37 Church Stats to Know in 2019

August 15, 2019 by  
Filed under Featured, News

It’s that time of year again – when we take a deeper look inside the current state of the church.

In 2017 and 2018 these were our most read and shared posts of the year, and we hope this installment is just as helpful.

By going over some of the most important church statistics, you’ll be better prepared to grow your church throughout 2019. From attendance to social media, you’ll find statistics for most every area of the church.

Don’t be discouraged by any unfavorable statistics. That just means there’s room for improvement. Without further ado, here’s the church statistics you need to know for 2019.

1. 23% Of Pastors Deal With Mental Illness

It’s common to think of pastors as perfect, but they’re human too. This statistic is important because it shows that mental illness is an area churches need to address. Not only do pastors deal with mental illness, but almost 75% of pastors knew someone (member, relative, and/or friend) dealing with a mental illness.

Recognizing the signs and being open about it within the church helps prevent tragedies like the one that one pastor and his family dealt with.

2. 35% Of Americans Believe Bible Study Cures Mental Illness

To follow up on the previous statistics, over a third of Americans believe faith can help people overcome mental illness. Having open conversations about mental illness inchurch could encourage those dealing with it to seek help and counseling along with faith-based healing.

3. Regular Attendance Is Less

How churches define regular attendance has changed in the last few decades. An active member used to be defined as one who attended at least three times a week. Now, that number is three times a month or less. This doesn’t mean they’re out of reach though.

4. Why Americans Attend Church

This is probably one of the church statistics you didn’t even realize you wanted to know.Two-thirds of people in a Pew Research survey say they attend church for four main reasons:

  • To become a better person (68%)
  • To introduce faith to their kids (69%)
  • To find personal comfort (66%)
  • Grow closer to God (81%)

5. No Connection To Faith

On the other hand, the same study from above shows that 20% of adults attending services monthly or more say they don’t feel any real connection to God during church. A surprising 40% don’t feel a connection to their faith.

6. Believers Without A Home

Sometimes it’s easy to feel discouraged about low attendance numbers, but that doesn’t mean people don’t still believe. Many believers who don’t attend regularly or at all have valid reasons, such as:

  • Can’t find the right church (23%)
  • Poor health (9%)
  • Sermons aren’t engaging (18%)

7. Believers Practice Outside Of Church

Some Christians who may not have a church they like nearby or had a bad experience at a previous church haven’t given up on their faith. Instead, the Pew Research study found that 37% of Americans who rarely or never attend church, practice their faith in other ways. This shows that having a presence online could be beneficial to reaching those Christians.

8. Millennials Have No Affiliation

When it comes to faith, millennials are choosing not to label themselves as one type of faith over another. Nearly 40% of Americans between 18-29 have no particular religious affiliation. That doesn’t mean they don’t believe in God, but they don’t follow a set denomination.

9. Small Portion Of Tithers

Despite growing your church’s membership, you might find tithing doesn’t automatically increase. In fact, only 10% to 25% of church members tithe regularly.

10. Online Tithing Boosts Tithing

What church doesn’t want to increase tithing? The same Nonprofit Source study as above shows that offering online tithing increases tithing by 32%. This means it’s well worth investing in online giving solutions.

11. Accept Cards To Increase Tithing

Many people don’t carry cash anymore, even to church. Allowing members to tithe via credit or debit card boosts tithing. In fact, Nonprofit Source found that 49% of all donations are made via a card.

12. Less Giving Than The Great Depression

Okay, so this is going to be a bit of a depressing church statistics. During the Great Depression, Americans gave 3.3% of their income to their church. Today, it’s only 2.5% of their income.

13. Over A Third Don’t Tithe

It just seems to keep going downhill, doesn’t it? The Nonprofit Source study found that 37% of attendees don’t tithe at all. That means over a third of your members probably aren’t tithing. If they do, it’s only on rare or special occasions.

14. Some Tithers Give Far More

While the suggested tithing amount is 10% of a member’s income, those who do tithe help make up for those who don’t. The majority (77%) give anywhere from 11% to just over 20% of their income regularly.

15. Most Giving Happens Monday – Saturday

Sunday seems like it would be the biggest giving day, right? Tithe.ly found that while it’s the biggest single day, 67% of church donations happen throughout the rest of the week. This is to fit tithing into their budget better. Another surprising giving statistic is over 30% of donations come in between 9 PM and 6 AM. What does this mean for your church? Online giving is a must.

16. Mobile Giving Rules

When it comes to non-traditional tithing, mobile rules. Apps are the clear winner with 57% of people preferring a mobile option. Tithe.ly also found that web giving accounts for 24% of online donations, while text giving came in at 14%.

17. A Few Give A Lot

If you’re worried about the small percentage of tithers, don’t. In fact, Tithe.ly discovered that 15% of consistent tithers give 51% of total donations. This at least offers your church some consistency for your budget.

18. Regular Attendance Has Dropped

Attendance is one of the most sought after church statistics. Sadly, it’s also a number that’s dropped. Gallup’s most recent yearly summary is from 2017, but it shows a drop from 42% in 2008 to 37% in 2017 for regular attendees.

You shouldn’t panic too much as this number hasn’t dropped drastically at all. In fact, in the 1950s, the number was only around 50%.

19. Small Churches Are Popular

When it comes to attendance, 46% of people attend small churches with 100 or fewer members. Typically, this is due to the fact that smaller churches are more prevalent and easy to get to. They’re also often more community oriented for those who want to build relationships with the majority of other members.

20. Half Of Churches Are Small

To prove how prevalent small churches are, the same study as above found that 50% of churches have 100 members or fewer. Small to medium churches make up another 40% of churches and have 100-350 members. Sometimes it’s not about having the most members, but retaining and engaging the members you do have.

21. Mega Churches Aren’t Preferred

While mega churches seem to have it all, only 8% of all church goers attend one. Part of the reason is they’re just too big. However, they do have the benefit of having a budget that allows them to reach more people online than most smaller churches.

22. Attendance Continues To Fall

Pro Church Tools also uncovered a sobering statistic – attendance in 2050 could be as much as half of what it was in 1990. That sounds horrible, but consider the move towards digital. You could easily see a rise in online attendance.

23. Online Bibles Are Becoming More Popular

While you might not want smartphones and tablets in your church, consider that Barna research found that 55% of church goers use the Internet to read Bible content. Surprisingly, only 53% prefer to use their smartphone to search the Internet for Bible study. However, 43% use a Bible app on their smartphone.

24. Most People Own A Bible

One of the most surprising church statistics is just how many people own a Bible. Barna found that a shocking 87% of homes have at least one Bible. Even 67% of those who consider themselves skeptic, own a Bible.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that seniors (93%) and Baby Boomers (90%) are more likely to own a Bible than millennials (82%).

25. High Bible Engagement

Another comforting statistic is that half of Americans consider themselves Bible users. According to Barna, this includes people who engage with the Bible on their own at least 3-4 times a year.

On the other hand, only 32% never engage with a Bible. Overall, this shows that more people are interested in exploring their faith than not.

26. Desire For More Bible Study

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that while people do want to spend more time studying the Bible, most have a hard time finding any extra time. Of course, some don’t study more simply because they need someone to help guide them. Barna found that 58% of Americans wish they could study more often and that includes 22% of skeptics.

27. Churches Need Videos

Think uploading your sermons online isn’t important? Want to stick with text-based blogs only? Think again! Pro Church Tools found that 72% of people online prefer to learn by video over text. So, go ahead and upload videos to help guide members and visitors online.

