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Religion Today Summaries, March 25, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, March 25, 2004

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

  • More Churches Using Contemporary Worship Styles 
  • Despite Disabilities, Oregon Activist Finds Ways to Share Gospel with Community
  • Vietnamese Police Attack, Arrest Christians in Reported Retaliation 
  • Pastor, Parents Struggle with Gutter Language Contained in Classics

More Churches Using Contemporary Worship Styles
Charisma News Service

A growing number of churches nationwide are holding contemporary worship services and utilizing modern technology. According to the latest study by Ellison Research of Phoenix, the greatest increases in contemporary worship styles have been in the proportion of congregations using video clips and graphic presentations such as PowerPoint. Released earlier this month, the survey of 659 senior pastors of Protestant churches asked whether the overall style of worship in their church had changed in the last five years. Fifteen percent said their worship has become much more contemporary, and another 36 percent said it had become a little more contemporary. The study also explored specific worship elements or styles churches use today, compared to what was used five years ago. In 1999, only 5 percent used PowerPoint or similar computer graphics presentations, but today the technology is used by 36 percent of all churches. Additionally, just 4 percent of the churches surveyed used video clips during worship services five years ago. Today, that is up to 29 percent. Three other elements increased by more than 50 percent over the past five years, including use of praise and worship choruses during worship, the use of Christian rock, pop or country and the use of drama skits or sketches.

Despite Disabilities, Oregon Activist Finds Ways to Share Gospel with Community
Rusty Benson, Agape Press

Scott Spalding's idea of Christian activism has always been a bit off center. "God has given me a gift of recognizing, then filling unusual ministry needs in a between-the-cracks fashion," said the 44-year-old Ashland, Oregon, man. Spalding suffers from as many as 17 diagnosed medical maladies, the most debilitating being Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism. Although Asperger's Syndrome has rendered Spalding severely disabled, his love for Christ and desire to share the Gospel is strong and healthy. In some ways Spalding's disabilities have proven to be an asset in ministry. His very high energy combined with his disabled status has enabled him to devote his full time and great enthusiasm to evangelistic projects. Over the years Spalding has used whatever circumstances and resources that God provided to spread the gospel message. His efforts have included a "Cruisin' for Christ" mini-truck ministry; placing posters and banners on bulletin boards throughout his local community; initiating a Christian music and worship service presentation; mounting an LED-driven reader board in the rear window of his pickup programmed with several gospel messages; providing CDs to a nearby Christian-owned jazz station; and maintaining an aggressive campaign to convince cable TV providers to add Christian networks to their line-ups. Today sets up and maintains racks of Christian literature in several high-traffic retail stores and restaurants. Spalding desires to find a position in a national Christian ministry.

Vietnamese Police Attack, Arrest Christians in Reported Retaliation
Charisma News Service

Police in the Ho Chi Minh City recently attacked a pastor and several other Christians. On March 2, the Rev. Nguyen Hong Quang, an official in the Mennonite Church, evangelist Pham Ngoc Thach and other believers were assaulted by two undercover policemen who were spying on them at Quang's home. More police were then dispatched. Armed with guns and electric cattle prods, they surrounded Quang's home and ordered the 12 Christian workers to remain inside the house. Police then tried to incite neighbors to attack the believers. A church elder was taken to the police station. When three young evangelists went to inquire about him, they were beaten. Authorities are reportedly retaliating for recent incidents where police have had to retreat from harassing Christians because of effective local and international advocacy.

Pastor, Parents Struggle with Gutter Language Contained in Classics
Jim Brown, Agape Press

Some parents in Georgia want several pieces of classic literature removed from their local schools' reading list. Parents with the group Crusaders for Christ recently told the Bartow County Board of Education that several books contain use of God's name in vain and racial slurs.  Among the books being protested are To Kill a Mockingbird, The Martian Chronicles, A Raisin in the Sun, and Of Mice and Men. Pastor Dwight Holcomb of Acworth says the district needs to provide cleaner, less-offensive versions of the books.  Holcomb maintains the board members need to listen to the public on this matter. "How come a board of ten or twelve committed people can determine that this stuff stays in our county school system when we have over 450 signatures of voting citizens ... who elected these people into office and who say that we don't want it?" he asks.  "We don't want it."  Holcomb explains he has no problem with the plots of the books or the stories they tell -- just the language that is used. "I can tell these same stories and not use my Lord's name in vain and without using all these other words that are not permitted in public," he says.  County committees had deemed all of the contested books appropriate, but committee members will now consider whether to reverse their decision.