12 Days of Giveaways - Spin & Win! Sign up before Dec. 25th to win daily prizes and a $250 Amazon.com Gift Card. Find out details.

Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 1, 2010

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 1, 2010

Daily briefs of the top Christian news and persecution stories impacting believers around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Church under Attack in Indonesia Agrees to Change Venue
  • Ethiopian Muslims Burn Down Christian Homes, Farms
  • China: Youqing Church Raided, Members Beaten and Robbed
  • Pastors Debate Multisite Church Strategy

Church under Attack in Indonesia Agrees to Change Venue

A West Java church has agreed to move temporarily to a government-selected site following Islamist harassment that included a Sept. 12 attack on two of its leaders. The Batak Christian Protestant Church in Ciketing village, Bekasi, decided in a congregational meeting on Sunday to accept the offer to relocate. According to Compass Direct News, officials have promised to build a new house of worship for the church within two years nearby as a condition of the move. The Rev. Luspida Simanjuntak, who was injured in the most recent attack, said that the church was ready to stop struggling. "We are tired of being intimidated and terrorized," Pastor Simanjuntak said. "We will be able to worship quietly and peacefully."

Ethiopian Muslims Burn Down Christian Homes, Farms

Worthy News reports that 80 Christians are still homeless in Jimma, Ethiopia, after their homes and barns were torched in July. The group in Goda district said Muslim assailants told them to leave their homes and threatened to kill the Christians if they informed authorities. "Then they set the Christian homes on fire and began celebrating by singing near the burned homes," said on Christian leader in the area. The attackers kept victims coralled in their village for 16 days before one managed to sneak away and report the attacks. The attack's ringleader was only temporarily imprisoned. Muslim groups have prevented the Christians from rebuilding their homes for more than two months. According to census data, more than 80 percent of the state's residents are Muslim.

China: Youqing Church Raided, Members Beaten and Robbed

Police and security officials attacked another Chinese house church on Sunday, alleging that the small group's gathering was illegal. According to ChinaAid, about 10 government officials interrupted the church meeting in Youqing, Sichuan Province. They reportedly smashed one desk and about 30 benches and hauled them away.  They also confiscated the Christian's books, as well as the money they carried. Authorities then took 20 Christians to the police station and demanded money for their release.  Five of them paid the money and were released, but the others were still detained. Two of the men say they were beaten before they and the rest of the church members were released at midnight. Their belongings and money have not been returned.

Pastors Debate Multisite Church Strategy

Multisite churches are growing in popularity - an estimated 3,000 have popped up across the U.S. - but not all pastors are supportive of the trend. Seattle Pastor Mark Driscoll, Chicago Pastor James MacDonald, and D.C.-area Pastor Mark Dever recently gave voice to the debate, as The Christian Post reports. Driscoll and MacDonald both support and use the multisite model, while Dever, a Southern Baptist, believes the setting is too impersonal and pastor-centric. "Are you concerned that it bills people too much into you particularly?" Dever asked. Driscoll responded that the structure actually makes him less important. "We find that giving, small group participation, church membership and service is higher at a video campus than where I preach live," he pointed out. "Consumers come to see us (live); missionaries go elsewhere." All three men agreed, however, that every church - or church site - needs elders and pastors, often more than are available.