Archive for the ‘aging’ Category

How perceptions of God help determine self-esteem, mental health

A growing body of research is revealing the mental health benefits of having a close personal relationship with a caring divinity. In one of the latest national studies, the more participants reported feeling God’s love, presence and guidance, the more likely they were to agree they are a person of worth.

[Read Full Column...]

Studies: How clergy can help believers die a 'good death'

Two new studies find that many clergy are both ill-prepared and reluctant to fully engage in end-of-life conversations with terminally ill congregation members and their families. The result, the studies suggest, is that more believers may be spending their final days enduring painful treatments with little chance of success.

[Read Full Column...]

Lessons from Amazon: Being open to change can spur congregational vitality, growth

The majority of congregations are at a crossroad today: They must adapt to a culture where churchgoing is increasingly more of a choice than an obligation, or face a future of sustained decline. Yet many congregations have been reluctant to embrace any major changes in outreach to attract new members or retain younger generations. Instead, they appear to be cutting back, research indicates.

[Read Full Column...]

When believing in miracles may be harmful to your health

Are there times when too much control can be ceded to God? When it comes to health, the answer in many cases may be yes. Placing too much control in divine hands may lessen efforts to seek treatment or take preventive measures such as quitting smoking or following a healthy diet, a new study indicates.

[Read Full Column...]

The '1 percent' in mainline Protestantism? Congregations attracting young adults

Is there a point of no return for the resurgence of mainline Protestantism? As the movement enters its second half-century of precipitous decline, new research suggests that not only is there no end in sight, but there are few signs of hope for revival in rapidly aging, shrinking groups such as the Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

[Read Full Column...]

The Amazon effect: Worshippers flocking to larger churches

Just as one-stop shopping behemoths such as Walmart and Amazon are fulfilling the retail needs of America’s consumers, larger churches are increasingly meeting the spiritual needs of America’s faithful. New research indicates a decline in attendance at the great majority of the nation’s churches, while churches attracting 400 people or more on Sundays are dramatically increasing their market share.

[Read Full Column...]

A 'Great Abdicating' or Much Ado about Nones? Growing, diverse body offers few easy answers

Americans with little or no ties to organized religion are significantly more likely to be male, single, and liberal. But within this broad portrait researchers are discovering a more nuanced diversity that provides a clearer picture of the nation’s “nones,” those who claim no religious affiliation on surveys. Maybe it is even time to stop calling them nones.

[Read Full Column...]

Older worshippers find it’s never too late to switch

Religious switching is not limited to the young. Nearly three in 10 older adults made a major change in spiritual homes within just an 11-year period, according to a study. The findings and related research indicate both why it is important for older adults to be in a supportive congregation and why leaving a long-established spiritual community late in life could jeopardize the individual’s well-being.

[Read Full Column...]

How religion matters in the face of death

Religion can be a critical resource in reducing death anxiety, according to a developing body of research. Not all will benefit equally, and some may suffer greater worries if they believe they will be found wanting by a judgmental divinity. But the research opens windows of understanding for caregivers, family and friends seeking to help support others in their journey through the shadows of the valley of death.

[Read Full Column...]

Older seminarians, especially minority women, face tough job market with rising student debt

Pursuing a clerical career in their 40s and 50s can be a dream come true for many women and men, a chance to follow what they consider God’s call and do meaningful work in their later years. But the realities of a shrinking clergy labor market, and seminary tuition costs outpacing inflation, leave some facing debts of $80,000 or more trying to find work in a relatively low-paying profession, researchers state. The burden is falling particularly hard on prospective minority clergy with the fewest resources.

[Read Full Column...]