Thursday, January 01, 2009

Bad times Bigger Crowds..

Was reading an article in the New York Times, about how "since September, pastors [across the US] say they have seen such a burst of new interest that they find themselves contending with powerful conflicting emotions — deep empathy and quiet excitement — as they re-encounter an old piece of religious lore:Bad times are good for evangelical churches". The result of this, was that over the Christmas period the lessons from the pulpit were about the theological meaning of the financial crisis (or as I read on the sign of a local church in Sydney - God's Answer to the Financial Crisis - from 2 Cor 8-9). 

And one of the more interesting points in the article was how some Church historians believe "the big Christian revivals of the 19th century were touched off by economic panics. [In] "Praying for Recession: The Business Cycle and Protestant Religiosity in the United States", David Beckworth, an assistant professor of economics at Texas State University, looked at long-established trend lines showing the growth of evangelical congregations and the decline of mainline churches and found a more telling detail: During each recession cycle between 1968 and 2004, the rate of growth in evangelical churches jumped by 50 percent. By comparison, mainline Protestant churches continued their decline during recessions, though a bit more slowly."

There's something in the fact that when times are tough people look for God; and in prosperity people perhaps turn away. Something for our churches to be mindful of I guess, thinking about how we can serve our community in the current financial crisis (and beyond).

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