28. Short Videos Are Preferrable

Outside of sermons, which people expect to be longer, almost 66% of people prefer videos that are one minute or less. Try uploading quick Bible study videos to engage visitors on your website and social media platforms.

29. Add Subtitles

Yes, people prefer videos, but they can’t always listen with the sound on. In fact, 85% of people watch Facebook videos with the sound turned off. Add subtitles or captions to ensure your message still gets across.

30. Facebook Is Still King Among Social Networks

If your church is deciding on which social network to use, Facebook is still number one. In fact, Pew Research Center found that 68% of adults are Facebook users. The only other network that came close was YouTube at 40%. However, using both doesn’t hurt, especially if your church focuses on video content.

31. Don’t Count Out Instagram

Many church statistics focus mainly on Facebook for social media, but it’s important to not count out Instagram. Not only do 35% of adults use Instagram, but Pew also found that 71% of 18-24 year-olds use Instagram. If you’re trying to reach out to a younger audience, it’s worth expanding your social media strategy to include Instagram.

32. YouTube Works Well For Younger Members

Want to better engage your younger members or expand your reach to 18-24 year-olds? Pew found that 94% of people in that target demographic use YouTube regularly. Of course, 75% of adults overall use YouTube. So, it’s beneficial no matter what age you’re trying to reach.

Consider YouTube for sermons, showing community outreach programs in action, Bible study sessions and even fun skits to show a humorous side to your church.

33. Videos Get More Shares

If you want your church’s social media posts to be shared, opt for more videos. They get around 1200% more shares than images and text. Videos also lead to more web traffic, with increases of up to 41%.

34. Why Do Church Goers Stay?

What is it that makes some church goers stay, but not others? Most often, they stay because the church’s theology aligns with their own beliefs. LifeWay Research found that 52% feel their beliefs completely align with the church, while 42% say their beliefs are mostly aligned.

35. Why Do Church Members Leave?

On the other hand, what makes them leave? Believe it or not, it’s not politics or music. The majority of devoted church members (48%) only leave if they have to move to a new home. However, 19% leave when the preaching style changes, so it’s important to take changes slowly to avoid pushing your members away.

Other reasons church members leave, according to LifeWay, include:

  • Pastor leaves (12%)
  • Politics (9%)
  • Music changes (5%)
  • Conflicts (4%)

36. Church Goers Are Loyal

Despite how it may seem, most church goers are actually quite loyal to their church. In fact, 35% of regular church goers have been at the same church for 10-24 years. Another 27% have attended the same church for over 25 years. The most loyal denominations are Lutherans, Methodists and Baptists, according to LifeWay.

Before you worry that your members are going to leave, remember that 57% of church goers say they’re committed to staying with their church. So, unless you make major changes suddenly, over half of your members are likely to stick with you.

37. Your Website Does Matter

Even if you’re fully engaging your members in church, you still need a church website. Why? According to Grey Matter Research, 17 million Americans who don’t regularly attend church visited a church website. While most are searching for church hours or programs, 26% are streaming video and another 26% are streaming audio. So yes, a website is vital for reaching more people and increasing your members.

WOMEN in MINISTRY

August 10, 2019 by  
Filed under Featured, News

Discipleship Dilemma in URBAN CHURCH PLANTING

August 5, 2019 by  
Filed under Featured, News

A recent study put forth by Barna research discussed the current “State of Discipleship.”[1]

I’m a big discipleship advocate—constantly preaching and teaching about the Great Commission, mission, and disciple-making. Not only do I preach and teach it—I disciple and invest into others. I love relational community.

But, the Western church is hemorrhaging. I believe the number one reason is a lack of disciple-making. Barna reveals, “only 20 percent of Christian adults are involved in some sort of discipleship activity.”

In the research, Christians were asked which term or phrase best described a spiritual growth process. Ironically, but very illuminating, “discipleship” ranked fourth on the list—being selected by fewer than one in five Christians (18%).[2] That’s disturbing. Only one in five Christians equated the term discipleship with spiritual growth. It seems that something is amiss within the contemporary church.

Spiritual Growth is Great?

Barna’s numbers seem contradictory. Only 25 percent of the polled respondents stated discipleship was very relevant. The research indicated “The implication is that while spiritual growth is very important to tens of millions, the language and terminology surrounding discipleship seems to be undergoing a change, with other phrases coming to be used more frequently than the term ‘discipleship’ itself.” So, the dilemma within discipleship is the fact that a majority of Christians do not equate themselves with disciples.

I found it ironic that 52 percent who attended church in the past six months, asserted that their church “definitely does a good job helping people grow spiritually,” while 73 percent believed their church places “a lot” of emphasis on spiritual growth. How can that many believers think their church is doing a good job at growing spiritually, and yet the church is not making disciples?

The problem is the perceived definition of spiritual growth and its relationship to disciple-making. It seems that a majority of Christians view spiritual growth as an individual construct—as if discipleship can be divorced from Christianity—it’s in a vacuum. Nearlytwo out of five of all Christian adults consider their spiritual growth to be “entirely private.”

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The Real News

Disciple-making is about reproducing—making other disciples. If 73% of the polled believers stated that their church places a major emphasis on spiritual growth—why is the church not making disciples?

Why is the church severely declining—with 80 to 85 percent of all Western churches in decline or stagnating?

I believe it has to do with perception. In the article, Barna stated that only 1% of church leaders believed their churches were discipling very well. That’s only 1%—one—uno—eine—en—no matter what language— just 1% believe their church is discipling very well. Opposite of doing well—60 percent (60%) of pastors state the church is not discipling well, at all!

Why would that be? Don’t three out of four Christians believe their church places a major emphasis on spiritual growth? Why the disparity?

As a pastor, I believe it’s because we (pastors) correlate discipleship with relational communion—life together. Barna’s poll revealed that 91% of pastors considered “a comprehensive discipleship curriculum” as the least-important element of effective discipleship. Yet, when polling Christians, a perception of discipleship, or spiritual growth is related to curriculum, class, and study—not relational connectivity and with-ness.

Barna notes “Only 17 percent say they meet with a spiritual mentor as part of their discipleship efforts.” That’s it! This is why the church is not growing and this is why the church is failing at making disciples. The majority of Christians do not see relational communion with others as important. And discipleship pertains to personalized spiritual disciplines.

How Did This Happen?

There’s a logical explanation—but not a quick one.

Perhaps due to infant baptism, from the fifth-century, and continuing into the Reformation period, discipleship progressed toward individual spiritual discipline more than communal interactive relationships concerning the daily rhythms of Christian life.

While catechesis still existed for new converts, the continued practice of infant baptism shifted discipleship away from the convert catechumenate (waiting three years prior to baptism, but partaking in communal life) to spiritual disciplines and devotions of individualized believers.[3]Perhaps the most notable reformer, Martin Luther, believed that discipleship guided the believer into deeper devotions toward Christ.[4] For Luther, discipleship referred to Christ’s inner working power and “not our attempts to imitate” the deeds of Christ.[5]

The early church had communal gatherings for fellowship, teaching, and life-on-life. But, due to ongoing heretical views—the church began to focus more on the individual development of personal character and devotion, along with theological and doctrinal polity. Albeit, Luther’s discipleship consisted of a deeper commitment to the spiritual devotions of prayer, fasting, and the Word of God, it was not communal.

