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Spiritual Samurai. Perhaps you remember that blog from Valleygate and the lawsuit: RIP

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November 19, 2009 Posted by | WWW | Comments Off on Gone

Pro bono and reduced-fee legal help for bloggers/journalists

Have legal matters like those entangling bloggers like Spiritual Samurai(blog deleted) and FBC Jax Watchdog left you wary of either nonprofit public service blogging or information service entrepreneurialism?
For those serious about public-interest information gathering and publication, there is a new source of help.
Mac Slocum at Nieman Journalism Lab writes today:

The Citizen Media Law Project at Harvard’s Berkman Center doesn’t want those entrepreneurial instincts to wither on the vine. It’s just launched an ambitious collection of free legal resources called the Online Media Legal Network (OMLN), the centerpiece of which is a matchmaking service that connects online publishers with attorneys who can address their specific needs. It’s a full-service effort, covering everything from basic business structure to contracts to representation in court.

The doors are open to one and all who meet the network’s requirements. In general they consider:

  • Viability. We believe that limited resources can have the greatest impact when focused on ventures that are economically viable and/or sustainable over time.
  • Adherence to journalistic standards. We seek to support ventures that practice the journalistic standards of truth, fairness, and transparency.
  • Innovation. We’re looking for ventures that are at the forefront of efforts to harness the Internet to revolutionize journalism and fill unmet market needs.
  • Independence. The network will primarily support media ventures that are independent of the traditional media or corporate ownership.
  • Original reporting. Preference will be given to ventures that create their own original reporting, or that use traditional news sources in new and innovative ways.
  • Public interest. Priority will be given to ventures that serve the public interest, including those that fill important information needs or foster a sense of community.

Pro bono and reduced-fee assistance are available and the project anticipates dealing with a wide range of publication and newsgathering needs.

November 19, 2009 Posted by | Law | , , | Comments Off on Pro bono and reduced-fee legal help for bloggers/journalists

Church planting: Waste or salvation?

Church planting has become a main branch of the Southern Baptist Convention evangelism strategy, but a North Carolina pastor who ran for SBC president last year has raised serious questions about whether it should be.

Les Puryear, pastor of Lewisville Baptist Church, using statistics compiled by the SBC’s North American Mission Board, says that the convention spends about $100,000 over the first four years of a “planted” church’s life, yet 32 percent of new churches don’t survive for four years.

As a result:

If $1 million is invested to plant 10 new churches, $320,000 of that investment will not result in a viable, healthy church.

Without citing a source Using statistics from from the SBC Annual 2008 Book of Reports (p. 123), Puryear cities an NAMB church planting budget for 2008-2009 of about $22.85 million (a graphic on this page of the NAMB web site shows the 2008 budgeted expenses for church planting to be $24.4 million). Puryear calculated that about $7.31 million is being spent on churches that won’t exist after four years.

The new churches that survive for four years average 85 in attendance and have baptized 48 people.

Puryear compares that to his first four years at Lewisville, when 51 people were baptized.

“Thus, my 127-year-old ‘traditional’ Southern Baptist church has a higher average baptisms per year than does the average new church plant. I provide these stats not to glorify my church but to demonstrate that established, traditional Southern Baptist churches can be viable places of reaching the lost.”

SBC records show that in 2008, the convention’s 44,848 churches (newly ‘planted,’ dying, thriving, etc …) baptized 342,198 people, an average of 7.63 per church.

Ed Stetzer, who is now president of LifeWay Research, cited similar figures in a 2003 article called “The Most Effective Evangelistic Strategy Under Heaven.” The article, which was adapted from Stetzer’s book, “Planting New Churches in a Postmodern Age,” quotes noted church growth author C. Peter Wagner as calling church planting “the single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven.”

Stetzer goes on to cite research that new churches average about 14.4 baptisms per year for every 100 people in regular attendance in worship while churches that are 16 years old or more baptize about 7.3 persons per year for every 100 people in attendance. He calls new churches “a gift of evangelism.”

“Without church planting, our denomination will decline; but more importantly, the number of Christians in North America will continue to decline. If we love God’s Kingdom, we must love church planting.”

Church planting has been emphasized in the SBC since well before Stetzer’s article. Although the strategy has on occasion been problematic.

The Overseas Leadership Team for the SBC’s International Mission Board adopted a vision statement in 1998 to guide the IMB’s missionary force.

“We will facilitate the lost coming to saving faith in Jesus Christ by beginning and nurturing Church Planting Movements among all peoples.”

The IMB defines a church planting movement as “a rapid and multiplicative increase of indigenous churches planting churches within a given people group or population segment.”

