Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 21, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 21, 2009

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

  • Multi-Site Churches Mean Pastors Reach Thousands
  • Prosperity Gospel Teachings 'Distort' Bible, Says Group
  • CCC Media Ministry Records Over 10M Decisions in 2009
  • Judge: N.C. Law Barring Sex Offenders from Church Unconstitutional

Multi-Site Churches Mean Pastors Reach Thousands

USA Today reports that multi-site churches like Manhattan's Redeemer Presbyterian Church are changing how pastors relate relate to their congregations. Redeemer's Tim Keller preaches to three-quarters of the 5,500 people who attend the multiple Redeemer church sites, while other pastors foster one-on-one relationships. About 37 percent of Protestant churches in the United States have more than one location under the same leadership, according to a study by the Leadership Network and Hartford Institute for Religion Research in Hartford, Conn. The method allows churches to forgo enormous buildings and additional parking space. "Even if people are just watching the senior pastor on a screen, they are still gathering, as the Bible commands, they are still serving the poor, engaging in worship and study, and encouraging one another," says Ed Stetzer of LifeWay Research in Nashville, which studies church trends.

Prosperity Gospel Teachings 'Distort' Bible, Says Group

Christian Today reports that a group of theologians spoke out against the influence of prosperity gospel theology, just before one of its greatest proponents, evangelist Oral Roberts, passed away this month. While recognizing that "there are some dimensions of prosperity teaching that have roots in the Bible", the Lausanne Theology Working Group says its overall view is that "the teachings of those who most vigorously promote the 'prosperity gospel' are false and gravely distorting of the Bible". The group called prosperity gospel's influence particularly misleading in Africa. "We ... request the Lausanne movement to be willing to make a very clear statement rejecting the excesses of prosperity teaching as incompatible with evangelical biblical Christianity," the statement reads.

CCC Media Ministry Records Over 10M Decisions in 2009

Internet ministry Global Media Outreach (GMO) today announced a milestone in reaching people with the Gospel online. On Dec. 7, GMO saw the 10 millionth person this year indicate a decision for Christ through their Web sites. Over 1.8 million people have initiated follow-up for more information, guidance and discipleship during this same time period. In 2009, GMO presented the Gospel to over 55 million people through its more than 90 different Web sites globally. "It is humbling to be a part of the Great Commission and watching millions of people coming to Christ," said Walt Wilson, GMO founder and chair. "We have responders all over the world, connecting to people through e-mail for prayer, discipleship and church connections." GMO is an Internet outreach of Campus Crusade for Christ.

Judge: N.C. Law Barring Sex Offenders from Church Unconstitutional

The Christian Post reports that a Superior Court judge has found a North Carolina law barring convicted some sex offenders from churches is unconstitutional. While Judge Allen Baddour acknowledged the need to protect children, he said "there are less drastic means for achieving the same purpose... There are a host of protected religious activities abridged by this statute." The law, put in place last year, bars some offenders from congregating within 300 feet of "any place where minors gather for regularly scheduled educational, recreational or social programs," which includes churches. Two registered offenders, James Nichols and Frank DeMaio, challenged the state law because it denied them the right to attend their choice of church. "I believe wholeheartedly if it wasn't for God, I don't know where I'd be today," Nichols told The Associated Press.