John Calvin described discipleship as an automatic title for the regenerated believer, an identity by grace in Christ.[6] Calvin, a paedobaptist, considered all believers disciples (and I agree), but not in the same aspect of the communal spiritual nourishment, as that of the early church. For Calvin, baptism became the sign and ratified seal of a “professed” disciple (I find an infant professing anything as odd).[7] However, Calvin focused more on knowledge transference, with believers hearing the preached Word, than a day-to-day activity with believers who practiced fellowship-style catechesis and breaking of the bread (Acts 2:42–46).[8] But to his credit, Calvin believed that all Christians should carry out the commission of God within their lives.[9]

So, the problem was an eventual drifting from the early church communal relationship instruction and fellowship to a more individualized spiritual discipline-type formation. So then, you can see, for the contemporary Christian, discipleship is perceived as curriculum, not as much associated with communal spiritual growth. Discipleship became divorced from collective spiritual maturity, because it became divorced from the communal gathering and growth with others.

The solution calls for reverting back to the origin of Christ-following and being a relational disciple-maker of Christ. Disciples make disciples. Discipleship is not merelyspiritual growth, but helping others, relationally, to develop into mature disciples, who make disciples, etc.

VBS for Adults

August 1, 2019 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, News, Research

For reasons obvious to most of our readers, I was able to attend no less than 10 (ten) VBS/Kids crusades this summer. Seven Baptist, several Pentecostals and a Methodist one.

The themes ranged from jungle journey and the Lion King to giddy up cowboys and cowgirls and world/planet/time travelling. All cool themes with lots of props and much careful preparation all in the name of bringing the Good News to the little ones. A noble cause truly worthy of any expense and labor for any church out there.

Time and length ranged from one whole day or one evening service to three nights and even several week long ones. For most of it, the ones held in most Baptist churches were designed by LifeWay and were well structured with kids constantly moving from station to station. The rest were somewhat free style, but still designed with the expectation of lots of children attending. In between each module there was candy, snacks or even a full blown supper.

The location of each VBS and the way it was designed for the crowd flow made the initial impression important. Signs welcoming and directing newcomers were grate, but the friendliness of the people made up for less signage and more human touch. Registration was a must and parents’ preferences were not taken lightly. The decorations of each room helped the children adjust to the new setting and work through the set curriculum. And yes, lots of kids made lots of mess so cleanness in class rooms, play areas and bathrooms were tended to. Some churches had a designated team that made sure the facilities were clean for the next group. And where cleanness was not intentional, it was observed that many parents did not return with their children.

Most VBS programs were designed around age groups. Some included even classes for toddlers and several had adult classes too. The ones that did not, included a family night toward the end of the week for parents to attend. A family night was a great feature for parents who did not attend but dropped their kids every night and picked them up afterwards. They were addressed with materials and opportunities for a spiritual renewal.

The thematic VBSs progressed with learning daily and build up on the previous day. The groups of children toggled between Bible lesson, crafts, games and lots of music. Kids were greatly encouraged to participate and learn the songs and dancing, recite Bible verses and answer questions from the covered material. Some parents participated too.

Prayer was made a central focal point for most of the VBSs observed. The Baptists ones, especially, had pledges of allegiance at the start of the service and assembly with prayer toward the end. A memorable experience for all children who enjoy social setting, making new friends and learn the Bible.

Here are several take ways to observe for a VBS in your church:

  1. Prepare for lots of children – if you have it they will come
  2. Train your workers. Form teams for each task. Assign measurable goals to ensure smooth moving through the program
  3. Self designed VBS programs work as good as the paid ones, as long as designed with the children and families in mind
  4. Chose the length of the event carefully with regard of your constitutions. For the most of it, less is really more.
  5. Do not underestimate friendliness, cleanness and the safety of the children.
  6. Don’t miss a family day. Everyone likes hot dogs and water slides on a hot summer day.

This goes without saying, but focus on God – it is easy to lose track and purposes in the larger design of such events.

7 NEW Barna Trends for Stronger Churches

July 30, 2019 by  
Filed under Featured, News

Here are 7 insights drawn from the data that will help you be a more successful church leader.

1. Pastors have higher life satisfaction than most.

Surprised? Be encouraged.

  • 9 in 10 pastors are satisfied with their quality of life.
  • Pastors rate their emotional health and spiritual health higher than the general US population does.
  • 96% of married pastors are satisfied with their relationships with their spouses.
  • 97% rate their relationships with their children as excellent or good.

In the midst of ministry challenges and trials, pastors have personal satisfaction and strength that is higher than among the general US population.

Those statistics are mighty encouraging. Especially if you find yourself standing in the majority.

But what if you’re not satisfied with your life, your emotional and spiritual health, your marriage, or your relationship with your kids? Then what?

Pastors also relate a downside where they rank lower than the general population.

2. Inadequacy, exhaustion and depression harass pastors.

  • Pastors are more likely to have feelings of inadequacy in their work (57% vs 30% of employed US adults).
  • Pastors are more likely to feel mental or emotional exhaustion (75% vs 55%).
  • Nearly half of pastors have struggled with depression.
  • 47% struggle finding time to invest in their spiritual health.

But, wait.

How does high life satisfaction go together with feelings of inadequacy and exhaustion?

How can pastors have higher life satisfaction and higher job stress?

Maybe the answer is Jesus.

We love serving Jesus and spending our lives for him. But ministry has big challenges that we can’t fix in our own strength.

So it’s a both/and. Life is satisfying and life is difficult.

We love our calling. Sometimes we hate the work.

If you’re among the pastors who feel inadequate, exhausted, or depressed, you’ll be interested in this next insight from Barna.

3. Personal spiritual disciplines are central to ministry satisfaction and perseverance.

  • Pastors who practice their top spiritual discipline (usually prayer) every day or more are also very satisfied with their vocation (75%), their current ministry (73%), and they rate low on spiritual or burnout risk.
  • Conversely, those at high spiritual risk (54%) practice their primary spiritual discipline only a few times a month or less.

The Barna team concludes:

“If pastors and those who support them should take anything away from these findings, it’s that consistent spiritual practices matter – to vocational satisfaction and contentedness with one’s own ministry, as well as emotional, spiritual, and relational well-being.”

Your personal spiritual habits make all the difference in your ministry strength.

But you knew that, right? The people who discipled you have been telling you that for years. You say the same thing to the people you disciple. We talk about spiritual disciplines all the time.

But your strength comes in actually sitting down and spending time alone with Jesus.

Are you at risk?

Barna Trends 2018 has a risk metric for pastors. It assesses burnout risk, relational risk, and spiritual risk based on pastors’ answers to questions and their reported well-being.

It becomes a valuable self-assessment to see if you are in danger of relational, spiritual or burnout risk.
Barna Risk Metrics for Pastors

The more factors you check in any one section, the higher your risk. Generally you are at low risk if you don’t check any factors; medium risk if you check one or two; and high risk if you check three or more.

If you find yourself at medium or high risk, what steps can you take? Who can you talk with?

See more about it on the Barna website: https://www.barna.com/burnout-breakdown-barnas-risk-metric-pastors/.

Barna identifies one big cultural trend that explains why we struggle with our spiritual practices.

4. Spiritual practices are hindered by the lifestyle of busyness.

In the general US population:

  • 1 in 7 US adults sets aside a day a week for Sabbath or rest.
  • Only 1 in 5 take any real break from working.
  • Just 12% commit to doing activities that recharge them and another 12% to taking a break from electronics.

