Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Teams share Christ through construction projects, compassion ministries, and more

Uganda (MNN) ― What does Uganda have in common with the U.S.? Probably more than you think.
"You have some people who believe they're Christians because they're good people, which is really no different than here in America," said Julie Boyd with Lakeland, Florida-based Orphan's Heart.
Boyd recently led a team of 13 to minister and serve in the village of Kamonkoli, working side-by-side with Hines Ugandan Ministries. On their week-long trip, believers ministered to the spiritual, physical, and practical needs of widows and orphans. One of the team's goals was to show villagers how to live as true Christ-followers.
"Many times they will raise their hand and say, 'I've made a decision.' But we want to make sure they understand that decision," Boyd explained. One of the ways they accomplish this is by sharing the message of Ephesians 2:8 -- "It's by grace that we're saved and not of works."


Welfare hasn't reduced poverty, says expert

An expert on welfare reform says the war on poverty has been a debacle and has achieved the exact opposite of what President Lyndon Johnson wanted.

Robert Rector, senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation's DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society, says self-sufficiency was LBJ's primary goal in launching the war on poverty.
"Lyndon Johnson did not want to increase the number of people dependent on government aid," Rector points out. "He said rather, 'I don't want to just reduce the symptom of poverty. I want to eliminate the cause of poverty.'


Ohio City Determines to Block Development of a Christian School

In this election season, you can’t turn on a TV or radio without hearing ads and sound bites from politicians and aspiring candidates talking about the crucial need for better education, more jobs, and the need to raise taxes on somebody.
But city officials in Upper Arlington, Ohio, seem to think they can get along just fine without any of those things – if it ensures that they can prevent people like you from providing a Christ-friendly learning environment for their children.
Which is why, on September 11, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys were compelled to file an appeal against the city on behalf of Tree of Life Christian Schools. Officials have been refusing to grant Tree of Life a permit that would allow them to use their own building – and, incredible as it may seem, a federal judge recently supported the city’s position.
It’s been almost two years since we filed the initial lawsuit against Upper Arlington, after city officials refused to allow Tree of Life Christian Schools – whose owners had just purchased the former America Online/Time-Warner building – to apply for zoning approval that would let them use the expansive facility as their new campus. Curiously, the city has no problem allowing daycare facilities and other similar groups to locate in the same zone without seeking advance zoning approval.
Their decision is even harder to understand when you consider that the building – which would allow the school to double in size, consolidate its resources, and relieve its other, overcrowded campuses – would accommodate approximately 660 students, provide more than 150 new jobs to the city, and increase tax revenues. All of which would seem preferable to a big, empty building.
Faced with the city’s recalcitrance, Alliance Defending Freedom filed suit under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which bars government officials from subjecting religious ministries to unequal treatment in zoning laws. In August, though, a federal judge ruled against the school; now we’re appealing the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.
“Federal law specifically prohibits zoning officials from subjecting religious organizations to this type of unequal treatment,” says Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley. “Upper Arlington will allow other groups to occupy a building in this zone, but it won’t allow this school.


America Goes Back to Church En Masse

Fourth National Back to Church Sunday Exceeds All Previous Records
Contact: Ty Mays, 770-256-8710
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Sept. 19, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- On Sept. 16, in the largest grassroots movement of its kind, 13,152 congregations of various denominations, styles and theologies united in a single cause to invite an estimated 7.5 million friends, family, neighbors and coworkers to attend church on National Back to Church Sunday. Participating churches saw an estimated 38 percent increase in their attendance.
"I've heard from a number of pastors and churches that this was a great tool they used to mobilize their people and reach their community," said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, a supporting partner of National Back to Church Sunday. "Many are enthusiastic about the focus the fourth annual National Back to Church Sunday has injected into their congregations."
The movement is based on the simple principle that 82 percent of people will come to church if invited by a friend, according to Thom Rainer's "The Unchurched Next Door."  Yet, from a recent LifeWay Research study, only 48 percent of church members invited their unchurched friends to church in the last six months.
"We turned National Back to Church Sunday into our Back to Church Weekend, starting with a free garage sale for our community and distribution of more than 100 brochures about our church," reported Pineview Baptist Church in Thomasville, Ala. "We are a small church averaging about 30 people in weekly worship attendance, but we estimate that almost 200 people walked through our doors this weekend. This was a great way to spread the word about our worship service and make people feel welcome."
Brian Loughmiller, mayor of McKinney, Texas, issued an official proclamation of Sept. 16 as National Back to Church Sunday in their community. A representative of his office was scheduled to present the proclamation in person at Eternity Community Church.
At Victory Christian Center in Victorville, Calif., every child went home Sunday with a tote bag of school supplies. In Medina, Tenn., attendance at rose to 171 from an average of 135. "We also baptized nine people on National Back to Church Sunday," said Ronnie Ragan, campus pastor.
The number of churches participating doubled from 3,800 churches in 2010 to 7,600 churches in 2011 and skyrocketed to a total of 13,152 churches this year. With a 38 percent increase in average attendance, 97 percent of responding pastors said they will participate in National Back to Church Sunday next year.
"Churches now have the opportunity to capitalize on the momentum created by National Back to Church Sunday," said Philip Nation, director of adult ministry publishing at LifeWay Christian Resources and spokesperson for National Back to Church Sunday. "By their attendance, people have shown they are interested in making a connection with church and with God. We have to show them the way."
Many will employ the 30-Day Church Challenge ( to engage returning National Back to Church Sunday visitors and to transform their congregations. Featuring inspirational sermons, weekly challenges, video-based lessons and the "30-Day Church Challenge" book, the five-week series based on the biblical model of the church, found in the book of Acts, will challenge church congregations to devote themselves to authentic community, develop worship lifestyle, commit to spiritual growth, embrace stewardship and generous lifestyle and engage in sharing God’s love and the gospel with others.
The next National Back to Church Sunday is September 15, 2013. Churches are already registering at Reports of this year and future plans are being posted at

National Back to Church Sunday ( is the single largest annual community outreach in the nation, sharing the simple message and mission of inviting everyone in America back to church. The campaign empowers churches and church members with the tools they need to welcome their neighbors, friends and loved ones back to church, while providing the unchurched an easy way to find a welcoming church in their community.
LifeWay Christian Resources (, in operation since 1891, is one of the largest Christian resource organizations in the world. LifeWay Research exists for the purpose of equipping church leaders with insight that will lead to greater levels of ministry effectiveness through research-based books and reports based on statistically validated surveys. LifeWay Research is one of the most trusted sources of information about the church, culture and faith.
To schedule an interview with Philip Nation, contact Ty Mays at 770-256-8710 or
NOTE: Reporters interested in local angle for National Back to Church Sunday can find participating churches in their communities at

Flashback: DOJ Official Won’t Affirm Religious Free Speech in U.S.

( – At a House subcommittee hearing in late July, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez refused to say if the Obama administration would ever attempt to criminalize speech against religion.
Perez’s remarks came just months before an obscure anti-Islamic film was blamed for attacks on U.S. embassies and consulates in Cairo, Egypt and Benghazi, Libya. The violence left four Americans dead, including Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens. The protests continue to spread throughout the Middle East.
As reported, during a July 27 oversight hearing, Perez four times avoided answering a question about whether the Obama administration would seek restrictions on religious speech when pressed by Constitution Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.).


Chrislam Religion

Obama In 1998: "I Actually Believe In Redistribution"