Russell St. John
Illustration by Krieg Barrie

Questioning the survey

Religion | Barna Group’s latest research on faith and culture lacks precision
by Russell St. John
Posted 3/12/20, 04:45 pm

The research organization Barna Group reported in February that two-thirds of American adults who attend church “do so largely because of personal enjoyment.” That claim may not be sensational, but it is misleading.

Barna’s State of the Church 2020 study highlights five trends “essential in understanding the Church’s place in the U.S. today.” It offers little new or noteworthy: Barna concluded that many Christians “church hop,” that church membership is common but declining among younger churchgoers, and that many non-Christians believe church to be irrelevant.

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Scott Takushi/Pioneer Press via AP

Off to a bad restart

Religion | The Grove United Methodist Church has not abandoned its elderly members, but it has abandoned Biblical doctrine
by Russell St. John
Posted 2/13/20, 02:39 pm

The story was sensational. A small, struggling congregation of some 30 elderly attendees is scheduled to close this summer, only to relaunch in the fall with a new, young pastor, new décor, and a new worship style, but without its aging members. Pioneer Press reported that church leaders at the Grove United Methodist Church (UMC) had asked elderly members not to participate in the relaunch and to worship elsewhere for two years before “reapplying” for membership. Accusations of age discrimination followed.

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Charlie Riedel/AP

Machen’s miracles, Methodists’ morality

History | J. Greshem Machen’s 20th-century take on liberalism could guide faithful Methodists today
by Russell St. John
Posted 1/30/20, 03:22 pm

It is not often that a dead Presbyterian can offer a way forward to living Methodists, but J. Gresham Machen can.

In February 2019 the General Conference of the United Methodist Church (UMC) passed the “Traditional Plan,” which reaffirmed the church’s ban on ordaining LGBTQ clergy and forbade current clergy from officiating at or hosting same-sex marriages. The close vote (438-384) highlighted long-term divisions within the denomination.

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