Pete Scazzero, founder of New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, New York speaks about pastors’ busyness:

“The greatest roadblock [that keeps spiritual leaders from finding time to invest in their own spiritual growth], I believe, is a lack of good models. As evangelical leaders, we have inherited a history of activism that goes back more than 200 years. Our great gift is mission: mobilizing believers and leading people to Christ. But this great gift can also be a liability.”

“Spiritually indispensable concepts like silence, slowness, solitude, and being (instead of doing) are difficult for most of us who are heirs to evangelicalism’s activist impulse.”

No one is judging you, Pastor. It’s difficult to fit regular spiritual practices into your busy life. It’s hard for everyone.

And it’s also hard to fit in other practices that will help you flourish.

5. Growth practices are neglected.

Reading

  • Almost half  of the US population (45%) read at least 5 books per year. 18% of American didn’t read any books last year.
  • One-fifth exceeded 15 books. (Mostly women and students.)
  • 18% of men report reading less.

My goal this year is to read 20 books. I used to read 36 books a year. I’m part of the 18% of men who are reading less.

I’ve made a conscious choice to spend a half hour a day reading  pertinent pastor-type blogs, like this one.

To focus my book-reading, I’m intentionally targeting my book choices. This year, I’ll read four classics of literature, four books on church growth, at least one theology book, at least one book on history, and ten others of my choice.

What is your reading goal for 2018? How is it going so far?

Conferences

  • 3 in 10 pastors never attend a conference.

That’s surprising. I rely on a yearly conference for an infusion of inspiration and a new look at best practices to reach my city for Christ.

Here are some conferences that I recommend:

For more conference options, google “Church Conferences 2018” and you’ll find multiple articles with lists of good conferences.

Make this an action item and get your 2018 conference scheduled this month.

6. A healthy pastor and a healthy leadership team correlate to a growing church.

  • Difficult relationships with the church’s board correlate to higher pastor burnout.
  • Pastors in large or growing congregations are more likely to report that their relationship with their board is a powerful partnership.
  • Pastors who are satisfied with their ministry report a positive relationship with their board.
  • Discontented pastors are more likely to report power struggles, feeling under-appreciated, and that the board is one of the worst parts of ministry.

A healthy pastor plus healthy board relationships usually equals a growing church.

If your relationship with your board is difficult, you’ll find a partial solution in this next fact.

7. Prayer among church leaders is infrequent.

  • Only one-third (34%) of US Protestant pastors say that their relationship with their elders could be characterized by frequent prayer together.

Could your tension with your board be lessened by regular prayer together?

What if you tried more than an opening and closing prayer, but 20, 30, or even 60 minutes of prayer time with your leaders? Every month.

And see what God does.

How to Pray with Board Members

I learned a long time ago that a group of friends works better together and has higher satisfaction levels than a group of mere colleagues. So our board meetings have friendship and prayer blended into them.

We start our monthly meetings at 7:00 p.m., but we convene an hour ahead of time for the really important stuff.

From 6:00-6:30, we eat dinner together. We rotate who brings the food, and who brings drinks and utensils. Our iron law is “no business talk during dinner.” Our first half hour is spent catching up on one another’s family, business, vacations, and other interests.

Then, we pray together from 6:30 to 7:00. We start with praise, and mix in both personal prayers (which arise from our dinner conversation) and church-related prayers. It’s spiritual, satisfying, and bonding.

On our twice-annual retreats, we pray at length following Bible study at breakfast and dinner, plus we have at least one more hour-long prayer time before returning home after we’ve completed our retreat business.

What’s Next?

How to Turn Information and Analysis into Action

The key question is: how will what you just discovered change what you do? Don’t click away without choosing something to do to become a stronger pastor.

Here are some action points:

  1. Renew your commitment to practice the spiritual disciplines that keep you close to Jesus.
  2. Read through the Barna Risk Metrics carefully and talk with someone if you have medium or high risk factors.
  3. Read Isaiah 58:13-14 and then recommit to taking a weekly Sabbath. Talk with your spouse about what that looks like for your family. If you need further encouragement in this area, read my short little book “I Love Sundays.”
  4. Set a reading goal and read for a short time every day.
  5. Schedule a conference for 2018.
  6. Initiate extended, and regular, prayer with your board.

The Recollections of John Walker “Jack” Hilderbrand

July 25, 2019 by  
Filed under Featured, News

From the Newsletter of THE ASSOCIATION OF THE DESCENDANTS OF NANCY WARD BELOVED WOMAN OF THE CHEROKEES
JUNE, 1994 Jack Hilderbrand Recollections
Edited and Annotated by David Hampton (Uncorrected)

John Walker Hilderbrand, better known as Jack, was born on 23 February 1818, the son of Peter Hilderbrand and Elizabeth “Betsy” Harlan Hilderbrand. His mother was a granddaughter of Nancy Ward. He came to the Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory in 1842, but did not remain, returning to Tennessee where he lived the rest of his life. In 1908, after he turned 90, he was interviewed at his home in Cleveland, Tennessee about events in early day Polk County, Tennessee. It is likely that he was the last surviving Cherokee in that area who had good memories of both before and after the forced removal in 1838-39. He probably provided Emmet Starr with much information about the family. His remembrances certainly led to the ability to identify Nancy Ward’s grave.
Naturally much of Hilderbrand’s recollections deal with white families who settled in Polk County after the Cherokees were removed. This information has been included here since it appears that there may be some relatives listed of those whites that intermarried with Cherokees. He also refers to some Cherokee sites by naming the current landowner. The punctuation and some apparent typographic errors make his list of names seem rambling and unclear.
Jack Hilderbrand died on 17 September 1910. There are surely some of his descendants who remain in Tennessee, but none of them have yet joined the Association of the Descendants of Nancy Ward. The typescript of his interview is in the Cleveland, Tennessee Public Library. There are many obvious typographical errors and some words of clarification are inserted in [brackets]. Some points of discussion, and correction are noted at the end of the article.

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SOME RECOLLECTIONS OF JACK HILDERBRAND AS DICTATED TO JACK WILLIAMS, ESQ. AND M. O. CATE, AT THE HOME OF HILDERBRAND, IN THE SUMMER OF 1908

My grandfather was sent here by the government to build a mill for the Cherokee on Hiawassee River where the Columbus farm is now. He was a Dutchman [German}, and this was before the Hiawassee purchase in 1819. He married a Cherokee woman whose father’s name was Woman Holder, in English, but I do not remember the Indian name. Her father was killed at the Horse Shoe battle in Alabama in the Creek War, Jackson War. My Grandfather first located at Knoxville. My grandfather first married a Dutch (German) woman and then married an Indian woman. By his first wife he had six children, Mike, Peter, my father, George, John and Sallie [Note 1]. By the Cherokee woman he had Dave, Nancy, Mary and Elizabeth [Note 2].
My father settled here where Ben McClary lives about 1807-1808. My father married Betsy Harland, a half-breed Cherokee woman. Her mother was a daughter of Nancy Ward, a full-blooded Cherokee woman. My father’s children were Barbara, Jim, Louis, Jenny, Katie, John, Ellis, Newton, Elizabeth and Minerva. My father lived here until after the Ocoee Purchase and then went to the Indian Nation. My brothers and sisters went to the Indian Nation, three of them married before they left [Note3]. I moved to the Nation in 1842 and returned here in 1844 and have lived here ever since.

