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Jesse Hair: On the Line - June 5, 2009

Do Not Despise Your Youth

What is the potential for leadership by the younger generations in your congregation? Does your congregation yearn for growth and change, but get held back by a sometimes overzealous desire to honour and preserve its history?

David J. Wood, writing for the Call & Response blog of Duke University's Faith & Leadership website, makes the case for making room for young leaders (including young, and often generationally isolated, pastors) to live up to their productive and creative potential.

What do you think? Do congregations sometimes saddle their young leaders with too much baggage from the past? Read the article here.

The End of Christianity? - Hardly.

The conventional wisdom is that Christianity in the Western world is in decline. The "Christian" percentage of the population is declining, and many churches are facing dwindling attendance. In an April issue of Newsweek, Jon Meacham described this phenomenon as "the end of Christian America."

According to Soong-Chan Rah, however, the reports of the death of the Western church have been greatly exaggerated. Writing for Sojourners' "God's Politics" blog, Rah puts forward the idea that American Christianity, at least, may actually be growing, and doing so in "unexpected and surprising ways."

"In 1970, the city of Boston was home to about 200 churches. Thirty years later, there were 412 churches. The net gain in the number of churches was in the growth of the number of churches in the ethnic and immigrant communities. While only a handful of churches in 1970 held services in a language other than English, thirty years later, more than half of those churches held services in a language other than English."

To read more of Soong-Chan Rah's reasoning on this hopeful note, check out the article here.

Fundamentalism, National Identity, and the State

From the religion and political science category comes a really interesting video from Fora.tv about religion, religious nationalism, geography and the state. Author Reza Aslan talks about the futility of states (Saudi Arabia, Israel, etc.) attempting to control religious fundamentalism and use it for their own purposes.

What do you think? Can a successful state be founded on religious identity. Do states who attempt to control and wield the power of fundamentalist groups make deals with the devil?

Check out this thought provoking video here.

Jesse Hair is a 29-year-old Presbyterian, recently graduated from an Anglican seminary, and now writing for The United Church of Canada. Naturally, he's a little confused, but the internet is a source of comfort.

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