By 2000, the IMB was discouraging volunteers from constructing church buildings overseas and instead moving them toward church planting efforts.

The IMB claims that its missionaries were responsible for more than 25,000 church starts in 2007, but the board’s numbers are thought to be inflated and in some cases fabricated.

The SBC’s North American Mission Board see its role as helping Southern Baptists fulfill the Great Commission “through a North American strategy for sharing Christ, starting churches and sending missionaries.”

NAMB even has a web site it calls a “one-stop shop for church planting.”

The SBC’s seminaries emphasize church planting. The Nehemiah Project, which put a professor of church planting on each Southern Baptist seminary campus, started in 1998, according to this time line.

Members of the convention’s Great Commission Task Force, which is studying ways the SBC can better accomplish the Great Commission, have talked about the importance of church planting. Danny Akin, the president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and a driving force behind the task force, has called for a church planting strategy “that assaults the major population centers of North America.”

“Why we plant more churches in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee than we do in New York, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Washington and California is absolutely incomprehensible to me.”

The Great Commission Resurgence Declaration calls for “new churches in unevangelized areas of North America, especially the great urban centers,” and for the revitalization of existing congregations.

“We long to see a Convention where every church is a church planting church in its unique Jerusalem, its Judea and Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth.”

Ronnie Floyd, chairman of the task force, said at a recent question and answer session that the group’s report “will ring the bell for church planting.”

I believe charging out of the gate of our report will be a real commitment to Gospel churches planting Gospel churches planting Gospel churches.

In his blog post, Puryear says he is “not anti-church planting.”

“And so, is church planting the best way to reach the lost? I’m not certain that church planting is the ‘best’ way, but it is one effective, though expensive way.”

In addition to church planting, Puryear said he’d like to see NAMB emphasize helping existing churches.

“Pursuant to such a goal, I would like to see NAMB establish seminars, conferences, study courses, etc., to help the local church learn how to develop strategies for reaching the lost. I hear many missionaries talking about outreach strategy, but I never see anyone teaching pastors and leaders of the local churches how to develop outreach strategies. If NAMB or someone else would develop such training, I would be the first in line to attend. Also, I would happily pay for such training. We train missionaries how to develop strategy. Why cannot we train our pastors?”

November 19, 2009 Posted by | Churches, Religion, SBC | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Thursday Religious (New Lutheran denomination, Ted startup launch, free ‘Origin,’ Atheist billboard uproar …)

  • Lutheran CORE (Coalition for Renewal) organizing a new denomination (maybe): According to the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Journal Sentinel, “a national Lutheran group angered by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s August vote to allow gay clergy said Wednesday that it is developing a proposal for a new denomination for congregations and individuals interested in leaving the ELCA.”

    CORE members voted to begin discussing with congregations whether to move toward schism or work from within the church. It will vote on the breakaway proposal at its convocation Aug. 26-27 in Columbus, Ohio. Lutheran CORE would remain a free-standing synod serving congregations inside and outside the ELCA under a separate recommendation also being drafted, the organization said. Wisconsin CORE members will meet Nov. 28 in Lebanon (WI.).

    Shifting public attitudes may have some impact, we suspect.

  • Ted Haggard startup successfully launched: Having had 150 people show up rather than the 10 or 20 he said he expected, Haggard “will continue to host prayer meetings every Thursday night in his home” and/or his barn Yes, as we predicted, “He’s back.”
  • ‘Origin of Species’ giveaway: The Pittsburg Post-Gazette reports that at 100 campuses nationwide the 150th anniversary “Origin of the Species” came with addendum:

    The books included a 50-page introductory section by religious author Ray Comfort that argues against evolution. In total, Mr. Comfort — who hosts “The Way of the Master” television show with actor Kirk Cameron — gave away 170,000 copies of the books at universities.

  • British Humanist Association atheist billboardNorthern Irish uproar over atheist billboard: The Belfast Telegraph writes:

    The British Humanist Association (BHA) yesterday unveiled a billboard with the slogan “Please Don’t Label Me. Let Me Grow Up And Choose For Myself” on one Belfast’s busiest routes.
    . . .
    However, religious leaders across Northern Ireland have hit out at the BHA, accusing the organisation of arrogance and hypocrisy.

    BBC reports that it’s part of a broad campaign:

    The posters are part of a campaign to challenge state-funded faith schools. … Professor Richard Dawkins, who has part-funded the BHA campaign in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, says labeling children as “religious” is a form of brainwashing.

    Remember the Holy Moly! Atheist Bus?