The Ocoee Steal, or Treaty, was made in 1835 between Skimmerhorn [Note 4] who was sent here by the government, and John Ridge and his son, both full-blooded Cherokees [Note 5]. The young man was well educated, having obtained his education in New Jersey. These two men only represented the minority party. The Ross party was largely in majority, but the government forced them to stand to the treaty.
In 1837 Jack Walker was killed or shot down close to Cleveland, in Walker Valley [Note 6]; he lived two weeks. Jack Walker lived at the Lea Farm, three miles north of Cleveland, once owned by Montgomery. Walker lived in the log house situated where Fin’s house is a present. Jack Walker was shot out between the Old Hayes place on the Benton Pike and where he lived. Dick Johnson of Athens was with him when he was shot, and he reported that it was Jim Forman and Isaac Springston. They were put in jail at Athens but were afterwards turned out. While they were in jail the Cherokees had a called Council at Red Clay, Georgia. At that Council there was a collection made up and a short time after that Foreman and Springston come home, and it was said that old John Alston let them out for the money. Jim Foreman told me himself that a silver key let him out, By God, Sir. Being a boy then I didn’t understand it, but have afterwards thought that money was made up to let those men out. Jack Walker was one of the Ridge party and the others were against it. The government then gathered up the Cherokees in the Spring of 1838 and drove them off to the Territory.

(Mr. Hilderbrand here stated something about John Howard Payne being at a council of the Indians near Red Clay, Georgia. Perhaps Mr. Williams will remember something as to what he said. I did not take this down because I expected to return the next day and he said he would tell me more of what he knew of John Howard Payne.)

The Indians had three years to stay after the Treaty and the time was out on the 3rd of May 1838, and the Cherokees had made no preparation to move. They ordered out troops and brought them all into camp and kept them until they started with them. One of the camps was down close to the Boyd Place, where Mr. Bacon now lives, one was down near Chatata and one near Resaca, GA. They just gathered them up like cattle anywhere they found them and drove them into camp and then drove them out to the Territory. My father took one detachment. Ridge and son went out to the Nation in the Spring of 1838, before the others went in the fall. Ridge and his son were killed by the Ross party. Ridge was at a council, the first they held there, and remarked that it was just a resting for them and they thought that he would do like he had done here and would sell them out again, and a squad of Cherokees gathered together and decided they would kill him that night as he went home. But there was a white man with him and they couldn’t tell them apart and as they didn’t want to kill the white man they let them pass. They went back and had another council and decided they would set a night and kill twelve of the Ridge party, the leading men, and on the night selected a company went to the house of Ridge, Young John Ridge, and took him out of the house in daylight and told him what all he had done and that they had come there to kill him, and they did kill him. His wife begged for him, and some were in favor of sparing him but an old Indian named Ketcher said they came there to kill him and that they were going to kill him, and just cut him all to pieces with his bowie knife. Ketcher lived at Springtown in Polk County. This was in 1839, the year after they went there. Old John Ridge had gone to Van Buren, Arkansas after goods. The Ridges had a good store there and had workmen building a home and the workmen heard the conversation between them all. I was there once my self!

They took the road to Van Buren and met Old John, and when they saw him coming they hid and shot off a gun and an old fellow whooped a big Indian whoop and started toward them and they fired at him and shot him all to pieces. He had a negro with him and he was scared so that he put whip to the horses and started toward home, and when the horse struck the water in Sugar Creek the horse fell and the negro got him and went right back to where the Indians were. The Indians stopped him and sent him home to tell where Ridge was. The Indians then went on home to Tahlequah.

Tom Starr was a member of the Ridge party. The Ross party had killed his father and brothers and he then killed a large number of the Ross party, but they were unable to capture him. He would come in a kill some of them and then go away, but finally they made what they called a treaty of peace if he would come in and promise to be a good citizen they would pardon him. He did so and made a good citizen up until the war and then I don’t know what side he took. Walker was my first cousin and Tom Starr was my second cousin.

The first settlers in the First District of Polk County were in the Hiawassee Purchase. Commencing at the Chain Ferry there was Louis Armstrong, the man who cut the old Armstrong Ferry Road, also known as the Stock Road, it leaves the old Federal Road this side of Athens and joint it again about old Fort; Dr. Alexander once lived at the same place, then there was Bobby Cobb just this side of where Bill Gamble now lives; and right up the Creek above that Wash Price, Wash’s father first lived there and left the farm to Wash; Dr. Patton lived at the mouth of the Ocoee River; Old Billy Baker lived where Jim Calhoun now lives; Henry Bradford lived at Patty where Lovingood now lives, Cole Mayes lived right near him; Old John Ward lived there on the Creek on the main road from Columbus; Bobby Hood; Mosey Paris lived up near the Savannah farm; old man Mayfield settled where John Mayfield after wards lived who was the father of P. B. Mayfield, also Bill Mayfield and Weeks Mayfield, the only one now living and he now lives in Missouri; Gus Herd lived on the Savannah farm; P. B. Mayfield’s mother was a McJunken, a sister of Sam McJunken; George Corn, father of Wash Corn, Mrs. Shamblin is also his daughter; old Patterson lived close to the Savannah farm; and also old man Maddox. There were all old settlers in the First District before Polk County was organized, it being a part of McMinn county. Jimmy Slone also lived there. On the south side of the river Davy Dell Knox; Billy Biggs who was in the Legislature when the occupant law was passed, not as a member but as a lobbyist; New Taylor lived above the Columbus farm. He had Newt’s mother to move on this side of the river to hold the occupancy on the Joe Taylor farm for him. He furnished them and when the occupant law passed Newt goes in with Davy Dell Knox and got the money and entered it for hemself. They had a lot of trouble about it, and lawed and fought and plowed up each other’s corn, one would plant one day the other would plant the next day in the same field. Steve Blankenship lived just above Davy Dell Knox; Davy Dell Knox lived on the Norton place; Erby Boyd live at the mouth of the Ocoee River; Bobby McClary owned all the bend in the river where Ben McClary and Clemmer now lives; John White, my father-in-law, also lived in there; then up the creek a little piece Absolom Coleman lived; then Reuben Kancaster, Bobby Hood, Abraham Lillard, Billy Biggs, Newt Taylor, Donna Norris, John Paris, John Sawyer, Jesse Hillard, Alex McConnel, Josiah Harrison, John Williams, father of A. J. Williams, Clerk and Master, Tom McClary; John Crumble entered the land at the mouth of the river and sold it to Sim Browder; John Roy entered the land where Nichols now lives.

Around Benton, Nels Lawson entered the land where Wallace Clemmer now lives and Jim McKamy entered the land where Wid Clemmer now lives, and the land where Benton now stands; Jacky Johnson entered the land at what if called Woman Killer Ford, the Clemmer Ferry now; Zachariah Rose lived down below Benton Solomon Sunny lived about a mile south of Benton; Bill Higgins; Sammy Duggan; John Richie lived where Jake Munn now lives; Jake Howell lived where George Williams now lives; Evan Cambell entered where John and Andy Campbell now lives; Tommy Jones; Matt Marrow; Jason Matlock entered land where Abe Matlock owns; Travena Rogers; old Stubblefield entered land where Burns now lives; Parson Kimbrough; Moses Fergunson; John Hannah; John and Jim Shields built a mill on Ocoee River; Mike Hilderbrand entered the place where Chairman Williams now lives; Billy Taylor entered the land where John Taylor now lives.
The Indian Treaty was made at Newstota in Alabama [Note 7].

