Religion Today Summaries - November 30, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - November 30, 2004

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

  • Church's Drug Dealers Conference 'Just What Community Needed'

  • Poll Finds Increased Concern Among Christians For Aids Crisis

  • Pastors Should Be Free For Theological Reflection And Evangelism

  • China:  New Crackdown Underway Against Christians

Church's Drug Dealers Conference 'Just What Community Needed'
Charisma News Service

An innovative program by a North Carolina church recently sought to help former drug dealers and users put their mistakes and bad choices behind. From Nov. 18-21, the Union Baptist Church in Winston-Salem held a "drug dealers conference" dubbed Corner-to-Corner (C2C), drawing ex-drug addicts and peddlers, and families affected by drugs and other substance-abuse problems, The Winston-Salem Journal reported. The conference included a variety of workshops. The conference also included a job fair, luncheons, worship services, and testimonies from former drug dealers and people affected by drugs. Sir Walter Mack Jr., Union Baptist's pastor, came up with the idea for C2C as he drove home one Sunday afternoon after a service and passed a man dealing drugs in a car outside the church. He formed a C2C committee to get the word out about the conference. The committee also enlisted the help of officials, rehabilitation centers and judges in the area. Ten judges agreed to make mandatory attendance of the conference part of an offender's probationary status, and rehabilitation centers also made attendance mandatory for their current residents. The conference drew 160 participants, with 40 of them accepting Christ. Mack said that the church has received such positive reactions from people who attended the conference that it will be held again next year. (

Poll Finds Increased Concern Among Christians For Aids Crisis
Jeremy Reynalds, ASSIST News Service

Two years after U-2's Bono challenged American Christians to become engaged in the AIDS pandemic, a new survey reveals a small but significant increase among evangelicals willing to donate money to help and support children orphaned by AIDS. The poll found that 14 percent of American evangelicals definitely would be willing to donate funds to AIDS education and prevention in sub-Saharan Africa and other regions devastated by the disease. It also indicated 17 percent of those surveyed would help children orphaned by AIDS. These statistics are much higher than in 2002 when the same poll found 5 percent and 3 percent, respectively. The new survey revealed that 12 percent of Americans in general were willing to donate money to help prevent AIDS, and 13 percent interested in supporting children orphaned by AIDS. The survey of 1,009 people was conducted by the Barna Research Group over two weeks in late Oct. and early Nov. The margin of error is 3 percent. President George W. Bush promised $15 billion over five years to fight the epidemic. World Aids Day is Dec.1.  World Vision is a Christian relief and development organization dedicated to helping children and their communities worldwide reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty. World Vision serves the world's poor -- regardless of a person's religion, race, ethnicity or gender. (

Pastors Should Be Free For Theological Reflection And Evangelism
Wolfgang Polzer, ASSIST News Service

A leading management consultant advises clergy to concentrate on their commission to preach and counsel. Ministers should be relieved of management activities, says Peter F. Barrenstein, German director of McKinsey & Company. He recommends that local churches hire an executive to take care of managerial and administrative tasks. Pastors should be free for theological reflection and evangelism. Neither should they be restricted to serving a small "core congregation" of faithful worshippers. "They should develop a counter strategy to a shrinking church." Churches are surrounded by other missionary competitors, he explained. In Germany, for instance, Islam, cults and the recreation industry register continual growth, while most churches are losing members. Barrenstein rejects the notion that mission is a thing of the past. There are in fact many missionary opportunities, for example caring for the bereaved. If a pastor delivers an excellent funeral sermon and continues to visit and comfort the mourners, this could result in people re-joining a church. On his initiative McKinsey conducted an extensive survey of Protestant churches in Munich about ten years ago. This started a lively debate about the question which management concepts could be helpful for churches. The management consultant makes one thing clear: "The church is not a commercial venture." The aim of bringing people to faith in Christ could never be achieved by management techniques. Barrenstein: "That is the job of the Holy Spirit."

China:  New Crackdown Underway Against Christians
Charisma News Service

A series of arrests and raids in recent months indicate that a new crackdown is underway against Christians, even as the government professed its willingness to liberalize its policies on religion. Pastor Cai Zhuohua, 32, the leading minister to six house churches in Beijing, was arrested on Sept. 11. Cai's wife, Xiao Yunfei, along with her brother, Xiao Gaowen, and sister-in-law, Hu Jinyun, were arrested Sept. 27 while hiding in Hengshan county, located in Hunan Province, Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) reported. Cai and his wife are currently awaiting trial in Beijing, Compass Direct reported. The government has reportedly labeled their case the "most serious case of overseas religious infiltration since the founding of the People's Republic of China." Authorities were apparently shocked when they found around 200,000 copies of the Bible and other Christian literature in a storage room managed by Zhuohua, VOM said. Chinese officials had publicly declared new changes in religious policy, but the communist regime reportedly issued three internal directives in August calling for much tighter control of religion. According to a report in a Chinese-language magazine, the new directives aim to suppress the conversion of Communist Party members, the growth of religion and religious organizations across the country and the increase of religious activity on university campuses, Compass reported. (