Religion Today Summaries, April 15, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, April 15, 2004

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.  In today's edition:

  • Thomas Nelson Releases New Magazine-Style Bible for Teen Boys 

  • Easter Celebrations of Evangelical Christians in Russian City Broken Up by Authorities

  • Missionaries' TBN Show Documents Reality, Effectiveness of Gospel

  • Giving to Churches Rises But Number of Tithers Remain Flat

Thomas Nelson Releases New Magazine-Style Bible for Teen Boys
Allie Martin, Agape Press

A new Bible for youth designed to look like a magazine for teenage boys is now on the shelves. Last year, U.S. retailers reported that their biggest-selling Bible was Revolve: The Complete New Testament, which contained the scriptures in a fashion magazine format designed to appeal to young girls. Now Thomas Nelson Publishers is releasing Refuel: The Complete New Testament, in a similar magazine style format -- this time geared for teen boys. Refuel features the New Century Version of the New Testament, along with relevant articles for teenagers, on issues like sex, drugs, self-image, and hazing. Laurie Whaley, a spokesperson for Thomas Nelson Publishers, says the format fills a real need in the Christian marketplace. She describes Refuel as "a complete Bible," that helps teens understand how God's Word is applicable to their daily life. Still, the publisher's spokesperson expects some criticism of the new format. "The most frequent criticism that we receive is that perhaps we are trivializing scripture," she says. But Whaley insists that the youth-oriented formatting found in this new Bible for teens is in keeping with the spirit of Christ's approach to people. Jesus "was all about meeting people where they were and living with them in their culture," she notes.

Easter Celebrations of Evangelical Christians in Russian City Broken Up by Authorities
Michael Ireland, ASSIST News Service

Easter Celebrations in Tyumen, Russia, were broken up by secular authorities on April 14 and 15, according to a report from the Association of Christian Churches in Russia (ACCR). Believers of Protestant churches in Tyumen united the auspices of the Council of Christian Churches of Tyumen in order to celebrate Easter in a special way. Not having facilities of their own large enough, the Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, and other Evangelical churches rented the City Sport Stadium for the event until local authorities stepped in to halt their efforts. Several days prior to the event rumors began spreading throughout the city that “someone from (the) authorities who dislikes that kind of belief was going to cancel the Celebrations.” On the evening of April 12 the believers received a letter of warning from the Federal Security Service. On April 13, the Department of Internal Affairs officially notified the believers that the event should be canceled. That very day they received a denial from the Director of the Sport Stadium and a letter from the City Vice-Governor. According to ACCR, the Easter events are especially significant for Christians. Sergey Lavrenov, Priest of the Light to the World Church in Tyumen, said: “I can't understand why we have been treated like this in the holy Easter days.”

Missionaries' TBN Show Documents Reality, Effectiveness of Gospel
Allie Martin, Agape Press

Missionaries from a television reality series are continuing their three-year journey to spread the gospel around the globe. Travel the Road is a weekly TV series covering the adventures of 24-year-old Tim Scott and 28-year-old Will Decker as they travel around the world spreading the gospel.  The series, currently broadcast on the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), follows the two as they make their way through 25 countries, across 40,000 miles, with each of them carrying a backpack, and change of clothes, and the message of hope in Christ. Producer Mike Scott says the show appeals to a wide audience. "This is a show that will inspire you -- even if you're just here at home -- to say, 'Hey, I can do more here.  I see what these guys are doing.  I can share in my workplace, I can do this.' The two young missionaries will be in Afghanistan this month.  They were recently in war-torn southern Africa. "Even in these areas,” Scott says, “as Tim and Will preach, they still see people touched by the message [of the gospel] and opening up to it.  You see many people come to Christ in the episodes."

Giving to Churches Rises But Number of Tithers Remain Flat
Charisma News Service

Giving to churches rose substantially last year, but the percentage of tithers remained flat. According to the latest study by the Barna Research Group (BRG), the average amount of money donated to churches and other houses of worship rose was $824 - a 14 percent increase from 2002 and the highest mean amount since 2000. However, the poll, which was released Tuesday, found that the tithing figures has not changed. Among Christians, the survey discovered that just 7 percent had tithed to their church. In 2002, just 6 percent tithed to their congregation. More than twice as many believers gave no money to a church last year. The BRG survey showed that the segments most likely to give to a house of worship were evangelicals, adults with an active faith (those who had attended church, prayed and read the Bible during the previous week), African-Americans, charismatic or Pentecostal Christians, and people from households with a gross income of $60,000 or more. BRG president George Barna said the number of tithers will likely remain flat until church leaders address people's motivations for giving. "Once a church establishes itself as being trustworthy in people's minds, it will raise a minimal amount of money," he said.