Jake Jackson was with Walker and claimed to have knowed Foreman and Springston when they [shot] Walker. They heard a shot and saw two men and started out to see who it was and then they shot Walker. My grandfather built a mill for the Cherokee and stayed there until after the Hiwassee Purchase and then he took a reservation through his wife and sold it to Woody Jackson and Sam McConnell. An Indian named Clapboard who lived at the Morelock Springs claimed that he and another Indian were the ones that shot Walker. Walker was shot in 1836 or 1837, at least after the of 1835 [Note 6]

John Ridge Jr. was educated at Cornwell, Conn.
Osceloa died and was buried at Sullivan Island, South Carolina. General Jessup was a United States officer and went to Florida to whip the Seminoles. Jessup came up here and got five Cherokees, Jess Bushyhead, John Spears, Daniel Colson, John Miller and _______ [Note 8.] He wanted these men because they understood the language of the Creek Indians. When they got the Indians out of Jessup’s camp he wanted them to go back and try to get Sam Jones and his warriors out, but they told him no, they were not going back because he had not kept his promise to make a treaty with them and they left Jessup there and came on back home.

When gathering up the Cherokees Nick and Doss and Diane and their mother were hid out and they stayed here. Doss died here during the war and Diane went to the Nation in after years with Minnie Lillard.

At the Horse Shoe Bend when the fight was going on between Jackson and the Creeks, the Creeks had canoes that they used and were about to whip Jackson, when Juny Lusky swam the river and got canoes and took the soldiers across who came up behind the Creeks and won the battle. For this deed the State of North Carolina gave him a section of land.

Brainard’s Missionary School was on Chickamauga Creek at Gordon’s Mill.
Ward Thompson was kill by Frank Green and Logan Frady in the fall of 1863 during the Civil War; Kinser was killed in the Gatewood raid at Benton; Tom Hainey was killed by Maranda Boran; Joe Smith, Henry Pick and his boys – the Gatewood Raiders killed these men in one place on Greasy Creek. A boy named Jones had a Yankee belt on an they killed him, he also had on Yankee clothes; Jasper Graddy was in the raid; they also killed Bate Armstrong and took a man from Sam Parks’ place and killed him.

My great-grand uncle. Five Killer, was the first Indian Cherokee that ever crossed the Hiwassee River and at Breedswell Glade he killed a buffalo, the last one ever killed in the country. This was right below the Pippinger place. Fifty or sixty were in the party that went out in the hunt and they stayed two or three months. This was long before the Hiwassee Purchase in 1819. These people came from about Echotah, near the mouth of Tellico River.

Five Killer died at what is known as the Five killer place where Doc Wright used to live, and is buried at the Hancock place [Note 9], along with his mother who was one hundred and forty years old at her death. They arrived at her age by the time of the Penn Treaty, when the Penn Treaty was made in Pennsylvania she was about twelve years old at that time. Those that were watching at her death bed – she was the grandmother of old Walker [Note 10] it was about dark when she died, in a little cabin, and when her breath left her the light!
that was in the room went out and a dim light was seen going out at the door, there being only one door in the cabin. Old John Hambright told me it was a fact, he being there at the time she died, not right in the house, but all those that were there told him that it was a fact. She was a good woman, saved many lives. When John Sevier made his raid down here he always spared her (Nancy Ward’s) town. She raised several white children. Her father was the chief that William Penn [made] his treaty with [Note 11]. John Hancock’s place and Five Killer’s place is the same place on which Nancy Ward is buried.

NOTE 1: He only listed five children here since Peter was his father. It is likely that the interviewer changed the number to six in the typescript thinking that his father referred to a person other than Peter.
NOTE 2: This listing of the children of John Hilderbrand is the obvious reference to Emmet Starr’s information on the Hildebrand family listed in his History.
NOTE 3: Married in the east were Barbara Hilderbrand and Hiram Linder, James Hilderbrand and Sarah Elizabeth Fields, and Catherine Hilderbrand and Levi Bailey.
NOTE 4: This treaty was negotiated by John F. Schermerhorn.
NOTE 5: Hilderbrand erroneously refers to Major Ridge as named John Ridge. The designation of the son John Ridge as a full blood is probably in error.
Note 6: The actual date of the shooting of John Walker was August 22, 1834.
NOTE 7: The treaty was made at New Echota, in Georgia.
NOTE 8: This man whose name was forgotten by Hilderbrand was likely Hair Conrad.
NOTE 9: Hilderbrand’s references to Five Killer, Nancy Ward’s son, are very interesting. While he does not actually say so, he implies that he knew Five Killer during his life. He also does not say anything about Five Killer’s family, but he may have been a source (perhaps with Ruth Starr Bean) who informed Emmet Starr that Five Killer had no descendants.
NOTE 10: Reference to Major John Walker, father of John Walker whose killing is referred to earlier.
NOTE 11: Hilderbrand gives some interesting information regarding the reputed advanced age of Nancy Ward and her father. Even Emmet Starr probably believed in her remarkable old age.

Though today we realize that the chronology of her descendants almost certainly puts her birth in the 1730s. William Penn purchased several tracts of land from the Delawares. Tradition says that Nancy Ward’s father was a Delaware. As William Penn died in 1718 and most of his treaties were made in the 1680’s, it is unlikely that Nancy Ward was 12 years old at the time of the “Penn Treaty”. Perhaps her father was 12 years old. More research needs to be done on the signers of the Delaware treaties in order to establish the possible paternity of Nancy Ward.

————————————————————————————
1851 Census of Cherokees east of the Misssissippi

Polk Co., TN
Family N0.11
1494.
John [Walker] Hilderbrand 33 mixed
(married to white woman since the treaty)
1495. Mary White Hilderbrand 12 d mixed
1496. Amelia Hilderbrand 10 d mixed
1497. Eliza Jane Hilderbrand 8 d mixed
1498. Emily Cherokee Hilderbrand 4 d mixed
1499. Ann Hilderbrand 6 d mixed

Ann is not listed in the Starr book “History of the Cherokee Indians” so that probably means that she did not live to be an adult.
This family is listed next to Michael Hildebrand and his grandson Michael.
John Walker is the son of Peter Hildebrand brother to the older Michael.

From CLEMMER’S COLUMNS (J.D. Clemmer, Benton, Tennessee) comes this description of the funeral. Most likely this information came from ‘Uncle Jack.’

The parents of Jack Hildebrand took the four-year-old boy to his Great-grand-mother’s funeral; he walked with his father, Peter Hildebrand along the ‘old war path’ from their home (now the McClary farm) across Four Mile Creek along the top of Wilson Hill, past Five Killer’s cabin. crossing the Ocoee at ‘Womankiller Ford’ then along the war path up a little valley just north west of Hancock Hill and turned aside to the left up the hill to an open grave soon to receive the remains of Nancy Ward. Uncle Jack remembered and wondered about the number of pots and pans placed in the grave to be used in the next world.”

Barna Group: The State of the Church (2019)

July 20, 2019 by  
Filed under Featured, News

You are reading a free research sample of State of the Church & Family Report

The Christian church has been a cornerstone of American life for centuries, but much has changed in the last 30 years. Americans are attending church less, and more people are experiencing and practicing their faith outside of its four walls. Millennials in particular are coming of age at a time of great skepticism and cynicism toward institutions—particularly the church. Add to this the broader secularizing trend in American culture, and a growing antagonism toward faith claims, and these are uncertain times for the U.S. church. Based on a large pool of data collected over the course of this year, Barna conducted an analysis on the state of the church, looking closely at affiliation, attendance and practice to determine the overall health of Christ’s Body in America.