  • Scriptural gamester’s Christmas: An XBox 360 Bible for the children’s stockings? Your nominees?
  • Sick ?: Christian ? Or as former evangelist Frank Schaeffer warns, trawling for assassins?
  • Palin’s parables: Going Rogue may not be quite as much a work of fiction as Left Behind, but Dan Gilgoff seems to think they’re aimed at the same general audience. Doesn’t he?
  • Our Bulwer-Lytton religious journalism nominee wrote about a Bill Moyers Journal entitled Beyond Our Differences. ‘Twas a dark and stormy editorial:

    Despite the appearance of diversity, the interviewees were glaringly homogeneous in their religious pluralism. As a result, a significant portion of religious adherents, namely, those believing in some sort of exclusive religious claims, were cut-off from the conversation. A more fruitful discussion would have included religious practitioners that do not presuppose that there are a number of valid paths (Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Sikhism, etc.) to the divine.

    For deliberate Bulwer-Lytton Wretched Writing contest fun, go here.

  • Headline of (a recent) day: Teams report movement from Native American revivals : What does it mean?

November 19, 2009 Posted by | Religion | | Comments Off on Thursday Religious (New Lutheran denomination, Ted startup launch, free ‘Origin,’ Atheist billboard uproar …)

Headline of the day nominee

Teams report movement from Native American revivals: What does it mean? Running away?

November 19, 2009 Posted by | Satire | Comments Off on Headline of the day nominee

Edward George Bulwer-Lytton editorial nominee

Twas a dark and stormy editorial about a Bill Moyers Journal entitled Beyond Our Differences. Among so many other things, the editor wrote:

Despite the appearance of diversity, the interviewees were glaringly homogeneous in their religious pluralism. As a result, a significant portion of religious adherents, namely, those believing in some sort of exclusive religious claims, were cut-off from the conversation. A more fruitful discussion would have included religious practitioners that do not presuppose that there are a number of valid paths (Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Sikhism, etc.) to the divine.

For deliberate Bulwer-Lytton Wretched Writing contest fun, go here.

November 19, 2009 Posted by | Satire | Comments Off on Edward George Bulwer-Lytton editorial nominee

Nominee for thoroughly misguided

Christian ?

November 19, 2009 Posted by | Obama, Politics, Satire | Comments Off on Nominee for thoroughly misguided

Has Palin written a parable?

Going Rogue may not be quite as much a work of fiction as Left Behind but Dan Gilgoff seems to think they’re aimed at the same general audience.

November 19, 2009 Posted by | Book Review | , , , | Comments Off on Has Palin written a parable?

An XBox 360 Bible? Due out when?

Yes, really. Due out in December, it isn’t a game (it’s a Bible on XBox).

Bible game attempts are often panned by reviewers. This kind of thing has been going on since 1983 when “The Music Machine” for Atari 2600 was released (and may not have done well commercially).

The $5 price may be right, although the real competition for digital Good Book text is probably Project Gutenburg, where a variety of Bibles may be freely downloaded.

November 19, 2009 Posted by | The Arts | Comments Off on An XBox 360 Bible? Due out when?

Brains lose an Australian round to alcohol

Baptists and Methodists hereabouts might go Australian when they hear some of the alcohol good sense from Down Under. For the sake of teen brains, thoughtful Aussies have been pushing an increase in the drinking age from 18 to 19 (or 21). Ian Hickie, executive director of Sydney University’s Brain and Mind Research Institute, writes:

New research in neuro-science tells us that the brain continues to develop right through until the late teenage and early adult period. In fact, particularly in young men, it may not reach adult maturity till the mid-20s.

It is the frontal part of the brain that regulates complex decision making, forward planning and inhibition of impulsive behaviours that is undergoing final development at this age.

One of the most toxic things that a young brain can encounter is a high level of blood alcohol.

The issue is important there now because the Prime Minister is asking for health policy advice, and a teen binge-drinking national tradition called ”schoolies week” is upon them.

Hickie’s argument attracted support from the chairman of the Australian National Council on Drugs, John Herron and others. Jon Currie, chairman of an Australian national expert panel on alcohol, has said first consideration should be given to raising the drinking age to 21. Indeed, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that thanks to Hickie, the Prime Minister is “under pressure to raise drinking age.”

As is often the case everywhere, however, politics and good sense are at odds. On Thursday, Australian Health Minister Nicola Roxon told reporters, “It’s not on our agenda to increase the drinking age.”

November 19, 2009 Posted by | Health, Law | | Comments Off on Brains lose an Australian round to alcohol