine:
“I made a speech last week, and that pretty much cinched it for me. A good friend of mine, Dr. Rick Scarborough, who started and I urged him, and we've worked together over the years an organization called Vision America, which is out recruiting pastors to get involved in the political arena. He asked me to come speak. He was having a conference on the war on Christianity. So I made a speech on Wednesday. It was covered by C-Span and, frankly, a bunch of cameras. I felt very good, very free about giving that speech. The reaction was incredible just an outpouring of love and support from the audience. It was probably the one single event that convinced me: I can DO this. I could keep fighting for the things I believe in, outside of Congress.”
To be honest with you, I have been praying for Congressman DeLay that his greatest days of influence for the Kingdom of God would be ahead of him and not behind him. I believe that Congressman DeLay is going to do just that. I believe that he will have a greater impact for the Kingdom than he ever had as the majority leader.
Chuck Colson, one of the greatest Christian leaders of our time was right when he said about you: "Tom DeLay's decision means the retirement of one of the great leaders in Congress in modern times...But the good news is I can welcome him into the ranks of Christian leaders speaking on great issues of the day."
Barna Research Reveals Increased Attendance at Church Other Commentators find a Decreased Obedience to Christ
There is a lot to be optimistic about in American today. A recent Barna survey reveals some incredibly positive trends in American culture:
1. Bible Reading: In 1995 only 31 percent of Americans said they read the Bible during the week outside of church. By 2006, a remarkable 47 percent of adults reported doing so.
2. Church Attendance: In 2006, 47 percent of Americans said they attended church in a recent week - an impressive growth from 37 percent recorded in 1996.
3. Small Groups: Nearly one in four Americans (23 percent) attended a small group meeting other than Sunday School for Bible study, prayer or personal relationships, up from 17 percent a decade ago.
4. Church Volunteerism: In 2006, 24 percent of adults volunteered to serve their church in the past week, rising from 20 percent during the mid-1990's.
5. Adult Sunday School attendance has risen in recent years from 17 percent a decade ago to 24 percent this year.
These are exciting statistics and if true indicate that our prayers are being answered. However, commenting on these figures, Star Parker cautions:
“There is a disconnect between Christian faith and church attendance and personal behavior. How do we explain the applause for "Brokeback Mountain," rising pornography, the increase of gambling? People are attending church looking for answers, while at the same time, at the core of their world view is moral relativism.”
In short, we should be encouraged by these statistics and encouraged by Star’s commentary to continue to pray for changed lives and not just increased church attendance. And regardless of where the statistics fall, we would remember and obey our Great Commission from Jesus to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”