Most Americans Identify as Christian
Debates continue to rage over whether the United States is a “Christian” nation. Some believe the Constitution gives special treatment or preference to Christianity, but others make their claims based on sheer numbers—and they have a point: Most people in this country identify as Christian. Almost three-quarters of Americans (73%) say they are a Christian, while only one-fifth (20%) claim no faith at all (that includes atheists and agnostics). A fraction (6%) identify with faiths like Islam, Buddhism, Judaism or Hinduism, and 1 percent are unsure. Not only do most Americans identify as Christian, but a similar percentage (73%) also agree that religious faith is very important in their life (52% strongly agree + 21% somewhat agree).

How Americans affiliate

Attending Church Is a Good Indicator of Faith Practice
Even though a majority of Americans identify as Christian and say religious faith is very important in their life, these huge proportions belie the much smaller number of Americans who regularly practicetheir faith. When a variable like church attendance is added to the mix, a majority becomes the minority. When a self-identified Christian attends a religious service at least once a month and says their faith is very important in their life, Barna considers that person a “practicing Christian.” After applying this triangulation of affiliation, self-identification and practice, the numbers drop to around one in three U.S. adults (31%) who fall under this classification. Barna researchers argue this represents a more accurate picture of Christian faith in America, one that reflects the reality of a secularizing nation.

Another way Barna measures religious decline is through the “post-Christian” metric. If an individual meets 60 percent or more of a set of factors, which includes things like disbelief in God or identifying as atheist or agnostic, and they do not participate in practices such as Bible reading, prayer and church attendance (full description below), they are considered post-Christian. Based on this metric, almost half of all American adults (48%) are post-Christian.

How americans practice their faith

Most Americans Attend Small to Medium Churches
As far as Barna is concerned, regular church attendance is central to understanding faith practice among American adults. Whether their church is large or small, charismatic or traditional, significant numbers of Americans sit in the pews each Sunday to worship together. Despite the enormous cultural impact of megachurches and megachurch pastors like Joel Osteen and his 40,000+ Lakewood Church, the largest group of American churchgoers attends services in a more intimate context. Almost half (46%) attend a church of 100 or fewer members. More than one-third (37%) attend a midsize church of over 100, but not larger than 499. One in 11 (9%) attends a church with between 500 and 999 attenders, and slightly fewer (8%) attend a very large church of 1,000 or more attendees.

american church attendance

There Are More Churched Than Unchurched Americans
Digging deeper into church attendance, Barna uses another metric to distinguish between two main groups: those who are “churched” versus those who are “unchurched.” Churched adults are active churchgoers who have attended a church service—with varying frequency—within the past six months (not including a special event such as a wedding or a funeral). Unchurched adults, on the other hand, have not attended a service in the past six months. (They may be dechurched, meaning they once attended regularly, or purely unchurched, meaning they have never been involved in a Christian faith community.) Under these definitions, a slight majority of adults (55%) are churched—though the country is almost evenly split, with 45 percent qualifying as unchurched adults.

How Americans practice their faith

Christians Are More Generous Than Their Secular Peers
In Matthew 6, Jesus lays out three essential components of discipleship: prayer, fasting and almsgiving. The latter of the three, which we might also call justice and personal charity, is one of the pillars of a healthy spiritual life. Though residents in some cities are more generous than others, Americans give to churches more than any nonprofit organization. More than half of Americans (54%) have given money to a church in the past year—half that number have given to a nonprofit other than a church (22%). The remaining one-quarter (24%) have given to neither. Unsurprisingly almost all practicing Christians (94%) have given to a church, compared to one-quarter (23%) of atheists or agnostics. In fact, practicing Christians tend to be more generous overall than their secular counterparts: 96 percent of practicing Christians gave to a church or a nonprofit, compared to 60 percent among atheists and agnostics.

Do americans give money to their church?

Americans Express Their Faith in a Variety of Ways
While regular church attendance is a reliable indicator of faithful Christian practice, many Americans choose to experience and express their faith in a variety of other ways, the most common of which is prayer. For instance, three-quarters of Americans (75%) claim to have prayed to God in the last week. This maps fairly well onto the 73 percent who self-identify as Christian. Following prayer, the next most common activity related to faith practice is attending a church service, with more than one-third of adults (35%) having sat in a pew in the last seven days, not including a special event such as a wedding or funeral. About the same proportion (34%) claim to have read the Bible on their own, not including when they were at a church or synagogue. About one in six American adults have either volunteered at a nonprofit (19%) or at church (18%) in the last week. Slightly fewer attended Sunday school (17%) or a small group (16%).

How Americans experience and express their faith

Evangelicals Are a Small but Influential Group
Classifications and metrics are vital to understanding the religious makeup of the United States. Barna uses several of these to identify key faith groups in America, including “born again Christians,” “evangelical Christians” and those who are “Bible-minded.” The largest of these groups are born again Christians, which make up roughly one-third of the population (35%). These individuals have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today and believe that, when they die, they will go to heaven because they have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their savior. The next largest group are those considered Bible-minded, who make up about one-quarter of the population (23%). They believe the Bible is accurate in all the principles it teaches and have read the Scriptures within the past week. Finally, the small (7%) but influential group of evangelicals are those who meet the born again criteria plus seven other conditions (detailed below), which are made up of a set of doctrinal views that touch on topics like evangelism, Satan, biblical inerrancy and salvation.

What Americans believe

Americans Hold Both Orthodox and Heterodox Views
Religion and politics: two topics best excluded from polite conversation. This old adage appears to have the support of most Americans. When asked whether they, personally, have a responsibility to tell other people their religious beliefs, most people (54%) disagree (46% believe otherwise, very close to an even split). Getting at orthodoxy (or, rather, heterodoxy) among the American population, most (55%) agree that if a person is generally good, or does good enough things for others during their life, they will earn a place in heaven.

what americans believe

Yet in spite of the popularity of the belief that good works is sufficient for eternal life, from a long list of options for ways to describe God, the majority (57%) choose the most orthodox view: that God is the all-powerful, all-knowing, perfect creator of the universe who rules the world today. Other views of God make up one-third (33%) of the responses, and one in 10 (10%) says there is no such thing as God.

American beliefs about God

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About the Research
The study on which these findings are based was conducted via online and telephone surveys conducted in January 2016 and 2016. A total of 5,137 interviews were conducted among a random sample of U.S. adults, ages 18 years of age or older. The sample error is plus or minus one percentage point at 95-percent confidence level.

Born again: Have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today and believe that, when they die, they will go to heaven because they have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their savior.

Evangelical Christian: Meet the born again criteria plus seven other conditions. These conditions include saying their faith is very important in their life today; believing they have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs about Christ with non-Christians; believing that Satan exists; believing that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; asserting that the Bible is accurate in all that it teaches; believing that eternal salvation is possible only through grace, not works; and describing God as the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect deity who created the universe and still rules it today. Being classified as an evangelical is not dependent upon church attendance or the denominational affiliation of the church attended. Respondents were not asked to describe themselves as “evangelical.”

Bible-minded: believe the Bible is accurate in all the principles it teaches and have read the Scriptures within the past week.

