Archive for the ‘Bible’ Category

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.

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Mere humanity: Clergy who are humble, accessible may boost their own health as well as the congregation's

Many clergy worry that being honest about their own limitations may be seen as a sign of weakness. Yet new research suggests that not only do congregation members value pastors who are approachable, and share their humanity, but that feeling compelled to live up to unrealistic standards of spiritual perfection can take a debilitating toll on the mental health of pastors.

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A Christmas story: How humility can help de-stress new parents, build tolerance

New research on humility is revealing how “the quiet virtue” may help build peace in both the lives of individuals and in diverse cultures. Among the more immediate beneficiaries: Couples having their first child.

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As politicians go low, faith can combat body shaming, new research finds. Do you consider yourself 'fearfully and wonderfully made'?

Faith may play a powerful role in relation to the continuing widespread acceptance of body shaming in America, according to new research. People who consider their body, in the words of Psalm 139, “fearfully and wonderfully made,” were significantly more likely to report feeling good about their bodies, one study found. However, believers who consider the body to be basically sinful were more likely to be ashamed of their body.

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Worshipping alone: Studies find divorce retains its sting in faith communities

The religious stigma surrounding divorce remains a powerful source of anguish for believers, but few congregations have ministries for people recovering from failed marriages, new studies find. Believers are finding solace in a personal relationship with the divine, but many report feeling alone and judged at communal services across faith traditions, the research indicates.

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Balancing sin and forgiveness on the path to a healthy life

How can believers buffer the negative effects of an unhealthy preoccupation with transgressions while benefiting from sin’s appeal to humility in being able to accurately assess one’s own strengths and weaknesses? Forgiveness may be one good place to start, according to a new study. Americans who reported experiencing being frequently forgiven by God were far less likely to show symptoms of depression and other mental health ills associated with strong beliefs in the fallen nature of humankind.

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Secret shame: How online porn may cause spiritual struggles, disrupt families

As popular culture marches on in its acceptance of pornography, one group of Americans is not finding it as easy to adapt, research indicates. Many religious individuals are facing damaging spiritual struggles as they find themselves torn between the teachings of their faith and the same basic desires that have turned online porn into a multibillion-dollar business.

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Religion, tolerance and the unmaking of prejudice in the Trump era

Politicians from Donald Trump to leaders of populist radical right political parties in Europe attempt to appeal to Christian audiences while blaming immigrants, Muslims and other minorities for social ills. Yet it is far from clear whether they are winning the hearts of individuals for whom faith matters. Two new studies call into question the idea faithful women and men in relatively peaceful democracies are swayed by appeals to close their borders to immigrants and Muslims.

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Fewer cheerful givers: The financial crisis facing U.S. churches

Even as the economy improves from the depths of the recession, several U.S. religious groups are not keeping up financially, according to two new studies. Giving as a percentage of income continues to fall for many Protestant groups, while the Catholic Church faces several financial challenges from changing demographics to church embezzlement and the fallout from the clergy sex abuse scandal.

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An environmental tipping point? Evangelicals going to the dogs . . . and cats . . . with major statement on animal welfare

Evangelicals are turning their attention to all creatures great and small. Scores of prominent evangelical pastors, scholars, theologians and other leaders took their place in a growing national dialogue over animal welfare with a declaration resolving to confront “any and all cruelty against animals.” Some analysts see the evangelical declaration as moving toward a tipping point in raising religious awareness of animal welfare issues, building on the momentum of Pope Francis’s encyclical in June.

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