Churched: attended church in the past month
Unchurched: have not attended church in the past 6 months

Practicing Christian: Those who attend a religious service at least once a month, who say their faith is very important in their lives and self-identify as a Christian
Non-practicing Christian: Those who self-identify as a Christian but do not qualify as a practicing Christian

Post-Christian: To qualify as “post-Christian,” individuals had to meet 60% or more of the following factors (nine or more). “Highly post-Christian” individuals meet 80% or more of the factors (12 or more of these 15 criteria):

  • Do not believe in God
  • Identify as atheist or agnostic
  • Disagree that faith is important in their lives
  • Have not prayed to God (in the last year)
  • Have never made a commitment to Jesus
  • Disagree the Bible is accurate
  • Have not donated money to a church (in the last year)
  • Have not attended a Christian church (in the last year)
  • Agree that Jesus committed sins
  • Do not feel a responsibility to “share their faith”
  • Have not read the Bible (in the last week)
  • Have not volunteered at church (in the last week)
  • Have not attended Sunday school (in the last week)
  • Have not attended religious small group (in the last week)
  • Do not participate in a house church ( in the last year)

About Barna Group
The Barna Group is a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization under the umbrella of the Issachar Companies. Located in Ventura, California, Barna Group has been conducting and analyzing primary research to understand cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors since 1984.

New Wesley Room at Bristol

July 15, 2019 by  
Filed under Featured, Missions, News

Here is a bit more about the building from the Methodist Heritage Organization:

George Whitefield invited John Wesley to preach outdoors for the first time to the miners of Bristol in 1739. Within a few weeks’ work started on building the New Room as a meeting place for two of the religious societies in the city, thus creating the world’s first Methodist building.

The current building dates from 1748 when the New Room was doubled in size. Its lower floor became known as John Wesley’s Chapel. It is still in regular use for worship as well as being used for cultural and educational activities and exhibitions. Upstairs John Wesley created twelve rooms around a beautiful central octagonal window. These provided accommodation for himself and any visiting preachers assigned to the Bristol circuit. They now contain a highly interactive Museum devoted to telling the story of John and Charles Wesley and the relevance of their work today.

Being well placed in the heart of the city, the New Room became a center for the Wesleys’ work in Bristol. It was where John’s strong sense of social justice was first expressed. The New Room became a base for running a school for the poor, for providing food and clothes to the needy, for offering free medical care to the sick, and for helping those in the nearby prison. It was also the first place to use John Wesley’s ‘class’ system, where members were divided into sub-groups for mutual support and development. The New Room has been described as ‘the cradle of Methodism’.

The New Room was one of John Wesley’s three key centers. Many of the annual conferences were held there, including the one that first created Methodist circuits. Bristol’s trading links encouraged the growth of American Methodism. Thomas Webb, Francis Asbury, and others committed themselves to working there and sailed from nearby.

 

The Last Chief John Ross Indian Detachment: Fort Marr , Ocoee River, Hildebrand Landing Hildebrand Landing, Old Federal, Old Fort and King’s Highway

July 10, 2019 by  
Filed under Featured, News

Among the Ross-allied detachments, nine would depart from the agency area traveling overland across Tennessee, Kentucky, southern Illinois, Missouri, and Arkansas to the Indian Territory. One detachment, composed mainly of elderly and sick Cherokees, would travel by river departing from the Agency on the Hiwassee River. Two more would begin from camps near Ross’s Landing and travel northward to join the main route. The last would leave from its camps south of Fort Payne, Alabama and cross Tennessee into Kentucky and on to the west. Figure 3 shows the general routes of removal (King 1999:Section 1, 21-25; Foreman 1956:301-312). [The details of the routes are given in the next section of this report.] The last detachment, led by Peter Hildebrand, departed on November 7, 1838, and John Ross and his family left with this group. The detachments were plagued with high tolls and whites bent on selling whiskey to the Cherokees and swindling them out of their money. There were large numbers of sick among the detachments and constant wagon breakdowns. Morale was low and many Cherokees deserted. The Cherokees had organized their own light horse police force to keep order, but there were not enough of them to deal with the many problems that arose daily. The wagon master for the Elijah Hicks (Second) Detachment died at Woodbury, Tennessee on October 21. Elderly Chief White Path also died near Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Rain made travel on the road difficult, and the thousands of Cherokees traveling the roads caused severe damage and erosion, making travel more difficult for those behind. Severe winter weather came early, and Winfield Scott, traveling northward on military business, commented that he found much snow on Walden’s Ridge and the Cumberland Mountain as early as November 17. Icy conditions on the Mississippi River trapped seven detachments for nearly a month, unable to cross. At Paducah Kentucky, John Ross, traveling with Hildebrand’s (Eleventh) Detachment, met the John Drew Detachment traveling by river. Ross boarded the steamboat Victoria with his family because his wife Quatie was severely ill. Quatie later died on the journey (Moulton 1978:99-1 00) . The Cherokees finally arrived in the new land after a long and arduous journey. Many died as a result of the process of roundup from their homes, their long internment in the stockades during the hot summer, and their difficult journey through severe weather. The most commonly accepted estimate of the number of Cherokee deaths is approximately 4,000. This number may also include those who died during the first year in the west as a result of disease and starvation (Thornton 1991 :83-84). The end of the journey was not the end of the strife that had divided the Cherokees, for the factionalism that had developed before the removal still remained in the new nation. Additionally, the subsistence that was promised to the Cherokees to help them through the initial period in the new land was inadequate and often of inferior quality. John Ross appealed to both Monfort Stokes, the Cherokee Agent in the new territory, and General Matthew Arbuckle, commander of Fort Gibson in the Cherokee Territory, but neither was able to render assistance. Ross was forced to use funds allocated by General Scott so that the Cherokees could buy food and essential supplies (Carter 1976:268). The Western Cherokees welcomed the Easterners to their new home but informed them that they were expected to conform to the established government of the Western Cherokee Nation. Chief John Ross and his assistant George Lowrey insisted that the now re-united bands of Cherokees call a council to form a new government. At a council held at Takatokah in June 1839, Cherokee leaders decided to meet in the following month to form a new government, uniting the Eastern and Western Cherokees (Carter 1976:268-269). On June 22, 1839 a group of Cherokees, bent on revenge against those who supported the Treaty of New Echota, assassinated John Ridge, Major Ridge, and Elias Boudinot. General Arbuckle, believing that Ross knew of the killings beforehand and might even be harboring the murderers, asked Ross to come to Fort Gibson to discuss the incident. Ross refused Arbuckle’s request and hundreds of supporters surrounded Ross’s home for their Chief’s protection (Carter 1976:270- 272). Eventually a new government was formed with its capital at Talequah. John Ross was elected Principal Chief with David Vann, a western Cherokee, as assistant chief. President Martin Van Buren’s administration refused to recognize the Ross government, and former President Andrew Jackson encouraged John Bell and Stand Watie, pro-removal Cherokees, to “lay the tyrant low.” Ross held on to power through trying times during which the Cherokee nation was on the brink of a civil war. Finally in 1846, the U. S. government met with the Western Cherokees, the pro-treaty Eastern Cherokees, and the Ross supporters to sign a treaty of unity.

Under this treaty, the United States finally paid the $5 million owed to the Cherokees under the Treaty of New Echota. There was now relative peace in the Cherokee Nation, and that peace would last until the outbreak of the American Civil War (Carter 1976:272-275).

HOW Americans experience FAITH?

July 5, 2019 by  
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